Filling in the Gaps in my English Pedigree


I recently ordered three death registrations related to my Atkey line who lived on the Isle of Wight, England. This time I ordered a death registration for Ann (Yelf) Atkey because the first time I only ordered the death registration for her husband, my 3x great grandfather, Isaac Atkey, a cordwainer who was born, lived and died on the Isle of Wight. It made sense to also order death certificates for John and Hannah (Bull) Grapes who were the parents of Jane Trafalgar Grapes the wife of one of Isaac’s sons, James Atkey. James is my direct line ancestor in this family line.

I used my access to Findmypast to get the data for the three death registrations which I ordered this time even though I could have used the FreeBMD website. The online ordering process through the GRO [General Register Office] was not difficult once I understood the concept of reporting quarters [March, June, September and December] in terms of ordering each record properly. The turnaround time was good – six days to have pdfs of the registrations posted in my account for download. In fairness to the GRO employees I ordered the death records late on the 10 October and received notice of the posting of my pdfs early on 15 October.

Death Registration Information
What was there to learn from these death registrations?
Ann Atkey died 2 June 1846 at Newport, Isle of Wight. She was 76 years old and the wife of Isaac Atkey, shoemaker. Having her marital affiliation noted certainly helps to tie her to my family. She died of paralysis which was certified [doctor present]. Margaret Richardson, present at the death, was the informant for the registration 4 June 1846. She made her mark, X, and provided her home address, Crocker Street in Newport.

Isaac Atkey died 11 July 1859 at New Street, Newport, Isle of Wight. Under occupation the registrar noted that he was formerly a leather cutter at Newport. The cause of death was certified as 33 days of diarrhea. Joshua Yelf, New Street, Newport, certified his presence at Isaac’s death with his mark +.

John Grapes died 21 February 1844 at the parish of Newport, Isle of Wight at the age of 72. His occupation was note as brazier. Cause of death was gout of the stomach. Geo. [George] Grapes of Quay Street, Newport, was present at the death and registered it 22 February 1844.

Hannah Grapes died 22 October 1852 at Quay Street, Newport, Isle of Wight. She was 77 years old and the widow of John Grapes, a tinman. Cause of death was noted as dropsy but no medical attendant certified that diagnosis. James Grapes, of Carrisbrooke Road, Newport, was present at her death and registered it the same day.

Isaac’s occupation as a leather cutter was a sign of the times. He had been a cordwainer, a boot and shoe maker, fulfilling the complete process of making boots and shoes. He had numerous apprentices over the years to whom he taught the process. Then the Industrial Revolution changed the process as workers became piece workers. By the time he ended his career he may well have been part of that piece work process.

John is listed as a brazier which sent me to the Internet for a definition of that occupation. The online Cambridge Dictionary notes that the old use of the word was “a person who makes and repairs brass objects.”  A John Grapes was listed under Braziers and Tinmen in the 1828 Pigot’s Directory for Newport, Hampshire, England, so it would appear that the two jobs had something in common. The 1841 English Census for the Parish of Newport captured John and Hannah. In it his occupation was noted as tinman. I need to do some further reading to know more about these professions.

Causes of Death
I decided to explore the cause of death in each case. To do so I consulted a medical dictionary of the day, Lexicon Medium or Medical Dictionary authored by Robert Hooper MD and published in 1843. In Ann Atkey’s case, paralysis [palsy] was “…known by the loss or diminuition of the power of voluntary motion, affecting certain parts of the body often accompanied with drowsiness. In some instances, the disease is confined to a particular part, but it more usually happens that an entire side of the body from the head down is affected.”1 A blood clot as causation came to my mind as something which could cause major damage like this.

For Isaac, just writing about 33 days of diarhea is painful. Dr. Hooper noted that the diarrhea could have been related to a stomach infection, cancer or ulceration of the intestines.2

John Grapes cause of death, gout of the stomach, surprised me as I had the notion that it related to swelling around the joints of the body. Gout of the stomach rated a definition as Atonic Gout and was described in this way, “It sometimes happens that…no inflammation affectation of the joints is produced; in which case the stomach becomes particularly affected.”3

Hannah’s cause of death, dropsy, was described as “…a collection of serous fluid in the cellular membrane.”4 Dr. Hooper noted that there could be dropsy of the belly, brain, chest, ovary skin. This accumulation could have been due to kidney disease or congestive heart failure.

Family Connections
I have a combination of records both transcriptions and original records that I need to study in order to prove beyond a doubt that John and Hannah Graves are connected to me. The George Grapes who registered John’s death is probably one of his sons. I am not sure who the James Grapes is who registered Hannah’s death. I have a list of the baptisms for John and Hannah’s family in transcribed form so I need to try to access the originals to see if any children were missed and if the transcribed information is accurate. Wish me luck!

1. Robert Hooper MD, Lexicon Medium or Medical Dictionary, (New York: Harper and Brothers, Publishers, 1843), p. 154, downloaded from 24 October 2019.
2. Robert Hooper MD, Lexicon Medium or Medical Dictionary, p. 296.

3. Robert Hooper MD, Lexicon Medium or Medical Dictionary, p. 193.

4. Robert Hooper MD, Lexicon Medium or Medical Dictionary, p. 311.

Alan Campbell
Ontario Ancestors [The Ontario Genealogical Society] © 2019


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