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Sydney Briggs

While I was searching for articles about Thomas Briggs for today’s Trove Tuesday post, I found a death notice, that created a bit of a puzzle.

Sydney Briggs obituary
OBITUARY. (1916, May 12). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved January 10, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89976820

The death certificate for Elizabeth Briggs, nee Sharp, had shown that their youngest child was Sydney, but the death certificate indicated he was deceased.  I therefore decided to check the death indexes, to see who was listed as the mother for this Sydney Briggs.  I was unable to find a death entry for him.  That seemed strange, so I decided to check FamilySearch, as they have the Inquest records from Victoria, and I found the Inquest file:

“Australia, Victoria, Inquest Deposition Files, 1840-1925,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q24H-TFZD : accessed 10 January 2017), Sydney Briggs, 04 May 1916; citing Probate, Gannawarra, Victoria, Australia, Public Record Office of Victoria, North Melbourne; FHL microfilm.

This made not finding a death entry for him even stranger.  The obituary stated he was buried at Koondrook Cemetery, and the inquest file mentioned Koondrook police, so I tried searching for a death in 1916, using first in the Place field Koon*, and when no entries came up, I then tried *rook, and found an entry for Wm Briggs, father Wm Briggs, mother Unknown, place of death Krook, age 35, registration number 6515.

I decided to get the death certificate, to see if the information on the certificate would help me determine if he was the son of Thomas Briggs and Elizabeth Sharp.

The death certificate shows

  • Date of death 3rd May 1916 Gannawarre Shire of Kerang
  • Sydney Briggs unmarried age 35 years
  • Cause of death: pneumonia Verdict returned at Inquiry held by James Watson JP at Gannawarre on 4th May 1916.
  • Father William Briggs retired dealer mother deceased some years ago nothing further known.
  • birthplace Bendigo Length of time in Australia, 35 years in Victoria

The first thing I noticed was that the certificate had the right name, Sydney, even though the index listed him as Wm.  Although the death certificate listed his father as William Briggs, the obituary showed his father was Thomas Briggs.  The death certificate showed his mother was deceased some years ago – this is consistent with the fact that he would have been born about the same time she died, which was in 1881.  His age of 35 years is also consistent with this.  This therefore does appear to be the son of Thomas Briggs and Elizabeth Sharp, and that there was an error on his mother’s death certificate.

3 thoughts on “Sydney Briggs”

  1. Hi Lois – interesting that the BDM index had such an error and also the mother’s death certificate. There are several versions of the Victorian death index. I understood it had been redone recently. It seems though that the old index (e.g. viewable via ancestry.com) and the new index have the same error. You can probably write to Vic BDM to get it fixed if you were so inclined. Regards Anne

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    1. The mother, Elizabeth, died of premature child birth and fever, so that would probably explain how the error on the death certificate occurred. I haven’t been able to find a birth entry for Sydney – or for 4 of his siblings.

      It’s not the first time I’ve come across an error on the indexes. I couldn’t find the death for my ancestor Catherine Doyle nee Mills for a long time, because her father’s occupation (goldsmith) was entered as his surname. It wasn’t until I found her baptism record in the Birmingham parish registers, and then her family on the census records, and finally her death notice, that I realized that the entry was for her.

      I’ve also come across an error on a certificate – I wrote about it in my post Trove Tuesday – Thomas Gardner Nicholls

      This is why you can’t rely on any one document – you have to confirm the information against other documents, such as Probate files, inquests, newspaper articles, cemetery records, other vital certificates for the person, or other members of their family.

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