Inspired by user feedback, this week’s post looks at the best ways to use the database
Thank you very much to all those who have emailed, tweeted and written on our Facebook page. We really appreciate your comments and would like to respond with some useful tips on getting the best from the Deceased Online website.
Burial records provide an essential resource for family historians. Unfortunately, even when you have details of an ancestor’s death from a death certificate or obituary, finding where he or she is buried can prove difficult. Sometimes, when your ancestor has a common name, the burial record can provide the details you need to identify him or her in the General Register Office index or in the ScotlandsPeople records.
The Deceased Online database holds a variety of burial and cremation records, including images of registers, maps of cemeteries with grave locations and some photographs of memorials and headstones. The records also enable you to discover who shares your ancestor’s grave. This can be especially useful in revealing a relationship between two unmarried people (in the case of two of my great great grandparents) and help locate siblings or other family members whose married names are not yet known.
Use the FreeSearch on the homepage to check for family members in our records. It is worth experimenting with the names. If you have female ancestors who are buried in Scotland, for example, you may find them registered under their maiden names.
If you are unsure of the spelling of surnames (in particular) or other names, then there are various tools to help you. A simple option is to replace the letters in a name that you're unsure of with a % (percentage sign). Obviously this wouldn't be effective with the first letter as it would throw up infinite options. This and other searching techniques are fully explained in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section.
Where your ancestor has a common name and hundreds of entries are returned, you may prefer to use the Free Advanced Search. Use the options to choose the country (either UK or Ireland), the region, and the dates. If you know the exact cemetery, click on the county dropbox and then on the cemetery’s name in the ‘burial authority or crematorium’ dropbox which next appears.
You can also limit your search to burial records, cremation records or headstone collection.
If you know the area where you ancestor died, and would like to know if it is covered by the database, check the full list of participating cemeteries and crematoria online. Keep checking the list, this blog, or sign up for our email newsletter, tweets and Facebook updates as we are continually adding new areas.
From the list of Search Results, use the burial date and cemetery name to identify the correct person. Clicking on the name reveals the Burial Register Summary and Further Information Available. These further details vary, but can include details of the grave, revealing the names of other occupants; a scan of the burial register showing your ancestor’s name, age, address and other information; and a cemetery map.
The cemetery map is essential for anyone planning to visit an ancestor’s burial site. I know from personal experience scrabbling through brambles in churchyards that a map showing the exact location of my ancestor’s grave has proved invaluable to the search. On one occasion, it was only the fact that the map showed the burial plot that I persevered. Eventually, after cutting through overgrown foliage, I found a large tombstone with a wonderfully revealing memorial to my great great grandmother. Even in modern, well-tended cemeteries, older graves may be neglected and difficult to find and frequently have no headstones. Where a headstone does remain, it may be weathered and illegible.
As users of the website will know, we charge what we believe are modest rates to download documents which are certainly considerably less expensive than visiting cemeteries and/or bereavement services and (usually) having to purchase paper copies of the data. You can read about our pricing policy in the FAQ section and why we need to charge for accessing the documents.