Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Inquests and Articles

This morning I received some death certificates for members of my BUCHAN family.  On Alexander Ritchie BUCHAN's certificate it states his cause of death as 'Verdict of Jury - Sudden Failure of the Heart'.
Part of Alexander Ritchie BUCHAN's death certificate - 1896
My grandmother mentioned in a letter years ago that "Grandad B [a fisherman] was actually pulling in a fishing net, when he apparently ( I presume) had a heart attack & died at age 34".  I had no idea there was an inquest into his death though.

I searched through the newspapers on New Zealand's wonderful Papers Past site and found a mention in the 'Casualties' section:
A sudden death occurred about 8 o'clock on Wednesday night, 2nd. Alexander Buchan, who was engaged fishing with his brother John in the lower harbour, had just hauled in the net, when he went to the bow of the boat and fell forward, and on his brother going to him found he was dead. An inquest was held on Thursday afternoon when after hearing the evidence of Charles and John Buchan, John Keenan, and Dr Cunninghame, the jury returned a verdict that deceased died from sudden failure of the heart. Deceased leaves a wife and five children in very poor circumstances. (Otago Witness - 10 Dec 1896, p15)
Otago Witness - 10 Dec 1896, p15


His wife Agnes (nee FINDLAY) was left with 5 children under the age of 9 - their daughter was only 3 weeks old!

Alexander was buried in Port Chalmers cemetery on the 5th December 1896.  Also buried on the plot were members of the GRANT family who I believe to be unrelated and a Robert JONES (according to the Cemeteries Database on the Dunedin Ciy Council website).  On the entry in the Cemeteries Database is the note:"GRANT PLOT: CONSENT OF CHURCH"

image via flickr
It seems that the church took pity on Alexander's family (who had only arrived in the country 3 years earlier) and because of their "very poor circumstances", buried him in this plot as an act of charity.

I am really keen to find any surviving inquest records as I know nothing about a brother called John!

Next Steps:
  • Locate inquest records (if any)
  • Search for church records that may mention the burial
  • Research 'brother John'

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Dating Photographs

A REID roadside picnic - 1928/9

A lot of magazine articles dedicated to the subject of dating photographs, would use clues such as fashion and the model of the car to date this photograph.  Fortunately, my grandmother wrote on the back of almost every photo so I can use my family tree to make the job a bit easier:

"Grandad Reid; Grandma Reid; Aunt Mona; & probably Ron; & Eric; Uncle Walter's car"
'Grandad and Grandma Reid' are Alexander Gibson REID and Janet HUNTER who married in Glasgow 1886 and emigrated to New Zealand soon after.  It's quite exciting to have photographs of people who for a long time were only names on the 1871 and 1881 censuses.

'Aunt Mona' was mentioned in my previous post so it is also quite exciting to have a picture of her.  'Uncle Walter' must have been taking the photo.  They married in 1925 - my grandmother and her older sister were flowergirls for their wedding - so the photo is obviously post 1925. 

Eric BRUNDELL, the baby being held by 'Grandma Reid', was born in October 1928 which means this photograph was taken late 1928 or early 1929.

'Grandad Reid' died in late 1929 which to me makes this photo as poignant as the one of Ngaire (see here).

I'd love to know the make and model of 'Uncle Walter's car'.  Any vintage car enthusiasts care to hasten a guess?

Saturday, 3 July 2010

The Buchan Trio

The Buchan Trio - 1925
Alex, Gwen & Ngaire BUCHAN

The photograph above is of my grandmother, Gwenyth Jean BUCHAN (centre) and her siblings - younger brother Alexander Lewis BUCHAN and older sister Ngaire Margaret BUCHAN (their youngest sister Margaret was to appear 6 years later).

Tragically, Ngaire died of peritonitis (a ruptured appendix) when she was only ten years old (December 1927). Grandma recalls that her family received Ngaire's school first prize after her death.  I'm not familiar with school 'prizes' but I assume this means she was a very clever little girl.  I can only imagine the tears that flowed when the mail was delivered that day.
I have two copies of this photograph.

On the back of one in an unknown hand is written 'With the Compliments of the Season. from the Buchan Trio - To Auntie & Uncle from Ngaire, Gwenyth & Alex'. I'm excited to think the handwriting is that of one of my great grandparents (Charles BUCHAN or Margaret Hunter REID).

On the back of the other, in my grandmother's handwriting is 'Ngaire (died at age of 10); Gwen; Alex; We were flower girls for Aunt Mona's wedding to Walter Brundell'.

A quick check of the family tree shows that Aunt Mona married Walter on the 1st June 1925.  This means that my grandmother was 2 weeks shy of her 5th birthday, Alex was under 2 and a half years old and Ngaire 9 and a half.  She was to pass away six months later.