Buried in No Time

You don’t have to look at many death and burial records to get the impression that the modal length of time between each event is three days, in the 19th century at least, (and in a Christian nation).

With only a burial record to hand, I routinely add my person of interest’s death three days earlier.

Adding “about” is obviously good practice but whenever I later found a death record the caution proved to have been unnecessary in most cases. But not all.

I looked online yesterday for figures that would show how often a three-day “guess” might be correct. Genealogists in York have compiled a dataset that answers my needs perfectly. They looked at almost 122,000 death and burial records and found that almost 53,000 of the departed had been buried on the third day.

So, a 3-day estimate would be right, roughly, two times in five. From my experience of Filey folk, I thought the odds of success would have been higher than that. If for some reason you decided to guess at two days, or four, your chance of being correct would fall to one in five.

Burials two, three or four days after death account for about 89% of the total.

What triggered this passing interest was finding a couple of people who were buried on the day of their death. I couldn’t really imagine why this would happen in Victorian Britain and doubted the reliability of the sources.

The York experience shows that 220 people were buried on the day they died, or 0.18%, or 1 chance in about 55,500 of being right if you placed your bet on zero.

Here is a graph of the York distribution for the first 9 postmortem days.


One of the two Filonians quickly interred is Henry EMPTAGE. He was 17-years-old. His father, a preventive officer and coastguard, had drowned off Flamborough Head in January 1841 and when the Census was taken a few months later, Henry was staying with older brother James in Lincolnshire, with James’ wife Elizabeth and her father, William HARRISON. (Some records give “HARVISON”.)

The York dataset can be found here.

Victorian Monsters offers a lot of information about Victorian funerary practices.

Find the EMPTAGE pedigree on FamilySearch Tree. (Filey Genealogy & Connections gives James the Coastguard different parents and I’m not sure yet which resource is more reliable.)


In memory of CHARLOTTE, widow of JAMES EMPTAGE, who died Sep 8th 1873, aged 78 years.

Also the above named JAMES EMPTAGE, Chief Officer of the Coast Guard, Filey, died Jan 15th 1841 and was interred at Flamboro, aged 47 years.

Likewise, ELLEN their daughter, died Aug. 27th 1851, aged 27 years.

HENRY, died May 6th 1843, aged 17 years, and GEORGE, July 21st 1831, aged 1 year 9 months.

The Stonemason’s Wife

Charlotte EMPTAGE died 127 years ago today so I checked on her FamilySearch Tree record. Her pedigree is more substantial than others I have looked at recently (ID: K8KB-WGQ). I wrote a couple of short posts about her father James EMPTAGE and husband John Sumpton FOX on the old Looking at Filey and have copied the latter as a “Memory” to FST rather than give you the link to the Wayback Machine. (John Sumpton’s ID: MGCB-6TX.)

Charlotte’s headstone is by the south-west gate to the churchyard, numbered A1 in the Crimlisks’ Survey of Monumental Inscriptions – reason enough to put a photograph of it on FST as a ‘memory’ to her and infant son Francis. It felt a bit like breaking the ice, though I actually put up my first headstone photograph on FST a few weeks ago. I have well over a hundred stone pictures ready to go so will try to upload more in the coming weeks.

The old LaF post included a link which probably doesn’t work on the UK Web Archive but in my saved Word doc it took me to the LaF Wiki. I’m amazed that website has survived (thanks PB Works) so I feel obliged now to give it a thorough spring clean. There’s plenty of dead wood to clear out but also a lot of information that may be of value to someone, sometime. I have just realised I edited out the reference to the headstone of Charlotte’s father in the Fox Memory so if you are interested in sampling the goods at the Wiki start here. I will, over time, replace the red fctIDs (Filey Community Tree) with FST IDs.

I did about three hours work on the short-lived STONEHOUSEs this morning. John married Isabella THOMPSON in early 1856, taking on, it appears, her illegitimate daughter Selina as his own. John and Bella welcomed their first child into the world towards the end of the year but young Henry Richard died at the age of two. Bella followed him to the next world about four years later. I think John remarried but there are several men with his name on the Yorkshire coast, and of a similar age, and I haven’t been able to sort them out yet. You can check on my FST progress with the family via John’s ID: MGCB-BCZ. (I thought I’d created a record for Selina but she seems to have disappeared.)

I did find some time for my Ain Folk today. I took possession of a copy of my atDNA file and put it on GEDmatch. In a day or two I should be able to access the One to Many Matches. My Heritage has supplied me with about 80 matches so far and it will be interesting to see how much this number will grow. I’m hoping GEDmatch will point me more surely towards the potential cousins I should be contacting as a priority.