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Berkshire Family Historian
September 2001

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Berkshire Family Historian
Main Page, September 2001 Contents

An unexpected surprise from the NBI

Gillian Stevens

My great great great grandfather, Eusebius Coles married in London, baptised his children in London, is on the 1841 census in London, and also appeared in several street directories as the owner of a soap-making factory in Lambeth, London. As he clearly died after the start of civil registration in 1837 he should appear in the General Registrar's Office indexes to death certificates. Hours and hours of searching for all known variations (Coal(e)(s), Col(e)(s), Kol(e)(s), Koal(e)(s)), and many lesser known combinations failed to turn up an entry so it seemed his death was missing, although it might appear on a local registrar's office index - but which one?

I found his marriage on the International Genealogical Index but burials have been omitted, as they are not necessary for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to complete their temple ordinances. The IGI has now been supplemented by the first edition of the National Burial Index (NBI) published in May by the Federation of Family History Societies. Fortunately, I was able to help with the beta testing of an earlier version of the software (yes, it does work with A3 size printers) and, of course, Eusebius Coles was one of the various names I tried. I didn't expect to find him, as London is not well covered in the first edition of the NBI. Imagine my glee when I found the death of a Eusebius Coles in 1852 at Woodford by Thrapston in Northamptonshire.

After finding the burial I checked the parish register at the Northamptonshire Record Office. I also found the monumental inscriptions for the church with a map of the churchyard. At Easter I was able to visit the churchyard, take a photograph of Eusebius's gravestone and that of his daughter, Mary, together with one of the Church. I had a tingly feeling having finally found the grave of my great great great grandfather.

St Mary's Church, Woodford, nr Thrapston, Northamptonshire.

In the Northamptonshire 1851 census, I found the retired Eusebius was living at Rose Cottage, Woodford, with a different wife, and this prompted me to find his first wife's death in London. This had previously been an impossible task as her name was Jane and I had no idea of the likely date. From his 1848 marriage certificate I was able to find the name of Eusebius's father, Joseph Coles, a vital piece of information not recorded for the first marriage in 1808. I was hot on the trail again.

You may not be as lucky as I was. The first edition of the NBI contains five million or so records on two CDROMS, mainly from the period 1800 to 1850. That represents a substantial number of burials and work continues, by members of this Society amongst others, to make the second edition more comprehensive. Stephen Archer's search program is very easy to use, although it is limited to Windows PCs. Not all family history societies have contributed extracts from their burial indexes, so you would be wise to cheek the coverage before buying your own copy. But, then again, are you sure you know where your ancestor was buried? I thought I had a good idea where Mr. Coles might be found.

The first edition of the NBI is available, price £30, from the Society Bookstall. If you'd like to contribute to the next edition (currently planned for 2004) please contact David Wright, the Berkshire Family History Society co-ordinator, or the co­ordinator for your local family history society.


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updated 27th November 2001