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Informants qualifications

Discussion in 'General Genealogical Queries' started by Rhian, Jan 4, 2018.

  1. Rhian

    Rhian LostCousins Member

    I have been collaborating with some potential cousins to find if we are linked. In this process we have come across a death registration where the informant may be the 8 year old grandson. Could that be possible?

    There were three generations with a man called William, the middle William signed his name on his marriage registration, the younger marked his cross when he married. The death was registered between these two events by a William junior who marked his X. The implication is that the youngest of the three registered the death when he was 8 years old.

    It is not clear from the GRO site if there is a minimum age to be an informant now, or if there ever was. It is implied you now need to produce evidence of your ID from a driving license or utility bill which an 8 year old would not have now and certainly not in the mid 1800's.

    Has anyone come across children being informants?
  2. Tim

    Tim Moderator Staff Member

    A fourth William?
  3. SuzanneD

    SuzanneD LostCousins Star

    It's not clear to me whether the informant is listed as 'William junior' on the certificate, or just William? 'Senior' and 'junior' don't automatically mean father and son. I've found parish registrations where 'senior' and 'junior' refer to uncle and nephew of the same name, for example.

    Or it could be as simple as middle William having hurt his hand, or been ill himself, or not been bothered to try to write if he wasn't very literate, and therefore he chose not to sign on the day. How confident is the signature on the marriage certificate?
  4. Rhian

    Rhian LostCousins Member

    Well there dozens of Williams up / down and across these lines which does not help but it does seem there were only the three consecutive that might be of interest, other Williams did live further away. The death is for the wife of the oldest but the youngest is the one living with her, the cause of death was interesting "over use of strong drink" which is why nobody else would stay with her perhaps.

    The informant on the death registration is listed as William Junior. The older two Williams were both literate and worked as tailors, the marriage of the middle William is a very clear example of a well written signature. It does seem from most evidence that the eight year old William was the informant and I have not found any evidence of an age limit for informants.
  5. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Star

    I don't think there is any age limit as such to register a death but I think usually the registrar would need to be satisfied that a child was old enough to understand what they were doing. Some 8 year olds might be mature enough while others definitely wouldn't.

    These days, the next of kin is generally expected to register a death, if they are able to. If not, then another close family member would normally do it.

    What is William's qualification as given on the certificate - that is, what is his relationship to the deceased given as? If not a relative, then his qualification to register the death may be "present at the death" or "causing the body to be buried" or "in attendance". It may be that the qualification will help you work out which William it is.
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  6. Rhian

    Rhian LostCousins Member

    Good point Pauline, I rechecked the certificate, most of what I posted above was from emails between the cousins. The informant was just listed as W. Patterson Jnr., in attendance but his address was different to that of his grandmother. Both of the younger Williams lived near his address in the next census, the grandmother died at an address a few hundred metres away.
    I think most 8 year olds these days would be to immature to be trusted, possibly some 18 year olds as well, but in the mid 19th century quite a lot of young people were working and in some cases the main bread winner so might ell be regarded as mature. This looks like being marked as 'check when I get a time machine."
  7. Heather

    Heather LostCousins Member

    I have not found any information regarding registering a death that states the informant needs to be of a certain age, if they have a death certificate and all the other relevent information eg birth certificate , marriage certificate, full name, maiden name of the deceased etc it seems that would be enough information to be able to register the death.
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  8. Susan48

    Susan48 LostCousins Star

    In England and Wales the age of criminal responsibility is 10, but in Scotland it's 8 (although the age of criminal prosecution was raised to 12 in 2010). So in Scotland at least 8 is considered to be a responsible age.
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