#52Ancestors – Cause of Death

2018 Week 43

Although there are lots of missing weeks, I am going to try to gradually fill them out. In addition, I am going to start a parallel blog that will be more my chance to write about ancestors as I discover them (rather than taking a theme) or they come up in my research or discussions, events I have attended, and other relevant genealogy topics that I just fancy writing about.

This week’s theme is Cause of Death. I am going to write about two of my ancestors whose death certificates contained more unusual causes of death.

Firstly George Harding (my 4xgreat-grandfather) who lived in Broughton Gifford, Wiltshire. The relationship to George is via my maternal grandmother, her mother Emma Elizabeth Garfoot (see several other blogs about Emma), her mother Ann Harding, her father also George Garfoot and hence to his father, the George being discussed today.

George was baptised on 15 August 1764 in Melksham, Wiltshire and his parents were Jeremiah Harding and Olive Keen. In the 1851 census, he gave his place of birth as Broughton Gifford, Wiltshire so it’s not clear if he was born there or if he just spent most of his life there. He married Ann Russell on 2 August 1792 in Broughton Gifford. They had at least five children: Jeremiah (1793-1860 – never married), Mary (1795-1876 – never married), John (1796-1875 – married Mary Norris then Elizabeth Comely), Jane (1804-1885 – never married) and George (1808-1886 – married Sarah Comley then Michal Knee). George senior was a carpenter and wheelwright.

George lived a long life and died on 30 November 1853. His death certificate gave his age as 90 and his cause of death is one of my favourites. It is given as ‘Visitation of God’.

Secondly at the other end of the scale was Thomas Lageu (my 3xgreat grandfather). The relationship to Thomas is via my paternal grandmother, her mother Ethel Hudson Smith, her mother Caroline Lageu and hence to her father Thomas Lageu.

Thomas Lageu was baptised on 30 September 1831 at St Mary’s, Reading, Berkshire and his parents were Thomas Lageu and Frances Holloway. He married Caroline Jones on 16 June 1869 at St George Hanover Square, London. They had at least seven children: Caroline (1860-? – married Frederick William Norman Smith), Thomas (1861-?), Charles (1862-1905 – married Minnie Lewington), George (1864-?), William (1866-1875), Henry (1869-1869) and Francis (1869-1869). Thomas Lageu was a licenced victualler and ran a number of pubs around London – there will be a future blog about his career. The final pub he ended up at was the Two Black Boys on Well Street, Hackney, London. It was there that he died on 30 January 1873. When I first ordered his death certificate, I was still investigating who his parents were and trying to see if there was a family member who was the informant. What I read was more shocking – the cause of death was ‘Violently self-cut throat of unsound mind’.

An article in The Borough of Hackney Express and Shoreditch Observer on 1 February 1873 stated:

The neighbourhood of South Hackney was on Thursday night thrown into a state of some excitement at the discovery that Mr. League, the landlord of the “Black Boy” public-house in Well-street, had committed suicide by cutting his throat. The fatal occurrence took place about 9 o’clock. The police and a medical man were at once called in, but medical aid was of no avail and the unfortunate man died soon after the painful discovery was made. The deceased has, we understand, been confined to his bed for some time, and has suffered a good deal, and it appears that he committed the fatal act during the momentary absence of those who were attending upon him.

A further article stated in the Hackney and Kingsland Gazette on the same day stated:

On Thursday evening about nine o’clock, Mr. Thomas Lague, the landlord of the Black Boy, Well-street, Hackney, cut his throat in a frightful manner with a razor and expired shortly afterwards. The deceased gentleman who was 41 years of age had been confined to his bed by illness for some considerable time.

A further article in that paper a week later on 8 February reported on the inquest:

The inquest on Mr. Thomas Lague, of the “Black Boy”, Well-street, Hackney, was held at that house, before Mr. J. Humphreys, coroner, on Monday last. The evidence proved that the deceased had been for a long time suffering from a painful disease, and, during the absence of the nurse, he obtained possession of a razor, with which he inflicted the injuries on his throat, which resulted in almost immediate death. The jury brought in a verdict of suicide whilst in a state of unsound mind.

All in all quite a sad way to go – especially noting he left five young children and his wife had died a few years earlier. There will be a further blog on their adoption following his death.

So these are two very different causes of death within my family.

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