Sundays Obituary – Thomas May

A distant cousin and I had spent lots of time trying to find the death of our mutual ancestor Thomas May, without success.

Thomas is my 3x great-grandfather and he was born in Hinckley, Leicestershire in c1819, the son of William May and Catherine Townsend.  During his life he had lived in Hinckley, Nottingham and Birmingham so we needed to consider all these places when we searched for his death.

I managed to order an incorrect certificate – the age and occupation were both wrong; but I prefer to think of it as part of the process of elimination rather than being yet another £9.00 out of pocket!


My cousin had asked for help on both the Ancestry and Roots Chat forums but without luck.

Then a general search on the British Newspaper Archive  revealed the following death notice in the Leicester Chronicle of 22nd August 1874;


Thanks to the definite date and place I managed to find the GRO reference and order the certificate:


To my delight everything matched up – the newspaper said Thomas had died at the home of his sister in Belgrave, while the informant on the death certificate was John Evans.  Thomas had a sister, Elizabeth, who had married John Evans.  In the 1871 census, Thomas was living with Elizabeth and John Evans at their pub in Aston, Birmingham.

Thomas May’s death was attributed to ‘hepatic dropsy’ or an accumulation of fluid in the liver, possibly cirrhosis.  As well as being a hosier he had also been a publican; the cause of his death suggests he had enjoyed being a landlord far too much!

Newspaper Credit: Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury (Leicester, England), Saturday, August22, 1874; pg. 9; Issue 3395. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II

© Caroline Cox and Caroline’s Chronicles. 2011 – current year

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