Part 164c – Smith Robertson Genealogy – 1880 Death – GG-Grandfather William Crossley

06 January 2010


This segment of my research affords thoughts of a very old cold case. The paperwork may elicit the feeling that there may be more to this than really meets the eye. (Or it’s just maybe I’ve been watching too many Law and Order and Bones episodes on TV.)

Following Part 163c and Part 157c, in Part 149cp I provided the details and information of the 10 October 1863 marriage of gg-grandparents William and Elizabeth (née Parker) Crossley. Making a quick tabular summary of gg-grandfather William’s life from the documentation and information that I have been able to compile I can see what I have and what I need to find.

As the 1881 Census registered gg-grandmother Elizabeth (née Parker) Crossley a widow, I began my search of the Civil Register Index via FreeBMD for a compatible death entry for gg-grandfather William. I discovered an entry in the Index for the 1st Quarter of 1880.

Transcribed –
81 DEATHS registered in January, February, and March 1880. [CRO
Age – 40
District – Todmorden
Vol. – 9a
Page 174

I provided the above identified information to the General Register Office in England and received a Certified Copy of An Entry of Death for a William Crossley dated 8 January 1880. To date based on all other information and corresponding cross-references this is the Death Entry for gg-grandfather William.

In my attempt to transcribe the written information the details of the death and results of the inquest dated 9 January 1880 may be somewhat of suspect when the cause of death is prefixed with the word “Probably”. The following is my transcription of the Entry:
Application Number COL674828
1880 DEATH in the Sub-district of Todmorden in the Counties of York and Lancaster
No. – 8
When and where died – Eighth January 1880 In Canal at Hollins Pool, Walsden, Lancashire
Name and surname – William Crossley
Sex – Male
Age – 40 years
Occupation – Cotton Operative Overlooker
Cause of Death – Probably drowned by falling into said Canal
Signature, description and residence of informant – Certificate received from John Molesworth, Coroner for Lancashire – Inquest held ninth January 1880
When registered – Ninth January 1880
Signature of registrar – J. W. Blomley, Deputy Registrar.

The corresponding cross-references of the victim to gg-grandfather William Crossley are his name, his age, the District, and his occupation. There is no family member’s name included as the informant which in most cases seem to be the norm. The entry for cause of death “Probably drowned by falling into said Canal” certainly initiates additional questions. The word “Probably” is such an open-ended word.

The Death Entry indicates that gg-grandfather William died “In Canal at Hollins Pool,” but once coupled with the use of the phrase “Probably drowned by falling into said Canal” sort-of gives me the impression that the Coroner, Mr. John Molesworth was not absolutely convinced that he may have died by drowning. Could he have died by other means? Could he have died by some other way and then his body thrown into the Canal?

Could this have been an accidental death? My next research step would be to try and find the Coroner’s Certificate. Would it have any other details as to the “Inquest held” on 9 January 1880? Quite a bit to think about…




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