Suicides and Crime Genealogy–Know Your Burial Procedure

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Suicides and Crime Genealogy–Know Your Burial Procedure

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Photo by Robert McDonald- St. James Cemetery Walk

 

Some times it gets frustrating not finding church records or headstones for those searching their families genealogy. If one of your ancestors took a dram of Carbolic Acid or Paris Green, or charged with a felony, chances are you will have great difficulty in finding them.

Church law on suicides has never been as simple as many make out, in most cases it fell on the the locals to decide whether the body could be buried in the churchyard or not and indeed whether he would perform the funeral service in the church at the grave or not at all.


In the St, James Anglican Church cemetery in Carleton Place there are bodies buried on the outside of the fence near the road as they had been charged with a crime or committed suicide. The responsibility of deciding in what case the exceptions be made was once thrown upon the clergyman who had cure of all the souls in the parish where the suicide is to be buried.

In the year 1823 it was enacted that the body of a suicide should be buried privately between the hours of nine and twelve at night, with no religious ceremony. In 1882 this law was altered where every penalty was removed except that internment could not be solemnised by a burial service, and the body may now be committed to the earth at any time, and with such rites or prayers as those in charge of the funeral think fit or may be able to procure. It was now lawful for these to be buried in consecrated ground, although without the benefit of a religious service. It also brought to an end the tradition of driving a stake through the body and throwing lime over it.


Before 1880 no body could be buried in consecrated ground except with the service of the Church, which the incumbent of the parish or a person authorized by him was bound to perform; but the canons and prayer-book refused the use of the office for excommunicated persons, for some grievous and notorious crime, and no person able to testify of his repentance, unbaptized persons, and persons against whom a verdict of felony had been found. .

 

 

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At a burial in a cemetery (as opposed to churchyards) there would have been the usual burial service (always assuming that there were mourners there to attend of course). It wouldn’t have been any different to any other funeral really, and the grave could have been in either consecrated or unconsecrated ground.

Not all ground in a cemetery is consecrated because if you think about it logically, there are burials for all different sorts of religions and creeds and it would not do for a Muslim for example to be buried in consecrated ground, or someone of the Jewish faith to be interred in such ground. These faiths usually have their own sections within cemetery grounds.

Deaths by suicide are eventually registered in the normal way however as the death is “unexpected” it will be reported to the Coroner and he will hold an inquest. If such a death occurred in your family in the past there should be some record within the coroner’s office – but not sure how long they keep the records – not all coroners keep them since the year dot!!

 

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From - The Dominion Annual Register For the Twentieth Year of the Canadian
Union 1886.  Edited by Harry James Morgan.

RECORD OF ACCIDENTAL DEATHS, SUICIDES, &C. 1886

CLICK HERE CLICK HERE

 

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Clipped from The Pittsburgh Press,  16 Jul 1911, Sun,  Page 2

 

 

Believe it or Not!!!-

Clipped from The Brandon Sun,  08 Jul 1975, Tue,  Page 12

 

Clipped from The Winnipeg Tribune,  24 Sep 1915, Fri,  Page 9

 

Clipped from The Coffeyville Daily Journal,  02 Jan 1897, Sat,  Page 2

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

 

relatedreading

Twitching or Grave Dousing– Our Haunted Heritage

The Sad Lives of Young Mothers and Children in Early Carleton Place

The Non Kosher Grave — Our Haunted Heritage

Tales of the Tombstones — The Crozier Children

 

 

 

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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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