When I undertake research into my family history I learned a long time ago that it works best for me to keep looking slightly off-centre, even when looking for the most specific information on an individual. You never know what unexpected snippet of information is going to turn up, so I find its always worth looking a few pages forward, a few pages back, to see if there are any other bits of information which might correspond to another one of your family members.
And so it was with finding John William Lait.
|The grave of my great(x2) grandfather - Charles Augustine LAITE|
Image (c) 2014 - Graham Seaman
I was carrying out research on the grave of my great(x2) grandfather, Charles Augustine (or as he latterly became known, Austin) Laite who is buried in Allerton Cemetary, Liverpool. Charles had been married twice, the first time to Mary Ann Graham, the second to Mary Ann Corkindale. The majority of the people in the grave are descended from his second marriage and so I was concentrating my research in looking at this family line.
I began to run through a few internet searches of the other names on the grave - Catherine, George E., Mary A. Laite etc., and it was while I was doing this that the following link showed up:
|Coroner's report - Liverpool Mercury - 4 January 1894|
Image (c) 2014 - OldMerseyTimes.co.uk
It was a report from the Liverpool Mercury from 4 January 1894 regarding the accidental death of a young lad, John W. Laite aged 12 years old, in Liverpool. The report states that ‘…on Christmas Day the deceased with his little brother in the absence of his parents, while playing near the fire with a paraffin lamp, spilled some oil on his trousers which caught fire. He was severely burned and died on Tuesday at Mill Road Infirmary.’
The verdict of the coroner was ‘accidental death’.
I had already found that this was a relatively common occurrence during the period as I had looked into other instances of accidental burning after finding another relative, my g(x2) grandmother, had suffered the same fate. I had previously thought that maybe this type of accidental death would be far more common for girls rather than boys. I felt that this might be the case as the deaths appeared to be linked to the type of clothing which the girls would have been wearing (flowing skirts and nightshirts etc.), and the fact that most coal fires in those days would have been open and not had a guard in front of it. However, the fact that the boy had spilled oil on his trousers meant that John’s death could possibly be blamed more on the type of flammable materials his clothes were made from, rather than the type of clothing itself.
The name John W. Lait seemed to be familiar to me, but after checking my database I found that he was not related to Charle’s marriage to his second wife at all.
I had only a small amount of information on my own John W. previously, but there could be little doubt in my mind that here was the son of Charles Augustine and his first wife, Mary Ann Graham, my great(x2) grandmother, whose cause of death aged 50 on 10 January 1904 was said to be ‘…shock and exhaustion due to burns received by her clothes accidentally catching fire on the 9th instant…’
|Mary Ann LAITE - death certificate 10 January 1904|
Image (c) 2014 - Graham Seaman
I am waiting on the death certificate for John to be absolutely sure, but it would seem that here we have the most tragic of coincidences… Mary Ann’s son is horrifically burned on Christmas Day in 1894, and then my great grandmother suffer’s the same fate herself almost exactly 10 years afterwards.
For further information regarding some of the more common (and also uncommon) causes of death in the Victorian era, you can find further information on the excellent blog at Victorian Domestic Dangers.com
All Content (c) 2014 - Graham Seaman