Saturday, November 17, 2007

Harvesting Brains

Ellis Brain's death certificate arrived yesterday. It tells me that he was a retired underwriter, the cause of death, and where he lived, but there's no indication of him having ever married or having children. Like my grandfather, his first cousin, he died a few weeks before his 80th birthday.

I did a telephone lookup on the net and cold-called the small number of Brains living in that part of Sussex to see if they may have had any connection. While I had a couple of engaging conversations about their Brain forebears, none knew of Ellis, and any family connection was unlikely to be more recent than 150yrs ago.

One of them was rather amused when I told him that I kept coming across death records of unnamed Brain infants, simply labelled in the record as "Female Brain" or "Male Brain". None from Venus or Mars.

The death certificate for Maria Sidnie Brain (nee Williams, Ellis' mother) just arrived. She died in Camberwell 16 May 1945, with the informant being another son - R.M. Brain, and there's an address in SE21. The hunt continues.



Genes Reunited dribbled out a few more search credits to compensate me for the problems I've been having with their shoddy BMD indices, but gave no indication of how to access pages in overlapping letter-ranges, or that they were stunned enough by my results to fix the underlying problems. By yesterday evening I had documented about 80 quarters of hopelessly mismatched data. I doubt they will get onto the problem quickly - it took them about 2 years to remove their list of 30-something Australian "states".

In future I will use another site like Find My Past to do searches of 20th century BMD records. They cost a little more, but each page is precisely identifiable from its first and last name. I usually look on the FreeBMD pages first, but while their indexing is the best of all their cover is incomplete both geographically and chronologically.

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