Monday, April 12, 2010

The Death of Maria Bunting Platts

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Above is the Death Certificate for Maria Bunting Platts. My best transcription, with the handwritten items in italic and typed ones in bold:

Certified Copy of an Entry of Death

Given at the General Registry Office

Application No. COL199776

Registration District: Bakewell in the County of Derby

1865 Death in the Sub-District of Matlock

No. 344

When and Where Died: Fifth June 1865, Upperwood, Matlock Bath

Name and Surname: Maria Platts

Sex: Female

Age: 25 years

Occupation: Wife of John Platts, a Framesmith Journeyman

Cause of Death: Tubercular Peritonitis Certified

Signature, description and residence of informant: John Platts, Present at the Death, Upperwood, Matlock Bath

When Registered: Sixth June 1865

Signature of Registrar: Joseph Hallows, Registrar

(remainder of writing pertains to modern day assurances of authenticity)


(1) With their wedding date of 16 July 1864 and a death date of 5 June 1865, John and Maria were married less than a year. In addition, John married Sarah Redfern on 12 June 1867, just about two years after Maria's death. If this seems fast, it was quite common in those days, with many people dying young. Often a widower with small children would remarry within six months of the death of his wife. This was for the practical reason of who would take care of the kids and manage the house (no small task itself).

(2) It is interesting to note that she was 21 on her wedding certificate, but in one year, she aged to 25 on her death certificate.

(3) Tubercular Peritonitis is defined (in 1907 medical terms) as Chronic inflammation of the peritoneum, with thickening and degeneration of this layer. (The peritoneum is the membrane that forms the lining of the abdominal cavity, and covers most of the intra-abdominal organs.) According to the 1907 document I read, this disease "develops insidiously, the symptoms in the earlier stages being more or less obscure, and of little clinical significance. Disorders of digestion are always present to some extent". The disease then progressed undetected until it was very painful and the outlook was not favorable. If one did not catch it in the early stages (when it was easy to pass off as indigestion or gas), then it was usually fatal. A change of diet and climate were often prescribed.

(4) Matlock Bath is best known as a fashionable retreat for the wealthy and a setting for many Jane Austin novels. However, it was also home to many sanitoriums for health where the sick would go for a change in climate as well as care. It may be this reason that John and Maria were there at the time of her death, and not in Lea/Holloway.

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