How do I find the cause of death for a Thomas Gordon Dickinson who died in Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1908?
I have his French death certificate, but it does not state the cause of death, neither do the notices of his death in the local newspapers.
As I alluded to in an earlier comment to the question, sometimes missing information is itself information.
What were the practices of the day?
I am reminded of something @TamuraJones once said along the lines of, "Mistakes/errors/omission aren't all bad; often provide helpful clues or stimulate curiosity."
Specific to your case, I'm wondering if you too have thought about curious anomalies that might further some rationale questioning where he actually died (vs where he had residence or even temporary residence at the time of his death).
See the RootsChat dialog about this same death by RootsChat user user Geoff of Brighton (only perhaps our Geoff) posts earlier this year ["Re: Cause of death in France"]; providing that
Thomas Gordon Dickinson, age 46, and died after a long illness (I have been informed) on 23 Oct. 1908. His Probate states that he died in the Hotel de Paris (no longer in existance, as far as I can see), whilst his French Death Certificate states that de died at No. 13, rue de Boston, which according to Google street view is a terraced house.
From the same thread (...Cause of death in France), "Geoff of Brighton" comments about Thomas Gordon Dickinson's burial at "Boulogne Cemetery," saying that that "Boulogne Cemetery were unable to confirm, or so they said."
So, we have several references and what seems and oddity in the death certificate (we don't have access to the digital image of the death certificate). Might this suggest that he died elsewhere? Is it possible that "Hotel de Paris" has been confused with a hotel at Boulogne-sur-Mer or the one at Boulogne, the Paris suburb (aka, at Boulogne-Billancourt). The graphic below are the maps provided at Wikipedia for Boulogne-sur-Mer and Paris.
Ancestry.com public tree user Colin Baynes profiles this Thomas Grodon Dickinson, reporting the death 23 Oct 1908 at Hotel de Paris, Boulogne, France. Cites "England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index 1837-1915" and England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations, 1858-1966." (I was not able to view either of those records.)
Is is possible he died at a Hotel de Paris at a completely different location? There is a Hotel de Paris at Monte Carlo that seems quite famous; it opened in 1863.
Update: Below are a few miscellaneous Internet pages that I reviewed in the process of working on the question. These may be of assistance to others:
Cause of death can sometimes be found in the funeral records of a church, burial records of a cemetery, or in a city death registry. If place of death was a hospital or other institution, records may exist. Not sure when autopsies became required for suspicious deaths, but check if the death certificate was signed by an attending physician or a city coroner. Some newspapers ran a weekly or monthly coroner's report.
It appears that the French people do not put the cause of death on a death certificate. I am finding that out now, after my sister who lived in Paris for three years, passed away last month in her sleep. The French government have conducted an autopsy but it is their thing that they don't release any information about the cause of death. Even in the most routine cases such as death from natural causes in ordinary circumstance, there is no way to get an official confirmation of the medical cause of death. It could very well be the tradition back then in 1908.