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When I do not need or wish to obtain a death certificate, I have often used the National Probate Calendar for England & Wales as my main source for death date and place information (in conjunction, of course, with the GRO index).

I have noticed that the inclusion of a death place in the NPC is somewhat variable, and up until 1967 a note along the following lines is included at the beginning of each volume: Note - In every case in which the place of Death is not specifically mentioned it may be taken to be the same as the residence of the deceased.

This would imply that any instances where the place of death is not included in the index, one can assume that the individual died at their place of residence. However, I have one or two cases where I have reason to doubt this is always true - for example, a case where a death was registered in a district different to the district of residence (yet no death place noted in the NPC).

Therefore, my questions are:

  • Is it reasonable to assume in cases where no place of death is specified that the place of death was indeed the place of residence?
  • What is the original source data for the information appearing in the National Probate Calendar? Would the death certificate always have been consulted?
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I can only say that when I submitted a Probate Application Form earlier this year, one of the documents required to go with it, was an "Official copy of death certificate or coroner's letter". The current form has no other space for the place of death, so the only current source can be the death certificate.

The interesting aspect is that the idea that a death can only be registered in the district where it occurred is no longer true - if it ever was. The current rules about registering a death under the legal system in England & Wales do state that, under some circumstances (maybe all?):

"You can go to any register office but if you use the one in the area where the person died you’ll be given the documents you’ll need on the day.

"If you use a different register office the documents will be sent to the office in the area where the person died before they’re issued to you. This means you’ll usually wait a few days."

Massive caveats here about this being the current situation.

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    Thanks Adrian for this info. My impression is that for a death registered in a district in which it did not occur, the information was sent to the relevant district register office so it would appear in the correct register (and thus be indexed by the GRO under the correct district). – Harry Vervet Sep 16 '15 at 14:37
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    Oh yes - good thinking - that would be a very plausible reading of the rules. – AdrianB38 Sep 16 '15 at 14:45
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It is true to say that a death can only be registered in the district in which it occurred.

What can happen is that the information can be given to a registrar in another district who completes a legal form called a declaration and then sends that on to the correct district where the registration then actually takes place. The resultant register entry will have the words "by declaration dated ..." in the informant space because the informant won't be present to sign the register entry themselves.

It is a common procedure for births, much less common for deaths.

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    Hi Antony & welcome. Thank you for your response. Just to tie your answer back to the original question, are you saying that for the case where the death was registered in a district different from the individual's place of residence, the omission of the death place from the NPC must just be a clerical error? – Harry Vervet Sep 17 '15 at 13:57
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    Welcome to G&FH.SE! If you have a citation or examples from your own research to share, feel free to add them by using the edit link under your answer. – Jan Murphy Sep 17 '15 at 16:50
  • @vervet - the death has to be registered in the district in which it occurred. If the place of residence does not fall within that district, then the death must have occurred elsewhere. As with any record I the NPC can always be subject to error or omission. – AntonyM Sep 18 '15 at 7:38

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