The "Norasearch" Diary - by Andrew Conway

13 May 1999

The last few days have seen a familiar pattern, with me heading for town before 3pm and ending up on Floor 6 of the library, addictively researching the Parkers until 7 or 8pm, then heading home, dizzy with hunger.

In an attempt to find out more on Honora's father's death I turn my attention to the Register of Deaths, in much the same way as I started out with Honora's birth just eleven days ago (is it really only that long?). The entry reads:

Parker, Robert W.   Aged 39   Birmingham   Vol. 6d   Page 71 (or perhaps 21).

Such a simple line, but so shocking. Just how did Robert die so young? The death certificate will tell me, of course, and I will buy it soon. It will clear up the insanity question.

Armed with an age for him, I take out the birth records and try to find him there but this proves difficult. The age at death suggests he was born in 1873, and these are the likely entries for that year:

Robert William Parker Camberwell June quarter
Robert Parker Wolverhampton September quarter
Robert William Parker Gateshead December quarter

(Camberwell is in London, Gateshead is in the north-east near Newcastle upon Tyne. There are many other Robert Parkers but I only include the Wolverhampton one because he was born so close to Birmingham. The quarters are Jan-MARCH, April-JUNE, July-SEP and Oct-DEC).

Allowing for some overlap either side of 1873, there are also these outside possibilities:

From 1872:

Robert William Parker Doncaster March quarter
Robert William Parker Gateshead (sic) September quarter
Robert William Parker Thanet December quarter

(Doncaster is in South Yorkshire, but I can't find a Thanet listed in my Great Britain road atlas at home)

From 1874:

Robert William Parker Bellingham June quarter

(Bellingham is a tiny place on the Pennine Way)

And those are all the Robert William Parkers born in the UK for those three years, and not a single one in Birmingham. It doesn't make me any the wiser. Perhaps the death certificate will also contain a birth date for him; if so, it will be easy to work out which of the above is our man.

Copyright © 1999 Andrew Conway. All Rights Reserved.