Discover death and in memoriam notices sourced from our large library of British newspapers. Learn how your ancestors commemorated those they had lost and add vital details to your family tree.
Each record consists of a transcript and original image of the newspaper page where the death or in memoriam notice was published. Death notices were typically printed soon after the individual passed away and contained details about the deceased’s age and address. Death notices may also feature information about the deceased’s family, such as their parents or spouse.
In memoriam notices are different to death notices. These were often published on a significant anniversary of a person’s death. In memoriam notices are generally more personal and may contain embellishments like poetry or a pertinent quote. They might be penned in the first person and provide insight into the lives of those the deceased left behind. They may also feature such expressions as ‘you are never out of my thoughts’ and ‘never forgotten’ to commemorate the loss of a loved one. Meanwhile, in memoriam notices also contain vital information, like the date of the deceased’s death and where they lived.
As time went by, families began to submit more personal death notices, mirroring the emotions expressed by in memoriam notices. You may find such moving sentiments as ‘a mother in a million’ and ‘God bless, darling’ in death notices printed in the late nineteenth century onwards.
The amount of information included in every death and in memoriam notice will vary, but you will be able to uncover a combination of the following:
First and last name
Death year and date of death
Age at death
Place of death
County and country of death
Spouse’s first and last names
Father’s first and last names
Mother’s first and last names
Child’s first and last names
Sibling’s first and last names
You can also find the following information about the publication in which the death or in memoriam notice appeared:
Publication date and year
Publication town or city
These death and in memoriam notices have been sourced from our collection of newspapers from across England, Wales, and Scotland, and span the 19th and 20th centuries. Death and in memoriam notices often sat alongside other types of family notices, such as notices of births and marriages. Whilst the early press did contain such announcements, it was not until the 19th century that these types of notices became more formalised.
As the amount of newspapers increased in Britain, and literacy rates improved, readers were encouraged to submit notices of family events for a fee. Indeed, the fact that these announcements had to be paid for would often affect the phrasing and the length of the notice. This economic factor also means that not all of the population would have been able to afford the insertion of their important life events into the press.
However, you will find that many newspapers often devoted multiple columns to their notices of births, marriages and deaths. They appeared as a recurring feature in daily and weekly publications, and their popularity endures even today.
Some deaths were announced without the inclusion of a first name, instead only using an initial. Try searching by surname and the year of death to find such records. Meanwhile, married women sometimes had their deaths announced using the names of their husbands. Entries announcing the death of ‘Mrs John Smith,’ or ‘the wife of Mr John Smith,’ are common, especially in earlier death notices. Therefore, it is worth searching for the name of a deceased woman’s spouse to uncover such death notices.
Death notices are filled with all sorts of abbreviations, from those to do with dates, such as ‘on the 5th inst.’ (short for ‘the 5th of this month’) and occupations, such as ‘Rev’ (short for ‘Reverend’). Others denote rank, like ‘Esq.’ (short for ‘Esquire’), which historically denoted a landed proprietor or country squire.
Watch out for mistakes. We know that not everything printed in the press is true, and this can even be said of death and in memoriam notices. Names may be spelled incorrectly at the time of printing. To mitigate this, you can use our name variants tool, or even or wild card search functionality.
The location search can be used to narrow down multiple results. Check the location of the nearest town or city to where the death occurred and use this to hone your search. Most towns had their own local newspaper by the end of the 19th century, meaning that you can be specific with your location search. Alternatively, the family may have chosen to submit the death notice to a newspaper in one of the larger towns or cities in their home county.