Buried treasures Burial permits are treasure troves of genealogical jewels
A sample burial permit The following information was found on: Microfilm Reel - number 8, page 85 Local Board of Health Return of Death on Application for a Burial Permit
Date of Death: January 29, 1908
Name of Deceased: Ann DeBoo
Age: 66 years
Single, Married or Widowed: Married
If married, Woman's Husband's Name: William DeBoo
Residence: 455 Main Street
Place of Death: St. John
Place of Birth: Hampton, Kings County
Name of Father: James Kenny
Birthplace of Father: Ireland
Place of Interment: Old Catholic Cemetery
Nature of Disease or Cause of Death: Asthmatic Bronchitis
Name of Physician: James Christie M.D.
Name of Undertaker: John O'Neil
Applicant: William DeBoo
Back in 1889, the City of Saint John Board of Health wanted to detect and control contagious diseases, so it issued an order that anyone buried in the city required a burial permit.
These permits were not only a must for anyone who died in Saint John and was to be buried here, they were also needed for any body returned to Saint John for burial or any body passing through the city for burial elsewhere. Burial permits were issued until 1919.
To the citizens of 1889, these permits were probably looked at as just one more interference by government into their personal affairs. But to those of us who are doing genealogy, the information found on burial permits saves us all kinds of digging, so to speak. Burial permits provide a wealth of information. And often, you'll find information that you would probably never find from any other source. (See sample burial permit information.)
In the Cusack family, I was trying to locate the date and place of death of a Thomas Cusack. I was fortunate to find an Application for a Burial Permit dated May 12, 1908 for Thomas Cusack who had died in Boston on May 8, 1908. His body was sent home to be buried, and since it was passing through Saint John on its way to Kings County, a burial permit was required.
You can often identify the community of migration of a family that had left Saint John from the burial permit. You can also use the permit to find out how, where and when the person died, where they lived and where they were buried among other things. But like many documents, burial permits can also contain incorrect information. Naturally, when you're looking at a burial permit for answers about an ancestor, you hope all the details were filled in accurately. That wasn't always the case.
The burial permits on microfilm are indexed by the name of the deceased person and they are recorded in the order that they were issued.
Joan Pearce has been the driving force behind a group of volunteers of the Saint John Branch of the New Brunswick Genealogical Society to transcribe and publish the burial permits. The members of this group of volunteers have spent many hours at the microfilm readers. At this time, six volumes have been completed for the years 1889 to 1894.
Current Publications by the Saint John Branch of New Brunswick Genealogy Society Saint John Branch, P.O. Box 2423, Saint John, N.B., Canada, E2L 3V9
Summary of the Return of a Death on Application for a Burial Permit. Board of Health for the City of Saint John. (Information on a burial permit may include date and place of death, place of burial, cause of death, birthplace, age, marital status, occupation, spouse, father and father’s birthplace)
Volume 1, 1889 (Mar. to Dec.)
Volume 2, 1890
Volume 3, 1891
Volume 4, 1892
Volume 5, 1893
Volume 6, 1894
For more information visit http://www.nbgssj.ca/
August, 2000: An Index to the Saint John Burial Permits, 1889-1919 can be found on the PANB site at http://archives.gnb.ca/Archives/EN/default.aspx
Queries have been grouped together to cover the year 1998 and can be viewed at
Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at firstname.lastname@example.org. When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as a reader of the newspaper may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.
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