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 
Colour: White 
Sex: Female 
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 rmcusack@nbnet.nb.ca. 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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