Bringing your Family History to life every month APRIL 2012
  • Contact Us

Q and A



I am hoping you can help me find the death or burial of my great-great-great-grandfather in 1806. I have been searching for this for many years. His name is Matthew MEADOWS, baptised 11th July 1779 at St Philip’s Church, Birmingham, the son of Benjamin MEADOWS and Ann BANISTER. Matthew married Rachel SOUTHALL on 24th August 1803, and a son, Benjamin, was born the following year.

He had a tray making business in Laurence Street, Birmingham, which he may have inherited from his father who died in 1802 after falling from his horse (Aris’s Obituaries). Benjamin Snr was buried at St Martin’s Church, Birmingham. In January 1806 at the age of 27 Matthew made a will that was proved at Lichfield in November the same year.

I Matthew Meadows of Birmingham in the County of Warwick Tray and Waiter Maker make this my last Will and Testament in manner following. First I will that all of my Just Debts and Funeral expenses be paid. Then my Will is that an account of all my Property be taken except my Household Goods which I give unto my Wife.

            The rest and remainder I give in Trust unto my Executor in the fullest manner I can to employ in the best manner he shall think proper either in my Business of Tray and Waiter Making or any other Business or put out the same to Interest. But in either case my Executor shall not be accountable for any loss in carrying on Business or putting the Money out to use except from wilful neglect.

            My further Will is that my Wife Maintain and Educate my Son or Sons until he or they arrive at the Age of Fourteen Years and provide for my Daughter or Daughters until they arrive at the Age of Twenty Years. I further Will that my Wife receives all profits arising from my Business or any other Business being carried on or Interest for my Money in case the same is put out to use during her Natural Life to provide for my Child or Children and at their Decease my mind and Will is that the property shall go to my Son or be equally divided amongst my Children but if my Child or Children should die before my wife I then give and bequeath all my property whatsoever and wheresoever unto my Wife for her own sole use and purpose.

            But provided my Wife should Die before my Child or Children arrive at the age of twenty one the Property and Interest shall be paid to my Child or Children as he or They arrive at the Age of Twenty One share and share alike.

            And I further Will that if my Son Benjamin should attain the Age of Twenty Four years and is steady that he be taken into Partnership in the Trade or Trades that shall be then carrying on from the power of this Will but that I leave solely to the discretion of my Executor.

            And in case my Wife should Marry again My said Executor shall have full power And I hereby give him full power to make use of the Principal Profits and Interest arising from my Property of what kind soever and wherever to Educate my Child or Children and providing for him or them according to the forepart of this my Will.

            And I further Will that if no Trade shall be carried on when my Son arrives at the Age of Twenty Four Years that my Executor shall if he think proper lend unto my Son Benjamin out of my property One Hundred Pounds to begin Business with him giving such security for the Interest as my said Executor shall approve. Also my Executor shall and hereby has full power to sell and dispose of my Property of every kind if he thinks proper and make use of the same to the best of his Judgment for the advantage of my Wife and Child or Children for the purposes before named. And     lastly I name and appoint my Wife Executrix and Brother in Law Samuel Southall Executor to this my last Will and Testament Witness my Hand this Thirteenth Day of January One Thousand Eight Hundred and Six Matthew Meadows

Witness to this Signing of this Will

John Price Phebe Yeates Sarah Southall

I have searched the Parish Registers in Birmingham, the National Burial Index, and Mr Pullar’s Greater Birmingham Burial index, all to no avail. I rang Lichfield and asked if someone could look at the will to see the date of death, but there was nothing entered under that heading.

Can you please suggest where else I can look, or what might have happened to Matthew? It seems odd that he died in the same year as he made his will unless he was already ill, but in that case there should still be a record of his death surely? Was 27 young to make a will in those days? His widow never remarried, and died on 3rd August 1869 aged 88. She is buried at Witton Cemetery.

I do hope you can shed some light on this mystery for me, or is it one of those things that never gets solved?

Margaret Swalwell


Far from it being unusual for someone to make a will shortly before they died, it was at this time the norm. Many, if not most, knew that their end was nigh, particularly when they succumbed to fatal illness or injury. And 27 is certainly not too young to make a will, especially if you knew you were nearing the end.

So where may Matthew MEADOWS have been buried? Possibly where he died; possibly in the parish where he lived, if that was different; possibly in a family grave, or in the place where his family were based, again if that was different. But you say you have already searched all the Birmingham parish registers: these should be for St Martin, St Mary, St Paul and St Philip. These are all held in the Local Studies and History Service at Birmingham Central Library (Central library, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3HQ; tel: 0121 3034549 or 3034220;

An index to Warwickshire burials 1813–1837 has been completed by the Birmingham and Midland Society for Genealogy and Heraldry (, and one for the period up to 1813 is in progress. The National Burial Index (NBI) second edition includes 13.1 million burials in England and Wales from 1538 onwards, of which around 504,000 are for Warwickshire, including the four Birmingham parishes mentioned above. The majority of the entries in this index are also available on FamilyHistoryOnline (, plus others. Now available on the FindMyPast website ( are around ten million entries taken from the NBI for Birmingham.

You have mentioned that his father’s death was included in ‘Aris’s Obituaries’ – I assume that Matthew is not in this source. However, have you searched elsewhere for a death notice or obituary? At Birmingham Central Library there are original and microform copies of local newspapers from the mid-18th century to the present day. Biographical news cuttings have been abstracted from these and there is an index of obituaries from Aris’s Birmingham Gazette up to 1861.

Search again:

Browse Q and A by Heading
You need to Get the latest version of Adobe Flash to view this.


Subscribe to our
email newsletter:


Win British Newspaper Archive Subscriptions

Discover the genealogical goldmine that is the British Newspaper Archive ( with an online subscription. This recently launched digitisation project has four million pages of searchable family notices, advertisements, obituaries, letters and illustrations from over 200 historic local and national newspapers.

We have a one-year subscription (worth £79.95) to give away as well as two 30-day subscriptions (worth £29.95 each) and four 2-day subscriptions (worth £6.95 each). To be in with a chance of winning one, simply answer the following question. Send answers to or write to the usual address on page three, by the 15th March.

Q: Who invented the printing press in the Holy Roman Empire in 1440?