At Rest in #Sticklepath – William John #Labdon

I am exploring some of the people buried in Sticklepath Quaker burying ground. Do you have relatives or people you know something about who are buried there? Please do share your knowledge. ( I would love to collect the birth marriage and death certificates for anyone who lived or was buried in Sticklepath. Easy enough to order from for most people with such life events after 1837, and only £7 for each pdf copy, but the costs soon start to build up. Please do contact me if you are willing to share information. It would be great for such a collection to be available from the Sticklepath Heritage Group.

One young boy buried in Sticklepath is William John Labdon. Possibly known as Will, he actually lived in South Zeal village, which was in South Tawton Parish. Immediately this raises the first question. Why was he buried in Sticklepath rather than at South Tawton Church? It may have been that this was the closest graveyard or the arrangements could be made more easily here, but perhaps the most likely explanation is the family were non-conformist.

Will died in 1882 aged just 13. Knowing a fact like this, the family history detective can search for other sources. A 13 year old is not likely to have a will, administration, probate or an obituary but there could be a newspaper report of his death or funeral, or a memorial stone. I have not found any of these for Will.

However, everyone dying after 1st July 1837 in England should have a death certificate. Certification of the cause of death by a doctor was not necessary until 1874, prior to this it says in the register if it was certified by a doctor.

William Labdon’s death certificate is particularly informative and a great starting point to build his family tree: It tells us he died in South Zeal on 10th March 1882 of heart disease and phthisis (also known as consumption, TB, or tuberculosis). We will never know whether the TB caused his heart problems or if he had underlying heart problems which perhaps left him frail and more prone to TB. The heart disease is likely to have been a problem with the heart valves as a result of rheumatic fever. Fortunately these problems are very unusual in Devon teenagers today.

Dr G.V. Burd MRCS, certified the death. John Knapman was the registrar. His entry in the register is what forms the ‘death certificate’ we order from today, a certified copy of the entry in the register. Will’s death certificate tells us that his mother, Susan Labdon, was present at the death, and informed the registrar on 15th March 1882. It also states Will’s father was Police Constable Joseph Labdon.

Thinking about the funeral arrangements I wonder how these were made. The Counter family had established an undertaking business in 1850 in South Zeal. Earlier families had to make all the arrangements themselves for items needed for a funeral, including purchase of a coffin. I wonder if the family may have been grateful to be able to hand responsibility to the Counter family for dealing with all the arrangements?

However, looking at the census data, we find that William’s father was also a carpenter. Indeed he later won the contract to provide coffins to the Guardians of the Poor for South Tawton. (Ref: Western Times 17 Mar 1905 p13). I wonder therefore whether this father actually made the coffin for his son?

NEXT TIME: more investigation into PC Joseph Labdon, carpenter and undertaker.

Please note that as I am trying to look into a large number of residents my research may sometimes be incorrect or I may jump to the wrong conclusions. PLEASE do let me know if this happens. Anything you can add would be great too.

This is the second of a series investigating people buried in #SticklepathQuakerBuryingGround.

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