It’s inevitable, when researching lots of extended family ancestors, that you’ll come across something you’d rather hadn’t happened. Today I was researching Hugh Strachan, grandson of a gggg uncle. I had a death date for him taken from someone’s tree on Ancestry, but not being willing to trust other people’s research I looked it up on ScotlandsPeople. Sure enough the date was right, but as he’d died at the age of 53, I decided to download his death certificate. I was wondering if it could be a mining accident, but when I opened the download what was where came as a shock – it said suicide.
After an initial intake of breath and hands on face, I made myself a cup of tea in order to recover. The death certificate didn’t say how his death had happened, so I went back and downloaded the corrected entry. It said he’d died at 1.45am on 30 November 1896, at his home in Dunfermline, of poisoning by carbolic acid. He left a wife and children, the youngest of whom was 11. There was no explanation of why the Doctor and the Procurator Fiscal were sure it was suicide, but the corrected entry didn’t say it wasn’t. Very sad.
You can’t ever know the circumstances surrounding such events. What was his state of mind? Had something happened recently that he just couldn’t cope with? It can only be conjecture. What you certainly learn from your family tree is that all of life is there, and life doesn’t always produce happy outcomes.