Marriage: On May 8th 1854, in the parish of Minster Sheppey, Kent, Thomas Briggs a blacksmith aged 24 years married Maria Richards aged 22yrs (born 1831 Devonport,Devon)). Three witnesses are listed (1) his father Thomas Briggs (Snr) a gardener (2) Maria’s father Thomas Richards a blacksmith and (3) Maria’s mother Maria Richards nee Frost. The Richards family had moved from Plymouth Devon to Gillingham Kent before their next child was born in 1838.
Sadly the mother of Thomas Briggs is not listed on his marriage certificate so we assume she was deceased at that time. After all if the minister was good enough to list Maria’s mother then he would also have listed the groom’s mother had she been living.
Sudden death: three months after the marriage on 9th August 1854 young Thomas died suddenly. His death certificate states he died at 122 Charles Street, Blue Town, Sheerness.
Cause of death: certificate states ‘purpura (haemorrhage)’. Unfortunately the doctor did not list what he thought may have caused this purpura. Being an RN I knew something about purpura and have read a lot more about it since seeing his death certificate including many articles on diseases that occurred in that area at that time. Just one of the hudnreds of articles to peruse is http://kentarchaeology.ac/authors/004.pdf. I don’t want to start a discussion about it on here as heaps of information can be found on the Internet and none of the articles can help us decided what caused Thomas’ purpura, we can only speculate.
Burial: The Holy Trinity, Sheerness, parish burial register states Thomas was buried on August 12th 1854 but does this mean he is in the Holy Trinity Churchyard or another churchyard? Sheerness local newspapers did not start being published until 1858 so we cannot search there for a death notice or obituary. I doubt he was cremated.
Brick Wall: I have spent many years searching for Thomas’ birth records and have also enlisted the help of professional researchers and staff from the Kent libraries. These records have not come to light, at least not in Kent. It would have been so easy if his mother’s name had been listed on his marriage certificate with (deceased) after her name. We have no proof that he was born in Kent, no siblings to trace. I continue to search in Kent and in surrounding counties.
Maria: When Thomas’ died his widow Maria was only a couple of weeks pregnant with their son Thomas Francis Richards Briggs who I will talk about in my next blog. Maria and her son lived with her parents in Sheerness and Maria was housekeeper for Doctor Edward Swales and his wife Mary (died June quarter 1871). Maria didn’t remarry until 1885 when she married Dr. Edward Swales (born Helmsley,Yorkshire) and they lived at No:3 Trinity Road, Sheerness. When visiting Sheerness a few years ago I took this image of the house (with the owners permission). The house is opposite the Holy Trinity Church.