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Inquest Query?

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Heather Report 28 Sep 2019 11:22

My query regards a family story regarding my husband's 1 x gr grandfather.

Francis/Frank Smith Smyth b c1873 was a 'seaman' who so the family story goes, fell between his ship and the quayside in port at Belfast and drowned in 1902.

To date I have been unable to find a death record, newspaper article or any inquest report which I assume as a sudden death there would have been an inquest?

I did find a record of him on a ship called "Martha" which he left to join "R NA" (assume Royal Navy but only speculation.

Frank had been born in Portaferry Co Down to a seafaring family. He married in 1897 to Agnes Sheppard of Larne. They had 2 daughters 1898 and 1899. 2 sons died not long after birth 1901 and 1902 both called Francis/Frank. It was on the birth/death certs for the 2nd baby boy I noted "Child of Frank Smyth sailor (deceased)." That is the only record I can find that he was dead.
Any help would be most appreciated.


greyghost Report 28 Sep 2019 11:46

Just to narrow down dates a bit

Earlier death cert, shows Francis Smyth died aged 19 days on 19 May 1901
and the later certificate shows the death of Frank Smyth aged 1 day on 22 August1902, a premature birth. Both deaths recorded Belfast RD


ArgyllGran Report 28 Sep 2019 12:09

Previous thread about this man and his mysterious death:

Chris Ho :)

Chris Ho :) Report 28 Sep 2019 12:19

Are you sure he isn't being confused with below...(no time to stay longer, or read other 'Thread', so apologies if already added)

Chris :)

16 November 1905 - Irish News and Belfast Morning News - Belfast, Antrim

Shortly after 9 o'clock last night, a man named Frank Smyth, of Great Georges Street, caused no little excitement at the Fleetwood shed by tumbling into the water. Fortunately assistance was at hand, and he was rescued and removed to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where his injuries were attended to.

16 November 1905 - Belfast News-Letter - Belfast, Antrim, Northern Ireland

Scene at Donegall Quay.
Last evening shortly after nine o’clock a man named Frank Smyth, who resides in Great George’s Street caused no excitement at the Fleetwood shed by jumping into the river. Luckily, however, assistance was at hand and he was quickly rescued.

08 August 1905 - Northern Whig - Belfast, Antrim, Northern Ireland

Francis Smyth was summoned by Inspector Auld for refusing to take a passenger on the 29th ult. at Donegall Quay. A fine of 10s and costs was imposed.

(above is useful, Belfast)


ArgyllGran Report 28 Sep 2019 12:48

On the other thread, Francis's "widow" Agnes remarried in 1902.

But as suggested on other thread, maybe she and Francis had separated and she was only claiming to be widowed.

Chris Ho :)

Chris Ho :) Report 28 Sep 2019 15:26

From other 'Thread'...below 1901 Census...

Chris :)

1901 (Irish Census)
Smyth Lousia 3 Female Daughter Church of Ireland Co Antrim - Cannot read - Not Married -
Smyth Isabell 1 Female Daughter Church of Ireland Belfast - Cannot read - Not Married -
Smyth Frank 27 Male Head of Family Church of Ireland Co Down Seaman Sailor Read and write English Married -
Smyth Agnes 27 Female Wife Church of Ireland Co Antrin - Read and write
Residents of a house 23 in Springmount Street (Court Ward, Antrim)

(would below be her future Husband?, from Index link)

Gaw, David, french polisher, 16 Springmount Street

If he was in the Navy, there should be records...(but, Smyth or Smith, could well be a few!)

Where is this record you found, Ship, Martha?...(looks to be more like a fishing vessel, from info. other 'Thread')

Edits (would be below. FMP)

Smyth Francis (Birth) 1873 — (Year)1896 Ireland Merchant Navy Crew Lists 1863-1921 Ireland

First name(s) Francis
Last name Smyth
Birth year 1873
Birth date ? ? 1873
Birthplace Portaferry, Co Down
Year 1896
Month June
Vessel name Martha
Vessel official number 88684
Vessel registry port Belfast
Archive National Archives of Ireland
Source Shipping agreements and crew lists, 1863-1921
Description R.G.S.S Shipping Agreements & Crew Lists 84465-89954
Piece 1896 Ship nos. 82409 (cont.)-95311
(on image (AB (Able Seaman)

(Martha 88684)


Heather Report 28 Sep 2019 18:59

I have found the newspaper piece regarding the "Exciting Incident..." If this is him and the story matches though it doesn't say he then died, the years don't match. I had found the 1901 census where he is at home in Belfast with his wife and 2 young daughters and then on the birth/death cert for a son born premature also called 'Frank' in Aug 1902 he is described as "deceased". That was why I had never looked beyond 1902. The 2nd marriage was to a David Gaw, and Agnes died in 1906 with TB. If this is the correct Frank/Francis there is something very wrong here!!


ArgyllGran Report 28 Sep 2019 19:18

There is this birth - not 1873 - but no idea if he could be your Francis.
Just posting on the off-chance!:

Francis Samuel Smith
in the Ireland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1620-1911
Name: Francis Samuel Smith
Gender: Male
Birth Date: 4 Aug 1874
Birth Place: Portaferry, Down, Ireland
Baptism Place: Portaferry, Down, Ireland
Father: Francis Smith
Mother: Margaret Gourley
FHL Film Number: 255907

Other details per

the father was "dead, formerly of Newcastle", a labourer.
The birth address (and that of mother Margaret Smith, formerly Gourley) was Cloughey.


ArgyllGran Report 28 Sep 2019 19:19

You said Frank was born in Portaferry.
Was that just a guess based on the "Martha" record, or do you know that for a fact?

1901 census just says born in Down.


Heather Report 28 Sep 2019 19:44

No, this is not him. His mother and father were John Smith (also a seaman) and Ann Bailie b 1842 - d1889. He had a brother John b 1875 also a seaman, and a number of sisters, one of whom was supposed to be his twin - Annie Bailie, do not know her DOB, she was a spinster lady who my late mother in law remembered from childhood. This Frank/Francis was my late mother in law's grandfather and family stories I know are from what she told me. They were Church of Ireland connected to the Ballyphilip Church in Portaferry.

Chris Ho :)

Chris Ho :) Report 28 Sep 2019 20:13

Looks like John 1875 on below...

Chris :)

Smyth, John (Able seaman) RS2 No.314153.
Born: 1875-05-09, Portaferry, Co. Down, Ireland
Disch A No: 86454 Photo: f4

Print full record details (pdf) Print short record


ArgyllGran Report 28 Sep 2019 21:41

Oh yes, I forgot about the records I found for the other thread.


Heather Report 29 Sep 2019 11:08

Not a guess that Francis/Frank was from Portaferry.
As I have researched this I have printed off any records I have found (over a long period of time!) and then constantly go back and refer to them sometimes seeing bits of info I had missed from a previous look ie who were the witness' on marriages, who was present at births/deaths etc. On his marriage to Agnes in 1897 his address is Shore Street, Portaferry, though he married in Larne another port some miles away from Portaferry.
On his parents marriage record (John Smith and Ann Bailie 23/1/1866) they married in Portaferry.
His brother John b7/5/1875 married Thomasina Nelson in Nov 1898, he was also a sailor. Again both marriages were is Ballyphilip Church of Ireland and again John's name spelt Smyth and his sister Annie (francis supposed twin sister) down as a witness is spelt Smith!

I think a lot of the problem here is the constant changing of the spelling of Smyth/Smith, both being used for the same people at different times.

Chris Ho :)

Chris Ho :) Report 29 Sep 2019 14:10

Newspaper article says Great George's Street, perhaps there is another Frank/Francis that this refers to (another couple of items added to above also).

Chris :)


Heather Report 29 Sep 2019 19:04

Thanks to all who have helped me with this! Not sure where to go from here.



Heather Report 15 Oct 2019 21:01

Further to my query on Francis Smith I have found a newspaper article in the Liverpool Echo on 5th May 1902 of a Captain Francis Smith who fell into Liverpool Dock and drowned. It states his address as "Shaw Street, Portaferry". My Francis Smith's address on his marriage cert was "Shore Street, Portaferry". Could this possibly be him!!?? Can anyone help me out with the note of the inquest? It states his body was taken to the "Princes's Dock Mortuary pending the inquest".


ErikaH Report 15 Oct 2019 21:10

Deaths Jun 1902 (>99%)
Smith Francis 28 Liverpool 8b 35


Heather Report 15 Oct 2019 22:15

Can anyone access inquests for this sudden death please?



greyghost Report 15 Oct 2019 22:56

Have a look here for information about survival of Inquest reports

"This is a brief guide to help you with your research into coroners’ inquests. The majority of post mid-18th century records of inquests are held at local archives and not The National Archives. Not all coroners’ inquests have been selected for permanent preservation. Records of deaths less than 75 years old may be retained by the coroner’s office."


Heather Report 15 Oct 2019 23:04

Many thanks.