Death of Oswald Hewer Jamison Aged 17 – “Son of a Groom”

Billy Parish Church, Bushmills, August 2019

In my last post I finally got round to writing about the place and circumstances of my great uncle Oswald’s birth– in this post I’m recording his sad demise at the young age of just seventeen.

Oswald was born in 1895 in Cumbria to my great-grandmother Annie Hewer; at some point she moved to Northern Ireland and married my great-grandfather William McDowell Jamison (I have yet to trace an official record of their marriage). Annie and William went on to have three more children, the last of whom was my paternal grandfather, Charles Frederick Jamison.

I don’t know how old Oswald was when his mother made the move from England to Northern Ireland, but by 1901 he was included in that year’s census of Ireland. His entry reveals that he was living with his father William Jamison in the Bushmills townland of Ardihannon, and that he was a five year old scholar who “cannot yet read or write”.


Oswald appears again on the 1911 census of Ireland, this time listed as a fifteen year old scholar.  The census was taken on Sunday 2nd April 1911


Sadly, Oswald had just eighteen months left to live.  The next record we have for him is his death certificate; his date of death is recorded as the 10th November 1912, with the cause of death listed as “General Tuberculosis, 12 months certified”. He is described as a seventeen year-old bachelor, with an occupation of “son of a groom”. The death was certified on the 3rd of January 1913.

Oswald death certificate2

Oswald’s place of death is listed as “Airdahennon”, with his mother in attendance at his time of death, which suggests he died at home. It’s hard to imagine how the young Oswald and his family dealt with his illness in that small cottage, with his Tuberculosis being diagnosed at least a year before he died.

I often think of young Oswald, and how his passing was not only a tragedy for him, but would have been a significant milestone for his family too, including my two-year old grandfather. I also wonder if William McDowell Jamison was his natural father, or if he accepted Annie’s young son as his own, or even formally adopted him.

Nevin over at NALIL uncovered an entry from the 5th December 1912 edition of the Ballymoney Free Press newspaper :

“JAMISON – November 10, at his father’s residence, Dulisk, Giant’s Causeway, Oswald Hewer Jamison, aged 17 years – Deeply regretted.”

Nevin has also stated that Oswald, together with several of his siblings and his parents was buried at Billy Parish Church on the outskirts of Bushmills (pictured above), but the present rector has been unable to locate the records for these burials (as of my last date of checking, July 2018).

Data Sources

1901 and 1911 census of Ireland
Copy of death certificate
North Antrim Local Interest List (NALIL) article – Jamisons of The Giant’s Causeway
Picture of Billy Parish Church, taken August 2019 by the author

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