The Puzzle Corner is a series of exercises to help you develop your database skills. We hope you will find them enjoyable.

The puzzles prepared so far have been taken from unpublished transcripts from Northumberland and Durham. We have not intentionally limited them to the north-east – they just happen to crop up during the checking process.

Most of the them will use freebmd to solve the puzzle, partially as it is a free resource, but also because it is an incredibly useful database for modern records.

The solutions offered are logical but as with most of family history they only offer circumstantial proof. If you do find an alternate solution please let us know.


One of our checkers reviewed this Monumental Inscription and thought that the surnames were ambiguous. Using freebmd can you work out what they should be?

In loving memory of Thomas Turnbull Died 4th December 1954 aged 72 years. Also his Wife Marion Annie BETHELL Died 11th August 1922 aged 41 years.

Solution on this page.


One of our checkers reviewed this Monumental Inscription and thought that something was not quite right. Can you spot what it was and then use freebmd to work out what needs to be changed?

In loving memory of James Husband of Norma SAUNDERSON Died 1st January 1953 aged 35 years. Also Neil Son of the above Died 21st August 1998 in his 15th year.

Solution on this page.


Whilst the inscription could have been worded better, it does suggest one man with two wives. All that is needed is the maiden names for the two females (using freebmd).

Treasured memories of Hannah Wife of Thomas William COWTON Died 3rd July 1947 aged 57 years. Also Thomas William Husband of Dorothy Ann COWTON Died 24th March 1958 aged 69 years.

Solution on this page.


Remember Errol Flynn? It looks like an obvious spelling mistake. Using freebmd can you work out what is wrong? You will need to restrict your search to Northumberland.

In loving memory of Margaret Wife of Charles EROLL Died 20th June 1941 aged 63 years.

Solution on this page.


One of those many stones that have had burials tacked on the bottom without reviewing how they relate to the ones above. The obvious question is who is George the son of? And is James the husband of Sarah STEEL? Use freebmd.

In loving memory of Richard Husband of Sarah STEEL Died at Ashington 21st June 1896 aged 58 years. Richard Their Son Died 14th October 1875 aged 14 months. Interred at [Remington]. Also the above Sarah STEEL Died 30th July 1907 aged 58 years. James Husband of Sarah STEVENSON and son in law of the above Died 15th April 1962 aged [30] years. Also George Son of above Died 27th February 1950 aged 57 years.

Solution on this page.


In the Great War there were many casualties, of whom many were shipped back to Blighty, and then dispersed to military hospitals around the country. Some of those died. This soldier died in the Northeast and about as far away as you can get from the Southwest. Did his family ever get to see him?
The principal question is: what is his forename? Use freebmd and/or cwgc. Hint: you have 42 days to register an event so this death is likely to have been registered in Mar 1916 not Dec 1915.

3823 Private G. GLEADHILL Devonshire Regiment 30th December 1915.

Solution on this page.


Described as Cremated remains and therefore likely to be a smallish container with little room to be expansive about the deceased. Probably husband and wife but can you come to a conclusion on that assertion? Use freebmd.

Jenny MURRAY 1913 – 1982 also the late Ewart MURRAY 1904 – 1974. [Cremated remains]

Solution on this page.


This inscription was flagged for the Puzzle Corner as it was felt that the inscription was less than informative. The obvious question is what is the name of the other twin. Use freebmd.
As that turns out to be a trivial task try and establish (using freebmd) when he died. Or, he may still be alive, so using (the basic FREE version) see if you can establish when he was last recorded; and also what his address was then.

In loving memory of Alan twin son of Adam & Myra Proudlock

Solution on this page.

[Last updated: 15th September 2015]