I have recently come across something (trying to help someone else) which has sent all my "facts" about "death at sea" into free-fall. I have checked with a couple of experts, including a retired Admiral, who confirmed they believed what I believed - "death at sea" meant you had died on a ship outside territorial waters. Gravesend on the north Kent coast in England is (I understand) so-called because if you died on a ship West of that point in the Thames estuary you had not died at sea and would be taken ashore for burial, if you died to the East of that point you had "died at sea" and would be buried at sea. I have now been told of a case where a death is clearly recorded as a person having died at sea on a ship called "Union" with a specific date - but no amount of searching could find a "Union" at sea on that date, in addition it was a steamship which had left England for the US six weeks before the death - a length of voyage impossible even in those days. It has now turned out that the ship did leave England on the date quoted but arrived in New York with both cholera and typhoid on board so everyone was quarantined on to a quarantine ship. Some were then moved to a second quarantine ship - the person concerned died, on the date recorded, on board the second quarantine ship in New York Harbour (which apparently also has a "Gravesend"!) and as far as the current knowledge goes all people who died on these quarantine ships were buried on Staten Island. It seems unbelievable that people could be buried by a civil authority which did not register them - but so far the only record is that he "died at sea" on a date when he was not on board the ship given as "place of death". I am not sure what the answer is for people searching apart from making enquiries at any specific port but one thing is clear - you could "die at sea" in New York harbour, on a ship different from the one recorded as your place of death. Do not know if this is of any help but at least it will let people know they may have to do some lateral thinking.