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Birth and Baptisms

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Birth and Baptisms

Postby warpo » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:21 pm

Hi all, now i'm sorry if this is an obvious question, but I would just like your thoughts and basically tell me what I think is right.

In a nutshell - When someone was born i.e late 1700's early 1800's or even earlier, was it practice to be baptised / christened straight away, or were they relaxed about the issue and didn't rush it like they do today quite commonly. I'm going for the no, they didn't do it straight away option.

From doing genealogy for quite a few months now, im assuming one of the main reasons this was done was to bare responsibility to a mother and father, lack of father = illegitimacy and the church being responsible for their finances. (Am I right?)

Reason for my curiosity, is that I have a 4x grandmother who according to censuses was born in Blyborough but in each census, there is a different age for her. Now all but one suggest she was born late 1790's, yet the only baptism I can find in Blyborough was in 1802.

This leaves me to thinking, if she was born in 1796 (which she seems to be), was it common to be baptised as late as 6 years old?

Am I being ignorant, thinking this?
Thanks as always,
Warpo
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Re: Birth and Baptisms

Postby ColinB » Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:14 pm

Whilst it was common for baptism to be carried out relatively close to birth , perhaps within a few days or a couple of weeks , there are plenty of instances where this was not the case. Sometimes parents waited several years and then baptised several children at once and occasionally people were not baptised until adulthood . There were no hard and fast 'rules' about this , although I imagine some clergymen would have applied a little pressure if children were not baptised in a timely fashion.

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Re: Birth and Baptisms

Postby JaneyH » Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:00 pm

I'd agree that it varies. I my family history research I have come across cases where babies were baptised at just a few days old; other cases where two, three or even more children of varying ages were all baptised at once, and one of my great-grandfathers, who was baptised at age 19, less than a year before marrying in the same church. In that case I assume that baptism was a condition of the church wedding!


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Re: Birth and Baptisms

Postby nzgenz » Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:39 am

There was a fee for baptising children, so it was quite common (particularly in poorer families) to baptise several at once. I have instances of children being baptised in batches twice - maybe the parents had forgotten it had already been done several years before!

Same day or very speedy baptisms might indicate that the child wasn't expected to live, and there are also instances of a baby being baptised over its mother's coffin (so mother was held to be present).

Marriage was (is) a sacrament, and so yes, baptism (making the person a member of the church community) was required before a marriage was conducted.

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Re: Birth and Baptisms

Postby Sylcec » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:51 am

Andrea - I wonder what your evidence is for claiming that "there was a fee for baptising children".

I would dispute that this was a rule across the board, i.e. all churches, all denominations. Baptism is most definitely a sacrament in at least most (if not all) the larger Christian denominations and as such there should not be a charge for it. There may have been a charge for making an entry in the register.

Although I think the majority of C of E and RC baptisms would have been carried out within 3 months of a baby's birth, there are, as others suggested, plenty of reasons and instances for later baptism - which may include religious conviction (or non-conviction!) which required persons to make their own vows - Baptism of Believers - such as in Baptist churches, but also practised by others in 'low church' communities. No hard and fast rule can be applied. Many Baptismal Registers indicate the age of a person if they are an older child or adult, but again this didn't always happen. It rather depended on the minister or parish clerk who completed the register.
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Re: Birth and Baptisms

Postby nzgenz » Wed Jan 29, 2014 7:25 am

Not all vicars and curates enjoyed a comfortable living from land rents, tithes or family money. The alleged rapacity of vicars and curates was a bone of contention in many parishes, and one of the reasons for the various "purifying" sects.
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Re: Birth and Baptisms

Postby brunes08 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:34 am

Have you seen the original baptismal record or just a transcript? I ask because I have come across many baptismal records where the vicar or curate has added the actual date of birth under the date of the baptism. In one case this was 13 years and 8 years after the births as the family moved quite often for work.


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Re: Birth and Baptisms

Postby JaneyH » Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:44 pm

Last night I was looking at a website with transcripts of parish registers showing the baptisms of my maternal grandfather and his siblings. I already have dates of birth so was able to compare the gap between birth and baptism with each of them. These births range in date from 1908 to 1921.

My grandfather (first child, 1908) was baptised within a few weeks of birth, as was the next child, his sister (1909). After that a further seven children were born between 1911 and 1921, all of whom were baptised on the same day in 1921. It just goes to show that even within the same family the practice can vary.
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Re: Birth and Baptisms

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:19 pm

Re fees - Certainly St. Michael's of Coppenhall in Cheshire was once charging fees for baptisms. These fees are in the front of the baptismal register for 1813-1840 and include
Baptisms residents in the parish
Minister 0-0-9
Clerk 0-0-3

Baptisms non-residents in the parish
Minister 0-1-6
Clerk 0-0-6


Mark Herber's Ancestral Trails mentions the Stamp Duty Act of 1783, which levied a duty of 3d on each entry in the parish register until it was stopped in 1794. As paupers were exempt, he says, it is possible that the number of people claiming to be paupers "rose substantially". This suggests there was a reason to claim to be a pauper before 1783 - for what reason other than to avoid paying a fee?

Unfortunately I'm finding it difficult to Google in any closer as all the references that come up refer to paying web-sites for access to images of baptisms! Any further info welcome!


However, the current CofE page on this matter, http://www.churchofengland.org/weddings ... /fees.aspx, is clear that the fee relating to a baptism is £11 for the certificate.

And http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/35-36/36 refers to the "Baptismal Fees Abolition Act 1872" described as "An Act to render it unlawful to demand any Fee or Reward for the Celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism, or the Registry thereof." Which tends to imply that it was legal to charge a fee before that.
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Re: Birth and Baptisms

Postby Sylcec » Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:18 am

Thank you Adrian very much for following up and researching the matter of fees for baptisms. Your findings are very interesting indeed. It does rather look as if they couched the requested fees in terms of issuing of certificates or recording the event in the register, rather than the application of baptismal water!
Cheers, Sylvia
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