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I'm searching for the bmd records of a couple (Samuel and Ann Page) who were baptising their children in Brierley Hill Staffordshire in the early nineteenth century:

  • Maria Page baptised March 1803
  • Sarah Page baptised May 1806
  • Samuel Page baptised Jan 1808.

There are no children of the couple baptised earlier than 1803 or later than 1808 in that Parish, or in the adjacent parish of Kingswinford. (St Michaels was a chapelry of St Mary Kingswinford until 1848).

Samuel the younger lived between 1834 and 1888 in the Brierley Hill/Brockmoor/Kingswinford area, so it seems unlikely (but not impossible) his parents moved away when he was a baby.

There is a burial in Brierley Hill of a Samuel Page aged 29 on 2 August 1807 (implying a birth in 1777/1778); and a possible marriage of Samuel Page to Nancy Holt in Kingswinford in September 1798 (no consent of parents was required, which implies a birth in or before 1777). There is no other marriage in the area between a Samuel Page and Ann/Nan/Hannah/Nancy between 1783 and 1803, according to "England, Select Marriages 1538-1973" on Ancestry (and elsewhere). There is also a baptism in June 1778 in Brierley Hill of a Samuel Page (Freereg.org.uk) to Samuel and Sophia (some sources say Sobiesketh).

I have therefore tentatively identified these as Samuel the elder's baptism marriage and death; although a gap of five years between marriage and baptism of the first child is unusually long, there could have been a miscarriage or stillbirth in that period.

But... when Samuel the younger was baptised (Jan 1808), he was recorded as the son of Samuel and Ann Page (not just Ann Page). Would the deceased father usually be named in such circumstances (perhaps to indicate that the child was legitimate)? I've seen other PRs where a child is recorded as the legitimate child of a widow without naming the father.

Or does the naming of the father indicate that the father is still alive in Jan 1808?

(All events unless otherwise stated are recorded in the Parish Register transcriptions for St Michael's Brierley Hill and St Mary's Kingswinford produced by the Staffordshire Parish Registers Society.)

  • I have the baptism of a girl in 1806 that names both parents, despite her mother having died a few months earlier. There's no indication in the baptism record of the mother's death. So it's surely possible that a deceased father might be named too. – AndyW May 26 '18 at 14:38
  • Gut feeling is that the baptism would take care to distinguish a legitimate child from an illegitimate in the case where only one parent was alive. Which doesn't mean that the clerk couldn't mess up... – AdrianB38 May 26 '18 at 17:19
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Yes, a deceased parent could be named on the baptism record. I have numerous instances of this in my tree.

Often, the father was not present at his child's baptism, even if living, due to work or other commitments.

Mothers frequently died in childbirth before baptism of the child could be performed, and similarly in those cases they will often be named in the register without any specific annotation made.

Adult baptisms became more common throughout the nineteenth century, and for obvious reasons the parents were often deceased by that time, yet still their names were to be entered in the baptism register.

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    Any idea where I could find e.g. canon law determining (maybe) what was required to be recorded -- this is pre-Rose's Act? – ColeValleyGirl May 26 '18 at 14:57
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    @Cole I'm not sure if that exists given the huge variability in baptism register content pre-1812. I've seen some baptism registers that just list the child's name. But I'll have a look later on to see if I can find anything. – Harry Vervet May 26 '18 at 15:10
  • I haven't found anything, but two searchers are better than one :) – ColeValleyGirl May 26 '18 at 15:45

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