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I'm looking at the indexed record of a Drumond, son of Walter Drumond and Jennat Mcneil, baptised 07 September 1732 in Drymen, Stirling, Scotland. This record strikes me as unusual, as there was no first name given, and I would suspect that it indicates that the child died essentially at birth. Is there another explanation for this?

The entry in the original parish register reads:

Walter Drumond and Jennat Mcneill in Gartfarran had a child Baptised called [blank]

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In the event that this is not a child who died extremely young and didn't have a name, is there any suggestion as to how I might find the name of the child?

  • With the two other similar records soon after it and one higher up the page, my first thought is that the recorder may have been writing the babies' names in afterwards and forgot or became unable to do a few. – PolyGeo Nov 21 '15 at 23:50
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    I have found odd entries in the Church of Scotland parish register for Little Dunkeld in Perthshire. Bear in mind that the general purpose was to act as a register of baptisms - so how come numerous entries on the page that I'm looking at document a birth date but no baptismal date? I wonder if what we are seeing in these odd entries is not so much a record of baptisms done in the C of S parish, as a record of births in the parish, with the children baptised in another, non-conformist church. The C of S priest may therefore have known of the birth but never found out all the details. – AdrianB38 Nov 22 '15 at 22:04
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    Of course - there may be another explanation for missing baptism dates - the priest or his clerk may have omitted baptism dates when the child was baptised on the same day that they were born. (Apparently Scots parents could be quite fast with baptisms). They just never documented their conventions in this matter... – AdrianB38 Nov 22 '15 at 22:11
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    @AdrianB38 This case is clearly a register of baptisms, not births, though. The baptism date is written on the far left but illegible for most of the page due to the scanning. The index on ScotlandsPeople as well as the FamilySearch index were both made by the LDS who had access to the original records, which is why these indexes have baptism dates that do not appear on the ScotlandsPeople image itself. It might be useful to take a look at FS film 1041941 to see if it contains a better image without the dates on the left cut off. – Harry Vervet Nov 24 '15 at 2:48
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Parish registers in the Church of Scotland tend to be less well organized and structured than their counterparts south of the border in England. Particularly in highland parishes, sometimes no parish records survive at all from the eighteenth century or earlier. This is due primarily to the fact that the ecclesiastical laws pertaining to the maintenance of parish registers that applied to churches in England did not apply in Scotland.

An important point is that several of the baptisms on that page have the child's name missing.

I think it is unlikely the name was omitted simply because the child died in infancy. Usually an infant received his or her name at baptism (christening), and you know this child was baptised, so it is unlikely he or she was unnamed. You can also rule-out the child being stillborn because a stillborn child would not be baptised.

Exactly how the minister or clerk compiled this baptism register is impossible to know, but he may not have recorded the entries at the exact time of the event. He may have made a list of the upcoming baptisms that week and then entered them in the register all at once, intending to add (in this case failing to add) the child's name when the child was christened. He may have been lax in recording the events and a week or two later tried to remember what baptisms occurred, but couldn't remember the child's name. He may have written down the information on a scrap of paper at the time of the baptism, but then lost it or couldn't read his own handwriting when copying into the register.

I could go on producing more fanciful scenarios that result in a child's name being omitted, but I would just it down to poor record-keeping.


So where might you look for more information about this child?

If this were an event in England, my first port-of-call would be taking a look at the Bishop's Transcripts, which were contemporary copies of the parish registers. Alas, no such transcripts were made in Scotland, so you're out of luck there.

As I suspect you have done, you can scour the burial or death registers for the parish looking for a corresponding entry. One would expect an infant or child to appear in the register but of course it is prone to all the same sorts of errors and omissions of baptism registers – perhaps more so, since infants might be buried in the grave of an (unrelated) adult.

You might try looking in Kirk Session Minutes for the parish. I would not be extremely optimistic that you will find anything about this child in these records, since this is more typically a place to find information about poor relief, illegitimate births, etc. – but you never know what the minute-taker thought worthy of note.

Consider records pertaining to inheritance after the child's parents died, including wills and testaments or sasines (if you are lucky and they were land-owners). This is of course assuming the mystery child survived infancy.

It is unclear why FamilySearch have recorded this as a male child. The register simply says "child", not "son", so I would be careful making any assumptions about the sex of the child. Especially if the child was a boy, you may find him in apprenticeship records or other occupational records.

You might need to search randomly for Drumonds in the area who married or were having children in the 1750s-1770s, and see if any likely links turn up in terms of naming patterns (some Scots adhered closely to traditional naming patterns). You might have to go down many false trails before you pick up on a likely possibility for the identity of this child.

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