ESSEX-UK-L ArchivesArchiver > ESSEX-UK > 2005-12 > 1134433335
From: "La Greenall" <>
Subject: RE: [Ess] Help! Where would you look next?
Date: Tue, 13 Dec 2005 00:22:15 -0000
Don't worry Colleen, the 'smoke' is on it's way! In both senses of the
term! Well and truly! Don't hold your breath (sorry couldn't resist it)!
Firstly, don't forget that Burnham wouldn't have had a registration
district in the 1790s - they weren't formed until 1837.
Secondly, here's a little thought that struck me the other day, which
may or may not be of help. It's all too easy to forget that parish regs
(putting aside nonconformity for the moment) were not created for the
reasons we use them for. They were used by the taxman for
revenue-collection. Think of the average family with a new arrival;
naturally they'd want it baptised so that it could enter the next world
safely, but being baptised and having your baptism recorded in a
register are two very different things. Suppose for instance that the
new arrival is extremely poorly and not expected to survive long. In
this case the vicar might well dash over to the family cottage and
perform a private baptism there and then in order to make sure that God
wasn't unduly put out. Yes, this was normally only done for a fee in the
homes of the well-to-do as a status symbol, but in emergencies it was
more important to get the babe dipped than not. Now, as he's not in the
church, the vicar can't very well enter this baptism into the register
straight away. At least, I don't think it likely that he'd cart such a
heavy tome about with him, which might bring down all sorts of
thunderbolts on his head from the authorities if it went missing! No,
he'd have to remember to write up the entry when he got back, or even
Now, with this delay between ceremony and 'registration' the vicar, and
the family, would be under some powerful influences. The child has been
baptised, so as far as the family and the vicar is concerned, all is
well. But if the baptism was to remain unrecorded, then it might be
possible that the taxman might not notice the new addition to his source
of revenue. Consequently, the family might well try asking the vicar if
he could, er, well you know. And the vicar, concerned as always with the
welfare of his flock, and ever conscious of the need to keep on good
terms with them, might possibly feel that things might be better all
round if he did, well, er. Or rather, did not, if you see what I mean.
After all, his boss is upstairs, not in Westminster.
Thirdly, have you checked to see if your Lizzie was baptised some years
later, perhaps at the same time as a younger sibling was? This does
sometimes happen, for a variety of reasons, such as a period of
unsettled residence in different parishes before the family finally
feels settled enough to get all the kids dipped 'into the community' as
it were in one go, or perhaps they were travellers such as gypsies or
tradesmen or bargemen etc.; or maybe they had all been Baptists, and as
such unbaptised until adulthood, then decided one day to go back to the
C of E, which would of course require a mass-dipping. I have even seen
at least one occasion where a non-conformist family swapped chapels and
used this as an occasion to get dipped again - maybe the previous
minister was too dubious for comfort?
And lastly of course, she may well have been born in Burnham but was
baptised halfway across the country! As an example, think of Florence
Nightingale and her elder sister Parthenope, who were named after their
cities of birth, both being born on the grand tour of Europe which their
parents began as a honeymoon and still hadn't finished a couple of years
later! You could almost tell from this that her mum had to be an Essex
girl! I wonder where they were baptised? Dunsinane? Or is that too close
PS sorry if I'm waffling but I'm all inspired after having spent a
wonderful day falling asleep in front of the film readers at Chelmsford!
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Colleen [mailto:]
> Sent: 12 December 2005 21:32
> Subject: [Ess] Help! Where would you look next?
> I wonder if anyone has any suggestion which might help in my
> search for the
> Baptism of my 3 x Gt Grandmother, Elizabeth Cook, later Dice,
> who was born
> in Burnham, Essex according to her two censuses entries?
> In the first entry, in 1851, Elizabeth, who's living with my
> 3 x Great
> Grandfather, James Dice, in Tudwick, Tolleshunt D'Arcy, gives
> her age as 61,
> birthplace Burnham
> In the second entry, in 1861, Elizabeth, now a widow living with her
> youngest son and his family in Tudwick, gives her age as 76,
> still Burnham.
> Why can't I find Elizabeth in the Burnham On Crouch register?
> I can only
> think that she was either a non conformist - which means a
> horrible long
> trip to the PRO, oh blimey! Or, that she was perhaps born in
> a village near
> Burnham which fell under Burnham's registration district - so
> that village
> people would simplify things for enumerators by saying they came from
> Another possiblity is that Elizabeth came from one of the
> other Burnhams (on
> sea? or the one Nelson came from which I forget the full name of,
> Burnham...?) but how likely is that, bearing in mind that
> both her census
> entries state Burnham, Essex?
> If you were looking for Elizabeth's birth, where would you
> start? Thanks
> any one who might be able offer any advice!
> Colleen - on chilly Essex, waiting for the smoke to arrive
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|RE: [Ess] Help! Where would you look next? by "La Greenall" <>|