ESSEX-UK-L ArchivesArchiver > ESSEX-UK > 2009-04 > 1238662240
From: Adrian Gray <>
Subject: Re: [Ess] Porley Family
Date: Thu, 02 Apr 2009 09:50:40 +0100
At risk of sounding as though I'm disagreeing with Lawrence, while his points
may well explain why you can't find anything, you should be aware that his is
a "worst-case". There may be a great deal of local variation.
I have a village undertaker's records, 1851-1926, and in the parishes they
worked in were not only providing coffins for newborn children (including one
entry that reads "lived for a few minutes"), but also for still-born infants.
As both father and son who ran the business were also Parish Clerks, I've no
doubt that this was with the approval of the Vicar, whether explicit or
implicit, and in fact there's a few parish clerk's accounts slipped in with
the records including payment of burial fees for a still-born child - rather
later than yours, in the 1890s, but with a Vicar who had been at the helm
since 1851. The still births don't appear in the burial register but as far as
I've spotted, all the live-born infants do.
You may or may not find private baptisms in the register - I've don't recall
finding one in the registers of the above parishes, but they are common in the
registers of another neighbouring parish. In these cases you should find a
second entry if the child survived, along the lines of "received into the
church" - the Book of Common Prayer should give you the appropriate rubric and
explain the difference, especially if you find a version printed at the
appropriate time - they do alter a bit over the years.
Just out of interest, if you have no birth or death dates, what tells you that
Have you tried surrounding parishes, or places her parents had relations? If
she arrived unexpectedly, she might have been born far from home, and baptised
in a hurry there.
Finally - you may well have to accept that you're stumped. I'm still stymied
by my father's sister, who died at 6 months in 1943 in Epping hospital! Even
the person who registered the death doesn't know what happened to her - and
this is well into the erea of excess paperwork!
Hope those observations help,
> My thoughts are that a child in those days wasn't considered to be a
> person until they were at least 3 months old, so needn't be given a
> proper burial if they died before then. Whether this is right or wrong,
> however, many infant deaths went unrecorded, their bodies being slipped
> into the coffin of another close relative who happened to die at about
> the same time, thus saving the funeral fees etc.
> Also, regarding christening, if the babe was born obviously poorly and
> wasn't expected to survive, the vicar (or equivalent) would be called to
> the family home to perform a "private baptism" as soon as possible; such
> practices were normally the province of the wealthy and privileged who
> could afford to pay for the vicar's personal attention, but it was also
> done for the poorer folk in times of sore need. Consequently, the
> christening might be recorded in the parish register with a note about
> it being a private service, or it might have got overlooked when the
> vicar or his clerk wrote up the rough notes of events into the fair
> register every year, especially if he vicar wrote it onto a separate
> slip of paper or even forgot to note it at all.