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Roman Catholic Baptism records

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Sarah Report 4 Jan 2013 14:04

Hi everyone

I hope someone can clarify something for me...

My Grandmother was born in 1903. She was baptised a Roman Catholic but her father is not named in the baptism record. The obvious assumption is that her mother was unmarried.

However, this is not the case. Her mother was married, they had 3 older children and my Grandmother's birth certificate gives her mother's husband as her father.

I've had 3 ideas about why the father might be omitted:

1) Her father was not Roman Catholic - is this sufficient reason for his name to be omitted?

2) It is just possible her father had died by this point - I know he died within the next 10 years but have been unable to find any record of his death. Oral family history suggests it was a few years after her birth but it may be wrong. If this was the case would his name have been omitted?

3) The other possibility I have considered is that although she was married, her husband was not the father. In this case she might have been prepared to lie to the registrar but not the priest. However, if this was true I imagine that by doing this she would make it public knowledge so it doesn't seem likely.

Can anyone shed any light on this or suggest other reasons for the father to be omitted?

Many thanks for your help,



MarieCeleste Report 4 Jan 2013 14:28

Hello Sarah, I think any of those scenarios sounds feasible but I'm not an expert on religious matters.

I think they key may be to pinpoint her father's death. If you want fresh eyes to take a look then give us the details.


Reggie Report 4 Jan 2013 14:33

Your option 3 is the most likely, I would have thought.

Perhaps you should get in touch with your local RC priest........he may be able to shed more light on it

When a birth is registered, it is assumed that the father is the husband, if the mother is married

Have you found the baptisms of the older children......for comparison?

Have you found the family in 1911?


MarieCeleste Report 4 Jan 2013 15:31

Google is always useful, don't know if this link helps or would have been relevant back then:

Mark Elliot Anstruther

Mark Elliot Anstruther Report 4 Jan 2013 15:40

Are the Godparents named?

I have several examples of different name sets between the RC baptisms and the matching civil birth registrations. When Catholics start lying the don't know whom they are trying to deceive!


lancashireAnn Report 4 Jan 2013 16:33

option 2 combined with option 3??

father died after birth of previous child and at least 9 months before the last


Sarah Report 4 Jan 2013 17:40

Thanks for all these suggestions.

I've spent ages looking for the father's death and would be grateful for anyone to take a fresh look. He was David Read, a carpenter/joiner born Carlisle 1875. His parents were Roger & Mary Anne. (Confusingly he had a cousin also David Read, a lithographer, born in Carlisle in the same year, parents David and Elizabeth.)
'My' David married Elizabeth Hughes in 1895. In 1901 they lived in Caldewgate, Carlisle with 3 children; Winifred, David Lawrence, and Jessie. That is the last record I have of him.
In 1911 Elizabeth has remarried and has Theresa living with her. Theresa was born in 1903 and she is the one whose baptism and birth led to the question. Winifred & David Lawrence are in the orphanage, Jessie is with relatives.

I saw the catholicdoors link too, but didn't think it was conclusive as I believe the mother was married.

Thanks. Looking for the other children's baptisms is a good idea. If they are the same - ie father missing - then I guess I can assume it is because he is not a Catholic. Only problem is getting to the records. Two were born in different towns and I only know about Theresa's baptism record because someone who answered the phone in the Carlisle record office was kind to my sister years ago - before we knew about the other children. But definitely something I can follow up.

I don't have a certificate or any further details for the baptism. Years ago, my sister spoke to someone at the Carlisle records office who was kind enough to look in the church register for her. I will try and get a copy or more details but I can't get to Carlisle at the moment.

Could be that too! Actually it does sound more likely. I think I need to try again to find David Read's (the father) death.

Thanks for all your help.


Eringobragh1916 Report 4 Jan 2013 20:57

Sarah...It may be that the PP performing the Baptism was one who followed the Doctrine of Mother Church/Canon Law to the letter..
When a couple married "outside" of the Church then they were considered not married and children of that marriage were therefore considered in the eyes of the Church illegitimate.


MarieCeleste Report 4 Jan 2013 21:37

That's a very good point EGB.

I do know of a few families who were accused of "living in sin" even though they were legally married. (This was 50s 60s)


Sarah Report 4 Jan 2013 21:58

That's interesting Eringobragh1916. When you say "outside" of the church, does that include marrying a non-Catholic, even when the wedding took place in a Catholic church?


MarieCeleste Report 4 Jan 2013 22:03

Can non catholics marry in a catholic church? Hadn't thought of that.

Sorry for opening a theological debate Sarah, instead of finding David Read!

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 4 Jan 2013 22:16

Yes, a non-Roman Catholic can marry a Roman Catholic in a Roman Catholic Church.

Mark Elliot Anstruther

Mark Elliot Anstruther Report 4 Jan 2013 22:27

I have a Catholic family who changed all the children's surnames in response to the shame felt after the suicide of the father. In later life the children could not find any of their civil birth certificates as they were looking only for the replacement surname. This, along with deceptions of the mother, allowed the children to believe that they had all been born in India.


Eringobragh1916 Report 5 Jan 2013 15:04

Sarah..If the Marriage took place within the Catholic Church then the Rules of Canon Law did not apply.....
" Outside the Church" was when either or both were RC and married eg in a Reg Office/Non Catholic Church.

Basically you were deemed to be married in the eyes of the Law but not of the Church...for RCs Canon Law was what "governed" their lives and the implications of marrying outside the Church had an enormous impact on other aspects of personal and family life.


Sarah Report 5 Jan 2013 17:29

Thanks Eringobragh1916.
I've checked on their marriage certificate and they definitely married in a Catholic church. I'm aware of some of the problems marrying a non-Catholic can cause as my mother was raised a Catholic and my father was not. That is what made me wonder if it was enough cause to leave the father's name off the baptism certificate.


DazedConfused Report 5 Jan 2013 19:18

When a non-catholic and a catholic marry in church part of the deal is that any children born from this union must be brought up in the catholic faith.

I doubt that once the marriage has been done, that unless the catholic partner was a regular church goer then there was no way to check on the children.

I would think though that the father died before child was born.


Sarah Report 5 Jan 2013 21:48

You may be right about when her father died PigletsPal. I assume there will have been a bit of time between the birth and the baptism. I just wish I could find a record of his death - I have tried everything I can think of but I can't find anything even vaguely likely. Thanks for your suggestion.


Eringobragh1916 Report 6 Jan 2013 09:59

Sarah...If David Read was deceased /"absent" at the time of the Baptism the Birth Cert.naming him as Therea's father would have been sufficient evidence for the PP.


SuffolkVera Report 6 Jan 2013 15:38

Is it possible the marriage broke up and David Read left the country? There is a Mr D Read, age 28, a joiner, who sails to South Africa on the Arundel Castle, leaving on 15 August 1903. This man is apparently single and there is no evidence that he is your man but the age and occupation are right.


Sarah Report 6 Jan 2013 15:57

Thanks SuffolkVera - that is really interesting. It is possible and would explain why I can't find a death record. As you say the age and occupation fit and I had wondered if he'd run off.

How and where did you find it? I'll see if I can follow it up though I'm not sure how. We took out an Ancestry worldwide membership yesterday - looks like I might need it. Does anyone know anything about South African records?