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1837 Adult Baptisms

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Derek Report 26 Mar 2014 18:17

Has anyone noticed the vast increase in numbers of ADULT Church Baptisms in 1837?
Just for a laugh I went through some of my Derbyshire records and found that,quite apart from the large number of Adult Baptisms..which were very 1837 the increase, in some places,was colossal,,,but was nt apparently a national; feature.

For example Melbourne in Derbyshire had over 200 Adult baptisms in June and July 1837..over and above the normal patterns........none of these 200 were less than 11 years old and some were 50 and 60........
..several other Derbyshire parishes did not show this abnormality..
So..did the compulsory registration of 1837 cause it??? and if many people nationally were wandering around unbaptised in their fifties?? My earliest 1837 baptism was born 1785!!

Interested enough to comment?



+++DetEcTive+++ Report 26 Mar 2014 20:35

Was there some sort of End-of-the-world missionary work going on?

You could be right though - they felt that the needed some sort of documentation to show that they existed. If they ever had a baptismal certificate, it could well have been lost by adulthood.


BeverleyW Report 27 Mar 2014 13:11

Maybe a super-zealous Vicar was appointed who harried all the non-baptised folk into church?
I can't say I have noticed this phenomenon in any parish I have been transcribing.


Derek Report 27 Mar 2014 13:38

I wonder how many Parish Baptisms actually show date of birth as well as date of baptism........I know its more common in more recent times, but pre-1837?

The phenomenon will only show itself where both dates are given.

the other thing of course is how strictly the need to be baptised in order to be married in church was enforced.

I think I'll those 1837 adult baptisms alongside any matching marriages. In fact I'll do it now!!


KenSE Report 27 Mar 2014 14:37

Was there perhaps a local church of another denomination or sect that closed about that time?

I think BeverleyW's explanation is the most likely.


Potty Report 27 Mar 2014 16:23

I wonder if it was more to do with being eligible for Poor Law Relief - a new Poor Law Amendment was passed in 1834 and seems to have been implemented in 1837.

I have a quick look on Google and can't find confirmation, but I think that if you didn't "belong" to a particular parish, even if you lived there, you couldn't claim Poor Law Relief. Before 1837 the only way you could prove which parish you belonged to was by having been baptised there, or by the issue of a Settlement Order.

This site explains the Poor Laws:


KenSE Report 27 Mar 2014 16:51

In the case of adult baptisms it is quite usual for the date of birth to be given.

For infant baptisms it is uncommon but some parishes or incumbents did note the date of birth. Some parishes even named the parents and grandparents of the child.


Derek Report 27 Mar 2014 17:58

Hi KenSE,a very interesting point you make about another denominational Church.
Melbourne Derbyshire DID havea \non-conformist chapel, and this whole question was raised when I was asked to research a family...the first three children of which were Baptised as normal, as children in the Anglican Faith...the youngest three children were not baptised until 1837....and then all on the same day...........which was sort of normal...........except Family Search had those same three youngest children baptised as infants at Penn Lane Congregational.......

We don't yet have a proper or even satisfactory answer to that one yet!!

Any ideas would be more than welcome.



BeverleyW Report 27 Mar 2014 19:04

Derek - I agree that it's unusual for a birth date to be given as well as a baptism date.
However, in my experience limited though it is, when an adult was baptised, the Vicar made some comment in the register or as Ken says, noted the d..o.b. or age.

I do wonder about whether a child had to be baptised in order to marry in church. My 4 x great grandparents had 7 daughters in Birmingham between 1836 and 1858, not a baptism record in sight for any of them but the four girls who lived to adulthood did marry in their local church.


DazedConfused Report 28 Mar 2014 14:42

I wonder if it was anything to do with the introduction of formal registering of Births.

Many people would possibly have thought that they may have to be baptised as they could not register their birth this late in the day.

Just a thought.