Last week I began transcribing the baptisms that have taken place at St John the Baptist church from the very first one until some unspecified time (until I go mad and blind from microfiche reader overuse, probably). It’s going to take me a long time. In its first year of active service (geddit, service…) the font – designed and donated by the architect who designed the church - was used in 30 baptisms. Soon after there were well over 50 christenings a year, as Clarendon Park built up and more and more people moved in.
I have only managed the first five years so far (over 270 baptisms) but it has been interesting to look at the database. One thing that has particularly fascinated me is the way that neighbours seemed to get their children baptised all at the same time. So no one in Montague Road, for instance, would be christened for several months…and then all of a sudden three or four families would appear within a week or so. This happened so many times that it can’t be a coincidence. I did wonder whether the curate was doing his rounds and telling off the residents for not having their children baptised quickly enough!
There are many occasions where entire families were baptised together, adults included. It was certainly common for all the children to be baptised on one day – from teenagers to new babies. On 6th July 1885 Ellen (10), John William (5), Annie (3) and Ethel Elizabeth (1) Stapleford, of Queens Road, were baptised together. I wonder whether it was the excitement of being amongst the first to be baptised at the new church that encouraged so many?
The very first baptisms took place on 5th October 1885. The children were William Harper, Beatrice Onion and Alice Muddimer, all of Avenue Road Extension and all just two or three months old. One of these days I plan to write a little biography of each – if indeed any of them survived to adulthood. Sadly I recognise many, many names in my baptisms database who went on the appear shortly afterwards in my database of the burials at St Mary Magdalene, Knighton. Such was the reality of childhood in Victorian times. Both my boys were baptised in the same beautiful font and I am so grateful that their life chances are better in every sense.
If you would like me to look up a baptism in my database then please let me know. I have only reached 1890 so far but I will keep your request on record until I get there. I am also happy to look up Clarendon Park burials at St Mary Magdalene – my database is complete from 1887 – 1951. Regards, Elizabeth.