Dear John and other listers
I suspect Huw Edwards is somewhat confused about what nonconformist
ministers were complaining about, whiich is probably that, before the
introduction of civil registration in 1837, Anglican baptism was the
only generally accepted proof of birth.
John - why don't you ask him for clarification? My impression is that
he is pretty approachable.
I was somewhat surprised by the assertion by Achwr and Gareth Morgan
that baptism was necessary for parish relief under the Old Poor Law,
and would be very interested to know the source for this view. That
was not the legal position, as I understand it. All that was
required for relief was demonstration of need and proof of
settlement. Settlement was acquired by birth but could subsequently
change on marriage (for women), employment or owning or renting
property above a certain amount. Baptism might be useful in
establishing place of birth but was not essential.
Parish vestries were notoriously a law unto themselves and some might
have tried to enforce such a requirement, but they would have been
acting outside the law in doing so. Claimants denied relief would
have had the right to complain to the local magistrate, who not
unfrequently countermanded vestry decisions. (these are sometimes
noted as "ordered ny magistrate" in overseers' accounts).
I might add that in my researches into illlegitimacy I have come
across many infants supported by the parish for whom there is no
record of baptism.
At 19:43 13/09/2011, John Ball wrote:
I've been reading Huw Edwards's recent book "Capeli Llanelli - Our Rich
Heritage", published in 2009 by Carmarthenshire County Council Libraries and
Heritage Section; ISBN 978-0-906821-77-0.
At the bottom of page 4, the author states, "Nonconformist ministers,
leading their working class congregations, had also been fighting for their
own freedoms. BIRTHS COULD ONLY BE REGISTERED IF A CHILD HAD BEEN BAPTISED
BY AN ANGLICAN CLERGYMAN. If not, the baby was a non-person."
[The capitals are mine]
Mr Edwards does not cite a source for his statement. I understand him to
mean that Anglican baptism was an essential qualification for the civil
registration of a birth, which seems very hard to believe.
I wonder if any of you have heard of this practice before? If so, where, in
what source? Thus far, I've been unable to find any other references to the
Is it an 'old wives' tale' or did it really happen - in Llanelli or
elsewhere in Wales?
I'd be interested to hear your views.
John Ball, Brecon, Mid-Wales, UK
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