Monday, October 11, 2010

Docu-Challenge Winner: William Warner Player baptismal record

The Docu-Challenge, William Warner Player Baptismal Record brought some thoughtful responses, and we do have a winner!

The majority of the respondents agreed that the pages were legible, but JRS took it a step further by noting
 “The ink and writing are even, and would imply that the list was made at one sitting, more or less, rather than on a day-to-day basis. Comparing to other months presumably included on other pages of the same source might be interesting in order to see if there is more variation in the ink or handwriting, perhaps indicating how often the list was updated and therefore how fresh the information was that was recorded.”
Indeed, my DearREADERS, we don’t know from the pages presented in the docu-challenge blog entry whether this is the original parish register or a copy sent to the Bishop at the end of the year, commonly known in England as BTS or bishops transcripts. One person figured out that my source citation was missing, so let me give you some details from the Family History Library Catalog, where we learn these are parish records and not BTS.
Church of England. St. Luke's Church (Chelsea, Middlesex). Baptisms, 1559-1812; FHL BRITISH Film 585471 (not in chronological order). This is a microfilm of original records at the London Record Office and at the London Metropolitan Archives. London Metro. Archives call no.: P74/LUK/190-196, 254, 197A-197B. 

Since the collection of 11 Family History Library microfilms cover baptisms, marriages and burials, I don’t know whether the baptism records are at the LRO or the LMA, and I must be sure to include both in my source citation, to facilitate research if I ever wished to look at the original document in person.
 Jenny compares the two pages of the docu-challenge:
“The document appears to be a hand written baptism record from the Parish of St. Lukes, Chelsea in the County of Middlesex in the year 1793. This is assuming the note entry is from the same book.”
Good for you Jenny – you weren’t entirely sure about that first page and didn’t jump to conclusions. In fact they weren’t my notes. Since there was no listing on the top of each page indicating the title of the book or the author, I was careful to not only scan the entry for my ancestor, but I also rolled back the microfilm to scan the original ‘title page’. In preparation for this docu-challenge, I merely superimposed the March 1793 page of baptismal entries over the blank part of the title page to save space in composing the blog entry.
 JRS noted the multiple page edges to the left of the March 1793 page, and concludes:
“The image appears to have been copied from a multi-page, bound volume.”

On the olden days, we used to photocopy from microfilm, then write the microfilm number in the margin of the page, to facilitate composing citations once we returned home. With the advent of scanning, we’re at the mercy of the scanning software provided by the research facility, which usually does not provide an option to add a text label to the scanned image. This must be done at home. However, a good trick for remembering the film number is to include it in the name of the file such as:

Lisa Gorrell summarized the information without jumping to conclusions:
“This is a primary source for the baptism itself on March 30, 1793. What's missing? I would love to see the page before and the page after to get a feel for the record and the minister's handwriting. It is implied that Charles and Ann are married. The only information drawn from the document is William was born [on or] before March 30, 1793 and Charles Player and Ann are his parents. I would look for a marriage record for Charles Player and Ann; and look for other baptism records of children for this couple.”
JK states:
 “… only 5 of them actually list the date of birth for the person. The baptism date is sometimes used as a substitute for the actual date of birth when that is not immediately known and until it can be found. [This] can also cause problems because the person may not have been baptized as a baby.”
Ol’ Myrt here has yet to understand why the birth date is listed for five individuals on this page. There was no discernable indication on other pages to explain this phenomenon. But I think that Jennie took too much of a leap of faith when stating:
“These children were probably born in late Feb or early march for their baptisms to be on these dates.”
WHY? There is no accounting for the fact that some children are sickly, a raging snow storm could have ensued, the father was away or the grandparents wished to attend. Any one of these and any number of other situations could have necessitated a delay in the baptism of an infant.
Suffice it to say that for people whose birth predate the keeping of public vital records, a christening or baptismal record is commonly substituted.

It would probably assist in our understanding of this document to know that William Warner Player himself gave us his full name, baptismal date and location in several subsequent early LDS Church records in the United States. He made no distinction between the baptismal date and his actual birthdate one way or the other. William was well known in the Nauvoo, Illinois area as a stone setter. He is quoted as William Warner Player on a banner at the Winter Quarters Visitor Center in Nebraska. His obituary, published in Salt Lake City newspapers also refers to the old pioneer as William Warner Player, so his family knew him as such.

“The birthplace: the baptisms occurred in the parish, but the baptized were not necessarily born there.” (JRS)
Although not mentioned in this English baptismal record, there is a practice in the “wilds” of America where a couple might be married and have two or three of their children christened on the same day. This is owing to the distance from clergy, and indicates the arrival of a circuit-riding preacher. In such remote locations, the marriage is sanctioned by other members of the community, and the couple is treated as if legally married.
However, in a larger city, such as London, it is doubtful that solemnization of marriages and later-life baptisms/christenings were necessary. In William Warner Player’s case, he was an infant from all we can tell.
In fact, the clergy were very concerned about where a child was born, as any indigents were the responsibility of the local parish. A cursory study of Poor Law Unions unearths the practice of forcing the woman to name the father, or failing that, to have the woman escorted out of the parish boundaries before the child was born. WikiPedia explains “By 1776 some 1,912 parish and corporation workhouses had been established in England and Wales, housing almost 100,000 paupers. Although many parishes and pamphlet writers expected to earn money from the labour of the poor in workhouses, the vast majority of people obliged to take up residence in workhouses were ill, elderly, or children whose labour proved largely unprofitable.”

 “Is that a splotch after the name William or a hyphen? If the latter, how common was that at the time and what does it mean? (JRS)
“The page is quite legible, checking other names on page and the way they are annotated makes me wonder. Why the hyphen? Is it possible William and Warren are twins.”(swe2sea)

Additional research explains that William Warner Player is indeed William’s full name. But you were right to consider every little splotch on the page.

“I also noticed that all of the other males stated "son of" while the female names did not. It was odd that [the] William-Warner [entry] did not say son of. Could William be a girl's name? Odd, but a possibility. I would have to look at other previous research to know this.” (Jennie)
You are right to question this, Jennie. But not that those daughters have an abbreviated “D. of” preceding their parents’ names, which I think stands for "Daughter of". Following that line of thinking, I believe that the entry reads:
William Warner S. of Charles Player & Ann

Jennie points out that early church records such as this don’t include additional names, a challenge with particularly common names.
“Also it also does not state the sponsors (which is often a relative and gives clues on further research).”

“The implied marriage for Charles and Ann would have me look for the marriage record in this parish in Middlesex and then broaden the search if nothing is found,” suggests swe2sea.
JRS also comments
“According to a perpetual calendar, a bare majority (17) of the baptisms listed occurred on a Sunday, the rest were all over the week (William was baptized on a Saturday). Would this indicate that many (if not all) were performed at home-- perhaps done ASAP after a birth due to the high rate of infant deaths?”
 It hadn’t occurred to Ol’ Myrt here to look at a calendar and worry about which day of the week the baptism took place. Good thinking, JRS!

 “I would assume that William is a newborn and there may be more siblings baptized at this parish. I would look for more parish records for the Player family and continue looking for other census, birth, marriage and death records.” (Lynn)
“A map or location search to find out exactly where this is. Although, presumably the specific location is already known, why else would this particular document have been searched?” (JRS)
Actually, JRS, since William Warner Player left information about his baptism date and location, Ol’ Myrt here was merely going back to find the original parish entry, rather than taking his comments as hearsay.
Crash Course in Family History 
Chosen in no particular order, since all entries were well-thought out… the winner is JRS. If you will please contact Ol’ Myrt privately, so I can send you a copy of my friend Paul Larsen's Crash Course in Family History 4th Edition (2010) your personal library. The book will be shipped from Ol' Myrt's "satellite offices" at to a US address only.

Happy family tree climbing!
Your friend in genealogy.

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