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Thread: mystery of baptising orphans in Liverpool

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    Newbie karen murphy's Avatar
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    Default mystery of baptising orphans in Liverpool

    Hi everyone
    Have just come across the following 'mystery' when searching through Liverpool Catholic baptism registers and wonder if anyone else has seen the same? and if so, if they can explain it?

    In the register the children have one surname, and yet all the parents have different surnames. For example, a child called Bridget Milligan, parents are Thomas Brown and Bridget Brown. Another one - child James Murphy, parents are Aroli Fox and Catherine Fox. I have attached a page from St Josephs register in 1861 and you'll see that virtually every entry on the page is the same scenario.

    I have also come across this in St Josephs for different years and also in registers in Holy Cross.


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    The only possible explanation I could come up with was maybe orphans but that doesn't seem to fit quite right (but can't think of anything else!). My reasons for doubt is that surely there wouldn't be that many orphans being baptised in one go? and also you would expect orphans to be older when 'homed' and yet if you look at the first entry on the attached register, the baby was only 3 days old when baptised.

    If anyone has got any ideas or thoughts on why the register might be like this, I would be really really grateful!
    cheers Karen
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Came fourth...now what? Oudeis's Avatar
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    There is a great deal about this that is not known and I cannot read very much of what is there, but I suspect Disaster at sea for all those of the 27th Jan.

    There will be those who are members here more acquainted with the habits and formalities of the Rites of Baptism at that time.
    It is me going further out on the limb, but might the 'Parents' be sponsors for children newly orphaned prior to their being re-shipped or interred?
    The hand writing for that date suggests to me that the Rite was performed en-mass and the details logged with haste and perhaps under some emotional pressure or with the heaviest of hearts.
    A few details would help.

    ---------- Post added at 10:52 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:36 AM ----------

    There is however no mention of mass drownings at that time here...

    http://www.old-merseytimes.co.uk/dea...uests1861.html

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    Newbie karen murphy's Avatar
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    Default mystery of baptising orphans in Liverpool

    thanks Oudeis
    I've just checked through the book - this baptism register was 23 pages and almost every baptism in the register (with the exception of the odd one scattered here and there) was this same scenario. The baptisms in this book cover dates between 30th December 1860 and 5th Jan 1862 (so really only 12 months plus a few extra days) and there must be about 600 entries in the register.
    It just seems an incredile amount, although I agree with you, I wondered if they were children being shipped off abroad and had to be baptised before they went.

    The family I was researching when I came across this was John and Sarah Melia who are listed as the 'parents' of Sarah Horan.
    But this couple appear in the same way quite a few times, they are listed as 'parents' of:
    Marianne Smith in August 1860 at the same church (St Josephs)
    Sarah Horan (the one above) in 1861 at St Josephs
    Bridget Smith in May 1863 at St Josephs
    William Smith in Oct 1865 at St Josephs
    Martin Malley in June 1857 at Holy Cross

    They weren't childless, they had their own family. And none of these children mentioned above lived with the family.

    So it doesn't seem to be something that's a one off, but not sure what it does mean?!

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    Came fourth...now what? Oudeis's Avatar
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    It is often said that worse things happen at sea, but the land does not escape it's many disasters either. There is, I see, a great deal going on in the 19th century for the;Irish, the poor, the Catholic congregation and other denominations too and in Politics.
    Chapters IV,V and VI tell something of the story. With Paragraph 147 yielding the first mention of 1861 that I could see and Paragraph 143 mentioning the Italian Revolution of 1860.
    The link below is to a Catholic history of the Catholic Church in Liverpool from the year dot. There is much to turn the stomach and not a little to feel some pride in. There is a great deal of suffering too.
    I hope those who read it do not merely skim along looking for dates and places as I did and come back to have their say.

    http://www.archive.org/stream/cathol...kuoft_djvu.txt


    Tom.

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    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
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    Hi Karen and Oudeis,

    I think the suggested explanation of the mystery that the parents of the children were lost at sea is a plausible theory given that Liverpool was a major seaport of the day. I have taken the liberty of bringing this mystery to the attention of the researchers at JtR Forums -- many of whom spend endless hours going over genealogical records. Perhaps some there might have further ideas and observations. Karen, the best of luck to you in your further research.

    Best regards

    Chris
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    Came fourth...now what? Oudeis's Avatar
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    Yes Chris. Immigration between Ireland, Liverpool and the USA was disrupted rather by the US Civil War around this time. (1861)

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    Senior Member dazza's Avatar
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    Hi Karen and Oudeis,

    I don't think this was the Royal Charter disaster, which struck rocks on 26th Oct. 1859. Of the 494 souls on board, only 35 were rescued, according to Picton's Memorials of Liverpool, of which only a percentage were perhaps children.

    Another idea, maybe, is that the children were baptised, prior to resettlement, in Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc., which was the practice in the 18th & 19th centuries.

    'The Church of England Waifs and Strays Society, founded in 1881, sent over 3,000 children abroad, only about 5 per cent of its intake. National Children's Homes, a Methodist organisation established in 1869, also emigrated a modest proportion of the children they took into care, although still over 3,000. The largest operator came to be the homes established by Dr Barnardo. His organisation sent nearly 27,000 children to Canada between 1882 and 1928, and nearly 2,800 to Australia between 1921 and 1965'

    The rest of the article here: http://www.history.ac.uk/ihr/Focus/w...stantines.html
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."... ... ... Mark Twain.

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    Newbie karen murphy's Avatar
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    thanks Dazza, Chris and Oudeis for all your ideas.
    I will have a proper read of the Catholic history link - thanks Oudeis.
    chris thank you so much for passing on my question to the forum you mention - I will keep my fingers crossed.
    I have the gut feeling that resettlement of babies seems the most likely reason. The quote you forwarded Dazza is interesting and I think helps convey what was happening generally in this sphere at the time. The quotation relates more to methodism and also some 20 years later than the records I looked at - do you think it's likely that this was also happening with the Catholics in the 1860s?

    regards Karen

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    Senior Member az_gila's Avatar
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    This might be applicable, and in the correct time period -
    Meanwhile, in 1850, an Act of Parliament permitted the Poor Law Guardians to
    fund the emigration of any child in their care subject to permission of the Poor
    Law Board. In addition, the permission of any surviving parent was to be sought
    where this was possible. When this was not practicable, it was necessary to
    procure the child’s agreement to his emigration, given before two justices of
    the peace in a magistrates court. In 1891, the Custody of Children Act
    gave the ‘rescue societies’ a legal framework within which to operate. Before
    this modern child migration had operated in a grey area.


    From here -

    http://www.naa.gov.au/naaresources/P...g/chapter2.htm

    Though it looks like the famous Liverpool Catholic didn't start sending kids abroad until 1870...

    http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/m...er_nugent.aspx

    Perhaps when the babies got older they were sent to Canada or Australia?

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    Senior Member dazza's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by karen murphy View Post
    The quotation relates more to methodism and also some 20 years later than the records I looked at - do you think it's likely that this was also happening with the Catholics in the 1860s?
    This may have some bearing on what was happening in the city around 1860?

    1860, was only 8 years following on from the end of the Irish potatoe famine, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Famine_(Ireland). Conditions for the children of Irish Catholic families, living in Liverpool at the time, would have been dire throughout this period and for a long afterwards. Perhaps best illustrated through the life of Father James Nugent, who tried to improve the circumstances of children's lives in the city.

    Father James Nugent was born in 1822. In 1849 he opened a Ragged School at Copperas Hill to take homeless children off the streets. Father Nugent established a night shelter and refuge giving homeless boys food and lodging but in 1867 there were so many boys needing his help that he decided to set up a residential school The Boys Refuge was opened in 1869. There impoverished boys learned shoe making, tailoring, joinery and printing. Father Nugent also participated in the child emigration to Canada from 1870 to 1930. In 1880 he took over 300 people from Galway Ireland to St Paul’s, Minnesota, USA

    http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/m...er_nugent.aspx

    Child transportation to Australia stopped after the Gold rush in 1853, and children were instead transported to Canada (through Liverpool). Although in Father Nugent's case, this wasn't until 1870, as mentioned by az above. Maria Rye took a group of orphaned girls over to Canada, in 1869 (via Liverpool again).

    http://www.fairbridgecanada.com/childmigration.pdf
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."... ... ... Mark Twain.

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    Came fourth...now what? Oudeis's Avatar
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    Mark Twain? Was he the lyricist for, "You write 'potatoe' I write po-tat-o..."?

    [good to see you, everything OK?]

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    Senior Member Marty1's Avatar
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    They weren't childless, they had their own family. And none of these children mentioned above lived with the family.
    Sounds to me like they were God Parents !

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    Senior Member dazza's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oudeis View Post
    Mark Twain? Was he the lyricist for, "You write 'potatoe' I write po-tat-o..."?

    [good to see you, everything OK?]
    Hi Oudeis, good to hear from you. Everthing's tickety-boo. Thanks.
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."... ... ... Mark Twain.

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    Newbie karen murphy's Avatar
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    thanks Marty
    Godparents were my first thought but if you look at the page (not easy to read I know) you'll see that they're in the parents column and there is a different set of names again in the godparents column. So it's not that I'm afraid
    cheers kren

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    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
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    Boston researcher Livia Trivia at JtR Forums made the following suggestion:

    But why would both parents be traveling by sea and leaving an infant behind?

    Illegitimate children named by or with their mother's names, then taken from them, given to a "respectable" couple, who then chose godparents?

    Think Magdalen Sisters.

    This might explain why several children are named "Jacobus" (Latin for James) and Brigeta, maybe after a particular Saint or the name of the Convent/Foundling Home in which they were born. This might also explain why the whole book contained these entries. The records of illegitimate adoptees may have been kept separately.

    Just a guess.
    Christopher T. George
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    Keeping It Real !!!!!!!!! ItsaZappathing's Avatar
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    Livia Trivia - What a nice name.

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