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Lookup NU author(s): Professor Jeremy Boulton
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The evident lengthening of the interval between birth and baptism over the eighteenth century has often been assumed to have increased the risk that young infants died before baptism. Using burial records that include burials of unbaptised infants and give age at death we demonstrate that very few infants who survived the first few days of life escaped baptism in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields, despite a very profound lengthening of the delay between birth and baptism over the second half of the eighteenth century. Examination of baptism fee books indicates that perhaps a third of all infants were baptized privately in the parish and a pamphlet dispute between the vicar and one of his clerks provides extraordinary evidence of the extent to which baptism was a process rather than a single event. Our analysis suggests that it was the registration of baptism that was delayed, with no affect on the risk of death before baptism.
Author(s): Boulton J, Davenport R
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Local Population Studies
Print publication date: 01/05/2015
Online publication date: 01/03/2015
Acceptance date: 30/10/2011
ISSN (print): 0143-2974
Publisher: Local Population Studies Society