Thursday, 19 January 2012

On This Day: 19 January

Thomazin BENDING, my 4th great greataunt, was born on 19 January 1795 in Ottery St Mary, Devon, and christened only a couple of weeks later on 4 February 1795.  Maybe she was ill from birth, and that is why she was christened so quickly - at any rate, she mysteriously disappears and another Thomazin BENDING is born on 26 January 1796 and is baptised on 27 January 1797.

It was a standard and fairly popular tradition: if a child died when tiny, then the next child of the same gender would have the same name; for instance, if baby John was born, but died when two months old, then the next boy baby born in the family would be called John.  This is one of those habits which was quite common among our ancestors, and yet is not so common nowadays - and often catches out both the new and the experienced genealogist.  It is easy to get confused as to why there are two baby Johns in the same family, and to discard one as perhaps being nothing to do with that particular family, or that maybe somebody somewhere got their dates mixed up - but in fact it is two separate babies in the same family with the same name.

In fact, you can use this as a clue: if you have a child named Harriet, with no death date, and then another Harriet within a couple of years, at least you have a lightbulb-moment clue that the first Harriet might have died young.

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