Tuesday 31 July 2018

Unusual (?) Entries in Baptism Registers

One of the family historians I often correspond with sent me a query some time back about an unusual entry in a baptism register Of Stoke Gabriel in Devon, England. We are not directly related but our family trees intersect with one of my great-grand uncles. She asked, “Have you ever come across a baptism such as this? Blank name and in Waddeton hamlet (a guess is at their home/farm). I can easily surmise that the baby (born 18 Sept, so one month old) wasn’t expected to live, but ‘private’ is not written.”

In my inimitable way, I gave her all kinds of information that I found, but most of it she knew already. But my main answer with respect to the baptism entry was, “Yes I have seen incomplete baptism records. My own great-grandfather is shown in the Cornwood baptism register as just ‘Shepherd’, with the date of ‘Sept. 5th’. There is no other information as to his forename or parents. If I did not have his birth certificate I would be hard pressed to figure out who this entry was for.”

Pamela went on to say that “The baby did live by the way – until age 99!

The baby was Winnifred Mabel Scoble and she was one of seven children of Herman Walter and Mary Elizabeth (Martin) Scoble. She married George Edward Smale Hill in 1914, in Paignton. With one child, they immigrated to Canada in 1921 where they had three others.

Winnifred’s birth was just five months after the marriage of her parents. While baptized in Stoke Gabriel, and the family was living in Waddeton, Winnifred was apparently actually born in Cockington, Devon, about seven miles to the north. All of that may help to explain why some information was missing from the Stoke Gabriel baptism register.

Pamela advised that she did not know Winnifred even existed until she saw her name on a Scoble family tree on Ancestry that showed her as a first-born child. On the 1901 England census “Winnie” was a patient in an isolation hospital in Paignton (in what is now part of the western suburbs), along with four other children. So, no parents or family members listed then. We do not know what malady Winnifred suffered from. By 1911 she had left home and was working as a domestic servant in Tormorham.
Map showing the location of the Isolation Hospital in Paignton, Devon relative to the town (satellite image & 25 inch Ordnance map); retrieved 31 July 2018 https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/spy/index.cfm#zoom=16&lat=50.4369&lon=-3.5910&layers=168&b=1&r=35

It was not without some serious sleuthing that Pamela was able to assemble all of the information about Winnifred’s family, all starting from that incomplete baptism entry. Sometimes you have to look at a lot of different sources.