on baptisms in June 1837
from My Sayings and
Doings (Kegan, Paul & Trench 1888) pages 170-172
June, 1837, an absurd rumour got abroad through the passage of the new
Registration Acts that all baptisms which were not administered and
registered before the end of the month would be charged at the rate of
seven and sixpence, because of the attendance of the Registrar and
On June 28th - Wednesday - after Morning
Prayers, the church began to fill with a number of people, and we were
preparing to take the usual baptisms. But, the rush and hubbub grew
every moment, and Verrall, the clerk, said to the sexton, "Just
go out and see what this uproar is." The cause was soon ascertained.
People were flocking in crowds to have their children baptized; and the
noise and confusion were appalling. At a quarter before twelve the
baptisms commenced. We could only take forty at a time, as this was the
largest number the baptistery would hold. Usually the Parish Clerk
stood on one side, and made an entry into what was called the "Rough
Book", as the baptisms proceeded. The relays continued coming, until at
last all were baptized. The clerk and I then adjourned to the vestry
for the registration of the names in the Parish Register. There we
forbade the entrance of all but one person connected with each baptism,
who could give the necessary particulars. But though this reduced the
number very greatly, the bad behaviour and insubordination were such
that we found it necessary to send for police. In due time we
registered that day 153 baptisms.
On Friday, June 30, the same
scene occurred again, only with much larger numbers. We were, however,
in a better position to deal with them, as we had made better plans and
arrangements. As each forty baptisms were concluded, one of each party
was sent at once to the vestry for the registration, and the rest were
dismissed; so that instead of the increase of disorder and confusion
there was a gradual clearance of the church. On this day 224 baptisms
were actually registered. Thus in the two days, 377 baptisms were
registered, each party paying a fee of one shilling. The real number of
baptisms was, however, greatly in excess of this, for when the "Rough
Book" was added up it was found that there were from fifty to sixty
baptisms of which the sponsors did not put in an appearance for
registration. It may, therefore, be concluded that from four to five
hundred children were baptized in the two days.
obtain a correct statement of these baptisms, I wrote to the present
Rector of St. George's-in-the-East, and received from him the following
St. George's-in-the-East, E.
January 29, 1876.
My Dear Sir,
have found not only the regular entries, but the "Rough Book". On June
28, 1837, there were baptized 153, And on June 30 224. Total 377.
I have not laid hands on the book which contains memoranda. There were
two or three cupboards or drawers in the vestry which the sexton said
he had never known to be open. Having
no keys, and failing to get the locks picked, they were forced
yesterday, but we got nothing beyond heaps of old bread, &c.,
tickets and marriage licenses. If I come across the memorandum book you
refer to I will let you know.
hope you will visit us when you come to London, and preach at the
Parish Church. Your memory is very sweet here, I can assure you.
Yours very faithfully
P.S. - Please do
not fix on the morning of April the 30th, or June 18th, on which days
to preach here. But I sincerely hope that your old friends and those
who have learned to respect your name and work will see you in our
pulpit, and Mrs. Jones and myself may have the pleasure of welcoming
you at the Rectory.