Baptisms and Godparents

Discussion in 'Church Records' started by thalauafu, Oct 11, 2014.

  1. thalauafu

    thalauafu R.I.P.

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    I was brought up with the knowledge that there were two very special people in my life, those of my Godfather and Godmother. However, even though I have one or two fancy actual certificates (not my own) from some close family members, there is no mention of any Godparents, and I have never seen any mentioned in any baptism register anywhere or at any time. :confused:
    Does anyone know if these so called 'important people' were recorded anywhere? If not, surely it would seem to have been rather superfluous to have them? Or have I got the wrong idea?:rolleyes:
    Diana
     
  2. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

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    My mother was baptised at St Albans Abbey at the age of 10 and I have her baptism certificate. On it are named her Godparents. :)

    This is the only baptism certificate that I have and, I must admit, the idea had never previously occurred to me! However, I understand that Catholic records - especially those in Ireland - record the Godparents.
     
  3. thalauafu

    thalauafu R.I.P.

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    Mum's baptism certificate.jpg This is my mother's baptism certificate...no Godparents mentioned! I wonder why some they name them (such as yours Jan) but not on others?
     
  4. Nightryder

    Nightryder Well-Known Member

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    My daughter in law who was born in 1979 was baptised in the catholic church but her godparents are not named on her certificate.
     
  5. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

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    But I wonder if it was recorded in the registers.
     
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  6. Nightryder

    Nightryder Well-Known Member

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    Jan, Maybe, I will ask her next time I see her, but she might not know herself.
     
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  7. MollyMay

    MollyMay Knows where to find the answers!

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    Diana,
    I have my dad's 1913, his brothers 1916, my brothers 1938 - all of whch are very similar to your mothers. My own, is slightly different design, but none of them have the space on them to record God Parents. In my box of treasures however, I do have two cards (one each for Mum and Dad) where they were the God Parents, the cards have their name, the name of the child (my living cousin) date and church etc. the duties of the God Parents and a prayer - so I wonder if this was the practise. I should add this is C of E.
     
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  8. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

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    My family has been Catholic seems like forever. We were all Baptised in the Catholic Church, all had godparents, but I've never seen a Baptismal Certificate for anyone. Had no idea they even existed. I do remember, though, that the priest took note of names of godparents at any Baptism I've attended, including those of my 2. Our daughter's godfather couldn't be in Bendigo when she was baptised and so we had a "proxy" and the priest took both names down. Since they were actively recorded at the time, I would think (hope) they are in the register kept in the presbytery but must confess to never having thought about it before.

    After Mum and Dad died we went through their papers and there certainly were no certificates like that at all.

    No cards either which indicated who was godparent to whom and/or when and I know some of us have been.

    I think I've been had!! I would LOVE a certificate, with or without all the details.

    Deprivation city yet again.
     
  9. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

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    My scanner is not working, but I have just taken a photgraph of Mum's certificate. However....

    Although the pre-printed card has a space for Godparents, the word has been crossed out and Witnesses written, one of whom was her mother. Maybe this was because of the age she was - 12, not 10 as I wrote in post 2.

    Just to note, Mum's Dad was Catholic and her Mum was Methodist. They did not have Mum baptised as a baby so as to let her choose her own religion when she was older. She chose Church of England.

    DSCF0823.JPG
     
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  10. thalauafu

    thalauafu R.I.P.

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    I have been wondering about this for some years now, as I am sure that in some cases the Godparents might just happen to give a hint to unknown names such as when we know the first name of a wife, but not a Surname. A Godparent could very easily be a sibling of the mother! Wouldn't it be wonderful if a whole new source of information such as this were available to help us knock down brick walls? :)
     
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  11. thalauafu

    thalauafu R.I.P.

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    And another thought along the same lines.....I wonder if it were always the custom to have Godparents at baptisms, or is this a more recent idea?
     
  12. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

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    This thread has started me thinking - I know, doesn't happen often, but it has.

    When my sister was born I was 10. I really wanted to be her god-mother (she was a very, very ill baby and her survival was in doubt for months) so Mum asked the priest if it were possible. He said the major criteria (apart from religion) was that the godparent had been confirmed which meant, short answer "no". I was confirmed at about 12 I think and so was able to be god-mother to one of my cousins when I was 14.

    I have a feeling, Diana, that a parent couldn't also be a god-parent because one of the responsibilities of the god-parent was to ensure that the baby was brought up "in the faith" and that was particularly so if the parents died. In our family (apart from my foray into the picture) it was usually aunts and uncles who did the honours.

    As a footnote, none of our family has been named after a god-parent, but I'm sure it happened.
     
  13. Sis

    Sis Rootles out resources!

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    With help from Mr Google I found a few sites that say that the godparent at a baptism is recorded as early as the year 200 by Tertullian in his book De Baptismo (whoever he may be!).
     
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  14. Archie's Mum

    Archie's Mum Always digging up clues

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    The history of Godparents is well explained on Wikipedia and goes back to the 2nd Century.
    Being from those dastardly 'dissenters' our folks didn't have them. :)

    Well look at that. Sis and I were looking at the same thing at the same time.;)
     
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  15. thalauafu

    thalauafu R.I.P.

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    I think perhaps that I didn't word my question very clearly Philippa....what I meant was that a relation of the child's mother could have been a Godparent and that if we knew that name it might give a hint as to the surname of the mother if not already known. In this case, if the names of the Godparents were available to us, it would be a very valuable source of information.

    This then, brings me to my next question....as you so rightly say, the Godparents responsibilities were to make sure that in the event of something happening to both parents of a child, the Godparents would make sure that the child was brought up in the faith.

    In my mother's case, she and her siblings were left orphans when my mother was 10 years old. The youngest child was only about a year old, so it would be nice to think that someone took some responsibility, but the truth was quite a different story!
     
  16. Archie's Mum

    Archie's Mum Always digging up clues

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    I think Diana that this is a common problem. People move away, lose contact, lose, for some reason, the friendship even.
    My parents were Godparents to a daughter of one of my fathers friends. They lost contact not long after and it was not until the child was an adult that they (sort of) became friends again.
     
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  17. mugwortismy cat

    mugwortismy cat Tenacious to the End!

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    When I have been transcribing PRs I have very occasionally (usually for prominent members of the congregation) seen that the Vicar has recorded in the margin the Sponsors, I always assumed that this was equivalent to the godparents, the one baptism certificate I have seen also recorded sponsors -- in the vast majority of cases this information is not given in the baptism register but presumably recorded elsewhere
     
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  18. Sis

    Sis Rootles out resources!

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    Great minds think alike AM;)
     
  19. thalauafu

    thalauafu R.I.P.

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    In the case of my mother, the majority of her Aunts and Uncles, and her grandparents too, all lived in close proximity, but of course, I don't know about her Godparents as I don't know who they are. She and her siblings were supposedly very badly treated by an Aunt who (according to what we were told], so I have often wondered why none of the relatives stepped in to help out, especially since tracing all of them in recent times and realising that they did all remain living nearby.
     
  20. Philippa

    Philippa Always a lady.

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    Sorry, Diana, was thinking in a very straight line when I replied :) You are right, it certainly would help, particularly in your case.

    I think, but can't possibly know this, that often choosing godparents for your children at baptism is a matter of form. It's been done like this for ages, it's out turn, so we carry on the tradition. In my own case of being godmother, I was only in the town for something like a year before I headed off to boarding school, then 6 months after finishing school I headed to Victoria and didn't come back to the old home town for quite a few years. As a result I saw my god-daughter for very limited periods of time after my 15th birthday. I know that if anything had happened to her parents mine would have jumped in to fill the gaps where possible and I'm sure other family members, although they didn't live in the same town, would have offered help too and the four girls would have been given as good a life as was possible.

    Unfortunately this (obviously) isn't (wasn't) always the case and there are definitely people of less than admirable qualities who are either given or take on (in a spirit of Christian martyrdom :() the responsibility for looking after children left orphaned. These people exist all over the place but it's even more deplorable if they take their awful attitudes with them when looking after family. It's so sad and can't do the poor children one speck of good.
     
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