October 23, 2017

Is This The Shortest Dade Register?

It would seem that a Bishop did not have as much power over a curate as you might think.

I was at Durham Record Office the other week looking to prove a couple of relationships and hopefully trace a family line for a customer. A couple had had some children between 1780 and 1812 so the first thing on my list was look for Dade register entries.

For those not familiar with what a Dade register is I’ve lifted this quote from Wikipedia:

Dade Registers are named after Rev. William Dade, a Yorkshire clergyman (b.1740) who went to St. John’s College, Cambridge. From 1763 until his death in 1790, he was curate, vicar and rector of five parishes in York and two in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Dade was far ahead of his time in seeing the value of including as much information on individuals in the parish register as possible. In 1777 Archbishop William Markham decided that Dade’s scheme should be introduced throughout his diocese. The baptismal registers were to include child’s name, seniority (e.g. first son), father’s name, profession, place of abode and descent (i.e. names, professions and places of abode of the father’s parents), similar information about the mother, and mother’s parents, the infant’s date of birth and baptism. Registers of this period are a gold-mine for genealogists, but the scheme was so much work for the parish priests that it did not last long.

In 1770 Dade wrote in the parish register of St. Helen’s, York: “This scheme if properly put in execution will afford much clearer intelligence to the researches of posterity than the imperfect method hitherto generally pursued.” His influence spread and the term Dade register has come to describe any parish registers that include more detail than expected for the time.

The application of this system was somewhat haphazard and many clergymen, particularly in more populated areas, resented the extra work involved in making these lengthy entries. The thought of duplicating them for the Bishop’s Transcripts put many of them off and some refused to follow the new rules. Several letters of complaint were printed in the York newspapers of the time, and the scheme suffered when the Archbishop indicated there was no punishment for vicars who failed to comply.

These can quite often contain information on four generations of a family and are really useful for maternal lines where names are changed through marriage.

They are very common in Yorkshire parishes so as I was searching the parish records of Romaldkirk I had high hopes of finding a period of these fuller registers.

And I did! Looking through the baptism register, in the middle of June 1789 the page format suddenly changes. The single line entries are replaced by full descriptions of the descent of the mother and father of a child being baptised.

Romaldkirk Parish Records - Baptisms June 1789

Romaldkirk Parish Records - Baptisms June 1789

So I eagerly turned the page hoping to find a baptism for the family I was researching and found this:

Romaldkirk Parish Records - Baptisms July 1789

Romaldkirk Parish Records - Baptisms July 1789

The enthusiasm for the new method of recording hadn’t lasted very long – from the 1st to the 5th of July 1789 to be precise!

Right at the bottom of the second page are two comments which go some way to explain the change.

The first says:

N.B. The irregular entries in regard to the dates of the baptisms are owing to the negligence of Chapel Curate  (remainder crossed out)

The second says:

N.B. The alteration in the form of the register on this and the last page was owing to some instructions rec’d from the Bishop of Chester, but it is found inexpedient to pursue it.

As the first blames the curate it looks like the Church Wardens kept the registers and didn’t enjoy keeping such full records so decided against it. Apparrently there wasn’t much the curate, let alone the Bishop, could do about it.

A disappointment but an interesting find, if anyone knows of a shorter example please let me know.

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