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Thread: Christmas past

  1. #1
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    Default Christmas past

    With the season of goodwill approaching I was trying to imagine what Christmas would have been like for some of my ancestors.
    I imagined George Stanton in 1687 sitting down to Christmas dinner, having spent the morning tending the mill he worked, surrounded by his family and new daughter Dorothy born in August when a messenger arrives to inform him of the death of his father, Seth, 3 days earlier. This may have had mixed emotions for him as they had not seen each other for many years since George had left in 1675 moving from Worfield, Shropshire to Lichfield, Staffordshire and there are some indications that there may have been a family argument. Perhaps he was even more surprised to learn that Seth had left a will naming him and his sister.( Unfortunately as Seth had forgotten to get the will witnessed there was a lengthy dispute as to whether George could inherit )

    How do folks think their ancestors spent Christmas?

  2. #2
    Coromandel
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    Christmas Day was a very popular day for getting married. Sometimes many couples would marry at any one church. I had envisaged that they were 'done' one couple at a time, but from this extract from the Standard of 1 January 1848 it sounds as if there was just one big communal ceremony:

    CHRISTMAS WEDDINGS. - On Christmas-day, 24 or 25 couples were married at Holy Trinity Church, Hull. The clergyman (Rev. Rd. Atthill) had much trouble in arranging them around the altar. After the ceremony had been gone through, the sexton requested the weddingers to accompany him into the vestry to sign their names, which invitation met with a very general and ready compliance; but on coming to a couple who were seated on a form, and desiring them to sign the book, the man, with stentorian voice, bawled out, "We have done nout yet." The sexton demanded - "Have you not got married?" to which they both at once, with loud and eager voices, exclaimed, "Noa, we nobut want to be!" The occurrence excited considerable merriment.

  3. #3
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    Following on from Coromandel's post, my 2 x great grandparents married on 25 December 1863 at Bradford Parish Church (now the Cathedral). A quick check has revealed that it must have been an intimate service - with 32 other couples! The paperwork shows that the marriages were all carried out by the one clergyman (the vicar) and with the same three witnesses (the signatures seem to be a bit messy towards the end). On top of that, there were 19 baptisms, half carried out by the curate and the other half by the assistant curate. Busy, busy, busy!

    Liz

  4. #4
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    Often back then, Christmas Day was the only day of the year that they did not have to work.
    If they missed the service it would be a whole twelve months before they could try again.

    I suspect many of the lassies already had their 'Christmas Pudding' and dare not leave it that long.

  5. #5
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    Following on from my last post.
    The post men still worked on Christmas Day in 1840.
    https://www.
    imagesoftheworld.org/stamps/ph1.htm

    Do you think they would still be sober when they finished their round?

  6. #6
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    One of my very best friends was born on Christmas Day

    Married on Christmas Day

    Migrated to Canada on Christmas Day

    Today he's gone. RIP William.

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    Some of them would not have been permitted to celebrate Christmas (although they probably did), see this page on the TNA website:
    https://www.
    nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/649.htm

    Colin

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    I am currently reading "The English Civil War" by Diane Purkiss which is a really good account of that period and explains the thinking behind the bans. A lot of it was to disassociate with Roman Catholicism (which was perceived of as idolatrous and, in some quarters, with a whiff of paganism) which had all the festive trimmings but there was also a desire for a more "pure" form of worship and the radical idea that the common man could tap into God without the intercession of the clergy (Bishops) which had come to be seen as corrupt. By all accounts Cromwell enjoyed a song and a dance but not in connection with religious practice. Even so given the persistence of Christmas and the dour puritan approach to it no wonder the restoration was welcomed with open arms.

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    I have had an interest in Christmas Weddings for some time and my research in Parish Registers for Christmas weddings shows they were only popular during the Victorian period.
    Prior to that there was no increase in marriages at Christmas.
    Cheers
    Guy
    As we have gained from the past, we owe the future a debt, which we pay by sharing today.

  10. #10

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    Does it increase with the building up of the industrial revolution Guy? I seems kind of logical to me that as more people went into towns and cities they would be spending more time working and have less time to do anything else.
    Sadly, our dear friend Ann (alias Ladkyis) passed away on Thursday, 26th. December, 2019.
    Footprints on the sands of time

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