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  1. #1
    Starting to feel at home
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    Default "Coming of age" pre Birth certificates

    Hi

    Many wills stipulate that a child couldn't come into their inheritance until they were 21. How did they determine or stipulate this date before official certificates were brought in?

    Was it taken from Baptism date if they didn't have a birth date noted in the Parish registry?

  2. #2
    Brick wall demolition expert!
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    I'm afraid that I don't know the answer, but I doubt that baptism record per se would be sufficient because not everybody was baptised, and not every baptismal record records a birth date. Some do but most don't. Simply because someone was baptised in a particular year does not in itself denote that the person was born in that year.

    Having looked in the past at records of criminal trials in the 19th century I could imagine that if there was a dispute as to whether or not a particular individual had attained the requisite age that they might have to produce affidavits from people who knew them who could testify to certain facts. For instance if a doctor had attended his mother's confinement and that doctor could be found, or if there was a servant who had worked for the family when he was an infant. However I really am just speculating.

  3. #3
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    How did they determine...
    The distribution of an estate isn't handled by some sort of official who wants documentary proof of everything. In most cases, the executor is a family member who just knows when little Jimmie is going to be 21.

  4. #4
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    The church of England has had to record births & death either in registers or by making lists since at least 1644, though this was no observed in many areas. As a result many other laws were made throughout history requiring births and deaths be recorded such as in 1695, 1696, 1705, 1783, 1812 and of course the one every one thinks of the civil registration in 1836.
    In other cases specially in families wealthy enough to leave a will a private record of each child's birth would be kept (often in the family bible) and if in doubt the baptism date would be used as a substitute as this would commonly be within a month of the birth.
    There were always few cases that fell through the net though.
    Cheers
    Guy
    As we have gained from the past, we owe the future a debt, which we pay by sharing today.

  5. #5

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    Hansard
    https://hansard.parliament.uk/search?partial=False
    Click on link, search for "parochial registration" restricting date to "28 Mar 1833". It's a good read altogether but you can tab down to "Column 1216" for reference to baptismal registers.
    Newspapers were pushing the value of registration post June 1837, publishing an "Explanation Notice to the Registration Act 6&7 William IV", which detailed where proof of age could benefit..

    I've not been able to find an instance of "coming of age" and a requirement to provide evidence of age to prove inheritance where born pre 1837 birth registration. Plenty of other situations where evidence was required (apprenticeship, life assurance, factory acts, application to societies with minimum age requirements etc.etc), but usually specifying "proof of age" without detailing what that might be.

    In a Court case c.1630, where a defendant was required to prove he was under 21 when making a will, "... the defendant produced an Almanack, in which his father had writ the Nativity of the Devisor, and it was allowed to be strong evidence" ie. not "proof".
    "dyfal donc a dyr y garreg"

  6. #6
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    Yes I find these debates very interesting, but do not forget that in the above Mr Wilks was a supporter of a civil registration bill and it was his place to expose the shortcomings of the existing parochial registration system in order to show why a new system was required.
    Incidently the Acts mentioned may be found on
    https://tinyurl.com/y7gz8n9f

    Cheers
    Guy
    As we have gained from the past, we owe the future a debt, which we pay by sharing today.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Etchells View Post
    do not forget that in the above Mr Wilks was a supporter of a civil registration bill
    I noticed Wilkes' first when he spoke in support of Lord Nugent's bill, 23 Feb 1832, that kicked things off ("Leave given to bring in the bill").
    Amongst my reading I was most struck with an extract from an article by the Society for Superseding the Necessity of Climbing Boys about proposed changes to the Act under which they were employed -

    "... the alteration of age at which a boy should be apprenticed, which it was intended to extend from eight to ten years of age, and to which alteration the masters acceded. The extension of age was considered by the Society as a great advantage gained to the cause of humanity, the difference of of the two years being exactly that between boyhood and childhood, and there would be reason to hope that the sale and theft of infants for the purpose of climbing might be thereby effectively prevented, as a boy of 10 years of age is capable, to a certain extent, of resisting any such expedients".
    "dyfal donc a dyr y garreg"

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