The story goes that William and his twin sister Frances
(1785 - 1870) were both to be baptised or christened at St Clement Danes, Strand. The story goes on that William died that day on 21 Oct 1785 from being dropped.
No one knows the full story now of who dropped him and where this tragic episode took place. One tradition says that he was dropped on the way to church. Another tradition that he was dropped after the ceremony.
The city of Westminster Archives however come up with registers showing clearly that both children were baptised earlier that year on 1 July 1785.
There is evidence (I stand to be corrected) that there was a fashion at that time for there to be two ceremonies.
The first seems to be a simple private ‘christening’ probably alongside the "Churching of Women" which was the liturgy for the purification or "churching" of women after childbirth, together with the presentation in church of the child. Children who were still new-born were probably given precautionary baptism as a young life was seen as fragile.
Then a few weeks or months later a more elaborate or full baptism as a welcome into the family and church community around them. Church teaching says a person can only be baptised once but there does seem that two ceremonies often surrounding baptism in those days. I have seen the same in other family records.
On 21 October 1785 we find that Frances (Fanny, fifth entry) is baptised at St Clement Danes but not William. Maybe this is the day he was ‘dropped’ on his way to church?
It is slightly unfortunate that the next entry is another William.
Baptism and the more outdated word ‘Christening’ (usually for babies) mean the same.
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