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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Finding Baptist Vital Registrations

John wrote to AskOliveTree:
I have several birth and marriage records that I have searched for with no success. Elizabeth Hartley and John (possibly William) Thompson were married about 1888, probably in Port Hope, Ontario. Their children’s records are also nowhere to be found. John Stanley was born Jul 9 1889 in Port Hope, Walter was born Apr 6 1891 (possibly in the US), and Mary Hartley was born May 6 1895 in Port Hope. These dates are taken from the 1901 Canada Census. Elizabeth Priest and John Sheffield were married about 1868, probably in Simcoe County, Ontario (although possibly as far away as Toronto). I do have access to Ancestry, but I can’t find any of these. Any help that you could give me with these would be greatly appreciated.

Hi John - Thanks for a nice outline of your family and problem area of research, it is really a help when a researcher sends precise details. The one thing missing was WHERE Port Hope is! (Township and County in Ontario). Being on dialup as I am, it's quite tediously slow to have to go and look details like that up. But moving on to your query:

Your second question about Elizabeth Priest and John Sheffield's marriage record: the problem you are having is that they were married before Vital Registrations were required in 1869. So your only recourse is to find church records. To do that you will need to know their religion. Then look for churches in the area where you think they married, or consult the archives for whatever religion they were. It will depend on what religion they were as to what has been kept, and where.

First question re Elizabeth Hartley and John/William Thompson is interesting. I am going to assume that you checked under variant spellings of Thompson (Thomson, Tomson) on

Since they are not listed for their marriage or the births of the two known children born in Ontario, I suspect they did not bother registering. Many people did not follow the rules. So once again you may want to check local churches in Port Hope.

I had a look in the 1901 census and saw that the children were living with their grandmother Jane Hartley. Have you traced Jane? You never know what will turn up by researching another individual.

One very important fact came to light in that 1901 census - their religion was Baptist. I suggest you find what Baptist records were kept for the time period you are interested in. That may be your only option to finding those vital records of birth and marriage. However you may find your search very frustrating as Baptist records are few and far between. Baptists did not believe in infant baptism and marrriage records are sparse.

Here is an address for you to find out what is available in Baptist records.

Canadian Baptist Archives
McMaster Divinity College
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario
L8S 4K1, 905-525-9140 x 3511
Mon.-Fri. 9:00am - 4:00pm

You might consider tracing all three children and their descendants. It is possible that one of the descendants has an obituary that provides more facts. A death record for Walter who believe was born in the USA might provide an exact location. Each tiny bit of information you can find can start you on a whole new path of research.

1 comment:

  1. check the online Cencus 1851, 1861, 1871, Also marriages and deaths are online from about 1860 and onward, its the early years from 1800 to 1830, that do not appear, very clear and some may not be found.