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Shakespeare's Birthday
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.1013  Saturday, 18 November 2006

[1] 	From: 	Peter Bridgman <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 16 Nov 2006 23:21:14 -0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.1005 Shakespeare's Birthday

[2] 	From: 	Harry Connors <
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	Date: 	Saturday, 18 Nov 2006 03:22:20 +0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.1005 Shakespeare's Birthday


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Bridgman <
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Date: 		Thursday, 16 Nov 2006 23:21:14 -0000
Subject: 17.1005 Shakespeare's Birthday
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.1005 Shakespeare's Birthday

Peter Farey writes ...

 >The Prayer Book also says: "Nevertheles (if necessitie
 >so require) children may at al tymes be Baptized at home"
 >so I think we can guess that this was the case with all six
 >of those Stratford baptisms?

I don't see why.  John and Mary only lived a few yards from Holy Trinity 
church.

Peter Farey is correct in saying that babies were baptised as soon as 
possible after birth.  Infant mortality was incredibly high, and only 
baptised babies got into heaven.  William's baptismal entry (plus the 
one above) reads as follows ...

22   Johannes filius William Brooks
26   Gulielmus filius Johannes Shakspere

The 26th was a Wednesday.  The 25th was St Marks day, an inauspicious 
day for baptisms as altars and crosses were draped in black.  This means 
that the 23rd (St George's day) or the 24th are the most likely days for 
William's birth.  The 23rd if an exhausted Mary needed a day in bed 
before she was up, the 24th if she didn't.

Peter Bridgman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Harry Connors <
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Date: 		Saturday, 18 Nov 2006 03:22:20 +0000
Subject: 17.1005 Shakespeare's Birthday
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.1005 Shakespeare's Birthday

I'm not sure that we can conclude that William was baptized at home on 
April 26th and that he was, therefore, born on April 25th. I am better 
informed about 20th century Catholic practices in this matter than in 
16th century Anglican practices, but John may have been Catholic and 
Anglican practices are not very different from Catholic practices.

First, anyone can baptize. It doesn't take a priest or a minister. Most 
to the point, John could easily have baptized his son. He probably would 
have done so if he thought it likely that the baby's life was in danger 
or if he was Catholic and wanted his son baptized a Catholic. In either 
case, the baby would have been baptized again by the minister and in the 
church. It is the baptism by the minister that is recorded in church 
records, not the informal baptism by the father.  This is the practice 
even though the baby is truly baptized at the informal baptism. The 
formal baptism doesn't replace the informal baptism, it is more the 
church's recognition that it has a new member. If John baptized his son 
because John was a Catholic, he is hardly likely to have mentioned the 
fact to the minister.

I see no reason to reject the traditional April 23rd date for 
Shakespeare's birth based on the possibility that he might have been 
baptized at home. A home baptism, if it occurred, isn't what is recorded 
in the church records.

Harry Connors

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