Livets sköra tråd
: Dop och fadderskap i Bottnaryd och Ulricehamn 1781 - 1783

  • Ragnar Edström

    Examensarbete: Kandidatexamen


    “Life on a delicate thread”

    Baptism and godparenting in Bottnaryd and Ulricehamn 1781-1783

    The aim of this study is to discover if there were differences between the baptism traditions maintained in a typical rural parish and in an urban town parish in the period 1781-1783 and to suggest possible reasons for any differences found. Baptism records from rural Bottnaryd parish and the town of Ulricehamn were studied and compared.

    In both communities, parents were anxious to have their child christened on the day of birth or the day after. They did not want to wait until the following Sunday, as church law prescribed. Infant mortality was high and if the child died before it was christened, it would not go to heaven. There was probably a lot of superstition as well as fear that witchcraft could bring harm to a child not christened.

    The country children were given only one name while more than one third of the children in the town were given two names. There was also a striking difference between the number of godparents, with an average of 4 in the farming parish and 8 in the town. It was not possible to stratify parents and godparents into social groups in Bottnaryd since only a few of the godparents’ titles or professions were recorded in the church records. A surprisingly large number of godparents lived in or near the vicarage in Bottnaryd probably because of their ready availability. At approximately 20 percent of the baptisms, the social position of the godparents was higher than that of the parents.

    In Ulricehamn, the number of godparents varied between 3 and 13, with the higher social classes and merchant classes having the most (10) and master artisans following with 8. The godparents’ social class was usually the same as or higher than that of the parents; except for the merchants, where half of the godparents were master artisans or their wives.

    The results indicate that the farming community in rural Bottnaryd, having no contact with the upper and middle classes, continued with the old baptism traditions while those living in Ulricehamn, influenced by new fashions and customs, tended to adopt the baptism traditions followed by the nobility and the higher classes. Despite this, however, parents in Ulricehamn were as anxious as those in Bottnaryd to have their child christened as soon as possible after it was born.


    Nationell ämneskategori

    • Humaniora och konst (6)

    Citera det här