Saturday, March 9, 2013

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego at Tring 200 years ago

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Two hundred years ago Tring was a hot-bed of non-conformity, which has the unfortunate effect that there are no birth or baptism records for many children. However most people still got married at the parish church before 1837 and were buried in the churchyard - as most chapels did not have their own burial grounds. I was looking for a suitable test problem to try out the Hertfordshire registers that are now available on FindMyPast and a comment by Melvyn Barber gave me just what I was looking for.

There is no doubt that his great great great grandfather, Thomas Barber, was born in Tring around 1828, but  he was born before civil registration (1837) and there is no surviving evidence of his parents. Looking at the marriage records for Tring - and the early census returns revealed an interesting family. It is not clear who the couple were but they named their sons Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, after the three people that God is said to have saved from the fiery furnace. The matter is complicated by the fact that Thomas's father, Meshach died before the 1841 census and his wife remarried, but information from post-1837 marriages name the father, and a single "emergency" baptism of a new-born child who died within days, provided further evidence.  For the full story see BARBER, Tring, early 19th century.


  1. This is a really interesting article because I also have a Shadrach, Meshack and Abendigo in my family tree. My family name is Day and they originate from Harpenden & Hitchin. Is there a connection somewhere or were these names really popular in this area?

    1. The names Shadrach, Meshack and Abendigo were unusual in the general population - but Old Testament names were used by some groups of non-conformists. It is very likely that you Day ancestors from Harpenden and Hitchin belonged to the same religious sect as the Barber family of Tring, and there may be a common link via a minister or a particular chapel. In such families non-conformists (before 1837) would have had to marry in a parish church, and might sometimes be buried in the parish churchyard (possibly in an area separate from Church of England burials). However their children are very unlikely to have been recorded in the parish registers and many non-conformist baptism records are lost. This can make tracing their families very difficult!


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