You might find it hard to believe if someone told you that there was no record or registration of your birth. Interestingly enough, if you gave birth, were married or died during the early 1800s it’s possible that there is no record of the event. During the 1860s authorities in only some of the provinces took it upon themselves to begin keeping records of these important life events; it wasn’t until the 1920s that the complete registration of births, marriages and deaths for individuals of all the provinces and territories was achieved. Obviously there had to be some method of keeping track of all of this information as we are able to track families, their origins, and their dates back to the 1600s. In many cases, these records are found in a family bible.
The bible of each household was extremely important. It was a regular part of the family’s day to day life and was displayed in a prominent place in the home. These bibles were of various designs, sometimes including both the old and new testaments, or sometimes just the old testament. Many contained other highlights as well; families may have stored keepsakes in between the sacred pages of their bibles like newspaper clippings, dried four leaf clovers, or even petals from a wedding bouquet.
The bible for this particular post comes from the Harricks family. It dates back to 1886 and is the:
Pictorial Family Bible
The “Peerless” Edition of the Holy Bible,
Containing the King James and the Revised Versions Of the Old and New Testaments Arranged in Parallel Columns
The book is almost half a foot deep and weighs several pounds! Right in the middle of the book there’s a section that contains the marriage information of Richard Harricks and Ann Peace of Lancaster from 1857. A page of births lists their children's birth dates, while another page lists the names of deceased family members. With a little further research we were able to find that Richard and Ann were both born in Ireland. Richard died of paralysis that he had been dealing with for two years on February 2nd, 1900. Ann died on July 1st, 1913 in Fairville after fighting pneumonia for two weeks.
Also included among the names and dates is a temperance pledge of Charlie Harricks, son of Richard and Ann, signed October 15th 1896 (readers should click on the image and make note that Charlie not only included the date of the start of his pledge - he also included an end date for the pledge!)
This bible was also an educational tool containing the following: The Old and New Testament; History of the Translation of The English Bible; History of the Religious Denominations of the World; various tables including, ‘Tables Relating to the Person, Life, and Teachings of Our Lord’; various maps including, ‘Modern Egypt’ and ‘The Path of Jesus; Household Dictionary of the Bible’. On top of these illustrations, the bible also includes a ‘Gallery of Scripture Illustrations’ which has images like that of ‘Assyrian Weights’ and ‘Egyptian Archer and Quiver’. Between the pages in this bible we also find photographs, dried flowers and cut-outs of animal pictures - all signs of a book in daily use by the family.
Although record keeping is much more efficient today with digital records readily available to researchers around the globe, there is something very poignant in this homegrown solution; a reminder that preserving and celebrating a family’s history is a personal act and responsibility, and important enough to include in the pages of the Good Book.