Sometimes you read records and you wonder how much bad luck one person can handle. While doing research for a client I came across the following baptism in a transcription of the Roman-Catholic baptismal records for Venlo in 1750-1760:1
conditionaliter rebaptizata est
filia spuria Andreae
Ketels et Gertrudis Podor qui sunt
consanguinei in secundo
consanguinitatis gradu: susce-
perunt Jacobus Podor et Anna
Elisabetha van Cauwenbergh
As all Roman Catholic baptismal records, this one is in Latin. It translates to:
13 November 1751
Anna Elisabeth was rebaptized conditionally, illegitimate child of Andreas Ketels and Gertrudis Podor who are blood relatives in the second degree of blood relationship. Was presented to the baptism by Jacobus Podor and Anna Elisabetha van Cauwenbergh.
OK, that’s a little easier to understand but still full of technical terms. Let’s break it down.
First the ‘rebaptized conditionally.’ When a child was in distress during labor, and it was feared that it would not survive the birth, a midwife would sometimes insert a sponge into the birth canal to baptize the child while it was still alive, in the hope of saving its immortal soul. It was uncertain if such a baptism performed by a lay person ‘counted’ so any child who survived was baptized again by a real priest. But since no child could be baptized twice, the second baptism was done under the condition that the first was invalid.
The ‘spurius’ reference tells us that Andreas Ketels and Gertrudis Podor weren’t married. They could not be married anyway, since they were related in the second degree and the Roman Catholic church forbade marriages up until the fourth degree unless the couple acquired a dispensation. And the way they counted wasn’t in the couple’s favor either: they would count the number of generations to the common ancestor (unlike today where they count the number of parent-child relationships in between two people). Anna Elisabeth’s parents were related in the second degree, which meant that they shared grandparents. In other words: they were first cousins. But in the Catholic Church, even third cousins would have needed a dispensation.
The sponsors were Jacobus Podor, probably a relative of Gertrudis Podor (or both parents), and Anna Elisabetha van Cauwenbergh. The child was apparently named after Anna Elisabetha van Cauwenbergh so she may have been a close relative, perhaps the child’s grandmother.
What does all this mean for poor Anna Elisabeth? Her parents were “kissing cousins,” who could not get married because they were too closely related so had her out of wedlock, and she almost died while being born.
What happened to Anna Elisabeth?
As she was not a person of interest, I did not research what happened to Anna Elisabeth but I am curious to find out if she survived and made something of her life after her bad start. I quickly checked some indexes but did not find out what happened to Anna Elisabeth Ketel. I did find out that Gertrud Podor, the child’s mother, was buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery three days after the baptism of Anna Elisabeth.2
If any of you know what became of Anna Elisabeth Ketels, please leave a comment. I would love for the story to have a happy ending after such a tragic start.
- Unidentified transcriber, “Venlo RK dopen 1750-1759 onwettige kinderen en van vreemdelingen” [Venlo Roman Catholic Baptisms 1750-1759 illegitimate children and of strangers], Andreas W.D. Driessen op ten Bulten, GenBronnen (http://www.genbronnen.nl/bronnen/limburg/venlo/dopen/1750-1759.html : accessed 20 January 2015), entry for Anna Elisabeth Ketels, 13 November 1751.
- Unidentified transcriber, “Venlo RK overlijdens/begraven 1751” [Venlo Roman Catholic deaths/burials 1751], Andreas W.D. Driessen op ten Bulten, GenBronnen (http://www.genbronnen.nl/bronnen/limburg/venlo/overlijdens/1751.html : accessed 20 January 2015), entry for Gertrud Podor, 26 November 1751.