Thursday, October 03, 2019

The Traveling Baptism Problem

In the 1830's a woman called Elizabeth Nichols traveled the length and breadth of England & Wales baptizing her daughter in hundreds of different locations. The reason for this serial baptism of her child wasn't because Elizabeth Nichols was particularly devout. It was because of the alms or outdoor relief that she received upon baptizing her child, the assistance which was given to her in the form of food, money or clothes.

You can view where and when Elizabeth Nichols baptized her daughter on the Serial Baptist interactive map. This map plots all the baptism records which have been discovered where a woman named Elizabeth Nichols (or Eliza Nickols, Margret Nichols, Elizabeth Sanderson or any of the other pseudonyms the mother used) baptized a child (who was also variously named, often Mary, Margaret or Elizabeth).

The menu positioned at the top right-hand side of the map allows you to view the route taken in each year by Elizabeth Nichols as she traveled around the country. This obviously isn't the actual route taken by Elizabeth but is procedurally calculated by connecting the baptism records. The route however does provide a fascinating insight into the distances covered by one itinerant traveler in the early Nineteenth Century.

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