Chrisom

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This is a backup of the West Yorkshire Archive Service's "Off the Record" wiki from 2015. The live went offline in 2016 and remains unavailable.

Occasionally in parish registers you come across the term 'chrisom child' or 'chrisome child'. This is a custom continued from the medieval church, whereby a child was anointed after baptism with the Chrism (holy oil) and wrapped in a white cloth called a chrisom. The child wore this cloth for seven days after the baptism and it was then brought back to the church by the mother when she was 'churched'. If the child died within those seven days, the child was buried in the chrisom cloth and called a 'chrisom child'.

Although anointing with the Chrism after baptism was stopped during the Reformation, chrisom cloths continued to be used for many more years and the term 'chrisom child' continued to appear in parish registers to denote a child that had died within seven days of being baptised.