My little boy is to be named George don’t show Mr. Byron this…
Catherine Gordon Byron
‘I baptise thee George Gordon Byron in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen’ so said the Priest of St Marylebone Parish Church in London on February 29 in 1788 when Byron was still a babe in arms at the age of 5 weeks old.
The infant was baptised with the names duly chosen by his mother for his maternal grandfather George Gordon who had once been the 12th Laird of Gight.
Catherine was also to name the Duke of Gordon and her cousin Colonel Duff of Fetteresso as Godfathers, presumably in absentia.
It is not known if John Byron was present for his son’s baptism. However, has he had spent most of 1788 dodging his creditors until he could extract more cash from his wife and as she was clearly unable to refuse him as this letter to her agent would imply; my feeling is that he was probably another guest in absentia.
I want money to be sent me while in Town and I must have it as if Mr. Byron gets it it will be thrown away in some foolish way or other and I shall be obliged to apply for more… I will live as cheap as I can but it was impossible till now as there was a great many expences that could not be avoided…
The entry for the Parish Register which I obtained from the London Metropolitan Archives reads as follows:
March 1st, George Gordon, son, of John Byron Esq. & Catherine, b. 22 inst.
The date was entered in error as the clerk had obviously forgotten that 1788 was a Leap Year….“Save February, with twenty-eight days clear, And twenty-nine each leap year.”
This would prove to be the first and one of many errors written about the life of Byron and not only during his lifetime!
Another visitor to St Marylebone Parish Church was the artist William Hogarth who used the interior of the church for inspiration for his 1735 painting The Wedding Scene for the series titled A Rake’s Progress.
The scene painted by Hogarth depicts the ‘rake Tom’ as he marries the wealthy and ugly old maid and presumably NOT for her witty repartee and her equally pleasant youthful looking countenance!
The original pew panel depicted in the picture above can still be found within the church which still stands beside the hectic Marylebone Road in central London and as it is situated a short distance from Holles Street where Byron was born, it explains why Catherine would choose this parish church for the baptism of her only child.
To enjoy a wander through this beautiful church with the Polite Tourist, click on the image below:
My Amiable Mamma A Biography of Mrs. Catherine Gordon Byron Megan Boyes (Derby: J.M.Tatler & Son Ltd)