I’ve been looking through the church records for the Sece Lutheran congregation, in southern Latvia. South of the Daugava river, between the towns of Jaunjelgava and JÄ“kabpils. My great-grandfather Brencis LÄ«cÄ«tis is allegedly from around this area, born in the neighbouring SÄ“rene parish. Many SÄ“rene baptisms took place in Sece, so hence my reason for looking here.

And I came across something I didn’t expect – a baptism for a child whose father appears to be from Great Britain!

Certainly, people travel. But in the 1870s I would not expect to find a British person living in rural Latvia (at the time part of the Russian Empire). Perhaps in major centres such as Rīga, Daugavpils or even Jelgava, or port cities such as Ventspils or Liepāja, but in the country, at least 100 kilometres from any of these cities?

But it is unmistakable – the father is listed as Charles Garrod, British, of the Anglican faith (remember that this is in a Lutheran church book). He appears to be married to a Marie Neppert (Lutheran) and their daughter Ellen Emily Anna was legitimate. It does not mention Marie’s origins, but since a number of people sharing her surname are listed as witnesses, I’m inclined to believe that she is from the area, and thus most likely German or Latvian.

The other curiosity about this record is shared by the rest of the 1870s records I’ve looked at so far. They are indicated as whole as being 1870, 1871, etc., but then the top birthdate of each page (and sometimes other records on the page) are listed as “1800” and the annotation “Transport” on each page. I’ve seen such a notation in parish population registers, when someone has moved to the parish, or moved to a new home in the parish, but I’ve never seen this in church books before. Does this mean that mass numbers of people moved to the parish in the 1870s, all who were born at least 70 years earlier, and had their birth records re-registered to this parish? But birth records typically indicate the farm name, and most of the ones shown are well within the possible boundaries of this congregation, so it doesn’t seem like they have moved from anywhere.

So there are two mysteries to solve here (besides my mysterious great-grandfather) – what was Charles Garrod doing in Latvia, and why are the Sece church records indicating all of the 1870s births as “Transported” from some other location? Ideas, anyone?

Britons in 1870s Latvia?
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