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Ask a Genealogist: The age when signing the Church covenant.

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In researching an ancestor in New Hampshire, I found record that five of his children owned the covenant and were baptized probably at the same time in 1715.  At that period was there any minimum age they would have had to attain in order to own the covenant?


When someone "owned the covenant," it was a profession of saving faith done by one who was not necessarily in full communion with the church. Thus, a person would have to be old enough to receive confirmation and communion, which is usually around the age of 13 or 14. Puritans believed that baptism was a necessary step towards the salvation of the soul, and therefore (unlike Baptists) they routinely practiced infant baptism. However, for persons who had attained the age of reason and wished to be baptized in the church, they would have been obliged to "own the covenant," i.e., accept the doctrines of the church, as a first condition for membership.
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