The Mainprize family bible came back into the family in peculiar circumstances. In about 1991 my father, Reg Mainprize, was contacted by an business acquaintance who had just bought a second-hand car. In the car’s boot he had come across the bible. The car’s previous owner – who had no family connection to the Mainprizes – said that he didn’t want the book back, so the purchaser, who by pure coincidence knew my father, phoned and asked him if he’d like it. My father, of course, was surprised but delighted to receive the book. How the bible found its way into the boot of the car remains a mystery.

Description of the bible

These photos are of the bible and the pages on which the names of the Mainprize and Mitchill families are recorded. You can click on any of the photos to see a larger version. There are more legible scans of the interesting pages further down this page.

The Mainprize family bible,  with a dollar bill and £20 note for scaleThe bible's frontispieceThe bible's 'Parents Names' page,  and the Mitchill family pages
The bible's 'Children's Names' and 'Marriages' pagesThe bible's 'Deaths' page

The book is 13 ½ inches tall, 10 inches wide, and 3 inches thick. The cover is solid and thick, heavily embossed, and of a dark brown/maroon colour. The only words on the cover are “Holy Bible” on the spine. The date on the frontispiece indicates that it was printed in 1862.

The bible's frontispiece

The Mainprize pages

Between the Old and New Testaments there are pages intended to be completed by the owners of the family, recording the family members, and births, marriages and deaths.

These scans are of the pages which record the members of the Mainprize family. You can click on any of the scans to see a larger version.

The bible's 'Parents Names' pageThe bible's 'Childrens Names' page
The bible's 'Marriages' pageThe bible's 'Deaths' page

The Mitchill pages

Also found tucked into the bible were pages from a completely different family bible, that of the Mitchills. The Mainprize bible indicates that Charles Ernest Mainprize married Ethel Mitchill on July 17th 1902. Presumably as a result of the two families coming together through marriage, the pages were removed from the Mitchill bible and placed inside the Mainprize bible. Certainly there are no entries in the Mitchill bible after 1889. Oddly, the Mitchill pages haven’t been very carefully removed. The edge of the page has been cleanly cut, as though with a sharp knife, but the cut is far from neat, and in the case of some of the dates, the final digit is missing.

These scans are of the pages which record the members of the Mitchill family. You can click on any of the scans to see a larger version.

The Mitchill 'Parents Names' pageThe Mitchill 'Childrens Names' page
The Mitchill 'Marriages' pageThe Mitchill 'Deaths' page

Infant mortality

What really strikes you looking at the births and deaths is how many of the children died terribly young. I knew that the infant child mortality rate was high way back when, but this is just tragic – and just 120 years ago. At first I wondered whether this was just something peculiar to the Mainprize family at that time, but the Mitchills lost a lot of children very young too, so I can only assume that it was par for the course. Very grim stuff.

My relationship to the Mainprize bible

For the record, Arnold Mainprize, the man who took the role of my paternal grandfather, was actually my father’s step-father, so my side of the family are adoptive Mainprizes rather than direct descendants; but in any case, Arnold Mainprize is from a different branch of the family tree and was not directly descended himself from the Mainprizes who are recorded in the bible.

More information?

If you have any questions or information about the bible, please contact me.

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