Father Christmas was buried in Dedham in 1564, historic records show
- Credit: nick strugnell
History experts have put the festive season under threat after uncovering worrying evidence that Father Christmas is dead – and was buried in north Essex.
Archivists at the Essex Records Office might get a frosty reception after discovering a historical entry showing Father Christmas died in the county.
A brief entry in the archives states that Father Christmas was laid to rest in a churchyard in Dedham way back in May 1564.
It reads: “The 30th Day, Father Christmas was buried.”
Luckily Christmas will not have to be cancelled this year though as everyone knows the real Father Christmas lives at the North Pole.
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Susan Barker of Essex County Council, said: “Residents in our county may be surprised to learn Father Christmas lived in Essex so long ago, but historical records show Christmas was not an uncommon surname in this county at the time.
“The surname frequently appears in north and south Essex and in 1881 it was still largely concentrated in the south east of England.
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“The title ‘father’ is most likely the usage given in The Oxford English Dictionary as ‘a respectful title given to an old and venerable man’.
“To live to an old age was quite an achievement for Father Christmas in 1564, when only one-half to one-third of people lived to see their 16th birthday; it was more rare but you could live to see 50 or 60.
“We are proud of the rich heritage of our county and I would like to wish all our residents a very happy Christmas and all the best wishes for the new year.”
The surname Christmas was first recorded in Essex in 1185 when Roger Cristemesse was mentioned in some court rolls.
Essex entries for the Christmas family include a father and son bailiffs firm working in Colchester in the early 1500s.
Others throughout the 16th and 17th Century include a carpenter, a farmer, an inn holder, a widow and a brewer.
The festive tradition began as part of old English midwinter festival with Old Father Christmas being the bringer of Spring who enjoyed feasting while dressed all in green. This character was also the inspiration for the Ghost of Christmas Present in Charles Dickens’ tale A Christmas Carol.