But Bears Don’t Have Immortal Souls

Going way back before the Victorians today. I found this story on @HistoryWeird's blog here. The original source was a letter from Thomas Smith to Robert Stevens, January 16th, 1707.

At St. Philip's Episcopal church in Charlestown, South Carolina in the late 1600s, the parson was Atkinson Williamson, an alcoholic. Rumors abound that Williamson was removed from his post after a scandalous incident.

According to at least two separate sources (one being James Moore, the British governor of South Carolina), some bad influences got Williamson drunk, found (or came across) a bear, and convinced him to baptize it. The letter from 1707 reads: "[He] was too great a lover of strong liquor, etc… Some wicked people… made him first fuddled [drunk] and then got him to christen the bear.”

After Williamson was fired, he stayed on at the church as its clerk.

You can barely baptize an infant without it squalling and getting upset. How on earth did they manage a BEAR? I mean, apart from flinging holy water on it and running away.

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