Anciently, a chrisom, or "chrisom-cloth," was the face-cloth, or piece of linen laid over a child's head when he or she was baptised or christened. Originally, the purpose of the chrisom-cloth was to keep the chrism, a consecrated oil, from accidentally rubbing off. With time, the word's meaning changed, to that of a white mantle thrown over the whole infant at the time of baptism. The term has come to refer to a child who died within a month after its baptism—so called for the chrisom cloth that was used as a shroud for it. Additionally, in London's Bills of Mortality, the term chrisom was used to refer to infants who died within a month after being born.
- Nares, Robert (1859). A Glossary; or Collection of Words, Phrases, Names and Allusions to Customs, Proverbs, etc., Which Have Been Thought to Require Illustration in the Works of English Authors, Particularly Shakespeare and His Contemporaries. London: John Russel Smith. p. 160.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "Chrisom, Chrismale". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al. p. 213.
- Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)