About Parish Records
Parish Records are records of baptisms, marriages/weddings and
burials made by the church.
Both Civil Registration (BMD records) and Census Returns run out
when you get back to 1837. At this stage, you need to turn to Bishop's
Transcripts and Parish Records, which date back to 1538 when Cromwell,
at the court of Henry VIII, ordered that every wedding, baptism
and burial should be recorded. Early records were made on paper
but from 1558 parchment was used, and the older records were supposed
to have been copied but some never were and have been lost.
From 1597, a second copy had to be made and sent to the bishop
- these were called the Bishop's Transcripts. These are often in
better condition and written more legibly; they are worth researching
if the Parish Record you want is unclear or missing.
Information in a Parish Record
To view part of a page of baptism records, click the image
Baptism Records: You
may only find the name. You may also find that on some records,
the father's name and the mother's name has also been recorded.
It is extremely unlikely that you will find a mother's maiden name
on a baptism records, as this is very rare. From 1812, records included
the father's occupation and the mother's maiden name.
Marriage Records: These
contain the name of the bride and groom, the Parish where they were
married and sometimes details of the brides parish. The level of
detail changes depending on the year - from 1812, given information
included parish of origin of both parties, names, status (e.g. bachelor,
widow, etc), ages, signatures, and signatures of witnesses.
Burial Records: You
should be able to find the name and, especially for children, the
father's name. They also may note the age of the deceased. After
1813, records contained more information including the age, occupation
Tips & Things to Remember
- There may be gaps in the registers between 1553 and 1558 when
Mary Tudor was on the throne, and between 1642 and 1660 during
the English Civil War and Commonwealth.
- It could be worthwhile investing in Parish maps for your relevant
counties - these not only mark the boundaries of each parish and
show adjacent parishes, but also give dates that registration
began in each parish .
Viewing Parish Records
- Parish records are available either at a local County Record
Office or on CD-ROM from S&N
- For Bishop's Transcripts, ask for details at a County Record