England, Manchester, Parish Registers - FamilySearch Historical Records

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: England, Lancashire – Cheshire – Yorkshire Parish Registers, 1603-1992 .

Collection Time Period[edit | edit source]

This collection covers records for the years 1530 through 1900.

Record Description[edit | edit source]

Baptisms (christenings), marriages, and burials were recorded on blank pages in a bound book called a register. The events of baptism, marriage, and burial were all recorded in one volume until 1754, when a law required that marriages be recorded in a separate book. Banns, or proclamations of “an intent” to marry, were recorded in yet another book. Starting in 1812, preprinted registers were introduced, and then separate registers were kept for baptisms, marriages, and burials. Before 1812, bishops’ transcripts were usually recorded on loose pieces of paper. Following that year, the transcripts were recorded on the same preprinted forms as parish registers.

In 1537 the Church of England mandated that parishes begin keeping church registers by the next year (1538). These church registers continue to the present. Bishops’ transcripts, or copies of parish registers, were required beginning in 1598 and continued to the mid-1800s.

The vast majority of the English population belonged to the Church of England. Only since the mid-19th century have other religious groups made headway.

This collection covers records from the Diocese of Manchester held by Manchester Archives and Local Studies. The parishes are mainly from the historic county of Lancashire, with a few parishes from Cheshire and Yorkshire. Individual parish wiki pages are being created to support the collection, which at present is an image-only collection.

FamilySearch operates within both international and national privacy laws concerning online publication; image only collections will only contain information 100 years after a birth date, 75 years after a marriage date, and 25 years after a burial date.

The Diocese of Manchester was formed in 1847 from the Diocese of Chester. It is useful to explore Cheshire Parishes and Lancashire Parishes, and to use England Jurisdictions 1851 to locate the pre-1851 ecclesiastical jurisdictions.

The historical reasons for the Ancient Parish of Manchester lack of local parish due to the Collegiate Church Manchester Our Lady, St George and St Denys, Lancashire practice are explained in the wiki page. The subsequent Manchester Diocesan building program has been followed to create parish pages. Town and City parish creations post-1851 are being added to the FamilySearch wiki, but the number of Non-Conformist churches and chapels is large.

There have been administrative changes to the historic county boundaries of Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire in several civil parish and local authority creations and reorganizations. The collection is offered as an initial phase of publication of further collections (including index collections) for the Diocese of Manchester and other Mancunian records.

Prestolee Holy Trinity, Lancashire images display as unavailable refer to parish page.

Dobcross, Yorkshire images display as unavailable refer to parish page.

Manchester Central Library is closed for refurishment, but Manchester Archives and Local Studies has relocated to the The Manchester Room and Greater Manchester County Record Office

(Email: archiveslocalstudies@manchester.gov.uk)

Record Content[edit | edit source]

Church of England parish register baptism records usually contain:

  • Baptism date
  • Name of the child
  • Sex of the child
  • Legitimacy of the child
  • Marital status of the parents
  • Social class of the parents
  • Name of the father and often mother’s given name
  • May list the residence of the parents, especially after 1812

Church of England parish register marriage records usually contain:

  • Marriage date
  • Name of the bride and groom
  • Age of the bride and groom
  • May list names of parents or other relatives
  • Residence of the bride and groom
  • Marital status of individuals and couples
  • May list the dates that the marriage was announced (also called “banns published”). This normally took place on three separate occasions prior to the marriage and gave anyone with a valid reason a chance to object to the marriage.
  • After 1754 the full names of witnesses are also given. After 1837, the full names of the fathers are given.
  • May note if a spouse is single or widowed at the time of the marriage

Church of England parish register burial records usually contain:

  • Burial date
  • Name of the deceased. If the deceased is a child, the father’s name might be given. If the deceased is a married woman, the husband’s name might be given.
  • Age of the person
  • Residence of the deceased
  • May give the sex of the deceased
  • Residence of the deceased

How to Use This Record[edit | edit source]

Parish registers are one of the best sources for identifying individuals and connecting them to parents, spouses, and other generations. In July 1837, the government instituted the civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths. However, parish registers continue to play an important role because they are often more readily available than civil registers. Bishops’ transcripts are a backup source for missing or illegible parish registers. If possible, you may want to search both the parish registers and the bishops’ transcripts, since one is a handwritten copy of the other and might contain differences.

Baptism or christening records list the parents’ names, making it possible for you to connect your ancestor to an earlier generation. You may find a birth date listed or be able to approximate a birth date. After 1812, the baptismal records list a place of residence, making it easier to identify your family by where they lived. The records also list the father’s occupation, which makes it easier to identify your ancestor's family when more than one family with the same name lived in the parish.

Marriage records sometimes state the residence for the bride and groom. You can use this information to look for their baptisms and to identify the children of this couple. Sometimes the groom’s occupation is listed, which could help you find more records about the groom. Marriage records after 1754 list the names of witnesses, who were often family members. These can help you identify your ancestor’s family. Signatures in the records might be used to identify a particular individual by the handwriting style. After 1812 and sometimes before, burial records include the age of the deceased. Use this age to approximate the person’s birth year and to find the baptismal record. If the deceased is a child, the parents’ names might be given. This information helps to extend your family another generation. The occupation of a deceased male might be given (especially after 1812) and can help identify your ancestor when there is more than one person by that name in the area. Knowing the occupation might also provide you the opportunity to find other records about your ancestor.

Banns indicate the parish of residence of the bride and groom. This information often leads to the records of another parish. You can search for the baptisms of the bride and groom in the parishes of residence since these might also be the parishes where they were born.

To search for a person in a Church of England parish register, you must know the following:

  • Where the person lived and the corresponding parish
  • When the person lived; if you do not know the time period, you must estimate it from what you know of more recent generations.

A useful means of locating parishes prior to 1851 is by referring to the wiki article: England Jurisdictions 1851.

Collection History[edit | edit source]

In 1530, King Henry VIII established the Church in England, also known as the Anglican Church, the State Church, or the Episcopal Church. A law passed in 1537 required ministers to record the baptisms, marriages, and burials that took place in their parishes. Priests recorded these events in registers and kept them at the parish level, which is the lowest level of authority in the Church of England. Within some parishes, chapelries were created to provide for the worship needs of the parishioner when the parish church was not easily accessible. Chapelries sometimes had the authority to perform baptisms, marriages, and burials, so they kept their own registers. Several parishes formed a deanery (presided over by a dean), several deaneries formed an archdeaconry (presided over by an archdeacon), and several archdeaconries formed a diocese (presided over by a bishop).

Beginning in 1598, ministers were required to send copies of their registers to an archdeacon or bishop annually. These copies are referred to as bishops’ transcripts, or sometimes archdeacon transcripts. As a result, two copies of many parish registers exist from 1598 to about the mid-1800s. After civil registration began in 1837, the value of keeping bishops’ transcripts diminished, so by 1870 most parishes had stopped making them.

Banns are proclamations of an intent to marry. After 1754, these banns were required to be read for three consecutive Sundays before a marriage so that anyone with reasons against the marriage could oppose it. Banns were read in both the bride’s parish and the groom’s parish.

Most bishops’ transcripts of Church of England parish registers have been preserved. Many have also been copied to microfilm or microfiche. The condition of the records is relatively good considering their age and their storage conditions over the centuries. In 1598 ministers were required to copy their registers onto parchment. If the minister failed to make such a copy, the register for that parish and its records did not survive. During the Commonwealth period, 1649–1660, many parish registers disappeared and many transcripts were not kept because ministers were deposed from their parishes.

Why This Collection Was Created[edit | edit source]

Parish registers were created to record church events of baptism or christening, marriage, and burial. Baptismal entries usually list the person’s birth date; burial entries list the death date. In the Church of England, baptism, which was also called christening, was performed soon after the birth of a child. Marriage in the church legally united a man and a woman for civil legal reasons and for the purpose of founding a religiously sanctified family. Burial is a function of the church to inter the deceased soon after death.

Collection Reliability[edit | edit source]

Church of England parish registers are the most reliable and accurate family history source until July 1837, when the government instituted the civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths. Information in parish registers and Bishop's Transcripts can be verified against each other. There are often variations in Bishop's Transcripts of names and spellings. Bishop's Transcripts may also omit years or part of years and are incomplete according to Diocesan practice and preservation.

Transcription is a human process and can include error. If you are searching a computer data base which has been indexed exactly as viewed it may be necessary to search on variants of the given name and surname. The transcriber may have faithfully rendered Thos. or a Latin spelling like Xpher and your search for Thomas or Christopher may not produce a search result.

Parish register entries may not correspond with post 1837 Civil Registration certificates. The registration of Marriages involves a quarterly return from each authorised person  (Registrar General approved) to the local Registry Office and each Registry Office in turn to form a National Index. The transcription of information from the event may not correspond to the original entry.

Since Civil Birth registrations are only partial in the early decades of Civil registration, parish registers may be the only source of record for infant birth and death in a period of high infant mortality rates.

Known Issues With This Collection[edit | edit source]

Important.png Problems with this collection?

There are three issues associated with this collection.
1. Images switch to another locality when browsing.
2. Some localities contain additional records types (banns) or are missing a record type (marriages).
3. Some images are cut off, either at the top, bottom, or sides.

Contributions to This Article[edit | edit source]

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Historical Records/Guidelines for Articles.

Related Web Sites[edit | edit source]

Find My Past

Related Wiki Articles[edit | edit source]

England Church Records

Quick Research Links - England


Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections[edit | edit source]

When you copy information from a record, you should also list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection:[edit | edit source]

"England, Lancashire-Cheshire-Yorkshire Parish Registers, 1603-1992." images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org): accessed March 18, 2011. entry for Frank Stewart, baptized March 23, 1899, Lancashire, Denton St. Lawrence, Baptisms 1896-1905, image 25; Manchester Central Library, Manchester, England.

Sources of Information for This Collection[edit | edit source]

"England, Lancashire – Cheshire – Yorkshire Parish Registers, 1603-1992,” images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org); from the Manchester Central Library, Manchester (England). FHL microfilm, 391 reels; FHL digital images, 2,156 folders, Family History Library Salt Lake City, Utah.