England Church Records

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Church records are an excellent source for accurate information on names and dates and on places of births, marriages, and deaths. Most people who lived in England have information recorded about them in a church record. Since civil authorities did not begin registering vital statistics until July 1837, church records are the best source for family information before that date.

In the 1530s King Henry VIII severed ties with the Pope and declared himself the head of the Church of England. This church became known as the state church and was also known as the Established or Anglican Church. In Scotland the Anglican Church was also known as the Episcopal Church. In the 17th Century, there began to be dissension within the Church of England and other religions began to spring up. These other religions are referred to as "nonconformists." or "dissenters" Nonconformists are discussed further on in this section under the name of each denomination.

Some church records have been destroyed by fire, lost, stolen, defaced, or damaged by dampness or aging. To protect their records, most parishes have deposited their early registers in county record offices. Addresses of the county record offices are given in:

Humphery-Smith, Cecil R., The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers. Second Edition. Chichester, Sussex: Phillimore & Company, 1995. (FHL book 942 E7pa 1995.)

Parish maps can help you determine which parish to search. Maps will reveal neighbouring parishes to search if your ancestor is not listed in the parish where you expected him or her to be. See England Maps for more information.

Church of England Records[edit | edit source]

Are a primary source for family history research in England for the period prior to 1st July 1837 (date of civil registration in England); though registration was not compulsory until 1875.

The records of baptisms (christenings), marriages, and burials were kept by the local Church of England parishes.  Although a nationwide order was given in 1538 that each parish keep a register of records, many parishes did not start to keep registers until some years later and some records have since been lost or destroyed.  Beginning in 1598, copies of entries from many parishes were copied and sent annually to the bishop for the diocese for that area and these copies are known as Bishop’s Transcripts.

Since the legibility of the early records varies and since some years may be missing in the Bishop’s Transcript copy of the parish registers, many researchers prefer to use the microfilms of both the original parish registers and of the Bishop’s Transcript copy of these records, if both are available. 

Each local parish keeps records. A "parish" is the jurisdictional unit that governs church affairs within its boundaries. Small villages often do not have their own parishes but are part of a parish headquartered in another town. A parish may have one or more "chapelries"  (dependent branches), which often keep their own records.

Many parishes are grouped together under the jurisdiction of a bishop. A bishop heads a "diocese." Some dioceses include one or more archdeaconries" (administered by an archdeacon), which may be divided into "rural deaneries" (headed by a "rural dean"). Each deanery consists of several parishes.

The registers kept by the parish record christenings, marriages, and burials performed in that parish. The parish was also used by the government for taking care of the poor, the physical well-being of the parish, law enforcement, taxation and military conscription during the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. These functions required that the parish keep other records beside the registers. These other records are often called "parish chest records" (see the subheading "Parish Chest Records" in this section).

Earlier registers often contained christenings, marriages, and burials in one book, called a general register. In 1754 a law was passed that required marriages to be kept in a separate register. In 1813 parishes were required to use pre-printed registers. There were separate registers for christenings, marriages, and burials.

The amount of information recorded varies from parish to parish. Later records are usually more complete than earlier ones. However, content often changed when a new minister began keeping the records.

Some pre-1733 parish registers are in Latin and even records in English may contain some Latin words. Local dialects may have affected the spelling of some family names or places.

Christenings (Baptisms)[edit | edit source]

Children were usually christened within a few weeks of birth, though christenings of some older children or adults were recorded. The parish registers give at least the infant’s name and the christening (baptismal) date. Additional information may include the father’s name and occupation, the mother’s first name, the child’s birth date and legitimacy, and the family’s place of residence. In larger cities the family’s street address is given.

The pre-printed forms introduced in 1813 called for the child’s christening date and given names, both parents’ given names, family surname, residence, father’s occupation, and minister’s signature. The birth date was sometimes added.

Marriages[edit | edit source]

Parish registers often record only the marriage date and the names of the bride and groom. The records may also include the marital status and the parish of residence of both parties, the groom’s occupation, signatures of witnesses, and the minister’s name especially after 1754.

Starting 1 July 1837(Start of Civil Registration) all parishes were required to use a new form. This form called for the bride and groom’s ages, residences, and occupations and the names and occupations of their fathers.

Couples usually married in the bride’s parish. Typically, the English married in their 20s.

You may find records that show a couple’s "intent to marry" in addition to the records of the actual marriage. Sometimes, however, the couple registered their intent to marry but never married.

There were two ways to meet the requirements to marry.

By Banns. A law required couples to have the minister announce or post notice of their intent to marry for three consecutive Sundays unless they obtained a license. This gave others the opportunity to object to the marriage. Beginning in 1754 officials recorded banns in separate registers. Banns registers contain information almost identical to marriage registers, but banns usually do not list the witnesses or marriage date.

If you believe a marriage took place but cannot find a record of it, search the banns register (if available). The banns should have been recorded in both the bride’s and the groom’s parish. The marriage is usually recorded only in the parish where it took place. For banns registers, look in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalogue under:

Beware banns were only an intent to marry, it doesn’t mean that because they were read that the marriage ceremony took place.

ENGLAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - CHURCH RECORDS

By License. A couple applied to the proper church authority, usually the bishop, for a license when:

  • Circumstances made it desirable to marry without waiting the three weeks required for the proclamation of banns.
  • The bride and groom lived in different dioceses.
  • A couple preferred not to subject themselves to publication of banns (common among upper classes and nonconformists).

Marriage licenses could be granted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, bishops, and archdeacons, or their surrogates within their respective jurisdictions. The licensing process created three types of documents, which may provide additional information to what the marriage record itself contains:

Marriage bond. A written guarantee made by the groom and another person swearing to the legality of the planned marriage. The bond usually lists occupations.

Marriage allegation. A statement filed by the couple in support of their license application. It records the couple’s names, ages, and parish of residence. The allegation sometimes lists where the marriage was to take place or gives a parent’s name or signature.

Marriage license. The actual document given to the couple to present to the minister. This document seldom survives but is sometimes found in family papers.

If a couple married by license but the bond or allegation cannot be found in the records for the diocese, check the records of the Vicar General and the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which had a higher level of jurisdiction.

The current location of original marriage license documents is given in:

Gibson, J. S. W. Bishops’ Transcripts and Marriage Licences, Bonds and Allegations. Fourth Edition. Birmingham, England: Federation of Family History Societies Publications, Limited, 1997. (FHL book 942 K23b 1997.)

Many license records are in county record offices. The Family History Library also has a good collection, usually listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalogue under:

ENGLAND, [COUNTY] - CHURCH RECORDS

Indexes to marriages.   [edit | edit source]

Boyd, Percival. Boyd’s Marriage Index. Bound typescript. N.p., n.d. This work is an index to marriages in 4,375 parishes throughout England. It is available on microfilm, on microfiche, and as a book. Look in the Author/Title Search of the Family History Library Catalogue for library call numbers.

You can find an explanation of this series in:

Wells, Claire T. Wells, comp. A Key to the Parishes Included in Boyd’s Marriage Index. Second Edition. Salt Lake City, Utah: Family History Library, 1988. (FHL book 942 K22b 1988; fiche 6035667.)

A list of parishes is also given in:

A List of Parishes in Boyd’s Marriage Index. London, England: Society of Genealogists, 1994. (FHL book 942 K22l 1994.)

Some county record offices and other repositories have indexes to church records, some of which are on film at the Family History Library (see the "Archives and Libraries" section of this outline for addresses).

Privately held marriage indexes for most counties are available by correspondence at either of the following two sources. Many indexes are listed with the addresses of where to write in:

Humphery-Smith, Cecil R., The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers. Second Edition. Chichester, Sussex: Phillimore & Company, 1995. (FHL book 942 E7pa 1995.)

Gibson, Jeremy, and Elizabeth Hampson, Editors. Marriage and Census Indexes for Family Historians. Seventh Edition. Birmingham, England: Federation of Family History Societies Publications, Limited, 1998. (FHL book 942 D27gjh.)

A few marriage indexes are on film at the Family History Library; look in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalogue under:

ENGLAND, [COUNTY] - CHURCH RECORDS - INDEXES

Burials[edit | edit source]

A burial usually took place in the deceased’s parish a few days after the death. Pre-1813 burial records list the deceased’s name and burial date and sometimes mention the age, place of residence, cause of death, or occupation. The husband’s name is sometimes given on the wife’s burial entry. The father’s name may be on the record for a deceased child. After 1813 the forms called for the name, age, abode, burial date, and minister’s signature.

Burial registers may mention infant children who were not christened including stillbirths. Christening records never record stillbirths.

Copies of Parish Registers[edit | edit source]

Copies of parish registers may be available in manuscript or published form. These copies include transcripts and abstracts that may have errors or omissions. Compare the transcript to the original parish register, if available.

Individuals and societies collect and compile copies of parish registers. Both the Society of Genealogists in London and the Family History Library has major collections of such records.

Bishop’s Transcripts. Beginning in 1598 each parish was supposed to send a copy of its registers to the bishop of its diocese. Most parishes complied.

The current location of original bishop’s transcripts is given in:

Gibson, J. S. W. Bishops’ Transcripts and Marriage Licences, Bonds and Allegations. Fourth Edition. Birmingham, England: Federation of Family History Societies Publications, Limited, 1997. (FHL book 942 K23b 1997.)

Many bishop’s transcripts are on film at the Family History Library, listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalogue under:

ENGLAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - CHURCH RECORDS

Most films contain all the years for one parish on one film. However, some are arranged by deanery and year. Those arranged by year and then by deanery are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalogue under:

ENGLAND, [COUNTY] - CHURCH RECORDS

Indexes to Church Records[edit | edit source]

The International Genealogical Index (see the "Genealogy" section of this outline for more information) is the most comprehensive surname index of English parish registers. Other indexes to parish registers exist. Many of these indexes have been published by family history societies in England (see the "Societies" section of this outline for more information).

To see what indexes to parish registers are available at the Family History Library, look in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalogue under:

ENGLAND, [COUNTY] - CHURCH RECORDS - INDEXES

Parish Chest Records[edit | edit source]

Church records were kept in a chest (or strongbox) known as the "parish chest." Records other than the parish registers were called "parish chest records." Some of these records still exist from the 16th century, but many do not begin until the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century.

Many parish chest records are available at county record offices. Parish chest records include:

Vestry Minutes. A vestry is a parish’s presiding council. Minutes of vestry meetings often mention individuals, appointments of parish officers, and other affairs (such as agreements for the care of illegitimate children and lists of apprentices, parish newcomers, officials, and men eligible to serve as parish officers).

Poor and Other Rates. Parishes recorded payments made to the poor and rates, or taxes, assessed to meet welfare needs. Parishes also charged rates for things such as night watch, lighting, highway, pest control, constable expenses, sewer, and victim’s or soldier’s relief. They kept records of assessment, receipt, and disbursement.

Bastardy Bonds. When an unmarried woman was expecting a child, parish officials pressured her to reveal the father’s name so the father, not the parish, had financial responsibility for the child’s care. A "bond of indemnification," also known as a "bastardy bond," was the father’s guarantee of responsibility for the child. Bastardy bonds or records of the mother’s examination may still exist in the parish chest records or among quarter session records. (See the "Court Records" section of this outline.) Churchwardens (church officials) sometimes bypassed the bond with a gentlemen’s agreement, records of which are among churchwardens’ accounts or vestry minutes.

Churchwardens Accounts. Churchwardens, generally appointed at the Easter vestry meetings, were responsible to the bishop or magistrate to present any wrongdoings at quarter sessions, including failure to provide for the poor, failure to attend church, drunkenness, or other undesirable behaviour. They were to report misbehaviour of the vicar or other vestry members as well. Churchwarden records often list men qualified to serve as churchwardens.

Settlement and Removal Records. Settlement records relate to a person’s legal place of settlement, as determined by a set of rules. The parish of settlement was responsible for the welfare and old-age care of family members. Parish officials often aggressively denied settlement. When a family sought parish welfare, officials determined the family’s legal settlement. A "removal order" was a document directing the constable to transport the family back to their parish of settlement.

Apprenticeship Records. These records often list the apprentice’s father, his master, the length of the apprenticeship, and the occupation. A child’s father often arranged the apprenticeship, but the parish "put out" many pauper children, since it was cheaper to pay for an apprenticeship than to raise a child. The child’s name may also be in vestry minutes when the vestry decided to put the child out as an apprentice. You may also find apprenticeships in other sources (see the "Occupations" section of this outline).

Parish chest records are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalogue under:

ENGLAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - CHURCH RECORDS

ENGLAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - POORHOUSES, POOR LAW

ENGLAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - TAXATION

For further information on parish chest material, see:

McLaughlin, Eve. Annals of the Poor. Third Edition. Solihull, England: Federation of Family History Societies Publications, Limited, 1986. (FHL Book 942 H6mev.)

Tate, W. E. The Parish Chest. Third Edition. Chichester, Sussex, England: Phillimore, 1969. (FHL book 942 K2t.)

Nonconformist Church Records[edit | edit source]

A nonconformist denomination is any denomination not conforming to the Church of England, including Roman Catholics, Jews, and Quakers. The registers of these religions sometimes contain more information than those of the Church of England, often including the person’s birth date, baptism date, father’s name and residence, and mother’s name (including maiden name). They rarely contain marriage records (except for Quakers and Jews).

Nonconformist registers contain some burial entries, though nonconformists were usually buried in parish churchyards until the chapel obtained its own burial grounds or until civil cemeteries opened.

It is not uncommon to find an ancestor affiliated with more than one religion during his or her lifetime. Search all religions and all chapels of a particular religion if an ancestor might be a nonconformist because some people changed religions and travelled long distances to attend their meetings. Ministers often travelled large circuits keeping the vital statistics of several places in the register they carried with them.

A law passed in 1836 required many nonconformist groups to send their registers into the Public Record Office. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of those that were deposited. Many of these records have been extracted, and the names appear in the International Genealogical Index.

Major nonconformist groups are discussed below. The following two works contain more information about nonconformist sects:

Steel, Donald J. Sources for Nonconformist Genealogy and Family History. London, England: Phillimore, 1973. (FHL book 942 V26ste, vol. 2.)

Sources for Roman Catholic and Jewish Genealogy and Family History. London, England: Phillimore, 1974. (FHL book 942 V26ste, vol. 3.)

Presbyterians, Baptists, and Independents[edit | edit source]

These religions evolved from 16th century Puritanism. The records of these religions are similar to those of the Church of England. The Baptists, however, practiced adult baptism and recorded births in birth registers, not baptism registers. The Independent Church is also known as the Congregational Church.

Many congregations did not keep consistent records. In January 1743 officials formed a central registry for births for all three denominations, called Dr. Williams’ Library.

This registry contains about 50,000 birth records. Information recorded includes the child’s name, parents’ names, birth date, address, names of witnesses, registration information, and sometimes the grandparents’ names.

The original records are housed at the National Record Office. Copies of these records are on microfilm in the Family History Library to 1837. To find the film numbers, look in the Author/Title Search of the Family History Library Catalogue under:

DR. WILLIAMS' LIBRARY (LONDON)

The following book discusses Baptist history and records:

Breed, Geoffrey R. My Ancestors Were Baptists: How Can I Find Out More About Them? London, England: Society of Genealogists, 1988. (FHL book 942 K23bg 1988.)

For information or history about Baptists, contact:

'Baptist Historical Society'15 Fenshurst Gardens
Long Ashton, Bristol BS18 9AU
England
Internet: http://www.baptisthistory.org.uk/basicpage.php?contents=publications&page_title=Publications

The Family History Library filmed pre-1837 Presbyterian records from the Presbyterian Historical Society. The Presbyterian and Congregational churches are now combined. For information or history about either denomination, contact:

'United Reformed Church History Society'86 Tavistock Place
London WC1H 9RT
England

Internet: http://www.urc.org.uk/history_soc/ 

For information on Presbyterians, see:

Ruston, Alan R. My Ancestors Were English Presbyterians/Unitarians: How Can I Find Out More About Them? London, England: Society of Genealogists, 1993. (FHL book 942 K23ra.)

For information on Congregationalists or Independents, see:

Clifford, D. J. H. My Ancestors Were Congregationalists in England & Wales: With a List of Registers. London, England: Society of Genealogists, 1992. (FHL book 942 K23cd.)

Methodists[edit | edit source]

There are many forms of Methodists Societies in England: Wesleyan, Primitive, New Connexion, and so on. The Wesleyan group was the largest. They were all united under the United Methodist Church in 1932. Some groups recorded their baptisms and burials in the Church of England until the 19th century. For historical material, contact:

The Methodist Archives and Research Centre
John Rylands University Library
Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH
England
Internet:
http://rylibweb.man.ac.uk/data1/dg/methodist/methlink.html

To find the location of the birth and burial records, contact:

'Wesley Historical Society'34 Spiceland Road
Northfield
, Birmingham B31 1NJ
England
Internet: http://www.wesleyhistoricalsociety.org.uk/BRANCHES.htm

A useful guide for tracing Methodist ancestors is:

Leary, William. My Ancestors Were Methodists: How Can I Find Out More About Them? Second Edition. London, England: Society of Genealogists, 1990. (FHL book 942 D27l 1990.)

The Wesleyan Methodist Metropolitan Registry recorded over 10,000 Wesleyan Methodist births and baptisms that occurred between 1773 and 1838 throughout England, Wales, and elsewhere. The records and index are on microfilm at the Family History Library and in the Public Record Office (see the "Archives and Libraries" section of this outline for the address). To find the records in the Family History Library, look in the Author/Title Search of the library Family History Library Catalogue under:

WESLEYAN METHODIST METROPOLITAN REGISTRY AT PATERNOSTER ROW REGISTER OF BIRTHS AND BAPTISMS 1818-1841

Roman Catholics[edit | edit source]

Catholic priests usually did not keep registers before 1778 and many registers were written in Latin. Baptism registers usually include the names of the child’s sponsors or godparents.

Some registers have been published by the Catholic Record Society. The Family History Library has most of these published registers, which are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalogue under one of the following:

ENGLAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - CHURCH RECORDS

ENGLAND, [COUNTY] - CHURCH RECORDS

For information on records not available at the library, contact the society at:

'The Catholic Record Society'c/o 114 Mount Street
London W2Y 6AH
England
Internet: http://www.catholic-history.org.uk/crs/

Jews[edit | edit source]

Most synagogues have retained their own records. For historical information, contact:

'Jewish Historical Society'c/o Mocatta Library
University College, Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT
England
Internet: http://www.jhse.dircon.co.uk/

Isabel Mordy collected and indexed a group of English Jewish records. This is now available in the Family History Library, listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalogue under:

ENGLAND, LONDON - JEWISH RECORDS

For more information, see:

Gandy, Michael. My Ancestor Was Jewish: How Can I Find Out More About Him? London, England: Society of Genealogists, 1982. (FHL book 929.1089924 G153.)

Huguenots[edit | edit source]

This Protestant group began in France, and then spread to England as its members fled persecution. Huguenots began keeping records as early as 1567; however, few pre-1684 records still exist.

After arriving in England many Huguenots changed their names from French to English. For example, the French surname LeBlanc may have changed to White.

Until 1754 Huguenots often recorded their marriages in both Huguenot and Church of England registers. None were recorded in Huguenot registers after that date. The Huguenot Society has transcribed and published most of their original church records. You may write to them at the following address:

'Huguenot Society'c/o University College, Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT
England
Internet: http://www.huguenotsociety.org.uk/history/

The best way to locate published Huguenot records at the Family History Library is to look in the Author/Title Search of the Family History Library Catalogue under:

PUBLICATIONS OF THE HUGUENOT SOCIETY

Society of Friends[edit | edit source]

Also known as Quakers, the Society of Friends did not have appointed clergy to perform the rites of baptism. They recorded births instead. Burial registers usually include the date of death. Quakers recorded marriages to ensure their validity.

The organization of Quaker religious groups, known as "meetings," includes:

The preparative meeting or the local church group, is about the size of a parish.

The monthly meeting, made up of several preparative (local) groups, is the primary meeting for church affairs and includes records of births, marriages, and deaths.

The quarterly meeting, comprised of two to seven monthly meetings, is similar to a diocese.

The yearly meeting includes representatives from the quarterly meetings and Friends from other countries.

Quaker registers began in the late 1650s. From 1840 to 1842, the Society made digests of its records (to about 1837), which cover all English meetings. The digests are arranged first by date and then alphabetically by surname. Copies of digests and original registers are in the Family History Library. The original records are in the Public Record Office (see the "Archives and Libraries" section of this outline for the address).

For a valuable booklet on this subject, refer to:

Milligan, Edward H., and Malcolm J. Thomas. My Ancestors Were Quakers: How Can I Find Out More About Them? London, England: Society of Genealogists, 1983. (FHL book 942 D27m.)

Locating Church Records[edit | edit source]

To find an ancestor in church records, you should know his religion and the parish where he lived. The Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalogue usually uses the parish names as given in The Imperial Gazetteer. See England Gazetteers for this source and for other help in finding a parish.

Local residents sometimes referred to their parish by the name of the parish patron saint (such as St. John) rather than by the location of the parish. In cities where there is more than one parish, the Family History Library Catalogue uses the patron saint’s name with the name of the city to identify records of different parishes.

Many parishes had "chapelries" that served a small area within the parish boundaries. Chapelries kept separate registers. Their records are usually listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalogue under the parish with which the chapelry is associated.

Some sources that describe the location or survival of church records are:

Lists of Non-parochial Registers and Records in the Custody of the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages. London, England: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1859. (FHL book Q 942 B4pro Volume 42.) This volume from the Public Record Office series, Lists and Indexes, series tells which pre-1837 nonconformist parish registers are in the Public Record Office (see the "Archives and Libraries" section of this outline for the address).

Humphery-Smith, Cecil R., The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers. Second Edition. Chichester, Sussex, England: Phillimore & Co., 1995. (FHL book 942 E7pa 1995.) This gives the location and repository address for each parish register.

Parish Register Abstract. England: House of Commons, 1833. (FHL book Q 942 X2gbc; film 599640 items 1–2.) This book shows which pre-1813 parish registers existed in 1831.

Steel, Donald J., et al. National Index of Parish Registers. 13 Volumes. Chichester, England: Phillimore & Company, Limited, 1968–. (FHL book 942 V26ste.) This index helps identify church records and congregations. Not all counties are published yet.

Youngs, Frederic A., Jr. Guide to the Local Administrative Units. London, England: Royal Historical Society, 1979, 1991. (FHL 942 C4rg no. 10, 17.) This guide helps identify Church of England ecclesiastical jurisdictions and gives an outline history of changes to the parishes.

Records at the Family History Library[edit | edit source]

The Family History Library has many church records. The most common are:

  • Parish registers from their beginning up to the nineteenth century or later
  • Bishops’ transcripts from 1598 up to the mid- 19th century
  • Transcripts of parish registers
  • Parish chest records
  • Registers of nonconformist churches to 1837 (sometimes later)

You can determine whether the library has records, denominational histories, or religious society journals from your ancestor’s parish by looking in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalogue under:

ENGLAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - CHURCH RECORDS

ENGLAND, [COUNTY] - CHURCH RECORDS

ENGLAND, [COUNTY] - CHURCH HISTORY

ENGLAND - CHURCH HISTORY

ENGLAND - PERIODICALS

The Family History Library is always adding records to its collection. The catalo is updated periodically. If you need a record that is not at the library, you may write to the minister or to a repository to request a search.

Records Not at the Family History Library[edit | edit source]

Since England has no single repository of church records, the current location of records depends on several factors. Some counties have more than one approved repository. A few records remain with the parish minister. To determine the location of the original parish registers, use The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers (see "Locating Church Records" in this section).

The following types of repositories often answer mail requests for information:

County record office. Contact the county record office to determine the procedure for searching records.

Local parish. Parishes will generally answer correspondence when a small donation is enclosed. Ask that your request be forwarded if the records are now in a repository. To find parish addresses, consult a church directory (see the "Church Directories" section of this outline).

Other archives. Some church records are in libraries, museums, or other repositories.

When writing to England for genealogical information, be as concise as possible. Do not add unnecessary history about the family you are researching. If staff members at the archive cannot look up the requested information, ask them to send you a list of recommended researchers. Send the following with your request:

  • An international money order for the search fee and postage or a donation to the church
  • The full name and sex of the person sought
  • The names of the parents, if known
  • The event you are looking for, with approximate date and place
  • Request for a complete copy (or photocopy) of the original record

If your request is not answered, write to the local family history society and ask if one of their members would do the search for you (see the "Societies" section of this outline).

Another way to access some church records and indexes is through the Internet. On the Internet there are lists of people who volunteer to search various types of records for certain areas free of charge. You can locate these lists through the GENUKI Web site at:

www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng 

From the above site:

Click [County of your choice].

Click Genealogy.

Click Look-up Exchange

Search Strategies[edit | edit source]

As you search church records, use the following strategies:

  • Search parish registers, bishops’ transcripts, and all other available records for the time period.
  • Note all entries (including burials) in the parish registers for the surname (unless the name is very common).
  • Note gaps or missing pages in the record. (This may suggest that you should search alternative records for that time period.)
  • If the church records do not contain enough information, search for hints (residence, occupation, and so on) that suggest other records to search.
  • If you find little or no mention of your family in parish records, search neighbouring parishes and nonconformist records.
  • If you do not find your ancestor in church records, use the "Records Selection Table" at the beginning of this outline to find another record to search.
  • Search both parish registers and bishops’ transcripts, as either may contain entries missing from the other.

Web Sites[edit | edit source]

http://www.genealogylinks.net/marriages/uk/england/index.html

http://www.coraweb.com.au/ukbdm.htm