View Full Version : Parish records
27-11-2008, 9:50 AM
This is a general query about parish records. I have noticed that some are available on-line - for baptisms, marriages and burials at specific places. They appear in the form of lists of events by year. I am presupposing that there is another individual document involved in the proceedings. For example, when I read of a wedding where the bride/groom are 'of this parrish' and 'both signed', it would seem that there is more information available. If this is so, where is it to be found?. Again, I must presuppose that the original church kept the original copies of documents but some large towns seem to keep documents for any number of small villiages and hamlets. How do I find out who has what? The reason for my question is that I hope to visit the UK next year and look at whatever documents are available. My main area of research will be Worcs., Warks, Oxon., & Leics.
27-11-2008, 10:02 AM
There are some transcriptions of parish registers online and many of them are indexed. The number and nature of these depends on the activity of transcribers over the years, either well known ones like Phillimore or groups like the family history societies.
The only extensive images of actual registers online are those for the Medway area in Kent, which are on the CityArk site (just google). Other original registers, or microform copies of them, are available from a variety of sources, especially county record offices. You should look up the record offices for the counties you are interested in and see what records they keep. You could also search for FHS groups covering those areas and see whether they've done any copies or transcriptions. And, of course, there's always Parish Chest, which brings together much of what is available commercially.
John Nicholas - I'd never heard of CityArk before, and since your alert have tried but failed to make it work for me. I did try to download the Java plug-in but then received another alert (from my PC) suggesting that it may be harmful, so I panicked and fled.
I've been searching for Sarah Jones, born 1803 in Rochester, daughter of William Benbow Jones. CityArk may hold the records, but short of traipsing all the way to Kent I'm not sure what to do next. Any suggestions?
27-11-2008, 12:45 PM
Peph, there is no danger in itself in installing the Java plug-in, but (in common with many other computer utilities) it can be abused, but as long as you don't visit any "dodgy" websites, then you shouldn't have any worries. A good virus checker/firewall program like Kaspersky or Eset NOD32 is also quite desirable.
Many websites (like Ancestry) won't function fully without the Java plug-in, and to use the advanced search facility on the City Ark site also requires Java, but there is a non-Java version on the site too. Your only other option would be to email City Ark with your enquiries.
Thank you, Nick. I'll take your advice and download the Java.
Me visit dodgy websites? With this genealogy nonsense I wouldn't have the time, even if I had the inclination!
Once again, many thanks.
27-11-2008, 2:31 PM
Un-hijacking your thread, only a tiny number of churches have retained their historical registers. In general, they have been deposited in the appropriate County Record Office.
Many registers have been microfilmed and some can be rented through the Mormons. This is one of the few means available for people outside the UK to look at the original records.
When planning a trip to the UK, the best advice to is do as much as possible before travelling. This means all the civil registration stuff and preferably stuff that you can view at Mormon facilities. Then when you are here you can concentrate work that you can't undertake remotely.
Also well in advance, please read the beginners guides eg
Use http://www.genuki.org.uk/ as an aid to planning your research trip.
27-11-2008, 3:04 PM
See Peter's reply above, which specifically helps with your main query; also......
For example, when I read of a wedding where the bride/groom are 'of this parrish' and 'both signed', it would seem that there is more information available.
There is indeed more information available. The amount of infromation recorded varies over time; as does the style of handwriting.
From 1813 onwards you will find four different registers for each parish; baptism, burial, banns and marriage. The registers are in the form of tabulated books with set information required.
For baptism - Date baptised, child's name, christian name of parent(s) and surname (mother's maiden name not required), abode, and Quality, Trade or Occupation, cleric.
For burial - Name (forename and surname), Abode, date buried, Age, cleric.
Banns registers (date back to 1754) record varying information, the minimum found being names of couple and dates on which banns were read.
Marriages had been recorded in tabulated registers since 1754. From 1754 until 1813, the information recorded is:
Groom and bride - name, of what parish, whether single or widowed, it should also note if groom or bride waw a minor.
Date and place of marriage and by whom performed, whether by licence or banns. If one of the parties was a minor there is a note that the marriage was perfomed with permission of parent who is sometimes named.
Marks or signatures of groom and bride, the same for witnesses.
From 1837 onwards, marriage register entries have the same format as marriage certificates with which you may be familiar, but if not please ask.
Before 1813, baptisms and burials are recorded in the same register (THe register is not tabulated). You may find that there is more information recorded back to 1783-ish, you might get date of birth, also mother's former surname and whether she had been a spinster or widow. If she was a widow you may be lucky and find that her previous married name and also maiden name are recorded.
Prior to 1754, baptisms, marriages and burials are normally all in a single register (not tabulated).
You may find entries for a whole year recorded chronologically, or you may find that baptisms have been recorded at the front of the register, and burials commence later in the register. So it is worthwhile checking through the entire register, extracting as much detail as you can from it.
Standards of writing vary greatly, very generally the more modern registers use a style which is closer to the writing with which you will be familiar.
Getting back to the first half of the 18th century, a transitional italic hand was used which is still fairly easy to read; but you may have to work out how one or two letters are formed.
Prior to the 18th century you will begin to find differnt forms of Secretary Hand used. The National Archives has a tutorial which is useful - see here (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/palaeography/)
At some point, you are likely to find registers written in Latin
Again TNA has a tutorial (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/latin/beginners/)(if you don't speak the language) which also has a list of common words you are likely to find.
Do perservere with using original documents; it's nice to find information in a transcript or index, but to actually see the mark or signature in a marriage entry from the 18th century, or to find entries relating to family really is quite exciting (well for us with an interest in dead people it is).
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