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  1. #1
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    Default Compulsory Birth Registration

    I wish people would not compound the myth that birth registration was not compulsory before 1875, it was!

    Not only was it compulsory but people were fined for not registering births.

    What is meant that the responsibility for registering a birth under civil registration fell on the registrar not on the parent.
    However parents had to give details of the births of their children when asked by the registrar even though they were not responsible for ensuring the birth was registered.

    The history of registering births and indeed deaths goes almost 200 years further back than civil registration, though it must be said that even when big fines were imposed the law was often ignored.

    Births & Deaths were recorded in Parish Registers following an ordinance in 1644, a statute of 1694 instituted a penalty of £100 for not keeping a register of all persons married, buried, christened or born in his parish.
    In 1695 all parents were required to give notice of a birth of a child within 5 days of the birth. A fine of 40 shillings was imposed on parents who omitted to give notice within the five days and a similar penalty was payable by the vicar.

    In 1783 the Stamp Act required that births and deaths be registered and parents could be fined for refusing to give the information.

    Cheers
    Guy
    As we have gained from the past, we owe the future a debt, which we pay by sharing today.

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  3. #2
    Loves to help with queries barbara lee's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks Guy. But pre-civil registration, in Lancashire, I find that hardly any of my RC ancestors and their families appear in the C of E baptism registers. Since Hardwicke's Marriage Act of 1753 (I think), they all had to get married in the C of E church or it wasn't legal, and since there was no other burial ground, they all appear in the burial register of the parish (C of E) church, but not their baptisms. Very often they appear in the surviving RC registers, where such registers survive.
    Are you saying they were obliged by law to be baptised C of E? But they weren't!
    Barbara

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    Default

    No I did not mention baptism at all I was referring to births and deaths not baptisms and burials.

    The problem with Roman Catholic baptisms & indeed burials is the persecution of earlier years 1534 to 1778 made many Catholic families cautious to recording the fact they were Catholics
    The Act of Toleration (1689) expressly excluded Roman Catholics from the guarantee of freedom of worship dedicated Catholic burial grounds only became legal from the Burial Act 1852.

    You can sometimes see a note in the Anglican Parish Register that someone is a Papist or a Recusant
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    Guy
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    Loves to help with queries barbara lee's Avatar
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    Yes, that situation with Catholics is all the same as I understand it.
    But you said "In 1783 the Stamp Act required that births and deaths be registered and parents could be fined for refusing to give the information." Where were these births to be registered? Not in the C of E baptism registers, as you have excluded those. Is there some source of 1783-1837 birth registrations I don't know about, or was the law widely ignored?
    Cheers
    Barbara

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    As with many of the laws useful to genealogy the clergy only complied when it suited them.
    “An Act for the enforcing the Laws which restrain Marriages without Licence or Banns, and for the better registring Marriages, Births, and Burials. [1696.]” states-

    “V. And whereas divers Children who are born within this Kingdom are not christned according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England, and many are in private Houses, nor are the Parents of such Children obliged by the aforesaid Act to give Notice to their respective Ministers, of ‘ the Births of such Children; for want whereof an exact Register of all Persons born is not kept, and many Persons chargeable with the Duties in the said Act mentioned do thereby escape the Payment of the several Sums due to his Majesty, and charged upon them by the said Act, by reason of the Births of such Children : For Remedy whereof be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, that from and after the four and twentieth Day of June, which shall be in the Year one thousand six hundred ninety and six, the Parents of every Child, which shall at any Time be born after the said Day and Year, and during the Continuance of the said Acts, or one of them, shall within five Days after such Birth give Notice to the respective Rector, Vicar, Curate, or Clerk of the Parish or Place where such Child was born, of the Day of the Birth of every such Child: And in case any Parent shall neglect to give such Notice as aforesaid, he or she shall forfeit the Sum of forty Shillings, one Moiety thereof to the king’s Majesty and the other Moiety to the informer; the which said Rector, Vicar, Curate, or Clerk of the Parish, or their Substitutes, are hereby required, during the Continuance of the said Act, to take an exact and true Account, and keep a distinct Register of all and every Person or Persons so born in his or their respective Parishes or Precincts, and not christened ; for doing which the Parents of such Child, or one of them, shall pay to every such Parson, Rector, Vicar, Curate, or Clerk of the Parish, the Sum of Six Pence ; and if any such Rector, Vicar, Curate, Parson, or Minister, shall refuse or neglect to keep a true Register thereof, as before is directed, such Parson or other Minister, so offending shall forfeit the Sum of forty shillings, to be recovered by such Persons, and in such Manner, as in the said recited Act the Forfeitures therein mentioned are appointed to be recovered; any thing in the said Law contained to the contrary notwithstanding.”

    Cheers
    Guy
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  8. #6
    Loves to help with queries barbara lee's Avatar
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    Thanks Guy
    So the vicars were enjoined to keep a separate book or register of children born but not baptised in the parish. Do you know if any such have survived? Anywhere? In all my years of doing family history, and of reading magazines and "how to" books, I don't think I have never heard of even one such book or register being mentioned. I know there were separate "civil registers" kept during the Commonwealth period, and a few of them have survived, but these "registers" we are talking about are different aren't they?
    Cheers
    Barbara

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    Yes a few have survived in amongst the contents of the parish chest as have other documents of interest to family historians including forgotten paper registers discarded after being copied into parchment registers as required by the Elizabethan Acts. Perhaps I should also mention that in a number of parishes there are multiple copies of parts of the parish register. Sometimes a new vicar or cleric would find the earlier register was illegible or in a poor state and would laboriously copy it to a new registers, sometimes they would copy only a few pages.
    One Herefordshire or Worcestershire register has 4 duplicates plus the Bishop’s Transcript each containing different omissions or additions.

    Back in the 1950s and 60s when archivists were proud of their collections they often used to have time to ask researchers if they had noticed that there were multiple copies of this or that but alas things started to change in the 80s or perhaps it was because I was a young researcher in those days and some wanted to encourage my interest .
    Now it is a case of gaining access to the archive (if you can) and searching through the books and manuscripts page by page, even gaining access is not as easy as it used to be as archives are fearfully that people will damage or even steal the records.

    Like you I have noticed that rarely any mention is made of such lists or duplicated registers in “how to” books but some magazines do make the occasional mention. I think the problem is many “authors” crib the work of other authors when they are compiling their “how to” books and so the omissions are compounded.

    Cheers
    Guy
    As we have gained from the past, we owe the future a debt, which we pay by sharing today.

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  11. #8
    Loves to help with queries barbara lee's Avatar
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    Ah, were there such things in Lancashire to pin down my RC ancestors pre-1780, it would be wonderful. At Lancashire Archives I am currently working my way through the long lists of "parish chest" items for each C of E parish and chapelry. Maybe I will stumble across some of those birth registers. Sounds like something there should be a Gibson Guide for!
    Thanks, Guy
    Barbara

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