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[ Introduction to Parish Registers | Parish Registers: A Short History | Available Information ]

Introduction to Parish Registers

Parish Registers are...

...records of baptisms, marriages, and burials made by the Church. These records are a valuable resource for researching your family tree, as civil registration and census returns do not go back further than c.1840. Parish records can extend your research back to the time of King Henry VIII, with most records going back to the 1600s (and some going back to the 1500s!).

Phillimore's Marriage Records is a series of books published in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and holds transcriptions of marriage registers. Learn more about Phillimore's marriage registers below.

You can find baptisms, marriages, and burials in Parish Registers.

A baptism record would usually give the name of the child, their parents, and where their parents lived. These usually occurred within a few months of birth but could be performed at any age. Babies could be baptised within days if it was feared they would die; the baptism allowing them a churchyard burial.

A marriage usually gave the parish of origin of both parties, name, status (i.e. bachelor, spinster, widow etc.), ages, signatures or marks and those of two witnesses. Marriages are either by banns or by licence - banns are found in the parish register, the couple's intention to marry being read on three occasions in the parish churches of both bride and groom. The licences don't always survive, as they were usually handed to the bride and groom.

Burials usually include the name, date and place of burial, although later burial records (after 1813) included more information such as age and occupation.

For Births and Deaths, you need the GRO Indexes which go back to 1837.

Tracing an Ancestor

Parish records can help you trace your family roots back through baptisms, marriages, and burials.

A baptism record would usually give the name of the child, their parents, and where their parents lived. You can use this information to trace their parents, as their marriage record is likely to be in the same place where they live. The marriage record would give you the parishes of both bride and groom, allowing you to trace their parents in the parish, and so on.