UK Research Guide | Parish Registers
In addition to aiding in tracing family history back before census records, parish records can provide detailed supporting evidence for research after Civil Registration records began in 1837.
In September 1538 a nationwide order was given that each parish was required to keep a register of baptisms, marriages and burial; however, many parishes did not start to keep registers until sometime later. Since 1598, copies of entries from numerous parishes have been copied and given to the bishop for the diocese of that region on an annual basis. These copies are referred to as Bishop’s Transcripts.
The information recorded in parish registers varies greatly, but typically includes:
Baptisms were usually recorded with burials and marriages until 1754. From 1754-1812 they were recorded in the same register with burials. From 1813, they had their own dedicated register.
All baptism entries include the date of baptism and the name of the person being baptised. Additional information such as the parents’ names and the date of birth of the person being baptised were largely optional until 1813. From 1813, baptism registers usually included:
Marriages were recorded with baptisms and burials until 1754. They were recorded in a separate register from 1754. Marriage records recorded:
Marriages prior to 1753
Marriages from 1754
Marriages after 30 June 1837
Burials were usually recorded with baptisms and marriages until 1754. From 1754-1812 they were recorded in the same register with baptisms. From 1813, they had their own dedicated register.
Burials before 1813
Burials after 1813
From 1598, ministers were expected to transmit copies of their records to the diocesan bishop on a yearly basis. These copies are commonly known as Bishops’ Transcripts. As a result, many parish registers from 1598 until the mid-1800s include two versions. Some Bishop’s Transcripts still survive and serve as a useful substitute if the Parish Register no longer exists.
Pictured: Teasel Field, The Costume of Yorkshire (1814), George Walker (1781-1856)