Belgium, East Flanders Catholic Church Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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Title in the Languages of the Records

Belgie, Oost Vlaanders Katholieke kerken Aanschrijveningen van (Dutch)

Read the entire Historical Records article in Dutch.

Record Description

This collection of church records includes the years 1588-1799.

This collection includes baptisms, marriages, deaths, and indexes of Roman Catholic parish registers from the province of Oost Vlaanderen (East Flanders). Some books contain all the record types listed above, while other books contain only one. Some of the records are in Latin rather than Dutch.

After the Spanish conquest of 1592, Roman Catholicism was the majority religion in Flanders, Belgium. It wasn’t until 1781 when the re-establishment of religious freedom by the Patent of Toleration allowed other religions to be created. Because of this, most church records in Flanders are Catholic. The record registers were kept at parish archive levels and a copy of the registers were sent later to be preserved at the corresponding diocesan archive.

Church records were created to record church sacraments, such as baptisms, marriages, and burials, associated with the life events of parishioners. The parish registers in Belgium are an excellent source for accurate information on names as well as dates and places of birth, marriages, and deaths. For records after 1795, it is also recommended to research the civil registration to verify and complement information.

Record Content

Baptism records generally contain the following information:

  • Date and place of event
  • Name of child
  • Age or birth date
  • Legitimacy
  • Names of parents
  • Residence place
  • Witnesses or godparents

Marriage records generally contain the following information:

  • Date and place of event
  • Name of bride and groom
  • Residences, marital statuses, and ages
  • Names of parents
  • Names of witnesses

Death records generally contain the following information:

  • Date and place of death
  • Name of deceased person
  • Age or birth date
  • Residence place and sometimes the place of origin
  • Cause of death
  • Marital status
  • If married, the name of the spouse and sometimes the names of children
  • Sometimes names of parents
  • Names of witnesses

How to Use the Record

Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes to baptisms, marriages, and death or burials make it possible to access a specific record quickly. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

When searching the index it is helpful to know the following:

  • The place where the event occurred
  • The name and surname of the person
  • The approximate date of the event
  • The name of the parents or spouse

Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the records. Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:

  • Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
  • Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Compile the marriage entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • Use the marriage number to identify previous marriages.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • The information in church records is usually reliable but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as more recent records.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.
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Known Issues with This Collection

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Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Citations for This Collection

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection Citation:

"Belgium, Oost Vlaanderen, Parish Registers." Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2014. Citing Algemeen Rijksarchief, Belgium [Belgium State Archives, Beveren].

Image Citation:

The citation for an image is available on each image in this collection by clicking Show Citation at the bottom left of the image screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Belgium, Oost Vlaanderen, Parish Registers.


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  • This page was last modified on 9 March 2015, at 20:55.
  • This page has been accessed 5,147 times.