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Guide to Suffolk ancestry, family history and genealogy parish registers, transcripts, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.
SUFFOLK, one of the most eastern counties of England, and one of the principal agricultural and maritime divisions of the kingdom, comprises an area of about 1500 square statute miles, or about 950,000 acres of land, watered by many navigable rivers and smaller streams, intersected by many good roads and several railways; and possessing all the varieties of soil from a light steril sand to a rich loam. …. It is bounded on the north by Norfolk, from which it is separated by the Waveney and Little Ouse rivers, rising near Redgrave, and flowing in opposite directions ; on the west, by Cambridgeshire where it is only about 26 miles in breadth; on the south, by Essex, from which it is separated by the river Stour, in a winding course of about 48 miles; and on the east, by the German Ocean, on which it has some fine bays, havens, and creeks, and a bold range of cliffs and headlands, of which that at Lowestoft is the most easterly point of England. It increased its Population from 210,431 souls in 1801, to 337,470 in 1851. Compared with the other counties in England, it ranks as the eighth in agricultural, and the fifteenth in total population. …… Quarter Sessions are held at Beccles, Woodbridge, Ipswich, and Bury, for the four divisions of the county. …….. Bury, which may be called the Western, and Ipswich the Eastern Capital of Suffolk. The latter has now about 34,000 inhabitants, and the former upwards of 14,000. There are in the county 28 other MARKET TOWNS, of which Sudbury, Woodbridye, and Lowestoft, have each about 6,000 souls; Bungay and Beccles each about MARKET TOWNS, of which Sudbury, Woodbridye, and Lowestoft, have each about 6,000 souls; Bungay and Beccles each about 4000; and Hadleigh and Stowmarket each upwards of 3000 ; but the remainder have smaller populations, many of them numbering less than 2000 souls… SUFFOLK contains about 500 parishes, several extra-parochial places, 30 towns, (of which the markets of eight or nine are obsolete,) and about 1000 villages and hamlets. It is divided into twenty-one Hundreds, each having high constables and petty sessions; but three of its boroughs, — Ipswich, Bury, and Sudbury, are distinct jurisdictions, and have separate commissions of the peace, and courts of Quarter Sessions........
Census, Civil Registration, Parish Records
Virtually everyone can be found in census and civil registration records and most in the parish registers.
Church Records or Parish Records
The Suffolk Church Records article outlines resources available for the county.
Suffolk County has approximately 500 ancient parishes within its boundary. FamilySearch has indexed and published nearly 7.5 million entries on their website or, about 60% percent of the parish registers, most of which are pre 1837. Most of Familysearch indexes originate from the Suffolk Bishop Transcripts. Far too many of these entries (from the Bishop's and archdeacon transcripts), do not always provide the name of the specific parish to which an event occurred. To locate an entry in the original record, requires considerable time to find in the microfilm roll for the deanery in which it is to be found.
The Suffolk Family History Society has indexed and published well over 50% of pre 1900 registers. The exception to this is they have not published an 1837 to 1900 marriage index except for select parishes.
The difference between the two being Familysearch may not have consistent and complete coverage for pre 1813 registers, and they do not have a burial index. The Suffolk Family History Society indexes 1754-1812, 1813-1900 offer complete coverage for the areas they have published. Also you must purchase CD’s that cover specific areas in the county. The burial index 1538-1900 is near complete, and is available online or CD from the society.
There are three main archives in Suffolk. Also the Norfolk Record Office holds Suffolk registers for Lothingland deanery which is located in the northeast corner of Suffolk in Mutford Registration district. 23 Parishes are in Lothingland deanery. Mendham Parish became a part of Suffolk County in 1885.
Court, Probate, Land, and Other records
Unlike census, civil registration, and Church of England Parish Records, less then 20% of the people appear in these record classes with few exceptions. The article by Anthony Camp on Sources for Labourers in an Agricultural Community provides a detailed view of records our ancestors can be found in.
Directories and Gazetteers
There are numerous online Directories and Gazetteers for Suffolk in the nineteenth century. They record the principal residents of most communities and a general description of each parish.
Use an interactive map to find jurisdictions for each parish in Suffolk. From this map you will be able to determine the Civil Registration District, Deanery, Poor Law Union, Hundred, Probate District, of every parish.
- Hundreds and Boroughs of Suffolk - created before 1500
- Suffolk Poor Law Unions - created in 1835
- Suffolk Civil Registration Districts - Births, Deaths, Marriages after 1837
- Civil Parish
- Diocese of Norwich
- Archdeaconry of Suffolk
- Archdeaconry of Sudbury
- Archdeaconry of Suffolk
Refer to Suffolk Church Records article
- Military 'Roll of Honour"
- Memorials in Bourne Park
- Suffolk Regiments from WWI: Courtesy of the Suffolk Family History Society
To find a parish from a county list, and which provides researchers with rich resources for various record types, visit the Suffolk Parishes page.
For a complete step by step strategy for searching in probate records, visit the Suffolk Probate Records page for further details for online indexes, published and original manuscript records.
Before 1858, every town and parish in Suffolk was under the probate jurisdiction of several ecclesiastical courts. The primary courts that had jurisdiction over Suffolk was the Archdeaconry of Suffolk, which covered the eastern division; and, Archdeaconry of Sudbury, which coved the western division.
After 1858 Suffolk County was in Ipswich District. See the--
- Suffolk Resources and help pages on RootsChat Suffolk Resources and help pages. (Free).
- Suffolk Local History Council
- Suffolk Family History Society
- Suffolk Family History Society Member's Interest
- To view a further list of web sites and/or web pages for Suffolk and many of its parishes, visit FHLFavorites.info.
- Waveney District Council Municipal Cemetery Records Surname Indexes
Links to articles, subcategories and images under the Category Suffolk
- This page was last modified on 12 November 2014, at 20:14.
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