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Contents

Transfer from Research Guidance

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England, How to Use Church Records 1538-Present
Guide
Introduction
Church records are an excellent source of information on births, marriages, and deaths. Most
people who lived in England have information recorded about them in church records. Since civil
registration of births, marriages, and deaths did not begin until July 1837, church records are the
best source of information before that date. Church records may contain baptism or christening,
birth, marriage, and burial information from 1538 to the present.
For more information about church records, see Background.
What You Are Looking For
Your ancestor's name in a church record of birth, christening or baptism, marriage, death, or
burial. The information you find varies from record to record. These records may include:
• Names.
• Dates.
• Places.
• Relationships.
• Occupations.
• Residence.
• Age.
Steps
These 4 steps will help you find a church record for your ancestor.
Step 1. Identify the place where your ancestor lived.
To search church records, you must know the name of the parish where your ancestor lived. If
you know only the name of a town or village, use a gazetteer or topographical dictionary for
England to find the name of the parish. If you cannot find the town name, try different spellings.
If you do not know the name of the town where your ancestor lived, go to How to Find the Name
of the Place Where Your Ancestor Lived.
England, How to Use Church Records 1538-Present
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/08/01
2
Step 2. Search indexes to church records first.
Indexes will save you time when searching church records of England. Many indexes have been
created. They include:
• The International Genealogical Index.
• The Vital Records Index: British Isles.
• Indexes created by family history societies.
• Indexes created by archives, libraries, and record offices.
To find indexes, see Where To Find It.
Step 3. Identify your ancestor's religion.
Before searching church records, you should know your ancestor's religion. The Church of
England (also known as the Established, Anglican, or Episcopalian Church) was the predominant
religion in England. Those who chose not to belong to or affiliate with it were known as
nonconformists. Nonconformist religions include:
• Presbyterians.
• Independents (or Congregationalists).
• Methodists.
• Baptists.
• Roman Catholics.
• Jews.
• Quakers.
For a list of sources that may help you identify your ancestor's religion, see Tips.
If you do not know your ancestor's religion, always search Church of England parish records first.
Step 4. Search church records.
If you think your ancestor belonged to the Church of England, select one of the following to
search Church of England church records:
• Christening or Baptism Records.
• Marriage Records.
• Burial Records.
If you think your ancestor was a nonconformist, search nonconformist church records.
Background
Description
In the 1530s King Henry VIII of Great Britain severed ties with the Roman Catholic Church and
formed a state church called the Church of England. This church has also been known as the
Established, Anglican, or Episcopal Church. Individual congregations are called parishes. Each
parish minister records baptisms or christenings, marriages, and burials performed within his
parish. From 1538, parish registers may provide you with important information about your
ancestors.
England, How to Use Church Records 1538-Present
Research Guidance

In time, some individuals and groups of people refused to conform to the rules and practices of
the Church of England and began to form other religions. These other religions, referred to as
nonconformists, include Independents, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Quakers, and others.
The Roman Catholic and Jewish churches, though they predate the Church of England, are also
categorized as nonconformists because their members do not conform to the Established church.
The records of these religions sometimes contain more information than those of the Church of
England.
Tips
Tip 1. How can I tell what religion my ancestor belonged to?
The following sources may help you identify your ancestor's religion:
• Family histories, stories, and traditions.
• Biographies.
• Letters.
• Journals and diaries.
• Scrapbooks.
• Family bibles.
• Birth, baptism, marriage, or death certificates.
• Photographs.
• Military records.
• Obituaries and funeral cards.
• Newspaper articles.
• Wills and other probate records.
Where to Find It
Family History Centers
Most Family History Centers will not have microfilmed copies of church records for England in
their collections, but centers can borrow microfilms from the Family History Library. There is a
small fee to have a microfilm sent on loan to a center.
The International Genealogical Index is available at all Family History Centers. The Vital Records
Index: British Isles may also be available at centers.
Family History Centers are located throughout the United States and other areas of the world.
See Family History Centers for the address and phone number of the center nearest you.
Family History Library
The Family History Library has the largest collection in the world of microfilmed and printed
church records for England. The library also has indexes to church records, including the
International Genealogical Index, the Vital Records Index: British Isles, and others. There is no
fee for using the library's collection of records and indexes in person.
The Vital Records Index: British Isles on CD is also available to purchase for home computers.
England, How to Use Church Records 1538-Present
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/08/01
4
The records available at the Family History Library are listed in the Family History Library
Catalog. Go to What to Do Next. Select the catalog, and look for church records on the county
and parish or town levels. However, we suggest you look at the guides to using Church of
England records and nonconformist records before doing a catalog search for church records
(see step 4).
You may also request photocopies of church records and indexes from the library for a small fee.
You will need to fill out a Request for Photocopies form, which is available at the library and all
Family History Centers. Complete the form with the library call number for the record or index,
which you found in your search of the Family History Library Catalog (see What to Do Next).
Send the form and fee to the Family History Library.
See Library Services and Resources for more information about using the Family History Library
or a Family History Center.
Family History Societies
County and district family history societies in England extract and index many types of records of
genealogical value, including church records. Most indexes are available for purchase and may
be found in some libraries, including the Family History Library.
The Federation of Family History Societies publishes these guides to indexes:
• Specialist Indexes for Family Historians.
• [County:] A Genealogical Bibliography.
• Marriage and Census Indexes for Family Historians.
Many family history societies have Internet websites that list their indexes. You may access the
websites of the individual societies through the Federation of Family History Societies website.
Society of Genealogists
The Society of Genealogists in London has a large collection of transcribed church records and
indexes are located at:
14 Charterhouse Buildings
Goswell Road
London EC1M 7BA
Archives, Libraries, and Record Offices
County record offices in England are officially designated repositories for church records. Other
archives and libraries also have collections of church records, some of which are original.
Addresses for many archives, libraries, and record offices in England can be obtained on the
Internet at ARCHON. If you know the name of a repository, choose Repository Lists and search
by name. If you do not know the name of the repository but you do know what city or county it is
located in, choose Repository Search and search by city or county name.
Archives, libraries, and record offices may provide a service for brief searches of records in their
collections. You may write and request a specific search for information on your ancestor. Send
an International Reply Coupon for return postage (obtainable at most major post offices
worldwide) and your brief request giving specific information about your ancestor and the search
you want made. If an archive does not provide a search service, or if you need a more extensive
search made, they can send you a list of record agents who you can hire to do research for you. 

Transfer from Research Guidance

The following information needs to be reviewed and if needed incorporated into this article.

Kara 21:52, 23 August 2010 (UTC)


England, How to Use Church of England Records to
Find Burial Information
Guide
Introduction
Church of England burial registers are excellent sources of death and burial information,
especially before civil registration began in 1837. From 1538, local Church of England officials
kept registers of christenings, marriages, and burials. These records continue to the present. If
you are not certain of your ancestor's religion, always search Church of England records first.
For more information about Church of England records, see Background.
What You Are Looking For
Your ancestor's name in Church of England burial records. The following information may be
found in church burial records (see also Samples):
• Name, surname.
• Name of parents (especially for a child).
• Name of spouse.
• Date of burial.
• Place of burial.
• Possibly the date of death.
• Place of residence (especially after 1812).
• Occupation (especially after 1812).
• Age (especially after 1812).
• Street name (especially after 1812 in larger towns and cities).
Steps
The following 6 steps will help you use Church of England burial records:
Step 1. Identify what burial records exist for the parish where
your ancestor lived.
Church of England burial records exist in several original and copy forms. These include:
• Parish registers.
• Bishop's transcripts.
• Archdeacons' transcripts (similar to Bishops' transcripts).
• Parish register transcripts (copies made many years later).
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Burial Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
2
For a list of sources that can help you identify what burial records exist for the parish where your
ancestor lived, go to Tip 1.
Step 2. Search indexes to burial records first.
Indexes will save you time when searching burial records. Indexes have been created for:
• Burial registers.
• Monumental inscriptions.
• Monumental brasses and church memorials.
• Cemetery records.
To find indexes, go to Tip 1 and Where To Find It.
Step 3. Decide where you will search burial records.
You may search burial records and indexes at the following locations:
• Family History Centers.
• Family History Library.
• Society of Genealogists.
• Archives, libraries, and county record offices.
• Family History Societies.
For a list of sources that can help you find where burial records are located, go to Tip 1.
Based on availability and convenience for you, decide where you will search burial records for the
parish where your ancestor lived.
Step 4. Search burial records for the parish where your ancestor
lived.
You can search burial records by:
• Personally visiting an archive where original records, copies, or indexes are located.
• Corresponding with the archive and having them conduct a search.
• Hiring a record agent or professional genealogist to search a specific record or to conduct
research for you.
For a list of things to keep in mind when searching burial records, go to Tip 2.
Step 5. Copy the information, and document your source.
Copy the family information from the burial registers into your research notes and onto the family
group sheets and pedigree chart for your ancestor. Be sure to note the source of the information
you found. When you note your source, you document the record. If you should ever need to find
the source of the record again, your documentation will show you where to find it. If others consult
your research, they will also know where to find the source.
Note your source on your research log, and include the library or archive call number for the
source. Your research log will serve as a guide to your research. When making a photocopy of a
record, also note the source on the copy.
For further tips on record keeping, see the Society of Genealogists' (London, England) leaflet,
Note Taking & Keeping for Genealogists.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Burial Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
3
Step 6. Evaluate the information.
Compare information you found in burial registers with what you already know about your
ancestor. Does it:
• Support what you know?
• Add to what you know?
• Conflict with what you know? (If the information conflicts, use other sources to verify it.)
• Suggest other sources to search?
Then ask yourself:
• Did the record have the information I wanted?
• Is the information accurate?
Background
Description
Burials record the names of those who died and were buried, whether in a churchyard or a
municipal cemetery. From as early as 1538, ministers of the Church of England have recorded
the burials within their parishes. Burials are recorded in the parish registers. Church of England
burial registers frequently include the names of nonconformists who were buried in the
churchyard when no other cemetery was available. Burial registers may provide you with
important information about your ancestors.
Beginning in 1598, parish ministers sent copies of their registers to the Bishop of the church
diocese each year. These copies are called Bishops' transcripts. Also in 1598, ministers were
ordered to keep their parish registers on parchment and to copy the earlier registers onto
parchment because the early paper copies were deteriorating. In some cases, early registers
were lost before they could be copied.
In some counties the parish ministers sent copies of their registers to the Archdeacon rather than
the Bishop. These copies are called Archdeacons' transcripts.
Many of England's geographically large parishes had smaller churches located in distant areas of
the parish. These smaller churches were called Chapels of Ease or Chapelries. The curates in
charge of the chapelries also recorded christenings, burials, and sometimes marriages. Chapelry
records may be found with the parish registers, or they may be filed separately.
Beginning in 1812, burials as well as christenings and marriages were recorded on preprinted
register forms. These later registers usually give more details than the earlier ones.
Tips
Tip 1. What sources will help me find burial records for the
parish where my ancestor lived?
These sources will help you identify existing parish records and where they are available:
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Burial Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
4
• The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers. This book, arranged alphabetically by
county and parish, lists original parish registers that have been deposited in record
repositories throughout England and lists the years covered. This book is available at the
Family History Library and some Family History Centers. It is also available for purchase from
the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies.
• Family History Library Catalog. The catalog lists all of the Church of England records, both
microfilmed originals and transcripts, in the collection of the Family History Library. Go to
What to Do Next. Select the catalog, and search for church records by locality on county or
parish levels.
• National Index of Parish Registers. This series of books, arranged by county, lists existing
original parish registers, various transcript copies, and microfilmed copies of registers, and
the series identifies where they are located in England. Not all counties have been published.
This series is available at the Family History Library and may be purchased from the Society
of Genealogists.
• Bishops' Transcripts and Marriage Licences...a Guide to their Location and Indexes. This
book (4th ed. 1997) lists where Bishop's transcripts are deposited. It is available at the Family
History Library and may be purchased from the Federation of Family History Societies.
Tip 2. What should I keep in mind when searching burial
records?
• Search burials for children who died before they could be christened.
• Search burials for additional children of a family when gaps of more than three years between
christenings occur.
• Burials often provide the age at death, which may help you in your search for your ancestor's
christening record.
• If you don't find your ancestor in the parish where you think he or she should be, search
surrounding parishes.
• Check to see whether chapelries were in the parish, and search chapelry records also.
• If you know only an approximate date, search a range of years.
• If possible, search both original parish registers and any available transcript copies. One copy
of a record may give more detail than another.
• If the handwriting is difficult, study it, and read little by little until you can read it all.
Tip 3. What if the church records I searched do not provide
conclusive information about my ancestor?
When information from church records does not give you conclusive information or does not solve
the research problem directly, you can follow these suggestions:
• Search surrounding areas for other possibilities.
• If you find a likely person in a parish but you are not certain he or she is your ancestor, search
parishes in at least a 15-mile radius. If you do not find any other possibility, this strengthens
the probability that the first person was correct.
When you find two or more possible burial entries for a person, try to eliminate possibilities by:
• Finding a will for one or more of the persons.
• Finding monumental inscriptions for one or more of the likely entries.
• Finding the occupation.
• Finding the place of residence.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Burial Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
5
Where to Find It
Family History Centers
Most Family History Centers will not have microfilmed copies of burial records for England in their
collections, but centers can borrow microfilms from the Family History Library. There is a small
fee to have a microfilm sent on loan to a center.
Family History Centers are located throughout the United States and other areas of the world.
See Family History Centers for the address and phone number of the center nearest you.
Family History Library
The Family History Library has the largest collection in the world of microfilmed and printed
church records for England. The library also has indexes to church and cemetery burial records.
There is no fee for using the library's collection of records and indexes in person.
The records available at the Family History Library are listed in the Family History Library
Catalog. Go to What to Do Next. Select the catalog, and look for church and cemetery records
and indexes on the county and parish or town levels.
You may also request photocopies of burial records from the library for a small fee. You will need
to fill out a Request for Photocopies form, which is available at the library and all Family History
Centers. Complete the form with the library call number for the record or index, which you found
in your search of the Family History Library Catalog (see What to Do Next). Send the form and
the fee to the Family History Library.
See Library Services and Resources for more information about using the Family History Library
or a Family History Center.
Society of Genealogists
The Society of Genealogists in London has a collection of over 9,000 parish register transcript
copies and numerous indexes and other compiled sources. They are located at:
14 Charterhouse Buildings
Goswell Road
London EC1M 7BA
Family History Societies
County and district family history societies in England extract and index many types of records of
genealogical value, including church burial records. The following two national indexing projects
are currently underway to index burial registers:
• The National Burial Indexing Project administered by The Federation of Family History
Societies.
• FreeREG, administered by Rootsweb.com.
Some completed indexes of individual parishes and regions are available for purchase and may
be found in some libraries and record offices, including the Family History Library.
The Federation of Family History Societies publishes guides to indexes. These guides include:
• Specialist Indexes for Family Historians.
• [County:] A Genealogical Bibliography.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Burial Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
6
Many family history societies have Internet websites that list their indexes. You may access the
websites of the individual societies through the Federation of Family History Societies website.
Archives, Libraries, and Record Offices
County record offices in England are officially designated repositories for church records. Other
archives and libraries also have collections of church records, some of which are originals.
Addresses for many archives, libraries, and record offices in England can be obtained on the
Internet at ARCHON (Archives online). If you know the name of a repository, choose Repository
Lists and search by name. If you do not know the name of the repository but you do know what
city or county it is located in, choose Repository Search and search by city or county name.
Archives, libraries, and record offices may provide a service for brief searches of records in their
collections. You may write and request a specific search for information on your ancestor. Send
an International Reply Coupon for return postage (obtainable at most major post offices
worldwide) and your brief request, giving specific information about your ancestor and the search
you want made. If an archive does not provide a search service, or if you need a more extensive
search made, they can also send you a list of record agents and professional genealogists you
can hire to do research for you.
Local parishes
In some cases, you may need to write to a parish to access information in the parish registers. In
1974, the English government required parish registers to be deposited at county record offices
and other archives in order to preserve them under archival conditions and standards. Most
parishes complied or have done so since. Some parishes were able to provide the required
archival conditions at their church and did not deposit their registers.
Crockford's Clerical Directory lists addresses of parish ministers. It is available at the Family
History Library and may be available at public and university libraries. Addresses of many
churches can also be found on the Internet at Churchnet.
When writing to parish ministers for research help, you should enclose:
• International Reply coupons for airmail return postage (available at post offices).
• Minimum payment for services equivalent to 10 English pounds sterling.
• A brief research request with specific details of who and what you are looking for.
Samples
The following is an example of the standard post-1812 burial registers that Church of England
ministers used to record burials:
Burials in the Parish of St Mary at Hill, Norwich
in the County of Norfolk in the year 1834
Name Abode When Age By Whom Ceremony
Performed
John Sadler High Street 12 Jan 49 Charles Brittain
Samuel Henry Billingham,
son of Thomas and Sarah
York Street 2 Feb 3 R. Hickman
Daniel Jarvis Brock Pl 3 Mar 55 R. Hickman
Richard Jones Workhouse 1 Apr Infant Charles Brittain

Family History Library • 35 North West Temple Street • Salt Lake City, UT 84150-3400 USA
England, How to Use Church of England Records to
Find Christening Information
Guide
Introduction
Church of England christening registers are excellent sources of birth related information,
especially before civil registration began in 1837. From 1538, local Church of England officials
kept registers of christenings, marriages, and burials. These records continue to the present. If
you are not certain of your ancestor's religion, always search Church of England records first.
For more information about Church of England records, see Background.
What You Are Looking For
Your ancestor's name in Church of England christening records. The following information may
be found in christening records (see also Samples):
• Surname and given names of parents (mother's maiden name is usually not given).
• Date of christening.
• Place of christening.
• Occupation of father (more often after 1812).
• Place or street of residence (more often after 1812).
• Date of birth (sometimes).
Steps
The following 6 steps will help you use Church of England christening records:
Step 1. Identify what christening records exist for the parish
where your ancestor lived.
Church of England christening records exist in several original and copy forms. These include:
• Parish registers.
• Bishop's transcripts.
• Archdeacons' transcripts (similar to Bishops' transcripts).
• Parish register transcripts (copies made many years later).
For a list of sources that can help you identify what christening records exist for the parish where
your ancestor lived, go to Tip 1.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Christening Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
2
Step 2. Search indexes to christening records first.
Indexes will save you time when searching christening records. Many indexes have been created.
They include:
• International Genealogical Index.
• Vital Records Index: British Isles.
• Indexes created by family history societies.
• Indexes created by archives, libraries, and record offices.
To find indexes, see Where To Find It.
Step 3. Decide where you will search christening records.
You may search christening records at the following locations:
• Family History Centers
• Family History Library
• Society of Genealogists
• Archives, libraries, and county record offices
• Family History Societies
For a list of sources that can help you find where christening records are located, go to Tip 1.
Based on availability and convenience for you, decide where you will search christening records
for the parish where your ancestor lived.
Step 4. Search christening records for the parish where your
ancestor lived.
You can search christening records by:
• Personally visiting an archive where originals or copies are located.
• Corresponding with the archive and having them conduct a search.
• Hiring a record agent or professional genealogist to search a specific record or to conduct
research for you.
For a list of things to keep in mind when searching christening records, go to Tip 2.
Step 5. Copy the information and document your source.
Copy the family information from the christening registers into your research notes and on to the
family group sheets and pedigree chart for your ancestor. Be sure to note the source of the
information you found. When you note your source, you document the record. If you should ever
need to find the source of the record again, your documentation will show you where to find it. If
others should consult your research, they will also know where to find the source.
Note your source on your research log, and include the library or archive call number for the
source. Your research log will serve as a guide to your research. When making a photocopy of a
record, also note the source on the copy.
For further tips on record keeping, see the Society of Genealogists' (London, England) leaflet,
Note Taking & Keeping for Genealogists.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Christening Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
3
Step 6. Evaluate the information.
Compare information you found in christening registers with what you already know about your
ancestor. Does it:
• Support what you know?
• Add to what you know?
• Conflict with what you know? (If the information conflicts, use other sources to verify it.)
• Does the information suggest other sources to search?
Then ask yourself:
• Did the record have the information I wanted?
• Is the information accurate?
Background
Description
A christening is the ceremony by which a child is both baptized into the church and given a name.
From as early as 1538, ministers of the Church of England have recorded the christenings
performed within their parishes. The christenings are recorded in the parish registers. Parish
registers may provide you with important information about your ancestors.
Each year, beginning in 1598, parish ministers sent copies of their registers to the Bishop of the
church diocese. These copies are called Bishops' transcripts. Also in 1598, ministers were
ordered to keep their parish registers on parchment and to copy the earlier registers onto
parchment because the early paper copies were deteriorating. In some cases, early registers
were lost before they could be copied.
In some counties the parish ministers sent copies of their registers to the Archdeacon rather than
the Bishop. These copies are called Archdeacons' transcripts.
Many of England's geographically large parishes had smaller churches located in distant areas of
the parish. These smaller churches were called Chapels of Ease or Chapelries. The curates in
charge of the chapelries also recorded christenings, burials, and sometimes marriages. Chapelry
records may be found with the parish registers, or they may be filed separately.
Beginning in 1812, christenings as well as marriages and burials were recorded on preprinted
register forms. These later registers usually give more details than the earlier ones.
Tips
Tip 1. What sources will help me find christening records for the
parish where my ancestor lived?
These sources will help you identify existing parish records and where they are available:
• The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers. This book, arranged alphabetically by
county and parish, lists original parish registers that have been deposited in record
repositories throughout England and lists the years covered. This book is available at the
Family History Library and some Family History Centers. It is also available for purchase from
the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Christening Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
4
• Family History Library Catalog. The catalog lists all of the Church of England records, both
microfilmed originals and transcripts, in the collection of the Family History Library. Go to
What to Do Next. Select the catalog, and search for church records by locality on county or
parish levels.
• National Index of Parish Registers. This series of books, arranged by county, lists existing
original parish registers, various transcript copies, and microfilmed copies of registers, and
the series identifies where they are located in England. Not all counties have been published.
This series is available at the Family History Library and may be purchased from the Society
of Genealogists.
• Bishops' Transcripts and Marriage Licences...a Guide to their Location and Indexes. This
book (4th ed. 1997) lists where Bishop's transcripts are deposited. It is available at the Family
History Library and may be purchased from the Federation of Family History Societies.
Tip 2. What should I keep in mind when searching christening
records?
• Children could be christened days or even months after they were born.
• Search a wide span of years until you are certain you have found all children of a couple.
• If you don't find your ancestor in the parish where you think he or she should be, search
surrounding parishes.
• Check to see whether there were chapelries in the parish, and search chapelry records also.
• If you know only an approximate date, search a range of years.
• Search burial registers to find children who might have died before they could be christened.
• If possible, search both original parish registers and any available transcript copies. One copy
of a record may give more detail than another.
• If the handwriting is difficult, study it and read little by little until you can read it all.
Tip 3. What if the church records I searched do not provide
conclusive information about my ancestor?
When information from church records does not give you conclusive information or does not solve
the research problem directly, you can:
• Search surrounding areas for other possibilities.
• If you find a likely person in a parish but you are not certain it is your ancestor, search
parishes in at least a 15-mile radius. If you do not find any other possibility, this strengthens
the probability that the first person was correct.
When you find two or more possible christening entries for a person, try to eliminate possibilities
by:
• Finding burials for one or more children.
• Comparing the names of children in the families to known names in your ancestor's family and
later generations.
• Finding a will that names family members.
• Finding marriages for the other persons.
• Comparing fathers' occupations and residences to what you know about your ancestor and
family.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Christening Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
5
Where to Find It
Family History Centers
Most Family History Centers will not have microfilmed copies of christening records for England in
their collections, but centers can borrow microfilms from the Family History Library. There is a
small fee to have a microfilm sent on loan to a center.
The International Genealogical Index is available at all Family History Centers.
Family History Centers are located throughout the United States and other areas of the world.
See Family History Centers for the address and phone number of the center nearest you.
Family History Library
The Family History Library has the largest collection in the world of microfilmed and printed
church records for England. The library also has indexes to church records including the
International Genealogical Index, the Vital Records Index: British Isles, and others. There is no
fee for using the library's collection of records and indexes in person.
The Vital Records Index: British Isles on CD is also available to purchase for home computers.
The records available at the Family History Library are listed in the Family History Library
Catalog. Go to What to Do Next. Select the catalog, and look for church records on the county
and parish or town levels.
You may also request photocopies of christening records from the library for a small fee. You will
need to fill out a Request for Photocopies form, which is available at the library and all Family
History Centers. Complete the form with the library call number for the record or index, which you
found in your search of the Family History Library Catalog (see What to Do Next). Send the form
and the fee to the Family History Library.
See Library Services and Resources for more information about using the Family History Library
or a Family History Center.
Society of Genealogists
The Society of Genealogists in London has a collection of over 8,000 parish register transcript
copies and numerous indexes and other compiled sources. They are located at:
14 Charterhouse Buildings
Goswell Road
London EC1M 7BA
Family History Societies
County and district family history societies in England extract and index many types of records of
genealogical value, including church christening records. Most indexes are available for purchase
and may be found in some libraries, including the Family History Library.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Christening Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
6
The Federation of Family History Societies publishes guides to indexes. These guides include:
• Specialist Indexes for Family Historians.
• [County:] A Genealogical Bibliography.
Many family history societies have Internet websites that list their indexes. You may access the
websites of the individual societies through the Federation of Family History Societies website.
Archives, Libraries, and Record Offices
County record offices in England are officially designated repositories for church records. Other
archives and libraries also have collections of church records, some of which are originals.
Addresses for many archives, libraries, and record offices in England can be obtained on the
Internet at ARCHON (Archives online). If you know the name of a repository, choose Repository
Lists and search by name. If you do not know the name of the repository but you do know what
city or county it is located in, choose Repository Search and search by city or county name.
Archives, libraries, and record offices may provide a service for brief searches of records in their
collections. You may write and request a specific search for information on your ancestor. Send
an International Reply Coupon for return postage (obtainable at most major post offices
worldwide) and your brief request, giving specific information about your ancestor and the search
you want made. If an archive does not provide a search service, or if you need a more extensive
search made, they can also send you a list of record agents and professional genealogists whom
you can hire to do research for you.
Local parishes
In some cases, you may need to write to a parish to access information in the parish registers. In
1974, the English government required parish registers to be deposited at county record offices
and other archives in order to preserve them under archival conditions and standards. Most
parishes complied or have done so since. Some parishes were able to provide the required
archival conditions at their church and did not deposit their registers.
A source for the addresses of parish ministers is Crockford's Clerical Directory, which is available
at the Family History Library and may be available at public and university libraries. Addresses of
many churches can also be found on the Internet at Churchnet.
When writing to parish ministers for research help, you should enclose:
• International Reply coupons for airmail return postage (available at post offices).
• Minimum payment for services equivalent to 10 English pounds sterling.
• A brief research request with specific details of who and what you are looking for.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Christening Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
7
Samples
The following is an example of the standard post-1812 christening registers.
BAPTISMS Solemnized in the Parish of St Mary, Kingswinford in the County of
Staffordshire in the year One thousand eight hundred and twenty four.
When
Baptized
Child's
Christian
Name
Christian
Name
(Parents)
Surname
(Parents)
Abode Quality Trade,
or Profession
By whom
Ceremony
performed
16 Mar 1824 James Lobb Daniel
&
Anne
Johns Wordsley Whitesmith T. J. Slade
27 Mar 1824 Catherine
Jane
Thomas
&
Caroline
Round Amblecote Laborer T.J. Slade
28 Mar 1824 John Perry Edward &
Mary
Shepherd Brockmore Nailmaker T.J. Slade
1 Apr 1824 Elijah Abraham
&J
ane
Bate Wollescote Railway Laborer T.J. Slade
3 Apr 1824 Hannah Sarah Woodcock Stourbridge Washer woman T.J. Slade

Family History Library • 35 North West Temple Street • Salt Lake City, UT 84150-3400 USA
England, How to Use Church of England Records to
Find Marriage Information
Guide
Introduction
Church of England marriage registers are excellent sources of marriage information, especially
before civil registration began in 1837. From 1538, local Church of England officials kept registers
of christenings, marriages, and burials. These records continue to the present. If you do not
know for certain the religion to which your ancestor belonged, always search the marriage
registers of the Church of England first.
For more information about Church of England marriage records, see Background.
What You Are Looking For
Your ancestor's name in Church of England marriage records. The following information may be
found in marriage records:
• Surnames and given names of husband and wife.
• Date of marriage.
• Place (name of parish) of marriage.
• Occupation (sometimes).
• Marital status (especially after 1753).
• Place or street of residence.
• Names of witnesses.
• How married, whether by banns or license.
Steps
The following 6 steps will help you find information in the Church of England marriage registers:
Step 1. Identify what marriage records exist for the parish where
your ancestor lived.

Transfer from Research Guidance
The following information needs to be reviewed and incorporated into the Wiki.

Church of England marriage records exist in several original and copy forms. These include:
• Parish registers.
• Bishop's transcripts.
• Archdeacons' transcripts (similar to Bishops' transcripts).
• Parish register transcripts (copies made many years later).
For a list of sources that can help you identify what marriage records exist for the parish where
your ancestor lived, go to Tip 1.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Marriage Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
2
Step 2. Search indexes to marriage records first.
Indexes will save you time when searching marriage records. Many indexes have been created.
They include:
• International Genealogical Index.
• Vital Records Index: British Isles.
• Indexes created by family history societies.
• Indexes created by archives, libraries, and record offices.
• Indexes created by individuals and donated to archives or libraries.
To find indexes, go to Tip 1 and Where To Find It.
Step 3. Decide where you will search marriage records.
You may search marriage records at the following locations:
• Family History Centers.
• Family History Library.
• Society of Genealogists.
• Archives, libraries, and county record offices.
• Family History Societies.
For a list of sources that can help you find which marriage records are located where, go to Tip 1.
Based on availability and accessibility, decide where you will search marriage records for the
parish where your ancestor lived.
Step 4. Search the marriage records for the parish where your
ancestor lived.
You can search marriage records by:
• Personally visiting an archive where originals or copies are located.
• Corresponding with the archive and having them conduct a search.
• Hiring a record agent or professional researcher to search a specific record or to conduct
research for you.
For a list of things to keep in mind when searching marriage records, go to Tip 2.
Step 5. Copy the information, and document your source.
Copy the family information from the marriage registers into your research notes and onto the
family group sheets and pedigree chart for your ancestor. Be sure to note the source of the
information you found. When you note your source, you document the record. If you should ever
need to find the source of the record again, your documentation will show you where to find it. If
others should consult your research, they will also know where to find the source.
Note your source on your research log, and include the library or archive call number for the
source. Your research log will serve as a guide to your research. When making a photocopy of a
record, also note the source on the copy.
For further tips on record keeping, see the Society of Genealogists' (London, England) leaflet,
Note Taking & Keeping for Genealogists.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Marriage Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
3
Step 6. Evaluate the information you found.
Compare information you found in marriage registers with what you already know about your
ancestor. Does it:
• Support what you know?
• Add to what you know?
• Conflict with what you know? (If the information conflicts, use other sources to verify it.)
• Does the information suggest other sources to search?
Then ask yourself:
• Did the record have the information I wanted?
• Is the information accurate?
Background
Description
Church of England marriage registers record the ceremony by which a man and woman were
lawfully wedded. In a court of law, such events were legally binding. From as early as 1538,
ministers of the Church of England recorded the marriages performed within their parishes in the
parish registers. Parish registers may provide you with important information about your
ancestors.
Each year, beginning in 1598, parish ministers sent copies of their registers to the Bishop of the
church diocese. These copies are called Bishops' transcripts. Also in 1598, ministers were
ordered to keep their parish registers on parchment and to copy the earlier registers onto
parchment because the early paper copies were deteriorating. In some cases, early registers
were lost before they could be copied.
In some counties the parish ministers sent copies of their registers to the Archdeacon rather than
the Bishop. These copies are called Archdeacons' transcripts.
Many of England's geographically large parishes had smaller churches located in distant areas of
the parish. These smaller churches were called Chapels of Ease or Chapelries. The curates in
charge of the chapelries also recorded christenings, burials and sometimes marriages. Chapelry
records may be found with the parish registers, or they may be filed separately.
During the English Civil War of 1642 to 1660, government turmoil disrupted parish register
keeping. Many marriages were performed by civil, rather than church, authorities.
Prior to 1753, many marriages were being performed by ministers of Nonconformist religious
groups and other unauthorized officials. These were considered clandestine marriages. Lord
Hardwick's Marriage Act of 1753 required that all marriages be performed by Church of England
authority. This act was enforced until Civil Registration began in 1837.
Marriages were recorded on preprinted forms. Intention to marry had to be declared by either a
license obtained from the office of the Bishop of the diocese or by banns. Records relating to the
license include the declaration of intent, called an allegation, and the bond, posted to insure there
were no hindrances to the marriage. These records were filed in the diocesan office. Registers of
marriage banns were also kept, which give information similar to the marriage register.
Since 1837, Church of England marriage registers contain the same information as Civil
Registration marriage certificates.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Marriage Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
4
Tips
Tip 1. What sources will help me find marriage records for the
parish where my ancestor lived?
These sources will help you identify existing marriage records and indexes and where to find
them:
• The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers. This book, arranged alphabetically by
county and parish, lists original parish registers that have been deposited in record
repositories throughout England and lists the years covered. It also lists marriage indexes
and where to write for them. This book is available at the Family History Library and some
Family History Centers. It is also available for purchase from the Institute of Heraldic and
Genealogical Studies.
• Family History Library Catalog. The catalog lists all of the Church of England records, both
microfilmed originals and transcripts, in the collection of the Family History Library. Go to
What to Do Next. Select the catalog, and search for church records by locality on county or
parish levels. Be sure to look for indexes also.
• National Index of Parish Registers. This series of books, arranged by county, lists existing
original parish registers, various transcript copies, and microfilmed copies of registers, and
the series identifies where they are located in England. Not all counties have been published.
This series is available at the Family History Library and may be purchased from the Society
of Genealogists.
• Bishops' Transcripts and Marriage Licences...a Guide to their Location and Indexes. This
book (4th ed. 1997) lists where Bishop's transcripts and diocesan marriage licenses are
deposited. It is available at the Family History Library and may be purchased from the
Federation of Family History Societies.
• Marriage and Census Indexes for Family Historians. This book (7th ed. 1998) lists indexes to
marriages that have been created and where to find them. It is available at the Family History
Library and may be purchased from the Federation of Family History Societies.
Tip 2. What should I keep in mind when searching marriage
records?
• If you know only an approximate date, search a range of years.
• If you can determine when a couple's eldest child was born, search for their marriage in the
years just prior.
• If a bride and groom were from different parishes, the marriage more likely took place in the
bride's parish.
• If a bride and groom were from different parishes, they may have been married by license.
• If the marriage register indicates the couple was married by license, you should also search
for the marriage bond and allegation in diocesan records.
• If the marriage register indicates the couple was married by banns, you should also search for
the banns register.
• If you don't find your ancestor in the parish where you think he or she should be, search the
surrounding parishes.
• Check to see whether there were chapelries in the parish, and search chapelry records also.
• Search for additional marriages for each spouse.
• To complete your family group records, search for the marriage of each child.
• If possible, search both original parish registers and any available transcript copies. One copy
of a record may give more detail than another.
• If the handwriting is difficult, study it and read little by little until you can read it all.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Marriage Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
5
Tip 3. How do I look for marriage bonds and allegations?
Prior to 1837, if a couple was married by license, they applied for that license at the office of the
Bishop of the Diocese. Some applied at the various offices of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The
documents you will find when researching a marriage by license are the bond and the allegation.
These records were filed in the diocesan office, and most are now available in county record
offices and other archives and libraries. Many have been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society
of Utah and are available at the Family History Library. For further information about these
repositories, go to Where to Find It.
When looking for marriage bonds and allegations in the Family History Library Catalog, search on
the county and country levels. Go to What to Do Next, select the catalog, and look for the subject
of CHURCH RECORDS.
Tip 4. What if the church records I searched do not provide
conclusive information about my ancestor?
When information from church records does not give you conclusive information or does not solve
the research problem directly, you can:
• Search surrounding areas for other possibilities.
• If you find a likely person in a parish but you are not certain it is your ancestor, search
parishes in at least a 15-mile radius. If you do not find any other possibility, this strengthens
the probability that the first person was correct.
When you find two or more possible marriage entries for a person, try to eliminate possibilities by:
• Compiling separate family groups of children for the two or more couples.
• Comparing the names of children in the families to known names in your ancestor's family and
later generations.
• Finding a will that names family members.
Where to Find It
Family History Centers
Most Family History Centers will not have microfilmed copies of marriage records for England in
their collections, but centers can borrow microfilms from the Family History Library. There is a
small fee to have a microfilm sent on loan to a center.
The International Genealogical Index is available at all Family History Centers.
Family History Centers are located throughout the United States and other areas of the world.
See Family History Centers for the address and phone number of the center nearest you.
Family History Library
The Family History Library has the largest collection in the world of microfilmed and printed
church records for England. The library also has indexes to church records, including the
International Genealogical Index, the Vital Records Index: British Isles, and others. There is no
fee for using the library's collection of records and indexes in person.
The Vital Records Index: British Isles on CD is also available to purchase for home computers.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Marriage Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
6
The records available at the Family History Library are listed in the Family History Library
Catalog. Go to What to Do Next. Select the catalog, and look for church records on the county
and parish or town levels.
You may also request photocopies of marriage records from the library for a small fee. You will
need to fill out a Request for Photocopies form, which is available at the library and all Family
History Centers. Complete the form with the library call number for the record or index, which you
found in your search of the Family History Library Catalog (see What to Do Next). Send the form
and fee to the Family History Library.
See Library Services and Resources for more information about using the Family History Library
or a Family History Center.
Society of Genealogists
The Society of Genealogists in London has a collection of over 8,000 parish register transcript
copies and numerous indexes and other compiled sources. They are located at:
14 Charterhouse Buildings
Goswell Road
London EC1M 7BA
Family History Societies
County and district family history societies in England extract and index many types of records of
genealogical value, including church marriage records. Most indexes are available for purchase
and may be found in some libraries, including the Family History Library.
The Federation of Family History Societies publishes guides to indexes. These guides include:
• Marriage and Census Indexes for Family Historians (7th ed. 1998).
• Specialist Indexes for Family Historians.
• [County:] A Genealogical Bibliography.
Many family history societies have Internet websites that list their indexes. You may access the
websites of the individual societies through the Federation of Family History Societies website.
Archives, Libraries, and Record Offices
County record offices in England are officially designated repositories for church records. Other
archives and libraries also have collections of church records, some of which are original.
Addresses for many archives, libraries, and record offices in England can be obtained on the
Internet at ARCHON (Archives online). If you know the name of a repository, choose Repository
Lists and search by name. If you do not know the name of the repository but you do know what
city or county it is located in, choose Repository Search and search by city or county name.
Archives, libraries, and record offices may provide a service for brief searches of records in their
collections. You may write and request a specific search for information on your ancestor. Send
an International Reply Coupon for return postage (obtainable at most major post offices
worldwide) and your brief request, giving specific information about your ancestor and the search
you want made. If an archive does not provide a search service, or if you need a more extensive
search made, they can also send you a list of record agents for professional genealogists whom
you can hire to do research for you.
England, How to Use Church of England Records to Find Marriage Information
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/10/01
7
Local parishes
In some cases, you may need to write to a parish to access information in the parish registers. In
1974, the English government required parish registers to be deposited at county record offices
and other archives in order to preserve them under archival conditions and standards. Most
parishes complied or have done so since. Some parishes that were able to provide the required
archival conditions at their church did not deposit their registers.
A source for the addresses of parish ministers is Crockford's Clerical Directory. It is available at
the Family History Library and may be available at public and university libraries. Addresses of
many churches can also be found on the Internet at Churchnet.
When writing to parish ministers for research help, you should enclose:
• International Reply coupons for airmail return postage (available at post offices).
• Minimum payment for services equivalent to 10 English pounds sterling.
• A brief research request with specific details of who and what you are looking for.

T

Until the early 19th century, the Church of England (Anglican Church) was the established or state-run church in England. Those individuals and families who chose not to belong to or affiliate with it became known as nonconformists. Nonconformist religions include:


Presbyterians
Methodists (all sects)
Baptists
Independents (or Congregationalists)
Roman Catholics
Quakers
Latter-day Saints (Mormons)
Jews
Huguenots
Others.


Although you will find some marriages and burials of nonconformists in Church of England registers, ministers of nonconformist religions kept their own records of births, baptisms, burials, and sometimes marriages. The records of nonconformist religions may sometimes contain more details than those of the Church of England.

For more information about nonconformists and their records, see Background.


Return to top of page


What You Are Looking For

Your ancestor's name in a nonconformist baptism (or christening), marriage, or burial register. The information you find may include:


Names (parents, mother's maiden surname, grandparents, godparents).
Dates.
Marriage information (before 1754 and after July 1837).
Occupations.
Residence.
Age.

Return to top of page


Steps


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

These 6 steps will help you find and use nonconformist church records.


Step 1. Identify the nonconformist churches or chapels near the area where your ancestor lived.

Gazetteers and topographical dictionaries provide information about the location of nonconformist chapels and congregations throughout England. The following two gazetteers can help you learn what nonconformist churches existed in the town or parish where your ancestor lived:


Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of England (1845)
Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1868-1870)


County and local histories may also help you identify nonconformist chapels. Go to What to Do Next, and select the Family History Library Catalog. Search for histories on the county or parish level for the area where your ancestor lived.


Return to top of page


Step 2. Learn what nonconformist records exist.


Many original and microfilmed copies of nonconformist registers of baptisms, marriages, and burials exist. Some have been transcribed, compiled, and printed by individuals and historical societies.

The Public Record Office of England has a large collection of original nonconformist church records. Other nonconformist registers have been deposited at county record offices.

Nonconformist registers available at the Family History Library are listed in the Family History Library Catalog on the country, county, and town or parish levels.

See Where to Find It for the locations of these and other deposited, published, and microfilmed registers.


Return to top of page


Step 3. Decide where you will search nonconformist records.


Nonconformist registers are found at the following locations:

Family History Centers.
Family History Library.
Public Record Office.
Society of Genealogists.
Archives, libraries, and county record offices.

Based on availability and convenience, decide where you will search the nonconformist records you need to find your ancestor.


Return to top of page


Step 4. Search original nonconformist records.

You can search the nonconformist records by:


Personally visiting an archive where originals or copies are deposited.
Corresponding with an archive and requesting a limited search.
Hiring a record agent to search the records for you.
Writing to the local minister who has custody of the original registers.


Tip: Many of the microfilmed nonconformist registers available at the Family History Library have been indexed in the International Genealogical Index and the Vital Records Index - British Isles. Search these two indexes first.


Return to top of page


Step 5. Copy the information and document your source.


Copy the family information from the nonconformist registers into your research notes and onto the family group sheets and pedigree chart for your ancestor. Be sure to note the source of the information you found. When you note your source, you document the record. If you should ever need to find the source of the record again, your documentation will show you where to find it. If others should consult your research, they will also see where to find the source.

Note the source on your research log, and include the library or archive call number for the source. Your research log will serve as a guide to your research. When making a photocopy of a record, also note the source on the copy.

For further Tips on record keeping, see the Society of Genealogists' (London, England) leaflet, Note Taking & Keeping for Genealogists.


Return to top of page


Step 6. Evaluate the information.


Compare information you found in the nonconformist registers with what you already know about your ancestor. Does it:

Support what you know?
Add to what you know?
Conflict with what you know? (If the information conflicts, use other sources to verify it.)

Then ask yourself:


Did the record have the information I wanted?
Is the information accurate?
Does the information suggest other sources to search?

Thank YOU / YOUR Article is Selected

The FamilySearch Research Wiki is delighted to let you know that the “England Church Records" article you helped create will be highlighted on the Main page of the Wiki. It will appear October 29, 2012 and remain for seven days. Thank you for your excellent work – you have given readers/researchers important access to records. Your contributions are appreciated and will assist others in finding their ancestors. You have made a difference in research!

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