Sometimes patrons come to the reference counter and are completely frustrated because they cannot locate a christening event in a parish register and they know that the family was Church of England. They have also dutifully checked surrounding parishes and have had no success. It is then that I suggest to them that they make sure that a parish does not have a chapelry within its boundaries.
In my own family history research of parish registers in England, I have sometimes come across records in Chapelries and initially couldn’t understand what a chapelry was. Mark Herber, in his book “Ancestral Trails,” states that, “A chapel of ease (or chapelry) was often built in larger parishes to allow parishioners to attend worship at a church that was not too far from their homes.”
As a protocol, christenings and some burials were handled in the chapelry, but marriages were still to be performed at the parish level. My own personal thinking about the lack of burials in chapelries is that because most parishioners would have been buried in the parish church yard anyways, this resulted in the burial taking place in the parish. However, I have discovered marriages happening in chapelries, although I believe it is not very common.
So when you think you’ve checked every parish register and exhausted every avenue, make sure that there are no chapelries lurking about where your family is hiding.