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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course English: Non-Anglican Church Records  by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).


Victorian era (1830s-1901)

From 1832-1846 further legislation repealed most of the remaining anti-Catholic laws and Jews were granted political equality in the mid-19th century. An important current in the Church of England beginning in 1833 was the trend of High Church Anglicanism towards Roman Catholicism advocated by the Tractarians of the Oxford Movement led by John Newman, who did convert to Catholicism with several others. After this move towards High Church doctrine the Church of England was no longer perceived to be truly Protestant.

Civil Registration 1837

The Births and Deaths Registration Act 1836 and Dissenters Marriage Act 1836 enabled a General Register Office to be set up. Now births and deaths could be registered outside of any ecclesiastical system, providing the legal records necessary to cite in court proceedings or job applications. And marriages by authorized Catholic and Nonconformist clergy in authorized buildings were legal provided a civil Registrar was also present to register the event. It took effect on 1st July 1837, whence inde Civil Registration indexes start at this time and civil marriages could also then be performed. Nonconformist marriages were recorded along with civil ones in the Registrar’s marriage book. From 1898 this requirement for supervision by the Registrar was lifted for most denominational buildings and so Non-Anglicans could use their own marriage registers from 1898. A full transcript from a register from the Channel Islands, which used the same system, plus extracts from other denominations are shown below.

Marriages by Non-Anglican Rites

Chart: Marriages by Non-Anglican Rites after 1837

Delancey Chapel, St. Sampson, Guernsey 24 May 1864
John TUCKER, [age] major, bachelor, quarryman of St. Sampson’s ,son of Richd TUCKER labourer married Maria WEBBER, major, spinster, no occupation, of St. Sampson’s, daughter of Saml WEBBER gardener. Married in the Delancey Chapel according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Independent Methodists by me Hugh Badcock, Ind. Minister, John Nasted [?] Dp Registrar.

Both made their mark. Witnesses: Thomas Roberts, Daniel Falla

1844 Asher TOMBS + Esther POOLE in the Baptist Chapel, Abingdon, Counties of Berks and Oxford according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Parties.
1858 William CLEGG + Mary Ann HIGGINBOTTOM in the Duke’s Alley Chapel, Great Bolton, County of Lancaster according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Independents.
1866 William ROBINSON + Mary JOHNSON at the Congregational, Leek, County of Stafford according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Independents
1880 William DASHWOOD + Harriet Annie CAPLIN in the Arundel Street Chapel, Portsea Island, County of Southampton according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Wesleyans
1885 James Godolphin OSBORNE + Catherine PUGH at Ebenezer Chapel, Bartlett’s Passage, City of London according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Welsh Independent Dissenters.
1928 Daniel Christopher KAVANAGH + Alice KENNEDY at St. Mary of the Angels, Paddington, London according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Catholic Church.

Duplicate marriages occur and can be puzzling when noted in the indexes. In the GRO index for the September quarter of 1858 the following entries appear:

LOVEGROVE, Matilda St. George Southwark 1d - 189
PARGETER, George William St. George Southwark 1d - 189 and interlined as late additions:
LOVEGROVE, Matilda Lambeth 1d - 524
PARGETER, George William Lambeth 1d - 524

The certificates show two separate marriages for the same couple on the same day, 28 August 1858, one by Anglican and the other by Catholic rites.

Non-Anglican Registers

Deposit of Non-Anglican Registers 1837
Registration Commissions were appointed in 1836, and again in 1857, to inquire into the state, custody and authenticity... of Registers or Records of Births or Baptisms, Deaths or Burials, and Marriages lawfully solemnized other than the Parochial Registers. In the early 19th century Nonconformists wanted their records to be considered on a par with Anglican ones as legal evidence of age and legitimacy and thus campaigned for authentication and central collection of their registers. They co-operated with the Registration Commissions of 1836 and 1857 and about 6,600 registers (Shorney) of Nonconformist congregations were given in to the Registrar General at the General Register Office accompanied by a declaration as shown below. Those deposited were inspected and if acceptable they were to be regarded henceforth as legal documents. The GRO transferred its holdings of nonconformist records to the Public Record Office in 1961. Most, if not all, of these registers have been filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah and the majority of the births or baptisms have been on the IGI (International Genealogical Index) for many years.

Chart: Declaration accompanying Deposit of Registers with Registrar General — RG4/4272 on FHL film 0825319

To the Commissioners for inquiring into the State, Custody, and Authenticity of Non-parochial Registers.
The annexed or accompanying Book is/are the original Register Book of Baptisms which has/have been kept for the Presbyterian Church called Scotch Church, River Terrace—formerly assembling in Chadwell St. situate in Islington in the county of Middlesex founded about the year 1828:

The Book sent has/have been from time to time in the custody of the Minister for the time being, of the Chapel; and is/are sent to the Commissioners from the immediate custody of the Rev’d Peter Lorimer of 6 Hemingford Terrace, Islington in the County of Middlesex who has kept it/them since 1839 as Minister of said Church.

Signed the Ninth day of Nov 1840
Peter Lorimer Clergyman or Officiating Minister
-------- Executor, or other representative of --------- as
former Clergyman, Officiating Minister, or Proprietor

Registration Commission Questionnaire

The same type of form accompanied the registers of the Upper Street Independent Chapel, Islington, Middlesex and the attached questionnaire is shown below.

Chart: Registration Commission Questionnaire from Upper Street Independent Chapel, Islington, Middlesex-RG4/4342 on FHL film 0825319

1. Are you or have you been Minister, Trustee, or Member, or Representative of any Minister, Trustee, or Member of any and what Chapel, respecting the Register of which you can give information; or in what way have you been connected with any such? State the name, denomination, and situation of such Chapel.’           Thirty years one of the Managers, Islington Chapel, Upper Street, Islington, Independent
2. Is the Chapel or the Congregation subsisting? Or if dissolved, when dissolved. It is subsisting.
3. Has any Register Book or Books or Births, Baptisms, Deaths or Burials, or of Marriages before the Marriage Act of 1753, been kept by the Minister or trustees or other Church Officer of such Chapel, or in connexion with it?
                   No register previous to that period.
4. State over what period such Register or Registers extend. How many are there? From 1804. Two books.
5. Who is the Minister, who the principal acting trustees, Deacons, or other Church Officers of the Chapel with which you are connected? William Henry Derman, minister, Robert Starling and Henry Gough, Acting Managers.
6. In whose custody is such Register Book or Books; and where is it deposited? In whose custody has it usually been kept, and where has it been usually deposited? The Managers and kept in the vestry
7. If you know of any Register being lost, state the time and occasion of the loss to the best of your information.
                       Not aware of any having been lost.
8. Will you, or will the party having the custody of any Register, produce it or send it to the Commissioners? By what mode of conveyance will it be sent? If you do not produce or send it, state the reason. Will send them by hand
9. If you know of any Register, which is not in your possession, give an account of it, as far as you are able, where it is, and what is the name and address of the person who has it.
                      I know of no other Register
10. May any Register sent by you to the Office of the Commissioners, remain in the custody of the Board for the purposes mentioned in the Circular Letter? If you have any objection to its being so deposited, state it.
                     They may remain there
11. Have you in your custody or power the Register Book (not parochial) of any other Chapel or Burial Ground ?       No
12. Can you give information as to any such Registers in the possession of private persons? Communicate all the information in your power. The Register of Burials in New Bunhill Fields Burial Ground in Church Street, Islington belonging to Mrs Jones, Upper Street, Islington is in her possession.
Signature of the Person answering the above Questions
                                                  J. Starling


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course English: Non-Anglican Church Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

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  • This page was last modified on 21 September 2014, at 08:22.
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