England, Norfolk, Bishop's Transcripts (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Norfolk Bishop's Transcripts, 1685-1941 .
This Collection will include records from 1685 to 1941.
The parish register collection was formed from records microfilmed at the Norfolk Record Office, then converted to digital images. Microfilming may not have completely captured all volumes in each parish. The collection was published in February 2010 online. Where more than one village has the same place name, FamilySearch has adopted a different place name from that used in the Norfolk Record Office Catalogue.
Norfolk Parishes may be used to identify each parish in the collection. The Diocese of Norwich may include parishes in Suffolk, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, and Cambridgeshire. Depending on the period of the register, parishes transferred to neighbouring Diocese. Search England Jurisdictions 1851 for relevant information in this regard.
The collection did not include those parishes or microfilms held for the Archdeacon's Transcripts for the Diocese of Norwich. At present about 76% of the Diocese of Norwich parishes are available online, being derived from microfilming at the Norfolk Record Office. The remaining parishes within the Diocese which have Archdeacon's Transcripts may be viewed online at Family Search Historical Records (published 18 January 2011). The help centre contains a knowledge document ID 109861 "England: Norfolk - Parish registers that were not filmed by the GSU and are not available on FamilySearch."
As the Research wiki content grows for diocesan parishes, it is hoped to describe the Archdeacon's Transcript parishes with film detail. If a parish cannot be located in the historical records collection, establish whether the Archdeacon's transcripts from the diocese exist on microfilm by place search in the Family History Library Catalog. The Norfolk Record Office also has a PDF file of parishes and Archdeacon's Transcripts on its website.
Baptisms (christenings), marriages, and burials were recorded on blank pages in a bound book called a register. The events of baptism, marriage, and burial were all recorded in one volume until 1754, when a law required that marriages be recorded in a separate book. Banns, or proclamations of “an intent” to marry, were recorded in yet another book. Starting in 1812, preprinted registers were introduced, and then separate registers were kept for baptisms, marriages, and burials. Before 1812, bishops’ transcripts were usually recorded on loose pieces of paper. Following that year, the transcripts were recorded on the same preprinted forms as parish registers.
In 1537, the Church of England mandated that parishes begin keeping church registers by the next year (1538). These church registers continue to the present. Bishops’ transcripts, or copies of parish registers, were required beginning in 1598 and continued to the mid 1800s.
The vast majority of the English population belonged to the Church of England. Only since the mid 19th century have other religious groups made headway.
In 1530, King Henry VIII established the Church in England, also known as the Anglican Church, the State Church, or the Episcopal Church. A law passed in 1537 required ministers to record the baptisms, marriages, and burials that took place in their parishes. Priests recorded these events in registers and kept them at the parish level, which is the lowest level of authority in the Church of England. Within some parishes, chapelries were created to provide for the worship needs of the parishioner when the parish church was not easily accessible. Chapelries sometimes had the authority to perform baptisms, marriages, and burials, so they kept their own registers. Several parishes formed a deanery (presided over by a dean), several deaneries formed an archdeaconry (presided over by an archdeacon), and several archdeaconries formed a diocese (presided over by a bishop).
Beginning in 1598, ministers were required to send copies of their registers to an archdeacon or bishop annually. These copies are referred to as bishops’ transcripts, or sometimes archdeacon transcripts. As a result, two copies of many parish registers exist from 1598 to about the mid-1800s. After civil registration began in 1837, the value of keeping bishops’ transcripts diminished, so by 1870 most parishes had stopped making them.
Banns are proclamations of an intent to marry. After 1754 these banns were required to be read for three consecutive Sundays before a marriage so that anyone with reasons against the marriage could oppose it. Banns were read in both the bride’s parish and the groom’s parish.
Most bishops’ transcripts of Church of England parish registers have been preserved. Many have also been copied to microfilm or microfiche. The condition of the records is relatively good considering their age and their storage conditions over the centuries. In 1598 ministers were required to copy their registers onto parchment. If the minister failed to make such a copy, the register for that parish and its records did not survive. During the Commonwealth period, 1649–1660, many parish registers disappeared and many transcripts were not kept because ministers were deposed from their parishes.
Archdeacon's and Bishop's transcripts for the Diocese of Norwich were sent from each parish annually to the Diocesan authorities.
Prior to 1812, incumbents made their return to Archdeacon's for 6 years out of 7 the seventh Bishop's Visitation Year; the return would be made to the Bishop at the time of the visitation.
The Archdeacon's transcripts for the Diocese may contain missing years or part years and have other gaps.
From 1813 onwards, all transcripts were sent to the Bishop.
The earliest transcripts in the Archdeacon's series are from 1600 but in many parishes they have not survived. It is recommended that you search the Archdeacon's Transcript series first then the Bishop's Trancripts series to pick up any gaps in the Archdeacon's series from the Bishop's Transcripts.
The Bishop's Transcripts series at Norfolk Record Office has the two series for the Norwich Archdeaconry and the Norfolk Archdeaconry. Within each Archdeaconry they are kept in yearly bundles and parishes arranged alphabetically for each year with the pre-1812 on microfilm, on microfiche 1813 and onwards.
Within the diocese, the Suffolk parishes in the Archdeaconry of Suffolk and County of Suffolk of Belton, Suffolk, Bradwell, Suffolk, Burgh Castle, Suffolk, Fritton, Suffolk, Gorleston, Suffolk transcripts are held at Suffolk Record Office.
Norwich transcripts for ease of search are grouped together by year. Exceptions include:
- Norwich St Helen, Norfolk as no transcripts survive prior to 1813
- Norwich St James with Pockthorpe, Norfolk, Norwich St Mary in the Marsh, Norfolk, Norwich St Paul, Norfolk as each have their own Archdeacon Transcripts series.
- Great Yarmouth, Norfolk has some difficulty in reading the Archdeacon and Bishop's Transcripts series. For the years 1773-1841 the Record Office series Great Yarmouth Weekly Register Bills may be easier to use for research purposes. The Record Office series is available on microfiche.
- Castle Rising, Norfolk exceptionally has Archdeacon's trancripts beyond 1812; the years 1812-1818 are available.
- Great Cressingham, Norfolk has no surviving Archdeacon's transcripts.
- Thorpe St Andrew all transcripts were sent to the Bishop.
- The parish of Emneth, Norfolk was within the Wisbech deanery of the Diocese of Ely and therefore all archdeacon's and Bishop's Transcripts are located at the University of Cambridge Library with the holdings of Ely diocesan Archdeacon and Bishop's Transcripts.
The parish register collection covers records for the years 1530 to 1900.
Parish registers were created to record church events of baptism or christening, marriage, and burial. Baptismal entries usually list the person’s birth date and burial entries list the death date. In the Church of England, baptism, which was also called christening, was performed soon after the birth of a child. Marriage in the church legally united a man and a woman for civil legal reasons and for the purpose of founding a religiously sanctified family. Burial is a function of the church to inter the deceased soon after death.
Church of England parish registers are the most reliable and accurate family history source until July 1837, when the government instituted the civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths. Information in parish registers and bishops’ transcripts can be verified against each other.
It is usually preferable to use the parish registers if they survive as a primary record.
The transcript series is useful in the event that:
- The parish register has not survived
- The register is still in the parish and has not been deposited in an archive
- The parish register is too fragile to use or preserve by filming or digital imaging
- The parish register is incomplete or cannot be read (transcript may be legible or contain omitted entries).
Comparing entries can indicate the reliability of the parish record keeping.
For a list of records by date or locality currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- Church of England. England, Norfolk bishop's transcripts. Norfolk and Norwich Record Office, Norfolk, England.
These baptism records may contain the following information:
- Date and place of baptism
- Child's given name
- Child's legitimacy
- Parents' names and residence
- Professional/occupation of father
- Minister's name
These marriage records may contain the following information:
- Date and place of marriage
- Names of the bride and groom
- Ages and marital status of the bride and groom
- Residences of the bride and groom at the time of their marriage
- Full name of the father of the groom
- Full name of the father of the bride
- May note if a spouse is single or widowed at the time of marriage
- Earlier records may have “banns published”). This normally took place on three separate occasions prior to the marriage and gave anyone with a valid reason a chance to object to the marriage.
These burial records may contain the following information:
- Date and parish of burial
- Name of the deceased.
- Age and gender of deceased
- Residence of deceased
How to Use This Record
Parish registers are one of the best sources for identifying individuals and connecting them to parents, spouses, and other generations. In July 1837 the government instituted the civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths. However, parish registers continue to play an important role because they are often more readily available than civil registers. Bishops’ transcripts are a backup source for parish registers that are missing or illegible. If possible, you may want to search both the parish registers and the bishops’ transcripts since one is a handwritten copy of the other and might contain differences.
Baptism or christening records list the parents’ names, making it possible for you to connect your ancestor to an earlier generation. You may find a birth date listed or be able to approximate a birth date. After 1812 the baptismal records list a place of residence, making it easier to identify your family by where they lived. The records also list the father’s occupation, which makes it easier to identify your ancestor's family when more than one family with the same name lived in the parish.
Marriage records sometimes state the residence for the bride and groom. You can use this information to look for their baptisms and to identify the children of this couple. Sometimes the groom’s occupation is listed, which could help you find more records about the groom. Marriage records after 1754 list the names of witnesses, who were often family members. These can help you identify your ancestor’s family. Signatures in the records might be used to identify a particular individual by the handwriting style. After 1812 and sometimes before, burial records include the age of the deceased. Use this age to approximate the person’s birth year and to find the baptismal record. If the deceased is a child, the parents’ names might be given. This information helps to extend your family another generation. The occupation of a deceased male might be given (especially after 1812) and can help identify your ancestor when there is more than one person by that name in the area. Knowing the occupation might also provide you the opportunity to find other records about your ancestor.
Banns indicate the parish of residence of the bride and groom. This information often leads to the records of another parish. You can search for the baptisms of the bride and groom in the parishes of residence since these might also be the parishes where they were born.
Beginning Your Search
To search for a person in a Church of England parish register, you must know the following:
- Where the person lived and the corresponding parish
- When the person lived. If you do not know the time period, you must estimate it from what you know of more recent generations.
Browsing the Images
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page.
⇒Select the "County" category.
⇒Select the "Ecclesiastical jurisdiction" category.
⇒Select the "Year" category.
⇒ Select the "Parish Range" category which will take you to the images.
Look at each image one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.
Known Issues with This Collection
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection, please read the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, feel free to report them at email@example.com. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.
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Contributions To This Article
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. 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.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"England, Norfolk Bishop's Transcripts, 1585-1941," digital images,FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org: accessed 18 March 2011), Norfolk > Archdeaconry of Norfolk > 1827 > D-G > image 1 of 254, Mary Hardingham, 4 February 1827; citing Church of England, Bishops' Transcripts, Norfolk Records Office, Norwich, England.
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