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This information needs to be checked and integrated from Research Guidance:


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