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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 ($).


Methodism era (1730s-1830s) (cont.)

No marriage of William Fane and Mary White has been found in an Anglican church, and even if one cannot be located in a nonconformist chapel owing to no register being kept, or it being lost, a check of the membership lists and administrative records of the local nonconformist chapels should be done to ascertain the religious affiliation of William Fane, and indeed of his two respected friends. From 1837 the Nonconformists got what they wanted—a legal marriage outside the Anglican Church, in a Register Office.

ŸCatholic Relief Acts 1778 and 1791

This was also known as the Repeal of the Penal Laws—the years between the Reformation and 1778 being known by Catholics as the Penal Times or Period. Catholics had been vulnerable to sporadic persecution throughout the 18th century, especially during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion and as late as the Gordon Riots of 1780 but tolerance was building. The Catholic Relief Act 1778 allowed them to take the oath of allegiance and the Catholic Relief Act 1791 facilitated them building and worshipping in their own churches, although some had been doing this for many years before this date. Most of the other penalties such as inheritance and purchase of land, education of children in their faith, and entrance to the professions were also removed. They were also allowed to practice as lawyers after a suitable declaration and oath, normally listed separately from Anglicans, as were Quakers.

ŸNew Toleration Act 1812

This was an important step in ensuring liberties for Nonconformists as it repealed most of the 1665 Five Mile Act and the 1670 Conventicle Act and exempted from all control meetings of less than 20 people. Under this new Act further certificates for registration of meeting places for all kinds of dissenters were issued by the Quarter Sessions, as shown below .

Chart: Registration of Places of Worship in Leicestershire 1824
Film 1,469,785

A List of Congregations and Assemblies for religious worship of Protestant Dissenters which have been duly registered and certified by the Archdeaconry Court of Leicester from the first day of January to the thirty first day of December 1824, both inclusive, pursuant to the Statute of fifty second year of the reign of his late Majesty King George the third [1811-12] intituled an Act to repeal certain Acts and to amend other Acts relating to religious worship and Assemblies and persons teaching and preaching therein.
No 1. Coleorton - Certificate of a meeting place in the dwelling house of Mary Buck.
Dated 2 January 1824. Registered and certified 3 January
No 2. Broughton Astley - Certificate of a meeting place in the house of John Howkins.
Dated 26 December 1823. Registered and certified 6 January 1824.
No 5. Shawell - Certificate of a meeting place in a Messuage occupied by Joseph Hipwell.
Dated 24 February 1824. Registered and certified 25 February 1824.
No 6. Syston - Certificate of a meeting place in a barn.
Date Registered and certified 28 February 1824.
No 10. Whitwick - Certificate of a meeting place in a newly erected building.
Dated 9 July 1824. Registered and certified 10 July 1824
I hereby ratify the foregoing as a correct List to the Quarter Sessions for the County of Leicester as directed by the said Act, As witness my hand the 23 February 1825.
W.F. Harrison Depy Reg.

Unitarian Relief Act 1813

Extended the benefits of the 1689 Toleration Act to those who did not believe in the Trinity. Churches which had been Unitarian in everything but name, typically calling themselves Presbyterians (but some Baptist and Congregational as well, could now openly call themselves Unitarian.)ŸWesleyan Methodist Metropolitan Registry 1818

The Wesleyans established this central register of births intended to cover all the British Isles but entries come mainly from the London area. It contains 10,291 entries to 1837 (Gandy 2001, Leary), although the British Isles Vital Records Index claims to have 13,482! Some retrospective entries date back to 1773. Examples follow below.
Chart: Examples from Wesleyan Methodist Metropolitan Registry 1818-1837

#2664 John MASON born 10 Jun 1822 at Huntingdon, Hunts; baptized 14 Jul 1822 at Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Huntingdon by Richard Eland; registered 31 May 1824.
Parents: John and Elizabeth MASON of St. Mary Huntingdon, Hunts. Mother’s parents: John and Ann HEWLETT
Witnesses: Mary Wright, Jonah Wilson (surgeon/accoucheur) of Huntingdon, Mary Haveath

#3049 Sarah Ann FIELDING born 3 May 1823 at Manor House, Gravely, Cambs; baptized 29 Jun 1823 at Manor House (licensed for public worship) by Joseph Walker minister; registered 29 Sep 1824. Parents: John and Ann FIELDING of Manor House, Gravely, Cambs. Mother’s parents: Thomas and Elizabeth OSBORN.
Witnesses: Geo Oakley (midwife etc), Elizth Osborn

Catholic Emancipation Act 1829

This was a product of the more tolerant attitudes of the early 19th century, and now Catholics had far greater religious, social and political freedom. They were permitted to hold property unconditionally, to vote and become members of Parliament in either House, and to hold municipal, judicial and public office.


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

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.