England, Dorset, Parish Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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This collection is an index to church records from Dorsetshire for the years 1538-1936.

Access the Records
England, Dorset, Parish Registers, 1538-1936 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Dorset,  England
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Location of Dorset, England
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Record Description
Record Type Parish Registers
Collection years 1538-1936
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Dorset History Centre


Why Should I Look at This Collection?

Parish registers have been kept at the local level across England since the mid-1500s. Due to this long and relatively stable tradition, these records are central to English genealogical research as they are often one of the only sources for finding families and individuals in England before the start of civil registration in 1837.

To learn more about parish registers, please see the England Parish Registers page.

What is in This Collection?

This collection contains an index to and images of baptismal, marriage, and burial records. Availability of records may vary by year and locality.

Image Visibility

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images of digitized records available for all users. However, the rights to view images on this website are ultimately granted by the record custodians. Due to their restrictions, the images in this collection are not available for general viewing, but may be accessed by registered FamilySearch Patrons. Registration for a free FamilySearch account can be done here.

For additional information about image restrictions, please see the Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections page.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for England, Dorset, Parish Registers, 1538-1936.

How Do I Search This Collection?

You can find records either by searching the index or viewing the record images. Before using either search method, it is best to know the following information:

  • Name of the person
  • Date range for the record

As you search, compare your results with this information to find a match.

Search the Index

  1. Go to the collection page.
  2. Enter the requested information into the search box.
  3. Click Search to return a list of possible matches.

View the Images

  1. Go to the collection browse page.
  2. Click on the correct County link.
  3. Click on the correct Town, Parish/Church link.
  4. Click on the correct Event Type and Year Range link to go to the image viewer.
  5. Use the onscreen controls to move between record images as you look for a match.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking for, What Now?

  • Fully record all the information in the index entry. Also, do not forget to cite the record; see below for help citing records in this collection.
  • Make sure to look at an image of the original record. The online index entry only lists the most basic information from a record; the original may contain further information which was not included in the index. Save or print a copy of the image whenever possible.
  • If in the appropriate period, use the information which has been discovered to find the individual in civil records. Particularly useful for research in nineteenth-century England are the England Census and civil registration records.
  • Continue to search the index to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives. Remember that family members often appear on an individual's vital records, such as in the role of witnesses to a marriage.

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • When looking for an individual with a common name, look at all the search results before deciding which is the correct person. Use other information, such as place of birth, age, occupation, or names of parents, to help with this decision. If listed, a personal title may be a clue to property ownership or occupation, either of which might be noted in other records.
  • Try variations of given names and surnames. An individual might appear under a different name in a record for a variety of reasons:
    • An individual might have been listed under a middle name, nickname, or abbreviation of their given name.
    • Spelling was not standardized for much of the period of this collection, so names were often spelled as recorders heard them. Pay attention to how the name should have been pronounced and try spelling variations that could have that pronunciation.
    • Some women returned to their maiden names after the death of their husbands.
  • Vary the search terms. For example, search by either the given name or surname to return broader list of possible matches. Try expanding the date range as well; this is especially useful in searching baptismal records, as it was not unusual for a child to be baptized weeks or even months after birth.
  • Search the records of nearby parishes. While it was uncommon for an individual in this period to move more than 20 miles from their place of birth, smaller relocations were not uncommon. For this particular collection, this step may require finding records in the bordering English counties of Devonshire to the west, Somersetshire and Wiltshire to the north, or Hampshire to the east. Note that marriages usually took place in the parish where the bride resided.
  • The individual in question may not have records in the Church of England at all, but rather might have belonged to a nonconformist denomination. See England Nonconformist Church Records for more information.

For additional help searching online collections see FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. 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.

Citing This Collection

Citing sources correctly makes it easier to refer to information which has already been found, so proper citations are key to keeping track of research. Correct citations also allow others to check completed research by helping them find and examine records for themselves. Below are the proper citations to use for this collection as well as for individual records and images within the collection:

Collection Citation:

"England, Dorset, Parish Registers, 1538-1936." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing Church of England. Record Office, Dorchester.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for England, Dorset, Parish Registers, 1538-1936.


Image Citation:

When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for England, Dorset, Parish Registers, 1538-1936.


Contributions to this Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.