England, Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Parish Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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England, Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Parish Registers, 1603-1910 .
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
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Record Description
Record Type Parish Registers
Collection years 1603-1910
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Manchester City Council - Archives and Local History

What is in the Collection?

This collection will include records from 1603 to 1910.

This collection consists of records from the Diocese of Manchester held by Manchester Archives and Local Studies. The parishes are mainly from the historic county of Lancashire, with a few parishes from Cheshire and Yorkshire. Parish registers contain births, christenings, burials, marriages, and mixed church records.

Non-Lancashire parishes included in the collection
Parish name Notes
Staleybridge, St Paul, Cheshire Town built on both sides of the River Tame, the historical boundary between Lancashire and Cheshire. Stalybridge Old St George and Stalybridge New St George are on the Lancashire side.
Dobcross, Holy Trinity, Yorkshire Created in 1797 from the ancient parish of Rochdale part of the West Riding of Yorkshire Parishes
Lydgate, St Anne, Yorkshire A chapelry in the parochial chapelry of Saddleworth, both of which were in the ancient parish of Rochdale, Lancashire 
Saddleworth, St Chad, Yorkshire Saddleworth lies on the very western edge of Yorkshire, alongside the Lancashire border. In many ways it is physically separated from the rest of Yorkshire by the Pennine range which form the parish's eastern border
Saddleworth, St Thomas, Yorkshire

FamilySearch operates within both international and national privacy laws concerning online publication; collections will only contain information 100 years after a birth date, 75 years after a marriage date, and 25 years after a burial date.

The Diocese of Manchester was formed in 1847 from the Diocese of Chester. It is useful to explore Cheshire Parishes and Lancashire Parishes, and to use the England Jurisdictions 1851 to locate the pre-1851 ecclesiastical jurisdictions.

The historical reasons for the Ancient Parish of Manchester's lack of local parishes due to the Collegiate Church Manchester Our Lady, St George and St Denys, Lancashire practice are explained in the wiki page. The subsequent Manchester Diocesan building program has been followed to create parish pages. Town and City parish creations post-1851 are being added to the FamilySearch wiki, but the number of Non-Conformist churches and chapels is large.

There have been administrative changes to the historic county boundaries of Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire in several civil parish and local authority creations and reorganizations. The collection is offered as an initial phase of publication of further collections (including index collections) for the Diocese of Manchester and other Mancunian records.

(Email: archiveslocalstudies@manchester.gov.uk)

Collection Content

Sample Images

Baptism records prior to 1812 usually contain the following information:

  • Date and place of baptism/christening
  • Name of child
  • Gender of child
  • Parents' names

Baptism records after 1812 usually contain the following information:

  • Date and place of baptism/christening
  • Child's given name
  • Child's legitimacy
  • Parents' names and residence
  • Father's occupation
  • Minister's name

Marriage records before 1754 contain only the following:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Marriage banns including the residences of the couple

Marriage records between 1754 and 1837 usually contain the following information:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Names of the witnesses
  • Name of the minister

Marriage records after 1837 usually contain the following information:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Ages and marital condition of the bride and groom
  • Residences of the bride and groom at the time of the marriage
  • Groom's occupation
  • Full name of the groom's father
  • Full name of the bride's father
  • May note if a spouse is single or widowed at the time of the marriage

Burial records before 1812 usually contain the following information:

  • Day, month, year and parish of burial
  • Name of deceased
  • Name of the spouse of deceased

Burial records after 1812 usually contain the following information:

  • Date and parish of burial
  • Name of deceased
  • Age and gender of deceased
  • Residence of deceased

How Do I Search the Collection?

To search for a person in a Church of England parish register, it is helpful to know the following information:

  • Where the person lived and the corresponding parish
  • When the person lived; If you do not know the time period, estimate from what you know of more recent generations.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the wiki article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

To search this collection by name:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

To browse by image:
⇒ Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the appropriate "County"
⇒ Select the appropriate "Town (with parish)"
⇒ Select the appropriate "Event Type and Year Range" which will take you to the images.

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • After 1812, sometimes earlier, 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.

General Information About These Records

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 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.

Parish registers were created to record church events of baptism or christening, marriage, and burial. Baptismal entries usually list the person’s birth date 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 Bishop's Transcripts can be verified against each other. There are often variations in Bishop's Transcripts of names and spellings. Bishop's Transcripts may also omit years or part of years and are incomplete according to Diocesan practice and preservation.

Transcription is a human process and can include error. If you are searching a computer database which has been indexed exactly as viewed it may be necessary to search on variants of the given name and surname. The transcriber may have faithfully rendered Thos. or a Latin spelling like Xpher and your search for Thomas or Christopher may not produce a search result.

Parish register entries may not correspond with post 1837 Civil Registration certificates. The registration of Marriages involves a quarterly return from each authorized person (Registrar General approved) to the local Registry Office and each Registry Office in turn to form a National Index. The transcription of information from the event may not correspond to the original entry.

Since Civil Birth registrations are only partial in the early decades of Civil registration, parish registers may be the only source of record for infant birth and death in a period of high infant mortality rates.

Known Issues with This Collection

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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 Wiki 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.

How You Can Contribute

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.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"England, Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Parish Registers, 1603-1910." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Church of England. Archives Central Library, Manchester.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for England, Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Parish Registers, 1603-1910.

Image Citation:

The image citation is available by clicking 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, Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Parish Registers, 1603-1910.