England, Cheshire Non-Conformist Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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England, Cheshire, Non-conformist Records, 1671-1900 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Cheshire,  England
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Location of Cheshire, England
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Record Description
Record Type Non-Conformists
Collection years 1671-1900
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Cheshire Archives and Local Studies


What is in the Collection?

This collection contains vital records of nonconformist individuals from the county of Cheshire, covering the period 1601-1900.

Used primarily from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, ‘’nonconformist’’ was a term used to refer to an English or Welsh Christian who violated the Act of Uniformity 1559 by belonging to a sect other than the Church of England, the established state religion. These individuals therefore did not “conform” to the law, and from this dissent arose the term. By 1850, many different groups fell into the nonconformist category, including Reformed Christians (Presbyterians and Congregationalists), Baptists, and Methodists, and by 1888, when most of the Act of Uniformity was repealed, approximately 15 percent of the population of England and 80 percent of the population of Wales were considered nonconformists. See England Nonconformist Church Records for more information.

While not the most universal source for English genealogical research, nonconformist church registers are often the most informative and accurate source available for English family history until the start of civil registration in 1837. Nonconformist birth and baptismal registers are fairly common, and they generally contain more information than those of the Church of England. Except for the Quakers and Jews, nonconformist denominations generally did not keep marriage records, especially after 1754. Nonconformist burial records are also less common, as nonconformist individuals were buried in Anglican churchyards if a churchyard belonging to their sect was not locally available.

One of the 39 historic counties of England, Cheshire is a coastal county of northwestern England which shares much of its western border with Wales. . For a list of parishes in this county with links to more information about each of them, see Cheshire Parishes.

Collection Content

The index to this collection refers to baptism, marriage, and burial records. Baptism record entries are the most common in the index, followed by burial records, with marriage records constituting the smallest portion.

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

The following lists indicate potential information given in each type of record. It must be remembered that every record may not provide all of the listed information, as the procedures for keeping parish records evolved considerably over the centuries after 1538. It must also be noted that individual parishes often developed record-keeping traditions unique to themselves.

Baptismal Records may contain:
Before 1812

  • Date and place of baptism
  • Full name of child
  • Sex of child

Included after 1812

  • Legitimacy of child
  • Full names of parents
  • Residence of parents
  • Marital status of parents
  • Occupations of parents
  • Names of godparents
  • Names, ages, occupations, and residences of witnesses
  • Name of minister

Marriage Records may contain:
Before 1754

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Full names of bride and groom
  • Dates of the proclamation of banns
  • Residences of bride and groom

Included after 1754

  • Full names of witnesses
  • Name of minister

Included after 1837

  • Ages of bride and groom
  • Previous marital statuses of bride and groom
  • Full names of parents
  • Occupation of groom

Burial Records may contain:
Before 1812

  • Date and place of burial
  • Name of deceased
  • Marital status of deceased
  • Name of spouse

Included after 1812

  • Age at death
  • Residence of deceased
  • Name of father, esp. if infant
  • Sex of deceased, esp. if infant

How Do I Search the Collection?

Before beginning a search in these records, it is best to know the full name of the individual in question, as well as an approximate time range for the desired record. When entered into the search engine on the Collection Page, this information provides the quickest, most reliable path to finding the correct person. Of course, other information can be substituted as necessary.

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page to return a list of possible matches. Compare the individuals on the list with what is already known to find the correct family or person. This step may require examining multiple individuals before a match is located.

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 records in this collection cannot be displayed in any electronic format, and therefore are not available for viewing online.

What Do I Do Next?

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

  • Make sure to fully transcribe and cite the record entry for future reference. See below for assistance in citing this collection.
  • Use the information which has been discovered to find more. For instance, use the estimated age given in a marriage or burial record to calculate an approximate year of birth, if that is yet undetermined.
  • 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 the England Civil Registration records.
  • Continue to search the index to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives. Note 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 a person with a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which individual is correct. Use other information, such as place of birth, age, occupation, or names of parents, to determine which candidate is the correct person. If listed, a personal title may be a clue to property ownership or occupation, either of which might be noted in other records.
  • Check for variants of given names, surnames, and place names; transcription errors could occur in any handwritten record. Also remember that it was not uncommon for an individual be listed under a nickname or an abbreviation of their name, especially in church records. See Abbreviations Found in Genealogy Records for examples of common abbreviations. Note that some women reverted to their maiden name when their husband died, and therefore could be buried under their maiden name.
  • Vary the search terms. For example, search by either the given name or surname to return broader list of possible candidates which can then be examined for matches. Alternatively, try expanding the date range; 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 about 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 Lancashire to the north, Derbyshire to the west, Staffordshire and Shropshire to the south, or the bordering Welsh counties of Denbighshire and Flintshire to the west. Note that marriages usually took place in the parish where the bride resided.
  • The individual in question may not have records in a nonconformist denomination. It is possible that they either changed religions at some point in their life or that they undertook Anglican ordinances for whatever reason. See England Cheshire Church of England Parish Registers and Bishops’ Transcripts (FamilySearch Historical Records) for more information.

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

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Don't overlook FHL Place England, Cheshire items or FHL Keyword England, Cheshire items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see England Archives and Libraries.

Citing this Collection

Citing sources correctly makes it easier to refer back to information that has already been discovered; proper citations are therefore indispensable to keeping track of genealogical research. Following established formulae in formatting citations also allows others to verify completed research by helping them find and examine records for themselves.

To be of use, citations must include information such as the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records, if available. The following examples demonstrate how to present this information, and can serve as templates for creating proper citations for both this particular collection and individual records within the collection:

Collection Citation:

"England, Cheshire, Non-conformist Records, 1671-1900." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Record Office, Chester.

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, Cheshire, Non-conformist Records, 1671-1900.

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.