Jamaica, Church of England Parish Register Transcripts (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 .


What is in the Collection?

This collection will include records from 1664 to 1880.

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 then 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 1824, the Diocese of Jamaica was established. In 1825, the office of Registrar of the Diocese was established. Rectors sent copies of existing registers there and sent annual transcripts thereafter. The parish register transcripts include baptisms, marriages, and burials. Birth and death registers were mandated by law in 1843 and kept for a few years, but the law was widely ignored and was repealed after a few years. Civil registration replaced this system in 1880.

Parish registers were created to record church events of baptism or christening, marriage, and burial. Baptismal entries usually list the person’s birth date, and 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. However, parish registers continue to play an important role because they are often more readily available than civil registers. Bishops’ transcripts are a backup source for parish registers that are missing or illegible.

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880.

Origin of Jamaican Parishes

The following list gives information on the origin of the parishes:

  • St. Andrew - original parish
  • St. Ann - original parish
  • St. Catherine - original parish
  • Clarendon - original parish
  • St. David - original parish, absorbed by St. Thomas in the East, 1866
  • St. Dorothy - separated from Clarendon, 1675; absorbed by St. Catherine, 1866
  • St. Elizabeth - original parish
  • St. George - original parish, absorbed by Portland, 1866
  • Hanover - separated from Westmoreland, 1723
  • St. James - original parish
  • St. John - original parish; absorbed by St. Catherine, 1866
  • Kingston - separated from St. Andrew, 1693
  • Manchester - created from St. Elizabeth
  • Clarendon and Vere, 1814
  • St. Mary - original parish
  • Metcalfe - created from St. George and St. Mary, 1841; absorbed by St. Mary, 1866
  • Portland - created from St. George and St. Thomas in the East, 1723
  • Port Royal - original parish, portion absorbed by Kingston and the rest by St. Andrew, 1866
  • St. Thomas in the East - original parish, portion absorbed by Portland, 1866
  • St. Thomas in the Vale - separated from St. Catherine 1675; reabsorbed by it, 1866
  • Trelawny - separated from St. James, 1770
  • Vere - separated from Clarendon, 1673; reabsorbed by it, 1866
  • Westmoreland - separated from St. Elizabeth, 1703

The registers are arranged in five series:

  • Copy registers of individual parishes, early to about 1825
  • Parish registers (transcripts compiled at the Diocesan Office), 1826 to 1850 and 1860 to 1871
  • Parish registers, new series (transcripts as in 2), 1849 to1860
  • Law 6 registers (refers to law 6 passed in 1871)
  • Birth and death registers, 1844-1851

The entries for parishes are combined in all but the first series.

There are indexes for each parish covering the first three series of registers. There is a separate but incomplete index for the period 1860-1871. There is a separate index for Law 6 registers.

Entries for the different events were carried to a succeeding register at different times. Consequently, the inclusive dates of an individual volume may overlap with another volume. For example, the inclusive dates for a volume may be 1822-1844, representing baptisms 1822-1833, marriages 1822-1844 and burials 1822-1840; and the inclusive dates for the next vol. 1834-1855 representing baptisms 1833-1855, marriages 1844-1855 and burials 1840-1855.

Volume numbers indicated in the listing are those assigned by the archive.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880.

Collection Contents

Baptism records may contain the following information:

  • Date of baptism
  • Place of birth
  • Full name of child
  • Parents' names
  • Parent's residence
  • Parent's profession

Marriage records usually included the following information:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Groom's name, age, marital status and occupation of groom
  • Bride's name, age, marital status
  • Residences of bride and groom

Burial records may contain the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Date and place of burial
  • Year of death
  • Race of deceased
  • Residence of deceased

Death records may contain the following information:

  • Name and age of deceased
  • Day, month and year of death
  • Gender, profession of deceased
  • Cause of death
  • Residence of deceased
  • Name and residence of informant

How Do I Search the Collection?

To search for a person in a Church of England parish register, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:

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

To search by index:
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 compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

To search by image:
To search the collection, you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the "Parish" category
⇒Select the "Record Type and Years" category which takes 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.

When searching:
As you are searching, it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor's given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence, age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.

Tips in Using the Information

  • 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.
  • In the baptismal records after 1812, use the place of residence to locate other records.
  • 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.
  • Pay attention to signatures as they may help you locate other records for your ancestors.
  • After 1812, and sometimes before, burial records include the age of the deceased. Use the 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.
  • The occupation of a deceased male might be given (especially after 1812) and can help identify your ancestor when there is more than one person by that name in the area.
  • Banns indicate the parish of residence of the bride and groom. This information often leads to the records of another parish.
  • Your ancestor may have been baptized in the same parish they were later married in.
  • If possible, you may want to search both the parish registers and the bishops’ transcripts since one is a handwritten copy of the other and might contain differences.

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.

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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:

"Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing Diocese of Jamaica. Registrar General's Department, Spanish Town.

Record Citation:

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 Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880.

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 Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880.