Portugal Church Records

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Catholic Church Records

From the dark ages until the mid 1500's, parish priests recorded the births, marriages, and deaths but only for royalty and the nobility. In 1563 the Council of Trent was convened by the Catholic Church to consider some of the reforms urged by Martin Luther. One of the edicts of this council was that henceforth, parish priests would record the events of birth, marriage and death for everyone. About seven percent of the parishes in Portugal had already commenced keeping vital records of the commoners, some as early as 1520.

In 1910 a revolution rejected the royal family, abolished all titles of the nobility, wrote a constitution, and passed new laws. The result of the revolution was that all documents with vital information that were previously recorded and held by the Catholic Church were turned over to the government. Some of these records are now in the national archive in Lisbon, called the "Torre do Tombo", some are in archives that were established in each district, and some unfortunately were lost in this transfer.

In December 1993 the national archive printed a two volume book under the title, Inventario Colectivo dos Registros Paroquais, (Collective Inventory of the Parochial Records, Family History Library book 946.9 A3i) listing each parish church and which of its records were in the national archive and which were in one of the district archives.

Many of these original records in the national archives and the various district archives have been microfilmed and are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog.

Online Catholic Church Records

Researching Portugal Church Records

Marriage Proceedings (Processos de Casamento)

Research use: Augments information found in marriage records which in Portugal are less complete than in Spain, and provided additional vital information left out of marriage records.

Record type: Church records.

General: The pre-nuptial documentation was compiled by potential partners and provided to church authorities in order to qualify for marriage.

Time period: 1612-present.

Contents: Names of contracting parties and their parents; dates, places of birth; civil status and reference to former marriages; biographical data not contained in marriage records.

Location: National archive and district archives.

Population coverage: Approximately 80% of the adult population in later periods, and less in earlier periods because of record loss.

Reliability: Excellent.[1]

Wiki Articles Describing Online Collections


  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Portugal,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1986-1999.