Bavaria Church Records

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The parishes have listed baptisms, marriages and deaths since the 16th century. Since 1524 the two parishes St. Sebald and St. Lorenz in Nürnberg have listed marriages. In 1533 they also registered baptisms. At the same time some Evangelical parishes of the Margravate Brandenburg-Ansbach started documenting births.

The Catholic church started to record baptisms, marriages, deaths and communions first through the Diocese Augsburg in 1563. During the 30 Years War many church books were lost. Most parishes have records starting in 1648. More comprehensive records will start from 1700 on. Addtional information can be extracted from duplicates which priests had to establish for the Bezirksämter (administration). Today these duplicates are housed in the State archives. A Pfarrbücherverzeichnis (index) gives ínformation about records of the Bavarian Diocese as well as the Evangelical Churches in Bavaria.


In GENEALOGIE Heft 8/9, 1974, page 266 is listed a marriage book of the Ev.-Lutheran Church St. Matthäus in Munich for the years 1800-1825. The article was written by Gerhart Nebinger and can be found in the Family History Library under call number 943 B2gf

Online church records from Bavaria

Records from Feuchtwangen can be found here
Records from Passau can be found here 
Records from Oesdorf can be found here
Frivolous Marriages in Bavaria

     Frivolous marriages are those entered into by the very young or impecunious. They were objectionable because they could lead to poverty and dependence on public assistance. This was the opinion of Bavarian officials. The problem must have been rampant because there were directives given to priests as early as 1578 to be pressed on their parishioners’ minds to carefully consider before entering into a marriage contract. From then on, a marriage was only legal when a priest performed the ceremony and besides that both partners had to go to confession before they married.

     Consequent additions to the edict shows that the law could not be successfully executed and the authorities found that they constantly had to allow exceptions to the rules with people who worked as day laborers if these were needed. However, a marriage without consent from above was a criminal action and punishable. As a matter of fact, people who became a burden to society or obtained sustenance through begging were subject to repulsion. Again, bishops and priests were not to allow potential problem marriages. Did they perform such a marriage, anyway, the priests or officials had to stand in with a certain amount of money which was an assessment of damage, just in case.

     In the 19th century it became the popular thought that an increase in population would also increase an economic upturn. To promote marriages and to lighten the practice of trade would not only make the country richer but would reduce the numerous illegitimate births. Parishes no longer had permission to sanction a marriage, but the police administration determined who was capable of sufficient prospects of sustenance. By 1818 the individual parishes were again issuing marriage licenses. The parish also retrieved responsibility again for legal aid. The officials did not want to deplete their resources by promoting marriages. Therefore, in the beginning of the 1800s there are restrictions as far as marriages and settlement of the poor or migrant population was concerned. The restrictions were not evenly executed throughout the Kingdom of Bavaria. In the Pfalz marriage and settlement restrictions did not exist because of the laws influenced by the French. In the rest of Bavaria the misery for poor residents lasted until 1896. For the poor there was hardly a chance in Bavaria of this time to build a base for one’s livelihood. Often not even the best recommendations could obtain the privilege to settle in a location because the inhabitants had qualms about sharing air, water, fire and land.

     Read the article in its entirety: ”Landesherrliche Ehebeschänkungen im Herzogtum, Kurfürstentum und Königreich Bayern” by Reinhard Heydenreuter in Archiv für Familiengeschichtsforschung , Jahrgang 1, Heft 3 (1997). The periodical is available through Familysearch, Family History Library, call number 943 B2as.

See also topic Bavaria: Marriage Proclamation and Residency Records

Family History Library Collection

Although the Family History Library has a collection of many church records from Bayern, not all records have been filmed yet.  If you are unable to find the needed parish in the FamilySearch Catalog, you may need to write to a parish or an archive to determine if the records you need are available.