U.K. Parish and Non Conformist Records
by Phil Westwood
Few Parish Registers survive before 1597 and some of the early Registers are
written in Latin. Parish Registers may be viewed in different forms:
- The original Parish Register - it is rare now for record offices to let
you view the original Register.
- Microfilmed copies of the original Register.
- Transcripts of the Register often made years later and this would include
IGI entries . Many Parish Registers have been published in book form and
some are indexed making searching much easier
- Bishops Transcripts - a contemporary copy of the Register. Many LDS
Parish Register films are based on B.T`s.
County Record Offices will be able to tell you whether there are indexes to
the Parish Records you are interested in and will check and photocopy
original entries for you inexpensively .CRO`s are contactable by e mail and
should reply to straightforward enquiries .How this is interpreted varies
and some will "go the extra mile " in trying to help.
Alternatively use a
UK researcher to source the CRO for you.
A reminder of where to find details about CRO`s -
If you are unsure of the Church where the event would have been recorded
take a look at this "Parish Locator ".It does not yet have universal
coverage but it shows the complexity of searching of searching in Towns and
Cities where there are many Churches within a small radius -
If you have searched the Parish records near where your Ancesors lived and
not found anything then consider the possibility that they were Non
Confomists. However do NOT look for a marriage in a Non Conformist Church
between 1753 and 1837. During this time apart from Quakers and Jews all
marriages had to be at a Church of England, marriages were not valid if
Non Conformist Registers become more widespread after 1780 as Nonconformity
grew. Again County Record Offices can advise which Registers exist and they
will probably have a copy of these. Researching Nonconformist Ancestors can
be more complex as fewer records survive . However for those who were active
members there is sometimes a wealth of information in Church minute meetings, etc. The established Church of England obviously viewed the growing tide
of Non Conformity as a threat although it is difficult to understand their
antagonism from a Christian viewpoint.
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Using the PRO catalogue
Philip Westwood runs a genealogical service enabling Americans and Canadians to research their English Ancestors.
For more details view his profile.