welcome to family history research

Parish Records

Parish records are the records held by the church. In most cases these are now deposited in the local records office of the area.

History Parish Records

The first known register of births was in 1497 when Cardinal Ximenes introduced a register of baptisms. In 1563 the Roman Catholic Church ordered that baptismal and marriage registers were to be kept.

In September 1538, Henry VIII made England split from Rome because of his marriage to Catherine of Arragon. Thomas Cromwell told parsh priest to keep a book and that the Parson was to enter all the baptisms, marriages and burials of the previous week. The book was to be kept under two locks. One key for the vicar, the other for the wardens.

Sadly during the English Civil War, records were poorly kept and many of which are now missing after being destroyed or hidden by the clergy. In 1653 the registering of births, marriages and deaths was taken over by civil officers, but the registers were returned to the churches following the Restoration in 1660.

In 1733 all entries had to be made in English rather than Latin.


  • Date of baptism
  • Date of birth (but this is often not recorded)
  • Child's forename
  • Child's surname (though normally omitted as father's name is assumed)
  • Father's name — blank if illegitimate
  • Mother's name (but this is often not recorded)
  • Father's occupation or rank
  • Place of birth (for large parishes)


  • Date of marriage
  • For both man and woman
    • Forename and Surname
    • Whether bachelor or spinster, widower or widow
    • Age
    • Whether of-this-parish or of some other place
    • Occupation (normally man only)
    • Father's forename, surname and occupation or rank
    • Signature
  • Whether by Banns or by Licence
  • Witness(es) signature(s)
  • Note: from 1837, the information contained in parish records is the same as that on a civil marriage certificate.


  • Date of burial
  • Name of deceased
  • Age of deceased
  • Occupation, rank or relationship of deceased
  • Normal place of abode of deceased