|Family History and Genealogy Information|
Parish Records and Registers
Up until 1538 no records were normally kept to register a baptism, marriage or burial. It was Thomas Cromwell, who decreed in 1538, that all parishes should start to keep records of baptisms, marriages and burials and, it is this decree, that has given the family historian the wealth of information he can study to compile his family tree.
The local church clergy were the ones who made these entries, and you will find their work invaluable. The early records are often hard to de-cipher because they are faded and often written on parchment. Plus they are hundreds of years old now! However, there is immense pleasure to be gained by finding some snippet of information that provides you with a new clue or link.
Your county record office usually keep all old church records in carefully controlled atmospheric conditions, so that they don't deteriorate further. These offices allow free access for you to study these records, and often many have been transcribed into books by local historic groups, and microfilmed by the record office.
You will come across bishop's transcripts too at your local record office. These were done on a fairly regular basis by local clergy, as a copy of their church records to be sent to the bishop at the head of their ecclesiastical area. All are worthy of study.
After 1837 Civil Registration came into being in England and Wales, and all births, marriages and deaths were recorded as they are today by a certificate. The indexes of all registrations since that date are open to inspection at St. Catherine's House in London. For a small fee you can obtain a copy certificate from them, but you must provide accurate details.