September 23, 2017

English Parish Records: Finding English Ancestors Before 1837

English Parish records are a rich genealogical resource. England’s earliest useful census is from 1841, and civil records only go back to 1837. Let us help you trace your English family history before that time. English parish records might hold the key, and we’ve got all the information you need to get started searching them.

 

This post is the second in a series on finding your English ancestors by Kate Eakman of Legacy Tree Genealogists. Click here for the first installment on the difference between “Great Britain,” United Kingdom,” and “England;” census records and civil birth, marriage, and death records available through the General Register Office, or GRO.

Census and civil records are extremely useful and important for genealogical research in England. But the earliest useful census is from 1841, while the civil records only extend back to 1837. So what do researchers do to trace their English ancestors back to earlier times? How can you find your family if they emigrated in the 1700s or even earlier?

English Parish Records: The Back Story

Genealogists owe a debt of thanks to King Henry VIII’s chief advisor, Thomas Cromwell. After England’s split from the Roman Catholic Church, Cromwell issued an injunction in September of 1538 requiring every church in England to maintain a register of baptisms, marriages, and burials. The law was followed with varying degrees of consistency until Queen Elizabeth I, and the bishops of the Church of England reaffirmed the injunction in 1597. Wars, insects, water, and carelessness have led to the loss and destruction of many of these parish records, but there are still thousands of registers listing these important events available for our use today.

There are some Catholic Church records available for the years prior to 1538, but in general, the bulk of the ecclesiastical records begin with the Church of England or Anglican Church records starting in the mid- to late-1500s and extending into the late 1800s.

So what are you looking for, where do you find them, and what do those records provide? To explain that, we need to review how the church, whether Roman Catholic or Church of England, divided up the country.

  • At the lowest level, we have parishes. The size of a parish can vary, and not every town or village had a parish church. Some parishes include a chapelry or two (small local churches or chapels which were under the jurisdiction of the parish priest). Within the records of the parish church is the most likely place for you to find information about your ancestors.
  • Parishes were then grouped together under the jurisdiction of a bishop who was in charge of a diocese. There could be archdeaconries or rural deaneries within a diocese as well. Don’t overlook a record set for the archdeaconry or the rural deanery with the name of your ancestor’s town (Archdeaconry of Richmond or the Deanery of St. John).
  • You will also see bishop’s transcripts which are just what it sounds like: copies of the parish records which were sent to the bishop of the diocese. These were generally made annually, and were required beginning in 1598, with most extending to the mid-1800s. Bishop’s transcripts were supposed to be exact copies of the parish records, but they may contain either less information (the local parish priest abbreviated the registers) or more information because the local minister had the luxury of time when recopying the registers and so added details not found in the original parish registers. Of course, there is always the possibility of error creeping in, as is true any time that someone is recopying text from one page to the next. It is wise to consult the bishop’s transcripts as well as the parish registers when they are both available so that you are certain that you have every detail available.

Click this map to read about a little-known, free online tool for English parish boundaries.

Finally, the parish church was not always the closest church to a family’s home. A baptism, marriage, or burial could have taken place in a neighboring parish. If you are unable to find the parish records where you expect to find them, use a map to search for neighboring parishes and try searching for your ancestors there.

Finding Your Ancestors in English Parish Records

It is not uncommon to find that several children from a family were baptized in one church and the others were baptized in a different church, so look around and keep in mind what is a reasonable walking distance for parents with a baby, a bride and groom, or to carry a dead man’s body for burial. Look for places less than three miles from the home of your ancestors.

The same folks who provide us with a free index to civil birth, marriage, and death records also have provided transcripts of ecclesiastical baptismal, marriage, and burial records at FreeReg. Here you can enter the name, a range of dates, the county, and select the type of records. Be sure to click on the “Name Soundex” box in case your ancestor’s name was spelled slightly differently than the modern version. Although these are transcripts with no links to the actual records, this site can help you to narrow down a broad range of choices to the one most likely to belong to your relative.

English Parish Records: Baptismal Entries

Baptismal entries generally include the date of the baptism, the place of the baptism (including the church name), and the names of the parents of the child. The mother’s maiden name is almost never included unless the child was illegitimate. It is also important to remember that baptisms could occur anywhere from the day of birth up to three or more years after the child’s birth. Unless the record specifies the date of birth, assume that it occurred up to three years earlier when continuing your research.

Transcripts of parish register on the left and bishop’s transcript on the right for the same person, John Parker. Due to the use of Latin and the different sentence construction, the names appear to be slightly different, but both are translated as John Parker, son of Joshua and Catherine Parker. Images courtesy https://freereg.org.uk.

English Parish Records: Marriages

Marriage records will include the date and location of the marriage, which was usually the parish church of the bride. Both the bride and the groom will be named, but it is rare to find any additional information such as the occupation of the groom or the names of their parents.

The examples of a parish register and the archdeacon’s transcripts provide variant spellings of the groom’s surname: Wasy and Acye or Wacye. The bride’s given and surnames have different spellings as well: Amie and Amye and Cots or Cottes. This is why we encourage researchers to use the “Name Soundex” box, particularly since these records are for the man known as Thomas Wise today.

Note the different spellings of the names although the archdeacon’s transcript was supposedly a copy of the parish register. Images courtesy https://freereg.org.uk.

English Parish Records: Burials

Burial records, which are not the same as death records, provide the name of the deceased, the date and place of his or her burial, and the names of the parents. If the deceased was married, the name of the husband or wife is also included. Most burials occurred between one and three days of death, but unless the record specifies a specific date of death, it is best not to assume a particular day.

The burial record below is an excellent example of additional information which can be included on a bishop’s transcript. The parish records no longer exist for burials from the cathedral church of Durham, but the bishop’s transcript provides very useful additional details. From this record, we learned that William James, who was buried on 3 April 1634, was baptized on 24 June 1632. His father, also named William James, was buried 21 January 1659/60.

The split date for the burial of William James, Sr. (21 January 1659/60) indicates the date differences of the Julian and Gregorian calendars. This type of annotation can be seen during the first three months of each year in English records until 1751 when England officially accepted the Gregorian calendar. Image courtesy https://freereg.org.uk. Click here to learn more about Julian and Gregorian calendars.

Online Parish Clerks Websites

There are also a number of Online Parish Clerks (OPC) websites which allow you to search for transcriptions. Lancashire’s OPC site is one of the most complete sites and is easy to use. If you are fortunate enough to have ancestors from Lancashire, definitely use this site. For other OPC sites, go to UKBMD.org for links to about 20 other projects.

Obtaining Copies of English Parish Records

Once the transcripts of your English ancestor’s baptisms, marriages, and burials have been located, you can turn to several sources to locate the actual copies of the records. There are some digital copies available on FamilySearch.org. (Note that the agreement that the Family History Library has with a number of the repositories requires that you access the records from a local LDS Family History Center and not from your home.) You can also find copies of the documents on the for-fee site FindMyPast.com (and click here for English Catholic parish records at Findmypast.com).

Devon Parish Registers showing 1660 baptisms from http://findmypast.com.

Parish registers and bishop’s transcripts are very useful for tracing English ancestors back to the mid-1500s. The registers include baptismal, marriage, and burial records and although they often contain only the bare minimum of information, that can be used to research and extend your family tree. Because everyone in the parish was included–not just the wealthy and powerful–these records can allow us to trace our English ancestors for many generations.

Get more help finding your ancestors

EXCLUSIVE OFFER for Genealogy Gems readers! Receive $100 off a 20-hour+ research project from Legacy Tree Genealogists with code GG100, valid through July 31st, 2017.

About our Legacy Tree guest blogger: Kate Eakman grew up hearing Civil War stories at her father’s knee and fell in love with history and genealogy at an early age. With a master’s degree in history and over 20 years experience as a genealogist, Kate has worked her magic on hundreds of family trees and narratives.

 

Old Cookbooks Are Among New Online Record Collections

Old cookbooks are among new recent online records collections. So are British newspapers, British Columbia estate files, New Zealand WWII appointments, UK Parliamentary returns, UK military indexes, US newspapers (Arkansas, Kansas, and New York) and church records for Sydney, Australia; Norfolk, England; and Stockholm, Sweden.

Featured New Records Online: Old Cookbooks and Home Remedies

heritage recipes cookbookThe US National Library of Medicine has “recently embarked on a project to digitize and make available” its collection of historical recipes and cookbooks, according to its blog. Old recipes (also called “receipts”) may give you a glimpse into what daily life was like for your ancestors. Among these are “recipes and advice for food preparation and preservation, animal husbandry, preparing useful household concoctions, and allopathic medicines and treatments for maintaining personal health.” Find these at the National Library of Medicine Digital Collections.

Love these? Click here to find more old recipes and classic cookbooks on the Genealogy Gems website.

Australia – New South Wales – Church records

Nearly 125 years of baptism, marriage, and burial registers for the city and parish of Saint Peter’s in the greater metropolitan area of Sydney, Australia (1839-1963) are now available on Ancestry.com. Baptismal registers may include the child’s name, birth and baptismal dates, parents’ names, abode and profession of parent(s) and officiant’s name. Marriage records may list for bride and groom the names, occupations, residences, ages and marital status, along with the date and place of the wedding, names of those giving consent (if required) and the officiant. Burial registers may mention the name of the deceased; death and burial dates; abode; age; “quality” or profession, and officiant.

Britain – Dougal’s Index Register

A Findmypast.com collection of Britain’s missing beneficiaries and unclaimed estates (1910“contains over 500 records from Dougal’s Index Register to Next of Kin, Heirs at Law and Cases of Unclaimed Money Advertisements from 1910. The publication looks specifically at properties or estates registered in chancery court, which have gone unclaimed because a deceased person did not create a will or did not have any known descendants….The lists only provide an individual’s first and last name.”

Britain – Newspapers

Over 48,000 new articles and two brand new titles have been added to Findmypast’s collection of historic British newspapers. This month’s new titles are The Shipping & Mercantile Gazette and The Rutland Echo & Leicestershire Advertiser.

Canada – British Columbia

Canadian genealogy researchFindmypast.com subscribers may now browse among over 750,000 records of British Columbia Estate Files (1859-1949). According to the site, these “allow you to delve through probate estate files pertaining to the judicial districts of British Columbia; the County Court and the Supreme Court. Probate estate records are a valuable resource for family history research, providing vital details such as dates, names, and locations to help grow your family tree. Included in this collection is a probate index for the district of Vancouver, sorted alphabetically by last name.” Browsing tip: narrow results by year, document, court, and district.

Celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday with us in 2017! Click here to read tips for starting your Canadian research from Lisa Louise Cooke’s conversation with Library and Archives Canada staffer Claire Banton.

England – Norfolk parish records

Fifty-one volumes of Norfolk Archdeacon’s Transcripts (1600-1812)  and 123 volumes of Bishop’s Transcripts (1687-1901) are now browsable at Findmypast.com. According to the site, the collections contain records of baptisms, marriages, and burials from across the county.

New Zealand – WWII

Fold3.com hosts a new collection of WWII Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Resignations, extracted from the New Zealand Gazette. These give information such as name, rank, event date, and regiment for members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces (including army, air force, and navy).

Sweden – Stockholm

Nearly 175,000 indexed names and over 14,000 digital images were recently added to a free collection at FamilySearch.org: Sweden, Stockholm City Archives, Index to Church Records  (1546-1927).

UK – Military

Ancestry.com has published a new collection of UK Military Indexes, 1920-1971. According to the site, “These lists comprise the names and service numbers of those who were discharged from the armed forces after 1920 and born before 1901. Details given for over 300,000 individuals found within this collection may include (where available): initial and surname, date of birth, their service, service number and Ministry of Defence reference number.”

UK – Parliamentary Returns

The UK Parliamentary Archive has “recently uploaded the Protestation Returns for Berkshire, Cornwall and Cumbria,” according to its blog. “The Protestation Returns are the closest thing we have to a census for England in 1641-1642. They originate in the scuffling between Parliament and Charles I just before Civil War engulfed the country. It was decided that all men over the age of 18 in England and Wales should swear an oath of allegiance to the Protestant religion, Parliament, and the King. Around one third of the records for England survive.” A companion map allows users to search for these records by location.

US – Arkansas, Kansas, New York – Newspapers 

Among new digitized newspaper collections at Newspapers.com are the following titles: The Frankfort Bee (Kansas, 1876-1898), The Southern Standard (Arkadelphia, Arkansas, 1878-1905), Arkansas Times and Advocate (Little Rock, 1837-1838), Cortland Register (Kansas, 1889-1924), The Frankfort Sentinel (Kansas, 1886-1892), The Marshall County Index (Frankfort, Kansas, 1905-1906), Epworth Advocate (Frankfort, Kansas, 1895-1896), Springville Journal (New York, 1867-1985) and The Ness County Pioneer (Sidney, Kansas, 1879-1880).

Are you listening to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast? This year Lisa Louise Cooke celebrates 10 years on the air. The show has more than 2.5 million downloads worldwide. Listen to hear for yourself her winning combination of technology tools, genealogy research strategies, inspiring stories–and tons of tips you can apply right away to your family history!

WWI History App in New and Updated Genealogical Collections

A WWI history app for genealogy leads our top picks for this week! History buffs are going to love Remembering WWI, an app that makes your WWI family history come alive. Also in this week’s new and updated genealogical collections, Swedish church records, Canadian marriage records, Pennsylvania naturalizations, and more.

WWI History for Genealogy

The National Archives has launched Remembering WWI, a free app for iPad and Android. It is especially geared for young people, but with an ability to explore, collaborate, and engage with NARA’s extensive collection of WWI photographs, it’s for any history buff. The app commemorates the 100-year anniversary, in April 2017, of the U.S. entry into World War.

It is now available in the iTunes and Google Play stores.

What is even more interesting about this app is how it invites people nationwide to contribute their own stories. You can create your own collections and build and share new narratives around the people, events, and themes you are researching.

Sweden – Norrbotten & Kopparberg – Church Records

Swedish and Italian genealogy records

Church Records in Swedish Collections at FamilySearch

Also this week at FamilySearch, Sweden, Norrbotten Church Records, 1612-1923; index 1658-1860 has been updated. You will note the large year span in this collections coverage. Because of this, records will vary. Generally speaking, you will find church records include births, marriages, and deaths and also images to clerical surveys, registers of birth, marriage, death, move-in and move-out lists, confirmations, and church accounts.

Church records are particularly helpful when searching pre-civil registration time frames or when there has been loss or damage to the civil records you need.

In particular, these collections contain household examination records. A household examination record is filled with genealogical data and some other unusual statistics. Information may include:

  • The name of the farm, village, or rote (registration area).
  • Names of household members including any pigor (female workers) or drängar (male workers)
  • Birthplace
  • Birth date or age
  • A score for catechism knowledge
  • Dates of partaking communion
  • Dates of participation with the Household Examination
  • Moving information
  • Death date
  • Marriage date
  • Disciplinary notes
  • Vaccination against smallpox
  • Reference to military conscription

Sweden, Kopparberg Church Records, 1604-1900; index 1628-1860 was also updated.

Canada – Ontario – Marriage Registers

The Ontario, County Marriage Registers 1858-1869 at FamilySearch have also been updated. These records contain an index and images of marriages. There are some records that actually date prior to 1858 and after 1869, so be sure to check the collection thoroughly.

These marriage records will generally include the following information:

  • Name of groom
  • Name and maiden name of bride
  • Age of groom and bride at marriage
  • Names of groom’s parents and bride’s parents
  • Place and date of marriage
  • Names of witnesses or possible relatives

United States – New Hampshire – Civil War Service & Pension Records

The New Hampshire, Civil War Service and Pension Records, 1861-1866 are now available at FamilySearch and have been recently updated. The collection includes both an index and images of Civil War enlistment papers, muster rolls of New Hampshire Regiments, and pension records.

The pension records are arranged by town with indexes arranged by name and town. The enlistment papers are arranged by military unit, volume, and year range. The muster rolls are arranged by unit name and folder number.

Pension papers can often be used as substitute records for vital information such as birth, marriage, and death. Additional information may include birth place, occupation, and a physical description.

United States – Alaska – Vital Records

Though a rather small collection with only just over 80,000 records, the Alaska, Vital Records, 1816-1959 may be just what you need. These records include both an index and digital images of birth, marriage, death, and divorce records from Alaska covering the years of 1816-1959. This collection is being published as images become available.

United States – Pennsylvania – Petitions for Naturalization

Pennsylvania, Eastern District Petitions for Naturalization, 1795-1931 at FamilySearch continues to grow. Now up to over 300,000 records, the collection will offer naturalization petitions for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern district of Pennsylvania for the years 1795 to 1931. The records corresponds to NARA publication M1522 part of Record Group 21 Records of District Courts of the United States.

Naturalization papers are an important source of information about an immigrant’s nation of origin, his or her foreign and “Americanized” names, residence, and date of arrival. It is important to note that naturalization changed over time and information will vary greatly.

More on Researching WWI for Genealogy

A Family Tree University independent study course, US Military Recordswill help you root out your ancestor’s involvement in the American war conflicts. Military files can often reveal genealogical data you need to further your family history. This course will teach you what to look for and how to locate the records you seek.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Definitions and terminology used in military records
  • Service records
  • Pension records
  • Bounty land records
  • Draft records

Extraordinary European Records in New and Updated Genealogical Collections

An extraordinary list of European record sets is included in this week’s new and updated genealogical collections. Starting in Ireland and moving across the country, places include: United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Netherlands, and more.

dig these new record collections

Ireland – Marriage Index

Over 250,000 names have been added to an online database of Irish births, marriages, and deaths. The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) first created a marriage database in 2014 when it put 40,000 marriage certificates online, and now is adding entries for births and deaths too.

The Early Irish Marriage Index is completely free to all who wish to use it, however, those wishing to browse the Early Irish Birth and Death Indexes are required to take out membership of the IGRS.

United Kingdom – Yorkshire and Derbyshire – Baptisms

Yorkshire & Derbyshire Methodist Baptisms at Findmypast contain over 42,000 for Methodist Churches between 1795 and 1997. The collection covers the densely populated Sheffield district. Sheffield is located in South Yorkshire, traditionally part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and many of its suburbs stretch into Derbyshire.

Each record will provide you with a transcript created from original church records. The details in each record will vary, but most will include name, birth year, baptism date, denomination, chapel, place, parent’s name, and county.

United Kingdom – Yorkshire & Derbyshire – Methodist Marriages

Also at Findmypast, the Yorkshire & Derbyshire Methodist Marriages collections contains over 22,000 records. These records also cover the Sheffield district. Within the collection, you will find records from eight branches of the Methodist Church: Free Methodist, Methodist, Methodist New Connection, Primitive Methodist, United Free Methodist, United Methodist, Wesleyan Methodist, and Wesleyan Reform Methodist.

Within the collection, you will find records from eight branches of the Methodist Church: Free Methodist, Methodist, Methodist New Connection, Primitive Methodist, United Free Methodist, United Methodist, Wesleyan Methodist, and Wesleyan Reform Methodist.

United Kingdom – Newspapers

Over 1.5 million new articles have been added to Findmypast’s collection of historic British Newspapers. Three brand new titles have also been added; the Cricket and Football Field, Lloyd’s List and the Homeward Mail from India, China and the East.

Lloyd’s List is one of the world’s oldest continuously running journals, having provided weekly shipping news in London as early as 1734. The Homeward Mail from India China and the East will be a huge help for those researching the history of empire, or for those with British or Irish ancestors who lived in India.

United Kingdom – Middlesex – Monumental Inscriptions

Findmypast offers over 12,000 records of Middlesex Monumental Inscriptions for 1485-2014. These monumental inscriptions are from St Nicholas Church, Chiswick.

The records cover the years 1485 to 2014 and include transcripts for each entry. While the amount of available information will vary from transcript to transcript, most will include a combination of name, birth year, death year, dedication, place, monument type, and inscription.

Inscriptions might include the names of others buried in that plot and more specific details regarding age, birth, and death dates. This can be helpful as it can provide you with the names and dates of your ancestor’s next of kin.

Belgium – Civil Registration

FamilySearch’s database titled, Belgium, Namur, Civil Registration, 1800-1912 is one of the extraordinary European records collections this week. This collection contains primarily civil registration records of births, marriages, and deaths. A few other records are included are marriage proclamations and marriage supplements.

Among the details found in these civil registrations, you will likely find names, dates of vital events, residences, parents’ names, and residences, occupations, and much more.

France – Parish Records

The European records for genealogy continue in this new and updated collection at FamilySearch, the France, Finistère, Quimper et Léon Diocese, Catholic Parish Records, 1772-1894. Though the record set is rather small with only a little over 11, 000 records, this collection consists of name indexes and images of Catholic parish registers recording events of baptism, marriage and burial in the Diocese of Quimper et Léon. Parishes in this diocese lie within the department of Finistère and this collection only contains parishes that start with the letter “A” or “B”.

The following parishes are included:

  • Argol
  • Arzano
  • Audierne
  • Bannalec
  • Brest-paroisse-Notre-Dame-des-Carmes
  • Brest Hospice Civile
  • Brest-paroisse-Lambézellec
  • Brest-paroisse-Saint-Louis
  • Brest-paroisse-Saint-Martin
  • Brest-paroisse-Saint-Pierre

Further revisions to the collection will follow as other parishes are published in future.

Netherlands – Misc. Records

FamilySearch has added more European records in the Netherlands, Archival Indexes and they include such records as civil registration, church records, emigration lists, military registers, land records, and tax records. These records cover events like birth, marriage, death, burial, emigration and immigration, military enrollment and more.

The collection continues to grow as records become available, but as of now, the only indexes published on FamilySearch are the Amsterdam Christening Registers from 1564 to 1811 and the burial index from the Regional Archives Rijnlands Midden. For the entire index collection, visit OpenArchives.

Russia – Church Books

Also at FamilySearch, the Russia, Tver Church Books, 1722-1918 are now available. Though only a relatively small number of these records have been indexed, there are over 3 million that have been digitally scanned and are browse-able. Records include births and baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials performed by priests in the province of Tver (and surrounding provinces) from 1722-1918. These records were originally created at a local level, but were acquired from the state archive in Tver. An index of baptisms is also included.

United States – Maine – Brunswick

There is a unique story of a person who felt the call to serve the genealogy community. Mr. Richard Snow has collected and created an extensive index of articles, pictures, and obituaries from the Brunswick [Maine] Telegraph and the Brunswick Record — forerunners to today’s The Times Record. He then donated his work to the Curtis Memorial Library and it is accessible to you!

The Snow Index will give many a chance to delve into their family’s pasts by accessing the library’s website, a substantial shortcut over previous practices like coming into the library or browsing newspaper websites. This is an index to citations only and not index that leads to full online text. However, with this index as a help, you will likely be able to find the full content with the assistance of the Curtis Memorial Library. Isn’t it great to hear about genealogist’s doing great things? Thank you, Mr. Snow!

United States – Wisconsin – Vital Records

A recent change in state statutes will allow Wisconsin residents to more easily obtain public documents. All Wisconsin register of deeds offices can now issue birth, death, marriage, and divorce records regardless of the county in which the event occurred, as long as the event occurred in Wisconsin.

A statewide database has been created that will allow all offices to access the records. Not all records are available, but the following are:

  • Wisconsin births since 1907;
  • Deaths since Sept. 1, 2013
  • Marriages since June 21, 2015;
  • Divorces since Jan. 1, 2016

Be sure to contact the county register of deeds office you plan to visit to make sure they are offering the database at this time. It will likely take a while to get everything up and running!

Ghana – Census

FamilySearch has also added more indexed records to the Ghana Census, 1984. This population census for Ghana is a complete enumeration of the 12.3 million people residing in Ghana as of midnight March 11, 1984. The census is divided into 56,170 localities. According to the government of Ghana, a locality is defined as any “nucleated and physically distinct settlement.” Localities may include a single house, a hamlet, a village, town or city. In some areas of the Upper West and Upper East Regions, these localities are based on kinship groups. Only those individuals, including foreign visitors, who were present in Ghana on March 11, 1984, were included in this census.

There have been some records lost in Ghana and so not all localities are available. Important: Be aware that the printed date on the census enumeration form usually says 1982, but this census was formally conducted in 1984.

The 1984 Ghana census may hold the following information:

  • Detailed address of Ghana Census 1984the house
  • Name of town/village
  • Full name of members present on census night
  • Relationship to head of household
  • Gender, age, birthpla
    ce, and nationality of each individual
  • Level of education
  • Occupation
  • Employment status
  • Names of visitors on census night
  • Names of members absent on census night

More on Researching European Records for Genealogy

European records for genealogyChart your research course to find your European ancestors with the how-to instruction in this book. This one-of-a-kind collection provides invaluable information about more than 35 countries in a single source. Each of the 14 chapters is devoted to a specific country or region of Europe and includes all the essential records and resources for filling in your family tree.

Inside you’ll find:

– Specific online and print resources including 700 websites

– Contact information for more than 100 archives and libraries

– Help finding relevant records

– Traditions and historical events that may affect your family’s past

– Historical time lines and maps for each region and country

 

Sacramental Records Now Searchable Online in New and Updated Genealogical Records

Special thanks to the New England Historic Genealogical Society and the Archdiocese of Boston for their effort to make Sacramental records for genealogy available online. These and other new and updated genealogical collections are mentioned in this weeks list from the United States, Ireland, United Kingdom, Italy, and free record searches at Findmypast!

dig these new record collections

United States (New England area) & Canada – Sacramental Records for Genealogy

NEHGS has announced the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and Archdiocese of Boston have made millions of 18th and 19th century sacramental records searchable online.

The records, which document baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and other sacraments, cover more than 150 parishes from throughout eastern Massachusetts. They also hold records that were carried out in other locations in New England and parts of Canada.
These detailed documents are a critical resource for researchers, historians, and genealogists, especially when secular records are unavailable. They record important moments in the lives of the individuals, families, and communities.
Though the fully searchable data will not be available immediately, anyone can browse images of parish records as they are completed. Click here to learn how to browse records.

United States – Oklahoma- Vital Records

Ok2Explore is a free searchable index of births and deaths that occurred in the state of Oklahoma. Only limited information is available for births occurring more than 20 years ago and deaths occurring more than 5 years ago.

Visitors to the site may search the index using any combination of the subject’s name, date of event (birth or death,) county of event, and sex of the subject.

Remember this is only an index version of the record, but you can order certified copies for a fee.

Ireland – Petty Sessions

New and updated genealogical collections this week include the Ireland, Petty Sessions Court Registers at Findmypast.

With over 227,700 new records, the petty sessions handled the bulk of lesser criminal and civil legal proceedings in Ireland. Ireland, Petty Sessions Court Registers now contains over 22.8 million records and is the largest collection of Irish court & prison records available anywhere online. Each record includes a transcript and a scanned image of the original document. These documents will include details of victims, witnesses and the accused, such as an address, date in court, details of the offence, details of the verdict, and the sentence.

Cases range from merchants who had not paid duty on their goods, to workers suing for unpaid wages. Farmers were sometimes fined for letting their cattle wander or for allowing their cart to be driven without their name painted on the side. Public drunkenness was a common offence, as was assault and general rowdiness. Though these records are not considered typical for finding vital information, they can work as great clues to lead you to the information you need.

United Kingdom – Dorset – Memorial Inscriptions

The Dorset Memorial Inscriptions collection at Findmypast contains over 40,000 new records. The collection contains details of inscriptions found on gravestones, tombs, monuments and even stained glass windows throughout 266 parishes within English county.

Each record includes a transcript. The information contained varies, however, most will include a combination of birth year, death year, burial date and location, relative’s names, memorial type and notes on the inscription.

United Kingdom – Warwickshire – Burials

Also at Findmypast, over 175,000 new records have been added to the Warwickshire Burials. The entire collection now contains more 1 million records and includes monumental inscriptions from Clifton Road Cemetery in Rugby.

Each record includes a transcript of the original burial registry or details from the monumental inscription. While the information listed will vary depending on the records original source, most will include your ancestor’s name, age, birth year, death date, burial year, burial location and the name of the officiating minister. A number of records will also include parent’s names and residence. Inscriptions will include information recorded on the individual’s grave stone and will usually include the name of the individual’s spouse, children and/or parents. Also, some grave sites may have more than one person buried in the same plot.

United Kingdom – Northumberland & Durham – Monumental Inscriptions

Over 16,000 records for the Northumberland & Durham Monumental Inscriptions at Findmypast are now available. These include the full description found on a grave stone or monument which will often include additional family names and dates.

Each record includes a transcript of the original source material. The amount of information may vary due to the age and legibility of individual monuments, but most records will include birth date, burial year, burial place, death date, denomination, inscription, and even the type of stone their monument was made from.

Ireland – Quaker Congregational Records

Also at Findmypast, Ireland, Society Of Friends (Quaker) Congregational Records has been updated with an additional 5,000 congregational records. Congregational records include details of the meetings your ancestor’s attended and the activities they engaged in. This is a nice way to enrich your family story.

These records, dating back to the mid-1600s, include minutes from half-yearly Quaker meetings. Each entry includes an image of the original handwritten record. The information included will vary, but most will include the congregation date, address, meeting, archive and reference.

MyHeritage Year End Review

MyHeritage had some pretty exciting things going on in 2016. In their recent blog post, “A Look Back at 2016,” you will see the list including the MyHeritage mobile app, the introduction of Tribal Quest, the debut of the beautiful Sun Chart, and their recent announcement of MyHeritage DNA, just to name a few. Visit the blog post to see the MyHeritage year-in-review for yourself!

Venezuela – Australia – El Salvador – Philippines – Netherlands – Canada – Spain – Slovenia – U. S. – Italy

FamilySearch.org took a short break over the holidays from updating their collections, but with the start of the new year, they have added and updated over 20 collections from all over the world! Check out these great records:

Venezuela, Diocese of San Cristóbal, Catholic Church Records, 1601-1962 688,577  *09 Jan 2017
Australia, Queensland, Immigration indexes, 1864-1940 64,508  *09 Jan 2017
El Salvador Civil Registration, 1704-1990 832,749  *06 Jan 2017
Philippines, Manila, Civil Registration, 1899-1984 2,847,720  *06 Jan 2017
Netherlands, Archival Indexes, Miscellaneous Records 1,254,022  *06 Jan 2017
Canada Census, 1901 5,343,565  *06 Jan 2017
Spain, Soldier Personal Service Files, 1835-1940 1,687  *06 Jan 2017
BillionGraves Index 20,128,469  *06 Jan 2017
Slovenia, Ljubljana, Funeral Accounts, 1937-1970 5,664  *06 Jan 2017
Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001 2,608,950  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Rieti, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1840-1945 134,767  *05 Jan 2017
Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007 3,311,060  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Enna, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1866-1944 131,581  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Reggio Calabria, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1784-1943 108,208  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Trapani, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1906-1928 105,264  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Pescara, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1929 385,939  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Cremona, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1744-1942 425,374  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Bergamo, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1866-1901 629,035  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Caltanissetta, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1820-1935 403,003  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Napoli, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1865 633,646  *05 Jan 2017
Italy, Taranto, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1926 272,929  *05 Jan 2017
Oklahoma, School Records, 1895-1936 90,841  *04 Jan 2017

Free Record Searches at Findmypast

Findmypast is offering a free records search weekend from January 12 – 15th, 2017. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity!

For records in the United Kingdom, click here.

For records in the US, click here.

For records in Ireland, click here.

For records in Australia, click here.

Open the Gift of New and Updated Genealogical Collections From Around the World

Happiest of holiday greetings to you! Celebrate with us as we share the gift of new and updated genealogical collections like censuses, histories, and school records from all around the world. This week: the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Peru, Ecuador, and the U.S.

new collection of school records

United Kingdom – Military

New records at Findmypast this week include the British Army discharges, 60th Foot 1854-1880. These British Army discharges will allow you to find your ancestor who served in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. The records will contain service numbers, ranks, and the reason for discharge.

The 60th Regiment of Foot saw action in the Seven Years War, Napoleonic Wars, and Peninsular War. They have served in India, Burma, Afghanistan, China, and South Africa. The men found in these records most likely fought in The Indian Mutiny (1857-1859), in Canada during the Fenian raids (1866-1867), and The Zulu War (1879).

United Kingdom – Histories

Over 13,000 records have been added to Findmypast’s collection titled Britain, Histories & Reference Guides. The collection consists of 65 volumes on genealogy, heraldry, palaeography, geography, and more. The information found in these records may provide you with more insight into the lives of your ancestors and an better understanding of British life. For a more detailed description of the history publications and what each may offer, see the list at the bottom of the collection page.

England – Middlesex – Military

The Middlesex War Memorials at Findmypast contain over 21,000 transcripts of memorials from over 40 parishes across the English county of Middlesex. The new additions to this collection list the names of soldiers who died while on active service between 1845 and 1998.

Each record will include a transcript of the individual entry from the war memorial and a full transcript of all the names that appeared alongside your ancestor. Other information found on the records may include the conflict they served in, where and when they were killed, a brief description, and additional notes. Transcripts also include links from the West Middlesex Family History Society providing greater detail about the memorial such as the memorial’s location and explanations of abbreviations.

Australia – Queensland – Passports

Also at Findmypast this week, the Queensland Passports Index 1915-1925 of over 13,000 names is a helpful collection for those searching traveling ancestors! This collection is an index. The original registers were compiled by the Collector of Customs, Brisbane, and are currently held by the National Archives of Australia. Each record includes a transcript and maypassport records contain the following information:

  • Name
  • Year the record was taken
  • Address or residence
  • Date they applied for or renewed a passport
  • Their intended destination

Depending on the period covered, the registers themselves may include additional information such as passport numbers, warrant numbers, and remarks. Remarks may include details about soldiers returning home from the Great War.

Australia – New South Wales – Census

Explore the only surviving records from the New South Wales 1841 Census at Findmypast. Containing almost 11,000 names, this collection includes both fully searchable transcripts and scanned images of the original household returns, affidavit forms, and abstracts of returns.

Censuses like these often help piece together the family unit. Names, sex, ages, and birth places are common finds in this record set. Images of the original forms may also occasionally provide you with additional information such as:

  • Religion
  • Occupation
  • Civil condition

The amount of information included will vary depending on the type of document.

France – Dordogne – Census

New and updated genealogical collections at FamilySearch this week include the France, Dordogne, Censuses, 1856 and 1876. These censuses may contain the following information:

  • Surname
  • Given name
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Nationality
  • Position in the household

Each record contains a transcription and digital image. These census records are in French.

Peru – Civil Registration

Civil registration records are particularly helpful when church records are unavailable. FamilySearch has added new records to their collection titled Peru, La Libertad, Civil Registration, 1903-1998. Births, marriages, deaths, and other records are contained in this collection set. Some of these records have been indexed and are searchable. Additional images and indexed records will be published as they become available. These records are written in Spanish.

Ecuador – Church Records

FamilySearch collection Ecuador, Catholic Church Records, 1565-2011 contain some new Catholic Church records created by parishes and dioceses in Ecuador. These records include: baptisms, confirmations, marriages, pre-marriage investigations, deaths, and indexes. Some of the records have been indexed and are searchable. Remember, you can always browse the collection of nearly 1.5 million records. Church records are a great resource when civil records have been lost or damaged.

United States – Oklahoma – School Records

Oklahoma, School Records, 1895-1936 are now available to search on FamilySearch. This collection includes school records and annual censuses of pupils who attended schools in Woodward County, Oklahoma between 1895 and 1936. The records are generally arranged by years and then in numerical order by school district. Many of them list the name of pupil, pupil’s date of birth, and the names of parents or guardians.

Oklahoma school records

The records helped local governments determine funding needs for individual schools so the information is generally reliable. These records can also provide supporting evidence of parental and familial relationships.

Learn More About School Records for Genealogy

School records video lectureAn underutilized record source, school records are just one of the hot topics in this video course titled “Institutional Records Research Methods.” Lisa Louise Cooke shares her knowledge on schools, orphanages, prisons, hospitals, asylums, workhouses, and the record sets that you might find when researching them.

 

We Dig These Gems: New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records onlineHere’s our weekly roundup of new genealogy records online. Which ones mention your ancestors? Think Australian, British, Czech, German, Irish and the U.S. (Illinois, New Jersey and Texas).

AUSTRALIA IMMIGRATION. A new collection of passenger lists for Victoria, Australia (1852-1924) is now browsable for free on FamilySearch.org.

BRITISH MILITARY. Findmypast.com has released over 900,000 Royal Navy and Royal Marine service and pension records (1704-1919). Transcripts and images may divulge personal details along with the particulars of a person’s military service, next of kin, payment and more.

CZECHOSLOVAKIA HOLOCAUST. A new database of selected Holocaust records for Prague, Czechoslovakia (1939-1945) is available at Ancestry.com, as is an update to a companion database of Czech Holocaust records for the same time period, both from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

ENGLAND – SURREY. Ancestry.com has posted various new records collections for Sutton, Surrey, England: Church of England vital records spanning 1538-1812; more Church of England births and baptisms (1813-1915), marriages and banns (1754-1940) and deaths and burials (1813-1985); tax collection rate books (1783-1914) and electoral registers (1931-1970).

GERMANY – HESSE CIVIL REGISTRATIONS. Nearly 300,000 indexed names have been added to a free online collection of civil registrations for Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany (1811-1814, 1833-1928).

IRELAND CHURCH. The initial phase of a fantastic new collection of Irish Quaker church records has been published at Findmypast.com. Over 1.3 million Irish Quaker records are there now, including births, marriages, deaths, school and migration records, many dating back to the mid-1600s.

UK VITAL EVENTS. Ancestry.com has added new collections of UK births, marriages and deaths recorded in far-flung places or unusual settings: at sea (1844-1890); with the Army and Navy (1730-1960); and as registered by British consulates (1810-1968).

US – ILLINOIS BIRTHS. About 160,000 indexed names have been added to a collection of Cook County, Illinois birth certificates (1871-1940). Cook County includes the city of Chicago.

US – NEW JERSEY MARRIAGES. Over 100,000 names are newly-indexed in a free online collection of New Jersey marriage records (dating to 1670!) at FamilySearch.org.

US – TEXAS IMMIGRATION. About 860,000 indexed names have been added to a free existing database of Laredo, Texas passenger arrival manifests (1903-1955) at FamilySearch.org.

share celebrate balloonsThere are literally millions of new genealogy records online every week. It’s hard to keep up, so will you help us spread the word? Thanks for sharing this list on your favorite social media site.

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gems new genealogy records onlineHere’s our weekly roundup of interesting and new genealogy records online for Brazil, Denmark, England, Ireland and the U.S.

BRAZIL CIVIL REGISTRATIONS. Over 200,000 indexed records have been added to a free collection of Pernambuco, Brazil civil registrations (1804-2014) at FamilySearch.org.

DENMARK DEEDS AND MORTGAGES. FamilySearch.org has added nearly 3 million digitized images to its collection of browsable deeds and mortgages for South Jutland, Denmark (1572-1928).

ENGLAND COURT. Ancestry subscribers now have access to a new collection of Yorkshire, England, Quarter Session Records, 1637-1914(1637-1914). According to the database description, these courts “had both a civil and a criminal jurisdiction, and before 1888 they also had an administrative function. Civil cases usually appear in the court’s order books and criminal cases in the indictment books.”

ENGLAND PROBATE. New Yorkshire, England, Probate Records, 1521-1858 are now available to Ancestry subscribers. These include wills, letters of administration and inventories.

ENGLAND TAX. About a quarter million land records are now included in FindMyPast’s database of Devon, Plymouth & West Devon Land Tax and Valuation Records 1897-1949. Use these to learn about an ancestor’s residence, property ownership and wealth.

IRELAND PARISH RECORDS. Ancestry has posted an Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915 from the National Library of Ireland. Access to this index is already free on FindMyPast.

U.S. – AFRICAN-AMERICAN. About 35,000 indexed records and associated images have been added to a free collection of Freedmen’s Bureau marriages (1861-1872) at FamilySearch.org.

U.S. – ILLINOIS MARRIAGE. Nearly 200,00 total indexed marriage records for Illinois have been added to FamilySearch.org across three collections: church marriages, 1805-1985; civil marriages, 1833-1889 and county marriages, 1810-1934.

U.S. – MARYLAND CHURCH. A new collection of nearly 140,000 free, indexed records from a variety of Maryland churches (1668-1995) has been added to FamilySearch.org.

U.S. WAR OF 1812. 1.3 million indexed records have been added to a free United States War of 1812 Index to Service Records at FamilySearch.org.

 

3 Strategies for Finding Catholic Church Records

finding ancestors in Catholic church recordsLook for ancestors’ parents in Catholic church records. Here’s a success story and 3 tips for finding Catholic parish records you need in the U.S.

Not too long ago, Lisa shared these 6 suggestions for finding an ancestor’s parents. Kathie V. wrote back to Lisa almost immediately: “Here is a 7th way to find parents.  I found my grandparents’ church marriage record, in which it listed their parents by name & WHERE THEY WERE BORN!

Kathie went on to say that the Catholic records were from St. Stanislaus parish in Buffalo, NY. Though Kathie grew up in that area, she’s since moved around the world, and has found it difficult and expensive to research family from back home. Finding the church records was tough, she says: she started by writing to every Catholic parish in Buffalo, “with varying results.”wedding photo

Eventually Kathie found this this church marriage record on a film ordered from the Family History Library many years ago. (Click here to learn more about using Family History Library resources wherever you are.) It’s for her grandparents, Stanislawa Zdrojewska and Konstantyn Schultz, shown in the beautiful  wedding photo here that Kathie sent us. The record is tough to read but it shows several columns packed with the names, dates and locations she most wanted  to find.

Once Kathie located the right church, she was able to get much more than just this marriage record. She found baptismal records in another book. “I also was able to get burial information on some few relatives by writing the parish, which has its own cemetery.”

3 Tips for Finding Catholic Parish Records in the U.S.

(You may also be able to use these tips to find Catholic parish records in other countries.)

1. Start with existing parishes. Catholic parishes generally keep their own sacramental records. Use this Parish Locator link to locate existing parishes near your ancestor’s home (enter a ZIP code). Contact the parish and ask how old it is, whether it has its own records and whether they can send you copies.

2. Contact Catholic archives regarding closed parishes. If a parish closes, its records are supposed to be sent to  a diocesan or archdiocesan archive. Click here to find a directory of diocesan and archdiocesan offices and contact their archivist. Ask what now-closed parishes existed in that neighborhood and time and whether they have the sacramental records.

3. Look for ethnic and national parishes. By the late 1800s and early 1900s, Catholics from many countries had come to the U.S.: Irish, Italian, Polish and others. Many desperately wanted to worship and socialize in their own language at church. As a result, Catholic parishes began to be organized based on language or national origin. Look for a parish in your ancestor’s town with the right ethnic background or contact a diocesan archivist to see whether there were any.

More Gems on Finding Family History in Church Records

Evangelical Lutheran Church Records Now Online

Here’s Why Quebec Church Records are a Great Place to Look for Ancestors

Irish Catholic Parish Registers Now Online

How 75-Year Old WPA Records May Help You Find an Ancestor

WPA Church Record Inventory Sheet, Eliam Baptist Church, FL. Click to view.

WPA Church Record Inventory Sheet, Eliam Baptist Church, FL. Click to view.

Got a research brick wall? A “national temp agency” created resources that may help you find your family history in obscure historical records.

During the Great Depression, so many Americans were out of work that the federal government launched the Works Progress Administration (later renamed the Works Projects Administration, thankfully keeping the “WPA” acronym intact).

I think of the WPA as a national temp agency that put thousands of residents to work on bookkeeping, building and conservation projects around the country. It’s the same concept I use when my kids want to earn some spending money: I give them a list of back-burnered chores: weed the flower beds, inventory the pantry, wash the walls.

The federal government did this on an enormous scale. Their “inventory the pantry” chores included jobs like indexing immigration and naturalization records and inventorying extant church records. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Let’s use the church records inventories as an example. In several states, WPA workers used a standardized form to capture data about church congregations. Included were:

  • the church name(s) and address, pastor name, details about the building(s), race and size of congregation;
  • a brief history of the church; and–even better–
  • the description and location of existing records, like minute books, financial records, and registers of baptisms, marriages, members and deaths.

The original inventories, where they still exist, have been scattered. They were not collected and maintained by any national agency. But some were published and some are now online. For example:

Church records inventories are just one type of helpful resource compiled by WPA workers. Learn more about WPA records from leading genealogical expert Paula Stuart-Warren in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 2. (A Premium membership required to access–and it’s totally worth it! Click here to learn about its many benefits.)