Author Topic: *****Searching for information before 1837*****  (Read 34789 times)

Offline Little Nell

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*****Searching for information before 1837*****
« on: Sunday 01 May 05 11:56 BST (UK) »
Once you have exhausted the census and GRO information, you will be heading into the parish records of the past.

Here is some basic information on what you expect to find when searching.

Before Civil Registration was introduced in England and Wales in 1837, birth, marriage and death certificates DID NOT exist.  Baptisms, marriages and burials were recorded in parish registers.  The information that may be found at various dates is set out below.

Baptisms 1813-1837

There were entered into pre-printed registers in accordance with George Rose's Act of 1812 , eight entries per page.  There were 7 columns:
When baptised
Child's Christian Name
Parents Name - Christian
Quality, Trade or Profession
By whom the ceremony was performed

Some Vicars and curates included the date of birth in the first column, but not always.
Some vicars and curates included the maiden name of the mother, but not always.

Baptisms before 1813

These were entered as a chronological list and the "format" varied according to the person keeping the register.  Sometimes it would clearly be divided into months but they could all just run into one another.  A typical entry might read:
2 John the son of William Smith and Mary his wife was baptised.
2 Mary the daughter of Thomas Brown blacksmith and Elizabeth his wife was baptised.

The earlier the date, the less likely you are to find the wife's name given.  You may find a clue as to where they lived e.g. the name of a farm, but it cannot be guaranteed.

Burials 1813-1837

These were entered into pre-printed registers in accordance with George Rose's Act of 1812, eight entries per page.
There were five columns.

When buried
By whom the ceremony was performed

There may be additional comments under the name e.g. a foundling; found drowned in the river; by order of the Coroner

There is unlikely to be any information as to the deceased's relatives.

Burials pre-1812

Like baptisms at this time, these are likely to be entered as just a chronological list.  Ages are rarely shown, but there may be other useful clues e.g. a child; an infant; widow of John Smith.  It may also include where they came from, if it was another parish or they had died in the workhouse.

Marriages 1754 - 1837

In accordance with Hardwicke's Marriage Act of 1754, marriages were entered into pre-printed registers, three entries to a page.  The format was as follows - the words in italics are the sort of thing that would be filled in by the officiating minister

John Brown of  this Parish
and Sarah Smith of Newtown Parish
were married in this Church by Banns with the consent of
...................................................this twenty-first day of
September  in the year One thousand seven ( or eight) hundred and ninety-seven
By me James Long Vicar
This marriage was solemnised between us   ) John Brown
                  ) Sarah Smith her mark X
In the presence of   ) William Brown
         ) Thomas Heath

Marriages pre-1754

These would be entered in chronological order in a very simple way. e.g.

William Taylor and Sarah Elliot were married May 10

The year would be entered only when the new year started.

Before the introduction of printed registers, you will probably find that the parish registers are general ones i.e. baptisms, marriages and burials all entered into the same book.  The baptism entries may all be together at the front while the burials are at the back.  It could have been divided into sections.
Some early registers are very messy!  :-\


For information about pre-civil registration searching in Scotland, please see this thread:,24468.0.html

All census information: Crown Copyright