Parish Registers

Parish Registers

Atlas of Parish Registers

A Brief History of Parish Registers

Here is a timeline which gives you a summary of how Parish Registers began, and how they have changed over time.


Cromwell, from the court of Henry VIII, ordered that every wedding, baptism and burial was to be recorded.


There may be gaps in Parish Registers between 1553 and 1558 and the Catholic Mary Tudor was on the throne.


Although early records were made on paper, in 1558 parchment was used, and the older records were supposed to have been copied (although some never were and have been lost).


A second copy of the records had to be made and sent to the Bishop.


There may be gaps in the records during the English Civil War and Commonwealth (1642-1660), as records were poorly kept or hidden, and some have been lost.


Between 1678 and 1814 an affidavit was required to be sworn that when buried, the deceased was buried in wool or a fine of £5 was given.


Calendar changes – One calendar year became Jan 1st to 31st December, rather than having each year start on March 25th.


A stamp duty of 3 pence was imposed on every entry, although paupers were exempt. Tax evasion naturally occurred, and the Act was repealed in 1794, and declared unsuccessful.


Baptisms, marriages and burials were entered in separate, specially printed books, eight entries per page and including more information.


Civil registration is introduced.