Category Archives: Parish and Non Conformist records

Making use of those unique records…just what can we find?

As increasingly more ‘pre-1837’ records are added online, it is now possible to really unearth some useful information on the life and times of your ancestors. Going beyond the census and BMD records into those earlier records is now becoming easier online, with more records now available to view.

Today, the 13 March, gives us the opportunity to look at a ‘famous’ example of what can be found searching for those early records. On this day in 1781, Sir William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus. Both Sir William, his sister, Caroline and Sir William’s son, John were all renouned astronomers of the time.

William Herschel
William Herschel

William Herschel came to England in 1757 from Hanover, Germany, after leaving the army with his brother. Using his initial skills as a musician he made his way but his interests soon turned to mathematics and astronomy.

Discovering planets and comets with his sister, he became a highly regarded member of the scientific community. Having an ancestor who achieved great things or was a prominent member of society makes things easier for the family history researcher as they can appear in biographies and other valuable records of the time. Here we can see an example of a biography describing William Herschel.

Biography of William Herschel
Biography of William Herschel

As awards and respect came his way, we can see from his biographical records above he was made a Fellow of The Royal Society in 1781 and then appointed as ‘Court Astronomer’ in 1782. Fully settled in England,  he became a British naturalised citizen in 1793.

Naturalisation record for Sir William Herschel
Naturalisation record for Sir William Herschel

He achieved a worldwide reputation for the manufacture of telescopes and this no doubt provided a comfortable means for Sir William. Upon his death in 1822, he left a Will, a copy of which can be seen below:

Copy of Will record
Copy of Will record
Will record
Transcribed record of the Will on TheGenealogist

The son of Sir William, Frederick, is featured on later parish records, adding to the information we can gather on the family. A prominent astronomer himself, he appears in a number of parish records. The marriage of his daughter, Amelia, is listed below in 1868.

Parish marriage record
Parish marriage record

The burial record for John Hershel is also listed allowing us a further insight into the family.

Burial of John Hershel
Burial of John Hershel

The parish records give us a great deal of useful information- here we have other details on the life of John Hershel-  such as he was ‘Master of The Royal Mint’ and also was created a Baronet.

For more information on the new naturalisation records on TheGenealogist , there is more information here.

More Parish Records now available online

TheGenealogist has added over one million parish records for Essex, Worcestershire, Lancashire and Devon from the 1500s to the early 1800s, covering baptisms, marriages and burials. The records add to the already extensive range of parish records available on the website.

These counties are part of ongoing projects on TheGenealogist so keep an eye out for further releases in the near future.

Mark Bayley, Head of Online Development at TheGenealogist comments:

”We are committed to continually adding new records to the website. The last 12 months have seen us add over 285 million records. The demand for parish records and other early pre-1837 information is great and we are aiming to meet this demand with more such releases over the next year.”

New parish records on TheGenealogist
New parish records on TheGenealogist

Examples of the types of record now available, here we find the baptism record of Alice Adcock, from Whitington, Lancashire in the year of 1539. The result gives us the names of her mother and father to further continue the search.

Early Parish baptism record
Early Parish baptism record

Another example is the record below, of the marriage of Nicholas Parker and Margery Downinge, in the Parish of Belchamp St Paul, Essex, in 1545.

Parish marriage record
Parish marriage record

The continued addition of more unique records gives family historians even more convenient access to those early records to expand their search further. Going beyond the birth, marriage and death records and census records and finding your ancestors online is now becoming more achievable as more records get added by the major websites.

 

 

The importance of Parish and Non-Conformist records

Tracing your ancestors can start to get more difficult before 1837. This can be when many  people hit that ‘brick wall’ and they start to struggle with their family history research. However, it is possible to get access to information before Civil registration  records began and census information was recorded.

Civil registration (or the recording of births, marriages and deaths) started in England and Wales in 1837, Scotland in 1855 and Ireland in 1864, but the parish records of baptisms, marriages and burials go back much further than this- the very earliest record dates from 1538.

Whilst not as detailed as civil registration records, the parish records can often allow us to go back so much further and keep tracing our ancestors. Also, for those families who did not attend mainstream church, the non conformists, such as the Methodists, Quakers and Presbyterians amongst others, records are available for these groups too.

Parish records have generally been accessed by family historians through the relevant local or county archive. However, now it’s easier than ever to access both parish records and non conformist records. UK family history websites now have many records that can be found online without having to leave your home! One in particular, TheGenealogist, now provides access to over 12 million official non conformist and parish records, a good selection of records to help with family searches!  Some examples of what can now be found online are listed below:

Firstly, a parish record from 1773-

parish records
Parish records found on TheGenealogist

However, if your relatives followed a non-conformist faith, TheGenealogist is increasingly adding more records that may contain the relatives you are looking for. Here is an example of the search results (please click on the screenshot to get a larger, clearer image) :

Non conformist search

Easy to view search results