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

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