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If you’ve got English or Welsh ancestors, then I’d like to give you my three top tips for using parish records to find them. Perhaps you can’t find your ancestor in the parish records for the village or the town where all the rest of the family are recorded and so this is where you expected to find them also?
- Have you thought that people did move, even in the olden days? They would go where the jobs are; or maybe they stayed put, but had fallen out with the vicar and have simply found a church which is more appealing to them. So the first tip on my list is to check the surrounding churches.
How are you going to find the surrounding parishes whose records you want to investigate? You could turn to this fantastic book that’s called the Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers. It’s in its third edition, available from various booksellers and genealogy supplies. It has some fantastic maps which show you the different parishes in and around the area that you’re looking at.
2. Another way for you to check for the contiguous parishes to yours, that is the parishes surrounding, is to go over to maps.familysearch.org and then put in the parish or the county that you wish to search for. As an example I’ve decided to Centre on a parish called Ravenstone in the county of Leicestershire. By default it’s gone to give me the parishes within a five-mile radius and it lists them all down the left side. If I just highlight Huggleston and Donington or maybe these ancestors went to Coalville, Woodville, Heather (spelt ‘Heather’ but it is pronounced Heether) and then there is Normanton le Heath.
So that is maps.familysearch.org and it covers the parishes for all of England and Wales.
3. My third tip is to use a website like TheGenealogist. Why am I using TheGenealogist? Well it has some very cunning little tools that allow you to search for the parents of somebody that is in the baptismal records.
Now here we’re looking for Mary Ann Evans in Chilvers Coton.
Who is Mary on Evans? Well if you are literary minded then you might know George Eliot the English novelist, poet, journalists, and translator. She used a male pen name because it meant that her works will be taken more seriously.
Returning to TheGenealogist records, we have the parish records baptism here for Mary Ann and we’re going to click on the icon which gives us the detail that her father’s name is Robert Evans and that her mother’s name is Cristiana Evans. Well I’m going to use this useful SmartSearch tool here that TheGenealogist have to discover: ‘The parents potential marriage’
With a single click it returns to us the records for any Robert Evans marrying a Christiana and in this case we discover that they didn’t get married in Chilvers Coton, where Mary Ann Evans was baptised. They got married in Astley, Saint Mary the Virgin – which actually is about nine miles down the road. So, there you are, a very very useful facility on this website TheGenealogist.
So if you’d like to find out more about how to tease out your elusive English or Welsh ancestors then take a look at