Have you heard that findmypast.co.uk has this week added 62,625 new parish records to the website as part of its ongoing project with the Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS)?
The new records consist of transcripts of baptism and burial registers that have been added to Findmypast’s existing collection of Cheshire, Sheffield and North West Kent parish records.
2,653 burial records spanning the years 1683 to 1850 from Church Hulme chapelry have been added in partnership with Cheshire Family History Society. The parish was called Church Hulme until 1974, when it acquired its present day name of Holmes Chapel..
15,216 records spanning the years 1867-2000 from Sheffield & District Family History Society have been added to the Sheffield, St Silas, Broomhall Street baptisms, bringing the total number of Sheffield parish baptism records to 239,220. The parish was created in 1866 when the parishes of St Peter and St Paul were merged and was called St Silas, Gilcar until it was renamed St Silas, Broomhall in 1990.
9, 756 new records have been added to Findmypast’s already extensive collection of North West Kent baptisms, which now total 28,070 records. These new additions come from the parish of Stone, St Mary the Virgin, covering the years 1718-1955 and were transcribed by North West Kent Family History Society. The 13th century church of St Mary’s has been dubbed ‘Little Westminster’ and is regarded as one of the finest in the county.
A further 35,000 records from 18 different parishes have also been added to the North West Kent burial registers, meaning the collection now houses an impressive 136,574 records. North West Kent comprises areas within the London boroughs which were historically part of Kent, such as, Greenwich, Bexleyheath and Chislehurst.
Debra Chatfield, family historian at findmypast.co.uk, said: “Parish records are one of the most valuable tools in a family historian’s arsenal. These exciting new additions bolster our already extensive collection of parish records and mean that now even more people, wherever they are in the world, have the opportunity to discover their UK ancestors online”.
Do you ever feel that there are more questions than answers, when researching your family tree?
It seems to me that the more answers we seek, to questions about our ancestors, often trigger more queries about them. This is a bit how I feel this weekend, after Iâ€™ve returned home from a visit to Devon this week.
I called in at the Devon Family History Societyâ€™s â€œTree Houseâ€ in Exeter where I was able to spend a profitable few hours reading the files that they have on families with the surnames I am researching. I was also able to look at what they had on the parishes I was interested in, so giving me some added background to the places where my ancestors lived and worshiped. I came away with a set of useful printouts, for 30 pence each, from a search of their database for records of the persons I was seeking information on. This would save me much time at my next stop, the Devon County Record Offices in Exeter when looking in the parish register microfiches.
I have visited the County Record offices before and had find it was easy to go off on side tracks, so this time I had come prepared with a set of answers that I was seeking from the records held there.Â As always, however, simply by searching the documents and the microfiche of baptisms, weddings and burials, together with the microfilms of Bishopâ€™s Transcripts gave me new lines of inquiries to make. In the course of looking for one ancestor I would spot instances of the family names cropping up in the documents and make a note of the details on my pad of paper.
While I was looking at parish records, for Dartmouthâ€™s three C of E churches, in the hope of finding the burial of one ancestor, then I came across burials of the children of another. I saw a rapid succession of children of my three times great grandparents being baptized and buried by the established church and I wondered if this may explain why the next six are all baptized in the Presbyterian chapel in the town. But this doesnâ€™t explain why one child, who died in 1827 aged 4 years old, is buried by the Church of England in January of that year, while his brother was christened by the minister of the Flavel Presbyterian Church in April 1826, in the year before the death of the first. From a search of BMDregisters.co.uk I have found that all further siblings are christened in that nonconformist church.
While at the Devon County Record Office I was able to examine the books deposited from that Presbyterian church, but could find no mention of my ancestors remaining members in this chapel in later years. The books, that I was able to see, did not go back as far as the time of the christenings in my family, but they did contain lists of members of the church which could be very useful to others researching Presbyterian forebears in Dartmouth.
One of the questions that I had wanted to answer, from my visit to the County Record Office, was did my four time great grandparents stay in Dartmouth? They can not be found in the 1841 census. Now that, I assumed, was because they had died before it was taken. I did indeed find, by working back in years through the burial registers of the parish church, the entry for a likely pair of candidates with the right names and ages that would have made them 25 and 26 on their wedding date in 1794. Yes, this is only supposition that I have found the right Thornâ€™s in Dartmouth as rather frustratingly there are others with the same Christian and surname as my male ancestor in the town. But these two are the closest matches for the facts that I have.
So the lesson is to embrace the discovery of the new questions, that will need answers to in due course. Yes, I went to Devon seeking the answer to one thing and came away with semi-answers and more family history questions to explore. But this is a good thing as it gives me more avenues to research and more information to seek out. It may seem like the jigsaw puzzle is becoming more complicated, as more pieces are being placed on the table in front of me, but in the end a better picture is emerging of my family history. And for that I am excited!
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So, you have been researching your ancestors through the census and have gleaned the name of the town that they were born in. You now have to find the parish in which your ancestor was baptised in and perhaps you have been lucky in getting the parish name from the census. Now you want to find out where exactly it is and carry on your research back before 1837.
The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, Phillimore & Co Ltd; 3rd Revised edition edition (1 Dec 2002) is the go to resource for family historians who are dealing with the “Old Parishes” of England, Scotland & Wales. The third edition of this index features the addition of a map of the whole UK that shows the county boundaries before 1830 and it has shifted to a reliance on census indexes, rather than marriage indexes, which are now summarized in a paragraph.
In what I’ve written above I refer to the Old Parishes. What are these, you may be asking yourself? The answer is that they are those, approximately twelve and a half thousand parishes, from before 1832 and the Victorian expansion of towns and cities. It was then that many of the ancient parishes were divided up with the building of new churches to cater for the expanding population.
The Phillimore Atlas and Index is an abstract made in 1831 of the records that had survived for the parishes of that time. The book gives the family historian maps of the ancient parishes, along with names and the dates of the earliest surviving registers for each of the named parishes. Now these could be back as far as 1538 or much much later, depending on their survival against fire, flood and a variety of other reasons for them going missing.
Taking a look at the Index section you would see that you are able to find a list of the old parishes for the county that you are interested in. You will find the dates for when the registers were deposited and a code against them that will tell you where the records are deposited in the various record offices.
Now, you should be aware, however, that it is possible that not all three types of records may have been deposited yet. The baptism, marriage and burial registers may have filled up at different rates. The registers are only ever deposited when they are full as they remain a working document until such time. So, take as an example, a parish where baptisms are only done once in a blue moon. Here the register that they started in 1813 may still be with the church as it tortuously slowly received children into the faith! (1813 was when the new registers came into existence.)
The Atlas and Index is effectively a synopsis of parish registers and if there is nothing in the column for baptisms then you could assume that it was still with the church in 2003, when the last revision came out. The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, can be found in most municipal libraries or can be bought from all good bookshops and at Amazon.co.uk