Parish Register Records

East Knoyle

At first, monasteries were one of the early places where births of important people were recorded. However it was not until the year of 1538 when a mandate was set, to keep parish registers written up by the clergy. Initially these were kept on loose pieces of paper and, as one might imagine, parts were lost. In 1598 an improved scheme of register books containing parchment paper was started and the old loose leaves going back to 1558 had to be transcribed into these new books. Recording officially passed from the clergy to a Registrar in September of 1653.

Early Parish Registers often had baptisms/christenings, marriages and burials all recorded in one volume, but in separate sections. Marriages and burials were recorded reasonably well. Christenings, however, were often missed because of a number of influences. Dissention, tax on registration and charges to the clergy were all responsible at various times.

As the result of an Act in 1812 new register books were printed for use from 1st January 1813. These contained pages with headings, were in column form with separate volume for each type of event.

Early parish registers have often suffered as a result of being kept for a long time in damp church vestries. Many are now stored in better conditions, usually being deposited for safe keeping in county records offices.

Baptismal Registers

The information provided by a baptismal register is given in tabular form:

Two entries from the baptismal register of
St Saviour, Dartmouth.
Child's Christian Name Parents Names Abode Trade or Profession
Christian Surname
21 Feb 1849 James Nicholas William & Ann ROWDEN St Saviours Wheelwright
12 Jan 1853 Jane Pack William & Ann ROWDEN Dittisham Wheelwright

In the above register the birth dates of James and Jane had also been entered in the spine as 18 Jan 1849 and 14 Dec 1852 respectively. There is no column provided in a baptismal register for the date of birth, however occasionally the parish priest may have made an unofficial entry. Even more rarely might one find that the mother's maiden name has been entered.

Marriage Registers

The information provided by a marriage register is given in tabular form:

Three entries from the marriage register of
Berry Pomeroy, Devon.
When Married Name and Surname Age Condition Rank or Profession Residence at the time of Marriage Father's Name and Surname Rank or Profession of Father
3 June 1882 John Rowdon 27 Bachelor Labourer Berry Pomeroy John Rowden Labourer
  Elizabeth Perriam 28 Spinster Domestic Servant Littlehempston John Perriam Carpenter
1 June 1899 Thomas Hodge 27 Bachelor Groom Aish, Stoke Gabriel Samuel Hodge Labourer
  Alice Annie Rowden 23 Spinster   Berry Pomeroy James Rowden Labourer
21 Dec 1899 George Edward Harvey 22 Bachelor Mason Buckfastleigh George Harvey Mason
  Emily Jane Rowden 22 Spinster   Berry Pomeroy James Rowden Labourer

Burial Registers

The information provided by a burial register is given in tabular form:

Four entries from the burial register of
Colebrooke, Devon.
Name Abode When Buried Age
James ROWDEN Exeter 23 June 1852 46
William ROWDON Colebrooke 3 October 1858 26
Lewis George ROWDON Colebrooke 4 November 1858 4
Jane ROWDON Colebrooke 18 March 1860 38

Occasionally in a burial register the date of death has been entered, usually as a note in the spine of the book.

View burial register page from Bow, Devon - 1833...