Parish Register Records
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.
The information provided by a baptismal register is given in tabular form:
|Child's Christian Name||Parents Names||Abode||Trade or Profession|
|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.
The information provided by a marriage register is given in tabular form:
|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|
The information provided by a burial register is given in tabular form:
|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...