Parish Records and Parish Registers

Below is a list of the parishes covered by the volumes of complete parish registers we already have available, totally free. We also have another database containing complete Phillimore Marriages transcripts and a list of those included so far can be found on the Phillimore Parish Registers - Marriages page.

A project has been initiated to index all of these volumes in order that you may easily find the records you require. This is an arduous task and will take a while to complete, so please bear with us.

The vast majority of the parishes below have not been indexed yet, but those that show (I) after the parish name have been. A list of the volumes that have been indexed can be found on the main search page.

We suggest you bookmark this page as we will be adding many more parishes in due course.

We would be delighted to hear what you think of this new facility. Please let us know.

Parish registers originally commenced in 1538 when Thomas Cromwell first ordered that in every parish, in England and Wales, a list must be kept recording all baptisms, burials and marriages. Initially, these records were kept on loose leaves but the rules were later tightened by James I ordering the records to be kept in parchment books. His order stated that all previous entries, back to at least the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth in 1558, must be transcribed into the new books. Unfortunately, many parish clerks only did as instructed and the 20 or so years previous to 1558 were lost when the originals were destroyed. Some do remain complete back to 1538 - this explaining the variations in the start of parish registers.

There has never been any regulation as to the amount of information which must be recorded, so the records vary greatly, although in 1754 "Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act" introduced a set of printed forms which has helped keep records fairly consistent since that time. The Act was introduced in an attempt to make illegal all clandestine marriages for which no publication of banns, or a licence had been granted, and after 25th March 1754 were to be classed as void unless they had been performed in a church or chapel.

Parish Registers