From the office: 10 free parish register sites

By Deputy Editor, 30 May 2013 - 12:24pm

With more new parish register releases on Ancestry and Findmypast, deputy editor Claire Vaughan tracks down some free parish offerings

Thursday, 30 May 2013
Claire Vaughan, deputy editor
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The Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine team arrived into work this morning to discover that overnight there had been another major online parish register release.

Ancestry.co.uk has added 2.6 million baptism, marriage and burial records for Surrey to its portfolio. Last week Findmypast uploaded a smaller chunk (450,000) of parish records for Northumberland, Durham, Ryedale, Sheffield, Wiltshire and Suffolk. (There are, of course, other subscription sites with healthy parish register collections – including ScotlandsPeople, the main port of call for the country’s Old Parish Registers.) 

There’s no denying that parish registers are a great source of information for family historians who come up against the 1837 civil registration barrier. The more recent ones may hold almost as much information as BMD certificates, while parish clerks sometimes scribbled added extras in the book’s margins – such as the rumoured father of an illegitimate child – so it’s always worth looking at original registers where possible.

Happily for those of us unable to get down to the relevant record office, the number of parish registers available online is growing all the time. But you don’t have to shell out for a subscription. There are plenty of free sites out there.

Here are my top 10:

 Familysearch.org – the biggest and, many argue, the best. Compiled by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

 www.freereg.org.uk – more than 25 million British baptisms, marriages and burials. The site is regularly updated by volunteers – why not get involved?

 www.ukbmd.org.uk/parish – a hub for BMD information including parish registers – some free, some not…

 www.wirksworth.org.uk – a personal favourite as it helped me uncover my Derbyshire ancestors

 Medway Ancestors – provides free access to images of original Medway registers

 Lancashire Online Parish Clerks has an extensive online collection of PRs. For other parish clerk projects see the guide on GENUKI

 Cheshire Parish Register Project – from parish registers held at Cheshire Records Office (earliest-1871) 

 Cumberland and Westmorland Parish Registers

 Cornish parish registers

 Sheffield Indexers – a treasure trove of records relating to the city including parish registers

If you know of any other hidden parish register gems, I'd love to hear about them…

 

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