Under the agreement, the Hampshire Archives and Local Studies team will work alongside Ancestry to digitise the baptism, marriage and burial records for Hampshire parishes in Winchester Diocese dating from 1536 to 1921.
The earliest register, from West Meon, has entries predating the 1538 order by Thomas Cromwell (Henry VIII’s minister) for parish clergy to keep registers.
They also include events in the lives of famous historical figures, such as the 1775 baptism of Jane Austen and the 1910 burial of Florence Nightingale.
The agreement also covers the probate records of the church courts of Winchester Diocese, which was used to prove wills in the area from 1500 until the establishment of the Civil Court of Probate in 1858.
Transcriptions of the records are already available on FamilySearch, although the images are only available at FamilySearch’s Family History Centres and Affiliate Libraries.
Councillor Edward Heron, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for recreation, heritage and rural affairs, said the agreement would “work to preserve the rich history of our county” and “generate income for the County Council to plough back into work to preserve our county’s heritage”.
The first tranche of records are due to be released at the end of 2022.
In addition, as part of the agreement, Ancestry will be free to access at Hampshire’s 40 public libraries from January 2022.
Rosemary Collins is the Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine features editor