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Records of Births, Marriages and Deaths Before 1837

The Genealogical Society of Utah has compiled an International Genealogical Index (IGI), drawing on parish, chapel and vital records of births, baptisms and marriages throughout the world. The latest edition is accessible at , which is regularly updated. You can inspect the 1993 edition with later addenda up to 2000 on CD-ROM in many local libraries, record offices and Family History Centres. This is available at the Family Records Centre as one of the online family history databases. You can search the 1992 edition on microfiche at the Family Records Centre, The National Archives and many libraries, record offices and Family History Centres.

The IGI can be searched for individual births or baptisms, the recorded children of a specific marriage, or for a particular wedding entry, by region or country. There are Parish and Vital Records Listings of places, events and periods for each edition. You can discover what places, events and dates are covered by the IGI by scanning the Family History Library Catalog at . References in the IGI to events in England and Wales before 1837 will be to parish registers (kept locally) or to non-parochial (usually non-conformist) registers, kept at The National Archives and also available at the Family Records Centre. Many parish registers have been filmed and copies of these and of non-conformist registers in the National Archives can also be viewed in Family History Centres. Search the above catalog for information about these microfilms and their whereabouts.

Whilst since 1992 the IGI has included a mixture of entries extracted from official sources worldwide and compiled family records deposited with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the 12.3 million names in British Isles Vital Records Index (BIVRI), issued in 2002, have been taken solely from vital records between 1538 and 1906. It covers England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Isle of Man. Each entry contains a reference to a microfilm copy of the original source, which can then be searched in a Family History Centre. At present the BIVRI is available only on CDROM, at the Family Records Centre, The National Archives, and many Family History Centres, local libraries and record offices.

Tip: neither the IGI nor BIVRI is fully comprehensive. They do not contain everything that was written in a record about a particular person, so use them as a finding aid and then search the original source.

Burials are not normally included in the above indexes, but in 2001 the Federation of Family History Societies published a National Burial Index (NBI) on CDROM, containing more than 5.4 million names of people buried over 4,300 churchyards and cemeteries in England and Wales between 1538 and 2000. Each entry includes the forename(s) and surname, date of burial, age (where given), the parish or cemetery where the event was recorded, and the family history group or society that transcribed the record. It does not include tombstone transcriptions. You can search this at the Family Records Centre as one of the online databases, and elsewhere on CDROM. At present coverage does not extend to every county, and the start and end dates vary from place to place, though it is particularly good for the period between 1813 and 1837. You can find out which places and periods are covered by visiting .

Since 1538 clergy of the Anglican Church in England and in Wales have kept registers of church baptisms, marriages and burials. The local record office will be able to advise on their present whereabouts. The addresses of offices are included in Record Repositories in Great Britain (11th edn, 1999), and in Record Offices: How to Find Them, by J Gibson and P Peskett (Federation of Family History Societies, 9th edn 2002). You can also find details at The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, edited by C Humphery-Smith (2nd edn, Chichester, 1995), lists parishes before 1832 county by county, the whereabouts of the registers, and if there are copies. Neither the Family Records Centre nor The National Archives holds any parish registers.

A number of non-parochial registers of chapels and congregations outside the Anglican Church were deposited with the Registrar General in the nineteenth century. Microfilm copies of these and other non-parochial records, spanning the period 1567-1970, can be seen on microfilm at the Family Records Centre, and at the National Archives, in RG4 and RG8 , and in Family History Centres. Many county record offices have filmed copies of registers local to them. Very few registers extend beyond 1837, and they are predominantly those of Protestant dissenters, though some north-country Roman Catholic records, and registers of Foreign Protestant congregations in England are included. The IGI contains entries from registers in RG4. The local record office or denominational headquarters should be able to advise on the whereabouts of other dissenters' records.

If you are having no luck with chapel registers, try the birth registrations in the Protestant Dissenters' Registry (sometimes called Dr Williams's Library). This was set up in 1742 for Baptists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians. A similar Metropolitan Registry was established for Wesleyan Methodists in 1818. The records of both are indexed, contain births which occurred before the official start dates, and names of people born countrywide or overseas. The registers, running up to 1837, are in RG4, and 80% of the entries in Dr Williams?s Registry are embedded in the British Isles Vital Records Index. You can search the filmed duplicate certificates lodged with this Registry at the Family Records Centre and National Archives, in RG5. Copies of all of these films can be searched in Family History Centres, where you may have to pay a small fee to hire them.

Microfilm copies of records of births, marriages, deaths and burials of members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) are held at the Family Records Centre and National Archives, in RG6, including some for the Channel Islands and Isle of Man. County digests of the entries, arranged by initial index, can be searched on microfilm for a fee at the Religious Society of Friends Library, Friends House, 173-177 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ (020 7663 1135, The Library is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 1.00pm until 5.00pm, and on Wednesdays between 10.00am and 5.00pm. You will need to book a seat in advance. You can also search these records on microfilm in Family History Centres, where a small hiring fee may be charged.

Registers of clandestine (secret) Anglican marriages conducted in and around London during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, before being made illegal except for Quakers and Jews after 25 March 1754, are in RG7. These can be examined on microfilm at the Family Records Centre and at The National Archives. Filmed copies of these registers can be inspected at Family History Centres. You may have to pay a small fee to hire them.


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Last Updated. 15-April-2019 By admin