Family Events


[rewrite planned]

Old Herts

How To


 There are 132 ancient parishes in Hertfordshire and the surviving original registers are held at HALS and all, but the most recent, are on microfilm. Sixteen registers start in or shortly after 1538, while for most of them there are gaps at the time of the Commonwealth which can mean that there is a continuous record only back to about 1660. In some cases registers have been lost (for instance by fire) and in some cases they were not as well kept as one would like. It should be noted that non-conformist baptisms would not normally be included in the parish registers and that only a few of the earlier non-conformist registers survive. However non-conformist burials often took place in the parish churchyard, and are mentioned in the parish registers, where there was no suitable non-conformist burial ground.

Non-current parish registers are, with very few exceptions, now held at an approved centre - which in Hertfordshire is at HALS  in Hertford. Most other old parish records are held there - so there is little point in contacting the church. A list of the Hertfordshire registers at Hertford is given on the HALS web site, while those available worldwide on microfilm are listed on the familysearch web site.

Many (but not all) pre-20th century parish baptism and marriage registers are indexed on the IGI (familysearch) or on the British Isles VRI.

During 2012 FindMyPast are to digitise the Hertfordshire Parish Registers and Bishops Transcripts held at HALS up to 1910 for baptisms, 1928 for marriages and 1990 for burials.

Some general points about early parish registers.

Some Hertfordshire Registers are indexed on FreeREG

Note: The Society of Friends (Quakers) kept their own registers from the mid 17th century and should be considered a special case. See My Ancestors were Quakers.

Bishops' Transcripts (BT)

From 1598 incumbents were required to make an annual return to the bishop, usually at Easter, which contained a list of all the baptisms, marriages and christenings in the parish. These are now at HALS and some may be available on microfilm, and may be indexed on familysearch or on the British Isles VRI.

If the parish registers survive and are in good order there may be nothing to be gained from the bishops' transcripts, but they can be invaluable if, for example, the register is incomplete or has other deficiencies. The following points should be born in mind:

The book Tracing Your Family History in Hertfordshire contains a table showing the coverage of both the registers and the bishops transcripts for each Hertfordshire parish.

Spring Clean June 2006