Religious Records

Religious records are kept on events such as marriages, burials and baptisms. The Anglican Church started to keep religious records from 1538 in England and Wales, 1634 in Ireland and the Catholic Church began keeping records for Scotland in 1553. Religious records are good sources of life events, and can tell you a lot about your ancestors.

Parish Registers

Parish registers can show various amounts of information on marriages, burials and baptisms. Most parish registers are held at their local records office. Parish registers may also be described in the A2A database for certain areas of England.

Most parish registers in Wales are kept by the National Library of Wales or at a county record office.

In Scotland, parish registers are held by the General Register Office for Scotland. Copies of records are also available in some libraries.

The British Library may also contain some religious records, including some from other countries.

Non-conformist Registers

Those who did not worship at the established church were classed as ‘non-conformists’. For example, Presbyterians or Methodists in England and Wales, or Episcopalians in Scotland were classed as non-conformists.

The civil registration started in 1837, there were two parliamentary commissions set up to collect these registers from outside the established church. Protestant records are relatively easy to find as most chapels sent their records to the groups. Roman Catholic and Jewish records however may be harder to find.

Some records are available at the National Archives. Other sources, such as national libraries and the A2A database also describe some records.

Roman Catholic Register

The civil registration started in 1837, there were two parliamentary commissions set up to collect these registers from outside the established church. Most Roman Catholic churches did not send their registers, so their records may be harder to find.

Some records are available at the National Archives. Other sources, such as national libraries and the A2A database also describe some records.

Jewish Registers

Most Jewish records are held by:

  • Synagogues
  • Jewish Institutions
  • Jewish burial societies

The London Metropolitan Archive holds some records from the Federation Synagogues. Visit www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/family-research for further details.