Parish registers

Illustration from “Journal of a Poor Vicar”, Illustrated Exhibitor & Magazine of Art, 1851

The bulk of the transcriptions on this site, by quite some way, are from parish registers. This guide is intended to help you get the most from them. They are a huge subject on their own, however, this guide is looking at the transcriptions on this site – so as well as information on what a parish register is and what you can expect to find in it (or not), it also explains such things as “uncertain character format” and issues found in Essex and Suffolk registers in particular.


Note about terminology: I often say “vicar” – the register may be written by a clerk, or a curate, or we may have a clergyman who is a parson or a rector. However, to avoid having to reel off a list, I’m just saying “vicar” as a shorthand.