Parish Records

Build Your Family History Using Parish Records 

UK parish records are church registers of marriages, baptisms and burials. These records are great resources for learning about a person’s lineage and family history. Parish records consist of marriage records, baptisms and burials that we conducted by the Church. Births and deaths were not typically recorded in the UK a few hundred years ago and that’s why UK parish records are so useful. They can be used with other genealogical information to build a more accurate family tree. 

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The History of UK Parish Records 

  • Parish records started being recorded in 1538 on paper 
  • These records were transcribed to parchment in the late 1500’s 
  • There are gaps in recorded parish records during the English Civil War, 1642-1660 
  • Beginning in the 1800’s, marriages, baptisms, and burials were entered into separate records with much more information available 
  • In 1837, Civil Registration began 

Records of marriages, births, deaths and baptisms were not always recorded prior to the 1500’s. In 1538, the court of Henry VII ordered weddings, baptisms and burials to be recorded. Then over the course of the few centuries these records developed until the early 1800’s when civil registration was introduced. There are some gaps in the UK parish records because of the UK civil war and older copies that were lost or not copied over to parchment from paper. 


UK Parish Records

UK Civil Registration 

Civil registration in the UK began in 1837 where legislation was passed to create a civil register of births, deaths, marriage and divorces. Before this time, parish registers were used to document life events such a wedding, baptism or burial. The UK civil registration is a more complete account of a person’s life events in the UK. Detailed information about civil registration can be found at the UK national archives as well as genealogy websites. 

How to Search UK Parish Records 

There are a couple of ways to easily search parish records online. There are privately run UK genealogy websites, public record website or the UK government resources such as and With these resources you can search parish registries as well as nonconformist and non-parish births, marriages and death records as well as other church related records.  If you are tracing your ancestry, then it’s savvy to have multiple resources to work with to insure there are no inconsistencies.  

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UK Parish Record FAQs

What are UK parish records?

UK parish records are historical documents that typically include records of baptisms, marriages, and burials performed within the local parishes of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Parish records date back to the 16th century and are commonly used for genealogical and family history research.

Where can I find UK parish records?

You can find UK parish records in various places, such as county record offices, the UK National Archives, and genealogy websites.

How far back do UK parish records go?

UK parish records go back as early as the 16th century, but it also depends on what parish you are researching and what is available from the time frame you are looking at.

Are early UK parish records in English, or are they in Latin?

Early parish records that were before the 18th century were usually written in Latin however, later parish records are usually in English.

Can I research UK parish records for free?

There are some online resources that can be researched for free however, many of the more detailed parish records from a genealogy website may cost a small fee.

Are there any privacy restrictions on researching UK parish records?

There are not a lot of privacy restrictions on accessing historical parish records, as they typically cover events that occurred long ago. However, many public records in the UK are sealed for 100 years to protect the privacy of the living.

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