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What is a Parish Register
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  What Is A Parish Register?
A Parish Register is a book kept by the local church in which are recorded the names of those people who have passed through the religious rituals of the church – Baptism, Marriage and Burial. However, Churches have not always kept registers.

In 1538 Thomas Cromwell on behalf of King Henry VIII, first ordered Parish Registers to be kept. Every parish had to keep a register. Each Sunday the Vicar, in the presence of the wardens, entered all the baptisms, marriage and burials of the previous week. A few parishes had been keeping registers before 1538. However, many parishes ignored the compulsory order.

In 1563 parliament passed an act stating that records were to be kept in 'great decent books of parchment'. Copies or 'Bishop's Transcripts' were sent to the diocesan centre each month. Entries in the old paper registers were to be copied into the new books.

In 1597 and 1603 ecclesiastical orders enforced the act throughout the country. However, the events of history have affected the keeping of registers. For example during The English Civil War (1643 - 1647), many were not kept properly, hidden or lost.

However, Parish Registers continue to be kept up to the present day and are valuable resources for historians.

If you are interested in finding out a bit more why not visit schooLMAte Black and Asian Londoners for stories, a timeline, audio plays, images and more documents relating to the history of Black and Asian Londoners. The site is directed at schools but does contain information all users may find useful.

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