Parish Registers

Church (or parish) registers were introduced in 1538 and contain records of baptisms and burials (as distinct from births and deaths) and, of course, marriages. Although many early registers have been lost over the years, a surprising number still exist. Today, very few registers, other than those which are still in use, are held at churches.

In addition to the registers, from 1598 parish priests had to send to their Bishop an ‘annual return’, a copy of the register, known as a Bishops’ Transcript. Those that still exist can be very useful in supplying entries omitted from the register or replacing a missing register.

For many years now the Dorset History Centre has kindly allowed our members to copy full details of the entries in the original registers. As a result, the Society now holds a very large collection of Parish Register Transcriptions for Dorset. We have concentrated on transcribing records before 1838, as later records are more easily available in the form of Birth, Marriage and Death certificates issued following the introduction of civil registration in 1837. Members are continuing to transcribe the registers. We are grateful that some transcriptions of later years have been donated to the Society.

Details of the Parishes which have been transcribed can be found by entering the Parish Name in the Search box below. The result shows the up to date list of transcriptions which are held at our Treetops Research Centre. The following codes may be seen.

N/A = Not available at the Dorset History Centre ******  = To be transcribed
* = Bishops’ Transcripts
NB The Earliest Record date is the oldest available. There may not have been any events to transcribe in some years.

View Data in "Parish Registers" Table

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Details of how to obtain transcriptions from these records are set out on our Research Facilities page.

New Transcriptions

The following transcriptions have been recently updated: –

BLANDFORD ST MARY, BRIDPORT, BROADWINDSOR , BUCKLAND NEWTON, CANFORD MAGNA ,  CANN  & CHESELBOURNE – March 2017

CERNE ABBAS, MOOR CRICHEL, SHERBORNE – April 2017

Treetops always has the most up-to-date transcriptions so, if you are visiting Treetops to specifically view new transcriptions, please ask to see the latest paper copies.

The computer records available at Treetops are updated on a regular basis, but it is likely to be some time before they are added to our transcriptions which can be searched online at Findmypast for a very modest price (only pence).

There is an ongoing project to identify those Parishes which, although transcribed and held on fiche at Treetops, do not appear online. This involves copy typing the paper records into Excel, so can be time consuming.