Parish Registers

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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 nearly 30 years the Dorset History Centre 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. However, in order for the condition of the original registers to be preserved the arrangement with the Dorset History Centre has now come to an end, as has this Society’s project. 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 above. The result shows the up to date list of transcriptions which are held at our Treetops Research Centre. The following code may be seen.

* = Bishops’ Transcripts
NB The Earliest Record date is the oldest available. There may not have been any events to transcribe in some years.

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

Many of our transcriptions are also available online at Findmypast at a very modest price (only pence) and the remainder will be added shortly.