Parish records in England exist as far back as 1344 for a few parishes. For most ancestral research however, the starting date is 5 September 1538. There are a number of gaps caused by fighting in the Civil War (1642-1649) when a number of churches were destroyed, records stolen, etc.
The act of 1598 made it mandatory that once a year, records for that year should be sent to the diocesan registry at the bishop's office and these became known as the Bishop's Transcripts. Hence, in some cases where the original parish registers have been lost or destroyed, the Bishop's Transcripts are still available.
The Parochial Registers and Records Measure in 1978 became law on 1 January 1979. As a result of this, every custodian of parish registers and records that were over 100 years old were required to deposit them in the designated record office unless exemption was obtained from the bishop. The designated record office was normally the County Record Office.
Most of the Parish Registers for England have been microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Consequently, the the LDS church has become a tremendous research tool for genealogists and the microfilm copies of Parish Registers may be ordered from any branch Family History Library of the LDS church.
Blank baptisms record for England - click and hold down the mouse button on the link at left
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