Tracing Your Nonconformist Ancestors
Author: Stuart A Raymond Publisher: Pen & Sword w. www.pen-and-sword.co.uk ISBN: 9781473883451 Price: £14.99 (PB)
According the Stuart Raymond, almost half of the English population in the mid-19th century were Nonconformists. So, even if you are used to pursuing your forebears through generation after generation of standard C of E parish records, there’s a high probability that some of your forebears will not be in them.
The good news is that Nonconformist denominations – among them Methodists, Quakers, Baptists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians – often kept better records than the Anglicans, and indeed several websites have digitised The National Archives’ extensive collection of them.
Raymond gives us a history of Nonconformity before exploring the sources themselves, where his list is very helpful, typical of his encyclopedic style in other books; thus we have periodicals, school records, missionary records and numerous others beyond the expected BMDs.
The majority of the book then looks at each denomination in turn, encompassing smaller groups such as Moravians, Christadelphians and Muggletonians, as well as the larger denominations listed above, and more familiar groups such as the Salvation Army and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
This is an excellent guide to the subject: Raymond is particularly careful with his terminology, thus Roman Catholics are not included, even if they have sometimes historically been lumped together with Nonconformism by the law (his next books will cover Roman Catholic and C of E ancestry, so are worth watching for); and he explains the uses of terms such as Dissenter and ‘separatist’ clearly. Readitfor: AworthyguidetoNonconformisminallitsmanifestations, andtherecordsitkept