What’s avail­able on­line and in the ar­chives

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Bap­tism, mar­riage and burial reg­is­ters

Al­though some reg­is­ters are held in county record of­fices, churches, or in pri­vate hands, they are mainly de­posited with TNA. To lo­cate records, you can search for the name of the church at dis­cov­ery. na­tion­ Scans and tran­scripts are avail­able to view on ances­try., the­ge­neal­o­ and bm­dreg­is­, while a free in­dex can be found at

Clan­des­tine mar­riage records

Records of both Fleet Prison Bap­tisms and Mar­riages and Gretna Green Mar­riages are avail­able on Ances­try at and bit. ly/1UIt­dvQ re­spec­tively.

Prop­erty deeds

Th­ese deeds for non­con­formist churches will record land pur­chase, trustees and trans­fer of own­er­ship. There were ded­i­cated Deeds Reg­istries for Mid­dle­sex ( and the three Rid­ings of York­shire ( North:, East:, West: bit. ly/1ftDGuU). Else­where it will be a case of check­ing ar­chive cat­a­logues for rel­e­vant de­posits – per­haps from lo­cal solic­i­tors.

Grave records and Mon­u­men­tal In­scrip­tions

Ar­chives, li­braries and fam­ily his­tory so­ci­eties of­ten have tran­scribed lists of grave records and Mon­u­men­tal In­scrip­tions. It is also worth con­sult­ing the Fed­er­a­tion of Fam­ily His­tory So­ci­eties’ Na­tional Burial In­dex, at­als/nbioverview.php. Much of the con­tent it­self is avail­able at find­my­

bri­tish news­pa­per­ar­ or find­my­ of­ten record trustees and men­tion ded­i­cated and long-serv­ing sup­port­ers by name. Re­mem­ber that some de­nom­i­na­tions had their own in­de­pen­dent pub­li­ca­tions – The Methodist Recorder was es­tab­lished in 1861. Ask your lo­cal ar­chive if it holds copies.

Court records

At some points in his­tory non­con­formists could face ex­e­cu­tion, im­pris­on­ment and trans­porta­tion, or have land, ti­tles and money con­fis­cated for their be­liefs. De­tails can be found in records for civil and church courts, Petty Ses­sions, Quar­ter Ses­sions and as­size courts at lo­cal ar­chives. De­tails of pro­ceed­ings at the Old Bai­ley are on­line at old­bai­ley on­, while sub­stan­tial Dio­cese of York Cause Pa­pers from 1300-1858 are in­dexed at hri­on­­a­pers.

1851 Religious Census

The 1851 Religious Census iden­ti­fied churches by place and de­nom­i­na­tion, giv­ing de­tails of ca­pac­ity, fre­quency of ser­vices and some­times the date of the build­ing’s con­struc­tion. The non­con­formist sig­na­to­ries will of­ten be lo­cal busi­ness­men who were able to spare time to serve their church. The census is brows­able by re­gion via TNA’s cat­a­logue at A use­ful ar­ti­cle about the records by Ed­ward Higgs is at

Off­line records

Types of doc­u­ments of­ten yet to be digi­tised can in­clude con­fir­ma­tions, cra­dle rolls, di­aries, do­na­tion lists, mem­bers’ rolls, pew rents, preach­ers’ lists, sub­scrip­tion books and Sun­day School reg­is­ters. Lo­cal ar­chives will ad­vise what records they hold for dif­fer­ent de­nom­i­na­tions.

Col­lec­tion guides and cat­a­logues

Don’t for­get to keep up to date with col­lec­tion guides and cat­a­logues on ar­chive web­sites, as many old pa­per in­dexes are now be­ing scanned to make them dig­i­tally search­able. Ar­chives may also op­er­ate a re­search ser­vice, which could save you time and money. Ad­di­tion­ally, use the card cat­a­logues on the ma­jor com­mer­cial web­sites to check for new re­leases, or sign up to re­ceive their email up­dates.

Old Bai­ley records can re­veal peo­ple pun­ished for ad­her­ing to their be­liefs – per­haps re­fus­ing to pay tithes to the Church of Eng­land

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