Reg­is­ter in­ter­est

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I was in­ter­ested in the ar­ti­cle on civil regis­tra­tion dur­ing the Com­mon­wealth in the Sum­mer edi­tion. Jenni Dob­son was spot-on with her com­ment that it’s worth read­ing ev­ery page of a reg­is­ter. Imag­ine my amaze­ment and de­light upon open­ing the se­cond of the sur­viv­ing vol­umes for the par­ish of Hem­ing­ton, near Frome, as I slowly de­ci­phered two faded, blotchy in­scrip­tions writ­ten on its fron­tispiece re­lat­ing to the ap­point­ment of my own 8x great grand­fa­ther as its Par­ish Reg­is­ter (the of­fi­cial record­keeper).

It was an in­cred­i­bly poignant mo­ment to be hold­ing in my hands the book in which Thomas had reg­is­tered the births, mar­riages and buri­als of his par­ish in a rather un­tidy scrawl, leav­ing me with a real feel­ing of con­tact with the every­day life of my di­rect an­ces­tor dur­ing such a sem­i­nal pe­riod in our his­tory. His dis­tinc­tive hand­writ­ing con­tin­ued to record the vi­tal events of Hem­ing­ton af­ter the Restora­tion, when he re­verted to his for­mer of­fice, right up to his death early in 1673 (when he was suc­ceeded by his son).

Dur­ing the Civil War, the area to the south and west of Bath was gen­er­ally of a staunchly Pu­ri­tan per­sua­sion. In sev­eral of its church reg­is­ters (now avail­able as dig­i­tal scans on An­ces­try) I have found that births, civil mar­riages and buri­als con­tin­ued to be recorded with hardly a break, de­spite the change. In­deed for three parishes, their ear­li­est sur­viv­ing reg­is­ters com­mence with the vol­ume first used by its Reg­is­ter in 1653, which, rather than be­ing dis­carded when the old sys­tem re­turned in 1660, con­tin­ued to be used af­ter the Restora­tion un­til they had run out of room for any fur­ther en­tries. An­drew Hayes, by email Ed­i­tor replies: I sus­pect they didn’t want to waste the parch­ment. How won­der­ful to see an an­ces­tor’s hand­writ­ing from this time!

Our fea­ture on 17th- cen­tury civil regis­tra­tion prompted much dis­cus­sion

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