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Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - CONTENTS - Paul Blake is a pro­fes­sional ge­neal­o­gist

This month’s fam­ily his­tory in­spi­ra­tion

RE­VIEWS Trac­ing Your Church of Eng­land An­ces­tors: A Guide for Fam­ily and Lo­cal His­to­ri­ans by Stu­art A Ray­mond Pen & Sword, 224 pages, £14.99

To de­scribe this book as wide-rang­ing would be an un­der­state­ment. It cov­ers a wealth of sub­jects em­brac­ing both laity and clergy. As there can be few, if any, fam­ily his­to­ri­ans who don’t have an­ces­tors that were mem­bers of the Church of Eng­land, ar­guably this is a work for ev­ery­one.

The first two chap­ters cover the his­tory and struc­ture of the Church of Eng­land, which very use­fully sets the sub­se­quent sec­tions, on sources and re­search, in con­text. Also, each of the fol­low­ing chap­ters in­cludes in­for­ma­tive in­tro­duc­tions to the par­tic­u­lar sources be­ing dis­cussed. It is in this back­ground in­for­ma­tion that the strength of this book un­doubt­edly lies. Ray­mond cov­ers, as would be ex­pected, par­ish records – in­clud­ing the bap­tism, mar­riage and burial reg­is­ters and other par­ish ma­te­rial, as well as vestry min­utes, seat­ing plans, and tithe records. There is no men­tion of the records avail­able on thege­neal­o­, how­ever, and it’s not the only time an im­por­tant on­line re­source is not in­cluded in the book.

Chap­ter seven is fo­cused on dioce­san, chap­ter and pro­vin­cial records, and the in­for­ma­tion you can find in them may well come as a sur­prise to many a re­searcher overly re­liant on ba­sic and more well-known records. Records of vis­i­ta­tions, the ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal courts and bish­ops’ li­cences can all be use­ful, and some­times es­sen­tial, sources for fur­ther­ing the ex­plo­ration of al­most any­one’s fam­ily his­tory.

The chap­ter on pro­bate is very short but there are many books cov­er­ing the topic in the depth it ac­tu­ally needs. Chap­ter 10 cov­ers Trac­ing Angli­can Clergy while the eleventh and fi­nal chap­ter pro­vides de­tails of nu­mer­ous other sources of pos­si­ble in­ter­est.

It could be ar­gued that the book’s breadth of cov­er­age has re­sulted in some of the sub­jects be­ing very briefly, even in­ad­e­quately, cov­ered. But there are many al­ter­na­tive re­sources avail­able – both on­line and in print – from Pen & Sword, and oth­ers, where these sub­jects can be in­ves­ti­gated in more de­tail. This book’s strength is in the back­ground and the un­der­stand­ing that it pro­vides and it must be rec­om­mended for that alone.

There’s plenty of info to be found in church records beyond births, mar­riages and deaths

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