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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 thegenealogist.co.uk, 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