5 free parish register resources that will boost your online research

By Guest, 19 May 2016 - 5:29pm

FamilySearch has an unrivalled collection of parish registers, but there are many more free sites out there. Laura Berry shares details of five other online resources that can be used for tracing baptism, marriage and burial records without costing a penny…

1. FreeReg


Around 35 million records from England, Wales and Scotland are available to search at FreeReg, transcribed into a database by volunteers. You can see the places covered by the site here.

As with all transcriptions, it’s advisable to check them against the original record, but this is a fantastic starting place to speed up your search.



The parish pages on GENUKI are full of hidden tricks for sourcing free websites hosted by local organisations and enthusiasts, like the parish register transcripts dating from 1754 up to 1992 compiled for St James the Great in Thorley, Hertfordshire, and the Forest of Dean collection at forest-of-dean.net.

To find similar sites, use the county index at GENUKI and click on ‘Church Records’. This offers an overview of online county-wide collections, like the website set up for Hampshire by Tony and Linda Knight at knightroots.co.uk.

You may find smaller databases that contain transcripts and indexes to the church records for a particular village.

3. OPC websites


GENUKI also includes links to websites set up by Online Parish Clerks (OPCs). These are volunteers who gather information for a particular parish or region, and upload their transcriptions to the internet for researchers to access for free.

There’s a listing of OPC websites at UKBMD, including small parish websites for places like Aldbourne in Wiltshire (see above screenshot) and larger undertakings like the Lancashire OPC.

4. Lincs to the Past

Lincs to the Past

Lincs to the Past has a catalogue of Lincolnshire parish registers, with over 200,000 scanned pages that can be browsed. Some of the records have also been tagged with names by other users so that they are partially name-searchable. The website's in-depth research guide contains tips to get you started.

5. The Internet Archive

Internet Archive

The Internet Archive has digital copies of some published parish register transcripts and indexes, including a scanned copy of The Record Society’s 1890 publication The Register Book of Christenings, Weddings and Burials within the Parish of Leyland in the County of Lancaster, 1653 to 1710.

Volumes like this, which were printed in huge numbers during the late-19th and early-20th centuries, are invaluable for their footnotes, revealing extra research that was carried out by the authors.

Underneath a transcription of John Cooper’s burial, simply giving the date of burial and his name, is the comment: “See stone slab in Leyland churchyard, where it says ‘John Covper, of Curden, aged 62, buried the 20th day of June 1639’.” It’s doubtful that this stone slab would still be legible in the 21st century, so the book has served a dual purpose.

To find records relevant to your research, simply enter the name of the parish in the main search bar on the homepage.

For more parish register research advice, pick up a copy of the June 2016 issue of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, on sale until Monday 6 June


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