Church records

This guide was last updated in 2009

Parish registers are not quite as significant for research in some parts of Australia as in others, simply because civil registration started in some places at much the same time as the first settlement in the area.

However, for those places with an older establishment date – such as New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria – parish registers can provide some very useful details for the researcher investigating the years before civil registration.

Reverend Johnson performed the first baptism in Australia on 3 February 1788, eight days after the First Fleet arrived and New South Wales was established.

Church records do not provide as much detail as the later civil records. For example, baptismal entries might only provide the name of the child, the date of baptism and the names of the parents. Marriage entries will not give any information about the parents of the happy couple, and burial entries give few details other than the date of burial and the name of the deceased.

Parish registers will be found in the relevant archives office for each state, organised by religious denomination. The records for New South Wales have been indexed as part of the birth, marriage and death indexes, and are available online.

The Australian Vital Records Index, a set of CDs produced by The Church of the Latter Day Saints, comprises parish register and civil registration material from New South Wales 1788-1888, Tasmania 1803-1899, Victoria 1837-1888 and Western Australia 1841-1905.


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