England Orphan Trail Resources 1700-1837

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England Project | England Orphaned Profiles Team | England Project Orphan Trail One | England Orphan Trail Resources 1700-1837

England Orphan Trail Resources 1700-1837

Please read this entire page, it will show you what to expect during this leg of your journey.


Selecting your 1700-1837 era profiles

  1. Go to this page to find a profile to work on
  2. Be sure that it meets all the selection criteria.
  3. You won't step on any toes because it is an Orphaned Profile without a Profile Manager!

Introducing Parish Registers

From 1538 onwards, the Church of England as the Established Church kept records of the vital events of their parishioners. Vicars, parish clerks, churchwardens, curates and other clergy kept records of baptisms, banns, marriages, and burials (and occasionally, the birth and death date). Once a quarter, copies were sent to the local bishop, and these documents are known as Bishop's Transcripts.

Unfortunately, not all of these records have survived as historically they were kept at the parish church and were subject to war, fire, water damage and pests. Where they have survived, the originals are now mostly lodged with the County Record Office of whichever county the parish was located in.


Non-conformity in England described any manner of worship which wasn't under the auspices of the Church of England.
Non-Conformists kept their own records of baptisms (or equivalent naming ceremonies) and burials. They did not necessarily have permanent places of worship or their own burial grounds.

Hardwicke's Marriage Act of 1753 stipulated that all marriages in England and Wales (except those of Quakers and Jews) had to take place in a Church of England parish church.
After 1837, marriages could take place in a nonconformist place of worship, as long as there was a Superintendent Registrar present.
After 1898, some chapels were allowed to dispense with this person.
Most of these Non-Conformist registers are now deposited at County Record Offices.
(Note: 'Nonconformists' included Quakers, Catholics, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists, even 'Protestant Dissenters'.)

Online parish register sources

  • FamilySearch free to search (requires you to set up a free account). Many parish registers are indexed, often with a link to the image of the register. Many more registers have been scanned, but are unindexed and you just have to work through the pages. Search for the parish in the Search>Catalog menu. A list of all the resources from that parish will be returned.
  • FreeReg: free; volunteer project, good transcriptions with more detail than FamilySearch transcriptions; coverage patchy
  • Online Parish Clerk (OPC) sites: free (not all counties included)
  • FindMyPast: requires paid membership; good for all English records - transcriptions and images.
  • Ancestry.com: requires paid membership; do not copy from member trees, as they are often unsourced. use for clues
  • England County Places & Resources, England County Research Resources index.

It may seem tempting to head straight for FindMyPast or Ancestry to get your source. But don't forget, those sources will be behind a paywall, so should really only be used as clues. Not everyone is going to be able to see them if they don't have a subscription, so try to find a free to view source. If Ancestry or FindMyPast is the only place that has the source, there is a way to share free to view Ancestry Images which can be viewed without a subscription, as well as an Ancestry template which creates a permalink to the record. (See "Citing Sources behind a paywall ", below).

1752: changes in the English calendar

In 1752, two important changes happened in the English calendar. Although they happened in the same year, it is important not to get them confused.

  1. Great Britain and its colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar which most of Europe was already using. The Julian calendar which was in use in England before September 1752 in England was behind the Gregorian calendar by eleven days. Wednesday 2 September 1752 was followed by Thursday 14 September 1752. No adjustment is made in Wikitree or any other history for these eleven days - they simply do not exist.
  2. The date for New Year's Day moved from 25 March to 1 January. New Year's day on the 25 March (1751 and before) is known as Old Style New Year. New Year on 1 January (1752 and after) is known as New Style New Year.

This is just a brief summary of the calendar changes. See here for more details and some worked examples of what you might see in the parish registers.

How to Edit in 1700-1837

In the previous stage, you were able to find civil birth, marriage and death registrations. In this 1700-1837 period, vital statistics were only recorded by the Church. You will use baptism as a pointer to birthdates (be aware that sometimes children were not always baptised at birth) and burials as a pointer to a death date. Marriage dates are still recorded.

WikiTree does not have fields for baptism/christening and burial. If you have birth and death dates AS WELL AS baptism/burial dates, then put the birth/death dates in the fields at the top and the baptism/burial dates in the Biography. If you only have baptism/burial dates, put them in the birth/death fields at the top and mark them as 'before'; do not type the text 'before' or 'bef'.

Names: Married women should have their married surname entered as their “Current Last Name”.
Dates: Always write the month in full and in text, for example 5 September 1775. Never put 5/9/75.
Locations: “United Kingdom” should only be used for English locations after 1801. The “United Kingdom” did not exist as an entity before that. If you have no idea of the village or town where an event took place, use the county if you are sure of that. It helps others (and you) to know where to look in future.

Use of "Research Notes"

This is an important place for recording what information is required, where you have looked for it and if there is conflicting evidence in the records you have discovered about that person. It will help the next person who may want to research that profile.
Research notes can also be used to record details from the parish registers and other sources which cannot be woven into the biography, but provide useful information (for example "Three pages torn out of the baptism register, may have recorded more of this couple's children")
To note that it was you who left the notes, and on what date, you can "sign" it by typing ~~~~ after your note.


Sources are recorded in the same way as you learned in the previous group: listed under the Sources heading, or inline and woven into the biography. Refresh your memory on this by returning to the 1838-1957 resources page.

Other people should be able to find the source you cite. If it's online include a link. If it's not online, Say a book you have in your possession, then the title, author, publisher, year published, volume and the page number. For sources such as a Family Bible or Will consider creating a free Space page (FSP) you could transcribe the entries in the Family Bible or the Will on the FSP and link to the profiles of everyone mentioned.

The easiest way to remember what to include in your citations is the W's as discussed in Using FreeBMD and Creating a Citation.

See also:

County Resources

Citing Sources Behind a Paywall

Source, Citation, or Repository?

Which is which??

Let's take a look at a typical citation from FamilySearch. This one is the 1796 baptism for Elizabeth Thomas Hall.

"England, Devon, Parish Registers, 1538-1912," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KC9N-J77 : 27 November 2014), Eliz Thomas Hall, 1796, Baptism; from "Church of England parish registers 1538-1911," database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing Devon, archive reference 358/5, images provided by FamilySearch International.

The citation is the whole thing, it tells us about the source and should have enough information that the source can be located and verified by yourself or another researcher in the future.
The source is the name of the document, record collection, the title of the source: FamilySearch's database called 'England,Devon, Parish Registers, 1538-1912'
The repository is where the record is being held: FamilySearch
(The repository for the image itself is FindMyPast.com - where the image is 'reposing' or 'being held')

After completing this section, you are encouraged to take your Pre-1700 certification, which is a self-test quiz.

Example Profiles

Follow this link to view a list of example profiles worked on by the England Project: Orphan Trail Example Profiles

Trailers Index

An Index of the guidance pages used throughout the Trail can be found here: Trailers Index.
It also has useful links on it. Please bookmark it so you have easy reference to all the relevant guidance pages.

England Project | England Orphaned Profiles Team | England Orphan Trail Part One | England Orphan Trail Resources 1700-1837

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Comments: 3

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The link from the counties to the profiles is not working - it takes too long and gives timed out every time. I've been trying on and off for about 15 hours
posted on England 1700-1837 -1 (merged) by Christine (Hills) Frost
I meant to point out before, but forgot... in the list of online parish register sources, Ancestry's link doesn't show up, it just appears as a colon with no name.

(-I think the fault is down to needing to use 'https' rather than 'http' in the link.-) No, that wasn't it... perhaps it's the dots in the name? Nope, that's not it either. Also adding a trailing forward slash doesn't help.

Perhaps Ancestry links are just blocked to stop people from not using the templates?

  • Ancestry.co.uk: requires paid membership; do not copy from member trees, as they are often unsourced. use for clues

I spotted the same on the pre-1700 page too,

It probably shows up correctly for page trustees. :)

posted on England 1700-1837 -1 (merged) by Geoff Riley
An important consideration when adding England profiles for the period 1700-1837 is use of Old Style vs. New Style dates due to adoption of the Gregorian calendar and changing the start of the year from 25th March to 1st January in 1752.

The dates entered into the birth and death date fields should be Gregorian dates but sources may use Old Style dates so you should be clear in the biography what type of date is used if there could be confusion. See https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Date_Fields

posted on England 1700-1837 -1 (merged) by Ray Hawkes