The guide to researching your family history.

Catherine Meades BSc DipGen QG
Cameo Family History

A series to lead you through the process of discovering your family’s story in simple steps, with some tips and tricks to help you through, round or over brick walls.

Part 5 – Parish Registers: Online

(Click here for Part 4)

The census records and birth, marriage and death indexes/certificates typically allow you to trace your family tree back to the beginning of the 19th Century.  To go back further you will need to use parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials.  These differ from civil registration records in a number of ways:

  • Parish registers in England and Wales can start as early as 1538, during the reign of Henry VIII. Unfortunately, many registers from that time do not survive.
  • The information in the parish registers is not standardised. Generally, it gets more limited the further back you go – sometimes there is just a name!
  • Readability of early (and not so early) records can be poor.
  • Not all ancestors were part of the Church of England.
  • There is no single online database which covers all Anglican parish registers. FamilySearch is generally the most comprehensive but often contains only basic information.

Websites for accessing parish register information include:

Other subscription (££) sites include:,,

Coverage for each county and parish will vary so you need to check the coverage of the place of interest for each website.   If you only have an index available online, not an image of the actual register, then you should check the original registers at the archive, if possible.

Next month: Parish Registers: In the Archives

For previous articles in this series and additional information on how to search the parish registers see the Cameo Family History Website:

Catherine Meades BSc DipGen QG

Tel: 07855 556 384


Facebook: @cameofh

Get CONSETT MAGAZINE straight to your inbox.

* indicates required


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here