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 8 – The Parish Chest
Parish records include many documents other than parish registers which can also be very useful to the family historian. These are known as “The Parish Chest”, after the large wooden chests in which these documents were once stored.
Parish chest records can include information on a whole range of people: the clergy, church wardens and other parish officials, tradesman, those paying into the parish, for example, as rates, tithes and pew rents, people moving from parish to parish, information on illegitimate children and those in receipt of poor relief.
For more recent ancestors, you might even find a photograph.
The parish did not just serve a religious function but was the smallest administrative unit of government, hence people who appear in the parish records are not just those who were members of the Church of England.
Examples of particularly useful parish chest records include settlement certificates, removal orders and bastardy bonds which help to find where ancestors originated from (or disappeared to) and the fathers of illegitimate children.
The survival of parish chest records varies from parish to parish. However, once you know an ancestor was in a parish it is always worth checking the local county record office catalogue to see what they hold – you might just strike genealogical gold!
For more information on the registers of various non-conformist groups together with previous articles in this series, see the Cameo Family History Website: www.cameofamilyhistory.com.
Next month: Wills and Administrations
Tel: 07855 556 384