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:

Next month: Wills and Administrations

Tel: 07855 556 384
Facebook: @cameofh

Get CONSETT MAGAZINE straight to your inbox.

* indicates required

Previous articleThat’s The Spirit – By Lorraine Weightman
Next articleInspirational Consett Man Does 5K Run after Cancer Surgery
Catherine Meades
My name is Catherine Anne Meades and Cameo Family History is the result of my love of telling the stories of ordinary people from the past. I have a degree in Chemistry and a career of over 35 years in the chemical information and chemical regulations sectors. I have been involved with online data searching since its earliest, pre-internet, days and I have massive experience in research across a range of subjects which I am now bringing to the field of genealogy. Following attending a five-week family history course at my local library in 2008, I discovered a passion for the subject and the process of finding out about people in the past which grows as I learn more about the subject and which led me to found Cameo Family History. I also have experience in presenting and training and, as my friends and family will testify, I love nothing more that talking about family history research and the discoveries I have made. Believing that proper training is the basis of professionalism, I have completed the Correspondence Course in Genealogy of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies and have achieved the Higher Certificate in Genealogy. I am an Associate of AGRA, the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives. ( ) I am a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG, )


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here