Tracing Your Ancestors' Parish Records
Parish records are essential sources for family and local historians, and Stuart Raymond's handbook is an invaluable guide to them. He explores and explains the fascinating and varied historical and personal information they contain. His is the first thoroughgoing survey of these resources to be published for over three decades.
In a concise, easy-to-follow text he describes where these important records can be found and demonstrates how they can be used. Records relating to the poor laws, apprentices, the church, tithes, enclosures and charities are all covered. The emphasis throughout is on understanding their original purpose and on revealing how relevant they are for researchers today.
Compelling insights into individual lives and communities in the past can be gleaned from them, and they are especially useful when they are combined with other major sources, such as the census.
Your Ancestors' Parish Records is an excellent introduction to this key area of family and local history research – it is a book that all family and local historians should have on their shelf.
This is a very comprehensive discussion of the parish and its doings, of how and where, and by whom recorded. Even fonts and fences find a toehold here. What it is not is a simple 'How to' handbook, although it does contain information about the main repositories of parish records and their catalogues. For ease of use, it would have been helpful to those readers who have no great interest in the parish itself to have had a consolidated list of the main categories of repositories and records and, where relevant, the periods the latter cover.
This means that it is likely to be of at least as much interest to local and social historians as to those in hot pursuit of great-grandma. It not only covers the parish, its role in English history (a much greater one than one would suspect from the situation today), its governance, officers, activities and records, together with those of the parish church, but also activities and records prompted by the national government, such as the administration of the Poor Law, the Tithe Law and Enclosure Acts.
It is clearly-written and even has its odd moments of humour - for us - as when in 1689 a parish constable reported that he had 'no popeish recusants nor grayhoundes nor quakers nor guns to the best of my knowledge within the liberty' (p. 82); or two women who squabbled over a seat in a pew, one refusing to move, upon which the other threatened to sit in her lap and 'words of inconvenience … as whore and basterd & such lyke' were exchanged (p. 125).
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