Finding Devon PRs Using FamilySearch -

A Tutorial

By Susan D. Young

There are several ways of locating Devon PRs, in particular FindmyPast, and the LDS FamilySearch. This concerns the latter.

If someone has the old IGI batch numbers they can determine what parish was represented either from the parish being stated on the IGI entry or by going to Ancestry Solution's Devon Research Planning Aids page  and using the Ctrl+F search facility, search for a specific batch number.

Once a parish is determined then one has a number of options on how to obtain information out of FamilySearch.org.

Using an entry at Black Torrington as an example I had the batch number C050351.  Using the Planning Aid linked to above I was able to determine that entries for christenings at Black Torrington had been entered on the old IGI for the years 1601-1837.

On the FamilySearch.org website I then searched "Records" on a broad search for William Palmer born circa mid-1780s.  I have his particulars from the 1851 census at Tavistock.

Only one entry appears at Black Torrington as a christening to a Samuel and Mary Palmer 10 Apr 1785.  This is likely my fellow.  But, I want to see the actual entry.  This record search entry is not linked to an image!

So, on extended search method, I "Search>Catalogue>Place" for Black Torrington specifically.  From the calendar of entries I click on "Church Records".  I already know that most all of the digitised Bishop's Transcripts can be viewed online from this access point, so I am keen to find a Bishop's Transcript for the period.  None exist.  Disappointing.

But, clicking on each of the two groupings of the Parish Registers I discover that those have been digitised.  Choosing the appropriate grouping and appropriate time frame and event I click on the camera image at the extreme right-hand side.

Now, a word about the key symbol above the camera.  Not all of those have been properly added to the camera image.  Some are shown as locked that can be accessed.  While, others are shown as unlocked that can't be accessed.  That happens to be a product of whoever did the coding for the website not getting it quite right.

Having clicked on the locked camera image I receive a drop-down notice that says I must be signed in at a Family History Centre or other authorised point of access.  (In Devon there are Family History Centres at Exeter and Plymouth.) So, if one wants to view the actual images one must go to a Family History Center or one of the approved access points.  I am not sure if the local Devon Record Offices have access or if Plymouth Library has access.  You might want to check locally in your area for authorized access to the FamilySearch portal.

If on the record search an image is linked to an entry one can simply click on the camera image and the digitised copy of the page will be served up.  But, one must be at an authorized access point.

The other method of accessing Devon records is via "Search>Records>Browse all Published Collections>United Kingdom and Ireland>England".  Here you will find links to three items of Devon interest.

1.  England, Devon Bishop's Transcripts, 1558-1887 which can be searched by name or browsed by images.  If you try to browse by image you will need the image number from the current FamilySearch records search as this group has no parishes associated with the images.  Best to do a search by name, first.  But, here is the first inkling of an anomaly amongst the various access points into FamilySearch.org.  Remember, my example, above and William Palmer.  He was found on a general search of records but he is not found in this specific search.  Why?  Because Black Torrington Bishop's Transcripts have not been added into this particular category of records.

2.  England, Devon and Cornwall Marriages, 1660-1912 which is 67 marriage allegations that can be viewed online from anywhere.

3.  England, Devon, Parish Registers, 1538-1912 which can be searched by name or browsed by images.  Using William Palmer, again, as an example, his baptism does not appear in this grouping!  If one does find an applicable entry, clicking on the camera image will lead to a digitised image from the parish register.  However, as with all Devon Parish Registers one must be signed in at an authorized FamilySearch access point, i.e. Family History Centre or record office or library with access privileges.

So, very little luck with finding an image to view concerning William Palmer.  However, I know that if I go to my local FHC I will be able to view the digitised record from the original Parish Register.

In summary, there are now 3 points of access to records and images within FamilySearch.org:

1.  direct search of "Search>Records";

2.  search of catalogue entries for a specific parish - this also applies to catalogue entries for the entire county of Devon.  As regards the County-wide catalogue, some digitised items can be viewed from anywhere while others have to viewed at an authorized access point.

3.  search of "Search>Records>Browse all Published Collections>United Kingdom and Ireland>England" down to the 3 specifically related to Devon.

FamilySearch.org hasn't made it easy.  Most newly released digitised records are going straight into the catalogue by place and can only be found there.  If extraction is being done in the records being digitised it might end up linked in the general ancestry record search or in the “Browse all Published Collections” group.  All three places have to be checked, now.

I hope this isn't too confusing and I hope it helps to dispel the mysteries surrounding FamilySearch.org.