Knowstone Parish Registers and Bishops Transcripts

By Adrian Bruce

Molland and Knowstone had a single parish priest from the Middle Ages as the two parishes formed a united benefice. Theoretically, they had separate registers, however vital records for people from one parish do occur in the registers for the other. It is generally not known whether such events took place in the other church or were simply recorded in the most convenient book. 

A fire at Knowstone in 1890 destroyed several parish registers. Those registers not in use have been deposited at North Devon Record Office (under reference B594A/PR/1) and cover

  • Baptisms 1538-1653, 1813-1976 
  • Marriages 1538-1653, 1837-1911
  • Burials 1538-1653, 1813-1922

Theoretically, images and indexes of the above are on FindMyPast up to a cut-off of 1915. Note that, contrary to the D&CRS Guide and the NIPR, there are no original registers 1690-1713 – see below.

Bishops’ Transcripts exist for various years from 1597 to 1850. They have been filmed by FamilySearch (films 5751154 and 5749971) but not yet indexed. Images are available online (with restrictions) and are currently best accessed through a place-name search for Knowstone in the FS Catalogue (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/search). The Catalogue shows the potential gaps. 

At least two of the missing Knowstone sheets of BTs are probably to be found within the Molland BTs - 1716 and 1718 are duplicated there and, based on their format, are almost certainly from Knowstone. 

Over the period 1941 to 1964, Henry Ayre of Kentisbury Rectory compiled manuscript copies combining the PRs of 1538-1653 and the BTs 1668-1812. One copy went to Knowstone as a partial replacement for the burnt registers. The 1964 copy went to Exeter’s Devon Central Library, where it was filmed by FamilySearch (Item 1 on film 916853). In modern hand-writing, this copy is easier to read than the originals but can only be accessed either on the microfilm or in digital images at LDS Family History Centres and Affiliate Libraries such as the Society of Genealogists in London. Note that the 1964 copy adds some entries not found in the surviving PRs or BTs, but taken from “an independent transcript” of the PRs roughly covering the years 1690-1713.


Devon & Cornwall Record Society, Guide to the Parish and Non-Parochial Registers of Devon and Cornwall 1538-1837(Torquay: 1979)

Society of Genealogists, National Index of Parish Registers Volume 8 Part 5, Devon (London, 1999)

South West Heritage Trust, Devon Archive Catalogue (URL http://devon-cat.swheritage.org.uk/search - accessed August 2018)