York Parish Registers, Introduction: Purpose.

Colin Blanshard Withers'
Yorkshire Parish Registers




The purpose of this book has been to draw together into a single work all the data concerning the (Church of England) parish registers of Yorkshire, that previously lay scattered throughout a wide range of locations. This work is now complete, and is presented together with Appendices and a Bibliography. (It is hoped to issue, shortly, a second volume covering Roman Catholic, Jewish and Nonconformist material for Yorkshire, and a third volume covering Supplemental Material: Banns; Marriage Licenses; Pew Lists; Churchwarden Accounts; Overseers Accounts; Constable Accounts; Settlement Certificates; and other Miscellaneous Data).

In determining which data to include, two important decisions were taken:

Firstly, only parishes and chapelries which existed prior to 1832 have been included. Why 1832 and not 1837 when civil registration began? Blame Parliament. From 1832 onwards, a series of Acts and measures were taken that fundamentally changed the parochial face of Britain, particularly in Yorkshire, due to such measures as the Reform Bill, the Boundary Act, and the earlier 'Million' Act, which led to the creation of civil parishes, the altering of boundaries of existing ecclesiastical parishes, the creation of many more new parishes, and the elevation of chapelries in growing industrial towns into full parochial status. Yet another upheaval in Yorkshire occurred in 1836 with the creation of the Diocese of Ripon. As Angus Winchester put it in his excellent booklet, "Discovering Parish Boundaries", Shire Publications, 1990, ".. there were about nine thousand parishes in England by the end of the thirteenth century, and a comparison with a listing of parish churches in a local area in the early nineteenth century (from the Census Enumeration Abstracts for 1811 or 1831, for example) often shows little change since 1291" . This was all about to change dramatically. So the relative stability which existed before 1832 has been chosen as the deciding factor in choosing this date as the cut-off point for parish inclusion.

However, parishes and chapelries which existed prior to 1832, but whose registers did not commence until after 1832, have been included. In one unusual case, that of St. Edward Dringhouses in the Ainsty, a private chapel existed before 1832, with some burials taking place there. In 1849, St Edward's was consecrated, and the church took over the burial ground, and the burial register. So although the church did not exist until 1849, its registers contain burials from as early as 1824! Similarly, in the case of Chapel Allerton in the parish of Leeds, churchyard burials were noted in Thoresby's Diary, prior to the commencement of registers.

In all cases, parish register and bishop's transcript data is continued past 1832, right up to the latest accessions recorded at each Record Office. Secondly, only the main parish registers have been included, i.e. baptisms, marriages, and burials. Other registers that deal with, for example: sponsors (godparents); betrothals; cremations, etc., have not been included, due to their very irregular adoption and survival. Only banns exist in any kind of number, but usually only from 1754 onwards, and often not separately from the marriage register. An examination of many marriage registers has shown that often the banns and the marriage entry have been combined, some Record Offices show this in their accession lists, but other Record Offices list only the marriages. Therefore, if banns were to be treated fully, a great deal of checking of individual marriage registers would be necessary, so this has been deferred to a later work. Monumental Inscriptions have also not been included here, as they have been dealt with admirably by the Yorkshire Archaeological Society.

The above copyright data was taken from the book
Yorkshire Parish Registers
and was presented to Genuki by the author:
Colin Blanshard Withers.