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Church of England / Anglican Parish Records

Image of Dudley Church
Image of Dudley Church

We hold the Anglican registers of baptism, marriage and burial, as well as other parish records, for those churches which are now in the Dudley Metropolitan Borough and for St. Luke's Church, Redall Hill and Holy Trinity, Old Hill.  Most of the registers we hold have been microfilmed and where this is the case we do not produce the original to save it from wear and tear. Booking a microfilm reader is necessary to view this material.

Parish registers are the best source for family history research before civil registration began in 1837. A hand list of registers held is available at the bottom of this page.

A mandate of 1538 began the practice of recording all baptisms, marriages and burials which took place. These were often kept on loose sheets and very few now survive. In 1598 it was ordered that all baptisms, marriages and burials should be written into a parchment book. The earlier records, from 1538, were supposed to have been copied into these books, with particular emphasis from the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, but this often did not happen. These early registers usually record baptisms, marriages and burials in the same book, and often mixed up on the same page. They give little information in most cases. 16th and 17th century registers are often written in Latin and the handwriting can be difficult to decipher.

From 1754 marriages had to be recorded in a separate book and to a prescribed form. Both bride and grooms full names are given, along with marital status, parish of residence and signature. Two witnesses also had to sign. This was intended to bring an end to clandestine marriages, and also laid down that all marriages had to take place in the Anglican church except for Quakers and Jews.

A further act of 1812 separated records of baptism and burial. They too now followed a prescribed form. Baptism entries gave the mother's Christian name, which was often omitted previously, the father's occupation and their abode (often not very specific). Burial entries gave the age at death and abode. While some baptism registers give date of birth and some burial records give date of death, there was no requirement to do this and it is far from being usual. In most cases, therefore, it is possible to discover these details before 1837.

It should be remembered that, while it was common for baptism to take place in infancy, there is no hard and fast rule. Some people were baptised later in childhood or as adults and this is not always noted in the registers. It is not uncommon to see a number of members of one family christened together.

We have very few graveyard plans. In most cases it will not be possible to discover whereabouts in a particular churchyard a person was buried. We do have monumental inscriptions for most graveyards in the borough, but obviously these only record headstones which were in place when the survey was carried out.

The survival of other records varies from parish to parish, but can include vestry and Parochial Church Council minutes, service registers, churchwardens accounts (mainly 20th century), faculties, correspondence, maps and plans, and, in some cases, charity and school records. We only hold poor law records, such as settlement and removal orders and apprenticeship papers for the parishes of Sedgley and Halesowen.

Not all classed of records survive for each parish. A list is available in the search room or please enquire for details.

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