Trace your family fortunes with Church of England’s latest web development

The Church of England has today launched a new area on its website to assist the thousands of people currently trying to trace the branches of their family tree.

The move reflects the huge popularity of research into family history: when the 1901 Census was placed online in 2002 it soon became one of the most visited sites on the web, and more than 829,000 people have visited The National Archive’s Family Records Centres in London and Kew in the last three years. The Church’s dedicated web area brings together links to a range of sources for tracing family histories – including the Lambeth Palace Library – and provides contact points for archives and repositories up and down the land.

For many years, the Church has been a natural point of information for those seeking information on their family history because of its wealth of written records of baptisms, weddings and funerals, as well as details of the placement of clergy across the country. “These Anglican records can be a great source for those embarking on tracing their family tree,” says Declan Kelly, Director of Libraries and Archives for the Church of England.

“Local clergy are often approached by people seeking access to the church’s registers, but in many instances the records that they are after have been moved elsewhere. We hope that the new guidance will enable people to visit a single point for information on how the Church of England can help them research their ancestors’ past lives,” adds Declan.

The Church of England’s new pages explain that prior to 1837 there was no central registration of births, marriages and deaths in England, and therefore parish registers are the main source of information for establishing the facts of such events during this period. These registers, along with ‘Bishops transcripts’ which can help fill in the gaps, are usually held in local or county record offices, but parish registers are sometimes still held by local parish churches. The pages point researchers to sources that can help identify where these records may now be held.

After 1837, when centralised records began to be kept, the Church still maintained records of births, marriages and funerals, and the pages sketch out how researchers might go about exploring this history.

A link to the Church of England website

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