Parish Record Instructions



First, these are not complete lists.  They will be added to as other parish records are found.


Sometimes there was a town with the same name in more than one county.  You should double check this.  Also, a town may have changed names, or a new county formed out of an old county.  So, even though you know your ancestor lived in a certain town and county, the transcriber may have listed his town in a different county.


Names of churches were copied by transcribers as written.  So when alphabetized…


Saint Martin

St Martin


…will appear in different places in a chart, but they are the same church.  Sometimes a church was abbreviated, so appears in a different place in the chart from the full name, such as


Saint Botolph without Aldersgate

St Botolph without Aldgate


Remember all records were transcribed from old hand writing that was sometimes smudged or faded, so you should try to read the original yourself.  You can order microfilm of parish records through the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) and perhaps also the national archives.


Sometimes a name was latinized in church records.  Thus William might be listed as Willmi (son) or Willimus (father).


Hand writing in the 1500s was sometimes much different for various letters.  Here is a description of the Middle English written alphabet:



d         upper stem slanted to the left as it went up


f          formed like a capitol F but from the line to below the line


g         looked more like the printed g you see here, formed like a z with a left-curling

circle below, all formed at and below the line.


j        seldom used, didn’t appear in alphabet, and if used, looked like an i.


r        formed like an n with a tail on the left side


s          the s sound was formed like a lower case r with a tail


s          the z sound was formed like an f left uncrossed


ss        formed like a capitol B ( β )


t          looked like today’s t without the part above the cross


v         seldom used, didn’t appear in alphabet, and if used, looked like a u


w       formed completely different from today’s w, it looked like a lower-case p


y          formed like an eight  below the line like the pronounced th below


th       formed like a lower case p with the stem just as long over the circle as below;  used only in words where the th is silent


th        formed like an S with the bottom arc closed into a full circle (  δ  ) and used only

in words where the th was pronounced


æ       was the sound of a as in at or ash





4          a small 4 at the top of the last letter meant the word ended in run or rum

~ re4 = rerun


4          a small 4 at the bottom of the last letter meant a familiar cluster of letters

~ A4 = Aristocrat


9          a small 9 at the beginning of a word represented com or con

            ~ 9fort = comfort


9          a small 9 at the end of a word represented missing letters

            ~ ver9 = versus


3         anywhere in a word represented gh, ch, or ng


ō         a line above any letter meant the following m or n was omitted


__        a simple 7 below the line represented and