Church, Parish and Religious Records


Last night’s ANZ Ancestry Time chat on Twitter was informative and it’s always interesting to see what people have discovered in their research. Our topic was Church, Parish and Other Religious Records, a topic close to my heart.

I’m a particular fan of visiting church archives to find what records they hold – and are willing to share. Sometimes there’s little consistency about the access approach, with privacy often being cited even though the records may be 150+ years old, and equivalent civil registrations may be readily available.

Are parish registers only useful pre-civil registration?

There is a tendency to relegate research for parish records into pre-civil-registration times. In my experience this can cut off an opportunity to knock down a brick wall, as it did for me with my Kunkel-O’Brien and Kent-Partridge marriages in mid-19th century Queensland. While civil certificates had blanks in most fields, the parish records obligingly completed all, or most. Were it not for having done this, I would never have learned the birthplace of my George Kunkel in Bavaria. And while back in those days I’d been permitted to review the parish registers on site, it was a tip off from a Genealogical Society of Queensland indexer who told me there was a separate book with more detail. Networks plus persistence!

This blog post tells the story of how I discovered these differences.

Why do I prefer to visit an archive rather than approaching parish clergy directly?

Mainly, I suppose, that it’s more efficient for me and also for the priest or minister whose core business isn’t following a genealogy trail. Of course, sometimes it’s necessary to go to the parish directly but in all cases do make a donation for the time taken.

Past Blog Posts on Religion

When I looked back through the many blog posts I’ve written about my families’ religious involvement, it surprised how long-ago and far-away the posts were written. It seemed worthwhile to collate some of them here.

P is for Parish Registers and Parish Chests

Church Archives can be gold mines – on being given a family’s house blessing certificate

An Irish Family in Surry Hills 1880s – a story of a stained glass window commemorating family in Ireland.

Courtown Callaghans Revisited – analysing Irish parish registers and building family groups.

Brisbane Catholics and Corpus Christi – memories of seeing my grandfather in his Hibernian sash.

Miss McSherry joins the convent – the story of my grandfather’s sister brief entry as a lay sister.

Inishail Kirk Sessions – my family discoveries in the kirk sessions.

Beyond the Internet – Church Records

Why order an LDS film of parish registers? I must revisit the baptism of the child born in adultery as I think it may relate to a family case in the kirk sessions.

Beyond the Internet – Church historiesCatholic Branches in my Family Ancestry

What diverse records have you found to help with your ancestors’ religions?


2 thoughts on “Church, Parish and Religious Records

  1. I do enjoy Ancestry Time but don’t often get to join live. Parish records are great. I was fortunate to be able to view the original records where 6 generations of my family have celebrated the different sacraments. Some pencilled in notes with info I wouldn’t have found elsewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

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