What are Parish Registers and Bishop’s Transcripts?

Parish Register

  • Before 1837, there was no nationwide scheme of registration. You will need to use registers of baptism, marriage and burial kept by local parish churches, so it is important to have an idea of where a person lived.
  • As the diocesan record office, we hold the registers of over 300 Cheshire parishes.  Where the original registers have not yet been deposited and are over 100 years old, we endeavour to hold microfilm copies for use in the searchroom
  • The systematic keeping of parish registers began between 1538 and 1598 and should continue to the present, except for the period 1640-1660. You will need to bear in mind that not all parishes will have registers dating back this far.
  • The amount of information varies. The early registers (sometimes written in simple Latin) include baptisms, marriages and burials all in the same volume.
  • Separate registers were introduced for marriage in 1754 and for baptism and burial in 1813.
  • Abbreviated copies of all entries were sent to the bishop and are known as Bishop’s transcripts (often known as ‘BTs’). They can be useful where the original register is lost or difficult to read.
  • To reduce wear and tear on original parish registers, we ask you to use microfilm copies where these are available.  Copies of these microfilms are also available at some local libraries

What are marriage licence bonds and allegations?

  • Some marriages were by licence rather than by banns. The bonds and allegations (which are part of the licence process) can provide extra information on the parties to a marriage. Those for the Archdeaconry of Chester (Cheshire and South Lancashire) survive from 1661 and are held in the Cheshire Record Office, available on microfilm.

What are monumental Inscriptions?

  • Gravestones are also useful in giving some detail on a person's family relationships. Many churchyards have been surveyed and recorded.  The Cheshire Record Office holds monumental inscriptions for many Cheshire churches. Check the online catalogue for details.

Cheshire parish registers and Bishop's transcripts

  • Cheshire parish registers at the Cheshire Record Office - go to our interactive map or our online catalogue
  • Find My Past's Cheshire Collection includes Cheshire parish registers, marriage licence bonds and allegations and bishops' transcripts, 1538-1910
  • GENUKI UK and Ireland Genealogy includes a list of all Cheshire churches and includes information about registers held at the Cheshire Record Office.