What is a Chapelry?

June 20, 2011  - by 
What is a Chapelry?

Sometimes patrons come to the reference counter and are completely frustrated because they cannot locate a christening event in a parish register and they know that the family was Church of England. They have also dutifully checked surrounding parishes and have had no success. It is then that I suggest to them that they make sure that a parish does not have a chapelry within its boundaries.

In my own family history research of parish registers in England, I have sometimes come across records in Chapelries and initially couldn’t understand what a chapelry was. Mark Herber, in his book “Ancestral Trails,” states that, “A chapel of ease (or chapelry) was often built in larger parishes to allow parishioners to attend worship at a church that was not too far from their homes.”

As a protocol, christenings and some burials were handled in the chapelry, but marriages were still to be performed at the parish level. My own personal thinking about the lack of burials in chapelries is that because most parishioners would have been buried in the parish church yard anyways, this resulted in the burial taking place in the parish. However, I have discovered marriages happening in chapelries, although I believe it is not very common.

So when you think you’ve checked every parish register and exhausted every avenue, make sure that there are no chapelries lurking about where your family is hiding.

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  1. Hi,
    Ive been looking for the birthplace of my ancester Richard Fielding who married Sarah Meecham at Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Newport Pagnell Buckinghamshire in 1784.
    I know he had all his children baptised in the Old Meeting House which was used by the independents at that time. Ive looked in all the surrounding districts for him, no joy
    Can you point me in any direction that may be of help

  2. There were many burials in chapelries. Every one seems different in its practices of what was done there

  3. So….where do you look to find Chapelriess? If chapelry records are not found withing Parish registers, then where?

  4. In response to Andreas inquiry go to https//maps.familysearch.org and search for your parish. When it comes up on the map, click on the pin and a dialogue box will appear giving you information on the parish. There it should tell you whether there were chapelries within that parishs boundaries. Hope that helps – sucess in your searching

  5. I have looked every where for my Great, Great grand fathers marriage to a Mary ? or Martha Rodgers in London around 1834 till 1840 but cant find any records of the marriage(S) He had both his sons christened in St Annes Soho London Francis Henry Lovett 1835 Mother on Certificate is Mary. William Clark Lovett 1839 mothers name on certificate Martha Rodgers but no sign of a marriage to either women.

  6. For Nina – you are going to have to search non-conformist records, especially if Richards children were baptised by the Independents. Finding them may be difficult. Check the Catalog at http://www.familysearch.org and you may also want to contact (by e-mail) the Record Office for that place. You can find them through http://www.genuki.org.uk. I hope those suggestions work for you.