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England, Dorset, Parish Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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England, Dorset, Parish Registers, 1538-1936
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Dorset,  England
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Location of Dorset, England
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Record Description
Record Type Parish Registers
Collection years 1538-1936
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Dorset History Centre


What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

This collection contains an index to and images of parish baptismal, marriage, and burial records from Dorsetshire for the years 1538-1936. Availability of records may vary by year and locality.

Parish registers have been kept at the local level across England since the mid-1500s. Due to this long and relatively stable tradition, these records are central to English genealogical research as they are often one of the only sources for finding families and individuals in England before the start of civil registration in 1837.

Image Visibility[edit | edit source]

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians. Images in this collection are available for viewing if you are a registered FamilySearch user. You can register for a free FamilySearch account here.

For additional information about image restrictions, please see the Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections page.

To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for England, Dorset, Parish Registers, 1538-1936.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The following information may be found in these records:

Christening

  • Name of the child
  • Date and place of christening
  • Often the parents are listed

Marriage

  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Often the parents are listed

Burial

  • Name of the deceased
  • Date and place of burial
  • Age
  • Estimated birth year

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

For additional details about these records and help using them see England Parish Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)

Sample Records[edit | edit source]

England, Dorset, Parish Registers
Name John Smith
Event Type Christening
Event Date 04 Jun 1850
Event Place Corfe-Castle, Corfe-Castle, Dorset, England
Father's Name James Smith
Mother's Name Ann Elizabeth Smith
Entry Number 613
Name John Smith
Event Type Marriage
Event Date 30 Mar 1891
Event Place St. George's, Fordington, Dorset, England
Age 35
Marital Status Single
Birth Year (Estimated) 1856
Father's Name John Smith
Spouse's Name Alice Kate Crate
Spouse's Age 20
Spouse's Marital Status Single
Spouse's Birth Year (Estimated) 1871
Entry Number 942
Name John Smith
Event Type Burial
Event Date 26 Nov 1724
Event Place Bridport, Bridport, Dorset, England
Father's Name Alix Smith
Mother's Name Ruth Smith
Entry Number 15044

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the individual
  • Approximate date of the event

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select County
  2. Select Town, Parish/Church
  3. Select Event Type and Year Range to view the images

How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Save or print a copy of the image or record, if possible. The original may contain information that was not recorded in the index
  • Use the information which you have found to estimate ages in other life events. For example, use a christening date to approximate a marriage date, or a burial record to calculate an estimated year of birth
  • Once you have found a christening or a burial church record, you may want to search for birth and death in civil records (1837 and later)
  • Use the information you have found to find the person and families in census records
  • Continue to search the index to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives. Note that family members often appear on an individual's records, such as in the role of witnesses to a marriage

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • When looking for an individual with a common name, look at all the search results before deciding which is the correct person
  • If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname
  • Be careful using the listed age on a marriage record to estimate a birth year. Rather than listing actual ages, clerks often wrote in 21 as the age of both the bride and groom to show that they each were of legal age
  • Search the records of nearby locations
    • English Channel on the south
    • Devon on the west
    • Hampshire on the east
    • Somerset and Wiltshire on the north
  • Check for other names. An individual might have been listed under a middle name, a nickname, or an abbreviation of their given name
  • Spelling was not standardized for much of the period of this collection, so names were often spelled as scribes heard them. Try searching based on how the name may have been pronounced
  • Vary the search terms. For example, expand the date range or search by either the given name or surname to return a broader list of results
  • The individual might not have records in the Church of England at all, but rather might have belonged to a nonconformist denomination
  • When you search baptismal records, remember that it was not unusual for a child to be baptized weeks or even months after birth
  • Some parish records might have been lost over time. Bishop's Transcripts can also be a good source of information
  • Note that marriages often took place in the parish where the bride resided

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in Dorset.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?[edit | edit source]

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.