Peru Church Records
|Peru Wiki Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
For information about records for non-Christian religions in Peru, go to the Religious Records page.
- 1 Definition
- 2 Information Found in Records
- 3 Locating Records
- 4 Reading the Records
- 5 Search Strategies
Church registers include records of births and christenings, marriages, and deaths and burials. In addition, church records may include account books, confirmations, and lists of members (padrones).
Information Found in Records
Children were generally christened within a few days of birth. Christening registers usually give the infant’s and parents’ names, status of legitimacy, names of witnesses or godparents, and the christening date. You may also find the child’s birth date, ethnic background, father’s occupation, and family’s place of residence. Marriage and death information are sometimes added as notes. Registers in larger cities may also give the street name or family’s address.
Earlier registers typically give only the parents’ and godparents’ names and the date of christening. Later, the age or birth date was given in addition to the christening date.
You should obtain copies of both church records and civil registration, when possible, since they do not necessarily provide the same information. For example, baptismal registers sometimes provide the names of the fathers of illegitimate children when the civil registration does not.
Marriage registers give the date of the marriage and the names of the bride and groom. They also give the names of witnesses and indicate if either the bride or the groom was widowed. They often include other information about the bride and groom, such as ages, residences, occupations, names of parents, and birthplaces. In cases of second and later marriages, they may include the names of previous spouses and their death dates. Often a note is made whether a parent or other party gave permission for the marriage.
Marriage registers may also give the three dates on which the marriage intentions were announced. These announcements, called banns, gave opportunity for anyone to come forward who knew any reasons why the couple should not be married.
Couples were usually married in the home parish of the bride. Men typically married in their mid-20s and women married younger.
Marriage Information (Bandos, Información matrimonial, Expedientes matrimoniales, Pliegos matrimoniales): The marriage information document is separate from the marriage record and can consist of several parts. These parts include:
- An introduction that states the intent of marriage and the date of the banns.
- Personal information on the bride and groom. This may include the names of the couple, age, if they are widowed, place of residence, place of birth, and names of parents and grandparents.
- If this is a second marriage for the bride or groom, the name of the deceased spouse and the date of death.
- If the bride or groom is from another parish, documents showing good standing in that parish. These can include baptismal records and when the banns were published.
- If there was an impediment to marriage, a dispensation (exemption from restriction of marriage). For example, if the bride and groom were related by blood or marriage within the fourth degree, a dispensation was required from the bishop in order for the couple to marry. In such cases, genealogical graphs and interesting biographical information about the families will also be included.
- The testimonies of two to four witnesses about the good standing of the bride and groom. This may include the witness’s personal information as well as how long he or she has known the bride or groom. Often, the witnesses may be relatives of the bride or groom. This document is sometimes three or four pages long.
- A note at the end of the documents listing the date of marriage or if the marriage did not take place.
Burials were recorded in the church record of the parish where the person was buried. The burial usually took place within a day of the death, in the parish where the person died.
Early death registers recorded the name of the deceased person, his or her parents or spouse, and the date and cause of death. Later records may also include the place of death or burial; the deceased person’s age, place of residence, and date and place of birth; and sometimes the names of survivors.
This record is made at the time of the confirmation by the bishop or his representative. It gives the date of the record, the name of the confirmed youth, the godparent(s) (padrinos), and signature of the bishop. This is a diocesan record, but a copy may be kept in the parish.
Confirmations are sometimes included with the baptismal records in the parish books.
The following extract forms were created by Dr. George Ryskamp, JD, AG. These particular forms are designed to be used for Spanish research; however, they can help in other research areas, such as Italy, France, Portugal, etc. Click on the type of record form you would like to use and print it for your own files.
These forms are designed to help you quickly analyze and organize your documents. They can become a personal index for your family records.
Online Church Records
- 1560-1952 - Peru, Diocese of Huacho, Catholic Church Records, 1560-1952 at FamilySearch — index and images
- 1603-1992 - Peru, Catholic Church Records, 1603-1992 at FamilySearch — index and images
- 1556-1930 - Historical Record Collections at FamilySearch — index and images. Also at Ancestry.com and Ancestry.com.
- 1600-1940 - Historical Record Collections at FamilySearch — index and images. Also at Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.
- 1750-1930 - Historical Record Collections at FamilySearch — index and images. Also at Ancestry.com and MyHeritage
Wiki articles describing an online collections are found at:
- Peru Baptisms (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Peru Catholic Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Peru Deaths (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Peru Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)
Writing to a Catholic Priest for Church Records
Baptism, marriage, and death records may be searched by contacting or visiting local parish or diocese archives in Peru. More recent Catholic parish records are kept at the local parish. The diocese keeps the records of parishes that no longer exist. Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. This method is not always reliable. Officials might or might not respond.
Write a brief request in Spanish to the proper church using this address as a guide replacing the information in parentheses:
- Reverendo Padre
- Parroquia de (name of parish)
- (postal code), (city), Amazonas
Send the following when requesting information:
- Money for the search fee, usually $10.00, and an international reply coupon (IRC)
- Full name and the sex of the ancestor sought
- Names of the ancestor’s parents, if known
- Approximate date and place of the event
- Your relationship to the ancestor
- Reason for the request (family history, medical, and so on)
- Request for a photocopy of the complete original record
Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. Use the translated questions and phrases in this Spanish Letter-writing Guide to assist you in writing your letter in Spanish.
Peru has no single repository of church records. The present location of records depends on diocesan and local history. Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. You can make inquiries to:
- Local parishes. Most church registers are still maintained by the parish. Recent registers are at the parish, and older ones may be at the diocese’s archives.
- Church archives. Many parish registers are still located at the parish, but some are collected in diocese archives. Church archives are often unable to handle genealogical requests but can determine whether specific records are available.
Parishes will generally answer correspondence in Spanish. If the records have been sent to the diocesan archives, your request may be forwarded to the appropriate offices. To obtain the addresses of parishes, you should consult a church directory. (See Peru Church Directories. See also Peru Archives and Libraries for more information about where various types of records are stored.)
The Family History Library has obtained copies of the records from the Archdiocese of Lima that were filmed by UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). As permission is given, the library will obtain more records at other Peruvian church archives. This will continue for many years.
Reading the Records
- You do not have to be fluent in Spanish to read your documents. Genealogical records usually contain a limited vocabulary. Use the Spanish Genealogical Word List to translate the important points in the document. Handwriting skills are taught in the BYU Spanish Script Tutorial.
- Online interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:
Effective use of church records includes the following strategy:
- Search for the relative or ancestor you want to know more about. When you find his or her birth record,
search for the birth records of his or her brothers and sisters.
- Search for the marriage record of the parents. The marriage record will often lead to the birth records
of the parents.
- If you cannot locate a marriage record for the parents, you can estimate their ages and search for their birth records.
- Repeat the process for both the father and the mother.
- If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.
- Search the death registers for information about all family members.