Spain Church Records

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For information about records for non-Christian religions in Spain, go to the Religious Records page.

Catholic Church Records

Catholicism's roots extend deep into Spain's history. Parish and diocesan records created by the Catholic Church in Spain have long been considered some of the richest genealogical records in the world. The Catholic Church has created several different records. The most used in genealogical research include: baptisms (bautizos, bautismos), marriages (matrimonios), and burials (entierros, defunciones, fallecimientos). Other records include: confirmations (confimaciones), pre-marriage investigations (expedientes matrimoniales, información matrimonial). The vast majority of Spaniards are Catholic and so almost every Spaniard can be found in the records of the Catholic Church.

Time Coverage

  • Ever since the Council of Trent, 1545 and 1563, Catholic parish records have been consistently recorded, usually providing three generations in a single baptismal entry.
  • The Catholic Church was the primary record keeper of births, marriages, and deaths, until civil registration started in 1869.
  • Some church records have been lost or have deteriorated due natural disasters such as fire, flood, and earthquakes. Civil and political strife has also caused record loss, including during time of the Spanish Civil War.

Tip: If you are researching after 1869 when Civil Registration started in Spain both church and civil records should be searched since there may be information in one record that does not appear in the other.

Information Content

Parish records are the most common Church record used in family history and genealogical research. Spanish Catholic parish records were recorded by local parish priests, however, most of the records (older than 100 years) have been centralized into the diocesan archive to which the parish belongs. Parish records include the following:

To learn more about each type of record, click on the name of the record type to be led to another article about that record type.

Baptisms

Baptism records usually contain the following information:

  • Infant’s place and date of baptism
  • Age at time of baptism, usually given in days, which helps determine the birth date.
  • Child’s names
  • Status of legitimacy
  • Parents’ names and possibly their birth places and places of residence
  • Godparents’ names and possibly their places of residence
  • You might also find the names of grandparents

Confirmations

These are sometimes recorded in the parish baptism book, but sometimes they are recorded in their own book(s). Information found regularly in confirmation records includes the following:

  • Name of the parish
  • Name of individual being confirmed along with the godparents
  • Sometimes parents are named, but not always.

Marriages

Marriage blessings (velaciones) are sometimes are found separately. Marriage records usually contain the following information:

  • Names, ages, occupations, and residences of the bride and groom
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Marital status, including if one or both were previously widowed and the name of the deceased spouse.
  • Parental permission, if they were minors
  • Names of witnesses
  • May include birth place or residence of parents and grandparents, the dates the marriage banns were announced and whether or not there was an impediment to the marriage.

Deaths or Burials

Death/Burial records usually contain the following information

  • Deceased person’s name
  • Date and place of burial and/or death
  • Age
  • Place of residence
  • Marital status
  • Cause of death
  • In most death records the women are recorded by their maiden names
  • Name of surviving spouse
  • Occasionally, it is noted if the person had a will
  • If a minor, the date and place of birth and parents’ names are given.

Diocesan Records

Spain is divided into 70 dioceses. Each dioceses is divided into many parishes. Dioceses created several different types of records. These records can be searched in diocesan archives throughout Spain. Some diocesan records have been microfilmed and are available through the Family History Library (FHL). Perform a Place Search in the FamilySearch Catalog for the dioceses where your ancestor lived. Diocesan records include:

  • Administrative and Financial
  • Disciplinary and Judicial
  • Marriage Dispensations and Pre-marriage Investigations
  • Pastoral Visits and Confirmations

Locating Diocesan and Parish Records

Spain Archives Online

The following archives have placed either indexes or images online.


FamilySearch Historical Records

FamilySearch Historical Records has the following collections (current as of 30 April 2018):

Microfilmed/Digitized Records

Several parish records have been microfilmed and are currently being digitized. Eventually, all of them will be digitized, so check back frequently. Instructions:

  1. Click on this link for the Spain FamilySearch Catalog.
  2. A list "Places within Spain" will open. Click on the appropriate province.
  3. Open the list of places within the province. Select your town.
  4. A list of record categories will open up. Click on "Church records".
  5. A list of available records will appear. Click on the record title you are interested in searching.
  6. Scroll down to the list of microfilm numbers. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

Writing for Records

  • This can be done either through letter correspondence or sometimes email (or researching in person).
  • Please see the Spain Catholic Church Directories article for more contact information for dioceses and parishes.
  • You can find diocesan websites at: Conferencia Episcopal Diocesis please visit the site to determine if you can make an email request.
  • Another site with good information on the archives of Spain (both ecclesiastical and government) is the (Censo-Guía de Archivos de España e Iberoamérica. While it is only available in Spanish, it can provide detailed information on the collections and documents within an archive and allows you to narrow your search down to specific archives.
  • Use the Spanish Letter Writing Guide for help writing your letter in Spanish.