User:Ridgew/Sandbox/England, Berkshire, Bishop's Transcripts

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This article describes a collection of records scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.
Berkshire,  England
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Location of Berkshire, England
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Record Description
Record Type Bishop’s Transcripts
Collection years 1597-1836
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive


What is in This Collection?

This collection contains copies of church records from the county of Berkshire, covering the period 1597-1836. Availability of records may vary by year and locality.

Beginning in 1598, parish priests were supposed to make a copy of their parish register and send it to send to the archdeacon or bishop every year. Termed bishop’s transcripts, these copies were generally produced in the same form as a regular parish transcript. Many priests stopped producing bishop’s transcripts with the beginning of civil registration in 1837, but they did not fully disappear until after 1870.

As bishop’s transcripts generally contain more or less the same information as parish registers, they are an invaluable resource when parish records have been damaged, destroyed, or otherwise lost. However, because bishop's transcripts are, as their name implies, copies of the original records, they are more liable contain errors than parish registers might be.

Most collections of bishops’ transcripts have been preserved, and their condition is relatively good considering the age of the records and their storage conditions over the centuries. Many collections have also been copied to microfilm or microfiche.

One of the 39 historic counties of England, Berkshire is an inland county located in southeastern England. Much of the eastern portion of the modern county is taken up by the London metropolis. For a list of parishes which historically belonged to Berkshire with links to more information about most of them, see the Berkshire Parishes page.

Collection Content

The index to this collection refers to baptism, marriage, and burial records. Baptism record entries are the most common in the index, followed by burial records, with marriage records constituting the smallest portion.

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

The following lists indicate potential information given in each type of record. It must be remembered that every record may not provide all of the listed information, as the procedures for producing Bishop’s Transcripts evolved considerably over the centuries after 1598. It must also be noted that individual parishes often developed record-keeping traditions unique to themselves.

Baptismal Records' may include:
Before 1812

  • Date and place of baptism
  • Full name of child
  • Sex of child
  • Date and place of birth

Included after 1812

  • Legitimacy of child
  • Full names of parents
  • Residence of parents *Marital status of parents
  • Occupations of parents
  • Name of minister
  • Names of other relatives

Marriage Records may include:
Before 1754

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Full names of bride and groom
  • Residences of bride and groom

Included after 1754

  • Names, ages, and occupations of witnesses

Included after 1837

  • Previous marital statuses of bride and groom
  • Occupations of bride and groom
  • Birthplaces of bride and groom
  • Ages of bride and groom
  • Full names of parents, including maiden names
  • Names of other relatives present at the marriage

Burial Records may include:
Before 1812

  • Date and place of burial
  • Name of deceased
  • Marital status of deceased
  • Name of spouse

Included after 1812

  • Cause of death
  • Date and place of death
  • Residence of deceased
  • Age at death
  • Birthdate and place of deceased
  • Sex of deceased, esp. if infant.
  • Name of father, esp. if infant
  • Occupation of father, esp. if infant

How Do I Search the Collection?

Before beginning a search in these records, it is best to know the full name of the individual in question, as well as an approximate time range for the desired record. When entered into the search engine on the Collection Page, this information provides the quickest, most reliable path to finding the correct person. Of course, other information can be substituted as necessary.

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page to return a list of possible matches. Compare the individuals on the list with what is already known to find the correct family or person. This step may require examining multiple individuals before a match is located.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking for, What Now?

  • Make sure to fully transcribe and cite the record entry for future reference. See below for assistance in citing this collection. Save or print a copy of the image if possible.
  • Use the information which has been discovered to find more. For instance, use the estimated age given in a marriage or burial record to calculate an approximate year of birth, if that is yet undetermined.
  • Use the information which has been discovered and locate the original parish record or certificate, if possible. See Berkshire Church Records for options.
  • If in the appropriate period, use the information which has been discovered to find the individual in civil records. Particularly useful for research in nineteenth-century England are the England Census and the England Civil Registration records.
  • Continue to search the index to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives. Note that family members often appear on an individual's vital records, such as in the role of witnesses to a marriage.

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • When looking for a person with a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which individual is correct. Use other information, such as place of birth, age, occupation, or names of parents, to determine which candidate is the correct person. If listed, a personal title may be a clue to property ownership or occupation, either of which might be noted in other records.
  • Check for variants of given names, surnames, and place names; transcription errors could occur in any handwritten record. Also remember that it was not uncommon for an individual be listed under a nickname or an abbreviation of their name, especially in church records. See Abbreviations Found in Genealogy Records for examples of common abbreviations. Note that some women reverted to their maiden name when their husband died, and therefore could be buried under their maiden name.
  • Vary the search terms. For example, search by either the given name or surname to return broader list of possible candidates which can then be examined for matches. Alternatively, try expanding the date range; this is especially useful in searching baptismal records, as it was not unusual for a child to be baptized weeks or even months after birth.
  • Search the records of nearby parishes. While it was uncommon for an individual in this period to move more than about 20 miles from their place of birth, smaller relocations were not uncommon. For this particular collection, this step may require finding records in the bordering English counties of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire to the north, Middlesex to the east, Surrey and Hampshire to the south, or Wiltshire to the west. Gloucestershire to the northwest is also a possibility, though somewhat less likely. Note that marriages usually took place in the parish where the bride resided.
  • Look at the actual image of the record to verify the information found in the online description, if possible.
  • The individual in question may not have records in the Church of England at all, but rather might have belonged to a nonconformist denomination. See England Nonconformist Church Records for more information.


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Don't overlook FHL Place England, Berkshire items or FHL Keyword England, Berkshire items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see England Archives and Libraries.

Citing this Collection

Citing sources correctly makes it easier to refer back to information that has already been discovered; proper citations are therefore indispensable to keeping track of genealogical research. Following established formulae in formatting citations also allows others to verify completed research by helping them find and examine records for themselves.

To be of use, citations must include information such as the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records, if available. The following examples demonstrate how to present this information, and can serve as templates for creating proper citations for both this particular collection and individual records within the collection:

“ England, Berkshire, Bishop's Transcripts” Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2014. Wiltshire Record Office, Trowbridge, United Kingdom

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for England, Berkshire, Bishop's Transcripts, 1579-1836.


Contributions to this Article

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