Jamaica, Church of England Parish Register Transcripts (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 .

Record Description

This collection will include records from 1664 to 1880.

Baptisms (christenings), marriages, and burials were recorded on blank pages in a bound book called a register. The events of baptism, marriage, and burial were all recorded in one volume until 1754, when a law required that marriages be recorded in a separate book. Banns, or proclamations of “an intent” to marry, were recorded in yet another book. Starting in 1812, preprinted registers were introduced, and then separate registers were kept for baptisms, marriages, and burials. Before 1812, bishops’ transcripts were usually recorded on loose pieces of paper. Following that year, the transcripts were recorded on the same preprinted forms as parish registers.

In 1824, the Diocese of Jamaica was established. In 1825, the office of Registrar of the Diocese was established. Rectors sent copies of existing registers there and sent annual transcripts thereafter. The parish register transcripts include baptisms, marriages, and burials. Birth and death registers were mandated by law in 1843 and kept for a few years, but the law was widely ignored and was repealed after a few years. Civil registration replaced this system in 1880.

Parish registers were created to record church events of baptism or christening, marriage, and burial. Baptismal entries usually list the person’s birth date, and burial entries list the death date. In the Church of England, baptism, which was also called christening, was performed soon after the birth of a child. Marriage in the church legally united a man and a woman for civil legal reasons and for the purpose of founding a religiously sanctified family. Burial is a function of the church to inter the deceased soon after death.

Church of England parish registers are the most reliable and accurate family history source until July 1837, when the government instituted the civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths. Information in parish registers and bishops’ transcripts can be verified against each other.

For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.

Record Content

Baptism records before 1812 may contain the following information:

  • Date and place of baptism
  • Full name and gender of child
  • Parents' names

Baptism records after 1812 may contain the following information:

  • Legitimacy of the child
  • Marital status of the parents
  • Parents' residence
  • Father's occupation

Marriage records before 1754 may contain the following information:

  • Marriage date and place
  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Marriage Records after 1754 and before 1837 usually added the names of witnesses

Marriage records after 1837 usually included the following information:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Groom's name, age, marital status and occupation of groom
  • Bride's name, age, marital status
  • Residences of bride and groom
  • Name of groom's father
  • Name of bride's father
  • Names of witnesses
  • May list the dates that the marriage was announced (also called “banns published”). This normally took place on three separate occasions prior to the marriage and gave anyone with a valid reason a chance to object to the marriage.

Death records may contain the following information:

  • Date and place of burial
  • Day, month and year of death
  • Name and age of deceased
  • If deceased was a child, the father’s name may be given
  • If deceased was married, the spouse's name may be given
  • Residence of deceased

How to Use the Record

To search for a person in a Church of England parish register, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:

  • Where the person lived and the corresponding parish
  • When the person lived - If you do not know the time period, you must estimate it from what you know of more recent generations.

Search the Collection

Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.

To search the collection image by image
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page:
⇒Select "Parish"
⇒Selecte "Record Type and Years" which takes you to the images.

Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

Using the Information

If possible, you may want to search both the parish registers and the bishops’ transcripts since one is a handwritten copy of the other and might contain differences.

  • Baptism or christening records list the parents’ names, making it possible for you to connect your ancestor to an earlier generation.
  • You may find a birth date listed or be able to approximate a birth date.
  • After 1812, the baptismal records list a place of residence, making it easier to identify your family by where they lived.
  • Marriage records sometimes state the residence for the bride and groom. You can use this information to look for their baptisms and to identify the children of this couple.
  • Marriage records after 1754 list the names of witnesses, who were often family members. These can help you identify your ancestor’s family. *Signatures in the records might be used to identify a particular individual by the handwriting style.
  • After 1812, and sometimes before, burial records include the age of the deceased. Use the age to approximate the person’s birth year and to find the baptismal record.
  • If the deceased is a child, the parents’ names might be given. This information helps to extend your family another generation.
  • The occupation of a deceased male might be given (especially after 1812) and can help identify your ancestor when there is more than one person by that name in the area.
  • Knowing the occupation might also provide you the opportunity to find other records about your ancestor.
  • Banns indicate the parish of residence of the bride and groom. This information often leads to the records of another parish.
  • You can search for baptism records of the bride and groom, since the parishes shown on the marriage record might also be where the bride and groom were born.

General Information About These Records

Parish registers are one of the best sources for identifying individuals and connecting them to parents, spouses, and other generations. In July 1837, the government instituted the civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths. However, parish registers continue to play an important role because they are often more readily available than civil registers. Bishops’ transcripts are a backup source for parish registers that are missing or illegible.

Origin of Jamaican Parishes

The following list gives information on the origin of the parishes:

  • St. Andrew - original parish
  • St. Ann - original parish
  • St. Catherine - original parish
  • Clarendon - original parish
  • St. David - original parish, absorbed by St. Thomas in the East, 1866
  • St. Dorothy - separated from Clarendon, 1675; absorbed by St. Catherine, 1866
  • St. Elizabeth - original parish
  • St. George - original parish, absorbed by Portland, 1866
  • Hanover - separated from Westmoreland, 1723
  • St. James - original parish
  • St. John - original parish; absorbed by St. Catherine, 1866
  • Kingston - separated from St. Andrew, 1693
  • Manchester - created from St. Elizabeth
  • Clarendon and Vere, 1814
  • St. Mary - original parish
  • Metcalfe - created from St. George and St. Mary, 1841; absorbed by St. Mary, 1866
  • Portland - created from St. George and St. Thomas in the East, 1723
  • Port Royal - original parish, portion absorbed by Kingston and the rest by St. Andrew, 1866
  • St. Thomas in the East - original parish, portion absorbed by Portland, 1866
  • St. Thomas in the Vale - separated from St. Catherine 1675; reabsorbed by it, 1866
  • Trelawny - separated from St. James, 1770
  • Vere - separated from Clarendon, 1673; reabsorbed by it, 1866
  • Westmoreland - separated from St. Elizabeth, 1703

The registers are arranged in five series:

  • Copy registers of individual parishes, early to about 1825
  • Parish registers (transcripts compiled at the Diocesan Office), 1826 to 1850 and 1860 to 1871
  • Parish registers, new series (transcripts as in 2), 1849 to1860
  • Law 6 registers (refers to law 6 passed in 1871)
  • Birth and death registers, 1844-1851

The entries for parishes are combined in all but the first series.

There are indexes for each parish covering the first three series of registers. There is a separate but incomplete index for the period 1860-1871. There is a separate index for Law 6 registers.

Entries for the different events were carried to a succeeding register at different times. Consequently, the inclusive dates of an individual volume may overlap with another volume. For example, the inclusive dates for a volume may be 1822-1844, representing baptisms 1822-1833, marriages 1822-1844 and burials 1822-1840; and the inclusive dates for the next vol. 1834-1855 representing baptisms 1833-1855, marriages 1844-1855 and burials 1840-1855.

Volume numbers indicated in the listing are those assigned by the archive.

Known Issues with This Collection

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For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

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Contributions to This Article

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.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through images in this collection and click on the "Show Citation" box: Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org. Source citations include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

"Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880." Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Diocese of Jamaica. Registrar General's Department, Spanish Town.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.