Online Parish Clerks
Online Parish Clerks (also referred to as OPC) is a collection of volunteer groups that seek to transcribe genealogical information in English counties. Each county has its own group, which transcribes the parish records (and occasionally other genealogical records) from the different parishes in the county.
Many, but not all, of the counties in England have their own "Online Parish Clerks" group. Individual parishes or regions may also have an OPC group. These can either be found on their individual websites, the county OPC websites, or on UKBMD. Many of the records transcribed are available online for free, but some are only available through the purchase of books or CDs. For those records online, some OPC sites have created searchable databases of all their records. Most of the records transcribed are church records, but some censuses, tax or voting lists, poor law, cemetery records, and other such records have also been transcribed. These sites are very valuable in research.
Early in 2001, three Cornish gentlemen met for their monthly discussion of all things, including genealogy, and considered the establishment of a group of people who could/would aid researchers in their quest for family history information.
Out of their discussions, a proposal arose for the establishment of a particular group of volunteers, who would develop resources and freely share them upon request. Each volunteer would take on one or more parish, and concentrate on that specific area, learning its history, developing an understanding of what influenced the parish, while at the same time obtaining specific information regarding the inhabitants. Part of the effort would be directed at transcribing records, which would be placed so that the work would not need to be re-done. All information had to be provided at no charge. The name "Online Parish Clerks" was adopted, as their work involved the Internet, and old parish records, and the volunteers became known as "OPCs".
A general request for volunteers was then sent to the Cornish Lists at Rootsweb.com, whose members were enthusiastic genealogists. Many stepped forward, delighted they could do as they pleased in the development of resources for their special interests. Some set up websites, while others bought commercial CDs for "look-ups", and one enterprising person created "parish reconstructions" and conducted Great Granny Hunts at local libraries. Eventually, most if not all of the parishes were "adopted". In an on-going process, as people make life adjustments, connections between specific OPCs and parishes sometimes change. These changes are reflected in the OPC pages of the website.
The group had no rules or formal structure; each person could act as they pleased. However, one of the founders acted as "co-ordinator", so that parishes were assigned, and duplication of work was avoided.
Many other counties followed soon after.
OPC Organizations Through the United Kingdom
From this base, other OPC organizations have grown in various counties in the United Kingdom. Those organizations have different structures and practices, but follow the same basic concept of individuals developing resources for a specific area of the county, and offering those resources to researchers free of charge. Coordinators help keep things in order, and act as a contact point for those researchers having specific problems.
The term "Online Parish Clerk" and it's insignia are copyright.
List of Online Parish Clerks
The following OPC groups cover entire counties:
Cornwall Online Parish Clerks is a group of volunteers who compile reference material for particular parishes in Cornwall, which they share with researchers at no cost. Many have records such as transcripts of parish registers (BMBs), Bishop's Transcripts, and much other data.
Cumberland and Westmorland
Cumberland & Westmorland Online Parish Clerks are volunteers who collect, collate and transcribe records for a chosen specific parish in Cumberland and Westmorland. The data originates from as many sources as can be accessed, including census, parish registers, cemetery records and parish histories. The emphasis is on genealogy and local history. However, it takes time to transcribe and accumulate material, so an OPC may not yet have full data for all these sources.
- Cumberland and Westmorland OPC website (website currently down)
Devon Online Parish Clerks is a repository genealogically related materials such as (but not limited to) Church register transcripts, land tax assessments, and census information. The OPC should in no way be confused with the County Council appointed Parish Clerks. All OPCs are unpaid volunteers who are willing to assist others in their genealogical research.
Dorset Online Parish Clerks are researches who gather available historical data on a given parish, transcribes records, and makes them FREELY available. All transcriptions on their site are intended for use in personal & private research only. The transcripts are subject to copyright and may NOT be used for any commercial purpose. OPCs are volunteers and should not be confused with Parish Clerks appointed by local churches or Parish Councils. Most OPCs work on their own and are certainly not infallible! Their transcripts have not been validated and so the information provided should be taken as a guide only. As with all data on the internet you should check the primary source.
Hampshire Online Parish Clerks has a large database of baptisms, marriage and burials.
Kent Online Parish Clerks a worldwide group of volunteers who work to provide FREE GENEALOGICAL AND HISTORICAL DATA AND INFORMATION about a parish and its people, to assist family historians. Volunteers can choose to adopt a parish for which they are ultimately responsible for the routine collection and transcription of original record sources whether directly or through one or more assistants. A volunteer who has adopted a parish is known by the title of Online Parish Clerk but our volunteer should in no manner be confused with an official Parish Clerk appointed by a County Council. Some of our volunteers are unable to act in the capacity of an OPC and choose, instead, to simply provide transcriptions or other reference works from time-to-time. These volunteers are known as casual contributors.
Lancashire Online Parish Clerks a project that aims to extract and preserve the records from the various parishes and to provide online access to that data, FREE of charge, along with other data of value to family and local historians conducting research in the County of Lancashire. An Online Parish Clerk should not be confused with Parish Clerks, who work for parish or town councils.
Leicestershire Online Parish Clerks was originally set up as an OPC resource but has evolved into a resource repository for Leicestershire. Although still very much in its infancy, the site will hold village and cemetery photographs, donated family history transcriptions, census indexes, and much more. In fact it will hold anything that may be useful to genealogists of the present and future whose research leads them to Leicestershire.
Somerset Online Parish Clerks researches all the available historical data they can find on a parish, and transcribes records. In order to promote further private research, information is made FREELY available to any researcher. This will include census returns, Church register transcripts, bishop's transcripts, churchwardens accounts, overseers accounts, land tax records, postal directory extracts, church and village histories, and anything our volunteers can find which other researchers may find interesting. The OPC scheme encourages people to make transcriptions available on their website, but this is not a pre-requisite to being an OPC. This OPC includes Bristol.
Sussex Online Parish Clerks a project that aims to include any historical information relating to Sussex. In particular, following the coordinator’s interest in church architecture, you will find much information concerning the churches (of all denominations) located in each parish. For simplicity all of the information is organised by the historic Church of England Parishes, although the modern parishes have also been included.
Warwickshire Online Parish Clerks are volunteers who collect and transcribe records for a chosen specific parish. The data may include census, parish registers, cemetery records, parish histories and other records. It takes time to transcribe and accumulate material, so that an OPC may not yet have full data for all sources. Each OPC decides what data to collect, how it will be organized and distributed or displayed, and considers possible copyright, data protection and privacy issues, and avoids misuse of data. Data provided by OPCs must not be used for commercial purposes without the permission of the OPC.
Wiltshire Online Parish Clerks a group of volunteers who collect, collate and transcribe records for one (or more) adopted parishes. They research as many sources as possible to find all the available historical data they can find on a parish. Typically this includes census, parish registers, cemetery records and parish histories. Records are transcribed, and in order to promote further private research, are made freely available to any genealogist. This may include census, parish transcripts, bishop's transcripts and churchwardens accounts, overseers accounts, land tax records, postal directory extracts, church & village histories, etc. An OPC is a volunteer and should not be confused with the civil Parish Clerk appointed by a Parish Council.
In addition to these, many OPC groups focus on individual parishes or parts of a county. A list of these can be found here: UK Online Parish Clerks at UKBMD