Beyond the Internet: Week 9 – Baptisms, Banns and Burials

This is Week 9 in my Beyond the Internet series of topics in which I explore the sources of information beyond our computer screens. I’d love it if you wanted to join in with your own posts on this week’s topic which is Church Registers.

Please join in with your blog posts on this topic, and if possible provide the link on this page.

Last week’s topic was certificates and how they can help ensure you are tracing the right line, and potentially tell you a great deal more about your family. But of course certificates are only available from around the middle of the 19th century. Before that you need to turn to the church registers of your ancestor’s local parish for their baptisms, banns, marriages and burials (and don’t forget they may not all belong to the official church). If you’re lucky the clergyman may have also shown dates for births and deaths, but by no means always.

If I’m researching a parish where my ancestor lived, my first port of call is the familysearch catalogue to search under place names. Lots of people (me too) used to like to search the old IGI but what are/were you getting? You might assume you’re being given every bit of information regarding that parish. Unfortunately that’s not the case, and ignoring for the moment that you’ve so far only got dates and names, what else are you missing out on?

When I want to know what’s indexed for the United Kingdom (also Canada/USA), I’ve been in the habit of using Hugh Wallis’s wonderful site because this tells me what’s been incorporated into the IGI. To illustrate what you might miss out on with the IGI (and perhaps to a lesser extent with familysearch unless you use advanced search carefully), I’ll look at the parish of Sandon in Hertfordshire. This is what Hugh Wallis says is available on the IGI:

Sandon Hertfordshire (IGI)
C072892   1697-1812 M072892   1678-1812
C072891   1813-1879 M072891   1813-1837
C053871   1813-1850 M072893   1837-1885
M072894   1886-1976

To summarise: baptisms (christenings) from 1697-1879 and marriages from 1678 to 1976. Sounds great doesn’t it? Now search the family search catalogue under the place name of Sandon, Hertfordshire and these are the options that come up for church registers (there are yet more other entries).

England, Hertford, Sandon – Church records 

author:

Church of England. Parish Church of Sandon (Hertfordshire)

author:

Church of England. Parish Church of Sandon (Hertfordshire)

author:

Church of England. Parish Church of Sandon (Hertfordshire)

You can also see that the author of #3 is the Church of England, parish church of Sandon. When you look at the films you’ll find that you’re actually viewing an exact image of the pages from the parish register. By clicking on #3, it will show that it’s possible to see all the following by ordering the film numbers bracketed behind each:

Baptisms, marriages and burials 1678-1812, and banns 1750-1766 (991394, items 6-9).

Baptisms and burials 1813-1879 and marriages 1813-1837 (991394, items 1-4)

Marriages 1837-1976 (film 993735, item 4)

Banns 1767-1874 and baptisms 1880-1960 (1537909, items 5-6)

Burials 1879-1902 (1951789, item 16)

You’ve gained the opportunity to learn a good deal more about your ancestors because you can now go back in time for 20 years of baptisms, as well as banns and burials (not sure what happened to the 1628 shown).  Burials are not included in the IGI, so searching the films will let you correlate the information you’ve obtained on your family and make sure you’re not pinning your tree on someone who was buried well before adulthood. For example, at first glance my direct ancestor, Hannah Kent, is the child baptised in Sandon on 27 April 1832 and that was what I initially thought. Had I never ordered the microfilm I’d never have known differently because that Hannah was buried a week later on 2 Mary 1832. My ancestor was presumably the next girl born to parents Richard and Mary and also called Hannah – though there’s no clue why she wasn’t baptised in the Church of England (nor is she shown in the non-conformist indexes). Burial information can let you identify which person of the same name is being buried and if a child, the name of the father, and sometimes address information and other stray details. Other entries in the register may tell you about occupational changes, confirm family connections, provide witnesses’ names and so on.

It’s also a good idea to have a look at the Bishop’s Transcripts (BTs) where they exist and for Sandon it looks as if they provide another 74 years. Unfortunately the reality is that the film is so poor that it looks like the register was kept in a barn with a leaky roof for a very long time. Much of those early years are illegible but occasionally snippets can be figured out. The other qualifier with any of the BTs is that they are what they say, transcripts, so subject to errors in transcription. On the other hand, they will sometimes give slightly different details from the original register. For a small sum of money, a wait for the microfilm, and the time taken to read it, you can have the confidence to know you’ve squeezed as much as possible from the available registers.

If you have ancestry in Durham and Northumberland from c1797-1812, you will find parish registers might offer you a great deal more even than “normal” registers. The then Bishop of Durham, Shute Barrington, decreed that parish registers be kept which included such detail as place of origin, parents’ names, maiden names, ages etc. Inevitably not every entry has all the required detail but most do, and it is a potential goldmine. Bishop Barrington deserves his own Genealogy Award!

Happy hunting in the microfilms…may you find many “lost” ancestors, unravel some mysteries and find some clues.

The Ancestors’ Geneameme challenge from Geniaus

Geniaus has set us another challenge with The Ancestors’ Geneameme. This is my response to the challenge.

The list should be annotated in the following manner:
Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type
You are encouraged to add extra comments in brackets after each item

Which of these apply to you?

  1. Can name my 16 great-great-grandparents
  2. Can name over 50 direct ancestors
  3. Have photographs or portraits of my 8 great-grandparents
  4. Have an ancestor who was married more than three times
  5. Have an ancestor who was a bigamist (he wasn’t but his 4th wife was)
  6. Met all four of my grandparents ( I was lucky enough to have three of them into my teens or beyond.)
  7. Met one or more of my great-grandparents (all pre-deceased my arrival)
  8. Named a child after an ancestor (coincidentally though I knew it was similar)
  9. Bear an ancestor’s given name/s (not having an ancestral name was apparently intentional –ironically I’ve always felt like a Kate, a recurring family name on all sides: too late to bother changing it now)
  10. Have an ancestor from Great Britain or Ireland (all branches except my German one).
  11. Have an ancestor from Asia
  12.  Have an ancestor from Continental Europe (George Kunkel always said he was from Bavaria, not Germany)
  13. Have an ancestor from Africa
  14. Have an ancestor who was an agricultural labourer
  15. Have an ancestor who had large land holdings (a few with centuries of property either leased or owned but not large land holdings)
  16. Have an ancestor who was a holy man – minister, priest, rabbi (with all those Catholics, no direct ancestors, and none in the Protestant denominations either that I’ve found though lots in one family serving as churchwardens, overseers of the poor etc)
  17. Have an ancestor who was a midwife
  18. Have an ancestor who was an author (oh, how I wish)
  19. Have an ancestor with the surname Smith, Murphy or Jones (but try googling Partridge or Kent)
  20. Have an ancestor with the surname Wong, Kim, Suzuki or Ng
  21. Have an ancestor with a surname beginning with X
  22. Have an ancestor with a forename beginnining with Z
  23. Have an ancestor born/died on 25th December (my great-grandfather died on Xmas Day, six weeks after his wife died. They left a large family orphaned ranging from 21 to 2)
  24. Have an ancestor born on New Year’s Day (not a direct ancestor, but a few siblings)
  25. Have blue blood in your family lines (blue babies with Rh- blood, but no blue-blood royalty)
  26. Have a parent who was born in a country different from my country of birth
  27. Have a grandparent who was born in a country different from my country of birth (two: Scots Presbyterian on one side and Irish Catholic on the other)
  28. Can trace a direct family line back to the eighteenth century
  29. Can trace a direct family line back to the seventeenth century or earlier
  30. Have seen copies of the signatures of some of my great-grandparents
  31. Have ancestors who signed their marriage certificate with an X
  32. Have a grandparent or earlier ancestor who went to university (no, mine is the first university-educated generation as far as I know)
  33. Have an ancestor who was convicted of a criminal offence (he and a few others went to jail over perjury but released soon after appeals to the Qld Executive in relation to the court case)
  34. Have an ancestor who was a victim of crime (only minor events: one ancestor had his chickens stolen, as he was a butcher this would have been a hassle, another had his horse stolen. However one was a witness to an event in one of Qld’s first court cases which gave me new evidence on his own life.)
  35. Have shared an ancestor’s story online or in a magazine (I use my blog to tell some of my ancestor’s stories, have had the story of my great-grandmother’s rather gruesome death published in GSNT’s Progenitor magazine, and published a large number of short family histories as part of the Q150 projects with QFHS’s Founding Families, GSQ’s Queensland Pioneer Families 1859-1901 and Muster Roll, and TDDFHS’s Our Backyard, Drayton and Toowoomba Cemetery.)
  36. Have published a family history online or in print (Grassroots Queenslanders: The Kunkel Family tells the story of the Kunkel family from Dorfprozelten, Bavaria and the O’Brien family from Ballykelly, Broadford, Co Clare, Ireland. It was published in 2003. Time for another?)
  37. Have visited an ancestor’s home from the 19th or earlier centuries: I’ve lacked the courage to door-knock current owners of most family homes overseas while in situ but we have stood on the land and among the house ruins where ancestors lived in Ireland, Scotland and Bavaria. Writing in advance to visit the surviving homes is on my courage wish list: one in Hertfordshire, one in Stirlingshire. And whoops, I forgot my Kunkel ancestor’s house in Australia which dates from the 1870s and which I have visited.
  38. Still have an ancestor’s home from the 19th or earlier centuries in the family
  39. Have a family bible from the 19th Century (I know one exists but no idea where it went to before my grandmother died).
  40. Have a pre-19th century family bible (again I could wish, and wish)


Sandon, Hertfordshire enclosure and the Kent family

Sometimes with family history it’s one small fact that is the key to opening a door. Such was the case with the enclosure documents I’d photographed while visiting the Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS) last year.  Despite having the information for nearly a year I hadn’t got round to looking at it in detail until I took the Pharos  course on Enclosure Maps and Records for Family Historians.[i]

I won’t attempt to go into the details of enclosure here except to say that it was the process, put simply, whereby formerly common lands were enclosed for private use usually by the bigger landowners of a parish. Also during this process the landowners may have “swapped” their land plots with others in order to consolidate their properties in a more rational and productive way. The National Archives has this informative guide to Enclosure Records.

Roe Green a hamlet in Sandon parish, Herts, but no sign to my Kent family’s former home.

Sandon parish in Hertfordshire, where one branch of my ancestors lived, commenced this process in 1840 and the award was enrolled in 1842. [ii] At the conclusion of the enclosure process a detailed map was produced and all land adjustments recorded. This comprehensive map is available through HALS.[iii]

At the commencement of the enclosure process, a community meeting was held to discuss the ramifications and proposals around the enclosure. The meeting was advertised in advance by notices on the church door and also in the local newspaper, The Reformer. However it was the location of the meeting that was to be my gold key. It was held at the public house of Richard Kent known by the sign of the Anchor at Roe Green, a hamlet in the parish.

While I’d known from the 1841 and 1851 census enumerations that Richard Kent (and indeed his father) was a publican I had never known the name of the pub. This snippet giving its name was indeed the key to learning more about his life before he, his wife and adult family emigrated in 1854.

The next strategy I applied was to ascertain whether the pub was one of the UK’s listed buildings. I figured if it had been around for a couple of centuries, this might be possible.

Believe it or not, Roe Green really was this green! But which of these heritage houses might have been where my ancestor lived? © Pauleen Cass

There were two pathways to this information:

1. The first, through British Heritage, enables a search of a locality http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/. I used the advanced search to locate Sandon in Hertfordshire and not others.

2. The second provides the same information but you go directly through the Listed Buildings site at http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/england/hertfordshire which let me then choose the parish and the building.

Both provided me with a listing for The Old Anchor as it was also known in subsequent years. Both also provided me with detailed descriptions, but overall I think I prefer the first option as a search tool. So what did I learn about the building? The full description is subject to Crown Copyright but you can read it here. In essence, it is a former public house dating from the 17thcentury and is grade II listed. It also provides its grid reference and a local map. It must be said though that the location of the building on the map can be a little imprecise.

The (Old) Anchor on Roe Green, Sandon, Herts in 2010. © Pauleen Cass

Armed with this additional information, and the alternative title, I googled the name for more information, using various search combinations. This turned up a range of information ranging from real estate sales to renovation approvals, hiking/walking trails and general information. All of which are grist for the family history mill.[iv] One site in particular deals with the common lands, remaining after enclosure, in Sandon parish and specifically in the locality of Roe Green.

Google images provided me with a great photo of the house taken by Mark Jordan for Panoramio. It was so evident it was the Anchor, that I went back to my own photos, taken on a scattergun approach before I learned the name of the family’s public house and knew its location.  Lo and behold I had taken a photo which did show the anchor over the front door but it is nowhere near as obvious as on Panoramio. I’m indebted to Mark and his photo for giving me the “tipoff”. (Rhetorical question: why do you always learn pivotal information after you’ve visited the place??)

Another useful site I came across shows images of listed buildings circa 2001, at the turn of the 20thcentury.  Images of England is linked to the National Monuments Record website. The Old Anchor is photographed on this site and the copyrighted image can be seen here.

There are also a couple of sites which deal with old pubs or inns in Hertfordshire and mention this public house. They are a Flickr discussion site and Dead Pubs though both discuss later periods. Previous to learning the pub’s name I hadn’t had enough detail to know in which property at Roe Green the Kent family had lived. Now I could go back and trace it through all the decennial census records from 1841 through to 1911 using Findmypast UK: while not every census gives the actual name of the building, a couple do, which makes it possible to link them up. Historical Directories also provide useful information on the inhabitants over time.

What becomes apparent is that while Richard Kent classed himself in 1851 as a publican, as well as a farmer of 40 acres, presumably through a lease agreement. This was not the case with subsequent owners/tenants of The Anchor. Why was this so? Had his land lease been taken away? Was this one of the reasons the family left for Australia in 1854? Did the next tenant simply not want to take on the farming lease given they already had a trade? So many questions which only further research both in reading and in the archives might address.

Meanwhile I’m looking forward to learning more about the background by reading Behind the plough: agrarian society in nineteenth-century Hertfordshire by Nigel E Agar and Brewers in Hertfordshire – A historical gazetteer by Alan Whittaker.

This research is © P Cass September 2011.

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[i] These courses provide historical context for family history research and are excellent.

[ii] The Award is also available from The National Archives at Kew at CP 40/4003.

[iii] HALS reference QS/E/85. Sandon parish is also fortunate to have the Tithe map from 1840 as well. DSA4/90/2