Background to Parish Registers
Parish Registers were started in England in 1538. A law had been passed ordering the clergy to record baptisms, marriages and burials and early records were kept on parchment or paper. No records were kept before this date except a few monks recorded the events of prominent families. It was not however until 1598 that the records were required to be kept in books, and parishes were instructed to backdate them to 1538. Few did so, and only eleven Wiltshire parishes have records that survive from 1538.
By 1598 it had become the recognised practice for the incumbent to send to the Bishop a copy of the years' entries in the parish registers. These copies are known as Bishops' Transcripts or BTs. Where they have survived they are useful, not only when the original registers have been lost, but even when they have survived, as the Bishops' Transcripts may provide different or additional information. Some pre 1598 survivals are classed as BTs in the catalogue. As BTs are contemporary with the parish registers they present the same handwriting problems.
Wiltshire Parishes Map
For a more detailed map of the county view our Wiltshire Parishes Map. The map can be downloaded, printed and searched. Guidance for searching the map can be found on page two of the map.
Wiltshire Parish Register Transcripts Map
Our publications include transcripts of parish registers and bishops transcripts, combined into a series of 37 titles, as shown on our CMB map.