After the Reformation in 1538 by edict of Thomas Cromwell, Chancellor to Henry VIII, parish churches were obliged to keep details of baptisms, marriages and burials. These were kept in loose-leaf form and not many survive to this early date.
However, in 1597, under the reign of Elizabeth I, a law was introduced whereby these were to be bound in parchment books, and that all the loose-leaf records were to be transcribed onto parchment, at least back until the commencement of her reign in 1558. These became known as Parish Registers
Elizabeth also required her ministers to copy entries in these registers annually to the Bishop. These became known as Bishop's Transcripts. Bishop's Transcripts can be very valuable where parish registers have been lost.
There is a brief gap in the registers between 1653-1666 (The Commonwealth Period), when under Cromwell's Government a brief period of Civil Registration was introduced. Hardly any of these records survive. There also seem to be lots of missing baptisms and marriages in the records throughout the whole period when Republicanism and Nonconformity were rife.
The next change to take place was the "Hardwicke Marriage Act", "An Act for the better prevention of Clandestine Marriage", which came into force in 1754 and lasted until the introduction of Civil Registration in 1837. From now on it became compulsory for all marriages to take place in the official Parish Church, Banns were to be read on three separate occasions before the marriage took place, and the marriage register was to be signed by both parties and witnessed by two witnesses. This meant that marriages could no longer take place in nonconformist churches. Quakers and Jews were deemed to have kept adequate records and were exempt from this act.
In 1813 under George Rose's Act, printed register books were introduced to standardise the entries. This, is some cases, meant losing some of the information that had previously been entered into the registers by meticulous parish priests. Here are some examples from my own family tree, which are taken from the Hyde Gee Cross Unitarian Chapel's registers:
|5th October 1777, baptism of Tabitha daughter of David Jackson of SPOUT HOUSE, Gee Cross.|
|1st March 1807, baptism of Ann the daughter of Richard Cartwright and Ann his wife the daughter|
of David and Tabitha Jackson, born 1st February 1807.
|20th February 1829, Martha daughter of Joseph and Ann Cartwright of Werneth.|
So the records from 1813 onwards, although standardised, often miss out on some useful information they previously contained. In fact the registers at Old Chapel, Dukinfield, during the imcumbency of Samuel Angier 1677-1713, often read like a diary, with entries such as "Queen Anne was crowned this day", and "There have been floods these past five months in Stalybridge".
The next change came about with the introduction of Civil Registration in 1837. The recording of baptisms and burials remained the same, but marriage registers now took exactly the same form as the local Registrar's records. As a result of this, if you are definitely sure your ancestors married in a Church of England Church or in a non-conformist Chapel by an Approved Person (after 1899), it is possible to search for this record on the microfilm of the parish register and to pay 50 pence for a copy at Tameside Local Studies Library, rather than applying to the local registrar and paying 10.00 pounds.
Also during the time of "Hardwicke's Marriage Act 1754-1837", there were only two parish churches in Tameside where marriages could take place, Ashton St Michael, and Mottram St Michael. Marriages in Dukinfield and Hyde were officially supposed to take place at Stockport St Mary's. Although many people travelled from far afield to get married at Manchester Cathedral where multiple marriages were conducted often by the rail full. There were many reasons for this, but amongst these: No questions were asked - they married all comers, it was cheaper than marrying at one of their chapels at ease
We are quite lucky in Tameside in that most of the parish registers in the area were filmed historically and were on the International Genealogical Index (I.G.I.) via the familysearch.org website up until at least 1837 and beyond. Remember the I.G.I. is only an index and most of the original films can be consulted at Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre - click here to go to their church register holdings. All the historical data from the I.G.I. is still available via the Family Search website
Family SearchThe LDS Church have now filled in the many previous gaps in Cheshire Records on the IGI and there is excellent coverage of C of E parish registers for the Cheshire Towns of Tameside. I can't be exact, but it seems that most of these are covered from the start of the particular churches records until about 1906. These are indexes only, but most of the original films can be consulted at Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre - click here to go to their church register holdings. The images are also now available to download via Find My Past - see their Cheshire Collection.
Non Conformist Catholic Churches:
For more information about the I.G.I. and the NEW Family Search website click here.
To understand some of the original parish boundaries, there is a Parish Map circa 1750 on this webpage.
The earliest records to survive in Tameside are at Mottram Parish Church dating back to 1559.
Several early parish registers have been transcribed, indexed and printed in book form by the Lancashire Parish Register Society (LPRS). These are available at Tameside Local Studies Library and locally include:
Saddleworth St Chad's available in two volumes published in 1891 covering the years 1618-1751 and 1751-1800. These also include Baptisms and Burials from the Chapels of Heights, Dobcross, Lydgate and Saddleworth-cum-Quick. Now also available on CD from Manchester and Lancs Family History Society.
Stockport St Mary's Available in book form, published by Bulkeley and filed at L923 in Tameside Local Studies covering Baptisms, Burials and Marriages 1584 -1619. Tameside Local Studies also have a marriage index for 1799 - 1837 on microfiche.
If you wish to view Parish Registers for other areas of the country and cannot or do not wish to travel, Parish Registers from all over the world are available to order to view at the Mormon Family History Centre on Patterdale Road. Click Here for more details.
For a period between 1800 and 1840, the Church of England was very unpopular locally and the district was steeped in nonconformity. For this reason a lot of Tameside people chose to marry at Manchester Cathedral, where fewer questions were likely to be asked about regular church attendance etc. People also often chose to use accommodation addresses in Manchester during the period when the Banns were read in order to avoid paying fees at both the Bride and Groom's Parish Churches. These and other reasons led to the popularity of the Cathedral for weddings. Some people even took day trips to Manchester on Saturdays just to watch the succession of weddings.
Ashton St Michael - Baptisms - there are two registers at Ashton Parish Church that have never been filmed. These are for:
16th August 1829 - 2nd May 1831
6th January 1833 - 6th August 1834
There doesn't appear to be any easy explanation as to why these two registers were omitted, apparently they are both in excellent condition and easy to read. It was the LDS that did the filming. Ashton Parish Church are allowed to hold their own records and are not required to deposit them with other Manchester Diocese Records at Manchester. These two registers contain 2,400 entries each and are volumes 5 and 7 of the Ashton Parish Church Baptismal Collection.
Dukinfield St Mary's - This was the first Catholic Church in Tameside and as such recorded many baptisms throughout the borough. With registers dating back to as early as 1823 and pre-dating other Catholic Registers in Tameside by several years - these had been unfilmed. The Church received lottery funding to record and rebind the registers. These records have now been filmed and deposited at Tameside Local Studies and Archives Library
A CD has been produced by St Mary's Parish Records Conservation Group. It contains information from the parish records of St Mary's R.C. Church, Dukinfield. St Mary's is the "mother" church for the surrounding areas of Cheshire and Lancashire. St Ann's and St Mary's in Ashton-under-Lyne, St Mary's in Oldham, St Paul's in Hyde and St Peter's in Stalybridge were all founded from the Dukinfield church.
The records of baptism, confirmation, marriage and burial date back to 1823 and are a valuable source of family, social and economic history of the Roman Catholic community in this corner of Cheshire and Lancashire.
The CD contains baptismal records from 1823 to 1906, confirmations from 1823 to 2004, marriages from 1837 to 1925 and burials from 1823 to 1955.
This is available by writing to the Revd O'Doherty at the Church.
Click here for contact details
Droylsden St Marys the church was opened in 1848 and their registers are still at the church: they have never been filmed and the Church charges a pretty high fee to go and view them.
Dukinfield Old Chapel:
Marriages from 1713-1754
Baptisms from 1713-1762
Burials from 1713-1761
This is a great loss since Old Chapel, although nonconformist, was virtually Dukinfield's parish church at this period.
Also the burial records after 1793 had not been filmed. The Tameside Group of the Family History Society of Cheshire has remedied this by filming all the burial books, along with recording the Monumental Inscriptions, and have produced these on CD. click here
We are quite lucky in Tameside in that virtually all the parish registers in the area have been filmed and are on the I.G.I. up until at least 1837 and beyond. These seem to be the exceptions:
Ashton St Peter's baptisms and burials 1824-1837. These can be viewed either on microfilm or in printed form, produced by the Lancashire Parish Register Society (LPRS) at Tameside Local Studies Library. Also available to purchase via Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society on CD Rom reference number 2001. Now available at the new Family Search website in the Manchester Diocese Collection under Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire.
Stalybridge Old St Georges - Although Stalybridge was in Lancashire until 1894 some of Stalybridge Old St Georges records appear on the I.G.I. in Cheshire (simply listed as Stalybridge Cheshire) - christenings 1782-1828 and burials 1779-1811 and 1813-1852 - So baptisms from 1828 - 1837 are missing from the I.G.I. and the microfilm at Tameside Local Studies Library would need to be consulted. Baptisms 1776-1865 and Burials 1778-1865 are available on microfilm at Tameside Local Studies Library. The burial registers are now available to search via the Churches website. stg.org.uk Now available at the new Family Search website in the Manchester Diocese Collection under Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire.
Hyde St Georges Church 1832-1837 - these are availble on microfilm at Tameside Local Studies Library.
Not complete yet, but indexes for this church are now beginning to appear on the Family Search website
Mottram-in-Longdendale - I have recently checked the microfilm of baptisms between the years 1825-1834 and found most of the pages unreadable (too light, must have used pencil like the 1841 Census). Births after 1807 are not on the I.G.I., but are covered by the B.V.R.I., but I suspect that a lot will be missing after having viewed the film.
Not complete yet, but indexes for this church are now beginning to appear on the Family Search website
Mossley St George's baptisms are on the I.G.I. from 1756-1821, so from 1821-1837 you will need to view the microfilm at Tameside Local Studies. Now available at the new Family Search website in the Manchester Diocese Collection under Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire.
Stockport St Mary's - the only bits that are on the I.G.I. are Baptisms between 1584-1646 and 1782-1802. Baptisms between 1813-1833 are more or less covered by the B.V.R.I. Some marriages between 1813 and 1837 are on the B.V.R.I., but many years are missing. Since Stockport St Mary's was the official parish church for Hyde and Dukinfield marriages, Tameside Local Studies Library has the marriage index on microfiche for the years 1792-1837. For all other years, the microfilms at Stockport Heritage or Manchester Central Library would have to be consulted. I have checked the coverage on the Bertram Merrill Marriage Index and only 7820 marriages are included for the whole period 1586-1837, with the caveat that there are bits missing. Just recently, however, the Pauline Lytton marriage index has been produced on CD by the Family History Society of Cheshire covering all the marriages at Stockport 1754-1837.
Not complete yet, but indexes for this church are now beginning to appear on the the Family Search website
Hatherlow Independant Chapel - Bredbury - Baptisms on the I.G.I. 1785-1837. Baptisms from 1732-1781 transcripts are available to view at Manchester Central Libary Archives by booking in advance - reference TR-1732-1781 929 3271H6.
Not complete yet, but indexes for this church are now beginning to appear on the the Family Search wesite
Newton Heath- Baptisms are on the I.G.I. between 1664-1722 and 1754-1844. Those between1722-1756 are not on the IGI and marriages between 1729-1754, you will need to consult the microfilms at Oldham Local Studies or Manchester Central Library. Most of the Newton Heath PR's have now been published in volumes 158 and 159 of the Lancashire Parish Register Society. All Saints, Newton Heath was the official parish church for Droylsden until St Mary's was built in 1848. Now available via the Family Search website in the Manchester Diocese Collection under Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire
Prestwich St Mary's- Baptisms and Marriages are on the I.G.I. between the years 1603 and 1712. Because Prestwich St Mary's is the mother church to Oldham St Mary's and many Oldhamers married there. Oldham Local Studies Library have the marriages between 1713 and 1837 on microfilm. For other years and baptisms see Manchester Central Library. Now available via Family Search website in the Manchester Diocese Collection under Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire.
Glossop - nothing seems to be on the I.G.I. or available on microfilm at Manchester Central Library before those of St Mary's Independent Church in 1786. Glossop Parish Records were transcribed some time ago by Glossop and District Historical Society. There are many gaps from late 1600s to early 1700s and baptisms circa 1780. Check out the following website: Marjorie Ward's Glossop Pages where she kindly offers to do look-ups, as time allows. Records for High Peak are held at Derbyshire Record Office at Matlock.
Also available via the Family Search website in the Manchester Diocese Collection under Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire.
From February 2013 the Manchester Diocese Collection is now available via Ancestry
Manchester, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1915 1702491
Manchester, England, Deaths and Burials, 1813-1985 917791
Manchester, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1573-1812 (Cathedral) 376533
Manchester, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1901 (Cathedral) 282956
Manchester, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1930 (Cathedral) 409330
Manchester, England, Deaths and Burials, 1813-1866 (Cathedral) 42850
Manchester, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1541-1812 1186882
Manchester, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1930 1437698
check this page for other recent additions Sadly Ashton Christ Church and Ashton St Michael are not included in the above, but more records in the collection are promised for later in the year.