What dates do Family historians need to know

Whether you are a hobbyist or professional genealogist there are key dates when events and government interventions affected the type of and content of those research documents which provide the basis of any family tree research: parish registers, census records and civil registration records.

So what are they?

Parish Registers

1537 Parish registers first “officially” introduced

1597 Bishops Transcripts of parish registers introduced

1641 – 1660 Civil War and Interregnum including:

1653 Marriage Act – marriage by Banns only

1657 Marriage Act – marriage licences restored

1666 Burial in Woollen Act

1694 Marriages, Births and Deaths Tax – to 1706

1752 Change from Julian Calendar to Gregorian Calendar

1754 Lord Hardwick’s Marriage Act – separate marriage registers

1765 Dade Registers

1783 The Stamp Act – repealed 1794

1812 Rose’s Act – separate birth and burial registers and age at death to be recorded in burial registers

Civil Registration 

1837 Civil Registration introduced – records of the Home Office

1874 Legal penalties introduced for none registration of births

1911 Mothers maiden name to be included in the GRO birth index

1912 Both surnames of spouses to be included in the GRO Marriage index

1927 Adopted Children Register

1927 Still birth register introduced – Births and Deaths Registration Act

1984 GRO began to produce annual indexes rather than quarterly indexes

Parish registers continue to exist today for baptisms and burials, however with the GRO records are now the main source of information for births and deaths as they are the legally required records.

Census Records

1801 First decennial census introduced (numeric only)

1841 First decennial census to include Name, age (rounded down to nearest 5), occupation, whether born in current county

1851 Also included relation to head of household, marital status and place of birth. Rounding of ages dropped

1861 Census records become the responsibility of the General Register Office (GRO). includes economic status

1871 Includes whether imbecile, idiot or lunatic

1881 Includes language spoken (in Scotland)

1891 Includes language spoken (in Wales), whether employer, employee or independent

1901 Includes number of rooms (if less than 5), whether employer, worker, work from home or not

1911 First census where the household schedules are the primary census returns available to the public and the industry/service with which the worker is connected, how long married, how many children born, how many still living and how many have died, and whether any infirmity

1921 Census released on 6 January 2022 are again household schedules but include more information than the 1911 census. See my blog on the 1921 census for further information

There is a 100 years restriction rule in the release of census records and with the 1931 census records having been destroyed in the second world war and no census having been conducted in 1941 during the second world war, the next census to be released will be the 1951 census release in 2052 (unless restictions are changed)

1939 National Register is available as akin to a census but with much less information. See my blog on the 1939 National register

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