This page provides information about, and links to, sources for tracing your family history. Many records are held in archives and repositories across the country, and this page aims to give a guide to where to find information, and in particular which Anglican sources are likely to be of use and how to find them. We hope this is a useful starting point for your search.
Records before 1837
For records before 1837, and just occasionally after that, church registers are your best option. These consist of baptism, marriage and burial records for every parish in the country, and have been kept since the mid-sixteenth century – though many of the earliest registers are no longer in existence, and those that do exist are often almost illegible and very scanty in terms of information.
Later records are particularly useful: baptism registers recording parents’ names, and marriage registers giving father’s names, for example. But don’t forget that your ancestors may not have been members of the Church of England, or (more recently) may not have been married or buried by the church, or indeed baptized at all.
Many of the church records for Manchester Diocese prior to 1837 are held by Manchester Archives and Local Studies at Manchester Central Library which publishes a list of their church register holdings. Parish registers are not always complete and in some cases registers are still held by parishes.
Central registration of all births, marriages and deaths began in 1837 and records from this point onwards can be accessed through the National Archives.
Manchester City Council has complete records from 1837 to the present day. They can assist by helping you search the records and supplying copies of birth, marriage and death certificates. Visit www.manchester.gov.uk for more information.
Manchester Archives and Local Studies is the Diocesan Record Office for the Diocese of Manchester. The office cares for the historical records and registers of parishes, including those of redundant parishes. You can browse a catalogue for what is available at www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries. Manchester Archives and Local Studies also has a wide range of resources to help you trace your family history.
The Principal Archivist
Manchester Archives and Local Studies
St Peters Square
Manchester M2 5PD
Tel: 0161 832 5284
Download Guidelines for parishes on storing parish records.
The General Register Office provides ordering facilities for certificates and advice on research. There are also a number of commercial sites, many of whom advertise in magazines such as Practical Family History.
If you are taking your first steps in family history or genealogy, these other sites will also be useful: GENUKI, the BBC Guide to family history, The Society of Genealogists, and the national Church of England website.
See also 'Lancashire Online Parish Clerks' a website that provides free online transcriptions of Parish Registers, and supporting information. It could be a useful source for tracing a Lancashire family history. www.lan-opc.org.uk
This is a relational database documenting the careers of all Church of England clergymen between 1540 and 1835. Created by scholars from King's College London, the University of Kent at Canterbury and the University of Reading. You can visit the site here.