Advent Calendar – Day 20

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Derbyshire Parish Registers, edited by WPW Phillimore. and Lt Lt Simpson, often referred to simply as Phillimore’s

Published in 15 volumes this incredibly useful resource (which is available on the open shelves in the Computer Room) provides printed transcripts of marriage records from the earliest extant registers for each of the 75 parishes covered.


Phillimore’s ‘Derbyshire Parish Registers’

As any of you who have used early (i.e. mid 16th to early 18th century) parish registers will know, the handwriting and language you find does not make life easy for family historians – or indeed other researchers searching for information amongst these wonderful volumes. Fortunately, however, there are a good number of transcripts available to speed up the process and help along the way. Some transcripts, such as those by Phillimore, were created for publication; many of the transcripts available (particularly for Derbyshire) have actually been produced by enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers and we are grateful that copies are donated to us to make available to you.

The transcripts can vary in how useful they are (and with a small number being handwritten there can still be issues reading the handwriting occasionally). Some transcripts include merely a chronological list of the main information, some add a little more detail from the registers – if there is any that is – some will provide a name index to help you mop up all occurrences of the name you are looking for. Many transcripts are available in electronic format as well or instead of, which can make finding the information very quick indeed. You may already know that there are a large number of transcripts for Derbyshire parish registers available via the International Genealogical Index (produced and maintained by the Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints), but comprehensive indexes and transcripts for some parishes are also available to search via the PCs at the Record Office.

Nevertheless, whatever transcript you might use, we would always strongly recommend following up that information in the registers themselves. All the transcripts have been made by individuals and are subject to human error, regardless of how diligent the transcriber may have been (and some are certainly more diligent than others). Besides seeing the information as it was actually written, particularly for post-1754 marriages where you are likely to find your ancestor’s signature or ‘mark’, does make the whole process even more rewarding.

5 thoughts on “Advent Calendar – Day 20

  1. Hi Richard and Tish, I agree with you completely, there is nothing like seeing the original handwriting, a transcript just doesn’t compare – although they are a very useful starting point, particularly if you are unfamiliar with old handwriting. As an office we have been working for some time investigating different ways to make digital copies of the parish registers available online – we are still working on this, but we do expect that at some point in (hopefully the not too distant) future many of the Derbyshire parish registers will be available to view online. As soon as we know more, including a timescale, we will of course let you all know via this blog.

    Eyam is an interesting parish for very obvious reasons (and some less obvious ones too). As many people know, the history of Eyam is chiefly notable for the visitation of the plague in 1665-1666, in which
    perhaps a third of the population died. The village was sealed off and leadership shared in some way between the Rector William Mompesson who had come to the parish in 1664 and Rev Thomas Stanley, Rector between 1644 and 1662, when he was ejected for nonconformity. Burials during the plague period were recorded in the earliest Eyam parish register. However, the whereabouts of this original register, if it has survived, are unknown. The register in the parish collection here at the Record Office that covers the plague period is a copy from the original register, covering 1630-1705. According to
    Clarence Daniel in A Guide to Eyam (1947) the original parish registers dating (1630-1705) consisted of separate documents and were replaced by a transcription by Rev Joseph Hunt, who was Rector at Eyam between 1683 and 1709. Rev Hunt was said to have been involved in protracted litigation in a case of breach of promise which forced him to seek sanctuary in the church vestry where he lived and where he “beguiled the weary hours by re-writing the Registers”.

    Richard, I presume you have ruled out the William Fox, baptised in 1678 (son of Robert and Mary)? Although this is pure speculation, perhaps “your William” was recorded in the original register but “lost” during the copying process in the early 18th century? Have you checked the Bishops Transcripts at Lichfield Record Office as well?

    • Thanks for your interesting reply. I didn’t know about the register, I’ve only seen transcripts in a book by John Clifford and on a CD by Val Neal, but I don’t know if they’re from the bishop’s transcripts or not. I found the William of 1678 to Robert and Mary, he’s from the same family but he died as an infant and was buried in 1678, my William is the second one. Rev Hunt could have missed a page in his transcription. I would be nice if the Eyam plague could be commemorated by making the register available online, even if it is Rev Hunt’s copy.

      I hope you can make more registers available on line, I was excited to find quite a lot of parishes on Family Search and the Hathersage and Edale images have been particularly useful. Are you working with them or are they using their own images? It’s not just useful for researchers but also avoids the need to handle the priceless originals. I look forward to hearing of further developments.

      • Richard, it is very rare that the original registers are consulted at the Record Office as the overwhelming majority are available on microfilm or DVD to reduce the need to handle the originals as you say. With a small number of exceptions, these microfilms and DVDs were created by the Church of Latter Day Saints, who also run the Family Search website, so the images on that site are exactly the same copy (not just a different copy of the same content) as the ones you would see here at the Record Office. Ultimately, the content that is available online would be the same images, whether or not they are exactly the same copy as is currently available via Family Search. I hope that helps. Unfortunately, we don’t have any more news just yet, but as soon as we do, we will certainly let everyone know.

  2. Transcripts are great to get you started but nothing beats seeing the entry in the original register, or at least a photo of it. I have a relative, William Fox, who we think was baptised in Eyam around 1684. He doesn’t appear anywhere else or in the Eyam transcripts but maybe he’s there but eaten by a mouse or covered by an inkblot. If I could see the original register and it’s all legible for that year then I’ll know he was probably not baptised there, but if there’s some damage then he could be there, although I’ll never know for sure. Family Search has some Derbyshire registers with images which are a fantastic resource, would you be able to get more images of your registers available on there please? I’d particularly like to see Eyam as it’s the 350th anniversary of the plague and also Hope, Bradwell and Castleton would be excellent too.

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