Treasure 38: Eyam parish register 1630-1768

Since their introduction by Thomas Cromwell in 1538, parish registers have been used to record baptisms, marriages and burials across the country. They also provide a window on the past. In the case of this parish register, from the village of Eyam, it’s a window looking in on the outbreak of plague which killed 260 people in the village in the mid 1660s (D2602/A/PI/1/1). In this image, you can see how the names of the plague victims have been identified by a pointing finger.

treasure-38-eyam-register

Did you know that the “pointing finger” device for highlighting key information is the earliest form of index? In fact, that’s why the index in the back of a book is named after the forefinger. It’s also the root of the word “indicate”. Isn’t etymology wonderful?

This register is unusual for another reason – the earliest entries were copied into it from an original register, by Rev Joseph Hunt, Rector at Eyam between 1683 and 1709. What happened to the original? We may never know.

A published edition of the parish register from 1630 to 1700, edited by John G. Clifford and Francine Clifford, is available from the Derbyshire Record Society.

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9 thoughts on “Treasure 38: Eyam parish register 1630-1768

  1. The Eyam Register edited by the Cliffords is noted as “Out of Print” on your website. I hope it will be reprinted or placed on line. I know that I had some ancestors in Eyam at the time of the plague. I was there only once and saw a list in the church. Please let us know if the Clifford book will be reprinted or placed on line – and the fee. Thank you.

    • Hi Caren. Derbyshire Record Society is an independent organisation so I can’t speak for them on this forum – although I do know (as a Life Member and a Board Member) that the Society does reprint publications from time to time, if there is clear demand. Demand for a reprint may diminish when all Derbyshire Record Office’s parish registers (including this one) go online through Ancestry, although I hope there will always be a place for a thoroughly researched and edited hardback publication such as the one in question.

      • Thanks for the explanation. As you might guess I am in the States. Newly retired, I hope to be able to come to Derbyshire for a stay in the next year or two. I will get more familiar with resources then. Happy holidays.

      • Thanks very much. It shows at least two families of mine. It is also a good guide that some of my family must have come to Eyam after the plague. I thought as much. Now I have to find where they came from! Thanks again.

  2. Thanks for your response. It’s good news about the registers going online, I look forward to seeing them. Yes I discounted the earlier 1678 William although he’s from the same family and having spent the last year searching elsewhere without success I’m back round to Eyam again. I’ll try to get to Matlock as soon as I can to check the register for myself in 1683-5. On your theme of pointing hands I’ve seen them in the Hope and Hathersage registers pointing out the name Eyre, or often using a small cross instead which intrigues me and it’s useful because I’ve also been researching Eyres.

  3. Hi Richard. I’m afraid we don’t have any influence over what goes on the Family Search site, although all our parish registers will be going online through Ancestry eventually (progress is being made on this, but we don’t have a timescale). However, I have checked the aforementioned DRS edition of the Eyam register and it shows 1684 as a typical year, with no gaps in the record mentioned. The good thing about this particular transcript is that it has been cross-checked against the Bishop’s Transcripts at Lichfield, and any discrepancies are noted (e.g. in 1684 the editors note that the surname Heaton in the parish copy is rendered Hooton in the BT) so I think if there were any sign of William Fox in that year it would appear in that transcript. I note from your blog comment around this time last year that you have discounted the 1678 William Fox because he died in infancy. If you would like us to search the original register on your behalf, please use our research service as advertised on the “our services” section of http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/recordoffice – reading through the whole of 1684 looking for the name of William Fox would be a half-hour job.

  4. Some of the Eyam parish register is available to view on Family Search but not all of it, are you able to get it all online please? I’m trying to find a baptism for William Fox in 1684, his siblings are recorded in the Eyam register transcripts but William isn’t listed. That doesn’t mean that he wasn’t baptised there, may a tear or an inkblot has made his name illegible so I’d like to see the register to see if there’s any evidence of this, however if the 1684 pages are intact then I can conclude that he’s probably not there. Unfortunately this part of the register doesn’t have online images and I’ve not been able to visit Matlock yet to view the microfiche there. If anyone is able to have a quick look please?

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