A guide to finding Bishops’ Transcripts for Derbyshire and how they can help family historians.
What are Bishops’ Transcripts?
In 1598, parishes were ordered to send an annual copy of all baptisms, marriages and burials for the year to the church authorities. These returns are known as ‘Bishop’s Transcripts’, or BTs for short, and continued to be made until the late 19th century, although there were lapses in local diligence in sending the returns.
Why are Bishops’ Transcripts useful?
The BTs can be very useful when the original registers are hard to read or if a register is missing (for example, early Bolsover registers are missing following a fire in the 1960s). Both Bishop’s Transcripts and parish registers can contain entries not found in the other.
Draft registers were often used for compiling both the register and the Bishop’s Transcript. Discrepancies arose and there can be differences in dates, surnames and given names.
Bishops’ Transcripts for Derbyshire
Derbyshire was part of the Diocese of Lichfield until the middle of the 19th century, so the Bishops Transcripts were kept with the Diocesan archives Lichfield Record Office, now part of Staffordshire Record Office. Contact Staffordshire Record Office for guidance on accessing and consulting the BTs.
With the exception of a few parishes, the earliest transcripts survive only from the 1660s, traditionally thought to be as a result of loss during the Civil War and the Commonwealth period.
There is no uniform cut-off date for the transcripts of baptisms and burials and these can cease at any time between the 1830s and 1880s. Marriages are rarely included after 1837.
- Jeremy Gibson Bishops’ Transcripts and Marriage Licences, Bonds and Allegations: A guide to their locations and indexes – available in the Computer Room