This database is a collection of historical parish registers from the county of Suffolk in the country of England. The records in this collection can range in date from the early 1500s to the mid- to late-1800s. Some non-parish records may be included from as early as the twelfth century. Parish records--primarily baptisms, marriages, and burials--provide the best source of vital record information in the centuries before civil registration. The records include baptisms/christenings, burials, marriages, tombstone inscriptions, obituaries, tax lists, wills, and other miscellaneous types of records. Also included are some records from non-conformist churches. All of the data was converted as it was originally presented in various published registers and books. For this reason, you will find interesting phonetic spellings and large descriptive tables of contents.
What should I know about this collection to access the data?
Some of the records may be in Latin or even a Welsh or Scottish dialect depending on location. The spelling is archaic, and is transcribed as it was written. There are many spelling inconsistencies and non-standard grammar. Phonetic spelling is often used. Try using variant spellings if a search yields no results.
The individual files in this database may not include all dates and records for each parish/church. Use caution in assuming that any database is a complete set of records--even for the parishes and time period listed. Due to the legibility of the original sources, there may be gaps in the records, including partial sentences, cut-off words, and other omissions.
Due to the nature of the records and because the records were originally compiled by a third party, it is difficult to absolutely verify the completeness and validity of the data. The information in this collection is as correct as it was when Ancestry.com received it, and has merely been reproduced in an electronic format.
What historical background should I know to use this data?
A large number of parish records date from the sixteenth century, when a series of mandates required clergy to compile records of baptisms, marriages, and burials within the parish, and to send an annual copy to the Bishop. Essentially, there are two sets of records: the parish copy and the copy the clergyman sent to the Bishop each year, known as Bishops Transcripts. Many records were destroyed, lost, or simply not kept during the Civil War (1642-60). Of the surviving records, many have since been transcribed and collected by genealogical societies. The records are a valuable resource for finding vital information of people of the time. The content of the records may vary between the two sets.
How do I find copies of the originals?
These records are a finding aid that help researchers locate an ancestor in a particular time and place in history. With a location and an approximate date, the microfilm number of pertinent corroborating records can often be found on the LDS Church's FamilySearch site (www.familysearch.org) in the Family History Library Catalog. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has the largest collection.
For unfilmed original parish records go to The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, under the county of interest. This will then direct you the County Record Office where the registers are housed. You can also contact local genealogy societies or local parishes for information on viewing original records. See Crockford's Clerical Directory, a directory of Church of England clergy, if you wish to write to a parish. It is published annually.
There are other church records, and a search on Familysearch.org on the FHLC can provide you with listings of original parish records by doing a locality search for your county/parish, then look under "Church Record" type.