About Dorset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812
This data collection contains images of Church of England baptism, marriage, and burial records in registers from parishes in Dorset County for the years prior to 1813.
Both the British government and the church had an interest in record keeping, and a 1538 act of Parliament required ministers in the Church of England to record baptisms, marriages, and burials. This database includes marriage records up until 1754, when the 1753 Marriage Act took effect, and baptisms and burials up to 1812, when George Rose’s Act called for preprinted registers to be used for separate baptism, marriage, and burial registers as a way of standardizing records. For later Dorset parish records, see the links provided in the Related Data Collections section.
Children were usually baptized within a few days or weeks of birth. Earlier records generally listed only the name of the infant, the father’s and/or mother’s name, the date of christening, and whether the child was illegitimate.
Couples were usually married in the bride’s parish. Earlier records generally listed only the names of the bride and groom and their marriage date.
Burials took place within a few days of the deceased’s death. Records generally listed only the name of the deceased and the burial date. However, sometimes other family members were listed as part of the deceased’s name; for example, “Mary wife of John Smith” or “Matthew son of William Clark.” In earlier records, it was not uncommon for women to simply be referred to as “wife of [husband’s name].”
Note: Users are encouraged to view the images, as some transcriptions are subject to interpretation.