Norfolk Parish Registers online

Important note August 2016: since this post was originally written and the spreadsheet information was collated, collection names have been changed to more accurately reflect the years included in the published images. Therefore, the spreadsheet will sometimes indicate, for FMP, that register images extend further than they really do, as the most recent entries in the registers have not, in fact, been included and transcribed. The Ancestry collections often indicate the full range of the original register as the title, but again the more recent entries are not included.

Recent announcements about Norfolk parish registers have been made by FindMyPast and TheGenealogist (thanks to Chris Paton for the latter announcement published on his brilliant blog). FindMyPast have added browsable registers, many (but not all) of which have been available in the same format on for several years – if you knew where to look. TheGenealogist announcement suggests when they launch there that they will be matched with transcriptions, which aren’t currently available at FindMyPast, and only for a small minority on familysearch. 

So exactly what is available where? The biggest collections remain searchable in person at Norfolk Record Office: The Archive Centre and slightly fewer (basically the non filmed/digitised ones, essentially the most recent deposits) at Norfolk Heritage Centre.

Online, you can search most Church of England transcriptions at FreeReg (now FreeReg2). I’d estimate this at roughly 80%. Then you’ve got maybe 60-70% available to browse on and now FindMyPast. (Worth looking at FreeReg first if you don’t know where exactly to look).

However, as with everything, there are gaps, so what exactly can you see and where can you see it (if at all)? Well, I’ve started putting that all together for you, starting with Acle to Beeston Regis (approx 1/14th of Norfolk’s parishes). Some registers are still at churches, some were destroyed during the last war, or through centuries of fires and floods. Luckily, most were not.

The attached gives the name of the parish, the PD number (Parish Deposit – look under this number on Norfolk Record Office’s catalogue and you’ll find a lot more than simply the registers), and which years are available in their original form, on microform and on the greatest holders of digital records and transcriptions – familysearch, findmypast and freereg.

It doesn’t include whether there are archdeacons’ or bishops’ transcripts (there probably are in most cases) or additional transcription sources (again, there probably are in many cases, whether printed, on NORS, extracted in various collections on ancestry or transcribed on familysearch (beware the later, always check the source)). More information on transcriptions available can be found on the Record Office’s website.

What to look out for:

  • I doubt that where the websites claim to have earlier or later entries than the Record Office’s own catalogue that they really have (at least not comprehensively) unless (in FreeReg’s case) they have transcribed earlier bishops’/archdeacons’ transcripts (this does happen occasionally where transcripts survive but the parish registers were destroyed). 
  • There are gaps within the years stated and while I have put this in (as well as UFP “unfit for production”) in the original registers section, these are almost certainly going to be replicated in the FindMyPast/familysearch versions because they have digitised the original source registers
  • The years for familysearch refer to the browsable images, not any additional transcriptions which may or may not link to them
  • The only way to confirm the years advertised on the titles of the browsable registers is actually to go and look
  • I’m not sure there’s a way to see which years for which types of entry are complete on FreeReg2 (please correct me if I’ve missed it). On the old site you could narrow it to baptisms, marriages, burials and whether the transcriptions were from ATs/BTs or the registers. Therefore, just because a large period of years is covered, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the same years are available for every event
  • Parishes prefixed with words beginning with other letters may currently appear to have no online records. In reality, some of them do, but I’m working logically through the online collections. In some databases, for example, “Barningham, North” as I have indexed it, will not appear until I get as far as “North Barningham”

Of course while I have spent a significant amount of time collating this information, I may have slipped up here and there, so let me know if you find any errors. I’ll be gradually adding further parishes over the next days and (probably) weeks until I reach the end of the alphabet.

For now, here’s a good start:

Norfolk Parish Registers – what’s where. Acle to Beeston Regis

Once the registers go live on TheGenealogist I’ll be updating the list again…!

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