Tuesday, September 30, 2014

400 years of Yorkshire parish records revealed online

Findmypast’s project with six Yorkshire Archives will create the most comprehensive repository of Yorkshire family history records in the world.

The UK family history website findmypast.co.uk has today published online for the first time almost 4 million parish records in partnership with the Yorkshire Digitisation Consortium.  The Yorkshire Collection comprises scanned images of the original handwritten registers held by six Yorkshire archives, spanning the years 1538 to 1989. Fully searchable transcripts of the originals enable anyone to go online and search for their Yorkshire ancestors by name.
The first phase of this landmark project, released today, includes nearly a million parish records from North Yorkshire County Record Office, Doncaster Archives and Local Studies, East Riding Archives and Local Studies Service, Teesside Archives and Sheffield Archives and Local Studies, as well as over 3 million parish records and Bishop’s Transcripts from the Borthwick Institute for Archives (University of York), which cover the whole of Yorkshire including West Yorkshire: http://www.findmypast.co.uk/articles/world-records/search-all-uk-records/special-collections/the-yorkshire-collection

The records reveal not only baptisms, marriages and burials, but important aspects of Yorkshire’s social history.  For example, the burial registers give evidence of the scale of the 1832 cholera epidemic, in which 55,000 people in the UK died, and also details of the deaths of soldiers in the 1645 Civil War. 
These church records also provide some unexpected insights into events in Yorkshire’s colourful history. The parish burial register for Kirby Wiske records that on 7 July 1791, Richard Sturdy, John Cartman and Rich’d Sturdy were “poisoned by neglect of a servant girl in making a pudding”.  The burial register for Birkin records the death of Richard Darley, struck dead by lightning at the age of 25 on 5 June 1836, while the burial register for Thirsk includes Thomas Lee, son of a shoemaker, whose death on 27th May 1789 aged 13 appears alongside the explanation “Died with drinking Gin.”

A quick look through Findmypast’s Yorkshire Collection reveals some extraordinary names. Mary Christmas was buried in Hutton Cranswick in 1689, while Fortune Chimney was laid to rest in Hornsea St Nicholas in 1727. The marriage register of Bramham records the 1837 marriage of Robert Duck to Catherine Peacock.
All of these records can be explored at findmypast.co.uk. You can search the Yorkshire Collection for free using the computers at Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library. 

Further records will be released in 2015.