Whether you are a hobbyist or professional genealogist there are key dates when events and government interventions affected the type of and content of those research documents which provide the basis of any family tree research: parish registers, census records and civil registration records.
Having completed the first 6 lectures of the IHGS Higher certificate in Genealogy, I have opted to take the Elementary Level exam to gain my first official qualification in genealogy and after revision in readiness for the exam my head is swimming with these key dates. So what are they?
1537 Parish registers first “officially” introduced
1597 Bishops Transcripts of parish registers introduced
1641 – 1660 Civil War and Interregnum including:
1653 Marriage Act – marriage by Banns only
1657 Marriage Act – marriage licences restored
1666 Burial in Woollen Act
1694 Marriages, Births and Deaths Tax – to 1706
1752 Change from Julian Calendar to Gregorian Calendar
1754 Lord Hardwick’s Marriage Act – separate marriage registers
1765 Dade Registers
1783 The Stamp Act – repealed 1794
1812 Rose’s Act – separate birth and burial registers and age at death to be recorded in burial registers
1837 Civil Registration introduced – records of the Home Office
1874 Legal penalties introduced for none registration of births
1911 Mothers maiden name to be included in the GRO birth index
1912 Both surnames of spouses to be included in the GRO Marriage index
1927 Adopted Children Register
1927 Still birth register introduced – Births and Deaths Registration Act
1984 GRO began to produce annual indexes rather than quarterly indexes
Parish registers continue to exist today for baptisms and burials, however with the GRO records are now the main source of information for births and deaths as they are the legally required records.
1801 First decennial census introduced (numeric only)
1841 First decennial census to include Name, age (rounded down to nearest 5), occupation, whether born in current county
1851 Also included relation to head of household, marital status and place of birth. Rounding of ages dropped
1861 Census records become the responsibility of the General Register Office (GRO). includes economic status
1871 Includes whether imbecile, idiot or lunatic
1881 Includes language spoken (in Scotland)
1891 Includes language spoken (in Wales), whether employer, employee or independent
1901 Includes number of rooms (if less than 5), whether employer, worker, work from home or not
1911 First census where the household schedules are the primary census returns available to the public and the industry/service with which the worker is connected, how long married, how many children born, how many still living and how many have died, and whether any infirmity
There is a 100 years restriction rule in the release of census records and therefore the 1921 census records will be release in 2022.