Before 1837, when civil registration began, parish registers are the only generally-available source of information about ancestors. Remember, however, that these registers record the baptisms, marriages and burials of the Church of England. They are not a general record of births or deaths, or the baptism, marriage or burial of anyone who was not, at least nominally, a member of the Church of England. For further information, see the webpages on Civil Registration and Nonconformists.
Doncaster Archives holds the parish registers and records of 88 parishes in the Archdeaconry of Doncaster.
Please note that, in most cases, where we do not hold original parish registers up to 1950, Doncaster Archives has microfiche copies of registers up to 1950 made from original registers still retained by the parish. A list of the parish registers held at Doncaster Archives is available in the document attached to this page.
Although parishes were ordered in 1538 to keep registers of baptisms, marriages and burials, they were not instructed about the information which should be entered in them. The earliest registers generally have only the barest details. A conscientious clerk might enter more than was strictly necessary. He might, for instance, enter the name of both parents for a baptism, rather than the father only; he might enter the occupations of adults, or age at death; but there is rarely consistency over a long period.
Marriage registers were the first to have standardised entries, from 1753, following the Marriage Act of 1752, sometimes named after its sponsor, Lord Hardwick. The parish of residence (not origin) of both bride and groom will be given, and both of them and the witnesses, were to sign the register. From July 1837, the still-current format was introduced. This gives the age, address and occupation of both parties and the name and occupation of the fathers of each.
From 1813 (as a result of Rose's Act of the previous year), baptism and burial registers were standardised. Baptism entries give the names of the parents, place of residence (often at first only the place rather than the address) and the father's occupation. Burial entries give the place of residence and age at death of the deceased.