Thursday, 12 January 2012
Online Parish Clerks
If you are looking for information on early births, marriages and deaths, then an online parish clerk (OPC) may be able to help you. Online parish clerks are volunteers in the UK who collect genealogical information about a specific parish and answer email enquiries without charges. In the days before civil registration of vital events (births, marriages and deaths), the local church kept this information for each parish.
In the UK, civil registration began in 1837 and started slowly. Church records are often the only source of informaiton for pre-civil registration events. Online Parish Clerks (OPC) are available in selected counties in the UK. The Devon OPCs are wonderful people. I've asked for look ups for Devon (South Molton, Filleigh, High Bray, North Molton) and always find them to be very helpful, providing suggestions for further enquiries, possible names and connections. You need to provide specifics on an individual that you are researching - name, date/place of birth, marriage partners, death etc., and they will let you know what they have found in their records. While not all records are complete or comprehensive, they can let you know what exists and other possible sources or neighbouring parishes/OPCs that might be able to help. So, why not try them out when you are doing your pre-1837 UK research!