Posted by on 26 May 2010 in Company News, General, Record Collections

We’re delighted to announce that Non Conformist Registers, 1694-1921 are now online for the first time ever.  These records from the London Metropolitan Archives detail over 224,000 Londoners who refused to conform to the doctrine of the established Anglican Church including Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists and Quakers.

The records span over 225 years and include baptism and marriage registers and burial inscriptions, dating from the late 17th century when the roots of non conformism were laid.  As our non conformist ancestors were not recorded by the state until 1837, these documents are, for the most part, the only records of these non conformists in existence.


Seen as the intellectuals and free-thinkers, non conformists advanced the progressive causes which formed the bedrock of the modern civil liberties. For example, the Quakers were the first religious group to denounce slavery, Unitarians campaigned for better conditions for factory workers and Methodists were great advocates of women’s rights.


In fact, today’s Liberal Democrat party can trace its origins to these religious dissenters, who supported the Whig politicians in the 18th and 19th centuries in their push for greater civil and religious rights. It was the coalition of Whigs and free trade radicals who later founded the Liberal Party.

Early non conformists were known to suffer terribly at the hands of the powerful Church of England, through laws enacted by an Anglican Parliament. These laws, collectively known as the Clarendon Code, restricted the civil rights of those not professing allegiance to the Church of England and remained in effect until 1828.

Such restrictions prevented non conformists from working for the state or holding a position of public office. They were also prevented from studying at English universities before University College London was founded, compelling non conformists to fund their own Dissenting Academies.

Official restrictions frequently led to severe social exclusion, with minority religious groups often suffering from discrimination, intimidation and even physical violence.  This persecution led many non conformists to leave Britain during the 18th century and head for America - a nation built on the principles of religious and civil freedom.

The diverse and rich culture that presides in Britain today owes a lot to the people listed in these records – people who fought for what they believed in and weren’t afraid to stand up for what they thought was right. 

Start searching the records now and if you find an ancestor within these records we would love to hear from you!  

Other London historical records spanning from the 1500s to the 1900s, can be accessed at www.ancestry.co.uk/LMA.

9 Comments

Sharron 

None of the links to the non-conformist records seem to work and they don’t appear to be in the Card Catalogue………. I am just being bounced to a message that says that Ancestry does not have enough information to do a search. I have Premium membership already so I didn’t need to upgrade my membership to access them (as instructed in your ads).
Is it just me, or is it a general problem?
Thanks.

26 May 2010 at 12:37 pm
Annabel Bernhardt 

Hi Sharron – the Non Conformist Registers were temporarily down but are back up and running now so please do have another try. Your Premium membership will give you full access to the collection. Happy searching! Annabel

26 May 2010 at 4:03 pm
Haydn 

Hi Annabel

Will you be adding any Welsh Parish or Non Conformist Registers any time in the near future. I am especially interseted in North Wales.

Thanks

Haydn

26 May 2010 at 9:52 pm
bromaelor 

Yes Haydn. I’m with you on that one!

28 May 2010 at 8:43 pm
michaelbartley46 

I think sometimes Ancestery thinks London is the only city in England.

What about us provincials ?

28 May 2010 at 9:28 pm
Akeck 

Hi Hadyn,

Sorry for the delay in responding to your question, we wanted to make sure we had accurate information before we posted. At this time we don’t have any concrete plans to add Welsh non-conformist records but we do hope to be able to bring our customers more non-conformist records from all over the UK moving forward. Thanks for your question!

4 June 2010 at 5:43 pm
Roger 

LMA records have now been available for more than a year and in general I’ve found them very useful. However, would it not be a good idea to put right the buggy bits before launching lots more records? For example many of the Boroughs south of the river Thames say they were in Middlesex when they were actually in Surrey (Lambeth is a good example).

Other problems exist with London Births, Baptisms, Banns, Marriages, Death and Burials records where Baptism dates are treated as Birth dates, Banns dates are treated as Marriage dates and Burial dates are treated as Death dates.

6 June 2010 at 2:40 pm
Denise 

I’d certainly concur with Robert’s point about the indexing of LMA parish records.

Why on earth didn’t the Tech guys think this one through when they built the transcribing form???? Not all baptisms give the date of birth, and not all births were followed in short order by a baptism!

The novice researcher wouldn’t think to trawl through all the available records which matched parent name criteria, especially if the ** apparent ** dob is a number of years after the actual dob.

6 June 2010 at 4:29 pm
Angela Keck from Ancestry 

We are aware of some concerns regarding county names in the London records and we’re working to address those as quickly as possible. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

As for baptism dates and Banns dates, we realize that these dates are not interchangeable for birth dates or marriage dates and that Bann dates do not even indicate for certain that a marriage took place. We do indicate when the birth date is an estimation and we have made the Bann date searchable through the same tool as marriage dates merely for simplicities sake.

As with all new features, or changes, things are a work in progress and we appreciate hearing your feedback and concerns so we can work to make the site better and better.

15 June 2010 at 7:58 pm