Posted by on 30 May 2013 in General

Surrey Parish Records 1538-1987 – now online

The recently released Surrey Parish Records, 1538-1987 are the latest addition to our extensive family of UK parish registers. They include more than 2 million new records of baptisms, marriages and burials from the county.

These records have been digitised in association with Surrey County Council’s Surrey History Centre, which holds records of the Diocese of Guildford (including a small part of Hampshire) and the Diocese of Southwark (excluding South London and Sutton).

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Parish records will help you follow your ancestors’ journeys through their most important life events and take you right back to 1538. Why is this year significant? This is when Thomas Cromwell, Vicar General during the reign of Henry VIII, ordered that every parish record all baptisms, marriages and burials in a register. This was followed by a series of legal changes that made the registers more consistent and reliable:

In 1754 – following Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act, the recording of marriages in a separate register was made compulsory. The register recorded names and signatures of both parties and witnesses, occupation of groom and the residence parish of the both bride and groom. After 27th March 1754 the wedding had to take place in the church, and both bride and groom had to be over the age of 21 to marry without the consent of their parents.

In 1812 – George Rose’s Parochial Registers Act introduced new pre-printed registers. These were used to record details of baptism, marriage and burial registers separately, not in a single volume as previously implemented.

In 1837 – Civil registration in England and Wales began.

What type of information can parish records reveal?

Early Baptism records normally include the name of the child, date of baptism and parents’ names (although very early registers may only give the father’s name!). Later registers usually include the residential address, father’s occupation and mother’s maiden name, and in some cases, incumbents also included dates of birth. Information about the child’s parents can help to find the marriage record of the parents.

Early marriage records normally include information on the names of both parties, whether they are of the parish, and details of witnesses. Later registers usually contain the residential address, marital status and ages of both parties, signatures of both bride and groom and of two witnesses, as well as the father’s full name and occupation.

Early burial records include name of the deceased and date of burial. Later registers may include age, occupation and residential address.

Among the new Surrey records you’ll be able to find a number of famous residents, including:

The baptism record of writer and author of Jeeves and Wooster fame, Pelham Grenville (P.G.) Wodehouse, born and baptised at Guildford, Holy Trinity, on 17th November 1881.

The burial record of John Derrick, probably the first named person to have played cricket. He was buried in Holy Trinity, Guildford, on 27 October 1613.The first reference [to cricket] appears in the Guildford Court Book of 1598 where John Derrick records that when he was a scholar at the Royal Grammar School, ‘hee and diverse of his fellows did runne and play there at Creckett and other Plaies’.

William Bray (1736-1832), whose 1755 diary contains the earliest known reference to the game of baseball, was baptised and buried in Shere, and perhaps married in Worplesdon in 1758.

The collection also contains the burial record of Sir Barnes Nevill Wallis, engineer and inventor of the bouncing bomb used in the Dambusters Raid.

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Our Surrey parish records are also linked to the Hassell images of Surrey. These include watercolour illustrations and paintings of churches and other historical buildings across the county created by watercolour painter and drawing specialist John Hassell (1767-1825).

To find out more about Surrey History Centre and their collections click here

Authored by Marcela Popovicova Ancestry’s UK Partnership Manager.

About Emma

Emma Pulman is a Social Media and digital Marketing Executive for Based in Ancestry's London office in Hammersmith, Emma regularly tweets and posts on Ancestry's Facebook page.


Peter Heather 

Apart from the usual standard of transcription I’ve come to expect from Ancestry (7 out of 8 of the records that I eventually managed to find were mistranscribed – in one case the surname Temple was transcribed as Joseph! They were all perfectly legible on the original), I presume that this is only an initial start at putting the registers online. Very few parishes appear to have had the marriage registers between 1754 and 1812 transcribed or even the images put online.

31 May 2013 at 4:18 pm
David Matthew 

I see that even the burial entry for Barnes Wallis is wrongly transcribed above, his middle name was Neville, it is quite clear in the entry!.

2 June 2013 at 1:35 am