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Searching for families past.

In his latest column, our family historian Paul Wilkins explains how Nonconformist records can help you trace your family tree A couple of weeks ago I discussed parish registers of the Church of England.

It is important to note that this church was established in 1534 when Henry VIII broke away from the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church and declared himself Supreme Head of the English Church.

The records I am going to discuss today are the records of the religious movements known as Nonconformists who dissented or broke away from the beliefs and practices of the Church of England.

As time went by the number of these groups or congregations greatly increased, especially during the 19th century. They include Quakers, Methodists, Baptists, Independents, Congregationalists and Presbyterians. What is important to consider is that some of our ancestors would have belonged to one of these Nonconformist religions at some point during their life.

It can be very difficult to try to trace the religion of our ancestors. It is unfortunate that the census records from 1841-1901 do not have a column listing religion. If it had been listed, it would have helped us greatly.

I would suggest that before looking for our ancestors in Nonconformist records, we first need to see if they are listed in the parish registers of the Church of England.

If we can't find them in these records for whatever reason, I would then suggest that you try looking at what Nonconformist churches or chapels were in existence in the area in which your ancestors were living.

In terms of accessing Nonconformist records, you will need to visit the record offices and archives in the areas where your ancestors lived. They hold all the original records which can be freely accessed.

As with parish registers, the Latter-Day Saints have copied a lot of recordswhich include a significantnumberofNonconformist registers. Go to the following link which will take you to the records they hold: n Next week we will be looking at monumental inscriptions. nPaul Wilkins is a family historian and founder of Family History Detectives. E-mail your queries to
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 9, 2009
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