With over 570 million parish records, Findmypast is home to the largest collection of UK and Irish births, marriages and deaths anywhere.

Search the parish records

A big thank you to everyone who attended our Understanding Parish Records webinar with Myko Clelland. For those of you who missed it, don't worry, it's now available to watch online at your leisure.

We also rounded up a few of the most common queries we received during the live Q&A session and put them to our resident experts:

1. Will I find my relative in the parish records?

The only way to know for sure is to search! Go to our parish records and start with a broad search, such as a name, with both "Name variants" boxes ticked, and a date +or- a few years. From there you can narrow down the results by area etc.

2. Why can't I find my relative in the parish records?

There could be several reasons for this, including:

  1. They could have been nonconformists, such as methodists, in which case you might find them in one of our other record sets.
  2. Our parish records date as far back as 1538. The handwriting and language of older records can be very hard to decipher, especially seeing as spelling wasn't standardised in an era of poor literacy. In this case, try searching with wildcards. For example, try Fin* for the surname Finnimore or R* for Richard.
  3. With marriages, consider that some people lived together as man and wife without getting married. It was only in 1908 when the Pensions Act was brought in that many couples needed to document their marriage to get a full pension. Try looking for a much later wedding date, when they're in their late 50s.

3. Which parishes does Findmypast cover?

You can view a list of our exclusive county collections here. We also have tons of other family society records covering a variety of counties. Have a look in our A-Z of records search to see what's available.

4. What's the difference between a marriage licence and a marriage certificate?

People had to pay for a licence. Poorer people could opt to be married by Banns after their intention to marry was announced by the local parson on three consecutive Sundays. The certificate was simply written proof an official marriage had taken place.

5. I'm having trouble deciphering an old record. Where can I find help?

Why not try posting it on our Facebook page and our community can take a look - you'd be surprised what a fresh pair of eyes can do!

Want to find out more? Read how to search Findmypast's parish records