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Ashford, Kent  Index of all known births, marriages and burials c.1570 - late 1800's
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Introduction to Index
This index includes the details of all known births, marriages (including those by licence) and burials in Ashford of known persons, and also of those recorded in other parishes, but described as of ASHFORD, from the late sixteenth century until the late nineteenth century.
   It represents work first started in 1967, when Dr. Fred Lansberry first came to Ashford to hold many annual courses of lectures, to discover more about the history of the town. In the first year, the parish registers were used to gather the basic information about many of the people who had contributed to the life and development of the town over the centuries.
   Many different students contributed to this work over the years, and have been produced in this form by me, in order to make the details available to others in the years to come. There are undoubtedly many errors of fact and omission, and I would be grateful for information on such as are found by others.

Arthur Ruderman May, 2007

Items included -
Ashford parish registers -
   Baptisms from October 1570 - December, 1839
   Marriages from August 1570 - March, 1851
   Burials from September, 1570 - April, 1862
   The final date corresponds to the end of a volume, details by the last date being available from national 
       registration records.
Also - marriages in other parishes in printed records of licences issued by authority of the Bishop.
Stray entries of persons said to be of Ashford, and cited in printed or other records of those parishes.
Registers of non-conformist chapels, where available.
Congregational chapel - births 1785 - 1836,  burials 1821 - 1833
Wesleyan chapel births 1816 - 1837
Quakers births 1836 1765,   burials 1669 - 1778

Beginners in family and local history are told of the information that can be found in parish registers, but are also told that these are of baptisms, marriages and burials in the parish, not of births or deaths. This is undoubtedly the case since the introduction of civil registration in 1837 1, but the position, both legally and in practice, is more complicated in previous years.
   Although there had been isolated instances in Europe of notes being kept in books not specifically provided for the purpose earlier, the first general requirement for the registration of baptisms was due to the influence of Cardinal Ximenes, at first in his own province of Toledo in 1497, and then throughout Western Europe. 2
The general requirement in England was due to the mandate issued by Thomas Cromwell, vice-gerent to Henry VIII on 5 September, 1538. Entries were to be made by the parish minister of every wedding, christening and burial in a book which was to be kept in a coffer provided by the parish, this having a lock and two keys. One was to be held by the minister, the other by the churchwardens.
   These requirements were repeated by Edward VI in 1538, by Cardinal Pole during the reign of Philip and Mary, and by Elizabeth in 1559. In 1588 Elizabeth approved a requirement that parchment registers should be provided.
   The old paper registers were to be copied into the new registers, at least from 1558 (the date of the accession of Elizabeth), this being the reason why many registers which survive date from then.
   Despite this, in Hearn’s preface to The Itinerary of Kent, by John Leland, (1711, 6th volume, p.7), quoted in Ashford Church, William Warren, (1711, p.68), states that Registers were not kept in Country Parishes ‘till ye 3d or 4th year of Queen Elizabeth; Thô there were Injunctions for ym in K.Hen: 8th & K. Edwd. 6th Reign. 
   The same requirements were confirmed by Parliament in 1644, but a major change was introduced by an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament in 1653. The responsibility for the keeping of the registers was taken from the clergy, and given to Registrars (but called Registers) elected for each
parish. For the first time births, not baptisms, were to be entered, together with additional information, not previously required, as to the parents of those to be married and of the parents of children baptised. Also, for the first time fees were to be paid for the registration, 4d for each birth or death, 12d for a marriage. 
   These provisions were, of course, reversed in 1660 with the restoration of the monarchy, the duties reverting to the clergy. An act was passed 3 which legalised those marriages contracted during the Commonwealth.
   In 1679 an Act 4 was passed which indirectly had an important effect on burial procedures. In order to limit the importation of linen, all persons were required to be buried in wool, and ministers had to keep a register certifying that this had been done, or report the circumstances so that the penalty of £5 could be collected.
   More important changes were introduced by an Act in 1694.5 In order to help finance the war against France, fees were payable in respect of births, marriages or deaths. These varied as to the status of the individual concerned - e.g. for the burial of a commoner having real estate of less than £50 or personal estate of £600 the fee was 2s for a birth, 4s for a burial and 2s 6d for a marriage. At the other extreme the fee for the birth of the eldest son of a Duke was £30, and for his marriage or burial £50. The clergy were responsible for collecting the fees, and for keeping the registers showing that they had done so.
   That they were not doing this in all cases is shown by the need for two further acts in 1695 and 1706.6 The first of these was concerned with those parents who had their children baptised privately, thus making it difficult for the minister to know of the baptism. These included non-conformists, and they were to give notice to the parish vicar of the birth, and he was to keep a separate register of the fees which he collected from these parents. The second act indemnified the clergy for omissions of which they had not been notified.
   The Act was first enacted for five years, and was extended and It was repealed in 1706. In order to prevent clandestine marriages, an act in 1753 7
all marriages had to be conducted in a church or chapel licensed for this purpose. The duty payable on registering burials, marriages or births was fixed at 3d in 1783 8
The ancient system was replaced in 1837 by the civil registrars, administered by central government.From this time the registers kept by parish clergy relate solely to those persons who wish to have the appropriate service in that church.

   1   by Act 6 & 7 Wm. IV. (1836), c.86
   2   see W.E.Tate The Parish Chest (third ed., 1969), p.43
    3   12 Chas.II, c.3
30 Chas.II, c.3
    5, 6 & 7  
Wm III, c.6
    6, 7 & 8  
William III, c.35 and Anne c.12
Geo.11, c.33 - known from it’s sponsor as Hardwick’s Act.

23 Geo.III, c ?
by 6 & 7 Wm. 85 for marriages and c.86 for births and deaths.

1538 injunction by Thomas Cromwell, vicegerent to Henry VIII required the keeping of registers recording every
        wedding, christening and burial.
1547 injunction by Edward VI repeats of that of 1538.
1555 statute of the National Synod held by Cardinal Pole - keeping of registers to be verified by bishops at
1557 names of godparents to be recorded.
1559 injunction of Elizabeth repeats that of Edward VI.
1563 and 1590 proposals for general registry not approved.
1603 Ecclesiastical Mandate repeats requirements of 1559, etc.
1644 ordinance of House of Commons for keeping of registers of baptisms, marriages and burials.
1653 Act of Parliament for the registering of all births, marriages and burials. Confirmed in 1656.
1661 Act of Parliament (12 Chas.II, c.33) legalised marriages during the Commonwealth.
1679 Act of Parliament (30 Chas.II, c.3) requiring burial in woollen.
1694 Act of Parliament (6 & 7 Wm.III, c 6) for license fees for births, marriages and burials. Registers to account
        for all persons married, buried, christened or born. This Act was limited to five years.the proceeds being
        earmarked towards the costs of the war against France. It was extended in , and repealed in 1706.
1695 Act of Parliament (7 & 8 William III, c.35) required parents to give notice to the vicar of all children born, he to
        keep a separate register of those not christened in the parish church.
1700 Act of Parliament to extend fees for further five years ?.
1705 Act of Parliament (4 & 5 Anne, c.23) ?to abolish license fees ?
1753 Bill for register of marriages, births, and deaths passed by Commons, but rejected by Lords. 
        (see Smollett's England, vol.iii, p.393)
1753 Hardwick's Act (26 Geo.II, c.33) regulating the procedures for marriage.
1783 Act of Parliament (23. Geo III, c.49 ? ) revised stamp duties payable on registering of marriages, birth or
       christening or deaths in parish churches.
1785 Act of Parliament (25 Geo II, c.75) extending the above to protestant dissenters. Repealed 1794 
        (34 Geo.III, c.11)
1812 Act of Parliament (Rose's Act) requiring registers of marriages, baptisms and burials to be kept in official
        printed books.
1836 Act of Parliament (6 & 7 Wm.IV, c.86) establishing civil registration of births, deaths and marriages.

2 BARN. K.B. 269. TERM. PASCH. 6 GEO. II. 1733   printed in English Reports, vol.94, p.493   
   Anonymus : How far a parson is not obliged to make out a copy of a register.
   Mr.Abney moved for an information against Mr. Ekyns, rector of the parish church of Waiton, [ ] and against Mr.Bonner, curate of the same church, for refusing to give Mr. Dormer copies of certain parts of a register belonging to that parish, and likewise for refusing to give him a certificate of certain persons of the family of the Dormers being born in that parish. He said that an ejectment was depending in this Court at the time this refusal was made, and still continues to be so, between Mr.Dormer and Mr.Parkerson and his wife, concerning certain lands which the plaintiff claims as heir male of the Dormer family,. Several of that family were born in the parish of Waiton; and for this reason it was necessary to have copies of several parts of the register, and likewise a certificate of the birth of many in that family. Accordingly Mr. Dormer made his application to the rector and curate of this parish for this purpose; and offered to pay him for them; but they refused letting him have them; and the only reason which they gave for this refusal was, that Mr. Parkerson and his wife were the defendants, and they would do nothing to their prejudice. Of this fact he said he had an affidavit; and for such an extraordinary denial of justice, he hoped the Court would grant an information. The Court said, You have a right to inspect the publick books of the parish; but cannot oblige the rector or curate to make you out either copies of those books, or a certificate; for which reason they could not grant the motion. Upon this he changed his motion, and desired a rule to inspect those books. The Court said, motions to inspect the publick books of corporations they grant without an affidavit; but in motions to inspect the publick books of a parish, an affidavit is always requisite. By such affidavit they said too, it must be sworn, that the copies of them are necessary to be produced in evidence at a trial of a cause depending, and likewise that the inspection of those books to take copies has been demanded and refused. Now in the present case, the first part was sworn to; but not [270] the latter; for which reason the Court refused to make any rule at present.
   Note : Burn (p.246) cites this case as authority for the statement parish registers belong to the Parish, represented by the Minister and Churchwardens. It is not clear why this should be so.

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