Kent Index of all known births,
marriages and burials c.1570 - late 1800's
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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
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
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 -
Wesleyan chapel births 1816 - 1837
Quakers births 1836 1765, burials 1669 - 1778
LAW of PARISH REGISTERS
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
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
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.9 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),
2 see W.E.Tate The Parish Chest (third
ed., 1969), p.43
4 30 Chas.II, c.3
5, 6 & 7 Wm III, c.6
6, 7 & 8 William III, c.35 and
7 Geo.11, c.33 - known from it’s
sponsor as Hardwick’s Act.
8 23 Geo.III, c ?
9 by 6 & 7 Wm. 85 for marriages
and c.86 for births and deaths.
SUMMARY of LEGAL REQUIRMENTS
1538 injunction by Thomas Cromwell, vicegerent to Henry VIII required the
keeping of registers recording every
wedding, christening and
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
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
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,
1753 Hardwick's Act (26 Geo.II, c.33) regulating the procedures for
1783 Act of Parliament (23. Geo III, c.49 ? ) revised stamp duties payable
on registering of marriages, birth or
christening or deaths in parish
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
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,
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  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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