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Source material: Parish registers

The recording of baptisms, marriages and burials within individual parishes was begun in 1538 on the injunction of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's Vicar General, though the vast majority of the earliest registers have not survived. Halifax is extremely fortunate, therefore, that its original registers have survived from that year. The Elland and Heptonstall registers (which together cover most of the remaining areas of Calderdale) commence in 1559 and 1599 respectively. Registers for chapelries within these three parochial districts commence at later dates.


Parish registers are used extensively by family historians tracing their ancestors back through time from 1837 when civil registration was introduced. Apart from their obvious importance for genealogical research, registers are also invaluable sources for the study of subjects of broader interest, such as disease and mortality, population movement, illegitimacy, the occupational structure of early modern communities etc. - fields of research which are grouped together under the general heading of historical demography or population history.


Microfilm copies of almost all of the local registers may be consulted at Calderdale Central Library, Halifax, West Yorkshire and published transcripts for selected (mainly earlier) periods are also available.

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