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Source material: Parish registers

Recording of baptisms, marriages and burials within individual parishes started in 1538. This was by order of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's Vicar General. Although, most of the early 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 invaluable sources for the study of subjects of broader interest. This could be about disease and mortality, population movement, illegitimacy, the occupational structure of early modern communities etc. These are fields of research that are grouped together under the general heading of historical demography or population history.


Microfilm copies of most local registers can be viewed at the Central library at Halifax, West Yorkshire. Also, published transcripts for selected (mainly earlier) periods are available.

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