Baptism Records in Parish Registers

Baptisms before 1813

Early entries of baptism records in parish registers contained less information than those from later years when a baptism register book was used.

Baptisms in Gretton Baptism Register 1652

The above image is produced with permission from Northamptonshire Archives

It is not uncommon for baptism records at the time to simply state the infant's name, the date and the father's name.  No mother's name was often entered in a baptism register because the mother was not considered important.

In later registers the mother’s name began to be recorded, and sometimes the child's birth date. In certain parish registers from the late 1700’s the mother’s maiden name was included in the entry.

The information recorded could vary between parishes however. Some vicars stated the infant's grandfather's name and you may find more than one child of the same parents were baptised together even though they did not necessarily share a birthday. This was possibly because they could not afford to have each child baptised separately.

If no father is named, it is possible the child was illegitimate, this being shown by the terms base born, illegitimate etc.  Sometimes a vicar wrote the word bastard in big letters after the child's name. This was to signify his displeasure at this circumstance.

Baptism Records after 1813

After Rose’s Act of 1813, the Church was required to keep separate books of baptisms, marriages and burials. This section deals with the baptism register.

The baptism register gave the opportunity to record baptisms in much more detail than the older parish registers, as there were separate columns across the page to enter the child's name, the parent’s names and the father's occupation.

The family’s abode was also recorded. In towns and cities, a street name was sometimes entered for the address, but it might not include the house number. In villages only the village name was usually entered.

In some cases, the birthdate was also recorded, and you may find more than one child of the same parents were christened together.

There was also a column where the name of the clergyman who performed the ceremony was recorded.

An example of an entry in the baptism register:

The above image is produced with permission from Northamptonshire Archives

Information recorded in the baptism register

  • When baptised
  • Child’s Christian name
  • Names of both the mother and father and their surname
  • Abode
  • Quality, Trade or Profession
  • By whom the ceremony was performed

Please also view my guides to parish registers in general, marriage records and burial records.  You may also find much information is included on memorial inscriptions.


Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.