What Are Bishop’s Transcripts?
An Act of 1598 required Church ministers to make copies of their parish registers and send the copies to their Bishop each month. These copies are known as Bishops Transcripts or occasionally Archdeacon Transcripts, they are extremely valuable when parish registers have been damaged or have not survived the years. The copies were made and sent to the diocese office every year until the mid 1800’s.
It should be noted that because the transcripts are copies they are open to errors in copying, to not containing all the information that is in the original registers and on some occasions they may contain more information than in the originals.
There may well be gaps 1649 – 1660, during the Commonwealth period many parish registers ceased to be kept or were hidden away by clergy fearful that they might be removed from the parish. Bishop/Archdeacon’s Transcripts were not required to be made during these disruptive times.
Where Can Bishop’s Transcripts be Found?
Bishop’s Transcripts are usually housed at County Record Offices or County Archives so you should check the websites, sending an email inquiry if necessary.
The Mormon Church (LDS) have filmed many of the Bishop’s Transcripts for England and they are available for searching through local Family History centres. There is a charge for ordering the films which may take some weeks to arrive from the main LDS centre. A search of the FamilySearch Catalogue will provide the information as to whether the Bishops Transcripts for the parish of interest have been filmed. The Bishops Transcripts you are wishing to search may have been indexed and be part of the FamilySearch Index so a name search is always worthwhile.
Some Family History Societies have been very active in transcribing Parish Registers and Bishops Transcripts so a search of their website might prove fruitful. The Federation of Family History Societies hold a list of their members and that list can be found using the link below.
Ancestry.co.uk has some Bishops Transcripts images online for inspection, they have been indexed so are easy to use.
If the county of interest is covered by the Online Parish Clerk scheme then the Bishops Transcripts for the parish of interest may have been index/transcribed and be online or available for enquiry through that parish’s OPC. A lesson on the Online Parish Clerk Scheme can be found at http://www.teachyourselffamilyhistory.com/online-parish-clerk/