What is Online Parish Clerk?
Online Parish Clerk was created in 2000 over a pint of beer in a pub in Cornwall by Michael McCormick, David Stick, and Paul Brewer. They envisaged a scheme whereby a person would take charge of a county and enlist volunteers who would adopt a parish and then proceed to transcribe any and all the documents that would be useful to family historians research ancestors from that parish. The resulting transcripts and information would then be place online with each county having a separate website.
What is the coverage of Online Parish Clerk?
Not all counties are covered by Online Parish Clerk and the overall coordinators for the whole scheme are always looking for people to take on counties not yet covered. The counties that are covered are
What can you find on Online Parish Clerk?
The list of items that have been indexed and transcribed and place online is almost endless. Parish registers, Bishops Transcripts, Wills Indexes, Bastardy Bonds, War Memorial lists, Convicts sent to colonies, and much more.
Taking the parish of All Cannings, Wiltshire as an example this is what is offered online
- 3 x photographs of All Saints Church & Allington Bethal Strict Baptist Chapel
- A list of Contiguous Parishes
- A link to six external websites which have information on All Cannings
- Three wills of parishioners of All Cannings
- Knights Compositions 1628
- Poll of Freeholder 1772
- Bastardy Examinations 1865 – 1878
- Casualties of WW1
- Where the original parish registers are held and for what time period
- Transcripts of Baptisms 1578 – 1680, 1689 – 1812
- Marriages 1578 – 1685, 1700 – 1812
- Banns 1755 – 1805
- Burials 1578 – 1812
- Notes from parish registers 1578 – 1848
- Monumental Inscriptions from the Strict Baptist chapel
It can be seen that a wide range of records have been transcribed for this parish.
Using transcripts as a source of genealogical information is quite common when compiling a family tree, however it should be remember that they may not include all the information on the original records and also the transcriber may have inadvertently made errors. Of course consulting the original documents is much the preferred option, but this is not always possible. When writing up your family history you should always source every piece of information and it is recommended that you record that the information was gained from a transcript and details of who made the transcription. Having said the above I use transcripts in my own research, duly sourced.
How to use Online Parish Clerk
Each county website is slightly different, but generally there is a parish directory which when clicked on drops down a menu with a list of all the parishes that have an OPC. Click on the parish you are interested in and a page will come up with the information for that parish. Run the mouse over the link of the transcript etc. that you wish to access and click. Some files will come up as a separate webpage and some as a PDF file. If the file isn’t in alphabetical order then click on the web browser tools/file/find on this page, type into the small search box which has appeared the name you are looking for and click enter. Each instance of the name will be highlighted and you will need to page down to see all such entries.
Remember to look for as many variations of spelling for the name you are searching for. Saying the name out loud may help you when trying to think of how it may have been spelt in the past.
If you can not access the original documents then transcripts are the next best thing and the OPC is a good route to go down.