English Parish Registers Online – Who Has Which Counties?
This article has been updated and a new English Parish Registers Online -Who Has Which Counties? worksheet is now available in the Free MadAboutGenealogy Resource Library. English Parish Registers Online – Who Has Which Counties? Following on from my blog post of a few weeks ago “Which Website Should I Subscribe To – Ancestry or FindMyPast” I have been asked if there is an easy way to compare which website (FindMyPast or Ancestry) had which parish registers. The answer to that was no – well it was no up until now ! So that I could answer the question “English Parish Registers Online -Who Has Which Counties?” I have trawled through both sites and made up a table which shows which website has images, transcripts and indexes for each county in England. I will add other tables for Scotland, Wales and Ireland as soon as I can.
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When Ancestry and FindMyPast get an agreement with a county archive they digitise the records and get them indexed as the images become available. When they have a reasonable number of parishes completely digitised and indexed they announce the collection and put online what they have completed. But it won’t be all the parishes in the county, the remaining parishes will go online and be labeled as updates on their weekly news of new records. For instance in the Ancestry London parish register collection they are still putting new parishes online several years after announcing that they had a London parish register collection. You need to go back and renew your searches every few months as your ancestors may suddenly pop up. Both sites have the facility to find out which parishes are included, but you sometimes have to dig deep to find that information. However FindMyPast has improved the available of their parish list greatly in the last year.
Both companies buy the right to place online transcripts or indexes made by Family History Societies or individuals. These may be tagged as a county index, but there is no guarantee that they are complete. The Ancestry Extracted Parish Registers are a case in point, they never comprise all the parishes in a county. I am not saying these indexes and transcripts shouldn’t be used and are not useful, but you just need to be aware of their limitations.
Remember that it is always best to use images of the original documents rather than transcripts or indexes as they may contain errors. Nothing like reading the document yourself. The images are indexed so locating your ancestors doesn’t mean you have to go page by page. If you can’t view the images use the transcripts or indexes, but make a note to seek out the images to confirm that the transcriber/indexer didn’t make a mistake.
Using the “English Parish Registers Online – Who Has Which Counties?” worksheet which is now available in the FREE MadAboutGenealogy Resource Library you will be able to make a choice as to which website subscription would suit you best – FindMyPast or Ancestry. If like me your ancestors spread themselves in counties across both websites then you may end up subscribing to both. I was talking to a family historian the other day who had felt guilty because she subscribed to both, but then when she added up the cost of their partners hobby she decided that her hobby of genealogy was quite cheap at just under £250 a year or just 68p a day – much cheaper than her husband’s golf!!
Don’t forget that both FindMyPast and Ancestry have 14 day free trials so that you can try before you buy.
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