Using census records and the Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes for England and Wales at Ancestry.co.uk, you can quite handily research your family history back through the Victorian period. However, before the 1841 Census, and before the introduction of BMD certificates in 1837, where can you turn? The answer is parish records. These documents were recorded under law in the parishes of the established Church from 1538 onwards. They’re the greatest resource available to family historians who want to step back through the generations into the 1700s and beyond. Here we’ll look at how to use the growing collection of parish records at Ancestry.co.uk by finding the marriage of Charles Dickens…
From your Ancestry.co.uk homepage, roll over Search and click on the bottom entry, Card Catalogue. There are other ways of doing it, but this method will familiarise you with in-depth searching.
On the left of the Card Catalogue screen is a Filter Search option. In this box, click Birth, Marriage and Death, and then Marriage and Divorce. Use the menu above the record list to sort by Record Count.
The marriage we’re looking for took place in 1836 in Chelsea, so select London, England, Marriages & Banns 1754-1921. Type in the name Charles Dickens and the year 1836.
Another Charles Dickens was married in 1835 in Lambeth. That’s close, but second on the list is Charles John Huffam Dickens who married Catherine Thomson Hogarth at St Luke, Chelsea. Click View Record.
When you arrive at the transcribed record screen, click View original image, scroll to the bottom right of the image, and this is what you’ll see. George Hogarth, the bride’s father, gave his consent as she was a minor, and was a witness.
Now click Back three times in your browser to take you back to the search page for London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921. On the right you can see Browse this collection. Using the pull-down menu, select Kensington and Chelsea.
The Parish menu will now give you the option to choose a parish in Kensington and Chelsea. Find Chelsea St Luke, and you’ll see that marriage registers are available for this church from 1754 to 1921. Choose 1836.
Once again, you’re within the 31 pages of marriages for St Luke, Chelsea, 1836. You can find the correct page using the left and right buttons to the top right. This method is useful if you know the parish and year for an event but have no luck with a name search.