This collection contains Church of England confirmation registers from the Liverpool area of Lancashire County. Liverpool saw its first dock open in 1715, and by 1800, the city boasted five docks, a vital role in world trade, and a population of more than 75,000. The next century would see the population burgeon almost tenfold.
Before civil registration in England began in 1837, key events in a person’s life were typically recorded by the church rather than the state. Parish records are the best source of vital record information in England before the nineteenth century and remain an important source thereafter.
Over time, what is now called confirmation in the Church of England became a separate rite from baptism, as a bishop needed to perform the confirmations, and bishops could not attend all baptisms. Confirmation now usually comes later in life and affirms one’s commitment to the Christian life represented by baptism. Thus, most of the people named in these registers are teenagers and young adults.
The records typically include spaces for name, age, address, date of first communion, and sometimes change of address or other remarks. In some instances, a birth date will be given for the age.
Some key dates for understanding the historical background of parish registers include the following.
- 1538 — A mandate is issued requiring that every parish was to keep a register. Many parishes ignored this order. Only about 800 registers exist from this time period.
- 1598 — Clergy were required to send copies of their registers to the bishop of their diocese. These copies are known as Bishop’s Transcripts.
- 1643–1659 — Registers were poorly kept during the English Civil War and the Commonwealth period which followed or abandoned altogether.
- 1711 — An order was made to the effect that all register pages were to be ruled and numbered. This was widely ignored.
- 1733 — The use of Latin in registers is prohibited.
- 1751 — Calendar reform. Prior to this the year commenced on 25th March, so any register entry for December 1750 would have been followed by January 1750.
- 1754 — Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act. A separate marriage register is enforced which records witnesses, signatures of all parties, occupation of groom and the residences of the couple marrying. It also enforced Banns and made clandestine marriages illegal.
- 1763 — Minimum age for marriage set at 16 (previously the Church accepted marriage of girls of 12 and boys of 14). Those under 21 still needed the consent of parents. On marriage records individuals that are over 21 often have their age listed as “full age” rather than an exact year.
- 1812 — George Rose’s Act. New pre-printed registers were to be used for separate baptism, marriage and burial registers as a way of standardizing records.