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Parish Records and Civil Registration:

 | Heckfield Parish Records | Swallowfield Parish Records | Stratfield Saye | Hartley Wespall | Barnes Marriages |
Before civil registration started in 1837 the records of births marriages and deaths were kept by the Church in the parish records.  Over the years there have been changes to how those records were held and these changes are described here along with entries from the parish records of St. Michaels Church, Heckfield and from Stratfield Saye (Hampshire) and the neighbouring parish church of All Saints, Swallowfield (Berkshire).

From the Heckfield Parish Records:

Baptisms (1761-1802):
Ann Barnes 11th February 1770
Lucy Barnes 10th March 1793
William Barnes 13th September 1795
John Barnes 3rd January 1802
George Barnes 21st June 1807
Rebecca Barnes 11th March 1810

Marriages (1538-1812):
John Barnes - Judith Read 20th April 1772 (Stratfield Turgis)
George Barnes - Elizabeth Banks 12th April 1832

Burials (1761-1802):
Lucy Barnes 13th May 1799 Aged 6
Ann Barnes 18th May 1799 Aged 29
George Barnes 10th May 1874 Aged 67
Elizabeth Barnes 24th January 1898 Aged 87
John Barnes 20th April 1821 Aged 51
John Barnes 19th December 1824 Aged 80
John Barnes 15th January 1900 Aged 55
Mary Barnes 20th February 1861 Aged 83
Rebecca Barnes 12th October 1889 Aged 78
William Barnes 22nd May 1829 Aged 23
Edward Barnes 11th July 1860 Aged 64
Edward Barnes 8th March 1878 Aged 43
Elizabeth Sarah Barnes 25th May 1858 Aged 17
George Barnes 1st February 1858 Aged 9
Thomas Barnes 20th January 1841 Aged 4
Thomas Barnes 10th June 1893 Aged 50
Thomas Barnes 31st August 1858 Aged 3 weeks
William Barnes 19th June 1870 Aged 34
Charles Maud Barnes 13th August 1862 Aged 16
George Barnes 9th August 1886 Aged 49
Henry Barnes 23rd July 1867 Aged 45
Martha Barnes 3rd November 1877 Aged 68
Frederick Edward Barnes 26th August 1897 Aged 7

Some of the names above can be found in the Heckfield churchyard.

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In 1536 the first attempt was made to start parish records but this was not mandatory until September 1538, when following the split from the Catholic Church, Thomas Cromwell the Vicar General to King Henry VIII declared that all marriages, christenings and burials should be recorded. These records were originally held on loose sheets of paper or parchment and it wasn't until 1597 that Queen Elizabeth the First ordered that the records be kept in special registers. The records from 1538 would have been transferred to the new registers, however it is not uncommon to find registers with records starting from the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1558 rather than 1538.  Some registers may even start from the early 1600's. Fortunately for us the parish records for Heckfield date from 1538 so in theory at least it should be possible to get back to the 16th century.


In 1598 an Act was passed that meant the parish records should be copied and sent to the Bishop. These are known as the Bishop's Transcripts. The original records recorded baptisms, weddings and funerals in one book in chronological order.  The method of recording the event differed, with some entries beginning with the surname and thus making searches easier as in: "Barnes, Ann daughter of" compared to "Ann, daughter of John and Judith Barnes" which involves a more closer inspection of the records (not easy as the handwriting is often faded and hard to read).

The Parish Baptism Record contains the name of the child, the parents and date of the baptism / christening but not the date of birth. In the family tree the date of baptism has been used as the birth date of all children born before civil registration started in July 1837. This is because there is no way to find the actual birth date for births before 1837 and by using the baptismal date avoids blank entries in the family tree which prints the birth date and not the baptismal date.

The attitude to children born out of wedlock differs from that of today, it is common to see "bastard", "base born" or illegitimate recorded against the baptismal entries of children born to single mothers or unmarried parents.

The record for a Marriage will contain the date of the marriage and the names of the partners and depending on the date, their signatures, place of abode and occupation, fathers name and occupation, plus the name and signatures of the witnesses.

The Burial record will contain the name of the deceased and the date of burial.  The age of the deceased is usually not specified. Some burial entries do not even include the first name of the deceased - usually a woman - as in "the widow of John Barnes".


In 1733, all parish records had to be recorded in English, instead of Latin, or as was sometimes English made to look Latin.

From the Swallowfield Parish Records:

Baptisms (1607-1928):
John Barnes October 21st 1832
Charles Thomas Barnes September 13th 1908
William Charles Barnes May 23rd 1915
Joan Alice Barnes December 25th 1918

Marriages (1608-1926):
William James Tocock - Mary Ann Barnes April 28th 1894
Mary Ann Barnes was the daughter of Thomas and Jane Barnes, who lived in Stockwell, London. Mary Ann lived with her grandmother Elizabeth and uncle John from the age of five and perhaps earlier. Mary Ann remained in Hampshire for the rest of her life.

Burials (1539-1931):
Henry Barnes September 14th 1892
Walter Charles Barnes June 20th 1915 (aged 2 months)


Up till 1754 all records were kept in one register in chronological order, it wasn't until Hardwicke's Marriage Act of 1754 that a separate Marriage Register was started.


In 1813 separate pre-printed forms for baptisms, marriages and burials were introduced.


On the 1st July 1837 civil registration superseded the parish records but the new system was slow to get started and compulsory registration was not introduced until 1875 so some births went unregistered. Many marriages were not properly registered or many couples claiming to have been married actually never were. However it is not easy to overlook a dead body, so death records are the most complete of the three .

From the Hartley Wespall Parish Records:

Baptisms (1540 - 1783):
Elizabeth, daughter of John and Judith Barnes 7th March 1779
Dew, son of John and Judith Barnes 21st March 1784
Mary, daughter of John and Judith Barnes 11th November 1781
Judith, daughter of John and Judith Barnes 23rd October 1774
Sarah, daughter of John and Judith Barnes 27th October 1776
William, son of John and Judith Barnes 12th March 1786
Ann, daughter of John and Judith Barnes 11th May 1788
George, son of John and Judith Barnes 19th September 1790

Burials (1540 - 1783):
04 May 1788 William son of John & Judith  Barnes

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The earliest parish records are written in Latin and here is a brief guide to the Latin words used in the records.
filius son of
filia daughter of
et and
baptizavi I have baptised
natus born (male)
nata born (female)
gemelli, gemini twins
trigemini triplets
nupsit married
matrimonium matrimony
licentiam by licence
bannum by banns
mortus   died
sepultavi I have buried
dormit sleeping
corpus the body
parochia parish
in comitatu in the county of
in agro in the county of  (literally in the field of)
ibidem of the same place
extraneus a stranger
Names were also Latinised - just  to make things more confusing. Also a  great number of clergymen didn't really understand Latin that well  so they made mistakes. And when in doubt, wrote it in English and made it look like Latin.

From the Stratfield Saye Parish Records:

Baptisms (1539 - 1812):
Edward, son of John and Sarah Barnes March 25th 1694
Thomas, son of Dew and Mary Barnes April 4th 1717
Mary, daughter of Edward and Mary Barnes December 22nd 1722
Sarah, daughter of John and Sarah Barnes July 24th 1744
John, son of John and Sarah Barnes June 22nd 1746
Dew, son of John and Sarah Barnes September 10th 1748
Hannah, daughter of Thomas and Frances Barnes May 31st 1749
Mary, daughter of John and Sarah Barnes July 29th 1750
William, son of John and Sarah Barnes October 8th 1752
Thomas, son of John and Sarah Barnes April 25th 1754
Judith, daughter of John and Sarah Barnes May 29th 1757
Lucy Miles, illegitimate daughter of Judith Barnes September 3rd 1780
Mary Ann,   illegitimate daughter of Thomas Cook and Frances Barnes March 16th 1793

Burials (1539 - 1812):
Dew Barnes July 2nd 1740
Thomas Barnes (infant) May 10th 1754
William Barnes (infant) May 15th 1754
Sarah Barnes May 15th 1754
Elizabeth Barnes October 23rd 1772
Judith Barnes January 13th 1786 

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