Since 1837, Births, Marriage and Death records (BMDs) have been kept by the General Register Office (GRO) of England & Wales, part of the National Office of Statistics (ONS). These records have been kept by law since 1837, detailing every birth, marriage and death recorded in England & Wales since that date.
For records before 1837, you have to turn to Parish Registers. You will usually find parish registers at the local County Record office, or, if you have access to the Internet, at websites like The Genealogist that offer Parish Register transcripts and other services (e.g. census, bmds, etc).
Certain Parish registers are preserved on CD-Roms. These cannot be copied but can be checked by contacting Chris Moxon. Not all these registers are complete; some have been transcribed or may just have “Moxon” entries transcribed.
Through the efforts of Thomas Cromwell, a mandate was issued in 1538 by Henry VIII to keep parish registers. This ordered every parson, vicar or curate to enter in a book every wedding, christening and burial in his parish. The parish was to provide a ‘sure coffer’ with two locks, the parson having the custody of one key, the wardens the other. The entries were to be made each Sunday after the service in the presence of one of the wardens. The entries were made on paper, sometimes on loose sheets. Bishops in their visitations were to see that the names of sponsors were duly entered in the registers of baptism. The mandate was enforced under a penalty of ‘3 sols, 4 deniers’ for the repair of the church.’ The parishioners’ penalty was divided between the poor box and repairs for the church.
Parish registers held by The Moxon Society on CD-Roms are as follows: