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Parish Records

Parish registers were first ordered to be kept in 1538, after the dissolution of the monasteries. All baptisms, marriages and deaths were to be written down in a book after service on Sundays, in the presence of the churchwardens. In practice, the recording was haphazard to begin with, often the information being written only on loose sheets. In 1597, it was decreed that all existing registers were to be copied into “fair parchment books, all least from the beginning of this reign”. This was a mammoth task, but we can see from the original registers held at the Worcestershire Archive & Archaeology Service that one scribe dutifully copied out all the entries into a new leather-bound book.

The first Badsey register covers baptisms, marriages and burials for the years 1538-1785. For the period 1538-1601, the entries have been written in Latin in neat writing and numbered. Unfortunately, for the rest of the 17th century, there were several different scribes, none of whom lavished the same care and attention on the task as the original scribe. Some of the entries are rather scrappy and for some years there are no entries at all. Matters had improved by the 18th century, although the David Jones, the Curate under Reverend Drummond, was moved to write: “It is to be observed that the Register Book was not filled regularly since the year 1768 owing to the Rev Mr Rawlins, late Minister’s neglect but a true copy of the transcripts was kept yearly and at the desire of the parishioners I have taken upon me to fill it up which I have done in 1789.”

Inside the front cover, it says: “This Register Book containing 181 pages of Marriages, Baptisms and Burials was entirely copied out by the Rev W H Price, Vicar of the Parishes of Badsey and Wickhamford, in the month of September and October 1898 in the second year of his Vicariate.” The page numbers seem to have been entered by Price at the end of the 19th century when transcribing the register. The transcript of the Badsey register has been lost, but the Wickhamford transcript is available at the Worcestershire Archive & Archaeology Service.

In the beginning, there was no rule about the precise form of wording; it was entirely up to the clergyman or his Curate to decide what to record. But the Marriage Act of 1753, popularly known as Lord Hardwicke’s Act, which came into force on 25th March 1754, led to more systematic recording of information for marriages. In 1812, an “Act for the better regulating and preserving Parish and other Registers of Birth, Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, in England”, introduced by Sir George Rose, was passed, coming into effect the following year. This led from 1813 to baptisms and burials, in addition to marriages, being entered in separate, specially-printed books.

Bishop’s Transcripts were also made. Parish clergymen were ordered to make an exact copy of his registers each year at Easter and hand it to the Archdeacon when he came round. A survey of the Bishop’s Transcripts reveal that there are some discrepancies, primarily in spelling of name, and not all years have survived. In a few cases, records appear in the Bishop’s Transcript, but not in the parish register.

Baptisms

In the period from 1538-1753, normally only the name of the child and his father (and sometimes the mother) and the date of baptism was recorded; it was entirely up to the clergyman or clerk to decide how much or how little to put in. It was not until 1813 that a pre-printed parish baptism record book was introduced for baptismal registers of the Church of England. There were eight entries to a page, with columns for the baptismal date, name of child, names of parents, abode, parental occupation and the name of the clergyman officiating. Sometimes a birth date was added in the margin, or other notes. From the mid 20th century, a column for birth date was added, and later in the century, a column for godparents was added.

In the latter years of his incumbency, Canon Allsebrook neglected to keep the registers up-to-date. The last full entry in the Wickhamford register was No 501 for 1929. The last full entry in the Badsey register was No 674 for 20th October 1935; pencilled entries with date and surname were entered for the next few numbers. It was not until 1945 that baptismal entries for both Wickhamford and Badsey commenced again when the Reverend Jeffreys arrived as the new Vicar.

For data protection reasons, baptisms up to 1919 only have been published on the web. Microfilm copies of the original registers may be viewed at the Worcestershire Archive & Archaeology Service, The Hive, Worcester.

Marriages

In the period from 1538-1753, normally only the name of the couple and the date of the marriage was recorded. From 1754, the Hardwicke Act established for the first time a printed format for marriage registers of the Church of England. There were four entries to a page, with spaces to be filled in for the name of the groom, his parish of residence, the name of the bride, her parish of residence, date of ceremony, usually the marital status of the couple, occasionally the man’s occupation, and whether the marriage was by banns or licence. The signatures of the couple or their marks against their names if they could not write, and the signatures of the clergyman and two or more witnesses were required for the first time. Alongside the new format register from 1754, the original register was also maintained up until 1785, but with minimal information.

From 1754, under the provisions of Lord Hardwicke’s Act, a marriage was only legally valid if the banns had been called or a marriage licence had been obtained, codifying earlier practice within the Church of England.  The banns were required to be read aloud on three Sundays before the wedding ceremony, in the home parish churches of both parties. Omission of this formality rendered the marriage void, unless a bishop's licence (a common licence) or a special licence of the Archbishop of Canterbury had been obtained.  The information in the Banns Register supplements the details in the Marriage Register as this list includes residents who did not marry in their home parish.

With the introduction of Sir George Rose’s Act of 1813, there was little change, although there were now three entries to the page instead of four. With the introduction of civil registration, from July 1837, the marriage registers were set out like the civil certificates, two to a page. Additional information now captured was age, marital status (occasionally given in earlier years), name of father for both parties, occupations for the groom and the two fathers.

For data protection reasons, marriages up to 1941 only have been published on the web. Microfilm copies of the original registers may be viewed at the Worcestershire Archive & Archaeology Service, The Hive, Worcester.

Burials

In the period from 1538-1812, often only the name of the deceased and the date of burial was recorded, though sometimes the name of the spouse or father was given. It was entirely up to the clergyman or clerk to decide how much or how little to put in. It was not until 1813 that a pre-printed parish burial record book was introduced for burial registers of the Church of England. There were eight entries to a page, with columns for the burial date, name of deceased, abode, age and the name of the clergyman officiating. Sometimes notes were added in the margin. However, where in the earlier registers relationships were sometimes stated (eg “son of John Smith” or “wife of John Smith”), this ceased from 1813.

In the latter years of his incumbency, Canon Allsebrook neglected to keep the registers up-to-date. The last full entry in the Badsey burial register was No 404 for 26th March 1936; pencilled entries with date and surname were entered for the next two numbers. It was not until 1945 that burial entries for both Wickhamford and Badsey commenced again when the Reverend Jeffreys arrived as the new Vicar (although there are notes on a sheet of paper for burials in 1944-1945 and a typed list on Worcestershire County Council Public Assistance Department for burials at Badsey and Wickhamford 1942-1947).

Microfilm copies of the original registers may be viewed at the Worcestershire Archive & Archaeology Service, The Hive, Worcester.

With the introduction of Sir George Rose’s Act of 1813, there was little change, although there were now three entries to the page instead of four. With the introduction of civil registration, from July 1837, the marriage registers were set out like the civil certificates, two to a page. Additional information now captured was age, marital status (occasionally given in earlier years), name of father for both parties, occupations for the groom and the two fathers.