From my bookshelves: The Phillimore Atlas & Index of Parish Registers

25 Jan

There was a good reason why I wanted to highlight this book, not that it is an essential reference source for English, Scottish and Welsh genealogy isn’t a good enough reason on it’s own.

No, the other reason is the price. Currently on Amazon.co.uk the 3rd edition is available new for £26.76, which is almost half of it’s original selling price. (By the way I am not part of the Amazon affiliate scheme)

You may be able to find second hand copies cheaper (I saw an earlier edition in a second-hand bookshop last weekend for £15). Even the publishers Phillimore & Co Ltd, are offering the book at a greatly reduced £35.

Don’t forget that many libraries will also hold copies of this book as well, in fact my local library has two copies, one reference copy and one that can be borrowed (if you are quick enough when it come back or you reserve it).

The only caveat is that although this is the latest edition it was still published in 2003, so some of the information may well be out of date, and some of it may well be available on the internet now. However since I got my copy I am finding myself using it more and more in place of Google to find the locations of parishes and who their neighbours are.

As the title suggests the book is divided into two parts, the atlas and the index. The atlas section consists of two maps for each county; a topographical map (showing places, roads and some landscape features such as hills and rivers) and a parish map (showing the positions of the parishes and the ecclesiastical jurisdictions in which they fall).

The index section contains a list of the parishes within each county and details relating to the availability of the parish registers. The information for each county is as follows:

  1. Parish name
  2. Deposited original registers – the date range for original parish registers deposited at the County Record Office
  3. I.G.I. – coverage in the International Genealogical Index
  4. Local census indexes – availability of locally produced census indexes
  5. Copies of registers at Soc. Gen. – the dates of copies of the parish registers held by the Society of Genealogists
  6. Boyd’s marriage index – dates included in Boyd’s marriage index
  7. 1837-1851 registration district – name of the registration district in which the parish can be found
  8. Pallot’s marriage index – dates included in Pallot’s marriage index
  9. Non-conform. records at P.R.O. – dates of non-conformist records held at The National Archives
  10. Map ref. – refering to the parish map in the first section of the book

I have used this book for many things, but it is especially useful for identifying the location of a parish in relation to those around it, especially for unfamiliar counties, such as when my ancestry drifts eastwards into Kent.

It is useful for identifying the correct spelling of an unfamiliar parish, or rather trying to work out what the enumerator or transcriber actually meant as a place of birth in the census.

Although some of this information may seem redundant now, because so much is on the internet and indexed, much of the information still remains relevant, after all, the historical geography of our ancestor’s parishes haven’t changed even if the current boundaries have moved.

Whilst it would be nice to see an updated edition, I fear that without it being online it would become out of date as soon as it was published. So always check the catalogues of the County Record Offices and the Society of Genealogists for the latest information.

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