The following announcement was written by Ancestry.co.uk :
Historic records launching online today for first time ever detail 'key players' of the English Civil War – Ancestry.co.uk
Ancestry.co.uk, in partnership with the City of London’s London Metropolitan Archives, today launched online for the first time eight million of London’s oldest surviving parish records, charting the history of the city from the 16th century to modern times.
- Earliest London Parish records online in existence – eight million in total
- Records detail those alive during key events in England’s history, including the Civil War
- Revolutionaries Oliver Cromwell, Thomas Fairfax and John Milton detailed online
The London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 contain vital records kept at more than 1,000 London parishes, and include some of the few extant records of the English Civil War.
Crucially, these records pre-date Civil Registration, the system introduced by the Government in 1837 to record the ‘vital’ events of its citizen’s lives, including births, marriages and deaths. The only way to trace one of these key events before the 19th century is to use parish registers.
Approximately 1.4 million records in the collection are of those who lived during the English Civil War, accounting for about 30 per cent of England’s population at the time.1Today, the estimated 33 million Britons who have London heritage2 can start exploring their revolutionary or royalist ancestors.
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political manoeuvrings between King Charles I and the English Parliament, fuelled by Charles’ unpopular religious reforms in England and Scotland and disregard for Parliament’s financial muscle.
During the mid 17th century, Parliament was the Crown’s only means to collect taxes and without it the King struggled for funds. When Charles I called on Parliament to raise funds to suppress rebellious Scots in 1640, the Parliamentarians tried to use their financial influence to force through political reform and increase their own power. Charles refused, leading to war in 1642.
Eventually the Royalists were defeated by the Parliamentarians, but a few radicals still feared Charles could return to the throne. This led the powerful parliamentarian New Model Army, under the command of Colonel Thomas Pride, to arrest all MPs who were sympathetic to the king. A Rump Parliament was established and Charles I was executed for treason. The commissioner at the trial, Oliver Cromwell, became Lord Protector of England.
Numerous prominent names from the Civil War feature in the collection, including:
Other famous and notable names that feature in the collection include William Blake, Charles Dickens, John Milton, Robert Peel and Samuel Pepys.
- Oliver Cromwell – Cromwell served as a commander in the New Model Army and later supported the trial of Charles I, even signing his death warrant. He became Protector of England until his death in 1658. Cromwell’s marriage to Elizabeth Bourchier on August 13, 1620 is listed in the St Giles Cripplegate Parish Registers
- Thomas Fairfax – Fairfax was a parliamentary general and commander-in-chief of the New Model Army, which was instrumental in numerous victories against the Royalists. Unlike Cromwell, he refused to condemn Charles I to death as he was more moderate in his political and religious views. His marriage to Anne Vere in Hackney on June 17, 1637 features in the collection
- Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford - Considered as one of the most prominent figures in the period leading up to the Civil War, Wentworth supported King Charles I and became one of his leading advisors. However, the King never fully trusted him and accused Wentworth of treasonously advising him, which eventually led to his beheading on Tower Hill. His baptism can be found in the 1593 St Dunstan in The West Parish Registers
The majority of the parish registers date back to 1538 when Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Vicar General, issued an order that each parish was to keep a register of each baptism, marriage and burial performed there, however the collection also features a few much earlier records. One of the transcripts that is included within the collection is dated 1274.
Russell James from Ancestry.co.uk comments: “These records detail the existence of those living through the fascinating period of the English Civil War, the political consequences of which can still be felt today. The conflict instilled Parliament with genuine power for the first time, while its factions developed into what have become some of our modern political parties.
“As official records were not kept by the government until Civil Registration in 1837, these parish records are essential for tracing anyone who was baptised, married or buried in London before the 19th century.”
Dr Deborah Jenkins, Assistant Director of the City of London’s Department of Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery, comments: “I am delighted that we are able to make these unique historical records available online for the first time and fully name searchable.
"Our understanding of the development of London and the lives of millions of Londoners will be greatly enhanced through online access to this information.”
The launch of the early parish records marks the completion of the London parish registers, which began in September 2009 with the launch of the ‘modern’ records dating from the early 19th century to the 1980s. A total of 18 million parish records are now online, dating from 1538 to 1980.