Friday, 5 October 2007

Nonconformist church records online

In recent weeks, some records of baptisms have been made available online. These are from nonconformist churches (that is, those not belonging to the Church of England) - in particular Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians.

The records are from the National Archives in association with a commercial company under the name BMD Registers. There is a free search, but it costs £2.50 to download a scanned image.

The documents are useful as they are mostly before 1837 – the date of the introduction of civil registration in England and Wales. Although these have previously been available to researchers, this is the first time they have been fully indexed and searchable by name. The first release (the RG4 and RG5 series from the National Archives) apparently covers up to six million individuals – of which there are 36 records for Daglish.

At first, I found the indexing on the web site to be inaccurate. I knew that the files included three baptisms for my own family which, at the time, was living in Spaxton, Somerset. Shown below is the baptism certificate for James Daglish from the Wesleyan Methodist Registry 1818-1838.

I was therefore interested that the index listed a fourth Daglish baptised in Somerset – could this be a long lost ancestor! Unfortunately when I downloaded the image, I found it had been wrongly indexed - and the baptism was in fact for a family in Newcastle upon Tyne. I also found another record with the wrong location - so reported these errors to the web site and these have now been fixed.

The details provided vary from location to location. Some are certificates - such as the example above - while others are pages from registers.

One interesting record shows a James Daglish being born in the Tower of London:

James, Son of James Daglish, Royal Artillery, in the parish of Woolwich & County of Kent and of Elizabeth his wife, was born in the Tower of London Augt 15th 1807 and Baptized Sept 14th 1807 by me. John Blythe

This is a mystery to me. I have no other record of this family, and wonder whether this is really Dalglish (although the entry on the document is clearly written as Daglish), as the baptism took place in the Scots Church, Woolwich. I contacted the Tower of London - but they have no record of either a Daglish or Dalglish in the records.

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