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I’m frustrated

English parish registers

Hello:

I keep coming across records, such as this one, where only the county is given but not the parish:
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/619...

As there are about two hundred parishes is Essex it makes the information given virtually useless.

There is also no statement at all about how comprehensive your indexes are, what parishes are covered and for what years. It thus makes it extremely difficult to make reliable genealogical judgements on the basis of your results.
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  • 1
    Unfortunately, it's not only English parish records where this is a problem! I just spotted a collection of French records, 1542-1900, of uncertain origin, but described as civil registration (in France, and many other parts of continental Europe, this term can include church records). There was no information about the coverage of this collection. Digging further, I eventually traced it to a French web site for a "Bibliothèque Généalogique et d'Histoire Sociale de France", which could well be a one-man operation. The records there are behind a pay wall, again with no information about coverage (or about the "library" itself), apart from a mention of (unspecified) parish registers.

    Metadata for ALL collections needs to list the sources and provide waypoints for EACH volume, church book, parish, or whatever other subdivisions may exist within it. That basic housekeeping task needs to be completed before any collection is prepared and posted.
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  • I’m frustrated
    In this case it doesn't seem to be some sort of bait exercise for a paywall site. The parish is just missing. I am wondering is there was a mistake in the inputting. Am I right in thinking the county is a small area in the USA, possibly the lowest? In the UK it covers huge areas usually with several major towns and hundreds of villages. It is as if someone simply omitted the parish field, thinking putting in the county was good enough.
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  • If you click on "Document identification" for this record you will find two reference numbers. Entering either into the Catalog Film/Fiche Number field will show the parish to be one of four options: Dagenham, Danbury, Dengie or Debden.

    This is still far from helpful, I know. I complained about the same issue some time ago, but it is highly unlikely the individual parishes will ever be added. Either the indexing instructions for this project was very poor or (more doubtfully) the record custodian would not agree to inclusion of the parish in the FamilySearch indexed record.
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  • Paul,

    Over the years I have indexed, arbitrated and/or reviewed a number of these type of projects and they rarely, if ever, include instructions that tell us to index the name of the parish. The parish name is usually at the top of the batch so wrongfully assumed it would have been included with the whole batch.
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  • Slotbuddy

    There seem to be different reasons for errors and omissions. I have generally found records for most English counties to include the parish. However, this is not the case, for example, with Norfolk Bishop's Transcripts - these are arranged by year for a whole Diocese and the individual parishes are sometimes difficult to decipher, so there is good reason for these to be omitted. On the other hand, the 1851 England & Wales census collection includes the place name for some counties, but not for others - for no logical reason.

    The Essex records referred to here have no associated images, at present, so it is just guesswork as to which is the actual parish, given it can be narrowed down a bit through a Catalog check.
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  • I’m sad
    Actually, now I see that I can click right at the bottom and it brings up this information:

    Document Information:
    GS Film Number 001472208
    Digital Folder Number 004298486
    Image Number 01165

    I presume if I was in an LDS library that had the Essex microfilms I could order this one up and on image 01165 would find the original ...
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  • Mihail

    As you probably know, the original microfilms can no longer be ordered but it is possible your local FHC might still hold a copy - if had been ordered by another patron, in the past. If I am correct (and the record refers to one of those four parishes) go to the page at https://www.familysearch.org/search/c.... Click on the links for the original microfilm number(s) and check with your FHC to see if they have it there.
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  • I doubt it. I live in continental Europe, not the UK. Very unlikely they have any British records at all.

    I don't understand how you turn those numbers into those possible four parishes?
    • Go to FamilySearch / Search / Catalog (URL https://www.familysearch.org/search/c... )

      Click on Film/Fiche Number and into the box that appears, enter the film number (and I think it also works if you use the Digital Folder Number) and hit (make sure you don't leave trailing spaces)

      That lists these 4 parishes that appear on that film (and possibly on others as well).

      Items 1 - 3: Parish registers for Dagenham, 1598-1970
      Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Dagenham (Essex); Essex Record Office

      Items 4 - 11: Parish registers for Danbury, 1673-1920
      Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Danbury (Essex)

      Items 12 - 25: Parish registers for Debden, 1558-1982
      Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Debden (Essex)

      Items 26 - 31: Parish registers for Dengie, 1550-1985
      Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Dengie (Essex)

      Clicking on any of those takes you to a list of films that the PRs for that parish appear on - Dagenham covers 5 films, e.g., not just 1472208. Dengie is on 2, Danbury and Debden are each on the one. All appear on 1472208.

      Your baptism is not in Dagenham because the catalogue says Dagenham just has Marriage banns, 1958-1970 on film 1472208 but that's about it, so far as I can see for narrowing it down.

      >:-(
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  • For Essex, the Record Office actually offers subscription based access to the images of its PRs. See http://seax.essexcc.gov.uk/ParishRegi...

    So far as I can see, you can find what PRs ERO have via that URL for free.
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  • I’m frustrated
    I have a subscription for one month (it is absurdly expensive otherwise). But there are no indexes, only register images, so after exhausting the main parish I am interested in, I am rather stuck, unless I want to spend the rest of my life and a considerable sum going through every Essex register page by page looking for my dozens and dozes of loose ends ...
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  • Mihail

    Possibly coincidence, but I just went to the Essex Record Office search page and found (in a search for George Dennis 1760-90) the following:

    Reference: D/B 2/BUS5/7

    Apprenticeship indenture of George Dennis of Debden, son of William Dennis of Debden, yeoman, to John Claydon of Debden, carpenter and wheelwright.

    As one of the possible parishes was Debden, perhaps you might find the christening record there. Otherwise, it shouldn't take too long to search through the April 1765 images for the other 3 parishes.
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  • I’m sad
    I'm sorry, Paul, that is just not a serious way to do genealogy. Essex is a huge county and Dennis is a very common name, as is George.

    Can I go back to my original question, what I need to know is how comprehensive these indexes are. What is covered and for what periods? If there are not reasonably complete at least for parts of the county for fairly long periods of decades they are no use at all (apart from the problems of trying to locate the parish).

    This whole, stick the name in the search engine: there he is, the name is right, the year is about right, is just not responsible genealogy. I know it is very popular right know with people making family trees on Ancestry like kids doing join-the-dots but I am not getting involved in that myself and I am sorry to see people posing at experts on Family Search website do so.
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    • Okay. I see this now. I have spent the last month about half my time just going through the Leigh registers. As I said, it would take me a good bit of the rest of my life to try and track down my dozens of loose ends manually. A solid index is the only solution. I come from having worked on Irish records for thirty years and they have the Roots Ireland indexes which are not perfect but at least allow an educated assessment of the records.

      It seems absurd that the LDS seems to have done a load of work creating tools which and then non-functional because of basic data entry reasons. Even the clowns running FMP and Ancestry wouldn't make the sort of mistake which seems to have happened here. I can only presume that the LDS wanted this material for their temple and now they have plundered the ERO don't really care what they throw in from of the public or the impression that gives about the way they do genealogy.
    • "Oh and the Devon ones are even worse! Not only do they say an event was in Devon (yeah nice deduction there), but they only have the year of the event not a full date! "
      Mind you - in the case of Knowstone in Devon, that's an accurate description of some of the original entries in the 1700s. Not every idiocy starts with FS...
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  • 1
    This problem also extends to part of the Warwickshire registers as well. I get the impression it's registers from the Birmingham area as that is where I have encountered the problem. The QA that allows this sort of thing to get through is moronically bad. Why the Birmingham registers are part of the same collection is beyond me: they're not even stored in the same archive! The two archives are over 20 miles apart and under the control of completely different local authorities.

    This is part of the metadata which should be entered about a film BEFORE IT IS INDEXED. As for sorting the entries out, it's easy do a SQL command to make a blanket update (or the equivalent if the database isn't SQL). What's that you say? Oh yes they "can't" be updated can they? UTTER RUBBISH AND DRIVEL. These are not databases on read-only media. Of course they CAN be updated; what's really true is that Familysearch WON'T update them. Familysearch WON'T put in place a proper error correction submission workflow.

    Any time a Familysearch representative says they can't do this they are lying. They have chosen not to do this which is a very, very different thing.
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  • 1
    I can at least confirm that the 1765 George Dennis entry is from Debden. The PRs from Debden seem to be "well covered" on FreeReg.

    FreeReg / Search on https://www.freereg.org.uk/search_que... is their search form, which I used to find George Dennis' entry.

    FreeReg / Transcriptions on https://www.freereg.org.uk/freereg_co... gives "information about our transcriptions for each County".

    There are no % coverages, not even at the level of which churches have at least some data. But there are at least totals for each church, so you see that Dengie has just 48 records for 1813 - 1839.
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    • I don't think on George Dennis one can do anything given the commonness of the name but with others it might be possible to make provisional identifications but only in the case of indexes that are known to have some degree of comprehensiveness.

      It seems rather absurd that many people have done a lot of work on this already. FS has made indexed. Baxter made indexes. FreeReg made indexes. Essex Family History Society have indexes. But nobody has even sat down and made a table of what covers what. It really has me in despair as to the level of the average genealogical punter who is just happy to accept as their ancestor the first name put i front of them by the first index they consult.
    • Well, yes. I wouldn't disagree.

      As a counter example of what is possible, the FamilySearch Wiki for Lancashire lists all the parishes, also all the chapels within those parishes, and lists for each type of event in each church / chapel what is to be found where on the different online sites. (Not sure if they have recorded the Lancashire Parish Register Society transcripts.) I'm sure there are errors and omissions but someone has sat down to do it - and that someone won't be someone official, I'm sure. Excellent work from them. So it is possible.
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  • The best result from an Index is to lead you to the SOURCE. (Nearly?) all FS indexes show a Film Number, and all (newer) FS indices must have come FROM a (digitized) record.

    The problem is the record transcript generally says 'no image available' - when there clearly IS. Here's a topic post discussing this issue:

    https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...

    It would certainly be very helpful if the link would go directly to the FILM, and not back to the index. If FS could at least start doing this direct connection to the filmed source, it would make everything a lot easier.

    With many of the films being consolidated into a 'master' film, it becomes more difficult to find them, but it IS possible, See Robert Kehrer's Elusive Records video for help. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rn2VY...
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    • David, you can be as rude as you like but what matters to most genealogists is access to the basic records. Historic parish registers. I would happily sacrifice access to post-1880 records (very few of which are on the ERO subscription) in order to access the vast bulk of the Anglican archive of registers. If you want later records there is the civil registration. Your copyright example was deliberately fanciful in order claim registers should stay closed. I can only state that the opposite legal advice has been given to the National Library of Ireland (where the law does not substantially differ). I am not sure what professional or other interests you have in this matter but you seem to be determined to argue for the closure of historic parish registers. That isn't right.
    • You know that the irony of citing that NLI example is that they attempt to use contract law to impose copyright-like terms on the user of the Catholic registers. To quote from their licence (contract actually): '... information and material in which no copyright or database rights subsist ("NonCopyright Material") ...' but then '2.1 Subject to the terms and conditions of the NLI Licence, the NLI hereby grants You a worldwide, royalty-free, non-sublicensable, non-exclusive, irrevocable (subject to Clause 5) licence to use, adapt and Share the NonCopyright Material for NonCommercial purposes only.' Hypocritical much?! If they can exploit those images due to lack of copyright, why do they purport to impose non-commercial use on people downloading from their website?

      You also completely misconstrue my copyright example's purpose. You made a statement that you "can't claim copyright over a documents (sic) that are a hundred and fifty years old". As with your statement about no genealogist having much interest in records after 1880 I provided a counter-example which completely destroyed the basis of your argument. I made no comment on whether records should be closed or open. Oh and try looking up the copyright term of unpublished literary works in the UK: you will then get a nasty shock when you realise that it is quite possible for an unpublished document from 1450 to still be in copyright.

      Your arguments are not coming out of this well. You also claim to "know" the legal advice given to the NLI. That implies you have seen the actual legal advice. So how have you see the actual legal advice? Has it been published somewhere? If so where? Have you obtained it from them by some means? If so how? Do you or did you at some point work for NLI or the law firm that gave the legal advice? If so why have you been able to discuss the actual legal advice and others haven't? If you haven't seen the actual legal advice how can you "know" it?
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  • 2
    Hey, at least the indexed records in question are identified by the correct county.

    In the relatively-recently-published indexes of Hungarian civil registrations, I have come across many entries that are labeled with the wrong town in a different county. I have complained to Support multiple times about this over the past year and a half, but still haven't gotten any sort of meaningful response or even acknowledgment that a major problem exists.

    For the Hungarian civil registrations, I know for absolutely certain that the attached placenames CANNOT be blamed on indexers and arbitrators/reviewers. The indexing project had and has no location fields anywhere. The location labels are added by FamilySearch at some point in the pre- or post-processing of the indexing project. Someone or something in that processing is Doing It Wrong, thereby rendering essentially useless the hard work of volunteers.
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  • Someone has just alerted me to something rather interesting. Although Family Search does not show a parish in the index results, FMP does! Not sure how this can be the case. Wondering if FS has sold a working index to FMP and left the teaser on its own site for those unwilling to make regular money transfusions to FMP ...
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