Tag Archives: Register Office

Parish Registers for Westminster

This is a little guide to the parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials held at City of Westminster Archives Centre.  On our website under “Researching your family history at the Archives Centre” you can find a list of our Information Sheets and other useful information.

Information Sheet 1 lists the registers we have for Anglican Churches in Westminster. Most of these are available to view on microfilm (for reasons of conservation) in our Searchroom, but they have also been digitised and are available to search and view online on the Findmypast website.
Registers for the Anglican churches in Marylebone and Paddington are available to view on microfilm copies here and on the Ancestry website because the original registers for these are at the London Metropolitan Archives.

Both Findmypast and Ancestry are available on the public computers in all Westminster libraries and on Wifi to users in libraries with laptops.  More detailed indexes to our holdings can be found in the Archives Searchroom.

The earliest registers date back to Henry VIII and the establishing of the Church of England. Thomas Cromwell issued an order to every parson, vicar or curate to register every wedding, christening and burial within their parish in 1538.

Title page of our earliest register for St Clement Danes 1558. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Title page of our earliest register for St Clement Danes 1558, volume 1. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

The oldest registers for Westminster are for St Margaret, Westminster starting from 1539 followed by St Martin in the Fields 1551 and St Clement Danes and St Mary le Strand in 1558.

Baptism entry for Robert Cicil (Robert Cecil, Statesman), 6 June 1563. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Baptism entry for Robert Cicil (Robert Cecil, Statesman), 6 June 1563. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

In 1597 paper registers were found to be deteriorating.  An order was issued for them to be on parchment or vellum.  Old register were to be copied from at least 1558. There was also an order for a second copy to be made and sent to diocese and these are known as the Bishop’s Transcripts.  This was to prevent the temptation of later tampering of the registers.  You can find these copies for Westminster registers on the Ancestry website taken from the copies sent to the Bishop of London.

Burial entry for Elinor Gwin (Nell Gwyn), 17 November 1687. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Burial entry for Elinor Gwin (Nell Gwyn), St Martin in the Fields, 17 November 1687, volume 17. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

The years 1642 – 1653 are sometimes known as the civil war gaps due to the upheaval of the monarchy. From 1653 a civil register was introduced which reverted back to the clergy when the monarchy was reintroduced in 1660. Another important date to point out is 1752 when the calendar changed. Before this date the year started on Lady’s Day, 25 March.

Marriage entry for Percy Busshe Shelly, 24 March 1814. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Marriage entry for Percy Busshe Shelly, 24 March 1814, from St George, Hanover Square, volume 23, showing an example of a marriage entry before introduction of civil registration. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

The Hardwicke Act for marriages was introduced from 1754. Marriages had to be registered in a separate register to baptisms and burials, before this one register could contain all three. It was also expected to eliminate clandestine and irregular ceremonies; only Jews and Quakers were exempt.  All others including Catholic were supposed to take place in licenced Anglican churches and printed paper registers were introduced. You could marry by Banns or Licence and needed the marks or signatures of two witnesses.

An example of a baptism entry page from St James, Piccadilly, showing the printed paper registers used after 1813. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

An example of a baptism entry page from St James, Piccadilly, showing the printed paper registers used after 1813. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Rose’s Act was passed in 1812 and introduced printed standardised registers for baptisms and burials.

An example of a burial entry page after Rose’s act of 1813 from St Martin in the Fields. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

An example of a burial entry page after Rose’s act of 1813 from St Martin in the Fields. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

From 1 July 1837 the civil registration for births, marriages and death starts in England and Wales.

Marriage entry for Theodore Roosevelt, 2 December 1886. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Marriage entry for Theodore Roosevelt, 2 December 1886, St George, Hanover Square, volume 85 (after civil registration). Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Parish registers still continues. The marriage entry in the parish register does correspond to the same format as the General Register Office certificate, but the parish register will have the original signatures of the groom, bride and witnesses, if they could write their own names.

[Cecilia]

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Wedding ceremonies at Mayfair library

The Marylebone Room - One of the two beautiful marriage & civil partnership rooms at Mayfair Library

Did you know that you can now get married in a library? In Mayfair Library, to be precise. The library is the temporary wedding replacement for the Old Marylebone Town Hall, which is being refurbished.

Mayfair Library has a quiet, romantic atmosphere with gorgeous staff to boot (!) It has two beautiful function rooms, full of period detail, which were recently redecorated to a very high standard for wedding and civil partnership ceremonies.

To celebrate the occasion the Westminster Register Office held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier in September. The Cabinet Member for the Community, Councillor Steve Summers, cut the ribbon to officially open the venue. This was followed by an open evening with drinks. Perfectly chilled Cordoniu Brut Rose Cava was served to the guests.

The Mayfair Room - One of the two beautiful marriage & civil partnership rooms at Mayfair Library

We look forward to seeing romantics of all kinds – whether you hope to get lost in a sweeping novel from the lending library downstairs, or to plight your troth in one of the upstairs rooms!

[Frederic]

A Magical Mystery Tour… of Westminster

The Rough Guide to the Beatles - and other books22 March 2013 is day that all popular music fans should be celebrating for it is the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ first album Please Please Me, last year voted 39th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Everyone knows the cover – the Beatles leaning over a stairwell – but did you know that the picture was taken in Manchester Square in Westminster, at EMI’s headquarters?

This is one of many links between the Fab Four and Westminster – here are just a few of them:

1. Number one on any list of London Beatles locations has to be Abbey Road, in St Johns Wood, home of the famous recording studios and where that album cover was photographed. Check out the Abbey Road webcam and see if you can spot fans recreating the iconic image.

2. On 11 September 1967, a coach arrived at Allsop Place, just behind Baker Street Station, to pick up Paul McCartney for the start of the Magical Mystery Tour. Sadly the TV film got a mixed reception at the time and it was years before fans got to see it in glorious, restored Technicolour.

3. Westminster Register Office has been the venue for no fewer than three Beatles weddings. Most recently Paul married Nancy Shevell there. Iin 1981 Ringo Starr wed actress Barbara Bach there, and in 1969 Paul married his first wife, Linda Eastman. You can check out newsreel footage of this and many other Beatles-tastic events at the British Pathé site, and have a look at contemporary newspaper reports about the Fab Four by logging in with your Westminster Library card to our online newspaper archives.

4. Just round the corner from the Register Office is 34 Montagu Square, site of a  plaque to John Lennon, ‘Musician and Songwriter’ who lived there in 1968 and was photographed, with Yoko Ono,  for the cover of Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins (too saucy to show here!). His landlord was none other than Ringo Starr.

5. A few blocks away is 94 Baker Street. Number 94 was the home of the Apple Boutique and just last weekend the original plaque to John was replaced by one commemorating both John and George.

6. Only one address has been home to all four Beatles – 57 Green Street, Mayfair – which they shared for a while in the Autumn of 1963 and where, presumably, they were perpetually under siege from adoring fans. Check out its interior in this short film.

7. The Bag O’Nails, just off Carnaby Street, was once a popular meeting place for musicians and their fans. It was here that Paul first met Linda in 1967 and here, allegedly, that John and George both first took LSD.

8. On the 13th October 1963 a new word entered the language with the first sighting of ‘Beatlemania’ (“addiction to the Beatles and their characteristics; the frenzied behaviour of their admirers” as the Oxford English Dictionary has it). On this day the Beatles appeared for the first time on the legendary variety show Sunday Night at the London Palladium. The Palladium, one block from Oxford Circus, is one key Beatles location that you can see inside – currently it’s home to A Chorus Line.

9. Beatlemania in action can be seen in the opening sequence to A Hard Day’s Night where Marylebone Station does a very good impersonation of Liverpool’s Lime Street as crowd of teenage girls chase the boys onto the train.

10. And finally you can end your tour at the world-famous Beatles Shop at 231 Baker Street. If the address looks slightly familiar, it’s because it’s next door to a museum devoted to another former resident of Westminster, who can certainly compete with The Beatles in the fame stakes: Sherlock Holmes.

[Nicky]