Baptisms, Marriages and Burials 1538-1812 Dorset

Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812


The collection consists of Church of England baptism, marriage and burial records from parishes in Dorset. The original records are kept at the Dorset History Centre, Dorchester, Dorset. The time period covered is 1538 – 1812, but this period may not apply to all parishes depending on when the parish was established and whether the records have survived.

The FindMyPast transcripts may not cover all the parishes in Dorset and the time periods may not reflect the total time period that the original registers encompass. A list of the parishes and time periods that these transcripts cover can be obtained from the Find My Past website or by contacting the Dorset Family History Society.

The registers were generally kept in books containing unlined pages, the three different events may be muddled together within one year or the book may have different sections for each type of event, the sections aren’t always clearly defined.
George Rose’s Act of Parliament stipulated that from 1813 all registers were to be of a pre-printed type with standardised information. Each of the three events; baptisms, marriages and burials were to have separate registers.

Dade & Barrington Registers

The Reverend William Dade was a clergyman in Yorkshire who felt strongly that more information should be recorded in baptism and burial registers than was being generally entered at the time. He designed what have become known as the Dade Registers. The registers came into circulation in the late 18th century and should have ceased use when George Rose’s Act came into law in 1813, however many parishes continued with the Dade registers as they wished to recorded more information than the Rose registers allowed.

Dade registers required the following information to be recorded :-


  • Date of birth
  • Date of baptism
  • Child’s name
  • Seniority in family – for example 3rd son
  • Father’s name & occupation
  • Mother’s name
  • Families abode
  • Grandparents names, occupations & abodes


  • Date of death
  • Date of burial
  • Deceased’s name
  • Abode
  • Occupation
  • Parentage
  • Age
  • Cause of death

In 1783 the Bishop of Salisbury the Reverend Shute Barrington set out a similar set of registers to Dade, the Barrington registers where a little simpler and easier to use than Dade’s so were more popular with the clergy. When the Reverend Barrington became Bishop of Durham the use of his registers spread to Northumberland and Durham.


Generally these records will record the child’s name and the names of the parents, sometimes only the father’s name is given. It is very rare for the mother’s maiden name to be recorded apart from when recording the baptism of an illegitimate (base born) child. Occasionally a cleric will record only the child’s name and no parentage details are given. At the very least the month and year of the event will be given, most often a full date, day, month, year is recorded. Depending on the whim of the cleric the occupation of the father and address of the family may be recorded.


The names of the bride and groom are given, if either or both parties were from another parish this may, or may not, be recorded. The full date of the marriage is normally given. Names of the witnesses to the marriage and whether the couple were married by banns or by licence may be recorded.


As there were no facilities for keeping bodies in a safe condition for long periods of time burials usually took place within a few days of the death. The name of the deceased and the date of burial will be recorded. If the name of the individual isn’t known then a description of the circumstances of the finding of the body is often given. For example “A middle aged man found drowned in Pitt Farm pond, name unknown”.

Women may be described as the widow or wife of the husband. For example “Sarah wife of Robert Smith”. Sometimes if this information is written the forename of the woman is omitted. If a child or young person dies then they may be described as “the son of” or “the daughter of”. Sometimes for males an occupation is given.From 1666 they may well be mention of the deceased being buried in woollen, this was in accordance with the Burial in Woollen Acts of 1666 & 1680.

A more detailed lesson on parish registers can be found here …….
click on  Parish Registers.

Where scanned & indexed images of the original records can be found online

Baptisms 1538 – 1812
Marriages 1538 – 1812
Burials 1538 – 1812


Where indexed transcripts of the records can be found online

Baptisms 1538 – 1812
Marriages 1538 – 1812
Burials 1538 – 1812

Note – Transcripts may not be a full record of everything on the original entry, also transcripts are open to error on the part of the transcriber. Viewing the original document online is preferable. A list of the parishes and time periods that these transcripts cover can be obtained from the Find My Past website or by contacting the Dorset Family History Society.


Image Copyright Trish Steel. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.


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