Category Archives: Parish records

Emberton parish registers – a true delight

Emberton Post Office

Emberton Post Office

Occasionally you come across a parish vicar who loved attention to detail. Perhaps it was because he was a vicar of the small village of Emberton in Buckinghamshire and so knew his parishioners well, but the Reverend C G Hulton recorded all sorts of useful information in his registers. And it seems his successors continued his love of detail because right through the 19th century, the Emberton baptisms and burials were recorded with a host of interesting facts about the people involved.

Baptisms included the maiden name of the mother, and sometimes their parish of origin too. Burials included details of how they died, sometimes how long they were ill for, where they were from and which area of the churchyard they were buried in.

When John Hale was buried, aged 48, on 12 November 1861, Hulton records he is buried ‘East under the oak he had planted as an acorn’.

We’re told that Hugh Booth, buried on 28 January 1874 aged 48 years, was a joiner and that ‘He died on the anniversary of his birthday’. The next entry in the register is for the burial of William Booth ‘(father of Hugh)’.

Rebecca Hale was buried on 14 February 1873 aged 84 years and in her margin is written ‘On the 14th Feb Miss Hale always gave a bun to every school child’.

The baptisms, as well as citing the mother’s maiden name and including the child’s date of birth, names the sponsor of the baptism (the godparent). It’s interesting to see how often two couples will sponsor each other’s children. It’s a great way of knowing who each family was friends with.

This level of detail is such a treat to a social historian and gives wonderful colour to the list of names and dates usually associated with parish registers. These are details it would be impossible to find during normal family history research.

A double wedding puzzler

This week I came across an example of a couple who married twice. The first time they married in the groom’s home parish, then three weeks later they married again in the bride’s home parish. The banns for the second marriage must have been called for the first time the day after the first marriage.

Did the couple marry in secret the first time, then her family insisted on witnessing a marriage themselves? Or perhaps the couple didn’t have the courage to admit they had already married and so had to go through a pretence of not being married to please the bride’s family?

Evidence points to one of the witnesses for the first marriage being only 15 years old. Maybe it was discovered that he was underage and another marriage was held to ensure legality? However, certificates were issued for both marriages.

Oh no you won’t! Oh yes we will!

I came across the marriage banns in the parish of Hackney St John, London of William Peters, a widower, and Elizabeth Elger Cautley called on 13 June 1824 and 20 June 1824. On the second calling, this note was added:
‘Forbidden this 20th June by me, John Elger, on authority of the Father of the said Elizabeth Elger Cautley’ It was signed by John Elger.


Whatever family argument arose, it would seem that William and Elizabeth got their own way, because on 9 August 1824 the couple were married at Greenwich St Alfege church.


I noticed that neither of the witnesses bore her surname.