How Far Back Do the Records Go?
By Jeannette Holland Austin
Any genealogical research needs to be as legitimate as possible and each generation should be verified in order to avoid getting on the wrong track. You can possibly find your ancestor reference in 1066 in the Domesday Book. This was in the days of William the Conqueror when he required a complete listing of all residents in order to tax them.
Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church in 1538. Search parish records. Expect to find a simple reference, without family information. The name is good enough to establish that person as a resident in 1066 A. D. The best hope of accuracy, however, occurs to about 1500, the era when parish records were being kept in England. The old Irish records did not survive, and there is very little on Scotland. However, from the 1400's (you might find a 1400 entry in some parish registers) through the 17th century, the religion was in upheaval. William VIII broke off from the Catholic Church and established the Anglican religion. This is what you will mostly find so far as parish records are concerned. I cannot tell you if the Catholic records survived. If they did, they are not available to the public. The parish registers are complete with christenings, marriages, births and deaths. The back of each book contains the "mortuary". A christening date is a baptism date. Sometimes the parents christened children born several years apart on the same date. What you have is a general time frame for the birth. There exists records during the 1300s in certain dioceses, like Canterbury. In England, various dioceses maintained public records and the best thing to do is search everywhere there exists a record that early. The monarchy records are replete with many details of the reign. Relatives of the king were "given in marriage" by the king so references can be gleaned from the many records of that monarchy. An very excellent resource of old English records online is Origins. You can obtain copies. Essentially, it is a good idea to zero in on the district where your relatives resided and then locate church records and the like. Many, many person descend from royalty, which means relationships to most of the earls, dukes and aristocrats of the time. Royal families had illegitimate children as a matter of course, some of whom were recognized while others were not. In their enthusiam, some of the records reflect lineages to Adam and Eve. This is not possible. We have no such records. There could be as much as 2000 years of missing records. Regretably, the ancient genealogies are misleading and filled with errors. Jeremiah the prophet gave in marriage Tea Telphi, a daughter of King Zedekiah of Jerusalem sometime after 600 B. C. , in marriage to an Irish prince. It is from that union that most of the kings of England descend. Even if we had the records from 600 B. C. forward, the bible is missing tons of genealogies before and after the flood. We need the Irish records from 600 B. C. to 1066, and even then, the prospects look dim. Hickman County KY Genealogy Resources