Family Historians are reliant on Church registers for their hatches, matches and dispatches prior to the start of civil registration in 1837.
Copeland, in common with the other districts in the county of Cumberland, is well served in this respect as the bishops transcripts were made available to the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) when they were collecting the data (c.1970) that appears in their IGI & is also available on microfilm at their family history centres.
Today virtually all the Registers belonging to the Copeland Parishes are available, with one two notable exceptions, on microfilm at the Whitehaven Record Office. The originals are rarely produced to ensure that they are no longer damaged by over use by genealogists. The BT’s are held at Carlisle RO. In theory the requirement for the transcripts was introduced in 1598, but transcripts starting at this date rarely occur and a start date of about 1670 for Copeland is a more realistic figure.
In theory the BT’s are a duplicate copy of the register that was sent to the Bishop for safe keeping but from time to time differences are found. These differences can include both extra information as well as missing entries. Lesson, check both !
Researchers must not believe that the curate filled in the register straight after the event. The usual procedure was to make a note of the event and complete the registration at a later date - no doubt at a special register filling session. Hence the expression “left in the curates pocket” as applied to missing information. These problems were magnified when a parish was without a curate and his work was shared out amongst the clergy from the neighbouring churches. It was also a common practice for one curate to be responsible for more than one parish. This was especially the case in the smaller country parishes which could not afford to support their own clergy. Examples of these dual parishes are Irton & Drigg, Muncaster & Waberthwaite, St.Bridgets & St.Johns Beckermet. The result of such arrangements is that the data for your relative may be in the wrong place.
For historical reasons not all the Copeland registers are held in Whitehaven RO. This is due to the fact that before the opening of the Whitehaven office in 1996 the Barrow in Furness RO had an interest in those Copeland parishes between the Cumberland border with Furness and the river Esk. As a result the Registers for the parishes of Ulpha, Thwaites & Waberthwaite are at Barrow. The registers for the parishes of Bootle, Corney & Whitbeck have not been deposited with the Archive service & are still held at Bootle church, whilst the Whicham registers have recently been deposited at Whitehaven. The Bootle church have authorised their registers to be published on CD ROM by the Archive CD Books project. Microfilming of the Registers held by the Archive service is helping to resolve this confusion but the best advice concerning these parishes is still to phone before you travel.
Whitehaven: 01946 852920 Barrow-in-Furness: 01229 894363
Missing Muncaster Register (1657-1723)
For many years there has been a gap in the Muncaster registers covering the period 1657 to 1723. This is due to a missing register that covers this period. The BT’s covered for 34 of the missing 70 years. In 1924 a John Pratt of Millom transcribed the Waberthwaite registers and inadvertently included the Muncaster material in this transcription. This, according to Harold Spencer of Ulverston, was due to the fact that in 1926 today’s missing register was in the wrong church - Waberthwaite. Anyone wanting to check the remaining 36 missing years for their ancestors should read the Waberthwaite transcription by John Pratt. A photocopy of this is available in both the Barrow & Whitehaven RO’s.
Ref: H.Spencer, CFHS Newsletter May 2003
Gosforth Registers (1613 - 1677)
The register pages for 1613 to 1631 are missing. There are no entries for 1647 to 1662 (Commonwealth) & the period 1674 to 1677 inclusive have been treated with a patent ‘Ink Restorer’ in the past and are now virtually unreadable.
Eskdale & the Parish Map
The entries for the years 1637, 1651, 1652, 1653, 1654 and 1712 are missing from the register. Parts of the register have been treated with ink restorer.
The parish church of Eskdale is shown in the wrong position on the parish map in Cumbrian Ancestors. The position marked is St.Bega at Eskdale Green and NOT St.Catherines at Boot