Today sees the launch of the new Yorkshire parish collections at Ancestry.co.uk. Parish records are a key resource for anyone wishing to trace their ancestors prior to the introduction of civil registration in 1837 and can help bridge important gaps in our ancestry. They are a mine of information for the family historian and often provide information to whet the appetite for further research.
The West Yorkshire parish registers provide over 500 years of history and not only provide information about your ancestors but also contain a wealth of information about the people of West Yorkshire from artists to engineers, soldiers to politicians, and novelists to brewers!
For example you can find records relating to Percy Shaw, the creator of the cat’s eye; Barbara Hepworth whose work is on display in Wakefield’s new art gallery; Sir Thomas Fairfax, a native of Otley and Civil War General; Charlotte Bronte and her siblings; and Harry Ramsden the ‘Codfather’ of the fish and chip business!
These records not only help to fill the gaps in your family tree but also give details of the society they were living in. Registers for Leeds, Wakefield and Pontefract all show evidence of the English Civil War with references to the Battle of Marsden Moor, the siege of Pontefract Castle and burials of soldiers in Leeds and Wakefield.
Two years later the bubonic plague hitLeedsin 1645. The first cases were discovered inVicar Laneand quickly spread throughout the town. Within a matter of weeks 1,325 people had died – an estimated one third of the entire town’s population. The records released today include the tallys kept of plague victims and record the closing of churches to burials and services due to this catastrophic event.
Later records record West Yorkshire involvement in the rise of the Luddite movement, which began in 1811 in Nottinghamshire and quickly spread to West Yorkshire and took hold amongst the working populations in Leeds, Huddersfield andWakefield. The Luddites rejected the advance of technology which they felt threatened skilled craftsmen’s way of life. Mills were often attacked or destroyed by organised Luddite forces. The burial records list a number of people who were executed for leading Luddite forces, including John Ogden, who was hung for his attack on a mill inHuddersfield in 1812, during which the mill owner was murdered.
Also recorded are the men and women who died doing their job whether it was building the railway near Harewood or working in the coal mines that covered the area as embodied by the 110 men buried at Thornhill parish church after the pit disaster in 1893.
Free access is available from each of our offices and from many local libraries or follow the link above to log on from home! Any questions please contact us