Find your ancestors in Middlesex Protestation Returns 1641-42

What can these records tell me?

Each transcript, provided by the West Middlesex Family History Society, will offer the following information where available:

  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Year
  • Note on person
  • Took oath? – occasionally, it may be noted the reason or situation as to why the oath was not taken (e.g. at sea, in country, or ‘summoned, but did not make appearance to take the Protestation’, etc.)
  • Place
  • Return for
  • Part of return area
  • County
  • Country
  • Page
  • Link to transcript of relevant page of the return
  • Link to Parliament’s archive of the return – you may be able to view the image of the original return where your ancestor’s name appears
  • Link to summary document – provided by the West Middlesex Family History Society and includes additional information about these records and the oath of allegiance

Discover more about these records

Protestation returns refer to lists of English males over age 18, noting if they took the Protestant oath of allegiance, which says, in part, that you pledge to ‘live and die for the true Protestant religion, the liberties and rights of subjects and the privilege of Parliaments’.

As a result of concern that the Protestant reformation was failing, the Long Parliament created such pledges between May 1641 and September 1643. It was a measure intended to identify Catholics (those who refused to sign the pledge were presumed Catholic), who were considered by the government at that time as unfit for holding office. However, this method of identification was not successful in practice: some Catholics would take the oath with reservations related to religion and other Catholics appear on the returns despite being on recusancy lists.

From parish to parish, all males over the age of 18 were asked to take the oath of allegiance; as such, these lists can prove a useful early census substitute.

Of these lists, only around one-third of them survive today. The lists were compiled by place (parish, township, hundred, or wapentake).