Find your ancestors in Hertfordshire baptisms

Each record includes an image of the original record book and a transcript for the individual entry. The amount of detail in each record can vary but most will include the following:

  • Name
  • Birth date
  • Baptism year
  • Baptism place
  • Father’s name
  • Father’s occupation
  • Mother’s name

    You can often learn additional details from the image of the original record such as residence and the name of the individual who performed the baptism.
  • Discover more

    Before civil registration in 1837, parish registers were the main source of information for these vital events. Prior to 1813, baptisms and burials were logged in one volume by the parish. After that year, parishes used pre-printed books, which standardised the format of recording baptisms and burials in separate volumes. In unusual circumstances, additional notes may have been recorded. The amount of additional information documented was up to the wishes of either the parish clerk or reverend.

    Baptisms are not exclusive to infants. Although they usually pertained to newborns, the names of those found within the baptism records could be of young children or even adults. Baptism records are not the same as birth records; thus, some members of the parish may not be recorded because they were not baptised or not baptised in the parish church.

    Children born outside marriage

    In England, the 1235 Statute of Merton states, ‘He is a bastard that is born before the marriage of his parents’. The use of the word bastard continued through the 16th century, with the Poor Law of 1576 forming the basis of English bastardy law. It aimed to punish the child’s unmarried mother and putative father and to relieve the parish from the cost of supporting the mother and child.

    The language changed in the 20th century, with the introduction of the Legitimacy Act 1926, which legitimised the birth of a child in England and Wales if the parents later married each other. The act refers to the child of unmarried parents as the illegitimate person.