National Archives Puts Nonconformist Registers Online

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 14 September 2007
a scan of a document showing the birth of Mary Godwin

The birth certificate of Mary Shelley. © National Archives

Mary Shelley, Florence Nightingale and William Blake all feature on a new website that went live on September 14 2007. What do they have in common? They were all nonconformists, and now the National Archives’ collection of nonconformist birth, death and marriage records dating back to 1567 have been put online for the first time at

The new site is a jewel for family historians, as the records were previously only available on microfilm, and they pre-date civil registers. Church registers are the most important source of genealogy information before 1837, when centralised registration was introduced.

There are 5,000 registers at the National Archives detailing nonconformist congregations, including Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and Independents, and some from Roman Catholic communities. They have been transcribed and digitised for the web in a year-long project in which the Archives has worked in association with S+N Genealogy Supplies.

a scan of a document showing the birth of

The birth certificate of Florence Nightingale. © National Archives

As well as discovering details about your own family history at the click of a mouse button, you can look up famous nonconformists such as the Frankenstein author Mary Shelley (née Wollstonecraft) and artist William Blake.

“The National Archives is committed to making its content accessible in the most innovative and cost efficient ways,” said Dan Jones, head of business development at the National Archives.

“By working with partners we can create world leading content like these nonconformist BMD records that can be accessed easily online 24/7 while ensuring the long-term survival of the original documents.”

The new records are part of a subscription site and you will need to buy credits to view full records and images of the original pages, as well as using the advanced search options. See for more information.

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