Always check the original record!
If there’s one tip you should definitely take on board, it is this one…
Indexes and transcriptions can be wonderful at directing you to the source record but you should always confirm the information by viewing the original for yourself. This is because transcriptions are sometimes incorrect; nor do they always include every detail.
Parish registers, in particular, tell you more than you think. All family historians use them to gain information about the baptisms, marriages and burials of their ancestors but they can tell you much more.
They can give you names, addresses and, in some cases, even occupations. They will also indicate whether your ancestors could write their own names or not.
Use all these details, alongside the history of the area they cover, to gain a more thorough understanding of your family’s life and times. Learn how villages, towns and cities developed and changed over time.
Hampshire born Gilbert White is known for being a pioneering English naturalist, ecologist and ornithologist but he also became the Curate of Selborne in Hampshire, in 1751, an office he held in 1756, 1758 and from 1784 until his death in 1793. He had a meticulous eye for detail as can be seen in the Selborne parish registers.
He included more information in the register than many clergy did at the time, sometimes giving reasons for deaths. In one example he has added ‘John Pook aged 18 was drowned in the well at Streethouse’. His handwriting and signature are shown in the marriage register pictured (below) in this article.