Along with the St Botolph Aldgate Poll Tax Assessments (POL), this database was compiled by the Life in the Suburbs Project, a collaboration between the Centre for Metropolitan History at the Institute of Historical Research; Birkbeck, University of London; and the University of Cambridge. Project directors are Matthew Davies, Vanessa Harding, and Richard Smith, and the researchers are Philip Baker, Mark Merry, and Gill Newton. The parish register database was created by Gill Newton. The project seeks to investigate the consequences of demographic and economic growth on the health, domestic arrangements and built environment of the inhabitants of the parishes of London's eastern suburbs, specifically St Botolph Aldgate and Holy Trinity Minories, between 1550 and 1700.
Parish Registers provide records of baptisms, marriages and burials, together with to varying degrees evidence of the names of family relations, occupations, and places of residence. When used in conjunction with other sources, information about these vital events provides historians with valuable evidence from which to construct individual biographies, such as the ones included on this website.
From 1538, the parish clergy were legally required to keep registers recording all baptisms, marriages, and burials which occurred in their churches (or burial grounds).
Despite their apparently comprehensive coverage, it is important to note that parish registers suffered from a significant degree of underregistration. Those who were not members of the Anglican Church, particularly dissenters, often did not register these events, espeically marriages, with their Anglican clergyman. It is is also important to note that there was often a delay between births and baptisms, and the births of infants who died before they were baptised were often not reported. Clandestine marriages, which took place outside the parish, were not recorded in parish registers, though the incidence of these fell dramatically following the passage of the 1694 Marriage Duty Act, which imposed heavy fines for non-registration of marriages (though with one centre of clandestine marriages, Holy Trinity Minories, immediately adjacent to St Botolph Aldgate, this possibility should not be ignored). Finally not all deaths in a parish led to burials within the parish, since some bodies were returned by parish officers to the individual's parish of settlement, or by families to a family vault in another parish.
Levels of underregistration varied from parish to parish, and by type of event. It has been estimated that in late seventeenth-century London, birth under-registrations caused by religious dissent were about 17 per cent of all births, with a further unknown percentage of births missing due to infant mortality before baptism. In contrast, the underregistration of marriages, particularly after 1694, and deaths, was considerably lower.1 While there is no reason to question the accuracy of the data provided, the fact an event was not recorded in a parish register does not mean it did not happen in the parish.
The database has 146,646 entries. It is not a transcription of the original parish register, but instead presents a structured reordering of the information provided in each entry in the register. Each entry concerns a single individual, whether as the subject of an event (baptism, marriage, death) or as a person related to the subject of an event (a parent, child, or spouse). Thus a single event may give rise to several entries in the database. The complex nature of this database ensures that for any given entry, a large number of fields will be blank. In the version reproduced here, blank fields have been suppressed. Each entry can contain the following fields:
- Unique Project ID: Unique identification number, assigned by the London Lives project.
- Event: Type of event recorded, Baptism, Marriage, or Burial.
- Surname (where blank in the original, occasionally inferred from related individuals, e.g. husbands).
- Male OR Female: Based on gendered descriptions in the original documents, such as wife of or son of. Some fields are blank.
- Residence: Originating residence of the person born, or residence of the person married or died.
- Occupation: Occupation or status (such as bachelor, pensioner, spinster, widow, widower) where such information is given in the source.
- Title: Mostly blank, but includes Captain, Mr, Mrs, and Widow.
- Age: Mostly blank, but includes any information pertaining to age provided in the original source. This rarely takes the form of a precise number of years, and is more often a general descriptor such as child or infant.
- Comment: Any other information, such as buried by the parish, from the hospital, a parish child, pensioner and widow, given in the original source (in quotation marks if a direct quotation). Also used for comments and queries by the data inputter.
- Status: A standardised version of a piece of especially pertinent status information about an individual which is given in the source, usually also recorded in the original orthography elsewhere in the entry. Frequent entries include bachelor, child, foundling, illegitimate, infant, lodger/sojourner, parish child, pensioner, servant, spinster, stillborn, stranger, twins/multiple birth, widow/er.
- Date of Birth: Only provided for baptisms. Where such information is given in the source, standardised in the form of dd/mm/yyyy. Dates are usually according to the Julian calendar, with each year beginning on 25 March (thus, for any date provided from 1 January to 25 March the actual year as currently defined was one year later than indicated). Where partially given in the source and the day is unclear, set to the first day of the month, or where the month is unclear, set to the first month in the year.
- Place of Birth: Where such information is given in the source register. Rarely provided.
- Place of Baptism: Where provided, which is rare, often at home.
- Cause of Death: Where provided (which is rare), recorded in the original orthography. Most common entry is stillborn, though other entries include accidents, executions, murders, and suicides.
- Place of Burial: Where provided (which is rare), recorded in the original orthography. Most common entries are Bedlam and the Citty (City of London).
- Subject Person ID: Unique identifier for the individual recorded in this entry as the subject of a baptism, marriage, or burial.
- Subject Relationship: If the person in this entry was the subject of a baptism, marriage, or burial (and a Subject Person ID is provided), then this explains how this person was related to other named individuals in this database. Typically such entries take the form of daughter, son, or wife. To find the other names of these related people, find the Event ID for this entry and search for it using a keyword search, searching only in this database. This information was standardised during data inputting.
- Related Person ID: Unique identifier if the individual in this entry is identified as being related to a person who was recorded as born, married or died.
- Relationship to Subject: Explains the relationship between the person in this entry and the subject of the baptism, marriage, or burial. Typically takes the form of husband of or parent of.
- Related To ID: Subject Person ID of the individual to whom the person in this entry was related. Searching for this number within this dataset will allow you to find the person who was baptised, married or buried, to whom the person in this entry is related.
- Event ID: Unique identifier for each event. Searching for this number within this dataset will allow you to find all the individuals connected to a single event.
- Date of Event: The date of the event as given in the source, standardised in the form of dd/mm/yyyy. Dates are in the Julian calendar, with each year beginning on 25 March (thus, for any date provided from 1 January to 25 March the actual year as currently defined was one year later than indicated). Where partially given in the source, derived from its position relative to other dated events in the register. Where the day is unclear, set to the first day of the month, or where the month is unclear, set to the first month in the year.
- Address: In baptisms and burials, the street address or home parish/other geographical location stated after an event, where given. It may potentially, but does not necessarily, apply to all subject persons and related persons in an event. In a marriage, this field is not normally used. For marriages, Residence is used to indicate the often separate places of origin of the bride and groom. If a place of origin is also given for one or more of the people associated with a baptism or burial, that information can also be found in Residence.
- Marriage Authorisation: Indicates whether a marriage was authorised by the calling of banns, or by licence, or both, where this information is given in a register.
A typical entry (with the many blank fields suppressed) in the case of an actual event looks like:
- Unique Project ID: 59048
- Event: Burial
- Forename: Rebecca
- Surname: Boucher
- Male OR Female: Female
- Subject Person ID: 1224950
- Subject Relationship: Daughter
- Event ID: 1220960
- Date of Event: 18/2/1691
- Address: Fireball Court
A typical entry for a Related Person, in this case Rebecca Boucher's father, looks slightly different:
- Unique Project ID: 140877
- Event: Burial
- Forename: Edward
- Surname: Boucher
- Related Person ID: 1230202
- Relationship to Subject: parent of
- Related To ID: 1224950.
- Event Project ID: 1220960
- Date of Event: 18/2/1691
- Address: Fireball Court
Since St Botolph Aldgate is one of the best documented parishes in London Lives, there is considerable overlap between the names found in these assessments and other records found on this website.
Names in the parish registers should be found in the other parish records which survive for this period, including the Churchwarden's Accounts (AC), Apprenticeship Indentures (IA), and Vestry Minutes (MV).
Since they include substantial (though not comprehensive) listings of inhabitants, records of taxes raised in the 1690s are particularly likely to overlap with the parish registers. Two databases of taxation records for the parish compiled by the Life in the Suburbs project team, the Marriage Duty Assessments (MDA) from 1695 and the Poll Tax Assessments (POL) for 1690-98 (for the City part of the parish), are included in London Lives, as are the assessments for the Four Shillings in the Pound Aid (FSP) for all of London in 1693/94.
Beyond this, because those listed in the parish registers include both rich and poor, some are likely to appear in all of the City- and metropolitan-wide records for this period which are included in this website, including the sessions papers (PS), Old Bailey Proceedings (OBP), and Ordinary's Accounts (OA), as well as the records of Bridewell, the Carpenters' Company, and St Thomas's Hospital.
London Metropolitan Archives (records formerly kept at the Guildhall Library)
- St Botolph Aldgate Parish Registers, MS 9222/2, 9224, 9225/2, 9226, 9229, 9230/1, 9232/1
- Boulton, Jeremy. The Marriage Duty Act and Parochial Registration. In Kevin Schurer and Tom Arkell, eds, Surveying the People: the Interpretation and use of Document Sources for the Study of Population in the Later Seventeenth Century. Oxford, 1992, pp. 222-52.
- Tate, W. E. The Parish Chest. Third edn, Cambridge, 1969, pp. 43-83.