Hanslope Register Volume I, 1571 to 1732 Hanslope Home Page

These notes provide background on this, the first surviving church register for Hanslope, and points out some anomalies in the earliest pages.


Parish registers were first required by Thomas Cromwell in the late 1530s when it was permissible for them to be kept on paper, and on loose sheets.  By an order of 25 October 1597, signed by Queen Elizabeth I in 1598, it was directed that the contents of old paper records were to be copied into "great decent books of parchment" in each parish, and that copies of future records were also to be sent to the Bishop.

Early Pages

It is clear that this must be what happened at Hanslope.  From their layout, and the regularity of the handwriting, it is clear that pages up to and including page 44 are not contemporary, but have been written up retrospectively from some unidentified earlier records.   There is also a discontinuity in the style of the register pages on page 45 at the end of 1599.  A gap of one year after the signature of the order seems reasonable to allow for the news of the requirement to reach Hanslope, for the parchment book to be obtained, and for such paper records as were then still in existence to be copied onto parchment.

Users should note therefore that the pages up to 45 are likely to contain transcription errors from the earlier source.  The rule of thumb for modern transcriptions is that up to 10% of entries are likely to contain some sort of mistake.  Information from elsewhere on the 1597 transcription suggests that this is likely to be an underestimate - hardly surprising in the light of the limited literacy of those days and the fact that the early paper records may have been kept in poor conditions.

Year may be wrong on some pages

There is convincing evidence that in the transcription of the early records, the year of certain entries is incorrect.  The evidence is as follows.

Two different wills and two different probates in two different courts each suggest that the year headings of burials are wrong (by one year).  It seems likely that the years shown in the Register may need correcting as follows:

The evidence concerning baptisms and marriages is not so conclusive, but it seems possible they too may be in error by one year on some of the above pages.

New and Old style calendars

Under the old style calendar, the year began on 25 March, Lady Day, whereas under the new style calendar, the year begins on 1 January.  Thus 20 February 1595 under the old style calendar would be recorded as 20 February 1596 under the new style calendar.  Some of the people making entries in the Hanslope register used the old style calendar, some the new.  Footnotes on relevant pages draw attention when old style dates are being used.  All searches on this web site use the new style dates, so the year should be converted to new style when searching.

Page numbers

The original document has no page numbers.  The numbers use on this web site were assigned for convenience in referring to a page.

The above analysis of the transcribing of the early pages ,and the error in transcribing the year, was provided by Andrew Cox, who has made an extensive analysis of the records of his Cox/Coy ancestors from Hanslope, and has provided a great deal of help checking and correcting entries on this web site.

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