Discover your ancestors who were baptised in Berkshire, England, between 1538 and 1917. Learn when and where your relative was baptised and the names of your ancestor’s parents. These names may help you to delve further back into your family tree. Some records may reveal such interesting details as the mother’s marital status and whether the child was an orphan or foundling. This collection is published in partnership with Berkshire Family History Society and the Family History Federation.
Each record comprises a transcript of the original baptism register. The amount of information listed varies, but the records usually include a combination of the following facts about your ancestor:
Some records may reveal further details about your ancestor. These additional details may include
Child’s details (e.g. age, orphan status)
Relationship (e.g. son of, daughter of)
Mother’s note (e.g. marital status)
Additional notes (e.g. officiating minister, private ceremony, names of sponsors)
Child’s condition (e.g. age, twins, foundlings, illegitimacy)
Father’s or mother’s condition (e.g. deceased)
This collection comprises over 260,000 baptism records from Berkshire, England from 1538 to 1917. The records were supplied by the Berkshire Family History Society, as well as, The College of Arms, the official heraldic authority for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and much of the Commonwealth including Australia and New Zealand. The records from The College of Arms are for Windsor, St George's Chapel and Welford & Wickham parishes.
Baptism records state the date and place an individual was baptised into a church and are an essential part of researching your family history. In most records, the parents of the individual being baptised are included, and these are often the key to finding out the names of the previous generation.
Berkshire is a county in south-east England, located to the west of London. It’s known as the Royal County of Berkshire due to the presence of Windsor Castle. Reading is the county town of Berkshire.
Three foundlings (abandoned children) are included in these records: Richard Tarbor, who was baptised on 7 September 1760; Thomas Rooksnest, baptised on 29 September 1765; and Eric Kent, baptised on 1 March 1925.
There are three known orphans included in the records. Two children, Grace and Maud Johnson of Speenhamland of Reading Union, aged seven and nine years old, of ‘parents unknown’, were baptised on 10 July 1895. An adult, Harriette Dearlove who worked as a servant for Mr Arkell in Little Wickenham, was baptised on 29 September 1855. Dearlove’s record noted that she was an orphan. Thomas Wariner, baptised on 19 November 1624 in Little Wittenham, had it the toughest of all. His ‘child’s details’ category reads: ‘whose father was known not and whose mother the said Agnes died in Child bed’.
Children born outside marriage
In England, the 1235 Statute of Merton states that, ‘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’. There are 116 records of ‘bastards’, 452 records of ‘illegitimate’ children, and two stated cases of children born out of wedlock in the Berkshire baptism records. Several records in the 1500s refer to the child’s condition as ‘spurious’ (or the abbreviation ‘spur’), an archaic term for illegitimate.
To discover if your ancestor had siblings, search with only a surname and the first names of your ancestor’s parents. You can then add a year range of five to ten years around the time of your ancestor’s baptism. Remember, that families often moved, thus try not to limit your search to only one parish. You can select multiple parishes to search at one time.
Use the name variant option to search for a variety of spellings of your ancestor’s name. Your ancestor’s name may have been recorded incorrectly or it may have been spelt differently in earlier centuries.