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Two million historic York records go online

Posted on 1 August 2022

More than two million records detailing baptisms, marriages and burials in York over five centuries have been released online thanks to a new partnership between the University of York and Ancestry.

Marriage certificate of Robert Duck and Catherine Peacock, 1837. Image credit: University of York

The records, which are held at the University’s Borthwick Institute for Archives, date from between 1538 and 1995 and will enable people with roots in Yorkshire to trace missing pieces of their family history from wherever they are in the world.

The records are from the archdeaconry of York, which covers the City of York and roughly 20 miles around. They feature famous families from York’s history, such as the Fawkes and Clitherow families, along with members of York’s chocolate dynasties - Rowntree, Craven and Terry. 


They also include documents belonging to some historic York residents with unusual names, such as Joanne Porridge, Pentecost son of Bentecost, Crumpton Hellson, Ishmael Fish, Phineas Butter and Theophilious Sealbut; along with a marriage certificate belonging to a Mr Duck and Miss Peacock. 

Gary Brannan, Keeper of the Archives and Research Collections at the Borthwick Institute for Archives, said: “Records from all registers have been newly digitised, and, when added to others already available online, they go some way to making the whole of Yorkshire’s genealogy accessible remotely.

“We currently have around 30,000 people from more than 140 countries coming to our catalogue each year and wanting to do research. The vast majority of people can’t come to York directly so this partnership makes these important historical documents globally available. 

“People have a huge desire to trace their roots and the discoveries people can make can be intensely personal and profoundly moving.  Individuals living around the world are always really and rightly proud to discover they have roots in Yorkshire!” 


Some of the records offer unique insights into the past, such as the Dade registers that were in use in Yorkshire between 1777-1812. These contained a level of detail that was unusual at the time, from recording information such as a small genealogy of a person at their baptism, or details of their cause of death such as “old age” or “King’s evil” (a kind of Tuberculosis) in a burial register. 

Gary added: “These records are really quite unique as they are incredibly well kept and cover a long time span in a dense city with a community that is always growing and changing. 

“Dade registers are particularly interesting and are special kinds of records that can only be found in the set we are releasing. There is so much to discover in any parish register in the extra details they include such as comments on the local weather, local people and local events.”


The records will be free to discover onsite at the Borthwick Institute for Archives or can be accessed remotely via a subscription to 

Income generated by the partnership will be used to develop and support the Borthwick’s activities, enabling the University to make more records accessible to the global community through new access projects, extra staffing and updated equipment. 


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