The Parish Registers and Bishop’s transcripts – Leicestershire

I live in Rutland which is the smallest county in England and the records for this area are kept at the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland at Long Street, Wigston Magna in Leicestershire.

County record office Leic

My birth name is Wigston and from time to time I plan research on various groups of Wigstons in the Leicestershire area in the hope that over time I will be able to link them together and create a direct line to myself. I am interested in Wigstons who were living in Leicester in medieval times but recognised this might be just too much of a challenge due to the availability of records, their potentially poor condition and the fact they would be in Latin.

For this research, I chose to use the 1841 census online through By entering Wigston as a surname residing in Leicestershire, 35 individuals showed up, grouped in Barwell, Elmesthorpe (neighbouring village to Barwell) and St Mary. Iin this instance I chose the family group in Barwell headed by Thomas Wigston and as a secondary piece of research I also selected the family group in St Mary headed up by Joseph Wigston.

Thomas Wigston was aged 55 so therefore born about 1786, living with Miria aged 20, William aged 25, plus Harriett and Fanny both aged 10.

By viewing the actual record within this information could be double checked before any further research took place. In particular, I was interested to check Miria’s name and from the image I could see that indeed her name was Miria. At the time of the 1841 census they were listed as living in Spring Gardens, in Barwell.

Preparation for the record office visit

From the County record office website at I checked the process for accessing the library, do’s and don’ts, open times, directions and parking. As it has been some time since I used a record office and expect to be doing more research in this, and potentially other record offices, I took with me the correct means of identification so that I could obtain a CARN*.

I took with me, pencils, paper, my lecture, notes I had made from background reading on Parish Registers, and details of the two family groups concerned.

Just to be sure I did not have a wasted journey (it is 50 minutes away) I e-mailed the office to check on open times for a Saturday morning and also to check what parish records they had for Barwell. They responded with confirmation of the following records held in the office for Barwell:

Christenings: 1661-1976

Marriages: 1654-1993 (1986)

Burials: 1653-1887 (for later burials, see Stapleton)

I also consulted Phillimores Atlas which I found out is held at the local museum in Oakham, Rutland, where there is a small research centre. This helped to identify what records were available and where they were deposited along with a check on the parish boundary for Barwell.

The Phillimore’s showed:

Deposited register                                                           1653-1993

IGI                                                                                       1563 – 1856

Registrar at the Society of genealogists                      1563 – 1640

No Boyds register

1837 – 1851 the parish came under Hinckley

No Pallots register

Visit to the County Record office

To be sure that I made the most of my visit, I consulted with one of the three staff members on where to find the parish records and how to use the fiche reader.

The index of what parish registers are available and where were kept in folders in alphabetical order. Inside the first folder which was A-BAS where typewritten sheets in clear pockets with the information such as what records were available on a parish by parish basis and a reference number. For Barwell the following parish registers are available:

Deposited with the record in 1973

DE1330/1 Baptisms 1661-1717 Listed as on fiche (although a note has been added to the banns record indicating it is not which might indicate that it has gone missing)
  Marriages 1665-1717
  Burials 1653 – 1717
DE1330/2 Baptisms 1717-1772
  Marriages** 1717-1753**
  Burials 1717-1770
DE1330/3 Baptisms 1773-1812
  Burials 1771-1812
DE1330/4 Baptisms** 1813-1843**
DE1330/5 Baptisms 1843-1879
DE1330/6 Baptisms 1879-1904
DE1330/7 Marriages 1754-1779
DE1330/8 Marriages 1779-1808
  Banns (not on fiche) 1779-1820
DE1330/9 Marriages 1808-1812
DE1330/10 Marriages** 1813-1837**
DE1330/11 Marriages** 1837-1879**
DE1330/12 Marriages 1879-1914
DE1330/13 Burials** 1813-1863**
DE1330/14 Burials** 1863-1887**
      On checking with the staff, these records need to be ordered from the strong room so these will be checked on the second visit.
  Banns** 1823-1839**
  Banns** 1839-1862**
  Banns 1863-1885
  Banns 1885-1920
  Notebook giving name, residence, occupation, religious denomination and ages of children of non Anglicans** n.d (no date?)**


I also consulted the booklet created by Leicestershire museums, art galleries and record service, ‘Handlist of Leicestershire Bishops’ transcripts published by the record office in 1987. This detailed the transcripts that had survived and were lodged with the County Record office:

Barwell including the hamlets of Elmsthorpe, Potters Marston & Stapleton –

1564                       1571                       1574                       1576                       1585                       1596-7

1604                       1606-9                   1613                       1617                       1621-2                   1624-9

1632-4                   1636-40                1660-7                   1669-81                1683                       1685-8

1690-6                   1699-1700            1703-11                1713-14                1716-18                1720

1722-4                   1726-31***              1732-51***              1752                       1754-1812            1813-36


***1731 not certain but probable. 1751 not certain, may be 1753.

Leicestershire was an archdeaconry which was included in the massive diocese of Lincoln before being transferred to the diocese of Peterborough until 1926 when it became a separate diocese in its own right.

Outlined below is a list of the records found for this family of Wigstons which were obtained by searching the microfiche highlighted in by ** above, original banns register books and microfilm of the bishop’s transcripts:

THOMAS WIGSTON born c. 1786 (according to 1841 census)

No baptism, banns, marriage or burial entries were found

MIRIA/MARIA WIGSTON born c.1821 (according to 1841 census)

Baptism was found for a Maria, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Wigston on 11 October 1820, abode as Barwell and trade or profession of father was listed as framework knitter.

The burial register shows a Maria, daughter of Thomas & Sarah Wigston died in Barwell and was buried 8 April 1846 aged 25 years.

WILLIAM WIGSTONE born c. 1826 (according to 1841 census)

Baptisms were found in the parish registers although there were 3 illegitimate Williams. However, this would make sense if William was the first born, which I do not think is the case within this family.

On checking the Bishop’s transcripts a baptism entry was found for William on 8 March 1823. This does not accurately tie in with the estimated date from the census but this was not unusual. There were not normally any written records and so the census was reliant on memories and honesty. The census was also subject to rounding down ages to the nearest 5 years which would have meant that William may have been recorded as 15 not 18 in the census.

No further records were found for William using either Wigston or Wigstone as listed in the baptism entry.

HARRIET WIGSTON born c. 1831 (according to 1841 census)

Baptism was found for Harriet, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Wigston on 8 July 1826, abode as Barwell and father’s trade or profession was listed as framework knitter. There is quite an age discrepancy but once again this could be down to the rounding of her age from 14 to 10.

No further records for Harriett were found

FANNY WIGSTON born c. 1831 (according to 1841 census), (were Fanny and Harriet twins or just born close together if you go by the census dates?)

A Frances Wigston was baptised 30 September 1829 to a Thomas and Sarah Wigston who lived in Barwell and again he is listed as a framework knitter. I am suggesting in this case that Fanny is a nickname for Frances. (please see for reference).

In the banns register John Peace and Frances Wigston are listed – he as a bachelor of the parish and she as a spinster of the parish. Banns were read out on February 9 1851, February 16 1851 and then February 23 1851. Frances married John Peace on 24 February 1851, both were of full age and both listed as framework knitters.

John and Frances went on to have a son, John, who was entered into the burial register having died in Barwell as an infant and buried 29 September 1850. Having been named John after his father I would suppose that he was the first-born son.

The records above are what I found out about the family as identified in the 1841 census. In order to be thorough I checked for the name Wigston on all the fiche I viewed in case any were missing. In an age of high infant mortality and especially in a frame knitters community where fatalities were very commonplace I wanted to be sure none of them were missed.


A baptism record for Mary was found for 21 April 1810 in Barwell, to Thomas and Sarah Wigston.

Banns entry was found in the original register of November 1 1823 – 15 September 1839 which was ordered from the strong room. William Riley of the parish of Barwell and Mary Wigston of the parish of Barwell. Banns were read out on 29 July 1838, 5 August 1838 and 12 August 1838.

A marriage entry was found for Mary Wigston whose father was Thomas Wigston in Barwell on 14 August 1838 to William Riley, both of full age. She is listed as a framework knitter and he is a shoemaker. This was witnessed by Ann Wigston.


Baptism for Anne, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Wigston on 29 June 1815 and Thomas is listed as a framework knitter.

In the burial register Anne is listed as being the daughter of Thomas and Anne and was buried 24 January 1841 in Barwell.


Baptism for George, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Wigston on 4 May 1818 and Thomas is listed as a framework knitter.

A burial entry was found for George, son of Thomas & Sarah Wigston, living in Barwell. He was buried 7 May 1819 aged just 1 year old.


A baptism was found in the parish registers for Amey on 28 November 1812.

A marriage entry has been made on 30 April 1839 to William Lapsworth, both of whom were framework knitters. At first I thought the entry was for Anney but Anne Wigston was a witness so could not be the same person.

I double checked in the Bann register and there is an entry for William Lapsworth of the parish of Barwell and Amey Wigson (missing a ‘t’) also of Barwell and the banns were read out on 31 March 1839, 7 April 1839 and 14 April 1839.

William and Amey Lapsworth then had two children that I could find: John and Sarah (see below).

Amey Lapsworth died quite young and her burial record shows she was interred 20 August 1848 aged 35.


Baptised 16 May 1840 and William is listed as a framework knitter. Sadly there is also a burial listed – John, son of William and Amey Lapsworth living in Barwell, buried 6 May 1841 aged 11 months.


A baptism record was found for Sarah Lapsworth, 29 August 1842. No further records were found.


A baptism entry is made in the parish registers for 11 December 1807 in Barwell. A burial entry is made for John, son of Thomas and Sarah Wigston of Barwell. John was buried 25 May 1819 aged 11, giving him an approximate birthdate of 1808, although no baptism records were found.

What this research shows is that the parish registers themselves are a valuable source of reference but like many records, are not enough on their own and other reference material is often needed to corroborate the information which sometimes does not quite ‘add up’ or to fill the gaps within the records.

*CARN: County Archive Research network – a nationally recognised system of readers’ tickets for local authority record offices.


J Charles Cox                                      The parish registers of England (Methuen 1910)

Nick Barratt                                        Who do you think you are? Encyclopaedia of genealogy (Harper Collins  2008)

Mark D Herber                                  Ancestral Trails (Genealogical Publishing Co 2000)

Stella Colwell                                     The Family History Book (Phaidon Press 1989)

Cecil R.Humphery- Smith              The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers (Phillimore & Co Ltd; 2nd Revised edition edition, 7 July 1995)


Christmas is a time to collect those priceless family memories and folklore

As we approach Christmas it is a good idea to think about making the most of those precious times with family members – especially (although not exclusively) the older members. Christmas is often the only time we spend time with family members all year and often family gatherings will trigger memories and reminiscing. All too often genealogists and other family members will lament about not asking questions about grandad’s funny accent or finding out more about what uncle Billy did in the war when it is too late.

If done sensitively a wealth of factual and anecdotal information will help to bring alive those names and dates in your tree for generations to come.

Kimberly Power on About Parenting recommends some of the following tips:

  • Stay engaged with the storyteller(s) and enjoy the session
  • Don’t be afraid of silence and try not to interrupt. Sometimes it takes a moment to dig deep and find the information in the storyteller’s head or it may be that they are recalling something difficult.
  • Ask the right amount and type of questions but don’t make it feel like an interrogation. Having a pen and pad handy with some questions written out by way of a prompt might help and you can also jot down any thoughts on further investigations for after the session
  • Follow up on the good stuff by asking additional questions and digging a bit deeper
  • Be yourself and keep things natural
  • Get personal by probing dark corners but gauge carefully whether it is a ‘no go’ topic or can be addressed with humour or a sense of secrecy
  • Don’t challenge them on certain aspects as it is their view on a particular story
  • Use props such as photos or memorabilia to trigger the memories. Ask if you can bring your scanner and ask permission to scan them. Maybe offer to digitally enhance them and make prints or put them on CDs to share by way of a ‘Thank you’.
  • Make it a group session so the storytellers can work on an event or person together and fill in any missing gaps

To relax and enjoy the experience while still getting the most information out of the session I would recommend recording the session if the storyteller is happy with this. Nowadays this can be done unobtrusively with a smart phone or video camera which will soon become ‘invisible’ and give you a natural session. It’s always a good idea to practice and experiment beforehand to see what gives you the best results. Afterwards you can play and replay the recording to glean the information you want. However, please be mindful that these recordings are very personal and I would not recommend posting them on social media without explicit permission.

By capturing these memories it is a good idea to store them in such a way that they are not going to get ‘lost’. Remember to download the files and name them something that makes sense (especially years after the event) and put them in a folder that has a meaningful title and date. As always, a backup is a really good idea, especially to an external drive or memory stick which should be stored safely away from the tablet or PC in case there’s a theft or fire.

Finally, by way of a ‘Thank you’ it is a nice gesture to send the storyteller(s) a note or card. These oral histories are literally priceless and it is the least you can do – it might also ensure they will be willing to help again in the future.

For those interested in capturing oral history in a professional way, the Oral History Society has some training and also some tips –

It’s that time of year again!!!

voucher scanAs the summer in the UK seems to have ‘switched off’ immediately after the August public holiday, my thoughts have whisked from sunhats, sun protection and bottles of water to packing the summer furniture away and…Christmas!

In addition to making an effort to make many of the presents for my nearest and dearest (non-genealogy based, I hasten to add!), I do get requests for family tree help or gifts at the last minute which is a bit of a challenge.

It is very hard to research and create a family tree gift without the recipient knowing unless there is plenty of other family support. A much more practical idea is to give a gift voucher which the recipient can use at their leisure to start a family tree, convert their research into something ‘pretty’ or help with a brick wall. It’s novel and even if they get a similar voucher from elsewhere it is still of use.

Please see my website if you are interested

Now, where did I put that oasis foam and gluegun, best make a start on those presents now in case I still get a pre-Christmas rush on research!

A personal tribute to one of the many

James Mcphee company BThis time 100 years ago, my great grandfather James Archibald McPhee was unaware it was his last night alive. He was born in Glasgow in 1884 and on 1 August 1917 as part of the Battle of Passchendaele he lost his life, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters.

I obviously never met him but he was often talked about to keep his memory alive. He was a sign writer by trade but was a singer with a beautiful voice and it is thought he used to sing at local events. The battalion had a band called the Cuckoos and it’s quite likely that James would have participated in the much welcome musical distractions.

My great grandmother (yes, Nanny McPhee!) had a regretful experience of their parting, where James tipped her hat in an effort to make her laugh and lighten the mood. She got cross with him, the train pulled out and that was the last she saw of him. It left her a bitter and dour woman until she died in 1963.

I have his ‘dead man’s penny’ which I will always treasure but suspect his medals went to an uncle, John Houston,  who immigrated to Canada and then America.

Last year I took some time out to do some more research on him and using the war diaries online plus an excellent book titled A Short History of the 16th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters by Lieut Colonel R F Triscott OBE plus the trench maps held by the National Archives, I was able to plot his last days leading up to his death in some detail.

So tonight, James, I will raise a glass to one of many who endured unthinkable conditions over months and years in order that we can live our lives the way we do today. All being well, when the glare of publicity is over this year I’m coming to see you at Tyne Cot. May you be resting in peace.

Great when it comes together

As a professional researcher there’s no better feeling than when you have success with a commission and have happy clients!!! 

It was a small project but meant a lot to those involved.

It counteracts all those hours spent tracking down then wading through unindexed records only to find the vital piece of info… isn’t there!!! Then having to ‘justify’ the cost to an unhappy client.

As Forest said…life is like a box of chocolates….

Well, what happened there?

As I write this here in the glorious spring (or is it summer?) sunshine, I realise that all those long winter nights where I planned to dig in and get my research updated have passed me by. I don’t think I am unusual, but this winter has been difficult with a new job, a poorly relative, some private commissions and the general hub bub of day-to-day life. Before I knew it Who Do You Think You Are was almost upon me and I considered carefully whether to attend or not.

I considered what I gained from it last year…it was my first visit, and it was really interesting but I just didn’t capitalise on it. Still on the bookshelf is a bag with all the shiny new books, leaflets, some maps, CDs and magazines that have largely gone unread.

What happened, where did that time go?

So, sunshine or no sunshine, I resolve to get that bag out and go through it to get the maximum benefit. I’ll consider it my summer project! Then, maybe my conscience will let me consider attending again next year!

The more I dig the curioser it gets!

Over the Christmas break have had a little time to go over some of my own family tree. On my father’s side my lovely, belated uncle Ian Wigston had spent many years researching the Wigston line from Kent to Cumberland and then to Ireland before coming to a halt. Because he had done so much and had hit a brick wall with Irish records I had not previously paid much attention to that side of the family but now seemed a good time to have a deeper dig at it.

For some reason my attention was caught by my first cousin twice removed – not even a direct ancestor but his name popped up a couple of times. This was Thomas Wigston, born in 1881 in Fusehill Workhouse in Carlisle, UK. He is listed in the census with his mother, Sarah Ann Wigston aged just 17 and listed as a sewing machine worker.Oh dear! Curiously enough Sarah Ann appears in the census twice – once as an inmate in the workhouse and then also at home with parents William and Isabella Wigston. To me this indicates that maybe she had not been totally shunned by the family and maybe the door was half-open for her to return once she had found a home or disposed of the newborn Thomas…we may never know!

Thomas has proven hard to track down but I need to order some certificates to be sure of his journey. However he does pop up in the 1911 census married to Hannah Jane Wigston (nee Richardson as her father was conveniently staying with them on the night of the census). They had been married a year and had a 1 month old baby boy named William. By now Thomas was aged 30 and a fuelman on the railways in Carlisle.

Curious about what Thomas had been up to before marrying relatively late in life I searched for military records and as luck would have it his WWI records have survived and show that he served previously for 12 years in the Army Service Corps.So that is what he had been up to! Even more curious is that he had listed as a distinguishing mark a tattoo on his arm with a bust of a woman and the name S.I.S.S.I.E. – who was Sissie or was this done as a drunken dare or joke reflecting his nature as judged by his peers?!

Thomas then spent the war like a game of snakes and ladders being promoted and demoted being AWOL on occasions but also being mentioned in despatches.

It’s funny how some people just prick your curiosity and Thomas is one of those. I am lucky to have found the records I have so far but it’s made me greedy for more. Think he will be my personal 2017 genealogy project. As New Year approaches I raise a glass to you my Thomas!