Parish registers are often considered to be the core family history source held at RBA. They are the predecessors to birth, marriage and death certificates: a church record of a baptism, marriage or burial. If you are lucky, they survive from 1538.
There are around 200 ancient parishes in Berkshire: we hold the registers for all but one. Taken together with around 100 Victorian or later parishes, if you have Berkshire ancestors, you may be able to discover nearly 500 years of family history.
The English parish church was a key secular institution until the Victorian period. It was responsible for poor relief, running local charities, and even local roads and law enforcement. As a result, the 'parish chest' contains a lot more than just the registers. A small number of parish records are listed on our online catalogue, but the majority are not, so please do Contact Us if you are interested in other parish records.
If you are looking for non parochial (that is, not Church of England) registers, click on our Non parochial Registers page.
Berkshire Family History Society volunteers have indexed many of the parish registers within our collections and these are searchable online via the subscription website Find My Past.
OFHS volunteers have also transcribed registers for North Berkshire parishes. These transcripts are on sale via the OFHS online shop.