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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Record Search adds almost 4 million Non-conformist records

FamilySearch's Record Search has added a huge index of 3,920,183 records of English Non-conformists held at the National Archives in London. These records are known as RG4 through 8. For example, RG4 are registers (authenticated by the Non-Parochial Registers Commissioners) of births, baptisms, deaths, burials and marriages. They cover dates from 1567 to 1858. You can find a description of the content of each series by clicking here.

According to the Research Wiki:

In the 16th century, Henry VIII of England broke from the Catholic church to establish the Church of England, also known as the Anglican church. The motives for this action can be debated. Many believe that it was based solely on his desire to have his marriage annulled so that could marry another woman who he believed could give him an heir to the throne. Some believe it was an act of religious faith.

In any case, the new church (also called the Established Church) was not universally welcomed and quickly became politicized. Rejection of the Established Church became seen as a rejection of the Crown. Many who dared to challenge the Established Church were interested in remaining loyal to the Catholic (i.e., universal) church headquartered in Rome. They became known as Roman Catholics. There were others who agreed with a separation from Rome, but had other ideas about the form such a "protest" should take. They were part of a larger Protestant movement sweeping through Europe around this time. However, in England, these ideas were seen as political protest, not just religious protest. For this reason, English protestants are often referred to as Dissenters or Non-conformists.

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