Parish registers

The Population History and the 404 parishes

When E.A. Wrigley and R.S. Schofield published their Population History of England in 1981, the underpinning aggregate analysis was based on a sample of 404 parishes which had been assembled by hand by an army of local population historians (whose names are included in the book itself).

The geographical spread of the original parishes was broad but not uniform (it is summarised in the map and table below, and you can also download a more detailed Excel summary here).

The authors made the underlying database (including an introduction by Schofield) available to anyone through the Local Population Studies Society. Historically, it was distributed by CD-ROM in the post. More recently, the LPS editor has provided it by email. Now, we are pleased to be able to make the database available on the LPSS website.

You can find a fully updated and downloadable guide to the data below, including a description of all the data that’s included, and some advice on how to use it. The data itself can be downloaded (by county) from the downloads page.

The LPS parish registers project

Since the original dataset was collected four decades ago, data for many more parish registers that were not among the original 404 analysed by Wrigley and Schofield have been transcribed and rendered machine readable.

The switch to electronic distribution offers the possibility of augmenting the Population History of England database with data for additional parishes, provided that the quality of these registers was of a sufficiently high standard.

With that in mind, the LPSS has begun a new project to gradually augment the database with new additional parishes, ensuring that the data format and quality remain consistent with the original 404. We will be making this available through the website as well.

If you’re interested in the project, you can read more on the dedicated project pages, available soon (and look out for updates there and in the Newsletter).

We’d also love to see you at the (free) workshop on this topic in May.

CountyNumber of parishes
Bedfordshire28
Berkshire3
Buckinghamshire3
Cambridgeshire8
Cheshire7
Cumberland5
Derbyshire2
Devon15
Dorset3
Durham3
Essex17
Gloucestershire14
Hampshire10
Herefordshire6
Hertfordshire9
Huntingdonshire1
Kent29
Lancashire10
Leicestershire25
Lincolnshire13
Middlesex2
Norfolk15
Northamptonshire2
Northumberland5
Nottinghamshire9
Oxfordshire5
Rutland1
Salop17
Somerset10
Staffordshire11
Suffolk29
Surrey13
Sussex15
Warwickshire16
Wiltshire3
Worcestershire2
Yorkshire East Riding4
Yorkshire North Riding8
Yorkshire West Riding26
Grand Total404