Each transcript, provided by the West Middlesex Family History Society, will offer the following information where available:
Protestation returns refer to lists of English males over age 18, noting if they took the Protestant oath of allegiance, which says, in part, that you pledge to ‘live and die for the true Protestant religion, the liberties and rights of subjects and the privilege of Parliaments’.
As a result of concern that the Protestant reformation was failing, the Long Parliament created such pledges between May 1641 and September 1643. It was a measure intended to identify Catholics (those who refused to sign the pledge were presumed Catholic), who were considered by the government at that time as unfit for holding office. However, this method of identification was not successful in practice: some Catholics would take the oath with reservations related to religion and other Catholics appear on the returns despite being on recusancy lists.
From parish to parish, all males over the age of 18 were asked to take the oath of allegiance; as such, these lists can prove a useful early census substitute.
Of these lists, only around one-third of them survive today. The lists were compiled by place (parish, township, hundred, or wapentake).
Begin your search broadly, with just a first and last name.
If needed you can narrow your search by place.