Discover your ancestors who were baptised in Staffordshire between 1538 and 1900. Build your family tree from details such as when and where your relative was baptised and the names of their parents. Included in these records are those of renowned potter Josiah Wedgwood, who was baptised in 1730, and was the grandfather of Charles Darwin. You can also explore these records through our new Staffordshire, Parish Registers Browse.
Each record comprises a transcript and black and white image of the original register. The amount of information listed varies, but the records usually include a combination of the following information about your ancestor:
Father’s first name(s)
Mother’s first name(s)
The images may provide additional details, including:
Note: in some of the earlier parish registers, baptisms, marriages, and burials are all written in the same register.
Staffordshire is a county in the West Midlands of England. It borders Cheshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, West Midlands, Worcestershire, and Shropshire. (If your ancestors’ records cannot be found in these records, you may be able to find them in bordering counties.) Stoke-On-Trent is the largest city in Staffordshire, and it’s administered independently from the rest of the county. Stafford is the county town of Staffordshire.
Parish registers Parish registers are handwritten volumes in which details of baptisms, banns, marriages, and burials are recorded. In 1538, following the Church of England’s split with Rome, it was decreed that each parish priest must keep such a register. In 1813, separate baptism and burial registers were introduced in printed portrait layout.
Baptism Records Baptism records state the date and place an individual was baptised into a church, and are an essential part of researching your family history. In most records, the parents of the individual being baptised are included, and these are often the key to finding out the names of the previous generation. Children were generally baptized within a few weeks of birth.
Notable individuals included in these records
Josiah Wedgwood Josiah Wedgwood was baptized on 12 July 1730 at Burslem, Staffordshire. His family were potters and when his father died in 1739, he began working as a thrower in the pottery of his eldest brother, Thomas. A bout of smallpox seriously weakened Josiah, and he had his right leg amputated in 1768, which forced him to abandon throwing. Instead, he focussed on designing pottery. In his early 20s, Josiah started working with the most renowned pottery-maker of his time, Thomas Whieldon, subsequently opening works of his own. He vastly improved the bland crockery of the day, introducing simple, durable wares. For his invention of the pyrometer, a device to measure the high temperatures in kilns during the firing of pottery, Josiah was elected a member of the Royal Society. Today, he is credited with the industrialization of modern pottery and as a prominent slavery abolitionist. He was the grandfather of Charles Darwin and Emma Darwin, first cousins who are found in the Staffordshire Marriage records. Josiah died in Etruria, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire in 1795.
Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge, FRS (12 June 1851 – 22 August 1940) was a British physicist and writer involved in the development of key patents in wireless telegraphy. In his 1894 Royal Institution lectures ("The Work of Hertz and Some of His Successors"), Lodge coined the term "coherer" for the device developed by French physicist Édouard Branly based on the work of Italian physicist Temistocle Calzecchi Onesti. In 1898 he was awarded the "syntonic" (or tuning) patent by the United States Patent Office. He was also credited by Lorentz (1895) with the first published description of the length contraction hypothesis, in 1893, though in fact Lodge's friend George Francis FitzGerald had first suggested the idea in print in 1889.
The Alrewas baptism register of the late 18th century seems to have been used by the curate, John Edmonds, as a kind of parish newsletter in which he outlined events of local and national significance. His notes range from the weather: an uncommonly mild January (“the oldest man does not remember such a January. Vegetables is everywhere in a state of forwardness not to be credited”), and two local bridges being washed away in a “great flood and amazing quantity of ice in the Thaw”) to an event of national significance: On Thursday Oct 29th, 1795, His Majesty King George the Third on his going from St James’s Palace to the House of Lords, was attended by upwards of 200,000 Spectators. But opposite the Ordnance office a small Pebble or Marble or a Bullet, broke one of the Windows, and on his return from the House of Peers to St. James’s Palace, another Stone was thrown opposite Spring Garden Terrace, but fortunately it struck the woodwork between the Windows. It is supposed they were discharged from an Air Gun. A Reward of one Thousand Pounds was offered by the Treasury, for the discovery of the Offenders.
It was an eventful year – later that year, the curate writes about an earthquake that was felt locally: Memorandum of an Earthquake. On Wednesday Nov. 18th 1795 (being in Alrewas Wake Week) about twenty minutes after eleven o Clock at Night, the inhabitants of this Parish of Alrewas, and neighbourhood, were alarmed by a slight shock of an Earthquake. Persons who were in bed were sensible of it as well as those who were up: the former all describe it as seeming to heave up the bed and shake the curtains. It lasted about two seconds and was attended with a small rumbling noise. The day had been very stormy, but the evening had been uncommonly still. The Barometer stood at 28.7 and the Thermometer at 49. The Shock was felt at Coventry and its Neighbourhood, and likewise in most parts of England, at the same time.
The next entry in the register reads: Patience, spurious Daughter of Elizabeth Brown, of Alrewas, was baptised. Spurious is an archaic term for illegitimate.
Reverend Edmonds also provides detailed notes on the rising prices of corn, wheat, barley, mutton and wool. He describes riots in various cities due to the price or shortage of various foodstuffs. The entry for Monday July 27th 1795 reads: A Tumult or Riot was nearly effected at Alrewas Mill, owing to the great Scarcity of Corn, Flour, and Bread. The Staffordshire Cavalry were sent for and by their timely Arrival, Tranquillity was restored. . . His Majesty King George the 3rd, All the Nobility, Bishops & Gentry have resolved through the present scarcity of corn to use no Bread in their families, but the Standard Bread.
Reverend Edmonds offers his own explanations for the events: Great Quantities of Grain imported from various parts abroad, by Governments. A principal Cause of the present high price of Provisions of every sort is owing to . . . an illegal practice of avaricious men, not from a real scarcity of Provisions.
These were the Bread Riots of the late 18th century in England. A bad harvest in 1794 and industrial layoffs the following year, combined with disrupted grain imports due to the war with France, led to food shortages. Around this time, households of ordinary people spent half to two-thirds of their income on food, leaving them extremely vulnerable to rising food prices. During the riots, crowds confronted merchants, millers, bakers, and local authorities to demand the provisions they needed to survive.
The same summer, the curate notes that three cows were killed when they were struck by lightning.
In 1796, Reverend Edmonds writes about the outbreak of yellow fever, a “terrible Pestilence” that was claiming the lives of many soldiers in the West Indies. In the same memo, he talks of preparations being made in England to protect the coast in order to fortify any hostile attempt that may be made to Invade this Kingdom. Gun Boats are mooring off the most vulnerable parts of the Coast.
This refers to the conflict between Britain and France between 1793 and 1796 in the West Indies, during which Britain seized some of the smaller French islands in the Caribbean. Many British troops were killed not by fighting, but by yellow fever during this time. Between 1793 and 1802, an estimated 1,500 officers and 43,500 men of other ranks died mostly from fevers while serving in the Caribbean.
Reverend Edmonds then goes on to describe the burial of an overweight parishioner. N.B. Mr James Gildart, Butcher, of Alrewas, who was Buried there May 20th A.D. 1793. Age 52 Years: He weighed 26 Stones & 5 when Living. His Coffin was 6 Feet in Length, 2 Feet 9 Inches over the Shoulders; and 21 Inches in Depth.
These records belong to the Staffordshire collection, a unique set of records spanning baptisms, banns, marriages and burials which provides details of the history of Staffordshire and its people.
Since its foundation, the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service has been responsible for the records of Staffordshire parishes. The very first deposit of records obtained by Staffordshire Record Office in 1947 was from the parish of Hamstall Ridware.
Registers included in this collection are all held by the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service. Registers for those few Staffordshire parishes deposited with other archive services are not included in this collection.
The parish registers in this collection document the key events in the lives of the people of Staffordshire, including the city of Stoke on Trent and those parts of the historic county currently within the West Midlands conurbation, between 1538 and 1900.