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From the cradle to the grave – 315 years of Liverpool history revealed

Online archive of three million historic baptism, marriage and burial records, spanning almost 500 years published today for the first time –, the UK’s favourite family history website1, has launched online more than three million historic baptism, marriage and burial records from the Liverpool Record Office, offering a unique insight into the great city's history and people.

The Liverpool Catholic Registers, 1750-1900, and Liverpool Church of England Parish Registers, 1659-1974, span 315 years and detail baptisms, marriages and burials that took place in both Catholic and Church of England parishes between 1659 and 1974.

The records, now fully searchable online for the first time, reveal the heritage of some of Liverpool’s most famous exports, including The Beatles members Paul McCartney and John Lennon, whose grandparents can be found in the collections [records available upon request].

Parish records are vital for anyone researching their family history before 1837, when Civil Registration was established. This was a government system established in 1837 to keep accurate records of citizens’ lives and the only way to trace a baptism, marriage or burial before the 19th century is through parish records, such as those in the collections going online today.

The 1.6 million Catholic baptism, marriage and burial records that comprise the Liverpool Catholic Registers, 1750–1900, will be of particular interest to the 136,0002 Liverpudlians today of Irish descent.

New research reveals that Liverpool has the strongest Irish heritage of any English city3. From the early 1800s Liverpool acted as a staging post for Irish migrants on their way to North America and, between 1845 and 1849, extensive Irish immigration to the city took place due to the Great Famine.

The 1.8 million Liverpool Church of England Parish Registers, 1659–1974, are an important resource for the Protestant community in Liverpool today as these surrogate birth, marriage and death records, which pre-date Civil Registration, will enable people to trace their northern ancestors back to the 17th century.

The records in these collections span four centuries and chart the development of Liverpool from a small town in the 1600s, to one of the UK’s largest and most culturally diverse cities.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Liverpool's population steadily increased and through the 19th century, grew to be the second port of Britain and a major centre of cotton trading, importer of food and raw materials, exporter of manufactured goods and coal, insurance, banking and shipping.

Other famous exports from the city that can be found in the records include:

  • William Roscoe – The marriage of Liverpool poet, historian and Member of Parliament William Roscoe can be found in the records. Roscoe was a leader of the campaign which succeeded in abolishing the slave trade in 1807
  • William Ratcliffe – born in Liverpool in 1882, Ratcliffe was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded for his bravery during the Boer War
  • Anne Jemima Clough – Anne Jemima Clough was an early English suffragist who promoted higher education for women. Her birth in 1820 is listed in the records International Content Director Dan Jones comments: “These records detail the seminal moments of people’s lives in one of the country’s most vibrant cities, which has become a melting pot for different cultures and religions.

“Official records were not kept by the government until Civil Registration in 1837, which makes parish records essential for tracing a relative or ancestor born, married or who died in Liverpool before the then."

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Wendy Simon comments: “This is an extremely exciting initiative and it’s wonderful that Liverpool’s rich history is now just a click away.

“These primary sources of information are invaluable for anyone tracing their family history in Liverpool and will provide a great insight into our diverse community over the past 400 years.”

Click here to start searching the records.




1. Source: .comScore, 2010, based on genealogy related websites selected from the Family and Parenting sub-category
under the Community category.
2. All research unless otherwise stated was conducted by ICM research in February 2011. Sample was 2,000 UK adults weighted to be representative. 31 per cent of those surveyed from Liverpool report they have Irish ancestry (ICM). Adult population of Liverpool is 439,473 (ONS). Therefore 31% of 439,473 = 136,236.
3. 31 per cent of those surveyed who reported they have Irish ancestry were from Liverpool (ICM). This was the highest percentage of any English city according to our research.

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