Entering data from registers

For the FreeREG database to be searchable, everyone must enter records in the same way and with a common set of fields. These fields and the details of how to complete them are described below.

The amount of information available for you to transcribe for each record will depend not only on the year the event took place, but also on the source (Register type). For instance, a Bishop's Transcript (BT) may not have all the information available in the original register.

General guidance

Type what you see

The first rule of transcribing is to type what you see (TWYS). Even if it looks wrong or seems like an abbreviation. The only exceptions are for various practical reasons:

  • Dates must be entered in a standard way for searching to work (see Dates, below, and the article on Numbers and dates)
  • A few fields (for instance, county) require an abbreviation
  • The name fields must not have anything else other than names — see Names, below, and the guidance for baptisms, marriages or burials
  • Some characters can't be entered in the database — Wm and Wm are both entered as Wm
  • Pairs of letters, written as if joined together, could be entered, but they wouldn't be found: type Phoebe for Phœbe, Aedie for Ædie, and so on

Fields A–C

The county, place and church fields must have entries that are recognised by the database.  Contact your Coordinator if you are not sure what to enter here or if your entries are rejected.

The Register type is a two-letter code that is appended to the Church name in field C. It indicates the source of your transcription. See the Info Box for a list of the codes; for a description of each Type, see the Register types article.

Illegible or not clear?

If there's something you can't read, or that could be one thing or another, use our Uncertain Character Format (UCF). Even the transcription of uncertainty needs to be done the same way by everybody, so that we can all search the database effectively.

Dates

The next few paragraphs are a summary of our article on Numbers and dates.

The way that we enter most dates is simply dd Mon yyyy: a two-digit day, then a three-letter month, then a four-digit year. For example 01 Aug 1804, 29 Oct 1778, 23 Apr 1642.

If the year is before 1000, and so naturally has three digits, then use a leading zero: enter the year 894 as 0894 (spreadsheet users will need to set the cell format to text, or the zero will disappear).

In England and Wales, for a date from 01 Jan up to 24 Mar in any year before 1752, we use the split-year convention. In 1752, England and Wales adopted the Gregorian calendar and we can be certain of the actual year.

When using the split-year convention, where there is a decade or century change, please make sure you indicate this clearly. For example, 1729/30 or 1699/00.

Scotland adopted January 1st as New Year's Day in 1600: any date recorded in a Scottish register from 1600 onwards will be a new style date. So, we need to insert the old style year for dates from 01 Jan to 24 Mar (incl.) in any year from 1600 to 1751 (incl.). For example: a date recorded as 15th February 1658, should be entered as 15 Feb 1657/8; and 6th January 1700 as 06 Jan 1699/00.

If part or all of the date is missing or illegible, we make use of parts of our Uncertain Character Format (UCF) as follows:

  • If the day is missing, just enter a month and year — Jun 1783
  • If the day is unclear, use _ (underscore) for an unreadable digit, or * (asterisk) for an unreadable day — 1_ Feb 1862, * Jul 1746
  • If the month is missing or illegible, enter dd * yyyy — 09 * 1708
  • If the day and month are missing, just enter the year — 1761
  • If only the year is legible, put * * yyyy — * * 1761
  • If the year is missing or illegible, then enter the most likely year from the position in the register, in the form yyyy? or yyyy/(0)y? as appropriate. Do not use any other UCF (Uncertain Character Format) for the year — 09 Feb 1723/4?, 20 Jun 1786?, * * 1828? (In the last example, the whole date is missing or illegible.)

If using a spreadsheet, be sure to set the cell format for any date fields (columns) to text rather than date: computers are not good with dates before 1900, and certainly do not understand the split-year convention.

Names

Enter only the actual name: anything else, such as Revd or Snr or Laird, belongs in the Notes field.

If no name is given, leave the field blank, and put any remarks such as A Woman Unknown in the Notes field.

Please do not use square brackets, [ ], in any of the Forename or Surname fields, unless you need to use the brackets as part of our UCF (Uncertain Character Format).

For example, you may be tempted to enter something like "Willam [sic]" or even "[Willam]", just as you you would in a transcription made for your personal use. For the FreeREG database to be easily searchable by a researcher, you need to put "Willam" in the Forename field and then something like "Forename: Willam [sic]" in the Notes field. (Ideally, the comment would go in a Transcriber Notes field, but we do not have this field yet.)

Notes (vs Transcriber notes)

The Notes field is for any additional information contained in the register that does not belong in another field.

Transcriber notes is a planned new field which will be for your comments rather than actual data. For example, "Date unreadable so year entered by assumption from position in the register". This field will become available once we have developed a more flexible way of adding data.

Text editors

If entering data using a text editor be especially careful to surround a field that includes commas or speech marks with quotation (speech) marks. For example: 23, High St. would be entered as "23, High St." And a surname of Smith that could be Smithe, would be "SMITHE{0,1}".

In addition, literal quotation marks should be doubled, so that Mr Wm. “Billy” Bonds would be entered as "Mr Wm. ""Billy"" BONDS" in the Notes field.

WinREG, and modern versions of MS Excel and OpenOffice Calc will deal with these situations for you.


Baptism fields

The baptism records in the database have the following fields:

Entering baptism data

Here are the details of what should go in each baptism field (or column, if you are using a spreadsheet).

Field A: county

Requirements:

  • An entry in this field is mandatory and is the three-letter Chapman county code
  • Enter in upper case

Examples:

ABD, NTT, FLN, DUR

Field B: place

Requirements:

  • An entry in this field is mandatory
  • Enter the name of the town or village
  • Enter in lower case with initial capitals as appropriate

Examples:

Betws-y-Coed, Nottingham, Prestonkirk, Chorlton cum Hardy

Field C: church

Requirements:

  • An entry in this field is mandatory
  • Enter in lower case with initial capitals

Examples:

St Ethelred PR, St Mary AT, Holy Trinity EX, Methodist OT, All Saints (North Street) PR

Guidance:

Enter the name of the church, parish or congregation plus a two-letter Register code. Take care with this as larger towns may have more than one parish or church, and a church may have more than one register type.

If a place has two churches with the same name, then use parentheses for the identifier part, as in the example.

Field D: no

Requirements:

  • Enter the register number (or page and position), if there is one

Example:

483, 25c

Guidance:

Usually found in baptism registers after 1813. Enter the number without leading zeroes.

If only the page has a number, enter that number, plus a lower case letter to indicate position on page. If there are no numbers, leave blank.

Field E: birthdate

Requirements:

  • Enter the birth date, or leave blank
  • Use the format dd Mon yyyy or dd Mon yyyy/y(0) if appropriate

Examples:

30 Sep 1853, 25 Jan 1742/3, 19 Feb 1689/90, 02 Jun 1545

Guidance:

If no birth date is shown in the register, leave blank.

See Dates in General guidance for further help.

Field F: baptdate

Requirements:

  • Enter the baptism date. If missing, see Dates in General guidance for further help.
  • Use the format dd Mon yyyy or dd Mon yyyy/y(0) if appropriate

Examples:

30 Sep 1853, 25 Jan 1742/3, 19 Feb 1689/90, 02 Jun 1545

Guidance:

As for field E, birthdate.

Please note that the Quakers (or Religious Society of Friends) recorded Births, not Baptisms, so these dates should be entered in Field E: birthdate and not here.

Field G: firstname

Requirements:

  • Enter the forename or names, as given
  • Use lower case with leading capitals

Examples:

Henry, Elizth, Raphe, Mary An

Guidance:

Transcribe the name as written, even if abbreviated or written in Latin or if it looks wrong. If a person has more than one forename, enter them all.

Be wary of apparent surnames that are really part of the forename. For example, the complete name Sarah Denman Neep, would be entered as Sarah Denman in this field, and NEEP in the surname field.

Any qualifier, such as Jr or Sr, should be entered using the notes field.

Field H: sex

Requirements:

  • A single character from f, F, m, or M; or - (a hyphen) if found in a transcript
  • Leave blank where the sex is not stated

Guidance:

Enter based on the sex implied by “son of” or “dau of”. Do not guess based on the name: Julian, for example, was also a female name. Similarly, do not assume that Frances is female or Francis male.

Some transcripts use a hyphen (-) to indicate a child of unknown sex: enter a hyphen in such cases.

Field I: father

Requirements:

  • Enter the father's forename(s) as given
  • Use lower case with initial capitals

Examples:

Joseph, Saml John, Henrey, Gulielmus

Guidance:

If the father's name is not stated, for example in the case of an illegitimate birth, then leave blank.

See field G, firstname for other details of how to enter forenames.

Field J: mother

Requirements:

  • Enter the mother's forename(s) as given
  • Use lower case with initial capitals

Examples:

Agnes, Charlotte Elizabeth, Jane, Onoria

Guidance:

See field G, firstname for other details of how to enter forenames.

Field K: fath-surname

Requirements:

  • Enter the father's surname as given
  • Use upper case for the whole surname

Examples:

OWEN, WARD, BAIRD, SMYTH

Guidance:

Enter the spelling exactly as given, even if it looks wrong.

A widow's surname would be entered in this field.

Any qualifier, such as Jr, Sr or Esq, should be entered using the notes field.

Field L: moth-surname

Requirements:

  • Enter the mother's maiden surname as given
  • Use upper case for the whole surname

Examples:

PARRY, FORBES, READ, WALKER

Guidance:

This is the mother's surname before marriage, sometimes signified by a “late NAME”. Please do not enter her married surname. If the mother was unmarried, enter her surname.

Most registers do not have a married mother's maiden name. Leave the field blank if this is so.

As with the father's surname, enter the surname exactly as spelt in the registers and put any qualifiers in the notes field.

Field M: abode

Requirements:

  • Enter the abode or address as given
  • Use lower case with initial capitals as appropriate

Examples:

Ruardean
High St
23, High St
Napoleon Sq., Cinderhill

Guidance:

This is usually given in baptism registers from 1813. If it not given, leave blank.

Field N: fath-occupation

Requirements:

  • Enter the rank, trade or occupation of the father
  • Use lower case with initial capitals as appropriate

Examples:

Blacksmith, Miller, Carpenter, Gentleman

Guidance:

This is usually given in baptism registers from 1813, but may be found earlier. If not stated, leave blank.

Field O: notes

Requirements:

  • Use as described below

Examples:

Illegitimate, Spurious, Single woman, Private baptism, Twin

Guidance:

Use for any other information given in the register. For example, “Mr. John SMITH” or “John SMITH Jnr” or “John SMITH the elder”.

Do not include the details of the officiating minister unless there are compelling reasons to do so (that is, something about the minister looks like a clue for a researcher).


Marriage fields

The marriage records in the database have the following fields:

Entering marriage data

Here are the details of what should go in each marriage field (or column, if you are using a spreadsheet).

Field A: county

Requirements:

  • An entry in this field is mandatory and is the 3-letter Chapman county code
  • Enter in upper case

Examples:

ABD, NTT, FLN, DUR

Field B: place

Requirements:

  • An entry in this field is mandatory
  • Enter the name of the town or village
  • Enter in lower case with initial capitals as appropriate

Examples:

Betws-y-Coed, Nottingham, Prestonkirk, Chorlton cum Hardy

Field C: church

Requirements:

  • An entry in this field is mandatory
  • Enter in lower case with initial capitals

Examples:

St Ethelred PR, St Mary AT, Holy Trinity EX, Methodist OT, All Saints (North Street) PR

Guidance:

Enter the name of the church, parish or congregation plus a two-letter Register code. Take care with this as larger towns may have more than one parish or church, and a church may have more than one register type.

If a place has two churches with the same name, then use parentheses for the identifier part, as in the example.

Field D: no

Requirements:

  • Enter the register number (or page and position), if there is one

Example:

483, 25c

Guidance:

Usually found in marriage registers after 1754. Enter the number without leading zeroes.

If only the page has a number, enter that number, plus a lower case letter to indicate position on page. If there are no numbers, leave blank.

Field E: marrdate

Requirements:

  • Enter the date of the marriage
  • Use the format dd Mon yyyy or dd Mon yyyy/y(0) if appropriate

Examples:

30 Sep 1853, 25 Jan 1742/3, 19 Feb 1689/90, 02 Jun 1545

Guidance:

If no marriage date is shown in the register, see Dates in General guidance for further help.

Field F: groom-firstname

Requirements:

  • Enter the forename or names, as given
  • Use lower case with leading capitals

Examples:

Joseph, Saml John, Henrey, Gulielmus

Guidance:

Transcribe the name as written, even if abbreviated or written in Latin or if it looks wrong. If a person has more than one forename, enter them all.

Be wary of apparent surnames that are really part of the forename. For example, the complete name Alexander Denman Neep would be entered as Alexander Denman in this field and NEEP in the surname field.

Any qualifier, such as Jr or Sr, should be entered using the notes field.

Field G: groom-surname

Requirements:

  • Enter the groom's surname as given
  • Use upper case for the whole surname

Examples:

OWEN, WARD, BAIRD, SMYTH

Guidance:

Enter the spelling exactly as given, even if it looks wrong.

Any qualifier, such as Jr, Sr or Esq, should be entered in the notes field.

Field H: groom-age

Requirements:

  • Enter the groom's age as given
  • Enter an integer (whole number)

Examples:

17, 21, 51, minor

Guidance:

In general, text is not allowed in this field. However, “minor” (under 21) is allowed, as is “of age”, “of full age” or “full age”.

If the register says “under 21” or “under age”, or “under”, record this as “minor”, and put what the register actually says in the Notes field.

If no age is stated, leave the field blank.

Field I: groom-parish

Requirements:

  • The groom's parish or place of residence, if it is different from the event parish
  • If the parish is stated as being in another county, append the three-letter Chapman county code, entered in upper case

Examples:

Newton
Ealing MDX
Gillespie, Glenluce
Silloth CUL

Guidance:

If the register does state the parish, but it is the same as the parish in which the marriage took place, or if the entry states “of this parish”, then leave the field empty. If there are more local details, such as a farm or road, enter these in the abode field.

Field J: groom-condition

Requirements:

  • Enter the groom's marital status
  • Enter in lower case with initial capitals
  • If missing, leave blank

Examples:

Bachelor, Widower, Single Man, Virgin, Divorced Man, Previous Marriage Annulled, Previous Marriage Dissolved, Minor

Guidance:

If any additional information is provided, for instance a name or a date, enter this in the way described for bride-condition.

Field K: groom-occupation

Requirements:

  • Enter the groom's occupation
  • Enter in lower case with initial capitals
  • If missing, leave blank

Examples:

Railway Shunter, Baker, Labourer, Miner

Field L: groom-abode

Requirements:

  • Enter the groom's residence at the time of marriage
  • Enter in lower case with initial capitals

Example:

Ruardean
High St
23, High St
Napoleon Sq., Cinderhill

Field M: bride-firstname

Requirements:

  • Enter the bride's forename or names, as given
  • Use lower case with leading capitals

Examples:

Joan, Mary Jane, Elizabeth, Emilie

Guidance:

See field F, groom-forename.

Field N: bride-surname

Requirements:

  • Enter the bride's surname as given
  • Use upper case for the whole surname

Examples:

PARRY, FORBES, READ, WALKER

Guidance:

See field G, groom-surname.

Field O: bride-age

Guidance:

See groom-age for details.

Field P: bride-parish

Guidance:

See groom-parish for details.

Field Q: bride-condition

Requirements:

  • Enter the bride's marital status
  • Enter in lower case with initial capitals
  • If missing, leave blank

Examples:

Spinster, Widow, Single Woman, Virgin, Divorced Woman, Previous Marriage Annulled, Previous Marriage Dissolved, Minor

Guidance:

Scottish registers in particular may have additional information: for example, widow of Thomas Aird, stabler. Enter Widow in this field, Thomas and AIRD in the witness fields, and the whole phrase in the notes field. This will make the previous husband's name searchable when the Family Search option becomes available for marriages.

Field R: bride-occupation

Guidance:

See groom-occupation for details.

Field S: bride-abode

Guidance:

See groom-abode for details.

Field T: groom-fath-firstname

Requirements:

  • Enter the groom's father's forename(s) as given
  • Use lower case with initial capitals

Examples:

Robert, William, Richd, George Hy.

Guidance:

See field F, groom-firstname for other details of how to enter forenames.

Field U: groom-fath-surname

Requirements:

  • Enter the groom's father's surname as given
  • Use upper case for the whole surname

Examples:

PARRY, FORBES, READ, WALKER

Guidance:

See field G, groom-surname for other details of how to enter surnames.

Field V: groom-fath-occupation

Requirements:

  • Enter rank, trade or occupation of the groom's father
  • Use lower case with initial capitals

Examples:

Baker, Butcher, Gentleman, Captain

Field W: bride-fath-firstname

Requirements:

  • Enter the bride's father's forename(s) as given
  • Use lower case with initial capitals

Examples:

Robert, William, Richd, George Hy.

Guidance:

See field F, groom-firstname for other details of how to enter forenames.

Field X: bride-fath-surname

Requirements:

  • Enter the bride's father's surname as given
  • Use upper case for the whole surname

Examples:

PARRY, FORBES, READ, WALKER

Guidance:

See field G, groom-surname for other details of how to enter surnames.

Field Y: bride-fath-occupation

Requirements:

  • Enter the bride's father's occupation as given
  • Use lower case with initial capitals

Examples:

Farmer, Tailor, Ostler, Fisher

Field Z: witness1-firstname

Requirements:

  • Enter forename(s) of first witness as given
  • Use lower case with initial capitals

Examples:

Phebe Martha, Charles, Esther, Thos.

Guidance:

See field F, groom-firstname.

Field AA: witness1-surname

Requirements:

  • Enter the surname of the first witness as given
  • Use upper case for the whole surname

Examples:

ADAMS, COLLIER, MITCHELL, SANDFORD

Guidance:

See field G, groom-surname.

Field AB: witness2-firstname

Requirements:

  • Enter forename(s) of second witness as given
  • Use lower case with initial capitals

Examples:

Hannah, Stephen, Sibilla, Richd John

Guidance:

See field F, groom-firstname.

If there are more than two witnesses, duplicate the entry and replace the witness details with those of the additional witnesses.

Field AC: witness2-surname

Requirements:

  • Enter the surname of the second witness as given
  • Use upper case for the whole surname

Examples:

PARKER, TALBOTT, BRYAN, WILKINSON

Guidance:

See field G, groom-surname.

Field AD: notes

Requirements:

  • Use as described below

Examples:

Lic., Son of Mr John Smith, she signs X, Rector of this Parish, widow of James Murray

Guidance:

Use for any other information given in the register. As most marriages were by Banns, this is not usually transcribed. Other forms, such as by licence, are transcribed.

If the groom or bride signs with an X, make a note.

Do not include the details of the officiating minister unless there are compelling reasons to do so (that is, something about the minister looks like a clue for a researcher).

Overflow of extended information from other fields can also go here.


Burials

The burial records in the database have the following fields:

Entering burials data

Here are the details of what should go in each burial field (or column, if you are using a spreadsheet).

Field A: county

Requirements:

  • An entry in this field is mandatory and is the three-letter Chapman county code
  • Enter in upper case

Examples:

ABD, NTT, FLN, DUR

Field B: place

Requirements:

  • An entry in this field is mandatory
  • Enter the name of the town or village
  • Enter in lower case with initial capitals as appropriate

Examples:

Betws-y-Coed, Nottingham, Prestonkirk, Chorlton cum Hardy

Field C: church

Requirements:

  • An entry in this field is mandatory
  • Enter in lower case with initial capitals

Examples:

St Ethelred PR, St Mary AT, Holy Trinity EX, Methodist OT, All Saints (North Street) PR

Guidance:

Enter the name of the church, parish or congregation plus a two-letter Register code. Take care with this as larger towns may have more than one parish or church, and a church may have more than one register type.

If a place has two churches with the same name, then use parentheses for the identifier part, as in the example.

Field D: no

Requirements:

  • Enter the register number (or page and position), if there is one

Example:

483, 25c

Guidance:

Usually found in burial registers after 1813. Enter the number without leading zeroes.

If only the page has a number, enter that number, plus a lower case letter to indicate position on page. If there are no numbers, leave blank.

Field E: burdate

Requirements:

  • Enter the burial date
  • Use the format dd Mon yyyy or dd Mon yyyy/y(0) if appropriate

Examples:

30 Sep 1853, 25 Jan 1742/3, 19 Feb 1689/90, 02 Jun 1545

Guidance:

If date is missing, see Dates in General guidance for further help.

Field F: firstname

Requirements:

  • Enter the forename or names, as given
  • Use lower case with leading capitals

Examples:

Henry, Elizth, Raphe, Mary An

Guidance:

Transcribe the name as written, even if abbreviated or written in Latin or if it looks wrong. If a person has more than one forename, enter them all.

Be wary of apparent surnames that are really part of the forename. For example, the complete name Sarah Denman Neep would be entered as Sarah Denman in this field and NEEP in the surname field.

Any qualifier, such as Jr or Sr, should be entered in the notes field.

Field G: relationship

Requirements:

  • Enter relationship, of deceased to relative, if given, or leave blank

Examples:

son of, dau of, wife of, widow of, relict of

Guidance:

Abbreviate “daughter” to “dau”. Note that “relict” means “surviving widow of”, the same thing as “widow of”.

Field H: rel1-male-first

Requirements:

  • Enter the male relative's forename(s) as given
  • Use lower case with initial capitals

Examples:

Alexander, James Edward John, Jared, Robt

Guidance:

See field F, firstname for other details of how to enter forenames.

Field I: rel2-female-first

Requirements:

  • Enter the female relative's forename(s) as given
  • Use lower case with initial capitals

Examples:

Betty, Frances Mary, Eline, Margret

Guidance:

See field F, firstname for other details of how to enter forenames.

Field J: rel1-surname

Requirements:

  • Enter the surname of the relative as given
  • Use upper case for the whole surname

Examples:

OWEN, WARD, BAIRD, SMYTH

Guidance:

Be aware that the relative may not have the same surname as the person who was buried.

Field K: surname

Requirements:

  • Enter surname of the person buried as given
  • Use upper case for the whole surname

Examples:

PARRY, FORBES, READ, WALKER

Guidance:

Be aware that the person who was buried may not have the same surname as the relative.

Field L: age

Requirements:

  • Enter the age as an integer (whole number)
  • You may use d (days), w (weeks), m (months), “infant” or “child”
  • If required, use y (years)

Examples:

17, 21, 51, 2y5m, 3m, 3w, 3d, infant, child

Guidance:

If not stated, leave blank.

Field M: abode

Requirements:

  • Enter the abode or address of the deceased as given
  • Use lower case with initial capitals as appropriate

Examples:

Ruardean
High St
23, High St
Napoleon Sq., Cinderhill

Guidance:

This is usually given in burial registers from 1813. If it not given, leave blank.

Field N: notes

Requirements:

  • Use as described below

Examples:

cholera, plague, Rector of this Parish

Guidance:

Use for any other information given in the register. For example, “Mr. John SMITH” or “John SMITH Jnr” or “John SMITH the elder”.

Use for overflow of extended information from other fields.

Do not include the details of the officiating minister unless there are compelling reasons to do so (that is, something about the minister looks like a clue for a researcher).