The mandatory civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths in England and Wales was introduced on 1 July 1837. A registration district in the United Kingdom is a type of administrative region which exists for the purpose of civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths and civil partnerships. It has also been used as the basis for the collation of census information. Co-incidentally the late 19 century was a moment when the joint ties of the village church and the lord of the manor with the villagers were loosening into decline. Many of the old family estates were being broken-up and sold.

Fewer families were attending church and those that were could now exercise a choice between Church of England, Catholic or Independent. Coupled with the dramatic economic changes with the arrival of the industrial revolution, workers were now free to seek work in the rapidly expanding cities. The inexorable break-up of feudal control and serfdom for villagers had arrived. Many would find that really they had only leapt from one despotic master to another.

Fewer children were christened and fewer parents chose to marry. Consequently parish church records were no longer the complete village genealogical archive. Moreover, census returns had arrived, compiled by educated people, and provided more information. The parish church register was now also in decline. That the law was introduced may reflect government concern at insufficient national planning information.

The result for the genealogist is that every village and hamlet lost much of its demographic identity. Although a child may have been born in Henham, the nearest registrar might be in Bishops Stortford, Dunmow or Saffron Walden. That town is where the birth would be registered so leaving no trace of Henham, other than as the place where the mother resided. But this last piece of information is not readily searchable on genealogical databases today. It will be extremely difficult in the future to instantly identify present births, marriages or deaths of Henhamites.

Our prime source for Henham births after 1838 has been the IGI (more properly known as the International Genealogical Index). When parish register microfiche are not available, the IGI is only other readily-available tool that covers the period from 1838 into the 20th century. This database has been compiled from church registers by researchers of the Mormon Church (more properly known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints of Salt Lake City in Utah, USA) and is freely available in public libraries and on the internet at

The following IGI interpretation of the parish registers is reprinted by kind permission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Copyright (c) 1999 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. It has errors in its transcription and multi-entry records for the same person, additionally corrupted by varying spellings. We've not attempted to correct and thereby risk yet a further layer of mistakes. The 2,800 records are split into the following alphabetical-surname tables. Just click to access.


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