This guide aims to assist those who are researching the history of settlements and their residents.
Although the history of each parish is different from that of its neighbours, they will all have gone through many common experiences, for example the Norman Conquest, the Reformation, and the influence of railway construction.
Both local and family historians are interested in learning about the places where people lived, how the natural and man-made environment shaped their lives, how they spent their time and what their problems and achievements may have been. Few ordinary people of the past left much evidence of their personal circumstances and so today’s historians have to glean what they can from surviving evidence.
The usual starting point for this is parish records because they contain personal facts, such as age and occupation, and details of significant life-cycle events especially baptism, marriage and death.Parishes are communities under the care of a church minister but, historically, their function was not only religious. In Tudor times their importance as the basic unit of official administration began to increase.
Rate-payers in each parish formed a ‘vestry’ to manage the responsibilities for providing local services given to them by central government. These included the authority to raise local taxes and spend them on poor relief, the maintenance of highways, the up-keep of churches and parish buildings, the salaries of local officials and the supply of recruits for the militia.
The written records of vestries together with church registers of baptisms, weddings, funerals and other important documents were often stored in churches in stout, locked boxes known as ‘parish chests.’ Most of the surviving parish records have been lodged with Lincolnshire Archives Office and provide researchers with a rich source of information about individuals and life in the parishes they once inhabited.
By the end of the nineteenth century civil parishes administered by elected councillors had been created. Their geographical boundaries were often different to their church parish predecessors, many of the old vestry responsibilities had been passed to district or county councils and links between the church and lay administration were severed. Church records continue to be kept and, like local government records, deposited in the Lincolnshire Archives Office providing important material to historians.
It is, therefore, sensible and useful to look at some general sources at an early stage of the research - for example the Society has produced a number of publications
In addition to publications on local history available through the Lincolnshire Libraries Service, the Bishop Grosseteste University Library houses the Lincolnshire Collection, which includes the SLHA Library previously housed at Jews' Court and the Tom Baker and Dr Jim Johnston Collections. The Collection can be accessed by members of the public on a reference basis. A selection of Local Studies Essays is also available to view. Further details about opening hours and planning your visit can be viewed here.
Whilst several of the sites listed below are subscription services, some are available free at your local library; Ancestry, Find my Past and the British Newspaper Archive for example.