Norfolk Births - Why can't I find the record?
This page will give you additional guidance and resources to find birth information for your ancestor. Use this page after first completing the birth section of the Norfolk Guided Research page.
Mandatory birth registration started in 1837. However, universal compliance did not occur until 1874. Before 1837, births and baptisms can be found in church records (mainly the Church of England). The oldest baptism records date to 1538.
Additional Databases and Online Resources
- 1538-1975: England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 at FamilySearch
- 1535-1812: Norfolk, England, Church of England Baptism, Marriages, and Burials, 1535-1812 at Ancestry ($)
- 1538-1900: England, Select Norfolk Church of England Parish Registers, 1538-1900 at Ancestry ($)
- 1538-1900: England, Norfolk Parish Registers, 1538-1900 at MyHeritage ($)
- 1685-1941: England, Norfolk Bishop's Transcripts, 1685-1941 at MyHeritage ($)
- 1579-1935: Norfolk, England, Bishop's Transcripts, 1579-1935 at Ancestry ($)
- 1813-1915: Norfolk, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1915 at Ancestry ($)
- 1538-1916: Norfolk Baptisms at FindMyPast($)
- 1579-1913: Norfolk Bishop's Transcripts Baptisms at FindMyPast ($)
Additional Records with Birth Information
Substitute records can contain information about more than one event, and are used when records for an event are not available. Because the substitute records may not be created at the time of the event, it may contain incorrect information. Search for as many substitute records as possible to corroborate information found in substitute records to help improve accuracy.
|Use these substitute records to locate birth information about your ancestor:|
|Why to search the records|
|Civil birth registration lists the child's birth date and place, gender, father's name and occupation, and mother's full name.|
|Civil marriage registration lists the bride and groom's ages and names and occupations of their fathers.|
|Civil death registration lists the deceased's death date and place, gender, age, occupation, and their occupation (or parent's name if a child).|
|Census records from 1841 onward give the age and birthplace of the recorded individuals, allowing researchers to discover birth places and calculate birth years. The 1911 census lists the number of children (alive and deceased) born to the couple.|
|Monumental or tombstone inscriptions and records created when a deceased individual was interred in a cemetery. May include the deceased individual's birth date or age.|
|Go back to the Norfolk Guided Research page, and click on "Death". Death and burial parish registers may include age at death, allowing researchers to calculate approximate birth years.|
|Society of Friends (Quakers) and other nonconformist churches, such as the Presbyterian Church, also have birth and baptism parish registers.|
|May contain birth and death notices and even obituaries. Death notices and obituaries may list the deceased's birth date or age.|
|Military records, after 1707, may include the birth place and age of the individual, allowing researchers to calculate the approximate birth year.|
|May contain birth place and age, allowing researchers to calculate approximate birth years.|
Tips for finding births
Success with finding birth records in online databases depends on a few key points:
- Your ancestor's name may be misspelled. Try the following search tactics:
- Try searching for the parents if known. Sometimes a child's first name is not on the birth record.
- Try different spelling variations of the first and last name of your ancestor.
- Try a given name search (leave out last names).
- Try broadening the name search, such as using wildcards or searching for similar sounding names (instead of exact matches only).
- Example: check "Name Variants" on FindMyPast or "Sounds like" or "Similar" on Ancestry
- Expand the date range of the search.
- Try searching with the county name only instead of by parish.
- If your ancestor's name is common, try adding more information to narrow the search.
Why the record may not exist
Known Record Gaps
Mandatory birth registration started in 1837. However, universal compliance did not occur until 1874. Before 1837, births and baptisms can be found in church records (mainly the Church of England). Although the oldest baptism records date to 1538, many parish churches did not start recording baptisms until the 1600s.
Some church records may have been lost, destroyed, or damaged (especially in the 1500s and early 1600s). More specific information is not known. Civil registration records are generally complete.