Church of England parish registers record baptisms, marriages and burials from as early as 1538 (from 1754 for banns). If you know which parish your family came from, there is a good chance of finding them.
Most of our parish registers are available to view on microfilm or microfiche. We ask visitors to use these in order to preserve the originals.
Transcripts and indexes
Indexes and transcripts of many West Sussex parish registers are available in the Record Office searchroom. Some of them have been produced by the Parish Register Transcription Society and copies of these can be purchased on CD from the Sussex Family History Group.
As part of an ongoing programme, indexes are also being published on the FreeReg website and most registers up to 1840 have now been completed.
Parish registers online
Many of our parish registers have been microfilmed by the Church of the Latter Day Saints, and low resolution, black and white images produced from these microfilms can be viewed (by signing up for a free account) on the FamilySearch website.
You can find the images by searching for a specific parish on the ‘FamilySearch Catalog’, locating the relevant series and clicking on the 'camera' icon under 'Film notes'.
In 1598 it was ordered that copies of the parish register entries, now called Bishop’s Transcripts, should be made and sent to the Bishop annually. The surviving transcripts for East and West Sussex (up to around 1900) are kept at West Sussex Record Office. Most of them are available on microfilm; otherwise, the originals are produced.