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.
Parish registers online
Most of our parish registers are available to view on Ancestry.co.uk. You can access them for free using our public access computers in the searchroom, in a West Sussex library, or via a paid subscription to Ancestry. Alternatively, you can access the parish registers on microfilm or fiche in the searchroom. We ask visitors to use the digital (or microfilm) copies 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.
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.