1538 Parish Registers were instigated by Thomas Cromwell from 1538 in the reign of Henry VIII, recording every wedding, baptism and burial. Many parishes ignored this order. Only about 800 registers exist from this time period. Before this, a few Roman Catholic religious houses and parish priests had kept informal notes on the baptisms, marriages and burials of the prominent local families.
1598 Clergy were required to send copies of their registers to the bishop of their diocese. These copies are known as Bishop’s Transcripts.Bishops' transcripts are contemporary copies of parish registers. Within one month of Easter churchwardens were compelled to provide under an Order made in 1598.
1643–1659 — Registers were poorly kept during the English Civil War and the Commonwealth period which followed or abandoned altogether.
1711 — An order was made to the effect that all register pages were to be ruled and numbered. This was widely ignored.
Pre 1733 records were in latin
1754 — Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act. A separate marriage register is enforced which records witnesses, signatures of all parties, occupation of groom and the residences of the couple marrying. It also enforced Banns and made clandestine marriages illegal.
The Parish Register Abstract , ordered to be printed on 21 December 1801, contains a series of tables grouped by counties in England and Wales giving, for each hundred or its equivalent and for large cities, towns or boroughs, the number of males and females (a) baptized and (b) buried in each decennial year from 1700 to 1780 and in each year from 1781 to 1800 inclusive and the number of marriages in each year from 1754 to 1800.
1763 — Minimum age for marriage set at 16 (previously the Church accepted marriage of girls of 12 and boys of 14). Those under 21 still needed the consent of parents. On marriage records individuals that are over 21 often have their age listed as “full age” rather than an exact year.
Following Hardwick's Marriage Act of 1753, all English and Welsh marriages (except those of Quakers and Jews) had to take place in a Church of England parish church. However, any baptisms and burials (or equivalent ceremonies) from other denominations might take place within their own churches and chapels, and these were often recorded in their own nonconformist registers. Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that there was no legal obligation for them to record any such events
1812 — George Rose’s Act. New pre-printed registers were to be used for separate baptism, marriage and burial registers as a way of standardizing records.
1836 Rickman sent a circular letter to the officiating Ministers of parishes in which it was known that old registers had been preserved, requesting them to furnish him with details of the number of baptisms, burials and marriages registered during the years 1570, 1600, 1630, 1670, 1700 and 1750 and during each year preceding and following them. From these figures, supplied voluntarily by the clergy, he calculated a population estimate for each county at intervals from 1570 to 1750, using as his starting figure the enumerated county population of 1801.
The 1921 census, and all later censuses which survive, are kept by the Office for National Statistics. The 1921 census is now available. The 1921 census was taken on the 19th of June 1921 at a time when the population for England and Wales was about 38 million. Unfortunately, the 1931 census for England and Wales was destroyed by fire in 1942, and no census was taken in 1941 because of the Second World War.
1939 Registration of UK citizens was taken to provide a snapshot of the civilian population of England and Wales just after the outbreak of the Second World War.