Monday, 1 October 2012

Parish Locator

For a family historian in Australia, the concepts of County and Parish can be puzzling. My primary schooling (half a century ago) left me with the vague notion that "England has Counties instead of States".

So the fact that our first land purchase was located in the County of Stanley was vaguely interesting but not a high priority for further investigation. I knew that a parish was a church organisational unit, so the fact that our home was within the Parish of Warner was (at the time) of no concern to me.

The need to engage with Parish Registers to track UK ancestors before 1837 demands a slightly more sophisticated understanding of a Parish as a civil administrative unit as well as its ecclesiastical role. But until recently, I have been operating on a seriously flawed understanding of the small size of each parish (at least when viewed from a Queensland perspective) and hence the vast number of them.

Enter Parloc3, a piece of software for locating parishes. This amazing tool not only lists all parishes "in existence at some [time] during the period from the mid 1500s to about 1837" but provides survey map references to enable you to locate them on a map.

If you know part of a name, ParLoc3 will generate a list of potential matches.

Enter a three letter abbreviation for a county (such as ERY) instead of a parish name and the software will display a list of all 265 Parishes within the East Riding of Yorkshire.

If you have indications that your ancestors may have been in two parishes and wonder whether this is possible, then Parloc will calculate their separation and allow you to decide that a man christened at Halesowen might easily have been married at Old Swinford.

In recent days I have been using ParLoc heavily to check (and correct) many of my English location references, but the problem that originally drove me to it was confusion over the origins in Barmby of our 4xgreat grandmother, Jane PASHLEY.

I now know that these two locations are approximately 22 kilometres (probably 8 hours walk) apart and that Jane's family came from the marshlands rather than the moors. While I am now very glad to have resolved this, I wonder if such fine details would have been interesting in Grade Six Social Studies in 1962?

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