BMD Registers logo

Guide to BMD Registers

RG6 - Society of Friends' (Quakers), 1578-1841:

RG6 is the Society of Friends' (Quakers) Registers, Notes and Certificates of Births, Marriages and Burials ranging from 1578-1841.

Scope and content

Registers of births, deaths, burials and marriages of congregations of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in England and Wales. A number of original birth and burial notes and original marriage certificates are included. The documents in the series are arranged by Quarterly or Monthly Meetings, which consisted of a county or combinations of counties.

Administrative / biographical background

The Quakers had the reputation for maintaining the most meticulous records in keeping registers of births (Quakers did not practise baptism), marriages and deaths, as well as other records which related to their congregations, these being essential to record and ascertain membership of the Society.

Register books began to be kept by Quaker meetings from the late 1650s. Generally these registers were the responsibility of the Monthly Meeting and details were often compiled from independent records of the individual meetings. Sometimes, however, local registers were also kept by Preparative Meetings. To assist in their desire for parliamentary recognition of their marriage procedure under statute law, the Quakers developed a system of ceremony and registration which was so thorough that when Hardwicke's Marriage Act was passed in 1753, the Quakers were specifically excluded from the requirement to marry in Anglican churches.

In 1776, following a decision by the Yearly Meeting of 1774, the Quakers overhauled their whole registration system and introduced a more systematic procedure. Birth and burial notes were standardised with printed books being provided for Monthly and Quarterly Meetings.

The post-1776 birth notes and register entries contain the date of birth, place of birth (locality, parish and county), parents' names (often with the father's occupation), the child's name, the names of the witnesses, and are noted as a true copy with the signature of the registrar of the Meeting (for register entries). It is not always stated whether the father was living at the time of the birth. The post-1776 burial notes and register entries commence with the gravemaker's name and the date the grave was to be made, followed by the burial place and details of the deceased (name, residence, age, date of death), and concludes with the actual date of burial, and the mark or signature of the gravemaker (as witness).

All marriage certificates were transcribed at full length into Monthly Meeting registers, together with the names of witnesses. Quarterly Meeting registers were started consisting of printed forms of abstracts of the marriage certificates. In 1794, this requirement for Monthly Meetings to keep full copies of the certificates was rescinded, and from that date only the books of abstracts were kept by Monthly and Quarterly Meetings. These printed abstracts start with the date of the marriage, details of the groom (his name, residence and occupation), the groom's parents (including father's occupation), the bride's name, the bride's parents (including the father's occupation), the place where the ceremony was held, and conclude with signatures of witnesses the parties, and the registrar (or clerk) to the Meeting (for register entries).

An important factor to remember when searching through these records if you are not familiar with them, is that the Society of Friends used the Julian Calendar up until March 1752, after which the vast majority of their records adopted the Gregorian Calendar. According to the Julian Calendar, the first day of the new year was 25th March 'Lady Day', so a full year would run from March 25th to March 24th. Dates between January 1st and March 24th would still be assigned the previous year, for example, January 1st 1744 would either be written as 1744 or 1744/45 to indicate the dual date. At TheGenealogist we use the date as written, so please be aware of this when searching for dates before March 1752. Significant to the Quakers was their objection to using the names derived from heathen gods/goddesses, and this affected their use of certain names of the week and months, which is why dates for records have been written according to their numeric value but not always with the name of the month, as in '...the first month so called March...', and so on.

You can find full details on TNA website, including content and background information.


Getting Started

About the Registers

i. Getting Started
ii. The Hidden Records
iii. What records are available at the moment?
iv. Paleography (how to deal with difficult handwriting)
v. Advanced Features

i. About RG4

What is RG4?
Types of records

ii. About RG5


What is RG5?
Protestant Dissenters' Registry
Wesleyan Methodist Registers


About RG6


What is RG6?
Scope and Content
Administrative and Biographical Background


About RG7


What is RG7?
Scope and Content
Administrative and Biographical Background

v. About RG8

What is RG8?
Scope and Content

vi. About RG32

What is RG32?
Scope and Content

  vii. About RG33

What is RG33?
Scope and Content

  viii. About RG34

What is RG34?
Scope and Content

  ix. About RG35

What is RG35?
Scope and Content

  x. About RG36

What is RG36?
Scope and Content

  xi. About the BT Series

What is the BT Series?
Scope and Content