Thomas Cromwell, chief minister of Henry VIII, issued The Second Henrician Injuctions in 1538. This document included this clause, which instituted the keeping of parish registers:
That you, and every parson, vicar, or curate within this diocese, shall for every church keep one book or register, wherein ye shall write the day and year of every wedding, christening, and burying, made within your parish for your time and so every man succeeding you likewise; and also there insert every person’s name that shall be so wedded, christened, or buried; and for the safe keeping of the same book, the parish shall be bound to provide, of their common charges, one sure coffer with two locks and keys whereof the one to remain with you, and the other with the wardens of every such parish wherein the book shall be laid up; which book ye shall every Sunday take forth, and in the presence of the said wardens, or one of them, write and record in the same all the weddings, christenings, and buryings, made the whole week before; and that done to lay up the book in the said coffer as before; and for every time that the same shall be omitted, the party that shall be in the fault thereof shall forfeit to the said church 3s-4d, to be employed on the reparation of the same church.
Transcription from www.henryviiithereign.co.uk/1538-second-injunctions.html.
Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths was introduced in England and Wales in 1837, in Ireland in 1845 and in Scotland in 1855. Most genealogists stop transcribing parish records when the civil equivalents start, but we have not followed this practice for the records on this site. For a range of reasons it can be be very useful to compare the information on a baptism record with the information on a birth certificate or its index entry, as what is recorded is often complementary and sometimes different. A death certificate can shed light on a burial – an example from the north Devon parish of Woolfardisworthy is the record for Grace Yeo Larke, buried there in 1878. The parish register records her burial on 23 July 1878 (‘Grace Yeo Larke of Burton on Trent age 59’) and her death registration at Burton upon Trent (1878 q3 6b 220) confirms the area where she died.