Parish records can be key to any family history search. We are fortunate in having records for St Bartholomew from 1547. The Lancashire Parish Register Society compiled The Parish Register of Great Harwood, 1547 – 1812. There is a name index to the whole volume. This is available in many libraries, including Great Harwood. Sadly some pages are missing in the original, the largest gap being baptisms, March to August 1812, however, missing details are available in Bishop’s Transcripts held in Preston Record Office where they have also amended a copy of the Register to include all the missing originals. Preston Record Office is the deposit for later Church records although Church Yard burials from December 1897 to 1992 are held in church but there is no index. The extension burial ground in Hope Street has been in use from 1888 and a name index and plot location has been compiled. Records of burials in Great Harwood Cemetery are kept by Hyndburn Borough Council, The Cemetery Office, Burnley Road, Accrington. The staff there are very helpful. The records of baptisms, marriages and burials kept in church are those being currently used.
Records for the former Parish of St John in Great Harwood are now in Preston Record Office.
Many records are now available on the internet and the following are free to access:-
Lancashire Online Parish Clerk’s Project (www.lan-opc.og.uk ) is an ongoing project to record baptisms, marriages and burials from all parishes within the county and St Bartholomew’s Parish is included. Records are available in year batches with surname index;-
Baptisms 1563 – 1901 includes birth date, both parents where known, with occupation.
Marriages 1547 – 1900 gives full details as on the certificate.
Burials 1547 – 1900 includes name of spouse and abode.
Lancashire BMD ( www.lancashirebmd.org.uk ) aims to cover all registrations in the county of Lancashire since official registration began in 1837 and is added to monthly as registers are transcribed. Searches can be done by year or year blocks, by surnames, with or without initials etc and certificates can be bought from the registration district indicated. Currently it covers Births 1837 – 2000; Marriages 1837 – 2015 and Deaths 1837 – 2000, but will increase over time.
Most other counties are also being covered in this way and can be sourced through www.ukbmd.org.uk .
Great Harwood has its own web site (www.great-harwood.org.uk ) and includes the history of the town including the church, HISTORY — DOCUMENTS — ST BARTHOLOMEW. Here are listed Baptisms, Marriages and Burials 1813 – 1900. There is a Church Graveyard Index and plan but includes only those graves with a memorial stone which were re-laid prior to landscaping. Other graves, mainly vaults, remain in-situ. The extension burial ground in Hope Street is also listed and graves are indexed by name and also plot number which shows the number of internments in each plot.
The internet is awash with sites relating to family history. The Federation of Family History Societies lists free web sites on its home page ( www.ffhs.org.uk ). It also contains useful information for those undertaking research, e.g. “First Steps in Family History” and “Our Really Useful Information Leaflet” which gives a wealth of information for anyone looking to trace their British ancestors.
Many commercial sites exist e.g. Ancestry ( www.ancestry.co.uk ), Find my past (www.findmypast.co.uk ) covering census returns, parish registers etc. etc. and more specialist web sites like military records (www.forces-war-records.co.uk ) all of which require you to join by subscription. Many public libraries, Family History Centres and Record Offices provide free public access to some commercial web sites. Your local Family History Society can be of help as most of them have good resources and experienced members to assist in searches. The local branch of the Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society is Hyndburn. The LFH&HS Resource Centre, The Straits, Union Road, Oswaldtwistle, is open every Thursday 1-5 pm and every 1st Saturday of the month 1-5 pm where experienced members offer help and advice. Visit www.lfhhs.org.uk for more information.