The Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978, passed by the General Synod of the Church of England, was a step to ensure the long-term care and preservation of and access to parish records. It was a response to the interest and use of parish records in historical research, recognition that church employees did not necessarily have the skills or appropriate storage conditions to care for parish records, and the development of archival services in the country.

In the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1929, a diocese record office was defined as a church-owned building. However, the 1978 measure aimed to draw on the network of records offices that were subsequently established throughout the country and the Local Government (Records) Act 1962, which allowed local authority record offices to acquire and care for records of local significance.

The principal duties imposed Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978 were:

  • One or more diocesan record office be designated to serve the diocese (S.7).
  • All non-current registers and records which are over 100 year old must be deposited in the Diocesan Record Office and registers whose earliest entry are 150 years old (S.10).
  • Those records that are not deposited must be afforded care in regard the conditions they are kept in and should be subject to five yearly inspections by inspectors appointed by the bishop (S.11).
  • Register books or baptisms and burials to be available for research within reasonable working hours in the diocesan record offices (S.20). An amendment in the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1992 allowed for diocesan record office to produce surrogate copies rather than the originals.

View the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978, as amended to 2003.