Find Your Ancestors in Church Records and Publications Part 3

This is an ongoing series of articles exploring church publications useful for family history research. As I research and write the series I am also finding useful information on church records (original archival records) so I will broaden the subject of the series to include both.

To remind readers of the value of looking at church publications I will use the Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in NSW by Rev James Cameron MA DD (Sydney, Angus & Robertson, 1905) to give a few examples. Volume 1 is largely the history itself and Volume 2 has supplementary information and Appendices which I found more interesting.

In Volume 2 there is an In Memoriam section because when the Centenary Thanksgiving Fund was established, part of the Scheme allowed donors to name those people they wanted to remember. There are ten pages of names of donors and who they nominated. Four examples are:

  • Mr John McCredie died at Pyrmont 11 Apr 1863 – donor was Mrs Jessie Smyth, Ultimo
  • Mr John Colquhoun died at Linton Victoria and Mrs Christine Colquhoun died at Linton, Victoria – donor John Colquhoun, Woollahra
  • Mr William Neill died at sea 16 Mar 1892 and Mrs (Helen) Neill died at Edgecliffe 1 Jul 1899 – donor was Dr Leo EF Neill, Woollahra
  • Miss Mary E McLean died at Parkes 19 Jan 1900 – donors were Mr and Mrs John Candlish, Mr RS Candlish and Miss E A McLean

These examples show that entries may indicate married names for daughters, interstate connections and other family information that may not be readily established elsewhere. If nothing else it shows that family members continued to be remembered by loved ones long after their death, as highlighted in the first example.

Also of interest in Volume 2 there are Historical Sketches of Parishes for all Presbyterian parishes in NSW so if your ancestor was a Presbyterian the brief history of the parish where they lived may be of interest. Two of the appendices list Ministers before and after the Union and both volumes are comprehensively indexed.

Both volumes have been digitised and republished by Gould Genealogy & History <www.gould.com.au>  and can be purchased or it may also be available either in hard copy or CD at your local library or genealogical or family history society library.

Using Brief Guides and Finding Aids

There are relatively few guides to searching for church and religious records and publications and these mostly relate to parish registers.

The State Library of Queensland (SLQ) <http://www.slq.qld.gov.au> has Information Guides and Info Guide 3.3 is Australian parish records: microform and electronic formats which lists information for NSW, TAS, QLD and WA. Another useful guide to Church registers is available online from the Society of Australian Genealogists <http://www.sag.org.au> entitled Basics on Church Records (Australia).

Resources in Queensland

The John Oxley Library has an extensive collection of religious records in its Archives and Manuscripts section.

A random selection of examples highlights the diversity of the archival collections:

  • George Wesley Brown, diary 1920-1959, a Methodist minister in Brisbane, South East Queensland, Kilcoy, Emerald, Mareeba and Herberton districts. It includes details of baptism, marriage and burial ceremonies and also references to the Mt Mulligan mine disaster. OM75-90
  • Rev William Higlett, Baptist minister who arrived in Toowoomba in 1882, diaries and correspondence 1882-1944. OM93-10
  • Lutheran Church of Australia, 1884-1938, registers of Pimpama Island, Alberton and Norwell, mostly in German, some restrictions. OM77-29
  • Lutheran Church of Australia, 1891-1945, death and confirmation registers of and records of meetings of St Peters, Beenleigh, the Philadelphia parish and the Steiglitz parish. OM77-62
  • Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Records 1864-1985. OMI
  • Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Records 1912-1993. 2105
  • Roman Catholic Householders in Fortitude Valley and Its Environs, 1865, indexed for people’s names. OM89-13
  • Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church, Bundaberg, Records. OMDY
  • Scandinavian Lutheran Church, Bucasia, 2124
  • Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, 1872-1922, papers relative to the establishment and early growth of the Order in Queensland. Some restrictions. OM71-36
  • Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, 1965-1971, papers relative to the Villa Maria and the Order by M O’Brien. Some restrictions. OM72-102
  • United German and Scandinavian Lutheran Synod of Queensland, Bethania Parish, 1884-1905, register of marriages. OM74-14
  • Uniting Church in Australia (Queensland Synod) and its predecessors. The collection of 2.3 linear metres is arranged into 15 series and there is an online at <http://hdl.handle.net/10462/eadarc/270>. Browse through this list to see the diversity and range of the collection. Access to records more than 20 years old is unrestricted but baptism, marriage and burial registers are restricted in accordance with the Registrar General’s Office, Queensland.

Queensland Methodist Publications

Three primary publications are listed below and the Library has microfilmed them for easier access.

  • Queensland Christian Witness and Methodist Journal 1889-1897
  • The Christian Ensign: the Organ of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, Queensland 189-?-1897
  • The Methodist Leader 1897-1926

These publications have also been indexed by library volunteers making it very easy to access family information:

  • Christian Witness 1889-1897 (indexed for personal names in the following categories – In Memoriam, Wedding, Wedding Anniversary and Personal)
  • Methodist Leader 1897-1899; 1906-1923 - successor to the Christian Witness (indexed for personal names in the following categories – In Memoriam, Wedding, Wedding Anniversary and Personal)
  • Queensland Methodist Times 1927-1977 (indexed for personal names in the following categories – In Memoriam (obituary), Article, Wedding, Memorial and Personal)

These indexes are bound into a single volume entitled Indexes of Personal Names and Local Church History in the Christian Witness, Methodist Leader and Methodist Times. Q287.6943 ind

Name and Local Church History Index to Christian Witness, Methodist Leader and Queensland Methodist Times is a handwritten photocopy covering the dates 1889-1899; 1906-1917; 1919-1923; 1927-1939. VF 287.6943 nam

As this series on Church Records and Publications progresses, I will be looking at similar collections held in other States and also in church archives.

References

Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in NSW by Rev James Cameron MA DD, Sydney, Angus & Robertson, 1905

Indexes of Personal Names and Local Church History in the Christian Witness, Methodist Leader and Methodist Times

Queensland Christian Witness and Methodist Journal 1889-1897

The Christian Ensign: the Organ of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, Queensland 189-?-1897

The Methodist Leader 1897-1926

Websites

Gould Genealogy & History www.gould.com.au

Society of Australian Genealogists http://www.sag.org.au

State Library of Queensland (SLQ) http://www.slq.qld.gov.au

© Shauna Hicks, 2009 www.shaunahicks.com.au

First published in Australian Family Tree Connections February 2010

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