The Berkshire Family History Society has
published and sold transcripts and indexes as
fiche and, recently, as CD ROMs. However, we are
all reluctant to buy publications unless we are
sure that it contains information for those
individuals we are researching. Moreover such
publications are not available until the
transcription and checking is completed. The
Berkshire Name Search is a new initiative that
will enable you to search in and obtain
information from various Society records,
including those for which the transcription and
checking is not yet complete.
The Berkshire Name Search will comprise most
BFHS records that we have in electronic form and
will thus contain a wide range of information,
from hatches, matches and dispatches to the books
in the Research Centre library. Standard search
criteria are surname alone or with forename,
place, and year/range. Censuses can also be
searched by birthplace and age. A search of the
master index, the Berkshire Name Index, will show
the number of entries of that name in the
individual datasets. The amount of information
available depends on the date and type of record
(see below) and are full transcriptions of the
census entries and lesser transcriptions for
burial and marriage indexes. Burials and
marriages derived from early parish registers
have minimum information. At present all records
are in transcription form and none are a picture
of the register or page from the census.
The reliability of the records is indicated.
Records obtained from third parties have the
lowest, Grade 1, those transcribed by BFHS
volunteers but not checked is Grade 2 and those
checked against original records, Grade 3.
Unchecked records are included because most
individual entries within them will be correct.
We feel that, providing the limitations are
known, people would rather have access to
something than nothing.
The following datasets are now in the
Berkshire Name Index with an indication of the
- Berkshire 1851 Census (Grade 3). Complete
checked transcription of the 170,000
persons within Berkshire on 30 March 1851.
Printouts of either the schedule (whole
household) or the page. Also available on
- Berkshire 1871 Census (Grades 2 and 3).
All districts transcribed and will be
upgraded as they are checked. Printouts
are complete transcriptions of schedule
- Berkshire 1861 Census (Grade 2).
Transcription just started.
- Berkshire Burial Index (Grade 3). Work in
progress transcribing from parish
registers. Includes 250,000 burials to
date, see the Berkshire Family Historian
or BFHS website for the parishes and
periods covered. Print outs of name, age,
parish and date with an indication if
more information is in the register. This
extra information is being incorporated
into the entries. 210,000 burials
available on CD ROM.
- Berkshire Marriage Index (Grade 3). Work
in progress transcribing from pre-1837
parish registers. See the Berkshire
Family Historian or BFHS website for the
parishes and periods covered. Early
entries have only names of bride and
groom, but later include if from other
parishes and by licence. Witnesses not
- Berkshire Miscellaneous Index (Grades 1,
2 and 3). This dataset is based on the
old Berkshire Name Index and includes
records that were extracted and submitted
by individuals. When possible running
sets (such as baptisms from parish
registers) will be placed in specialist
datasets leaving the disparate individual
records and small datasets in this
Miscellaneous Index. Information
available depends on the record.
- Berkshire Name Index Master index of
above indexes to include name, date,
event and place. Printouts will show
number of entries in above individual
datasets but not the detailed information.
- BFHS Library Catalogue can be searched by
Records to be added in the future include
parish registers, monumental inscriptions,
overseers papers, birth briefs, Berkshire
police records, Berkshire strays and political
records (such as electoral rolls and poll books).
Extra entries will be added to incomplete
datasets. If you note the date of your searches,
only later additions will be included and charged
for in future searches. For details of how to
search and the charges see the Back pages of this
Search difficulties. Indexes depend on
transcriptions; these cannot be 100% accurate.
The writing styles and condition of older records
can make transcribing difficult. At times it is a
best guess and more than one possibility may be
included. Variations in spelling occur. BFHS
volunteers transcribe the records as they appear,
we have not attempted to modernise or standardise
the spellings of names or places. So Wokingham
may appear as Oakingham. Searchers will have to
use their initiative when specifying the names/variants
to be searched. While we endeavour to be as
accurate as possible, you are encouraged to refer
to the original document whenever possible.