Communicants – event code U
List of parishioners under the care of a local priest were often compiled during the course of a year so that the priest would know who was Catholic. Communicant lists often simply list the name of the individual in a parish and a particular date. Often names can be found grouped together in families and can be a useful (but basic) census substitute.
Confessions – event code E
Five volumes of parish registers include information about confessions. These do not include details of the confessions themselves, but record that an individual went to confession before receiving Holy Communion.
The information contained in the original registers can be quite minimal, and varies from parish to parish and indeed over time within each parish. At best, a convert register will record the following:
• Name of the individual
• Place or parish of residence
• Name of the priest
Whilst some registers record all of the information above, most in practice record minimal information such as the names of the individual attending confession and a date. There was no standard format for registers, and they can consist of small notebooks or larger unformatted ledgers.
Confirmation – event code I
The sacrament of confirmation is generally performed when an individual is a child. In some periods, confirmation may have taken place as young as seven years old, in others as old as 12 years old. Confirmation records provide the name of the child, a confirmation (saints name) taken by the child, and occasionally further family details. These are useful for estimating the age of a child in lieu of any surviving baptismal records. Converts – event code V In some cases, converts were recorded in baptismal records; but a number of convert registers have survived. With the majority of converts generally being in adulthood, there is limited information regarding parentage and families.
Seat Rents – event code R
A number of churches in the nineteenth century reserved pews for parishioners in return for payment of a fee. These are very useful in confirming the residence of ancestors in a particular parish and also in identifying where your ancestors sat in the chapel.
Sick calls – event code S
Two registers of sick calls survive. These record the visitations of a priest to a sick person. It could provide an indication of a death following on from the visit (although the parishioner might well have recovered!).
Status Animarum – event code A
This type of record is a ‘state of the souls’ – an enumeration of all Catholics within a particular area at a particular time. These records should have been diligently and regularly kept, but their survival is somewhat irregular. In a basic record you should find the name of an individual and a place; other records are more detailed with addresses given, family groups shown, and in a small number of cases ages and places of birth. These are valuable census substitutes.