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Copying of Parish Registers
Agreement has now been reached with the Diocese of Exeter that copies of microfilm or microfiche of parish registers may be sold to individuals for private study and research. At present thirteen parishes have said that they wish to be consulted on every occasion when copies of their registers are requested; the rest are content for the Devon Heritage Centre at Exeter to handle requests on their behalf.
This agreement covers those registers of baptisms, marriages, banns, and burials which belong to the parishes; it does not include post-1837 marriage registers, which belong to the Registrar General and, in the present state of the law, cannot be copied for sale.
The majority of parish registers have now been microfilmed and are produced in the searchrooms in microform copies, but in some case the originals are still produced, and copies of these cannot be supplied until they have been filmed.
All requests for copies of microfilms or fiche of parish registers should be made to Devon Heritage Centre at Exeter, and not to North Devon Record Office nor to Plymouth and West Devon Record Office.
The Devon Heritage Centre at Exeter does not keep a stock of microfiche copies for sale; copies are made from the master films or fiche for each order. The copying process, especially when permission has to be asked, can therefore take some time.
Some of the original registers are in poor condition, and a degree of clarity is always lost in filming. Therefore, although every effort has been made to achieve a legible copy, this has not always been possible, and the legibility of individual registers or fiche cannot be guaranteed. If you are in doubt about this, it will be advisable to ask Heritage Office staff to look at the fiche before ordering, to avoid disappointment when the copies arrive.
The cost of copies is £2.50 per fiche or £20.00 per roll of film. This is payable to South West Heritage Trust and can be paid in cash or by cheque, postal order, or credit or debit card (Visa, Delta, Mastercard, Eurocard, Switch, and Solo are accepted). If payment is made other than in sterling, a handling charge of £4.10 is added to cover the cost of conversion.
In addition there is a reproduction fee of £5.00 per register payable to the parish. This must be remitted separately by sterling cheque or money order payable to the particular Parochial Church Council. Both payments should be sent to the Devon Heritage Centre, who will pass on the reproduction fee to the parish.
When ordering, please state the parish or parishes, the events (baptisms, marriages, banns, or burials), and the particular registers (if known) or dates that you require. Please note that complete registers will be copied, not parts of them. The Heritage Centre will then tell you what the cost will be and send you an order form to complete and return. When the order and payment have been received, the copying process can go forward. In the majority of cases this can be accomplished in about six weeks from receipt of the order, though if permission from the incumbent is needed this may be considerably longer.
Note that when you complete an order form for parish register microfiche, you sign an agreement stating that you are ordering them for your own study and research, and that this does not constitute permission to pass them on to a family history society or library. Requests from societies and corporate bodies are not covered by the agreement referred to above but will be considered individually. The Heritage Centre has undertaken to consult the relevant archdeacon and the incumbent of the parish in question in each case.
Requests for copies for purposes other than private study and research (publication, for example) will also be referred to the parish for permission before copies are supplied. If in doubt as to what constitutes publication or when permission is required, please consult the Devon Heritage Centre for advice.