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Family History in Kent

I have been dipping into my family history on and off for over 30 years, and with most of my paternal ancestors coming from Kent they are the ones I know most about.Click here to read about them. My maternal ancestors were from Somerset, Worcestershire and Ireland.

I belong to both Kent Family History Society and North West Kent Family History Society and am currently Hon Secretary of Kent Family History Society.

Indexing birth registers

For several years I was part of the team of volunteers from Medway branch of KFHS who indexed all the old birth and death registers held at Medway Register Office.

This is me working with 19th century Strood Registration District register books - not normally seen by the general public so it was a great priviledge to be part of that team. This photo was taken at the old Chatham Office. Medway Register Office is now in Rochester and we progressed to a slightly newer computer and screen to work with.

When I first visited Maidstone Archives I handled the actual parish register bookss but as demand increased and technology developed the books were all been filmed to avoid damage from overuse and many have been transcribed and indexed. This means that films and transcripts of the registers are in many cases readily available at LDS Family History Centres around the world, and transcripts on their website. In recent years the majority of Kent parish registers have been digitised and images are available on various websites. The actual books are very seldom seen, even in the archives.

The main archives in Kent are:
Kent History and Library Centre, Maidstone
Canterbury Cathedral Archives
MedwayArchives, Strood

Kent Registration Services (for BMD certificates)

Most, but not all, of the parish registers for Kent are now online.

Download the current list of availability online as a Word Document

Map of Kent parishes by Archive holdings

Browse Canterbury Cathedral Archive parishes on Find My Past
Browse the Kent Archives parishes on Find My Past
Browse the Rochester parishes held by Medway Archives
Bexley Registers on Ancestry
Browse London Metropolitan Archives Registers on Ancestry(includes the London Boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham)

Kent Registrations Services have an on-line search facility for marriage certificates 1837 - 2002 (and birth and death certificates 1992 - 2002). If you find a likely marriage you can often establish the place of marriage before ordering the certificate. With the help of KFHS and NWKFH email groups I have started to compile a list of the various marriage register codes. Click here for an Excel file of containing a partial list of the Register codes. About 65kb and takes about two seconds to download with 512 broadband.

If you have a certificate with a register code not included in the list please e-mail me and I will add it to the file. There are still lots of gaps! However, it seems clear that all the Registration districts have one or more series of Established Church (CofE) marriage registers and another series of Register Office and non-conformist churches all together in the same register, though it's not clear yet whether there were separate registers for the Register Office ceremonies. Please note that this index covers the present Kent County Council area, and does not include Medway or London boroughs that used to be part of Kent. Also I've been informed of a number of marriages that cannot be found this way, even though certificates have been issued, so the Kent Registration Service database is not complete.

UPDATE - The KCC website has now withdrawn the search facility for marriage certificates so the Register Codes are no longer available.
They say that the certificate centre is running a limited service at present and imply that it's a corona virus restriction but who knows.

See the step-by-step example to find my gt grandparents' marriage. Please be aware that this needs updating to reflect the changes to the Medway Council and Kent Registation Services websites.

More about Kent Registration Districts
The Parish and other administrative units
Kent marriage register codes (Excel file)
Kent register codes as Word files or web pages - please email me
Kent registraton districts from 1993

The Kent family history pages were last updated on

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