Online Parish Clerks, Cornwall

28 October 2007

Newsletter No. 6

OPC News

The list of Parishes currently covered can be found at If I mention names of new OPCs and those 'in-waiting', inevitably I'll omit someone, so many thanks to all our new volunteers.

Please keep in touch and let me know when you are ready to publicise your role.

At the time of writing this, I'm aware of 3 OPCs who don't seem to be contactable by email. Messages are not returned as being undeliverable, but neither are replies received. I've been trying for several weeks and will continue for a while, but eventually I'll have to give up. Please remember to check your spam / bulk mail folders. If someone isn't contactable online, then there's little point in them being an Online Parish Clerk! A possible exception to this is if all their resources are on their own website.

Other Volunteers

We have obtained the services of some volunteer transcribers, who don't wish to become full-blown OPCs, or whose Parish of interest is already covered. Some of them are also part of Michael McCormick's Census team. With these kind souls, it's more difficult to keep track of who is transcribing what, so we have 2 partially completed projects underway. One is the transcribing of Phillimores' Marriages into a format suitable for C-PROP, our searchable database. So far there are 90 Parishes online.

The other is the transcribing of Bastardy (or Bastardry - are they interchangeable?) Bonds. Most of us discover unmarried mothers in our family trees, so these bonds are extremely useful items for researchers. At the moment, they are being added to our central website, linking from our Parish pages. (For other items, see below*.) When I remember, I also send copies to the relevant OPCs. If there are Bonds linked from your page(s) and you've not received copies, please send me a reminder!

N.B. If anyone with a 'classical' education would be prepared to transcribe some of the earlier Bonds, I'd be very grateful to hear from you. (Several of us had to choose between Latin & German when at school.) Particularly for pre-1800 examples, this would be an excellent way of contributing to our total online resources.

Suggestions for other transcribing projects are always welcome.

Central Website / Parish Pages

The central website has frequent additions, so it's always worth checking the Resources section, or the Parish pages, for updates.

A gentle reminder - this website is often a researcher's first contact with us as a group, so it's important that we don't allow it to become too out-of-date. Finding broken links or an inactive email address can turn people away, to search elsewhere and maybe on commercial sites. When you have the time to send me updates for inclusion, please do.


Donations are still coming in at varying rates and we've added a Banns section to the available searches. There is also a Soundex option available for surname searches.

For those of you for whom the recent hour change has meant longer dark evenings, perhaps now is the time to add some of your accumulated certificate data? (See

Amongst the online information which has broken down some brickwalls, is that for Strays (where the abode/place of residence is given as somewhere in Cornwall, but the ceremony took place elsewhere, sometimes in the Parish of a parent/grandparent). If anyone finds examples of these in Parish Registers, then please send to Bill O'Reilly ( or me (

The current total is approaching 700,000 records.

The Malcolm McCarthy Collection

Malc (who signs himself on the Cornish Lists as being 'from Sunny Padstow') has offered his transcriptions of various documents from his Collection, the only condition being that they are made available online. Since we're all doing a valuable job, whether or not we have our own websites, I've started adding these as other links from our Parish pages*, rather than offering them to OPCs.There are exceptions to the latter, when the later documents would not comply with our 'hundred year convention'. So I've started sending these to the relevant OPCs. Many are of auctions and name plots of land, houses, farms etc as well as people, so they will be useful in expanding our knowledge of our individual Parishes.

Tips and Tricks

For calculating the 'actual 'year, from one given as the regnal year (e.g.the 12th year in the reign of King George III), see

If the cleric in your Parish insisted on using ecclesiastical terminology, then the same website has a useful search function for finding the dates, in each year, of religious festivals etc. See

Coming soon . . . more tips and tricks.

Other OPC Schemes

The Leicestershire scheme has been activated again, with a new coordinator. Details of this (and other UK groups) can be found at (In deference to Cornwall, it's called UK Online Parish Clerks, rather than English - grin!)



P.S. 7 November 2007

Tips & Tricks continued

Helpful urls for responding to enquiries concerning current Parish details:-

For Church enquiries -

For Parish Council enquiries -


13 May 2007

Newsletter No. 5

OPC News

As the last posting was some time ago, there have been many changes to our list of OPCs. In fact there have been changes to our website, too (one of my excuses for the tardiness of this epistle). The new list is at

Apologies for missing out some earlier volunteers, but recent newcomers include Chrissy Parker for St Breward, Dallas Manicom for Week St Mary and Hazel Persson for the central Truro parishes. Current OPCs have also added parishes to their 'clusters' of responsibility, where it makes sense for them to be combined.

We have lost the services of long-time OPCs such as Marg Chapple-Rosen and Michael McCormick (although he threatens to return one day). We're very grateful for all the contributions made by retiring OPCs.

We have volunteers waiting to go public for Boconnoc, St Columb Minor, Fowey, St Issey, St Juliot, Launcells, Looe, Mabe, St Martin-by-Looe, North Tamerton, Padstow, St Teath and Whitstone. In fact, the list of vacancies is diminishing rapidly - thanks to all of you who have volunteered over the years.

This raises the question of what to do when other people volunteer to be OPCs. It would be such a pity to turn away people with Cornish ancestry who'd like to help us. Suggestions would be welcome.

Parish Pages on the Central Website

These are available for OPCs to add details of any subject concerning their parishes. Photographs and information about parish registers etc would be more than welcome. It's also possible to add links to 'as is' transcriptions, for OPCs without websites of their own. (See Ken Oates' Gunwalloe page at for an example.) These are made available, so that researchers can view records in register order, as well as in the order resulting from a search.

Julia Mosman maintains the central website but, in the short term, I'd be grateful if you could send details of changes to the parish pages to me. Having completely changed the system for the website's pages (and lacking self-confidence in my own products - grin), I'd like to be sure that all is in working order. This is often the first point-of-contact with us, so it's important that up-to-date and correct information is displayed.


Donations are still coming in at a steady rate. We've added the facility to upload details of BMD certificates (see and many thanks to those of you who have already used this. (Please note that, for the sake of accuracy, the place of residence has to be somewhere in Cornwall. Most other records about second and third generation migrants are likely to be accurate, too, especially if they come from OPCs. However, the upload facility is available to anyone who wishes to use it - and we all know about mistakes in records submitted to the IGI - so the line has to be drawn somewhere.)

We have also started adding parish register transcriptions for strays (again where the abode/place of residence is given as somewhere in Cornwall) so, if anyone cares to donate such records, then please send to Bill O'Reilly ( or me (

Future plans include the upload of Banns records and several other items, so watch this space!

The current record total is over 511,000, so we're gradually reaching our goal.

Other OPC Schemes

Since I last wrote about this subject, the scheme for Wiltshire seems to have become inactive, as has that for Leicestershire, which had barely got off the ground. The updated list can be found on our website at




2 September 2006

Transcribing Tips & Tricks No 1


If you don't have image-viewing software already, there are many free image viewers available for download, such as Irfanview from These allow the transcriber to change the colour depth, sharpen the image and magnify the difficult-to-decipher pages.

Some viewers have a magnifier which allows a block of text to be enlarged.

Where to start?

We all develop our favourite methods but, for newcomers to transcribing, it's often best to start with easier records (e.g. from 1837 onwards), then go back to do 1813 - 1837 and finally tackle the pre-1813 records. By this time, the transcriber is used to the place names and surnames in a parish, which makes deciphering the handwriting slightly easier.

Burials are often the easiest type of record to start on, followed by baptisms, banns and marriages, in that order.

What to record?

There are sample forms on the OPC website.
These can be downloaded and opened in an application such as Excel. The sample entries can be deleted, leaving the headings as a guide. If in doubt, then the golden rule is to transcribe 'as is'.


1. For marriages, it's been found to be better to keep all the data in one row, despite the temptation to follow the pattern of the registers, with groom and bride details on separate lines. This makes a very wide worksheet, but columns widths can be altered to narrow it down.

2. Post-1837 marriage records are no longer available on fiche from the CRO, because of copyright laws. So it's vitally important that as many as possible are transcribed, whilst they're still available from other sources.

What about the hard to read entries?

Experienced transcribers advise not to spend too long agonising over one entry. Go back to it at a later date, as fresh eyes and easier-to-read, later entries for the same person/family often provide the answer.

If part of a record is decipherable, then a ? could be used for the character(s) which is (are) indistinct. If an entry is blank (e.g. the abode column for any of the record types), then something like 'not stated' could be used. This indicates that the original was blank and that the omission was not on the part of the transcriber. Care is needed with the use of the / symbol, as this can be interpreted incorrectly by spreadsheet programs.

Other helpful hints include

1. Using a sheet of tinted photographic film to cover the entry. Yellow is considered the best, but some people prefer pink or red. (As an alternative, and if possible, the image background can be changed to a pale yellow/pink etc.)

2. Print the page and try writing over the entry in a similar script.

3. Try finding the person in another transcription, such as a census, or in a different type of parish record.

Where to stop?

For publishing data (such as on websites) many transcribers follow the 100 year convention, in order to protect the privacy of people who might still be alive. However, the same doesn't apply to transcribing, so there is really no cut-off date.

If you have any tips or tricks of your own, please add them to this blog.


OPC Coordinator, Cornwall

30 August 2006

Newsletter No 4

1. Please contact me

Since most OPCs subscribe to this list, I'd like to use this as the place to ask ALL OPCs to contact me. I can then try to make contact with the OPCs who don't respond to this request, as it's time I updated my records once more. It would be useful to have notification of

(a) any changes in email addresses
(b) a contact telephone number, in case of email problems
(c) an indication of whether you are transcribing, or just doing look-ups
(d) in connection with (c) whether or not you'd appreciate help with transcribing (I have several contacts who are willing to transcribe, but don't yet want to take on a parish)

2. OPC News

We have gained three OPCs since the last newsletter. Bill O'Reilly has agreed to take on St Anthony in Roseland, Geoff Ford has volunteered for Feock and Sharon Symons will add Bradock/Boadoak to her group. Thanks to all of them.

It's also likely that we have a volunteers for Fowey, Falmouth, Mylor and Warbstow.

I have been unble to contact Carole Luscombe, OPC Colan

3. Resources available to us all.

Ken Ozanne has offered look-ups from his vast collection of resources to anyOPC who might need extra information. He travels on business frequently, butcan be contacted via or

The 1569 west country musters, including Cornwall
Ancient West Country Families
Anglo Saxon Charters
Anglo Norman Families
Britannia 1586
Index to Early Chancery Proceedinngs 1385-1467
Complete Peerage (but volume 14 is a physical book)
Cornish Subsidies in the reign of Henry VIII
The Cornish Protestation
CFHS directory
Extinct Baronetcies
Extinct, Dormant ... Peerage Burke (but that is on a PC, not a Mac sodoesn't travel with me)
Familiae Minorum Gentiae
Hunters Pedigrees
Grantees of Arms
History of England - Knight 8 vols.
Knights of Edward I
Landed Gentry 1836
Landed Gentry 1847
Cornwall Manorial Surveys
Cornwall 1522 muster (includes tinner's muster)
Gulval & Madron parish records
Parish History of Cornwall (Lake)
Phillimores Cornwall Marriages
Pedigrees of the Knights
Peerage - Collins 1741 + some additions from 1771
Peerage - Burke 1841
Scots Peerage
The Visitations


All the emails which I've received since the last newsletter have been positive about this scheme, some overwhelmongly so. A typical comment is 'What an invaluable resource - and easy to use as well.'

There are currently over 350,000 records online, the urls are
UK -
Rest of the World -

If OPC would like to contribute, please send your transcriptions to either Michael McCormick or me.

A reminder that newsletters are stored at and any of you can addadditional comments.

OPC Coordinator, Cornwall

6 July 2006

Newsletter No.3

There aren't many topics to report on this time, presumably because it's summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

However, there is one piece of very good news:-

Online Database

The search facility went live in June and so far Bill O'Reilly and I have re-formatted and uploaded just over a quarter of a million records.

There are 2 websites, one for UK-based researchers and another for the Rest of the World. This is to spread the load of the demands on the search and hopefully help to keep response times to a minimum. I suspect we've all been frustrated by the time taken for searches to yield results on websites such as Free-Cen (not the Cornish version, of course!) and Free BMD.

The urls are

UK -
Rest of the World -

The whole project has been named C-PROP - Cornwall Parish Registers Online Project.

Contributions from OPCs in particular would be very welcome, although transcript donations are not being confined to our group.

There are samples for baptisms, marriages and burials on the main OPC website at, although Bill and I try to re-format any material which is sent.

The UK site alone was used by 361 unique visitors for the last 2 weeks ofJune (8686 'hits'), so it's likely to be even better used when the current spell of hot weather, Wimbledon, annual holidays and World Cup football ends!

To donate transciptions

Please send to either Michael McCormick ( or me (

The OPC rôle

Some OPCs are concerned that having records online will affect their role in answering email enquiries. However, those of us who have had records online for a few years still receive a substantial number of queries. It was intended by the OPC founders that we become custodians of many types of records for our parishes, so there are still plenty of other sources from which we can draw information to pass on. It is also very important that researchers can see records transcribed 'as in', in register order. Other clues to the people involved might then be available.


The efforts of Diane and Julia to get this scheme rolling again MIGHT behaving results - although we've heard that before from the LDS. If anyone receives a CD, please let either Diane or Julia know.

Other OPC schemes

There are rumours on the grapevine that Derbyshire might have an OPC scheme soon.

I've also received an email from a lady hoping to set up a scheme for Lithuania. She deserves our good wishes!

OPC Coordinator, Cornwall

24 May 2006

Newsletter No.2

Mailing List Archive

Chris Hutton (OPC, St Winnow) has been quietly saving all the mailing list digests since Vol 2. Anyone is welcome to request a copy of a particular digest from

OPC Status

Since the first newsletter was published, volunteers have agreed to take on the following parishes:-

St Erme - Gill Hart

Penwerris and Bolventor - Hilary Watson

Crantock - Claire Sinclair Paterson

Perranuthnoe - Diane Donohue

St Gluvias, Penryn – Graham Warmington

Online Database

Efforts are continuing behind the scenes and there should a draft online by the 1 June.


As well as Julia’s Internet-Genealogy magazine (mentioned elsewhere and available on our website), we have also had publicity from these:-

Rick Parsons’ website has been used by the County Council Archaeological Unit as a source for their latest study (

A brief mention of the OPC website and my Calstock one in this month’s Family Tree magazine

A talk given by Gillian Kempster to the DFHS.


No progress to report, but Lancashire OPCs are having the same problem.


No doubt we’ve all had researchers who show no gratitude or who think we’re available to do their look-ups 24/7, but many others are very grateful.

Gillian Kempster writes that “I have just received a little package of gifts from New Zealand by way of thanks for something I did (which actually gave me as much pleasure and interest as perhaps it did them)”

I received an email from a US researcher which began “Wow – wow - after having employed two different people to do genealogy for me a few years ago and not getting this far!!”

Last but not least!

Welcome back, Susan Old. We’re very glad you are on the road to recovery.



4 May 2006

Newsletter No.1

OPC Status

We currently cover 197 of the possible 247 Parishes, although the numbers are difficult to assess. There have been no recent resignations, but no new volunteers, either.

Why is it difficult to be precise about the number of Parishes?

Because some Parishes have been absorbed by others, whilst in other cases new Parishes have been created. Carnmenellis is an example of both, as it was created from part of Wendron in 1846 but it's now part of Stithians.

Online Database

This is one project which seems to be making progress. Led by Bill O'Reilly, those involved should have a draft online for testing soon. Please don't forget that all contributions of data are welcome.

Temporarily Unavailable

We use this term on our website to indicate when OPCs have to suspend their email-answering service for longer than a week or two. So it covers situations such as illness or family bereavement, not short term holidays. However, if anyone wants to let me know when they're away for a short time but don't want this publicised, please do. It can help when I receive emails from researchers unable to contact an OPC.


Despite the continuing efforts of Diane and Julia, this source of data for transcribing seems to have dried up, at least temporarily. This is frustrating for everyone involved, but even more so for the new volunteers who are waiting to go public with their roles. Some of them live hundreds of miles from the nearest Family History Centre.


The OPC scheme has spread to other counties, with variations but still based on the ideas of Michael McCormick, David Stick and Paul Brewer. The coordinators of the 8 counties now have an online facility for swapping ideas etc and a mailing list. So I'll let you know of any developments.


Please visit our website ( to see how it's progressing. Julia is doing a great job including frequently adding new transcripts. If you'd like to amend your parish page, she's always willing to receive up-dates and error reports.

Suggestions for items for the next newsletter are welcome, as are contributions.