Registration of persons



The registration of persons.

Though in Antiquity the Hebrews, Greek and Romans carefully registered the births, this was not the case during the middle ages, with the exception of some important families, who recorded their family-trees for private reasons.

The Council of Trent ( 1545-1563) which aimed at reorganizing the R.C.Church as a reaction to the Reformation, regulated among other things, keeping the parish registration.

Margaretha of Parma ordered, in initiation of the Council and the Provincial Synod, on 28-07-1565 for the Southern Netherlands, that the names of the mother, the godfather and the godmother should be mentioned in the baptismal registers and that the marriages should be registered with careful mention of the family and Christian names of the married couple and the witnesses as well as date and hour of the ceremony.

The decree of Henry III in Blois ( actual France) ( May 1579) also in concurrence with the Council, dictates the parish priests to keep three separate registers ( birth, marriage and death), copies of which had to be delivered to the civil authorities not later than two month after the turn of the year.

In May 1579 the archdukes Albert and Isabella promulgated the Perpetual Edict and in article 20 they delivered the copy of the registers to the magistrate, by which they linked the church and the civil authorities.

In 1614 Pope Paulus V defined the form and the way of recording parish certificates.
In the region of Liege (actual Belgium) the civil registration was organized in 1612 and so were in 1646 the archiepiscopal statutes.

Louis XII ( French king) once again defined in January 1629 and in November 26th 1639 the use of parish registers and so did Louis XIV in 1667.
After revoking the Edict of Nantes on Nov.18th 1787, the Calvinist (Huguenots) had to go into hiding or to flee abroad. This was the cause of the fact that many data of these persons can no longer be traced.

In France the marriages were registered with great care from 1736 on the initiative of Chancellor Charles d’Aguessau.
In the Netherlands they cannot have been but very careless. On Febr.5th.1744 bishop Wilhelm van Yper orders his parish priest to keep the registers with great care. On March 29th 1752 Maria Theresia confirmed the measures of the Archdukes of 1611 and on April 13th of the same month the Court of Luxembourg thought it necessary to do the same.

It may be clear, that until far into the 18th century, the regulation under the ecclesiastical authorities was a poor affair. Numerous are the gaps, mistakes and confusions in the ecclesiastical registers and in addition to that many of them got lost because of wars, fires, floods and religious persecutions.

During the French revolution the Legislative Assembly founded in its last meeting ( the day of the battle of Valmy, on Sept.20th 1792) the Civil Registration (secular).
From 1796 on it was operative in the Southern Netherlands (Belgium/Netherlands) and from 1811 in the Northern Netherlands.

On Nov. 3rd 1807 in art.56 of the Code Napoleon it was decreed, that a general practitioner or a midwife had to be present as witnesses at a notification of birth. The headings 63 and 64 are about marriage and 77 about death.
Apart from the parish archives, now mostly committed to the State, the deeds of the Civil Registration are made in duplicate, one is kept in the town hall, the other is for the regional record office. Every decade a list is made up of all births, marriages and deaths of a municipality ranged in alphabetical-lexicographical order.( decennal tables)
So from 1811 on genealogical research has become much easier and clearer.

Moreover there are many more sources to come across names and data: servant-registers, assessment-lists, reports of council-meetings, credit-papers, consignation-lists, courts of peace and cadastral maps, immigration-and passengers-lists of the Hall ( Holland-American Line). Notarial documents, registers of benches of aldermen and sheriffs, registers of orphans and the poor (parish relief funds), files of cadaster and polder-boards, guild-charters, lease-contracts and tax assessments. ( cadaster = land registration)

From 1840 on there is also a "Register of Population", a book with one family per page, on which dates of moving in or out are recorded, and the number of members, names etc.
Often the data are not correct, for the book was not official. From 1938 they switched over to the use of ‘personal cards ‘.

It is rather an exception to get back as far as into the 16th century, which means fourteen to sixteen generations.