Many years ago I transcribed the census returns and some parish registers for Great Barford. This was before Ancestry and FindMyPast, and I wrote a database program to hold the data and to create output for my website. This program associated records with people, so I could bring up a report on everything I had about a specific person.

Over time, I developed the program to work with multiple databases and it became my preferred research tool, as opposed to commercial genealogy programs. As content came online, I was able to update each of my databases, but eventually all the censuses were online and I ran out of things to do.

So I thought I'd try a massive project that might pass many hours, possibly for the rest of my life. I settled on building a database for the entire Bedford area. I started to input the censuses, and after a few months, as expected, became hopelessly bored. However, I struggled on and eventually became accustomed to adding data whenever I had some spare time. As the database became more and more full, I became more and more enthusiastic. Finally, after several years (and rather to my surprise), I had completed input of all the census records then available.

The next stage had to be parish registers, and I couldn't do that at home. So I started to go down to the Bedfordshire Archives and transcribe registers there. The purpose was solely for my database, but, since I had transcriptions of these registers, and I knew others would find them useful, I decided to put them on my website.

What I've done

I call these near-transcriptions, because I haven't attempted to be completely exact about everything.

I have attempted to transcribe names exactly. It isn't always possible, since many are very difficult to read. Where an entry is difficult, I've entered what I thought the vicar was trying to write. Where an entry is almost impossible, but I can work out what it should be, I have entered something sensible, even if that is probably not exactly what the vicar intended. The exceptions are standard abbreviations, which I have expanded whenever I could confirm the name from other sources.

I have altered placenames. I have standardised as many places as possible, as long as I could confirm the place from other sources. The reason I have done this is that I often need to search the database by place, and I can't do that easily if places have multiple spellings. I have never knowingly altered anything in any way so as to lose information in the record.

Where the vicar has entered things in an unorthodox manner, I have moved it about so that the columns make sense, or put comments into the notes.


I would like to thank the staff at Bedfordshire Archives for all the help they have given me.

I have made extensive use of the following websites for verifying my transcriptions:-

I have also made significant use of the free index to the National Burial Index at www.findmypast.co.uk


For further research please visit the Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service website.

You may also be interested in the Bedfordshire Family History Society.