What are Parish Registers?
Catholic parish records are the most commonly used set of records in Portuguese family history research. Since the keeping of records as part of the civil registration systems did not start until the nineteenth century, parish records constitute an invaluable source of information about individuals. These records can be divided into two categories: Non-sacramental records and sacramental records.
Parish records also include fraternal order books, church censuses, account books, and local history documents.
Since the Council of Trent (1545-1563), parish priests have been required to keep records of certain ordinances or sacraments in what we call registros paroquiais or parish registers. These include records of baptisms or christenings, marriages, deaths or burials, and confirmations.
Although the specific requirements for keeping parish registers have changed from time to time, the formats of christening and marriage entries have stayed basically the same. This tutorial will introduce you to those basic formats; that is, it will focus on the specific information contained in each entry and locate where that information can usually be found.
See below to start learning more about these excellent sources of genealogical information.