Church Records             

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.

Non-Sacramental Records:

Parish records also include fraternal order books, church censuses, account books, and local history documents.

Sacramental Records:

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.

Additional Resources
The Formats of parish records are very similar; this list of common phrases may be helpful. Common Phrases in Parish Registers
Types of Parish Records

Click on the type of record below to learn more and see samples.

 Baptism (Christening) Record​s​ Marriage Records Marriage Investigations Burial Records