Tracing your ancestors - the parish records

The principal sources of information on your Chidham ancestors are the parish records for the Church of St. Mary . The keeping of registers of baptisms, marriages and burials commenced in 1538, with the formation of the Church of England. The registers for St. Mary’s Church Chidham, however, only survive from the year 1652. There are some surviving Bishop’s Transcripts dating from 1572. (These are copies of the parish register entries, which were sent periodically to the Bishop). The original registers and the Bishop’s Transcripts are now held in the West Sussex Record Office, (WSRO), in Orchard Street , Chichester as are microfilm copies of the same. In addition there is an excellent indexed transcript of the B/T’s and Parish Registers covering the period 1583 to 1812 by W.D. Peckham et al, (microfilm number 504). The deposited registers continue up to 1948 for baptisms and burials and to 1975 for marriages. After General Registration in 1837, certificates of Birth, Marriage and Death were also recorded and the full index of these is also held in the WSRO.

The other main source of information on the residents of Chidham is the decennial census returns. These started in 1801, though it was not until 1841 that names of residents were recorded, rather than totals. The census returns are available for each decade up to 1901, (the returns are closed to the public for 100 years). From 1851, more information is recorded, giving the name of the head of the household, the relationship of each person to the head, ages, occupations and place of birth. All of the census returns are available at the WSRO.

Other sources of information are available at the WSRO, including Wills, Tithe Assessments, Subsidies and Tax records as well as a general name index. For further information about the WSRO log onto the County Council website at and click on Libraries and Archives.