Tuesday 17 December 2013

Military References in the Parish Registers

Wars certainly impacted the affairs of many parishes in the past. Often there are glimpses into those conflicts through entries in parish registers.

Between 1643 and 1645 there were 42 entries for soldiers buried in Plympton St Mary. They were very likely killed during the English Civil War which raged in nearby regions. A number of battles involving Royalist and Parliamentarian forces occurred in the region around Plympton St. Mary parish.

1644 April to June burials in Plympton St. Mary parish, Devon - soldiers highlighted

Most of the soldiers were probably from other parts of the country so searches for them in their home parishes would be fruitless. After the war, many individuals may have chosen to stay in the areas in which they served, taking up new occupations. Family historians who have a suspicion an ancestor was a soldier or lost track of someone during times of war might look in the areas where battles were fought to find them – either dead and buried, or married to a local girl.

Below we see some probable casualties from the Franco-English war of the late 1600s. Those killed overseas were probably transported back and buried in a cemetery near the port where the ships landed, one of those being Plympton St. Mary.
1689 September and October burials in Plympton St. Mary parish, Devon - soldiers highlighted
Burial images reproduced here are used with the kind permission of the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office (PWDRO),  Images were downloaded from FindMyPast , or copied from my own microfiche.

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He serves as the Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.