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Registration and RecognitionDocumenting the Person in World History$
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Keith Breckenridge and Simon Szreter

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265314

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265314.001.0001

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Registration of Identities in Early Modern English Parishes and amongst the English Overseas

Registration of Identities in Early Modern English Parishes and amongst the English Overseas

Chapter:
(p.67) 2 Registration of Identities in Early Modern English Parishes and amongst the English Overseas
Source:
Registration and Recognition
Author(s):

Simon Szreter

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265314.003.0003

From 1538 the new Protestant church of Henry VIII provided a system of registration of baptisms, marriages, and burials in all parishes of England and Wales. This chapter re-examines the original motives behind the creation of this system, and explores the reasons for its effectiveness and persistence over the ensuing three centuries in Britain by surveying the comparative history of identity registration systems among the British overseas in the early modern period. A review of the variety of measures for registration set up in the North American and Caribbean colonies during the course of the seventeenth century confirms the importance of the security of property-holding in an increasingly commercial world as a motive for creating such systems. However, this review also indicates the importance of whether or not effective social security systems, giving entitlements to relief, accompanied these early identity registration schemes.

Keywords:   parish registers, England and Wales, sixteenth century, North American colonies, Caribbean colonies, seventeenth century, Poor Laws, human rights

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