Sunday, 25 October 2009

Registers of the RC Bishopric of the Forces

I've blogged previously about Scottish Catholic Registers, the first set of which are now available on

Also included in this set of records are registers of the Roman Catholic Bishopric of the Forces. The RC Bishopric of the Forces provides chaplains to the Armed Forces and, according to the website of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, “Differing from any other Diocese, the Bishopric of the Forces is not aligned along geographical boundaries but encompasses anywhere in the world that United Kingdom military personnel are serving or deployed”.

As may be gathered from this description, despite being made available on a Scottish genealogy website, the majority of these records are not related to events that took place in Scotland and in most cases do not concern Scottish individuals.

A list of registers included in the collection can be downloaded as a PDF from However, a word of warning: it appears that ScotlandsPeople is applying the same rules to these registers as to the Statutory Registers – that is images of records will only be made available on the site for baptisms of individuals born over 100 years ago, marriages that took place over 75 years ago and deaths/burials that occurred over 50 years ago. Therefore, many of the registers on this list, which cover the mid to late 20th Century, are not going to be included.

Admittedly this collection is probably going to be of interest to only a fairly small number of family historians but I hope it becomes better known because at the moment I feel it's rather hidden. After all, if your Irish ancestor had their child baptised whilst serving in Aldershot, England in the 1870s or your English ancestor converted to Catholicism whilst stationed in Cairo, Egypt in the 1930s you probably wouldn't think of looking for them on but records of both events would be there!

The RC Bishopric of the Forces Registers were digitised at the National Archives of Scotland along with the Scottish Catholic Registers which is probably why both sets of records have been released on as one collection. However, as indexes to Armed Forces births, marriages and deaths and British Overseas births, marriages and deaths are already available on ScotlandPeople's sister site that would seem to be a more obvious home for them.

If it is not possible to make the RC Bishopric of the Forces Registers available on how about a compromise – making an index to the records available on findmypast with a link to to then view the complete record? This would surely make the collection accessible to many more researchers and benefit both websites.

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