West Flanders - Catholic Church Certificates (Church Books)

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) defined that baptisms, marriages and burials had to be registered. Only around 1600, this general rule was applied. Church Books (Parish registers) are the main sources of the previous centuries. The great events in life were recorded in the church books.


Search screen-Baptisms

The baptism registers contain the names of the baptised, but also the parents' names are mentioned. In general, the data from later years is more extensive than in the early years. In the early years, often only the name of the father, the child and the baptism date are mentioned. Later, the name of the mother was added. Only in recent years the birth and often the name of the village where the parents were coming from or the place where the were baptised (ex). In many case the names of the godparents or 'testibus' are mentioned. These names may play an important role in reconstructing family relationships, because they were often often grandparents or uncles and aunts.

Until the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the Church believed that Baptism was the first condition was to be 'saved' (who was not baptised was not a child af God). This vision has been reversed by the Vatican Concile.

Some parishes were sometimes served by the pastor of a nearby parish where also the certificates were recorded. Sometimes, the pastor made a note in the registers. For example, in 1757 Waardamme was served by the pastor of Ruddervoorde. Therefore the certificates of of Waardamme be found in the registers of Ruddervoorde, even though the people lived in Waardamme