More than two million records dating back almost 500 years have been placed online by the University of York.

The data details baptisms, marriages and burials in York aim to help people with Yorkshire roots trace missing branches of their family history wherever they are in the world.

The records from the archdeaconry of York cover about a 20-mile radius of the city and date from 1538 to 1995 and are held at the University’s Borthwick Institute for Archives.

Released due to a new partnership with Ancestry, they feature famous families from York’s history, such as the Fawkes and Clitherow families, plus members of York’s chocolate dynasties - Rowntree, Craven and Terry. 

Also included are documents from York residents with unusual names, such as Joanne Porridge, Crumpton Hellson, Ishmael Fish, Phineas Butter and Theophilious Sealbut; along with a marriage certificate belonging to a Mr Duck and Miss Peacock. 

Gary Brannan, Keeper of the Archives and Research Collections at the Borthwick Institute for Archives, said: “Records from all registers have been newly digitised, and, when added to others already available online, they go some way to making the whole of Yorkshire’s genealogy accessible remotely.

“We currently have around 30,000 people from more than 140 countries coming to our catalogue each year and wanting to do research. The vast majority of people can’t come to York directly so this partnership makes these important historical documents globally available. 

“People have a huge desire to trace their roots and the discoveries people can make can be intensely personal and profoundly moving.  Individuals living around the world are always really and rightly proud to discover they have roots in Yorkshire!” 

Some of the records offer unique insights into the past, such as the Dade registers that were in use in Yorkshire between 1777-1812. These contained levels of detail that were unusual at the time, from recording extra baptism details, or cause of death in a burial register like “old age” or “King’s evil” (a kind of Tuberculosis). 

Gary added: “These records are really quite unique as they are incredibly well kept and cover a long-time span in a dense city with a community that is always growing and changing. 

“Dade registers are particularly interesting and are special kinds of records that can only be found in the set we are releasing. There is so much to discover in any parish register in the extra details they include such as comments on the local weather, local people and local events.”

The records will be free to discover onsite at the Borthwick Institute for Archives or can be accessed remotely via a subscription to 

Income generated by the partnership will be used to develop and support the Borthwick’s activities, enabling the University to make more records accessible through new access projects, extra staffing and updated equipment.