The Development of Parochial Vital Registers in the Bohemian Lands with Special Emphasis on the East Bohemian Areas
(the Historical District of Chrudim)
by Karel Kysilka
In genealogical research the parish records in vital registers
referring to the Births/Baptism, Marriage and Death (in Czech: Matrika,
matricni kniha, in German: Matrikeln, Kirchenbücher) are the most used,
though not the only available source. In the following article I would
like to describe their development on the territory of the Bohemia and
Moravia, with the special emphasis on the region of the former
Chrudimsky kraj (Chrudimer Kreis - the District of Chrudim) that
included the towns and cities of Chrudim, Policka, Litomysl,
Lanskoun (Landskron), Pardubice (Pardubitz) and Vysoke Myto (Hohenmauth).
The West European countries have a rich and old history of vital registers
going back to the 13th century. Already the Lateran Council in
1137 [Second Lateran Council?, but that was in 1139]
and the Council of Paris in 1212 had already provided for the recording of
vital statistics of the Christians.
Unfortunately duty and reality are different things.
The basic instructions in keeping the vital records were set by the
Council of Trent in 1563.
It was the duty of the parishes and parish districts
(in Czech: farnost, fara, in German: Pfarrei, Kirchsprengel),
to establish two kinds of books where the most important data referring to
sacrament of baptism and the matrimonial state should be written. The
duty of recording information on deaths or burials came later.
The Archdiocese of Prague set this responsibility twice - in 1564 and 1605,
respectively 1614 (records of deceased people). The rise of the Registers was
however before these dates. The first Registers in Bohemia appeared in
1530s and the alleged number of the Registers in 1564 was 22 and by 1600
there were additional 15 - 20 books.
The oldest Register is the Register of Marriages (in Czech: Oddaci
matrika, matrika oddanych, in German: Trauungsbuch) from the northwestern
Bohemian town of Jachymov (St. Joachimsthal) - from 1531 and Abertamy
(Abertham) - from 1534. The Parish of St. Jindrich in the New Town of
Prague boasts a Baptismal Register (Matrika narozenych, krestni
matrika, in German: Taufbuch, Taufregister) from 1582. The oldest book
on the territory of the District of Chrudim is the Baptismal, Marriages
and Deaths Registry Book of the parish of the royal town of Vysoke Myto
(Hohenmauth) of 1609. During the first years of the 17th century a huge
number of registers appeared throughout Bohemia, although many of them
were perished and lost during the Thirty Years' War. The estimated number of
Registry books is about 1200 by 1650. In District of Chrudim
in the time before the Thirty Years' War
or shortly thereafter seven books were started. Among them
are those of the town of Litomysl (Leitomischl - 1622) and of nearby
parishes of Cerekvice (even 1618), Luze (1623) and Literbachy
(Lauterbach, today Cista - 1629). In 1624 the first register was founded
in the market town of Hlinsko and in following years 1625 and 1626 in the
towns of Lanskroun (Landskron) and Usti nad Orlici. The district town
Chrudim has its first register since 1630 and today the largest city in
the region, Pardubice, since 1633.
All these books reflected the births, marriages and deaths and all were
written in Czech, except in the purely German town of Landskron.
These registers reflect the complicated religious relations of that time and
were written in the spirit of Protestant reformation.
Here is the complete list of registers in the district of Chrudim for
the period 1600 - 1650:
The records are very simple and brief in content:
for instance the
names of the bride (nevesta) and the groom (zenich) , names of the
witnesses (svedek) , time and place of the marriage (oddavky). The more
comprehensive determination - the parents of both, domicile is absent in most cases.
The baptismal records comprised the name of the child (dite),
the baptismal date (den krestu) (not the date of birth !!),
parents (rodice) and witnesses, name of village. The records were stylized in one
sentence for a long time. The records were either in Czech or Latin in
Czech speaking areas later also in German.
Two samples from the praxis:
Letha panie 1686, dne 15 mesice kvetna po trech ohlaskach ja, P.
Antonius L., spravce tohoto farniho chramu, jsem pocestneho mladence XY
a pocestnou pannu YZ v manzelstvi spojil. V pritomnosti svedku AB, BC.
AD 1686, on the day 15th of the month of May after three banns, I, P.
Antonius L., the administrator of this parish church, joined
the honorable lad XY and honorable virgin XY in matrimonial ties. In
presence of witnesses AB, BC thereof..
Actum Augezd. Roku 1647 dne 12 Xbris ja, Antonin Hradek, farar tohoto
kostela jsem krtil dite jmenem Dorotha, otce Josefa Dvoraka a matky
Actum Augezd (name of village) AD 1647 date 12 Xbris
(Decembris) I Antonin Hradek, the priest of this church christened the
child Dorotha, of father Josef Dvorak and mother Dorotha.
Beginning the 1760s the records are kept in columns and the repeated
words could have been thus deleted: The columns were: village, date,
groom, bride, parents, witnesses. Since 1770 there was a duty to record
the House No as well.
The emperor's Joseph II Patent provided to keep the vital records in
triplicate, one of the copies was regularly given to the diocese. The
registers became public documents. It was recommended that the
alphabetical indices to the books should be kept.
At the beginning one common register was kept for the whole parish,
after 1784 there were registers kept for every village of a parish
Until 1950 the books were stored at the rectories and kept by the
priests. Then after this date all old (dead) books had to be given and
stored in the State regional Archives and the live registers were kept
by the state clerks in so-called matricni urady (Vital register
authorities), centralized in the central communities (some 10 - 15 per
one district). The concentration of the registry books in the Archives
was a good idea that helps researchers; in addition, the condition
for storage are had been favorable for the books than if they were kept in
It makes difficulties for the researchers to find some entries in
registers for certain parishes, if these parishes came into being later,
say during the second half of the 18th century. Therefore it is
necessary to search n villages which are nearby and have older records.
For instance : Ceske Hermanice,
today district Usti nad Orlici. The parish was formed in 1740, although
the registers were kept already since 1711 for the parish district of the filial
church. But this church existed already in 1641 and the afiliated
parish in the 17th century was Brandys nad Orlici. Therefore the records
for the period 1641 - 1711 will be in the registers of the parish of
I am stating the list of the parishes in the east bohemian region
(today's districts of CHRUDIM - CR, PARDUBICE - PA, SVITAVY - SY, USTI
N. ORL. - UO) with the name of the parrochial village/town in Czech (the
German names may substentially differ) In parenthesis the abbrev. of
district. Then the date of establishing of the parish and the year since
when the registers are kept. And remarks.
1726 parish, before HERMAN, Registers since 1700
1650 parish, registers since 1663. Older records could be
in PARDUBICE. Missing records from period 1685 - 1747.
parish renewed in 1674. Registers 1674.
1787 parish, 1787 registers. The older records from 1642 in
registers of the town of POLICKA. Separate Protestant registers since 1848.
BRANDYS N. ORL. (UO),
1640 parish, registers 1641
the parish reclaimed after 30 year war, registers since
1677 (of the death since 1685). Before these dates probably in POLICKA
1778 parish, registers since 1784. Previous entries in
JABLONNE N. ORL.
CESKA TREBOVA (UO).
Parish and registers since 1635 (matrimonial and
death since 1640)
CESKE HERMANICE (UO)
parish since 1740, books kept since 1711, older
records in BRANDYS N. ORL
CESKE LIBCHAVY (UO),
registers since 1770
CISTA (old name LITRBACHY) (SY),
registers since 1629, parish 1630.
filial church to Lanskroun, registers since 1666, parish
since 1754. Some entries in CESKA TREBOVA and TREBOVICE.
registers since 1652, when the parish already existed.
DOLNI CERMNA (UO),
Parish 1671, registers from the same year, older
records since 1626 USTI NAD ORLICI.
DOLNI DOBROUC (UO),
parish since 1765. Older records in USTI N. ORL.
betw. 1626-1671, later DOLNI CERMNA (1671 - 1765)
DOLNI LIBCHAVY (UO),
registers since 1778, before this year USTI N. ORL.
DOLNI UJEZD (SY),
parish before 1630, registers since 1653.
in the 17th cent. at DASICE (registers since 1652), later
SEZEMICE (registers since 1636). The parish and registers since 1755.
Protestant registers since 1783.
HERMANUV MESTEC (CR),
old parish, registers since 1656
the perish existed in 1630, registers from the same year.
the registers since 1770.
old parish, registers since 1642, some records for the
oldest period at ROVEN.
HORNI CERMNA (UO)
Protestant registers since 1820.
HORNI HERMANICE (UO),
originally at USTI N. ORL (registers since 1626),
later from 1636 at JABLONNE. The parish and own registers since 1748.
HORNI JELENI (PA),
registers since 1693.
HORNI SLOUPNICE (UO),
originally at LITOMYSL (reg. since 1622), since
1663 at CEREKVICE
(reg. since 1626), own registers since 1711, when the
parish was organized. Protestant registers since 1780.
Protestant registers since 1784.
HROCHUV TYNEC (CR)
Parish and registers since 1652.
old parish, registers since 1674.
until 1786 at SVINCANY (reg. since 1683), own registers
Oldest records probably at PARDUBICE (since 1633), parish
and own registers since 1709.
registers since 1665.
old parish. Registers since 1630.
Protestant registers since 1791.
originally at CISTA - LITRBACHY - registers since 1692,
parish and own reg. since 1786.
originally parish BYSTRE (reg. since 1677), resp. older in
POLICKA. Own registers since 1690, missing data from 1735 - 1755.
JABLONNE N. ORL (UO)
old parish, registers since 1636.
originally parish of LUZE (reg. since 1623), own registers from 1755.
parish existed until 1731(no reg. from this period) then
at MIKULOVICE (reg. since 1738), own registers since 1756, parish renewed in 1871.
originally parish of HLINSKO (reg. since 1630), own
registers for the local church since 1787, parish since 1855.
older records at LITOMYSL, own reg. since 1695.
originally at PRELOUC (reg. from 1637 - only bapt.,
marriages and death since 1650), own registers from 1717, parish since
1856. The Jews see PRELOUC.
registers since 1784, parish since 1856.
originally parish of VYSOKE MYTO (reg. since 1609!), own
registers for local church 1787, parish 1864.
after 1623 at POLICKA, later BYSTRE, own registers since
1690. Parish 1856. Also the Jews.
after 1630 at HLINSKO, own registers since 1737. The Jews.
Protestant reg. after 1781.
originally within the parish HLINSKO (reg. since 1630),
own reg. since 1664, parish from 1697.
Protest. reg. since 1782
originally SEZEMICE (reg. since 1636), own reg. for local
church from 1785, parish 1856.
oldest records at LITOMYSL (reg. since 1622), since 1695 at
KARLE (reg. 1695), own reg. since 1814. Parish established in 1860.
old parish, the registers since 1625 (but only fragment
for the town without villages), otherwise regularly since 1666.
LANY NA DULKU (PA)
originally see JEZBORICE, local registers since
1788, parish 1855.
in 17th cent. at BOJANOV (reg. since 1674), own local
reg. from 1765, parish 1853 .
very old parish, until 15th century seat of the bishop of
LITOMYSL. Registers from 1622. The older were perished during the
Thirty Year War.
Protestant (Kalvinist) registers since 1838.
old parish, reg. since 1623.
parish and registers since 1720.
For the 17th century see DOLNI UJEZD (reg. since 1653),
Local reg. since 1780. Parish 1807.
originally at RONOV (reg. 1689), own reg. 1784. Ind. parish 1856.
parish 1656, registers from the same year.
sub parish at ROVEN (reg. 1635), local reg. since 1785,
parish established 1854.
originally at BOJANOV (reg. since 1674), then in period
1712 - 1785 at TRHOVA KAMENICE, own local reg. since 1786.
NOVE HRADY (CR)
old parish, reg. since 1638.
NOVY JIRI (UO)
originally at BRANDYS N. ORL. (reg. starting 1641),
local reg. since 1807, parish 1850.
originally at HRADEC KRALOVE (not listed here), change of
district since 1769, when local registers.
local reg. since 1784.
old parish, reg. since 1633. The data for 1690 - 1701 missing.
old parish, reg. since 1642
originally at POLICKA, later BYSTRE, own reg. from 1735.
for oldest period at BOJANOV, own reg. since 1784, parish 1857
1638 see NOVE HRADY, since 1754 own reg., this year parish
Protestant reg. since 1790 (the community founded 1783).
PREDHRADI (old name RYCHMBURK) (CR).
Local reg. since 1737, parish since 1753.
old parish, reg. since 1637
PUSTA KAMENICE (CR)
in 17th cent. SKUTEC (reg. since 1661), later
(reg. since 1737), own registers since 1784. The oldest record
maybe even at HLINSKO.
originally until 1784 at CHROUSTOVICE (reg. since 1665),
own reg. since 1784. Parish estd. 1855.
originally at SKUTEC, own reg. 1749.
ROHOVLADOVA BELA (PA)
in 17th cent. see BOHDANEC (reg. since 1663),
local reg. from 1784, parish since 1807.
ROVEN (HORNI ROVEN) (PA)
parish already 1635. Registers from the same period.
originally at PARDUBICE (reg. since 1633), own reg. from
1784, parish 1855.
orig. parish USTI N. ORL(reg. 1626) , own reg. 1784
originally together with DOLNI UJEZD (reg. since 1653),
separated in 1664. Registers 1664.
for oldest period see BOJANOV, own reg. since 1765. Parish 1850
parish established 1841. For older period see OPATOV
old parish, registers since 1636 (marriages), 1646 (bapt.).
parish since 1655, registers 1661
see CHRUDIM, own reg. a parish since 1801 only.
STARE ZDANICE (PA),
reg. since 1756
see BYSTRE, own registers from 1784, parish 1856.
parish 1683, reg. 1683, older maybe at PARDUBICE.
registers and parish since 1670, older maybe POLICKA and
Protestant reg. since 1782.
Protestant reg. 1783
originally at BOJANOV, parish from 1712, when first registers.
Protestant reg. 1801
for oldest period see CISTA - LITRBACHY, own reg. 1813,
indep. parish 1895.
orig. at PARDUBICE, own reg. 1784, parish 1856. The Jews in Dubany.
in 17th and beg. 18th cent. see LANSKROUN and CESKA
TREBOVA. Own reg. 1784, parish 1859.
see CHROUSTOVICE, own reg. 1782, parish 1857.
UJEZD U CHOCNE (UO)
for older period see CHOCEN, parish and reg. since 1785.
parish and reg. 1677
USTI NAD ORLICI (UO)
old parish, reg. since 1626.
see HLINSKO for oldest period, reg. since 1737.
see PARDUBICE (reg. 1633), CHRAST (reg. since 1709),
indep. parish 1720, reg. same year.
see VYSOKE MYTO (reg. since 1609!!!), local reg. from
1741. parish 1856.
VRBATUV KOSTELEC (CR)
originally parish ZUMBERK (reg. since 1662),
local own reg. 1787, parish 1856.
see LANSKROUN, later JABLONNE. Own reg. 1784. Parish 1853.
VYSOKE CHVOJNO (PA)
originally at HOLICE (1634), parish since 1711.
Registers since 1734. The first registers for 1711 - 1734 perished.
VYSOKE MYTO (UO)
old parish, the oldest registers in the region: 1609!!!
reg. since 1676.
oldest records see VYSOKE MYTO, own local registers since
1683. Parish 1805.
see PRELOUC for oldest period, parish 1689, registers
see Lanskroun for oldest time, Own reg. 1784, Parish
parish and reg. since 1662.
Though I can not guarantee up to 100% that the list is accurate and
complete, I hope I have helped some of you with locating of your
villages and with the instruction how to start search in Czech
The respective ARCHIVES for this region of EAST BOHEMIA is the
States District Archives at Zamrsk
near VYSOKE MYTO. Nat. Route No. 35 from
HRADEC KRALOVE to OLOMOUC.