Newfoundland Ancestors: Church records on Family Search

Church records in Canada can be hard to find on line, with the exception of Quebec and New Brunswick. If you have Newfoundland ancestors, then you\’ll want to check out Family Search\’s browse only collection Newfoundland Church Records, 1793-1945. The collection is a combination of both Catholic and Church of England records. It is not a complete collection, but there are over 6000 images in the record set. The are entries of baptisms, marriages, and burials. The entries can have the following information:


  • Name of child
  • Names of parents
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Date of baptism
  • Place where baptized


  • Date of marriage
  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Notes if the bride or groom were single or widowed
  • Names of witnesses.
  • The bride’s and groom’s ages, residences, occupations, names of parents, and birthplaces
  • Names of previous marriage partners
  • A note whether a parent or other party gave permission for the marriage
  • Name of the deceased
  • Date and place of death and burial
  • Age, place of residence, and cause of death.
  • Names of survivors
  • Date and place of birth of deceased
As you can see above, you can narrow down the browsing by selecting one of 10 locations:
  • Bay Bulls
  • Ferryland
  • Flatrock
  • Freshwater
  • Placentia
  • Portugal Cove
  • Salmonier
  • St. Bernard\’s
  • St. John\’s
  • Torbay
Next you pick the parish. Once you pick your parish, you can then select by type of entry and year range. Then it will take you to the digitized microfilm. The nice thing about Family Search\’s image viewer is that you can zoom in out out, download, or print right in the application. By clicking on the tools tab, you can rotate the image, adjust the brightness and contrast, or invert the image if the quality isn\’t the best. From what I can see, the scans are good quality. The handwriting in some cases is quite easy to read. Here\’s an example from Portugal Cove

Unfortunately, they aren\’t all this nice. Here\’s one from Torbay

One thing you will have to take note of is the use of Latin among the records. You should have no trouble converting them to English though, as the English versions are generally derived from the Latin. Family Search does have a very informative wiki called Latin Genealogical Word List. Along with giving examples of common words and phrases, they also provide links for further study.

Now, the description by Family Search says that Church of England entries are in the database. I did not do an in depth search for any non Catholic records, but all parishes listed are Catholic ones. In the early years of other areas of Canada, you will find that many non Catholics used the services of a priest to perform BMDs. There simply wasn\’t another nearby alternative. I imagine non Catholics in Newfoundland would have had the same problems. I have looked on other sites related to Newfoundland genealogy, and they do say that some of the early Church of England records in the province just haven\’t survived. Some though, have fallen into the safekeeping of some of the Catholic parishes. So if you have Church of England ancestors, it is still worth a look into these Catholic parishes.

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