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Whilst pre-reformation monasteries may have kept records these were only concerned with the local gentry. In 1536 the first attempt was made to start parish registers but this was not mandatory until September 1538. These records were often kept on loose sheets of paper and easily lost. In 1597 Queen Elizabeth I ordered the records to be kept in parchment books. The old records were to be copied into these volumes from, at least, the beginning of her reign in 1558.
The original registers recorded, baptisms, weddings and funerals in one book in chronological order. With Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1754 a separate Marriage Register was started. In 1813 separate pre-printed registers for baptism, marriage and burial were introduced. Whilst civil registration superseded the parish registers in 1837 the new system was slow to get started. Moreover parish records often contain information which is not in the Registrar General’s records or which can only be obtained by purchasing a certificate.
Parish records for most of Norfolk have been deposited at the Norfolk Record Office. A great many have been micro-filmed and can also be accessed through local LDS Family History Centres.
I have obtained information about the baptism, marriage and burial of people named Rudram, Rudrum and Rudderham from a number of parish records. In some cases I have searched the records myself, in others I have consulted transcripts or indices and yet others I have relied on information provided by correspondents. In many cases there is additional information to be found in the records and you are urged to check them for your self. The FreeReg website provides free Internet searches of parish registers. Coverage is far from complete but Norfolk is one county where good progress is being made and an increasing number of transcriptions are available on the site.