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1660 – The Commonwealth period ends when Charles II is appointed king. The monarchy officially discourages emigration.

What You Need to Know:

• One of the first things Charles II did was establish the General Post Office. This new form of communication allowed families separated by vast distances to correspond with each other by post. Only the learned classes at the time could read and write, but it did promote a considerable increase in letter writing between family members. Many of the oldest family letters from this period have ended up in regional archives.

quill pen and ink
Writing with Quill Pen and Ink

• Studies of the mobility of English society in the 1600s suggest that even at such an early date (i.e. before the industrial revolution) half the population died somewhere different from where they were born. Fortunately, most people moved within a 30 kilometer radius of their place of birth. The most mobile people tended to be unmarried individuals over the age of fifteen. This is a good fact to remember when you are tracing ancestors through parish records.

1662 – The Anglican Book of Common Prayer provides some standards on family activity that was followed by English society well into the 1800s.

What You Need to Know:

• Newborns were expected to be baptized within 14 days of birth.

• The list of prohibited degrees of marriage was published with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The list was originally drawn up by Archbishop Parker in 1563, adopted as Canon Law in 1603 and written into the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Remarkably, this list remained in effect unchanged and it was legally binding for almost 350 years. The first revision did not occur until 1907. Therefore, the list below can be used to eliminate possible family marriage combinations when researching ancestors even up until the start of the twentieth century (although, of course, there was always someone who managed to circumvent the list).

A man was not permitted to marry his:
A woman was not permitted to marry her:
grandmother grandfather
grandfather's wife grandmother's husband
wife's grandmother husband's grandfather
father's sister father's brother
mother's sister mother's brother
father's brother's wife father's sister's husband
mother's brother's wife mother's sister's husband
wife's father's sister husband's father's brother
wife's mother's sister husband's mother's brother
mother father
step mother step father
wife's mother husband's father
daughter son
wife's daughter husband's son
son's wife daughter's husband
sister brother
wife's sister husband's brother
brother's wife sister's husband
son's daughter son's son
daughter's daughter daughter's son
son's son's wife son's daughter's husband


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