From 1788 to 1856 the only birth, death or marriage records kept in NSW were the registers maintained by the established churches. The Registry holds transcriptions of these early church records. Any surviving original registers are located in the NSW Archives.
Unfortunately, the extant records for this period are not comprehensive. Some ministers, missionaries and other authorised administrators kept records but not all were in a position to be this diligent. In addition many of the records contain inaccuracies and bad spelling. Distances to town centres, distrust of authority and lack of participation in formal church services contributed to the church registration system's inability to record adequately the details of all births, deaths and marriages that occurred in NSW.
The first birth and death recorded were on board the ships of the First Fleet.
Reverend Richard Johnson, Chaplain to the First Fleet, recorded these events. His successors continued to perform and record baptisms, burials and marriages.