The Registry has been acquiring copies of early church records since 1856. Concerted efforts to acquire or copy these registers were undertaken in 1856, 1879 and 1912. In recent years further church registers have been found and copies of their contents forwarded to the Registry for inclusion in the State's records.
The Registry's first acquisition was in 1856 when it took possession of the records held by the Supreme Court. These records were copies of the 1834 to 1855 baptism, marriage and burial registers from Ministers of denominations other than the Church of England.
In 1879 the Clergy Returns Transfer Act 1879 was passed. It required that the copies of the 1825 to 1855 baptism, marriage and burial registers lodged with the Church of England Bishop in Sydney be handed over to the Registry. These records had been in the possession of a Mr Kerrison James who had issued certificates from them. Mr James was paid £4000 compensation for the loss of the records. When the crates of bound returns were opened they were found to contain not only the 1825 to 1855 records but also the earlier registers going back to 1787.
In 1912 the Registrar General wrote to all Church authorities requesting that they allow him access to their pre-1856 registers so that a complete reconciliation could be made between Registry and Church records. The Registry's early church records were consolidated into volumes and each entry was allocated a unique number. When the reconciliation was complete there were 158 volumes of early church records with approximately 500,000 entries.
The task of reconciling the early church records and amending the marriage registrations was never finalised. Therefore, the Registry's records from these years are not complete. It is recommended that people wanting as much information as possible about an official event check the original church record. In this way, details missing from a transcribed marriage certificate or a baptism record having no corresponding civil registration record could be located.