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Dr. Williams Library (Nonconformist)


14 Gordon Square


020 7387 3727


020 7388 1142




The library houses an extensive range of books and manuscripts on the history of protestant nonconformity in England and Wales. The library was established in the name of Dr. Daniel Williams a Presbyterian minister who died in 1716 and was buried at the dissenters burial ground at Bunhill Fields in London. His will stipulated that a trust be set up which, amongst other things, would establish a library dedicated to the study of protestant nonconformity.

Of most interest to the genealogist and family historian is the library's collection of nonconformist birth registers, known officially as the General Register of Protestant Dissenters, covering 1743 to the start of civil registration in 1837. The registry began when a committee representing Presbyterians, Independents and Baptists, known as the Dissenting Deputies, arranged with the library to keep an official register of births. After a slow start the registry grew in popularity and for the years between 1742 and 1837, there are 29, 865 entries. Also see Dr. Williams' Library and Its Register, by Sherry Irvine.

The registers were handed to the Registrar General in 1837 and are now at The National Archives in series RG 4 and RG 5. They are available on line at BMD Registers and partially on the International Genealogical Index (IGI) now incorporated into the FamilySearch Historical Record Collections. They can also be consulted at the LDS FamilySearch Centers.

The library also holds the 'Evans List' of Dissenting Congregations and Ministers compiled in 1715 and updated in 1730 and the 1773 Josiah Thompson List which is similar in scope as well as the the Surman Index of dissenting ministers compiled by Charles Surman covering the period from the mid-seventeenth century to 1972. The Surman Index is available online.