I have an ancestor, William Vollins or Vallins, who I believe was the son of Richard Vollins and Mary (Bowler), b 1777 in St Mary Cray, Kent (near Orpington). There are many other Vollins/Vallins family members in the Orpington area. He later married Sarah Crump in Wilmington, Kent (FamilySearch.org reference).

Here is the FamilySearch.org reference for his christening.

However, I have also found an index on the web site of the Kent Online Parish Clerk which suggests that he was rather the son of William and Mary Vollins.

The birth dates and christening dates are identical, but the parents' names differ. It has to be the same person being born, but perhaps the parents' names were mistranscribed. But for which record?

Does anyone have experience with the Kent OPC indices to know if it is likely to be more reliable or less reliable than FamilySearch.org?

4 Answers 4


In my experience, many FamilySearch baptism records for England and Wales are based on Bishops Transcripts rather than the original Parish Registers (although Parish registers of St. Mary Cray, 1579-1916 suggests they used the PRs in this instance), so there are three possible sources of transcription errors:

  • by the incumbent of the parish, when he prepared his Transcripts for the Bishop
  • by the OPC, when transcribing either the original PRs or the BTs
  • by FamilySearch, when transcribing the source which they used (be it PRs or BTS)

You should contact both FamilySearch and the OPC to understand which source they have transcribed and if possible get an image of it or ask for the transcription to be checked. If both BTs and PRs are available, the PR should be the most accurate (but is not guaranteed to be correct -- after all, it may have been filled on some time after the event when the incumbent's memory had faded and he couldn't read the scrappy note he found in his pocket with the details).

This does illustrate the importance of consulting original sources wherever possible, rather than relying on derivatives such as indexes/transcriptions (whenever they were produced).

  • 2
    Both FS and OPC mention "Film number: 1042461" (at the top of the page in the case of the OPC) so it looks like it's a recent error, rather than a PR/BT discrepancy. But it needs to be checked.
    – AdrianB38
    Mar 28, 2013 at 21:43
  • Thanks! It's just unfortunate that this parish isn't in the Medway district and thus in this collection of original records scans.
    – Verbeia
    Mar 28, 2013 at 22:23

The parish register of St Mary Cray is available online at FamilySearch. The way you find it is to go to FamilySearch.org, click on Search just above the pictures, then scroll down to Browse all collections, then click on United Kingdom and Ireland. Then scroll down to England, Kent, parish registers, 1538-1911. When you click on that collection, you must then click on browse through 100,542 images. You then choose Kent, then scroll down and click on St Mary Cray, then click on the time period needed (baptisms, burials, 1755-1811). You are then able to read images of the actual parish register.

Your entry is image 13 of 73, and reads "Wm, son of Richd and Mary Vollins" It is preceeded by the birth date of May 29 and followed by the christening date of June 13.

Here is a link that bypasses all the scrolling and selecting and takes you straight to the image you need - https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-23164-10742-64?cc=1952887&wc=MM28-1DR:n1140519128.

By the way, Orpington is also available in the same collection.

  • 1
    It isn't viewable by most people - the Kent images on FamilySearch are only visible in a Family History Centre or to "signed-in members of supporting organizations".
    – TomH
    May 28, 2013 at 16:52
  • Thanks for this. I can't view this image but I'm willing to take your word for it. Are there "supporting organizations" other than the LDS Church? I'm grateful for everything the Mormons have done for genealogy but I'm not going to change religions to access some documents.
    – Verbeia
    May 28, 2013 at 22:29
  • 1
    It isn't necessary to be a member of the LDS Church to use the Family History Center. familysearch.org/locations/centerlocator
    – Jan Murphy
    Jan 27, 2014 at 6:42

You can ask Family Search to email you a copy of the transcription image if there is one available free of charge.

I would also ask the Kent OPC this question they are usually very helpful (well the Somerset ones are anyway) and they will maybe re-check the fiche for you.


I would definitely recommend getting a copy of the original scan or record. Many of these transcriptions are done from handwritten registers and they can be subject to the human error of the transcriber. I try to get copies of all records if I can, rather than rely on a transcription.

  • This is a good suggestion but of course it gets a bit impractical if you already have 100s of people in your tree and it costs money to get these things. Familysearch seems to be setting up to show parish record scanned images but they don't seem to be up yet.
    – Verbeia
    Mar 29, 2013 at 7:59
  • The scanned images are good and I've waited for those vs. spending money as well. I focus on the conflict items to get copies of before I get copies of those where there is no or very little conflict. It's a long, slow, process but it's more exact. In my case, I have a huge number of records I'll have to get from the Netherlands, so I feel your pain :) Mar 29, 2013 at 19:44
  • There's also the issue of how hardcore anyone wants to be. I'm extremely hard-core about first generation records being the gold standard and having my own copies but I am pretty much THE family historian and it's my control-freak way. Others may not be nearly so hardcore about it and that's perfectly fine! Only you can decide how much money, time and sweat-equity you want to give to genealogy. Mar 29, 2013 at 19:46

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