I need to cite a baptism that took place at Sherborne Abbey in Dorset, England. The Dorset Page for Sherborne refers to "The Abbey Church of St. Mary (Sherborne Abbey)". In my citation (constructed according to the standards of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills (Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Revised edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2009.) I should use the name of the church as the author of the Parish register.

Is it good enough to refer to Sherborne Abbey, or should I refer to the Abbey Church of St Mary (Sherborne, Dorset, England)?

Note: The register is online on Ancestry.co.uk but they haven't seen fit to include the first page which would tell me how the church referred to itself. Ancestry has structured the digital copies of the registers by decade and parish (Sherborne), whereas the Dorset History Centre (DHC) at Dorchester has them by register and church / parish.

It doesn’t help that the online database at DHC is in transition, and they’re moving to a CARN based structure in 2014 – which illustrates that the History Centre is actively altering the structure by which the information is accessed. At the moment, the online search at DHC doesn’t even mention the church name, and the expert search calls the institution “Abbey Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sherborne”.

1 Answer 1


One aspect is - what will you put in the Address item for the church, when entering the baptism? If you put "Sherborne Abbey" for the address, but mark the sources as authored by the "Abbey Church of St Mary (Sherborne, Dorset, England)", then the question could arise whether the two are one and the same or not.

So I think the Address in the baptisms and the Author in the Source Records should match.

If you were to use an Address of "the Abbey Church of St Mary" and a Place of "Sherborne, Dorset, England" for the baptisms (assuming you write your Addresses and Places with no duplication) along with an Author of "the Abbey Church of St Mary (Sherborne, Dorset, England)", then these two match. But do they inform? Frankly, I think you will still get people asking "Is that Sherborne Abbey then?

On that basis, I suspect the most pragmatic version is an Address of "Sherborne Abbey" and a Place of "Sherborne, Dorset, England" for the baptisms along with an Author of "Sherborne Abbey (Sherborne, Dorset, England)".

If you have a handcrafted bibliography, it may be that you could write your first entry referring to "the Abbey Church of St Mary - hereinafter referred to as Sherborne Abbey". Certainly, I have lots of Note Records containing explanations like that.

Another way to decide one way or the other is to think of how anyone else would find the records for themselves. What does Ancestry call the church when you look to select it in a browse? What does Dorset Record Office catalogue the entries under? (though sometimes Record Offices get themselves into a bit of a muddle - I'm sure I've seen stuff catalogued as Baptism Registers when I know for a fact the paper says Christening Register).


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.