Details of some of the district’s most famous sons and daughters can be accessed via the internet as part of a new online archive.

More than eight million Yorkshire parish records, spanning almost 500 years, have been digitised by family history website and the West Yorkshire Archive Service and are available online from today.

The records detail baptisms, marriages and burials which took place in hundreds of West Yorkshire parishes between 1538 and 1980.

They include the baptisms of Charlotte Bronte and her siblings, who were born in the parish of Thornton between 1816 and 1820. The famous author’s burial record is also listed following her premature death at the age of 38.

Businessman Harry Ramsden, who opened his first fish and chips shop in Guiseley in 1928, is listed in the town’s parish baptism records of 1888.

The collection pre-dates Civil Registration, the Government system established in 1837 to keep accurate records of citizens’ lives.

The parish records were started when Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s vicar general, ordered each parish to keep a register detailing every baptism, marriage and burial it performed.

Some of the earliest significant records date back to the English Civil War, during which many key battles were fought in West Yorkshire. These include the parish burial records of 1643, which list thousands of soldiers who fell in the Battle of Leeds, Adwalton Moor, the Storming of Wakefield and the Battle of Seacroft Moor.

International content director Dan Jones said: “These records detail the baptisms, marriages and burials of millions of Yorkshire men and women, as well as those heroes and villains who made their mark both in West Yorkshire and nationally.

“Most importantly, for anyone living in West Yorkshire or the surrounding area, these records may well hold the key to tracing ancestors beyond the 19th century, which simply wouldn’t be possible had it not been for the diligence of those parish scriveners who documented vital events in their towns and villages for hundreds of years.”

  • Read the full story Wednesday’s T&A