How to Obtain a Copy of a Confirmation Record
This page outlines how Confirmations are recorded in the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney, and how you can apply for a copy of the record of your own Confirmation.
NOTE: Please do not send a payment for a Confirmation record search until you have communicated with the Sydney Diocesan Archivist by telephone or email, and received her confirmation that the relevant Register, or Return, is held in the Sydney Diocesan Archives, and that your request can be dealt with. Not all churches in this diocese have sent their Confirmation Registers into the Sydney Diocesan Archives.
How to apply for a copy of your Confirmation record
If you wish to obtain a copy of the record of your confirmation, you need to know:
a) at which church you were confirmed, and
b) in which year you were confirmed
With this information at hand, you should contact the Sydney Diocesan Archivist to determine where the relevant confirmation registers are currently located.
If the registers are held in the Sydney Diocesan Archives, you will be asked to apply in writing for a copy of the record of your confirmation, and a fee of A$30 is charged for this service.
It is not possible to provide this information to anyone other than the individual named in the register.
Please do NOT apply in writing before consulting with the Sydney Diocesan Archivist.
If the relevant Confirmation Registers are not held in the Sydney Diocesan Archives, you will be directed to the appropriate parish office.
If you were confirmed in a church outside of the boundaries of the Diocese of Sydney, you will need to contact the relevant church or diocese. The Sydney Diocesan Archivist can assist you with relevant contact details for churches and parishes in other dioceses, and other diocesan offices.
How Confirmations are recorded in the Diocese of Sydney
All confirmations performed in Anglican churches in the Diocese of Sydney must be recorded as set out by an ordinance of the Sydney Diocesan Synod.
The Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 states:
Schedule 1: Rules for administering a parish based on its church or churches
Division 5 Registers and records
3.21 Minister’s responsibilities for records
(1) The minister must cause a register or registers to be maintained in each church in which –
(c) he will record or cause to be recorded the following details of each confirmation service conducted in the church –
(i) the date and place on which the confirmation service took place, and
(ii) the full name of each person confirmed, and
(iii) the date each person was baptised, and
(iv) the name of the officiating bishop, and
In practical terms, this requirement to record the details of each confirmation service is manifested in three possible formats:
a) Confirmation Registers:
These registers are created by the parishes and churches. These can be printed volumes, or they may be exercise books in the case of older records. This is the first record to consult for a Confirmation record. Despite the ordinances, not all churches and parishes seem to have this kind of register, and there have been many deposits into the Sydney Diocesan Archives of collections of parish records which do not include Confirmation Registers.
b) Confirmation Returns:
These are standard forms which are filled in by the parishes and churches, and sent to the Diocesan Registry prior to each Confirmation Service.
This is a mandatory reporting mechanism administered by the Sydney Diocesan Registry, using a triplicate form. One copy is kept by the parish, the second copy is kept by the confirming bishop, and the third copy is kept by the Registry: this third copy becomes the archival record for permanent retention in the Diocesan Archives.
In the Sydney Diocesan Archives, the records in this Series date back to 1835. The earliest form of Confirmation Return was often a manuscript list written on parish letterhead or the Rector’s personal letterhead.
A Confirmation Return contains the following information:
• Name of church in which confirmation will take place.
• Name of church from which the candidates are presented.
• Date of confirmation (and sometimes time of service).
• Names of candidates.
• Addresses of candidates.
• Ages of candidates (but NOT date of birth).
• Dates of baptism of candidates (but NOT place of baptism).
• Name of presenting minister.
• Name of confirming bishop.
• Date of form.
These Confirmation Returns are filed chronologically (not alphabetically) in the Sydney Diocesan Registry, and in due course are sent to the Sydney Diocesan Archives for permanent retention. There are approximately four files of Confirmation Returns for each calendar year.
In an ideal situation, there is also an annual schedule of confirmations for any given year in the front of the year file, which helps one to find out the date of the confirmation service for X parish or church. If there is NOT an annual schedule (which is sometimes the case), then it may be a case of undertaking a search through all four files until the relevant service is found.
A third mode of recording confirmations is in the:
c) Service Registers:
Given that all services in a church must be recorded in the Service Register, all Confirmation services are also recorded in the Service Register, and the visiting bishop signs the Service Register to indicate his presence at that service. In some churches, all of the names of the candidates for Confirmation are recorded in the Service Register. These details may be entered by hand, or a cutting from the parish newsletter might be pasted into the volume.
Not all churches and parishes follow this practice.
Making a copy of your Confirmation Record
The Sydney Diocesan Archives cannot provide you with a photocopy of the relevant entry in the Confirmation Return / Confirmation Register / Service Register, because these pages also contain personal data about other people.
However, I can provide you with a true and certified copy of the details of your Confirmation recorded in the Confirmation Return, or Confirmation Register, typed on diocesan letterhead, including the names of the columns used on the return, and the relevant data recorded in the columns.
Essential Information for the search
In order to undertake a search for your record of Confirmation, I need to know two crucial pieces of information:
a) The name of the church, and parish in which you were confirmed.
b) The year of your Confirmation. Most people are confirmed between the ages of 13 and 15. Please note if you were confirmed at any other age, i.e. as a late teenager or an adult.
This date of Confirmation should be as accurate as possible, because if the only records available are the Confirmation Returns, then I am facing a potential search of four files per annum, which can be very time consuming indeed if there is a date range of more than two years.
Letter of Application and Payment
The next step is for you to apply for a search and a copy of your Confirmation record.
Please write a letter to me asking me to undertake a search for, and make a copy of, the details of your Confirmation.
You must sign the letter yourself. Confirmation records created within the past 65 years are confidential documents. I cannot give (or sell) this information to anyone other the person named in the record, so I do require your signed request for a copy to be made and sent to you.
Please include the following information in your letter:
• Your full name at the time of your Confirmation
• Your date of birth
• The date of your Confirmation, or nearest approximation
• The name of the church & parish at which you were confirmed
• Your postal address
A business hours contact phone number & email address (in case I need to check the spelling of a name or if there is some problem, etc)
Payment of Fee
The fee for this service is A$30 (Australian thirty dollars).
Payment can be made by personal cheque, or money order, to be made out to:
SYDNEY DIOCESAN SECRETARIAT
Post the letter and the cheque to the following address:
Sydney Diocesan Secretariat
P O Box Q190,
Queen Victoria Building Post Office,
Sydney NSW 1230
NB. DO NOT put my name on the envelope. The letter will be passed on to me after our Accounts Department has processed the cheque.
Once I have received the letter from the Secretariat’s Accounts Department, I will do the search, make a copy of the record, and post it to you.
If there are any difficulties with the search, such as a nil result for the church you have nominated, I will contact you and we can discuss other options, such as the possibility that you were confirmed in a different church from the one you have nominated, or the possibility that you were confirmed at an older age.