As I mentioned on my home page, the oldest ancestor that I can trace is George Marpple. His eldest son, Robert, was baptised in Baslow in 1591. The parish registers in Baslow are said to start in 1568, but for the first few years the ravages of time have made the pages completely illegible. Around the 1900s someone made a very detailed transcript of the earliest years, and nearly 100 years later I compared the transcript with the original. I was dismayed to see how much the pages had deteriorated since then. The transcript had a very few Marples entries earlier than Robert's baptism, but nothing that seemed to relate directly to George. Parish registers themselves were instituted in 1538 in the reign of Henry VIII. There is no other earlier series of continuous records that would record people generally.

I have been very fortunate in researching Baslow as it is one of a very small crop of parishes whose registers exist for times earlier than the Civil War, which started in 1642. The period of the Commonwealth saw the great majority of vicars ejected from their livings. Whilst baptisms, marriages and burials continued to be conducted in churches, the responsibility for recording them fell on a parish official, called, confusingly, the parish register. He rarely bothered to record them, and as most ejected vicars either buried the registers and took them off for safe keeping, entries for the period of the Civil War, and the subsequent Commonwealth period, are extremely rare. Moreover, because of this, when parish priests were reinstated some 20 years later, it is hardly surprising that the great majority of pre-Civil War registers had been lost.

As there are some 13,000 ancient parishes in which our ancestors could have lived, you will not be greatly surprised to learn that I have not examined the registers of every one of them! One major finding aid available to all family historians is the International Genealogical Index (IGI), published by the Mormons. Great numbers of people have volunteered to transcribe parish registers. Those transcriptions, together with submissions from thousands of family historians, are held on a massive computer database. All this information has been sorted by County and Surname and published as the IGI. This invaluable source can now be consulted online at

All this information I have collected, and added it to that I've gathered myself. The result of all this is that I am convinced that the modern Marples families all had their origins in and around North Derbyshire. I've already described the Baslow situation. In Edensor, the next parish going south from Baslow there were at least 3 Marples families having children baptised there in the period 1539 - 1552. There was another Marples family having children baptised in Youlgreave, a lead mining village a few miles west of Baslow in the mid 1560s.

But that's it; there are no other parishes in the country yet found with records of the baptisms of Marples children in this earliest period. There are two other parishes in the broad vicinity which feature Marples families right from the start, at Wirksworth & Bonsall. The bad news is that their parish registers donít start until after the Civil War, so whilst the Marples families were clearly established in those villages when the registers start itís not all clear where they came from. Wirksworth & Bonsall both have lead-mining in their vicinity, as did Youlgreave. I have often wondered whether the branches of the Youlgreave family went to either Wirksworth or Bonsall, or both.

There is one other reasonably accessible source of family information that is still available from the mid 1500s and earlier and that is old wills. The major drawback for wills is that only around 10% of the adult population bothered to make a will. On the other hand where one does find wills they have a tendency to run in families. I have photocopies of an old series of wills which seem to be those of a Marples family in the Barlborough area of Derbyshire (a few miles east of Baslow). This starts with the will of William Marples of Barlborough who died in 1557. I have not been able to trace with certainty any living descendants of William.

So that's as much as contemporary records can tells us at this stage. Can a study of the derivation of our surname tells us anything more of our origins? Well I believe it can, but that's the subject of another page!