On January 12, 1852, the Pennsylvania Legislature enacted its first statewide law requiring the registration of vital records. As stated in the preamble, the law was prompted by a need to document births, deaths and marriages that could not be substantiated for legal cases, whereby “the rights of many have been sacrificed, and great wrongs done” as well as to validate “important truths, deeply affecting the physical welfare of mankind” that could be drawn from the recording of these records. ((“An Act To provide for a registration of marriages, births and deaths,” Laws of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, (1852).)) The law, however well intentioned, was short lived. The Registration Act of 1852 was repealed on January 31, 1855 ((“An Act To repeal the Registration Act,” Laws of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, (1855).)), only 3 years after its inception. During those three years, only a few births, deaths and marriages were recorded within Chester County Pennsylvania. This dearth of records may be an indication of a lack of compliance with the law, which may have lead to its eventual repeal.
The records in this index begin on July 1, 1852 and end in January 1855. They do not represent all of the births that took place in Chester County during this time period. There are several townships that never submitted any returns to the Register of Wills Office and a large majority only submitted a few. The closer the event took place to West Chester, the higher probability it was recorded.
The 1852-1855 birth records contain detailed information, including the maiden name of the mother and names of any other children born previously. If you wish to have additional information then you should request a quote for the record from Chester County PA.
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