The obligation to keep church parish records began on 11 November 1563 following a session of the Council of Trent.
There are three distinct phases of that researchers in Portugal should be aware of.
- Between 16th and the end of 17th Centuries information recorded in Portuguese records was at the decision of the Priest. Some recorded more details, whilst others recorded just the minimum.
- Late 17th Century to around 1860 we see an additional amount of information provided
- Baptisms recorded the place of birth.
- Marriage recorded parents of bride and groom
- Deaths included the name of the widow or widower.
- 1860-1911 there is the standardisation of records following a Royal Decree in August 1859.
- Birth records included the occupation of the father, residence of the parents, Grandparents names and residences and the name and addresses of the witnesses.
- Marriage records included Marital status of the bride and groom, name and residences of the parents of both bride and groom and the same of the witnesses, the age of bride and groom and their occupations from 1900.
- Death records include the residence of the deceased, names of the deceased parents or spouse. On occasions the records also provide the details of the deceased Grandparents.
In Portugal there are the following archives:
- National Archives
- 17 District Archives
- 4 Regional Archives
- 3 Municipal Archives
- 1 Diocesan Archives
The website tombo.pt is an amalgamation of material from all those archives, but does not necessarily mean that all the contents of an archive has been uploaded to the website.