The Bible was once regarded as more than just a holy scripture, they were sacred objects in themselves. Given the most important place in the house and filled with family records and memories, the "family Bible" served as the spiritual centre of the home.
Publishers catered to this market by producing ever-larger Bibles, complete with explanatory articles, colour illustrations, pages for recording births, marriages and deaths, and ornamental covers for wealthier families.
Family Bibles can be a superb resource for genealogy research. The births, marriages and deaths of generations are listed as the Bible is passed down through the family. Even if you already have this information, seeing it penned down in an ancestors handwriting will be much more thrilling!
Family Bibles tend to have survived more in America than in Britain, much the same applies in Australia and New Zealand. This is not always the case so ensure to ask around, older relatives may have an old family Bible buried away in the loft, not realising it would be of help to your research. Family Bibles were such a commonplace during the Victorian era, that they can’t have all vanished in the UK!
The Family Bible below was sent to us by ‘The Episcopal Diocese of California’ last year. It was published in Cambridge in 1637 and belonged to the ‘Hardy’ family. It lists 13 births from 1710 – 1794 and is a bit of a mystery as to where the Hardy family came from and how their family Bible found its way to California. This would be a great project for a keen genealogists to work on.