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Help and advice for Gloucestershire

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"GLOUCESTERSHIRE, a west Midland county [Map (right) shows location], situated upon the estuary of the Severn, and bounded north and north-east by Herefordshire, Worcestershire, and Warwickshire; by Oxfordshire; south by Berks, Wilts, and Somerset; and west by Monmouthshire, Herefordshire, and the estuary of the Severn; greatest length, south-west to north-east 54 miles; greatest breadth, north-west to south-east, 33 miles; area, 783,699 acres; population 572,433. The face of the county shows varied aspects, of which the most distinctive are the Cotswold Hills, in the east; the valley of the Severn, in the middle; and the Forest of Dean, in the west. Besides the Severn there are numerous important rivers, such as the Avon, Lower Avon, Wye, Thames, and Windrush. The canal system has been largely developed, and several important water-ways of that description pass through the county. Agriculture forms the leading occupation of the rural population; in the hills sheep-farming receives attention; while the rich valley of the Severn has long been famed for the superiority of its products. Its luxuriant pastures especially have originated and supported a great industry in the shape of dairy farms which produce the celebrated Glo'ster cheese. In the west of the county are 2 great coal fields - the Forest of Dean on the north, and the Bristol coal-field on the west. Other minerals are gypsum, barytes, quartz, limestone, and freestone. The manufactures are mostly woollen and cotton stuffs, but at Bristol there are also large hardware manufactures."
[Extract from Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887]


There is a What's New page that keeps you up to date with the changes made to this page and the contents of the Gloucestershire pages generally.



  • Photos and transcriptions of notable church monuments, provided by the Church Monuments Society.
  • Roll of Honour - Gloucestershire - War Memorial Selection.
  • Ralph Bigland visited many of Gloucestershire's graveyards in the late 18th Century, and recorded the contents of the Memorials he found in a series of 4 volumes, available in the Gloucestershire Record Office. These volumes represent a unique reference source, as many of the Monumental Inscriptions they record have now disappeared, either because the gravestones have been removed, or because their inscriptions are no longer visible. As well as the originals available in the Gloucestershire Record Office, reprints are also available, republished by the Gloucester Record Society, details as follows:- Historical, Monumental and Genealogical Collections relative to the County of Gloucester, ed. B. Frith, 1989-95, published by the Gloucester Record Society. (Volumes 1-4 : ISBN 0 900197 28 5, 0 900197 30 7, 0 900197 34 X and 0 900197 40 4), UK £30 each.


Church History

  • Information on Gloucestershire Churches & Church Finder on The Diocese of Gloucester website gives details using map or search.
  • The Britannia, "America's Gateway to the British Isles" Index of Parish Churches features about 10 Gloucestershire Churches. A nice site, providing you can tolerate the constant invitations to take part in online gambling.
  • John Wilkes produced a series of stunning photographs of many Gloucestershire Parish Churches. These can now be found in montages on Allan Taylor's Cotswold site.
  • Several Gloucestershire churches are featured on Phil Draper's Church Crawler Website, devoted to news and information about churches in the UK, and worldwide, where the emphasis is on "less-well-known churches that do not appear on the tourist trails of the world". Phil has a particular interest in Bristol's Cathedrals, Churches and Chapels, and aims to feature them all on his site.
  • You may also find it worthwhile searching in the GENUKI Church Database. Enter the name of the place in which the church is located:  

Church Records

  • You can see the earliest date for which the parish registers exist on Hidden Heritage
  • A list of non conformist churches throughout the county is available on Hidden Heritage
  • Searchable database of Phillimore's Parish Registers - Marriages, provided by Nigel Batty-Smith.
  • Transcriptions of Parish Records of the Forest of Dean for the period 1813-1901 - Forest of Dean Family History. The project has the full cooperation of the Gloucestershire Record Office, and results are free to access after a simple registration process. There is an increasing range of other records and a responsive Forum.
  • The searchable LDS website - IGI and Familysearch
    Note on using IGI Batch Numbers:
    It is not always easy to locate your ancestors in the IGI using the search mechanisms provided at the above LDS site. Manually typing the batch numbers into the IGI search screen can be tedious. Hugh Wallis has made an exhaustive search of the likely ranges of batch numbers and created a database of those numbers and the source records that they apply to. A very powerful feature included is a hotlink from each batch number to the actual search engine provided at the Family Search site, including the ability to enter the surname you are looking for. This makes it very easy to search all the batches for a particular geographic location using just the last name you are searching for - something that is not possible directly from the LDS site without doing a lot of typing. This is Hugh Wallis's site.
  • Gloucestershire Record Office provide a searchable Online Catalogue, containing a full catalogue of all Anglican Parish Records in their keeping, and brief details of other collections they hold. There is also a set of downloadable summaries showing the registers for each current parish and giving details of the history of each parish at the Gloucestershire Archives
  • Stuart Flight's Gloucestershire Genealogy lists material for parishes he has collected and transcribed, mainly in the Kings Stanley and Stroud areas,.
  • The Society of Genealogists web site has a list of their holdings of Parish Register Copies for Gloucestershire.
  • Information on the location of Quaker Records in Gloucestershire provided by the Quaker FHS.

Civil Registration

  • A detailed note on Registration can be found here including how to obtain certificates from the local sources (at the Archives) or the General Register Office.
  • Indexes for Gloucestershire can be found online Gloucestershire BMD Indexes. This provides details of a collaborative venture Gloucestershire Registration Service, Family History Societies, and independent volunteers to index all births, marriages and deaths in Gloucestershire from 1837 to the present, to provide an online searchable index,
  • Details of all districts to handle Gloucestershire registrations prior to centralisation may be found in Brett Langston's list of Gloucestershire Registration Districts (1837-1974).
  • FreeBMD is an ongoing project to make the General Register Office (GRO) Indexes freely available online. More volunteers are needed and details of how you can help are available on-site.
  • (formerly 1837online) - images of the complete BMD indexes from the GRO online. Fee payable
  • The images are also available on for which a subscription provides access to a wide range of other records.

Correctional Institutions

  • Liz Jack's Rogues' Gallery Photo Collection - photos of prisoners in Gloucester Jail for the year 1870 and 1880-1906 - is available for purchase on CD through her Hidden Heritage website. This complements the database of Gloucester Prison Records searchable via the Gloucestershire Record Office website.
  • The Prison Service Museum near Rugby houses HM Prison Service's historical collection of exhibits, illustrating the history of imprisonment from medieval times to the present day. Housed in a converted stable block, the museum contains reconstructions of Victorian prison architecture, and exhibits include the last set of Gibbet Irons used in England. Smaller items include bone carvings and paintings made by prisoners in their cells, and a nineteenth century sampler embroidered by a female prisoner from her own hair Admission to the museum is by appointment only, please contact:-
    The Curator,
    HM Prison Service Museum,
    Newbold Revel,
    CV23 0TH
    Tel: 01788 834168
    [Information compiled from "The Penal Lexicon Home Page", formerly at]
  • Located at the north-east corner of the prison to the rear of the Central Police Station in Longsmith Street, Gloucester Prison Museum and Shop are open from Easter Tuesday to end of September. Monday-Saturday from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm, with limited opening at Bank Holidays.
    "The first ever museum to be part of a fully operational and working prison, the 'Old Gate Lodge' has been converted into a museum depicting the history of Gloucester Castle as a prison and its progress through to modern day operation."
    There is a small shop operated by the museum staff selling souvenirs produced specifically for Gloucester Prison Museum.
    The Governor,
    HM Prison and Remand Centre,
    Barrack Square,
    GL1 2JN
    Tel: 01452 529551 Fax: 01452 310302
    [Information compiled from "The Penal Lexicon Home Page", formerly at]
  • Transcription listing Some Prisoners in Gloucestershire Jails during 1850 and 1851, by Phil Mustoe.

Description and Travel

  • The Geograph British Isles project - "aims to collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of the UK and the Republic of Ireland..."
  • Cotswolds Info - "Cotswolds Premier Tour and Travel Guide" has details of places of local, and historical interest in their 'Places of History' section.
  • The Royal Forest of Dean Official Web Pages.
  • Liz Jack's Glorious Gloucestershire Photo Collection on a set of CDs are available for purchase through her Hidden Heritage website.


Emigration and Immigration

  • For help finding your ancestors onboard ship - The Ships List - of particular interest are the large number of transcribed passenger lists, and records of some Marriages at Sea.
  • Wyatt, Irene - Transportees from Gloucestershire to Australia, 1783-1842, 1988. Published by The Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society. The definitive guide for anyone searching for a convict ancestor from Gloucestershire.


  • Nigel Batty-Smith's site of UK Genealogy Archives - Gloucestershire has a description of the county from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5.
  • The transcription of the section for Gloucestershire from the National Gazetteer (1868) provided by Colin Hinson.
  • The transcription of the section for Miscellaneous Descriptions from the National Gazetteer (1868) provided by Colin Hinson. Included here are the descriptions of major topological features (rivers, hills &c.) and a descriptions of the county hundred divisions.
  • You may also find it worthwhile searching in the GENUKI Gazetteer: The GENUKI Gazetteer covers the whole of England, Wales and Scotland and can be searched by place-name (or part of a place-name) or Ordnance Survey Grid Reference (six-figure, eg SO500120). If there are multiple place-names matching the name you enter, you will be presented initially with a drop-down list of the matching place-names, and (when known), their nearest identifiable place. TEMPORARY NOTE: Gazetteer under revision apologies for any oddities


Historical Geography


  • A digital library of medieval and modern sources of the history of the British Isles - British History Online. Notable sources include Journals of the House of Commons and House of Lords, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae, and the Victoria County History. The extent of the parish coverage in the VCH is listed on Hidden Heritage
  • Chris Phillips has compiled an index to place names mentioned in the titles of topographical articles in the published volumes of the Victoria County History. The index is available his Medieval English Genealogy web site, in the Victoria County History: Gloucestershire section.
  • An Encyclopaedia of British History: 1700-1950 - useful for seeing local events against a national perspective. Scroll down the introductory page on this site to see topics - Monarchy, Child Labour, The Railways, &c.
  • The Domesday Book Online "to enable visitors to find out the history of the Domesday Book and to give an insight into life at the time of its compilation". Note this site does not provide the original text, but does include a list settlements existing in 1086. Included Chepstow (now Wales).

Land and Property

  • Information about Gloucestershire Feet of Fines (land conveyances) - on Chris Phillips Medieval English Genealogy web site.
  • Mike Durtnall is providing a country-wide collection of Historical Manuscripts Pages recording details of deeds that have been offered for sale on eBay and in auction catalogues. In most cases whereabouts of the documents will be unknown, but sufficient details of the property involved and of buyers, sellers, mortages, &c. is provided to make them a useful research tool.
  • Pat Johnson has a large collection of original Family Deeds. Abstracts, with name and parish indexes are provided onsite, with transcriptions of the full documents available for a modest fee. In addtion, the original deed may also be available for purchase if required.

Law and Legislation

  • The Equity/Chancery Court Pleadings Database (on the Public Record Office's website) provides an online index to some of the Chancery Pleadings in series C6. Searches can be made by both name and place.
  • Names from Criminal Registers (PRO Class HO 27) 1805-1816 are available for purchase on floppy disk or microfiche through Family History Indexes (the link to the Criminal Registers is part way down the page).


Medical Records

Merchant Marine

  • Bristol and Transatlantic Slavery - "all about the transatlantic slave trade and the effect on Bristol from the 1400s right up to today". Still under construction (3 Sep 2003) but promises to be an interesting site.

Military History

  • The Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum website provides information relating to "The Glorious Glosters", including a 'Soldier Search' and Military Timeline. Also available are a military book and gift shop, and a genealogy research service.
  • A very comprehensive sites featuring Castles and Fortifications -
  • The Age of Nelson - a website providing general information about the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815, and specifically searchable databases of those present at Trafalgar (and more) and of all Commissioned Naval Officers 1787-1822.
  • Names from Musters of the Gloucestershire (North & South) Militia 1781-82 are available for purchase on floppy disk or microfiche through Family History Indexes (the link to Militia Musters is part way down the page).
  • Men & Armour for Gloucestershire in 1608 / [compiled by] John Smith; a Muster Roll of fit and able bodied men. "The names and Surnames of all the able and sufficient men in body fitt for his Ma'ties service in the warrs within the City of Gloucester and the Inshire of the same, wherein are contayned the City of Glouc' and the Hundreds of Dudstone and Barton Regis, with their ages, personable Statures and Armours viewed by the Right honorable Henry Lord Berkley Lord Lieutenant of the said City and the County thereof by direction from his Ma'tie in the month of September, 1608." The list provides occupations, and a measure of age, and physique of the parties concerned by means of a key, for example:- John Bendall Brodeweaver - 1m. being decipherable using the following table:-
    The figure (1) sheweth the age of that man to bee about Twenty.
    The figure (2) sheweth the age of that man to bee about Forty.
    The figure (3) sheweth the age of that man to bee betwene Fyfty and threescore.
    The L're (p.) sheweth the man to bee of the tallest stature fitt to make a pykeman.
    The L're (m.) sheweth the man to bee of a middle stature fitt to make a musketyer.
    The L'res (ca.) sheweth the man to bee of a lower stature fitt to serve with a Calyver.
    The L'res (py.) sheweth the man to bee of the meanest stature either fit for a pyoner, or of little other use.
    The L'res (tr.) sheweth that at the takinge of this viewe, hee was then a trayned soldyer.
    The L'res (sub.) sheweth that the said man was then a subsidy man.
    This is just to whet your appetite to give you a flavour of the kind of detail which is available. The original manuscript of Men and Armour is now on deposit at Gloucestershire Record Office. The printed version - Reference: Author(s): Smith, John, b.1567 [compiled by] John Smith - was republished in 1980 by Alan Sutton: ISBN/ISSN: 0904387496 as a limited edition of 400 numbered copies

Military Records

Names, Geographical

  • Smith, A. H. (Albert Hugh; 1903-1967), The place-names of Gloucestershire. One of the English Place-Name Society Series; v.38-41. Cambridge: University Press (1964-1965). In 4 Volumes:
    1. The river- and road-names. The east Cotswolds
    2. The north and west Cotswolds
    3. The lower Severn Valley. The Forest of Dean
    4. Introduction, bibliography, analyses, index, maps.
  • St. Clair Baddeley, Welbore (1856-1945), Place-names of Gloucestershire : a handbook. Gloucestershire : J. Bellows, 1913.

Names, Personal

  • Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section: Indexes to parish returns towards the rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral, ca.1678, with their Library Reference numbers. The returns themselves, which need to be consulted by personal visit, promise to be useful, as a record of those individuals who contributed, and in a number of instances those who did not. A number of the returns indicate status of the contributors, e.g. widow, or servant.



Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

  • A site "dedicated to the Workhouse - its buildings, its inmates, its staff and administrators, and even its poets..." - The Workhouse - created by Peter Higginbotham.

Postal and Shipping Guides

  • The Regency Collection has a section on Postal History, and also includes other interesting material relating to the Regency period - e.g. Turnpike Trusts, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire, and more.

Probate Records

  • Rosemary Lockie's collection of pages listing abstracts of Gloucestershire Probate Records. Many thanks to all the kind people who have contributed their ancestors' Wills to this project!
  • Leslie Mahler is the one responsible for setting this particular ball rolling. He began work in 1998, transcribing indexes to, and abstracts from early Gloucestershire Wills in an effort to trace his own Gloucestershire ancestors prior to the earliest parish registers. The periods he's covered so far are 1541-1545, and ALL Gloucestershire Wills dated 1619. Abstracts from specific locations are also available - check out his Early Gloucestershire Probate Records for further details.
  • Confused as to which of the above collections to go for? Me too! See Gloucestershire Probate Records Online for an overview, and links to online collections elsewhere.

Religion and Religious Life


  • A brief history of Education in England (3 parts).
  • If you are interested in finding out whether your dearest school friends are also researching their family trees, check out Friends United, a site devoted to reuniting old school and college friends.

Social life and Customs



  • The E 179 Database (on the National Archives website) contains detailed information about over 26,000 documents relating to the taxation of lay people in England and Wales between c.1200 and c.1700. These documents are likely to contain many names. An extract from one of these documents - Lay Subsidy Roll : E179/116/488 - is provided here, transcribed and contributed by Johan Winsser.
  • In addition, the set of Lay Subsidies 1581-1595 (links to a PDF file) are available on The Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society website.