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Help and advice for Somersham

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[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]

"SOMERSHAM, a parish in the hundred of Hurstingstone, county Huntingdon, 5 miles north-east of St. Ives, its post town, and 9 north-east of Huntingdon. It is a station on the St. Ives and Wisbeach branch of the Great Eastern railway. The village, which is chiefly agricultural, is situated on the road to March and Wisbeach. It is well-built and paved, and consists of one principal street about three-quarters of a mile long, extending from east to west, with a shorter street crossing about midway. This place, formerly a market town, was given by Brithnoth to Ely Abbey in 991. In the reign of Charles I. it formed part of the jointure of Queen Henrietta Maria. The land is generally fertile, with a small proportion of fen. About midway on the St. Ives road is a chalybeate spa, which was formerly of great repute. Roman coins have been found in this parish. The living is a rectory, with the curacies of Colne and Pidley annexed, in the diocese of Ely, value £1,770. The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is an ancient edifice, with embattled tower and open roof. It contains tombs of the Hammonds, Whiston, and others, and the brass of a priest. The parochial charities produce about £90 per annum. There is a National school partly endowed, and two Sunday-schools. The Wesleyans and Baptists have each a place of worship. Near the church once stood the bishop's palace, the site of which is now partly built upon. J. G. Scott, Esq., is lord of the manor. Annual fairs are held on the 23rd June, and on the Friday prior to 22nd November."

[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2013


  • Monumental inscriptions for the parish of Somersham have not yet been recorded by the Huntingdonshire FHS. The War Memorial inscriptions for this parish are available on-line.


  • Census information for this parish (1841-1891) is held in the Huntingdon Records Office.
  • The full 1841 Census of Colne Parish is available in fiche format from the Huntingdonshire FHS as Fiche Set C114.
  • The full 1851 Census of Somersham Parish is available in fiche format from the Huntingdonshire FHS as Fiche Set C64.
  • A surname index of the 1881 Census of the St. Ives Registration District, in which Somersham was enumerated (RG11/1606, Folios 4a - 37a), and which took place on 3rd April 1881, is available as Fiche C4 from the Huntingdonshire FHS.
  • A full transcription of the 1891 Census of the Somersham sub-District of the St. Ives Registration District (RG12/1234) in which Somersham was enumerated, and which took place on 5th April 1891, has also been produced by the Huntingdonshire FHS (as Fiche C-11). This is available from the Huntingdonshire FHS.


Church History

  • OS Grid Square TL360779.
  • The church of St John the Baptist is built of rubble with dressings of Barnack stone; the roof of the nave is covered with tiles and the rest of the building with lead.
  • The present church was gradually built from east to west during the latter half of the 13th century and the first few years of the 14th century. The work of rebuilding was doubtless influenced by the frequent residence at their palace here of the great medieval bishops of Ely, Hugh de Northwold (1229-54), Hugh de Balsham (1256-87) and John Hotham (1316-37).
  • There is no evidence of an earlier church which probably existed on the site but the 13th century church here consisted of a chancel, nave with aisles, and a western tower. To this nave, a clearstory and new roof, and a new porch were added at the end of the 14th century. The south porch was built or rebuilt in the 15th century, and the organ chamber was added in 1885. The chancel is wholly of about 1250, except for the roof which is 19th century. A four-centred arch was constructed over the east window in the 15th century, and a 16th century window at the west end of the south wall now forms an opening into the organ chamber.

Church Records

  • The following are available in the Huntingdon Records Office.
    • Baptisms: 1558-1837 (indexed transcriptions), 1813-1843, 1843-1889, 1889-1916, 1916-1962.
    • Banns: 1654-1658 (indexed transcriptions), 1754-1838 (indexed transcriptions), 1824-1923.
    • Marriages: 1558-1837 (indexed transcriptions), 1837-1886, 1886-1959, 1959-1972.
    • Burials: 1563-1838 (indexed transcriptions), 1813-1848, 1849-1886, 1886-1925, 1925-1944, 1944-1966.
    • Bishop's Transcripts: 1604-5, 1612, 1618-19, 1625-7/1660-78, 1682-4, 1690-7/1699-1702, 1705-15, 1718, 1720, 1722-6, 1728, 1730-2, 1734-6, 1738-59/1760-73, 1776, 1779, 1782, 1785, 1789-1813/1813-24/1825-32, 1834, 1836, 1841-8.
  • The Huntingdonshire Marriage Indexes include marriages from this parish. These are, at present, issued in alphabetical listings in series: 1601-1700, and 1701-1754, and are available from the Huntingdonshire FHS.

Civil Registration

  • Somersham was originally in the St. Ives Registration District from 1 July 1837. Subsequently, it came under the Somersham sub-District. > From 1st April 1997, it has come directly under the Huntingdon Registration District.

Description and Travel


Military History

  • The war memorial with detailed information about those who fell is available on the Roll of Honour site for Huntingdonshire.

Names, Geographical

  • Sumeresham (xi cent.),
  • Sumresham,
  • Summersham (xii cent.),
  • Summersum (xvii cent.).

Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

  • The parish of Somersham was part of the St. Ives Union (for Poor Law administration).
  • Births and deaths registered in the St Ives Union Workhouse (1836 - 1913) are available from the Huntingdonshire FHS as fiche set D9.


  • Population in 1801 - 833.
  • Population in 1851 - 1653.
  • Population in 1901 - 1229.
  • Population in 1951 - 1317.
  • Population in 1971 - 1513.
  • Population in 1991 - 3617.