"This county is situated in the province of Canterbury, in the diocese of Salisbury, and contains 29 hundreds, one city, 15 boroughs, and 10 other market-towns. On the north and west side of it lies Gloucestershire; its western boundary is Somersetshire; Dorsetshire confines its southern extremity; and Hampshire and Berkshire inclose it on the east. Its extreme length is 54 miles, and breadth 34, and its area measures about 878,000 acres. The air of Wiltshire like that of other counties, is various, according to the different parts of it, but on the whole it is agreeable and salubrious. On the downs and higher parts, it is sharp and clear; in the vallies mild, even in winter. Over the extensive wilds, called Salisbury plain, roam immense flocks of sheep, who with their shepherds, are the sole tenants, if the bustard, the wheatear, and a few other solitary birds be excepted, which avoid the haunts of men. The summer stock of sheep on these plains and downs, is computed to be 500,000. The rivers of this county are the Lower Avon; the Thames or Isis; the Cole; the Kennet; the Bourne; the Upper Avon; the Willey; and the Nadder."

[Extract from Pigot & Co's London & Provincal New Commercial Directory, 1822-3]


Archives & Libraries

The record office (now named Wiltshire and Swindon Archives) and Wiltshire Local Studies Library moved from Trowbridge to the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre at Chippenham, opened on 31st October 2007. It includes Archaeology, Conservation, Museum services and the Wiltshire Buildings Record.

Some of our text may still mention the record office and library at Trowbridge; we will update these in due course.

The address is Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Cocklebury Road, Chippenham, Wiltshire SN15 3QN.

For map, phone, email, opening times see their menu for "Visiting the History Centre" .

Below is a list of the major, and some less well known, repositories.

  • Wiltshire and Swindon Archives. The archives web site has been greatly expanded and now includes the information from their printed leaflets which was previously on-line within GENUKI. Research Guides include Family History, House History , a list of family and estate archives, Diocesan Archives on clergy and buildings, also a Newsletter.​
  • Wiltshire County Council Library Servicehas a searchable Wiltshire Library Catalogue .
  • Wiltshire Studies has information on the local studies library in the new History Centre, and information on other local studies material in Wiltshire.
  • Wiltshire Libraries and Heritage also provides online Wiltshire Community History with information on 261 communities, covering the whole of the Wiltshire County Council administered area of the county; having been compiled by Wiltshire Libraries & Heritage. Every community page already has certain basic information, such as local administrative bodies, population from 1801, newspapers for the area, lists of maps, registration district, and links to other sites of interest. Between 2002 and 2007 they will be adding much more detailed information for each community. This will include a map, an historical thumbnail sketch, information on churches and schools, a booklist and the texts of some books and articles, information about listed buildings, local authors and literary associations and access to old photographs.
  • Swindon Collection,
    Central Library,
    Regent Circus,
    SWINDON   SN1 1QG.

    The Swindon Collection also has a free online history gallery of the Swindon Borough.

    For more details please see our GENUKI page for the Swindon Collection.

  • Wiltshire Heritage Library and Museum, of the Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Society, at 41 Long Street, DEVIZES, SN10 1NS.
  • An archival resource covering the history of canals - The Canal & River Trust - the National Waterways Museum.


  • Wiltshire Record Society publishes a volume each year with the text of a set of documents, an introduction and an index. 56 Volumes have been published. It also has an annual meeting. For details contact the Honorary Secretary, Wiltshire Record Society, c/o Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Cocklebury Road, Chippenham, Wiltshire SN15 3QN.
    Many of the volumes are available second-hand from Ambra Books.
  • Victoria County History of Wiltshire. This site includes an A-Z index of volumes which lists all the topics covered in the general volumes of the Wiltshire V.C.H. as well as all the parish articles published so far. Chris Phillips on his Medieval Genealogy site provides a list of the contents of Wiltshire volumes of the Victoria County History, and also an index to places listed in the volumes for all counties. Extracted from the VCH, with additional illustrations, there is a "History of Amesbury, Bulford and Durrington" published by Wiltshire County Council and Wiltshire Family History Society.
  • Chandler - John - Marlborough and Eastern Wiltshire, Sept 2001, 288 pages, is the first part (of seven) of his planned county history, which will go under the series title: Wiltshire: a History of its Landscape and People. "It offers succinct but informative and well-researched histories of 34 Wiltshire parishes, from Aldbourne in the north to Tidworth in the south and Avebury in the west, including Marlborough, Ramsbury and Ludgershall". There are specially commissioned illustrations by Michael Charlton, as well as facsimiles of historic maps. Published by Hobnob Press, PO Box 1838, East Knoyle, Salisbury SP3 6FA, who also publish other local books.


  • A transcript of an interview with Alice COLLETT who was one of a large family born to Thomas COLLETT and Dorcas COCKHEAD in Eastrop, near Highworth.





Church History

  • Mandy and Duncan Ball have photos of churches in North Wiltshire. Their website now has over 28,000 photographs of 185 (mainly) Wiltshire churches. They said "We were given permission to go inside some of the churches and have taken photos of all the memorials; at a few churches we also took photos of graves. There are some churches listed which only have one or two pictures, although others have well over a hundred. A few churches have allowed us to copy the church history leaflet (found inside the church)."
  • The Clergy Database already includes details of clergy and schoolmasters in Salisbury Diocese 1660-1740, and more is being added.
  • The Church of England website A Church Near You gives boundary maps and contacts for modern parishes. Search by place name or Postcode, click on resultant map to show which parish a point is in.
  • Clergy of the Church of England Database "makes available and searchable the principal records of clerical careers from over 50 archives in England and Wales with the aim of providing coverage of as many clerical lives as possible from the Reformation to the mid-nineteenth century".

    Search Clergy Database by person, location, bishop, etc. For an example see person ID 22718, Paul Latham, vicar of Warminster 1660-1687. Or browse by location - choose Salisbury Diocese - then parish - for example Warminster is location 1925 and gives vicars, curates, etc from 1550 to 1835.


Church Records

  • 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.
  • Searchable database of Phillimore's Parish Registers - Marriages, provided by Nigel Batty-Smith. Added 28 Dec 2010.
  • Wiltshire - Church Records and Indexes - links and information.

Civil Registration

Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths in England and Wales began on July 1st 1837. Copies of certificates may be obtained from either the General Register Office (GRO), or from a Superintendent's Registrar's Office of the District at which the event was first registered. If the District no longer exists, this would be the Office to which its registers have been moved.
  • Obtaining a certificate from a Superintendent Registrar's Office.
    • The original records of events, completed by the Registrar of the time, have always been retained by the District Registrar. In Wiltshire, these records were held in several different locations within the county, and in the past an application would be made to the Superintendent Registrar at one of these locations to search the local indexes he or she holds to the registers, and produce a certificated copy from the original record of the event. However in recent years all registers have been moved to the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham, and applications should now be made to that office.

      The details required for such a request are name and surname, the event type (ie birth, marriage or death), and the year the event took place, and a search will be made of 5 years either side of that year, if an entry for that year isn't found. Please consult the Wiltshire BMD service for more details. This also provides details of a collaborative venture between the Registration Service, Family History Societies, and independent volunteers to index all births, marriages and deaths in Wiltshire from 1837 to the present, to provide an online searchable index. The cost of a certificate obtained this way is £9.00.

      Details of all districts to handle Wiltshire registrations prior to centralisation may be found in Brett Langston's list of Wiltshire Registration Districts (1837-1974).


  • Obtaining a certifcate from the GRO
    • Certificates from the GRO are issued from copies of the original records; however there is considerable advantage in being able to search indexes to the whole country in one place, so many people prefer to do this, rather than risk a protracted search locally. The first step is to obtain a GRO reference to the event. You can then order certificates online via the Certificate Ordering Service of the General Register Office website. From 6th April 2010, the cost of a certificate obtained this way is £9.25.

      You can obtain a GRO reference in several ways:-

      1. Searching microfilm or fiche at a Library or LDS Family History Centre.
      2. 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.
      3. findmypast.co.uk (formerly 1837online) - images of the complete BMD indexes from the GRO online. Fee payable
      4. The images are also available on Ancestry.co.uk for which a subscription provides access to a wide range of other records.


  • Obtaining a certificate for a recent event
    • The cost of a certificates issued at the time of registration of a current birth, death or marriage is £3.50 for each copy.
    • After registration (for instance, the following day) the cost is £7.00, providing the register is still current (within 28 days of the last entry in the register)
    • After a registration book is complete, 28 days later, the register is deposited with the Superintendent Registrar of the district. Until recently, this was one of the district offices referred to above, but there is now just one district for the whole of Wiltshire, and the Office to apply to is the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham. From that point onwards, certificates will cost the same as any 'old' certificate obtained locally - £9.00.

Correctional Institutions


Description & Travel

  • This is Wiltshire is a website with current information about news, travel and services. Wiltshire-web is similar with an outline map and descriptions of places on the map.
  • The Badger's Heritage website features many pen and ink drawings of Wiltshire churches, schools, pubs, hotels, bridges, locks, mills, cottages & villages.
  • Southern Life had descriptions and histories and photos of villages and churches, obtained from a variety of sources. At May 2006 their website is being reorganised.
  • Engravings by email from Heatons of Tisbury: this shop has many views and maps of places in Wiltshire as images on its website; larger copies can be sent by email, some maps and prints are for sale.
  • West Country Photographs from Mike Matthews includes Bremhill Parish Church, The Courts and Forde Abbey, Stourhead, Malmesbury and Lacock Abbeys.
  • William Camden's Britannia of 1610 is available from Vision of Britain.
  • More generally: The Vision of Britain site includes the complete texts of books describing journeys around Britain, written between the twelfth and nineteenth centuries. Enter a place name in Vision of Britain search. Entries will not always be a description of a visit: travellers often mention places other than where they are, for example as a basis for comparison.


  • Pigot's Wiltshire Directory of 1830 is made available on-line with a surname index and search across all directories by Sue O'Neill . These indexes are taken from the facsimile edition produced by the Society of Genealogists in 1992 and distributed on microfiche. As these are indexes they only include the Name, Place and Page for reference. Further information must be obtained from the original documents or microfiche facsimile.
  • Direct Resources have surname indexes to 19th Century trade directories on-line; see their list of counties and directories. Note there are text and spreadsheet formats available. Their 1848 Post Office Directory for Wiltshire text file is split into 1848 Directory for Bradford, Calne, Chippenham, Devizes, Malmesbury, Marlborough, Melksham and 1848 Directory for Salisbury, Swindon, Trowbridge, and Warminster. Note that the list of surnames is alphabetical within each town.
  • Rod Neep's Archive CD Books published on CD a number of directories. The UK activities of Archive CD Books have been closed, so the CDs cannot be ordered, but they are available in some libraries. The Wiltshire ones include: The Universal Directory of Great Britain 1791; Pigots 1822 Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Directory, covers main towns only (Bradford, Calne, Chippenham, Devizes, Marlborough, Salisbury, Trowbridge, Warminster, Westbury); 1830 Pigot's Directory of Wiltshire; 1831 Pigot's Topography and Gazetteer of England (Vol. 1) with historical and statistical description, includes Wiltshire; 1842-4 Pigot's Directory of Wiltshire; 1865 Dorset and Wiltshire directory from Harrod and Co; 1877 Return of Owners of Land ; 1903, 1920, 1927, 1939 and 1895 Wiltshire Kelly's Directory; 1849 Kelly's Dorset and Wiltshire.
  • Slater's 1851 Trade Directory is available on CDROM from Stepping Stones (now part of S & N)
  • University of Leicester Digital Library of Historical Directories - searchable by surname online - includes for Wiltshire: Pigot's 1844, Kelly's 1895, 1903, and others.



Emigration & Immigration

  • The Wiltshire Emigration Database of Robin Holley is made up of people and families that emigrated, transported or bounded from the county of Wiltshire over the years. There are now 10,000 entries on the database. The information is free to anybody who contacts him and he is also interested in receiving any other information about persons that emigrated from Wiltshire. (We have no web or email link for this item at present)
  • Ship "Marion" 1851 Stranding in South Australia. In 1851 the ill-fated emigrant ship "Marion" took some hundreds of Wiltshire people to South Australia. The ship was grounded when entering local waters. Amazingly, no lives were lost during the sinking.


  • Nigel Batty-Smith's site providing UK Genealogy Archives of Wiltshire has a description of the county from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5.
  • The transcription of the section for Wiltshire 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.



Historical Geography

  • Transcribed text of the Wiltshire section of Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England (1831).
  • Hundreds of Wiltshire, with an indication of their locations, taken from a map in Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of 1835.
  • Boundary changes; Tony Woodward provided this information as an answer on a Wiltshire mailing list:

    As far as I know Wiltshire has always been roughly the size it is now. The first of the boundary adjustments occurred in 1844. I have an old atlas dated about 1840 which shows outlying bits of Wiltshire existing as islands in other counties. Kingswood near Wootton-under-Edge (now in Gloucestershire) was in Wiltshire at that time, and there were small chunks in Berkshire, one near Newbury and another as far away as Windsor which is at the far end of Berkshire! These remained with Wiltshire by accidents of land ownership and the most bizarre of these were cleaned up in 1844, the odd bits being passed to their respective counties.

    This was when Minety (Glos.), which had been entirely surrounded by Wiltshire parishes, was transferred over to Wiltshire. In the 1851 and later censuses you will sometimes see that someone was born in "Minety, Glos." This is not an error, as it was indeed in Gloucestershire, at the time the person was born.

    At the time of the 1891 census, the period which I know best, various parishes on the edge of Wiltshire were still split between two counties. Shalbourne (partly in Berkshire) and Stourton and Maiden Bradley (partly in Somerset) spring to mind. These were transferred completely to Wiltshire in the mid-1890s. There were also parishes which were taken away from Wiltshire at about the same time. About eight parishes at the southeastern edge of the county were given to Hampshire, including Bramshaw, West Wellow and Damerham. Damerham has actually given its name to one of the old hundreds of Wiltshire but is itself no longer in the county.

    In 1897 Kemble, Poole Keynes and Somerford Keynes in the northwest were transferred to Gloucestershire, so Wiltshire lost about ten parishes in the 1890s while gaining a few bits and pieces.

    In 1930 there was another small boundary adjustment, and Ashley and Long Newnton were also transferred to Glos.

  • Places in England and Wales affected by the Counties (Detached Parts) Acts 1844 is a page provided by the Association of British Counties. Places moving are:

    • Berkshire from Wiltshire, Broad Hinton (Hurst), Didnam (part of Shinfield), another part of Shinfield, part of Swallowfield, part of Wokingham.
    • Gloucestershire from Wiltshire, Poulton.
    • Wiltshire from Berkshire, part of Inglesham, Oxenwood in Shalbourn.
    • Wiltshire from Gloucestershire from Wiltshire, Min(e)ty.


  • The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment (Salisbury) Museum is in a historic house called The Wardrobe, in the Cathedral Close at Salisbury. The website has on-line transcriptions of regimental World War 1 war diaries. Twelve of the 15 battalions that were in the Royal Berkshire Regiment and Wiltshire Regiment are now available for searching, by date or free text. Over 12,000 records have been input by volunteers. The other 3, and the first of the WW2 diaries should be included by May 2002. In addition it offers over 2000 catalogued images of items in the museum's collection, including 1200 photographs. These relate to both regiments.
  • Salisbury Plain was the main area for the training of soldiers in the 1914-18 war. Some training had started in 1871, and a major area was purchased by the government for training in 1897. During the Great War soldiers made up a third of the population of Wiltshire. A recent book with accounts, plentiful illustrations and a bibliography is "Wiltshire and the Great War" by T S Crawford, ISBN 9781847973559, a revised edition was published in May 2012 by Crowood Press. It refers in particular to two books by N D G James, "Plain Soldiering" (Hobnob, 1987) and "Gunners at Larkhill" (Gresham 1983). Terry Crawford has also written another new book "The Canadian Army on Salisbury Plain", from Halsgrove Publishing, ISBN 97808570415555, published in June 2012.
  • Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry in the South African War 1899-1902 is an account provided by the South African Military History Society.
  • North Wilts Muster 1539 - Name Index is a list of 2800 names provided by Richard Heaton.
  • (Website temporarily unavailable - and has been for several months at May 2008)
    The website http://www.regiments.org - Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth described all regiments, and their amalgamations and name changes, with bibliographies. It includes The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry (Prince of Wales's Own), The Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh's), The Wiltshire Regiment, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment, 62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment of Foot, The Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire).





Medical Records



  • Wiltshire Local Studies Library has local newspapers from 1738, on microfilm.
  • The Newspaper Library at Colindale - my current information (October 2007) is that the BL is going to close Colindale, transferring its archives to Boston Spa. Newspapers will be viewable on film only at the British Library, until such time as their holdings are digitised. See the British Library's Newspapers Digitisation Project for up-to-date details of research facilities. Updated 25 Mar 2011.
  • Richard Heaton's newspaper index has about 50,000 names from extracts in his collection, including some from "The Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette" and "The Salisbury and Winchester Journal".
  • For other English Newspapers see OnlineNewspapers.com - England.

Poor Houses, Poor Law

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

Probate Records

  • The Wiltshire Wills Project at the record office aims to re-index, digitise and microfilm the wills. The catalogue of wills (which also covers Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, and Hampshire) is now available on-line . In addition to the comprehensive database of over 300,000 probate records, there are digital images of about 25% of the records.
  • Nick Hidden has provided abstracts, and an index of names of all persons mentioned in about 1000 Probate Documents from Hungerford and Wantage in Berkshire covering the period 1500-1858, include many relating to parts of Wiltshire.
  • Wiltshire Wills Indexes and Transcripts was provided by David Church, from transcripts by himself and other contributors. Most of those indexed were from areas between Trowbridge and Westbury, and around Salisbury. At Dec 2009 the website formerly on Geocities is not available.
  • A Wills Beneficiaries Index 1800-1858 has been given by Pat Wilson to the Society of Genealogists.
  • Nimrod Indexes include a wills index.



Social Life & Customs

  • Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs to 1516 was compiled by Dr Samantha Letters at the Centre for Metropolitan History, and is organised by county. It includes a brief summary of the early history of many large and small places, with details of markets and fairs and the people granted the right to hold them.




  • Kingsbridge Hundred - Ship Money Tax List 1635. Covers the following parishes: Badbury, Bincknoll, Broadtowne, Chisledon, Clacke, Cleeve Peper, Elcombe, Hilmarton Parish, Liddington, Lyddyard Tregoze and Midghall, Lyneham Parishe, Midghall, Overtowne, Salthrop, Swindon, Thornhill, Tockenham, Tockenham Weeke, Ufcott, Wanborough, Westlecot, Woodlockshaye, and Wootton Bassett.

Voting Registers