Welcome to the Wiltshire County & General Information Page
The information found on this page covers the county as a whole, lists of items that cover more than one parish or the information cannot be pinned down to any one particular parish.
History of Wiltshire
The Origin of "Wiltshire"
The name is derived from that of the former county town of Wilton and is recorded as Wiltunscir in an 870 AD document. In comparison with many modern counties, it may therefore be regarded as a shortened form of Wiltonshire. Wilton acquired its name from the river on which it stands, the Wylye, which itself is derived from a Celtic word meaning tricky - a reference to its habit of unpredictable flooding. The biggest town in the county by far is Swindon in the north east corner - the only major industrial centre. Wiltshire is larger than the average county in area, but smaller than average in population, a direct result of its largely agricultural nature.
Books about Wiltshire Parishes
Wiltshire by Frank R. Heath - A Parish by Parish Account Notes on Wiltshire Place Names 1911 with kind permission of Keith Scales.
Chalk and Cheese
It is not widely known that the saying 'as different as chalk from cheese' originated in Wiltshire. It refers to the division of the county into two distinct but unequal parts. Approximately two-thirds, in the south and east are chalk country characterised by rolling downs. Just a few decades ago nearly all this land was unploughed. Now most is cultivated - the downs became a granary for wheat and barley. The lowlands of the north-west are, by contrast, sheltered country, meadow and dairy land - a land of milk and cheese.
Customs, Folklore and Spooky Things
Festivals and Holidays
Why Wiltshire folk are called Moonrakers.
One night, back in the 18th century when a full moon was shining down on the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, a band of miscreants were busy hiding stolen kegs of brandy in a wagon load of hay. On hearing the sound of horses hooves, they hastily dumped their illicit haul in the nearby pond. Two Excise men arrived on the scene, searched the wagon and finding nothing, rode away. Evidently still suspicious, they doubled back where they found the smugglers trying to recover something from the pond with their hay rakes. When asked what they were up to, one of the culprits pointed to the splendid reflection of the moon on the pond and said "Zomebody 'ave lost thic thur cheese an we'm a rakin' for 'em in thic thur pond". The Excise men smiled and went on their way to Devizes, completely fooled by the 'simple rustics' who had successfully pretended to be fools. From this legend, Wiltshire folk have been forever nicknamed "Moonrakers". A clear favourite for the location of the legend is the pond known as The Crammer in Devizes. Moonrakers photo gallery
Poetry, Rhymes and Songs
Buildings and Land
Historical Buildings & Architecture
Maps and Relative Information
Where in Wiltshire
Not sure which parish your village, hamlet or area comes under? Then the following list may be of help. The list also includes local and alternative names for places within our parishes. If you know of a village, hamlet or area which should be included in this list, please contact Teresa Lewis (Administrator) Thank you.
County & General Information Useful for the Family and Local Historian
Abbreviations Used in Family and Local History
Several historical Wiltshire parishes have been transferred to other county jurisdictions as and when boundary changes occurred therefore information for those parishes would be held by the new countys' archive service. As parish pages develop you will find reference to locations where material relative to Wiltshire is held. Below are details of depositories and links to their websites where information such as telephone numbers, charges, opening times and other details including directions may be found. Please note that different archives may have different terms and conditions for visiting or copying material.
|Name of Depository||Website||Location|
|Berkshire Record Office||Website Home Page||9 Coley Avenue, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 6AF|
|Bristol Record Office||Website Home Page||B' Bond Warehouse (via Create Centre), Smeaton Road, Bristol, BS1 6XN|
|Dorset History Centre||Website Home Page||Bridport Road, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1RP|
|Gloucester Record Office||Website Home Page||Clarence Row, Alvin Street, Gloucester, GL1 3DW|
|Hampshire Archives and Local Studies||Website Home Page||Sussex Street, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 8TH|
|London Metropolitan Archives||Website Home Page||40 Northampton Road, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 0HB|
|National Archives (Public Record Office (PRO))||Website Home Page||Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU|
|Oxfordshire History Centre||Website Home Page||St. Luke's Church, Temple Road, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2HT|
|Somerset Archives and Local Studies||Website Home Page||Somerset Heritage Centre, Brunel Way, Norton Fitzwarren, Taunton, TA2 6SF|
|Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre (WSHC)||Website Home Page||Cocklebury Road, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN15 3QN|
|Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre (WSHC) - Community Histories||Website Home Page||Online Service|
Baptisms, Church Marriages, Burials and Bishops Transcripts
Most of these parish registers including Bishops Transcripts are held by the local archives although some including those still in use may be retained by the parish church itself. Some churches offer a service where you can purchase a copy of a baptisms certificate. It has been known that if you take a photocopy of the entry from the archived material to the church for a small fee the church will issue a baptismal certificate. It may not be original but does make a nice item to own and enhance you family history. For archives that may hold Wiltshire information please refer to the Archives section above.
Bristol Record Office hold several BT's and other records for North Wiltshire Parishes and items linked to Wiltshire Parishes such as charity donations etc. Several parishes come under the Diocese of Gloucester and Bristol jurisdiction and not Salisbury as would probably be expected. You may contact the BRO by following the link.
As you probably know most Brides got married in their home parish, in fact this was a legal requirement for many years, but finding where a Groom got married is not so easy. Most were married within a few miles or so of their home parish but even this can involve several hundred square miles of countryside and up to 15 or 20 parishes. Using the transcriptions available on this website we decided to create an index listing the groom’s name and surname, the year and date and the Parish where married. Once a likely candidate is found you may then be able to go straight to the individual parish to get the bride’s name, both their home parishes and any other available info.
Birth, Marriage & Death Certificates
Historical birth, marriage and death certificates previously kept by individual Register Offices around the county are now held at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre. Those registrations made in current registers are retained by the local registry office until full and then transferred. For more information go to the WSHC Website. New legislation will no doubt develop the way certificates and registration are dealt with in the future. At present the General Record Office (GRO) at Southport are experimenting with an online pdf certificate service.
The UK National Census was taken every ten years from 1801 until the present day with the exception of 1941 due to Word War II. Most records prior to 1841 no longer exist and some are missing for 1841 in this county. The census over the period of existence has developed into a useful tool for the family and social historian. Each census grows with the information it supplies. Below is a list of the dates on which the census was taken in each of the census years. All were taken on a Sunday although the 1931 was taken over a two night period. The census is not released for public viewing for 100 years after its date of release. The 1921 census is scheduled for release to the public in 2022 although there are petitions in place to try and get an earlier release date however the Census Act of 1920 is still in place and inhibits the early release at this time. The 1931 census sadly was lost in its entirety in a fire in a store in Hayes, Middlesex on the night of the 19th December 1942. There is a large gap between the 1921 census and the next available for research taken in 1951 (release 2052). The National Identity Card Register may help fill part of that gap. (See Below)
Dates Census Taken
1841 - 6 June 1851 - 30 March 1861 - 7 April 1871 - 2 April 1881 - 3 April 1891 - 5 April 1901 - 31 March 1911 - 2 April 1921 - 19 June 1931 - 26/27 April
Double Year Dates
Before the year 1752 the new year began on 25th March, known as Lady Day. To avoid confusion, dates between 1st January and 24th March pre 1752 have been labelled with both years ie 1735/6. Some transcribers have taken the later year to be the date eg. 1st January 1753/54 would be transcribed as 1st January 1754.
National Identity Card Register
This Register was compiled from details taken on the night of Friday 29th September 1939. Details recorded for each person were: Residence, Name, Sex, Date of birth, Marital status, Occupation and if a member of armed forces or reserves. Although searching for members of the armed forces do not seem to return any information. For further details about this register and how to access the information may be found on 1911 Census Website. The 1939 Register as it will be known will be available via Find My Past (fees are payable) as from 2nd November 2015. The Register may not be as useful to those researching after 1915 as it will be for future generations. Unless a death of an individual can be confirmed then the record will remain locked for 100 years. At the launch in November 2015 the charges to view were quite high but have now been included in as part of subscriptions. The Register was updated with new information as late as 1981 when the upkeep was deemed too expensive to continue. It is possible toget a locked record open under certain criteria and conditions
Wiltshire Notes and Queries
These volumes containing many interesting items on parishes and families of Wiltshire. They were the forerunners of the various journals produced by various different societies around the county.
Emigration and Strays
Assorted General Items
Emigration to America and the USA
Emigration to Australia
Adverts for Assisted Emigration
Employment and Positions of Authority
Agriculture, Farming and Land
Ploughing & Shepherding
Apprentice records published here may not necessarily mean that the apprentice was from the parish but was apprenticed to a master within the parish. In some cases we know the apprentice has a link to Wiltshire but we do not know the specific parish.
Wiltshire Society Apprentices (Parish of Origin Unknown)
Council, Government & Honorary Posts
Council Services and Employees
Inventors & Inventions
Medicine & Science
License to Practice Medicine Extracts
Medical Licenses from 1599-1798 may be found on individual parish pages and are listed in the index
Occupation Related Items
Old Terms and Descriptions
Terms and descriptions found in old legal documents and manuscripts, several are of Latin derivation which may prove useful when looking at ancient wills and legal documents. If anyone would like to add to the lists, please contact the administrator via the contact us links on the home page
Descriptions commencing with letter
Law and Order
Wiltshire Constabulary Photo Gallery. Many of the images in this gallery were kindly donated by Chris Franklin of Devizes.
|Convictions at County Assizes Lent 1818||Convictions at County Assizes Lent 1818||Quarter Session Appearance 1820||Court Sessions 1829|
|For Trial at Fisherton Anger Gaol 1830||Special Juries 1876-1877 County Court Sessions 1820|
Prisons and Prisoners
Wiltshire Constabulary/Wiltshire Police
Newspapers and Trade Directories
The earliest Wiltshire newspaper to have survived is the Salisbury & Winchester Journal published as the Salisbury Journal or Weekly Advertiser in 1738 and still continues as the Salisbury Journal today. Other Wiltshire publications include the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette and the Wiltshire Independent. Other Newspapers carry reports on big Wiltshire based stories. The British Library has published many of these Newspapers under the banner of the British Newspaper Archive (A fee is payable for access unless you have a subscription to some family history websites where up to a certain period of publication is included)
Several Trade Directories were published for the County which may be viewed via the University of Leicester's Historical Directories Website. Kellys Directory was published until at least 1939 and the Post Office Directory was published until 1875 (Kellys and Post Office Directories are often the same publication as the two merged). Later directories of interest are the GPO telephone directories dating back to at least just after WWI up to the present day Telephone books such as Yellow Pages and Thompson local directories.
Australian Newspaper Extracts
Associations, Clubs, Organisations and Societies
Elections and Polls
Gentry & Nobility
Local Voluntary Services
Miscellaneous People Related Items
Postcard Index held by the administrators and OPCs that have postal information recorded.
Falstone Day Book
This is a record of fines imposed on those loyal to King Charles during the Civil War by the Parliament headed by Oliver Cromwell. The record contains hundred of names where a name can be identified within a parish the record has been placed on that page. However their are many names that do not quote a specific parish therefore we have published the complete record here.
Religion and Worship
Baptism records for the Causeway Primitive Methodist Church (part of the Chippenham Circuit) for the years 1842-1910 have been transcribed for the first time by Ruth Ranger; you will find them on the Chippenham Parish Page. The Chippenham Circuit covered the town of Chippenham and parishes within about a 15 mile radius of the town, so they are worth a look if you are searching for an elusive baptism.
Mormons/Church of Latter Day Saints
Wiltshire Family History Centre
Trowbridge Brook Road, Trowbridge. For more details visit the Family Search Web Page
London Family History Centre The London Family History Centre website is an excellent resource. You can access all details of films they hold for Wiltshire by parish. The site also gives the location of where copies of the films are held in other locations within the UK.
Other LDS Centres in the UK and Ireland
LDS Centre Locator This link will help you search for Family History Centre's worldwide.
Quakers/Society of Friends
Researching Quaker families? Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham holds the quarterly journals entitled "Wiltshire Notes and Queries" which include birth, marriage and burial records of many Quaker or Society of Friends meeting houses. We also have copies of these publications and the links may be found above under County General Information. They are also available to view online at Wiltshire Community History and University Of Toronto Archive Library amongst others. The journal book segments you need to look out for are "Quakers in Wiltshire" and "Quakerism in Wiltshire". If you are searching further afield go to Library of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain
|County Wide Quaker Births 1648-1837||County Wide Quaker Marriages 1657-1837||County Wide Quaker Burials 1660-1837|
|Quakers in Massachusetts & Pensylvania||Quakers in Philadelphia 1682 - 1750||Society of Friends Subscription Receipt 1936|
Wills and Probate
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre have thousands of digital images of wills in their on-line database. More info at Wiltshire Wills. The database is searchable by both name and by parish. Basic information such as date of probate, documents held.
Wiltshire Bona Vacantia List published by the Treasury Solicitor the list, shown here as a research aid to family historians, contains the names of those who have died intestate in Wiltshire. An alternate Bona Vacantia listing can be found here.
Wiltshire or not? That is the question! Your Assistance is Required
The images of places inthe above gallery could be in Wiltshire, those of people are known to have Wiltshire connections. Your help in identifying any of these images would be greatly appreciated. If you can help, contact Teresa Lewis, Administrator via the Contact Us Tab at the top of the page. Thank you
The places below and the documents that relate to them are found in Wiltshire related records. They are placed here as we are unable to associate the place within a parish. If anyone knows where the places are located in Wiltshire or even elsewhere please let the administrator know.