The OPC Project concept was the original idea of family historians in Cornwall who launched the first OPC project; Devon and Dorset followed next, and there are several now more counties taking part. The idea is to assist those who are researching their family history in a specific parish who might otherwise have difficulty accessing information at record offices, etc. The Wiltshire OPC Project began tentatively in 2006 and has grown from strength to strength. Information is organised by the historic Church of England parishes within the county. Although there is a strong focus on genealogical information, we also include historical and social information. All parishes have been registered as one-place studies. We now have a diary page which will be updated from time to time. You can also follow us on Twitter and on Facebook Put a face to the name - meet your OPC Team
A little information about using our website.
As mentioned previously information is laid out within parishes. There is also a page to cover the whole of the county and also a military page which relates to the county as a whole. There are also pages for research inquiries and other general information just explore the drop down menus at the top of the page. Most pages follow a set layout to assist you in finding information quickly under categories which have a set order. The Categories are Neighbouring Parishes (Contiguous); Websites; Parish Church; Parish History; Buildings & Land; Crime & Legal Matters; Directories; Education; Emigration & Migration; Employment & Business; Miscellaneous Items; Non Conformity & Other Places of Worship; People & Parish Notables; Poor Law, Charity & The Workhouse; Probate; War, Conflict and Military. Under Transcriptions at the bottom of the page can be found any Baptisms, Marriages, Burials & Census that have been completed. Categories will contain sub headings but these should be selective and contain a series of documents of the same kind such as parishioners wills. The documents themselves will normally follow a layout of oldest items first reading from left to right in columns of 3 or 4 items per row. The documents are linked to a pdf format and the title should be descriptive but concise so that you can see what you are likely to find within. Where there is a tithing or hamlet that has a fair amount of information these will have a tab (page) within that parish towards the end of the page. Photo Galleries can be found by following the links on parish pages or by accessing the main gallery section at the top of the page. The most recent parishes or items updated or expanded can be found by clicking on the images under the 3 headings towards the top of the home page. Also if you are looking for something specific such as the First World War it is possible to find a list of such items by using the search facility at the top of the page by keying in WWI.
Due to the nature of the project some pages will hold more information than others. New items are being added to the site daily.
As you can see from the Memorial Days Section to the right of the page we are adding as many soldiers memorial days as we can. If anyone knows of soldiers who's deaths are not yet listed please let the admin team know.
What is an OPC?
An OPC (on-line parish clerk) is a volunteer member of the public who "adopts" a parish in Wiltshire becoming its custodian. The OPC is then able to research the parish and transcribe historical and genealogical information for that particular parish which may be of value to family history researchers and social historians. Our motto is "What may or may not be of interest to you, will be of interest to others". This information is gathered from many different sources, for example, parish registers, census records, churchwardens and overseers accounts, historical wills, business and trade directories, church and village histories, newspaper reports, war casualty lists, etc. An on-line parish clerk should not be confused with a parish clerk engaged by a parish council or parochial church council.
Adopt a Parish and become an OPC
firstly, you don't need to live in Wiltshire, or even in the UK, to become an OPC. We have OPC's in Australia, Canada, Holland, England, New Zealand, India, Scotland and several in Wiltshire itself! Some OPC's choose to adopt a particular parish because their ancestors hailed from that village or town or because they once lived there themselves; some just want to be part of a voluntary project to help family history researchers worldwide. Others choose their parish because of a subject interest such as Australian Soldiers of WWI buried in the county.
You may feel you don't have the time to adopt a parish, but you can still support the Wiltshire OPC project by:-
- donating information you may have at home - school photographs, directories, village history booklets - in fact, any historical information on a Wiltshire parish
- transcribing - we can email records to you to transcribe at home at your own pace
- taking photographs in Wiltshire - war memorials, buildings, village scenes, plaques, etc.
If you would like to help with any of the above please contact the OPC of the parish you can help with or if the parish is vacant, contact our Administrator. Please note that you will need to register and sign in to contact OPC's/Administrator (via the Contact Us tab at the top of this page)
Steeple Ashton - Parish of the Week
"STEEPLE ASHTON, a parish, township, parish, and large village, in the hundred and division of Whorwellsdown, in the county of Wilts, 4 miles to the N.E. of Westbury, the same E. of Trowbridge, its post town, and 9 S.E. of Devizes. It lies a little to the S. of the Kennet and Avon canal, and contains the chapelries of West Ashton and Semington, and the tythings of Hinton and Littleton. It was formerly a market town, and the surrounding district was a common. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury, value with the perpetual curacy of Semington, £852, in the patronage of the Master and Fellows of Magdalene College, Cambridge. The church is a large edifice, in the perpendicular style, partly erected in 1480. It has a battlemented tower, which was formerly surmounted with a lofty spire. From this spire, which was destroyed by a storm in 1670, the parish took the addition to its name. The church is dedicated to St. Mary. In addition to the parish church there is a district church at the village of West Ashton. There area Primitive Methodist chapel and a National school. There is a small endowment for educational purposes. Petty sessions are held here, and a fair takes place on the 18th September. The parish contains 6,789 acres, chiefly the property of Walter Long, Esq., M. P., lord of the manor, who resides at Rood Ashton House, a handsome Gothic mansion, a little west of the village." [Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]
The OPC is Jo Clinton. This is a list of items transcribed for the parish. If anyone has any photographs, postcards or items of interest that they are willing to share then please contact Jo or any one of the administrators from the contact us drop down lists.
During June 2015 OPC's and transcribers uploaded 621 items to parish pages (including updated documents). New documents added as we go through July will be published here. New images are added to our galleries on a regular basis.
At the beginning of each month the site holdings list is updated to show what can be found on parish pages and elsewhere on the site at present we have over 16400 items on parish pages. Items highlighted in green have been updated; the original upload date is in the left hand column, the date when the item was uploaded with changes is in the right hand column.
The site currently has just over 1725 users and the web site has been visited over 209800 times. There are now 63 OPCs, including the Admin team and webmaster. Between them they cover 146 of 329 available parishes/villages.
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Copyright & Disclaimer
We think it is important that our users understand the strengths and limitations of this website. The OPC Project aims to provide historical and genealogical information without charge that researchers might pay a fee for elsewhere. OPC's voluntarily provide this information, often at their own expense by purchasing documents to transcribe. In most cases their transcriptions are not checked by anyone other than themselves.
Our OPC’s and volunteers are aware that material submitted for this site must be within copyright law and accreditation must be given where necessary. Our Administrator checks items as they are submitted, however, occasionally an item may ‘slip through the net.’ If this occurs, we apologise most sincerely and will correct the issue immediately upon notification.
We don't guarantee to be perfect! All information should be taken as a guide only and the original source consulted wherever possible. In many cases this will be the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre. Please note that some items are published to parish pages and are incomplete, such items will be updated as and when new information is transcribed. These are mainly ongoing projects such as the national probate index, strays index, etc.
Please note that OPC's are unable to undertake family history research for our users, but we are always willing, where possible, to advise where the information being sought might be found.
Researchers can leave compliments/comments/constructive criticism in the box at the foot of each parish page or in our guest book. You may also rate the page using the star option on each parish page. Thank you.