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 This 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.
Although most items are published on parish pages please also check the Wiltshire Additional Parish Page, Wiltshire County Wide Page, Wiltshire Military Page and the Nationwide Page. All of these may contain additional information not published on a parish page.
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 whose 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 do not 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. Once you adopt a parish then you become its custodian by researching and building on the resources on the parish page. Even if a parish is adopted then other contributors are still welcome to submit items for inclusion.
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)
For a complete list of vacant parishes and other positions you could help with please go to our diary page
Trowbridge - Parish of the Month
Trowbridge of the past
"TROWBRIDGE, a parish and post and market town in the hundred of Melksham, North division of the county of Wilts, 103 miles from London, 10 S.W. from Devizes, 9½ N.W. from Warminster, and 32 N.W. from Salisbury. It is a station on the Great Western railway. It is situated on a rocky eminence near the river Bias, across which is a stone bridge, and about a mile from the Kennet and Avon canal. The parish contains the tythings of Studley, Staverton, and Little Trowle, the two last of which are mentioned in Domesday book. It was anciently a royal manor, and had a castle at Courthill with seven towers, which Stephen took from Humphrey de Bohun, who held it for the Empress Matilda. This castle was rebuilt by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, but having fallen into decay, its site was given by Henry VIII. to Sir Edward Seymour, in whose possession it remained until the marriage of Lady Frances Seymour, daughter of Algernon, 7th Duke of Somerset, with the Marquess of Granby, afterwards Duke of Rutland, from whose family it was purchased by Thomas Timbrel. It is now in the possession of William Stancomb, Esq., who purchased it from the widow of the late Thomas Timbrel, since which he has built a very fine market-house at a cost of nearly £5,000. The town is irregularly built, and the streets are narrow and ill-constructed, except the main thoroughfare, which is spacious. It is paved, lighted with gas, and supplied with excellent water. The stone cross in the market-place, which stood here in Leland's time, was removed in the early part of the present century. There are two banks, a savings-bank, police-station, and court-hall. Petty sessions are held on the first Wednesday in every month, and a county court every two months. The town is under the management of a local board and town commissioners. The manufacture of woollen cloth was introduced at an early period, and must have soon become a thriving branch of trade, as Camden mentions that Trowbridge was then famous for the clothing trade: the articles made are kerseymeres, tweed, and broadcloth. The population of the parish in 1861 was 10,487, and of the town 9,626. The living is a rectory,* with the curacy of St. Stephen's annexed, in the diocese of Sarum, value £600. The church, dedicated to St. James, is old, with a square tower at the W. end, containing eight bells; it has been restored at an outlay of about £8,000. There are fragments of ancient painted glass in some of the windows, and attached to the eastern ends of the aisles are two private chapels. In addition to the parish church are the district churches of Trinity, Studley, and Staverton, the livings of which are perpetual curacies, varying in value from £230 to £110. Trinity church was erected in 1838 at the W. end of the town. The parochial charities produce about £285 per annum, besides several almshouses. There are National and British schools for both sexes, including infants. The Independents, Wesleyans, Presbyterians, and General and Particular Baptists have chapels. Market days are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. An annual fair is held on the 5th August and two following days." [Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]
The parish has an entry on GenUKI, Vision of Britain and British History Online also feature this parish. The Parish is included in the community history listings on the WSHC Website. The town and its individual parishes within have many websites containing material of use to a varied audience. Details held by Wikipedia can be found here. Trowbridge has many Listed Buildings included on the British Listed Buildings website.
The parish OPC is Ros Dunning. Being a large parish Ros has a lot of work to be completed. 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 Ros or the administrator from the contact us drop down lists. Also if anyone would consider assisting Ros with transcripts for this parish she will be only too please to hear from you.
During April 2016 OPC's and transcribers uploaded 396 items to parish pages (including updated documents). New documents added as we go through May will be published here. New images are added to our galleries on a regular basis. At present it is estimated that we have in the region 5000 items awaiting upload, revamping or transcribing (however much more information is available elsewhere to be gathered in and processed).
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 17900 items on parish pages. Items highlighted in green have been updated; Those highlighted in red or yellow are being re-transcribed and are available for look up purposes; 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.
We currently have 63 OPC's and 6 Consultants who cover between them 135 parishes/pages of the 334 available. We also have 19 transcribers registered (not all active at present)
The site currently has over 600 registered returning users and the web site has been visited over 258200 times.
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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.
If you find this site useful please tell others - if you have a problem with it then please tell us. Users of the site are invited to leave comments/constructive criticism &c. 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.