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Welcome to the Wiltshire County 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 and Rhymes
Wiltshire Dialect Poem - Figgety Pooden Wiltshire Rhymes & Tales by Edward Slow of Wilton 1894 with kind permission of Keith Scales.
Buildings and Land
Historical Buildings & Architecture
County General Information
BMD Certificates, Census & Parish Registers
Historical birth, marriage and death certificates previously kept by individual Register Offices around the county are now held at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre (but not those recorded in registers still in use). For more information go to the WSHC Website
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.
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 entirity 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.
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 - 26/27th April
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 member of armed forces or reserves. 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 present (November 2015 (launch)) then the charges are quite high. The Register was updated with new information as late as 1981 when the upkeep was deemed too expensive to continue.
Emigration and Strays
Employment and Positions of Authority
Agriculture and Land
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.
|Joseph Alexander 1717||Ann Allaway 1754||William Archard 1745||John Arnold 1754||John Axford 1741|
|William Bailey 1754||Elizabeth Ball 1750||John Bamfield 1720
||John Barrer 1721|
Council and Government Posts
Poor Law and the Workhouses
Law and Order
Wiltshire Constabulary Photo Gallery images kindly supplied by Chris Franklyn
Prisons and Prisoners
Wiltshire Constabulary/Wiltshire Police
Miscellaneous Items of County Interest
|Language of Hatchments
||Shroving Song||Wiltshire Card
|County Bits and Pieces 1731-1808
||Secrets of Farming Book Subscribers 1863||County Council Election Notice 1925|
|Lifting Cream Sales Ban 1951
||European Elections 2014
||Wiltshire Link Scheme 2014|
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.
Postcard Index held by the administrators and OPCs that have postal information recorded.
Associations, Clubs, Organisations and Societies
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.
|Grooms Index Surname A-B||Grooms Index Surnames C-F||Grooms Index Surnames G-I|
|Grooms Index Surnames J-O||Grooms Index Surnames P-S||Grooms Index Surnames T-Z|
|Grooms Index Missing Surnames or Illegible|
The 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 our Chippenham OPC; find them on the Chippenham Information 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.
Quakers in Wiltshire
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
On the individual parish pages Tuck Family research items also contain the names of many Quaker births, marriages and deaths.
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!
Wiltshire Or Not photo gallery. The places could be in Wiltshire, the 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