Somerset Family History Research

The county of Somerset is located in south west England, to the south of the Bristol Channel, although the northern part now comes within the administrative county of Avon. Somerset & Dorset Family History Society have remit for most of the county whilst Bristol & Avon Family History Society cover the part which is now in Avon.

Civil registration of births marriages and deaths is split between the modern administrative areas. If you know where an event occurred the certificates can be purchased from the local office.

Most of the historic county is covered by Somerset County Council Registration Service.

North Somerset registers are held by North Somerset Council Registration Service

The Bath area registers are held by Bath & North East Somerset Registration Service and the register indexes are searchable on-line at BathBMD.

Further registers are held by Bristol Registration Services, South Gloucestershire Registration Services and in Wiltshire the CHippenham and Trowbridge area indexes are on-line at WiltsBMD.

Before 1837 the main source of family history are Parish Registers. Somerset Record Office in Taunton hold nearly all the extant Church of England PRs and other parish records. Click the link to 'online catalogue & indexes' on the lefthand side of their website front page, and then 'list parishes' to see what is available for each parish. It also gives information about which Registration District the parish comes under.

Because Somerset Record Office is willing to sell copies of their parish register fiche for non-commercial use a very large proportion of the Somerset registers have been transcribed and are available on-line. About 2/3 of the county's old PRs are on FreeReg and many are also available as Excel files from a number of sources including YahooGroups Somerset Family History. Anyone with a family history interest in Somerset should join this group and then one or more of the individual Hundreds groups.

The most comprehensive list of Somerset PR transcriptions on-line is provided by Ian Sage. A huge number of Somerset PRs have been transcribed by Martin Southwood and friends. These excel files are available for free download and can be sorted and filtered as you wish, as can any of the Excel files on the various Yahoo Hundreds groups. Other transcripts which are in the form of html pages or Word documents can sometimes be copied and pasted into Excel to provide sort and filter facility.

I am currently transcribing a few registers from the Stowey/Chew Magna area. See what is available.

Pre 1858 Wills for Somerset (and Devon) were held at Exeter but were destroyed by enemy bombing in 1942 but some indexes and locally proved Wills survive, these are mostly to be found at Somerset Record Office.

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