Over six million Wiltshire parish records digitised on Ancestry

By Rosemary Collins, 25 May 2017 - 11:04am

Images of original records spanning 400 years are available to search on the website

Architect Christopher Wren is among those found in the records

Over six million historic parish registers documenting baptisms, marriages and burials in Wiltshire have been digitised for the first time by family history website Ancestry.

The new ‘Wiltshire Parish Registers 1538-1916’ collection features images of the original records held by Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council.

At the start of the 16th century, both the British government and the Church of England became particularly interested in record keeping and from 1538, an Act of Parliament required ministers to document key life events in their parish.

Miriam Silverman, Ancestry’s senior content manager, said the collection offered “a fascinating insight into everyday rites of passage, especially for budding family historians with ancestors in the area”.

The collection is searchable by name, birth date, parish, baptism, marriage, burial date, name of spouse and name/s of parents, making it easier for Ancestry subscribers to identify their Wiltshire ancestors.

It includes 3,266,558 1538-1812 Church of England records and, post 1813, 1,753,821 births and baptisms; 965,717 banns and marriages; and 377,867 deaths and burials.

The year with the greatest number of baptisms (7,243) and burials (5,572) was 1837, the year Queen Victoria was crowned.

Notable people include Sir Christopher Wren, the architect who designed St Paul’s Cathedral.

He was born and baptised on 10 November 1631 in the village of East Knoyle, where his family lived for the first eight years of his life.

Wren was named after his father, who is listed in the baptism records as a doctor of divinity and a rector.

He had an older brother, also called Christopher, who was baptised on 22 November 1630 but did not survive.

The collection also includes the noted suffragist Edith Bessie New, who was born to parents Frederick and Isabella in Swindon and baptised on 11 July 1877.

She went on to train as a teacher before becoming a campaigner for the Women’s Social and Political Union.

In 1908, she was one of two women who chained themselves to the railings of 10 Downing Street and smashed windows, demanding votes for women.

The release of the Ancestry records follows Findmypast’s release of parish register transcriptions by Wiltshire Family History Society last month, as part of its ‘Six Counties in Six Months’ initiative.


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