Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors, Vol. 2 – Contents

Whilst Volume 1 of Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors covered the basics of family history research, this volume will extend your knowledge and offer more sources for you to explore in the hunt for additional background information on your forefathers.

After more than 30 years of researching Gloucestershire ancestry, I feel that I am only just beginning to chip away at what is available. There is always more to find! I hope this book will enable researchers to consider aspects that they have not looked at before.

Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors – Volume 2

  • is the second in the series concentrating on Gloucestershire sources
  • goes beyond the basics to look at more advanced topics
  • provides new sources for those seeking background information
  • offers possibilities to those who have hit the brick wall
  • is full of tables, illustrations, maps and examples
  • includes a full surname, place name and subject index
  • published in 2013
  • ISBN: 978-0-9571440-1-9
  • 272 pages.
  • Price £12.00 plus p&p as shown

Contents include:

1. Parish Chest

The parish chest contained all documents relating to life in the parish as well as the church plate.  These documents may give you information about the day to day life of your ancestor, when he or she was in need of help, whether they were apprenticed by the parish, if he helped to maintain the roads or if he became one of the parish officials.  Even if they don’t hold information on your particular ancestor, they make great background reading for how life was in the parish itself. This chapter contains details on:

  • Incumbent records other than baptism, marriage and burial registers
  • The Vestry and its minutes
  • Churchwardens’ accounts
  • Overseers of the Poor including documents on settlement and removal, bastardy and affiliation orders
  • Apprenticeships
  • Petty Constables
  • Highways Surveyor
  • Petty Constables

2. Education Records

Education records can give you a clear view of life in the parish in which your ancestor lived as well as details of parents and possibly siblings.  School Board and School Manager records are more general but give good background information on education in general as well as the occasional facts on individuals.  Records from the individual schools are best for information on specific children.  This chapter contains details on:

  • a brief history of education
  • early schools in Gloucestershire
  • the type of records to be found
  • log books
  • admission and attendance registers
  • punishment and accident books
  • wartime evacuees
  • how to find a school
  • Evening classes
  • Further and Higher Education

3. Apprentices and Freemen

Usually around the age of fourteen, many boys and some girls were bound apprentice in order to learn a trade.  They would normally serve seven years before being qualified to work in that trade themselves.  At that point, they could choose to become freemen when they would be given certain privileges denied to ordinary unskilled labourers.  This chapter explains what records you may find if your ancestor was apprenticed or became a freeman.  It includes:

  • Merchant and trade guilds
  • Rules and regulations of trade guilds
  • Merchant Apprenticeships
  • Craft apprenticeships
  • Charity apprenticeships
  • Pauper apprenticeships
  • Apprenticeship indentures
  • Becoming a Freeman, by apprenticeship, patrimony, fine or gift
  • Available sources

4. Military Service

Most of us have ancestors who served in the armed forces at some stage of their lives, whether the Army, Navy, Air Force or earlier militia.  This chapter includes a variety of records on:

  • early muster rolls
  • the militia and military surveys
  • substitutes
  • the Civil Wars and the Siege of Gloucester
  • Voluntary Infantry and Artillery Units
  • North and South Gloucestershire Regiments of Foot
  • Royal Gloucestershire Hussars
  • Gloucestershire Regiment
  • Press gangs
  • Sea Fencibles

5. The Workhouse

Our ancestors dreaded the idea of having to go into the workhouse but, for those who had reached a state of desperation, it offered a very basic level of existence.  The parish authorities had looked after the poor in their area for centuries until, in 1834, Poor Law Unions were set up to take control.

This chapter briefly covers the early history of poverty, the institution of the Boards of Guardians and Poor Law Unions, life in the workhouse and the records that you hope have survived for your region.  You will find examples of a variety of documents and an Appendix lists all the parishes in each Poor Law Union. This chapter includes:

  • Early Poor Laws and the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834
  • Poor rates
  • The Board of Guardians
  • Gloucestershire Unions
  • workhouse hours and regulations
  • workhouse master’s journal
  • admission and discharge registers
  • register of births
  • pauper description books
  • register of maintenance cases
  • registers of apprentices
  • punishment book
  • outdoor relief books

6. Hospitals and Asylums

Hospital records are not always easy to find as all patient records are covered by the Hundred Year disclosure rule but there are items that you can find.  This chapter will give you the necessary information to learn what is available.  Gloucestershire is well provided with hospital and asylum records for the 19th century and these can make for fascinating reading, especially if one of the sufferers is an ancestor of yours. This chapter contains details on:

  • Early hospitals
  • Cholera and smallpox epidemics
  • Vaccination certificates and registers
  • Board of Guardians’ Medical Officer of Health
  • Pest houses
  • Sanatoriums
  • General, cottage, isolation and VAD hospitals
  • Gloucestershire County Asylums
  • Private asylums
  • Pauper lunatics
  • Case histories
  • Lunatics’ estates

7. Emigration

Many Gloucestershire people emigrated to foreign shores, leaving the county and country of their birth behind them.  They settled mainly in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India  and South Africa though smaller settlements appeared elsewhere.  The existence of Gloucestershire place names in foreign countries is usually a good indicator that some county people made their homes in the area.  Was your ancestor one of them?  Did they travel to the New World in the early 17th century following The Mayflower or maybe they left during the hard times of the 19th century?  Were they hoping to escape religious persecution?  Perhaps they did not go willingly, being transported for their crimes, but then made a fresh start in the new country? This chapter includes:

  • Reasons for emigration
  • Early British settlements in America
  • Button Gwinnett and the Declaration of Independence
  • Early Transportation to America
  • 19th century assisted emigration to America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand
  • Castle Garden and Ellis Island websites for American immigrants
  • Example of supplies and travel for emigrants
  • Unassisted emigration
  • Emigration for religious reasons
  • Sources for information on emigrants
  • Child migrants

 8. Gloucestershire Maps

Maps can help you locate where your ancestor lived and to understand the changes that occurred over the years in the area.  By understanding the geography of the area, you can develop a much better understanding of how they lived and worked.  The earliest maps drawn were usually for the county as a whole so very little detailed information is given on them.  But they were followed by a variety of more detailed maps.  If you are hoping to locate the property in which your ancestor spent his life, you need to look all available maps of the area. This chapter includes information on:

  • Sources for finding a location
  • Early maps
  • a 15th century rental of Gloucester
  • estate maps and manorial maps
  • inclosure maps and awards
  • tithe maps and schedules of owners and occupiers
  • Ordnance Survey maps
  • 19th century Maps for the Post Office, Board of Health, Insurance, etc..
  • Lloyd George survey of 1910
  • National Farm Survey of 1940s

 9. Directories, Poll Books and Electoral Registers

Directories are a much neglected source of information yet they contain a wealth of information about the area in which your ancestor lived.  Created to serve a variety of purposes, the 20th century trade and street directories can list hospitals and asylums, schools and colleges, places of worship and other local institutions.  Poll books, the forerunners of current electoral registers, actually state who your ancestor voted for, assuming he qualified. This chapter contains information on:

  • Early directories
  • Universal British Directory of 1790s
  • Useful information to be found in a directory
  • Types of directory
  • Online directories
  • Poll books giving voters’ names and who they voted for
  • Electoral registers from 1832
  • Gloucestershire electoral districts

10. Taxes and Tithes

Taxation, whether by the government, local authorities or, in earlier days, the church, has been around for a thousand years.  Gloucestershire has some records from the 14th century, allowing you to discover if your research surname was in the county way back then. Over the centuries, a variety of different items have been taxed – houses, hearths, windows and sheep to name a few!  Records exist of land taxes for most of the county around the start of the 19th century which list the head of household.  Tithes were paid to the church to support the establishment and the parish. This chapter includes information on:

  •  Lay Subsidy Rolls from the 14th century
  • Lay Subsidy Rolls from 16th century
  • Hearth Tax
  • Window Tax
  • Land Tax
  • Church Tithes
  • Poor Rate assessments

11. Manorial Records

This chapter explains briefly how the manorial system worked and the type of records you can expect to find, assuming, of course, that they have survived – many have.  Although the idea of a manor makes us think of times long past, manorial records can even exist for the 20th century.  The manorial court records not only give an insight into how our ancestors behaved, the property records can demonstrate how property was inherited over the generations, giving us evidence of early inheritance. The chapter includes:

  • A brief explanation of the manorial system, its people and customs
  • Different types of land occupation
  • Domesday Book
  • List of manorial employees, such as steward, bailiff, reeve, etc.
  • List of people living in the manor, such as cottar, villain, copyholder, freeholder, etc.
  • Manorial Documents Register
  • Gloucestershire manors
  • List of manorial records available such as court rolls, admissions, presentments, heriots, estreats, rentals, etc.
  • Samples of each type of record
  • Court records
  • Records of tenants
  • Where to find manorial documents

12. Estate Records

For almost a thousand years, Gloucestershire has been divided into manors and other great estates owned by a relatively few wealthy families.  In order to run their estates efficiently, the landowners kept records of their tenants and their employees and many of these have survived.  Some estate collections still remain with the families, some are held in counties other than Gloucestershire but others are available for research. This chapter on estate records includes:

  • Gloucestershire Landowners
  • Great houses of Gloucestershire
  • Estate accounts
  • Household records
  • Employees records
  • Tenants’ records
  • Maps and plans
  • Sales documents
  • Family records
  • Estate collections
  • Crown, church and borough estates
  • How to find estate records

13. Newspapers and Periodicals

This final chapter in Volume 2 relates to local newspapers and periodicals.  With more and more old newspapers becoming available online, these are a wonderful resource for adding flesh to the skeleton of your family tree.  However, there are still many newspapers available to look at that have not yet been digitised so knowledge of what existed and what they can tell you is important.  This chapter provides samples of the major types of article you might find. It includes:

  • A brief outline of the history of national and local newspapers
  • Lists of what topics might be included in a newspaper and examples
  • Dates of earliest and latest newspapers
  • Local newspapers such as the Gloucester Citizen, Gloucester Journal, Cheltenham Echo, Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucester Graphic, Stroud News and Journal, Forest of Dean Examiner, etc..
  • Online newspapers
  • Information on the contents of Gazettes
  • Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society
  • Gloucestershire Family History Society Journals
  • Gentleman’s Magazine and Gloucestershire Notes and Queries