Bristol, Gloucestershire Genealogy
Guide to the City of Bristol, Gloucestershire ancestry, family history, and genealogy: parish registers, transcripts, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.
|Bristol Wiki Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
- 1 History
- 2 Resources
- 2.1 Cemeteries
- 2.2 Church Records
- 2.3 Census Records
- 2.4 Civil Registration
- 2.5 Court Records
- 2.6 Crime and Punishment
- 2.7 Emigration
- 2.8 Local Histories
- 2.9 Marriage Licences
- 2.10 Military Records
- 2.11 Newspapers
- 2.12 Occupations
- 2.13 Probate Records
- 2.14 Maps and Gazetteers
- 3 Websites
- 4 References
BRISTOL, a city and county of itself, and a considerable port, situated near the mouth of the Bristol Channel, and between the counties of Gloucester and Somerset, into both of which the town extends, 34 miles (S. W. by S.) from Gloucester, 12 (N. W.) from Bath, and 118 (W.) from London; containing, in the old city, 64,266 inhabitants, exclusively of those in Clifton, Bedminster, and the out portions of the parishes of St. James, St. Paul, and St. Philip and St. Jacob, which form the suburbs. 
Bristol was created a county borough (a borough or a city independent of county council control). There were a considerable number of parishes and chapels associated and attached to it--some of which did not reside physically-speaking within the city proper, but lay outside of the city, but still within its jurisdictional boundaries. In 1888, it expanded by annexing some parts of south Gloucestershire in 1898 and 1904.
Bristol was included as part of the county of Avon along with Bath and large portions of Gloucestershire and Somerset when Avon was created in 1974. In 1996, the County of Avon was disbanded and split into four parts, namely:
1. The City and County of Bristol
2. South Gloucestershire – formed from the Kingswood and North Avon districts.
3. North Somerset – formed from the Woodspring district.
4. Bath and North East Somerset – formed from the Bath and Wansdyke districts.
Bristol is favorably located on the wide river Severn estuary. This river estuary is known for its high tides, especially when the river contains much 'fresh water' from rains. Because of this, sailing ships could be warped out from the dock, and could then tack easily out to the Irish Sea.
Because of its location, by the 12th century Bristol was an important port, handling much of England's trade with Ireland, including slaves. In 1247 a new stone bridge was built, which was replaced by the current Bristol Bridge in the 1760s, and the town was extended to incorporate neighboring suburbs, becoming in 1373 a county in its own right.
In the 15th century, Bristol was the second most important port in the country. A number of intrepid sailing masters left from Bristol. culminating in John Cabot's 1497 voyage of exploration to North America and the subsequent expeditions undertaken by Bristol merchants to the new world up to 1508.
One of the most heinous aspects of British history was tied to Bristol. Along with Liverpool, it became a center for the Triangular trade between Britain, Africa, and North America. In the first stage of slavery triangle, manufactured goods were taken to West Africa and exchanged for Africans who were then, in the second stage or middle passage, transported across the Atlantic in brutal conditions. The third leg of the triangle brought plantation goods such as sugar, tobacco, rum, rice and cotton back across the Atlantic, along with small number of slaves, who were sold to the aristocracy of Britain as house servants.
During the 19th century Samuel Plimsoll, "the sailor's friend", campaigned to make the seas safer. He was shocked by the number of ships he saw with completely overloaded cargoes, and successfully fought for a compulsory load line on ships. This line is still known today as the "Plimsoll line."
Bristol remained the second port of Britain until the advent of steam driven vessels, obviating the need for a wide estuary to tack. Even today, however, Bristol is an important maritime location.
Memorial Inscriptions available online at Bristol and Avon Family History Society website - free.
- Includes dozens of Bristol parish church and nonconformist burial grounds
Major civil cemeteries:
Early parish register transcripts FamilySearch
- Bristol All Saints
- Bristol Christ Church with St Ewen
- Bristol St Augustine
- Bristol St James
- Bristol St John the Baptist
- Bristol St Mary le Port
- Bristol St Mary Redcliffe
- Bristol St Michael and All Angels
- Bristol St Nicholas with St Leonard
- Bristol St Peter
- Bristol St Phillip and St Jacob
- Bristol St Stephen
- Bristol St Thomas
- Bristol St Werburgh
- Bristol Temple
- Bristol Christ Church Barton Hill
- Bristol Emmanuel Church
- Bristol Holy Trinity
- Bristol St Agnes
- Bristol St Aidan
- Bristol St Andrew
- Bristol St Barnabas
- Bristol St Clement
- Bristol St George
- Bristol St George, Brandon Hill
- Bristol St John the Baptist Frenchay
- Bristol St Jude
- Bristol St Mary Redcliffe Mission Church
- Bristol St Matthias
- Bristol St Paul
- Bristol St Simon
Here's a "Comprehensive List of Bristol City Parishes and Episcopal Chapels". Print out this list as a guide to help you more thoroughly search all of these parish (chapel) registers.
Many of Bristol City's parish and chapel registers have been or are being indexed and made searchable online (Church of England Church Records): England, Bristol Parish Registers, 1538-1900 at FamilySearch Historical Collections. Description. Bristol has about 60-plus parishes and chapels within its boundary.
- Non Conformist Baptisms - Roman Catholic, St Joseph (later St Mary on the Quay) 1835 - 1837 available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
Society of Friends
- England, Gloucester, Bristol, church records for the Bristol & Somerset Society of Friends Quarterly Meeting, 1644-1837 images online at FamilySearch - free (some restrictions may apply)
- Monthly Meeting of Bristol Births (1654-1837) online at Ancestry (£).
- Monthly Meeting of Bristol Marriages (1659-1837) online at Ancestry (£).
- Monthly Meeting of Bristol Burials (1655-1837) online at Ancestry (£).
- England & Wales, Society Of Friends (Quaker) Births 1578-1841, includes Bristol Monthly Meeting, online at findmypast (£).
- England & Wales, Society Of Friends (Quaker) Marriages 1578-1841, includes Bristol Monthly Meeting, online at findmypast (£).
- England & Wales, Society Of Friends (Quaker) Burials 1578-1841, includes Bristol Monthly Meeting, online at findmypast (£).
- Mortimer, Russell. Minute Book of the Men's Meeting of the Society of Friends in Bristol, 1667-1686 (1971) available online at Bristol Record Society website - free. Includes appendix of biographical sketches.
- Mortimer, Russell. Minute Book of the Men's Meeting of the Society of Friends in Bristol, 1686-1704 (1978) available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- Monthly Meeting of Bristol (1662-1687) online at Ancestry (£).
The Inhabitants of Bristol in 1696, by Elizabeth Ralph and Mary E. Williams, 1968, online - free.
Census records from 1841 to 1911 are available online. For access, see England Census Records and Indexes Online. Census records from 1841 to 1891 are also available on film through a Family History Center or at the Family History Library.
Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from July 1837 to the present day. The civil registration article tells more about these records. There are several Internet sites with name lists or indexes. A popular site is FreeBMD.
Neil Dun's FreeBMD Church Cross-reference website helps researchers identify at which churches marriages listed on FreeBMD took place.
- Veale, E.W.W. The Great Red Book of Bristol, 4 vols. (1931-1953) available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- Ralph, Elizabeth. The Great White Book of Bristol (1979) available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- Rich, E.E. The Staple Court Books of Bristol (1934) available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- Nott, H.E. and Elizabeth Ralph The Deposition Books of Bristol, 1643-1647, 1650-1654, 2 vols. (1935, 1948) available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
Crime and Punishment
- Lamione, Georges. Bristol Gaol Delivery Fiats, 1741-1799 (1989) available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- Hargreaves-Mawdsley, R. and N. Dermott Harding. Bristol and America, a Record of the First Settlers in the Colonies of North America, 1654-1685: Including the Names with Places of Origin of More than 10,000 Servants to Foreign Plantations Who Sailed from the Port of Bristol to Virginia, Maryland, and Other Parts of the Atlantic Coast, and Also to the West Indies from 1654 to 1685 (London: R.S. Glover, 1931). FHL Book 973 W3b; digital version at FamilySearch Books - free.
- Coldham, Peter Wilson. The Bristol Registers of Servants Sent to Foreign Plantations, 1654-1686. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1988. FHL Book 942.41/B2 W2c; digital versions at Ancestry (£); Chronicle Barbados (free; Barbados entries only); Virtual Jamestown (free).
- Bristol and Avon Strays, mainly 18th and 19th centuries, available online at Bristol & Avon Family History Society website - free.
- The New Guide or Picture of Bristol, Archive.org, published in 1828
- Bristol History, Articles and Documents
- Pictorial Record of Bristol’s History
- This History of Bristol, Civil and Ecclesiastical, a Google eBook, published in 1816
- Bristol Past and Present: Volume I—Civil History, a Google eBook, published in 1881
- Bristol Past and Present: Volume III—Civil and Modern History, a Google eBook, published in 1882
- Bristol, a Google eBook, published in 1889
- Adams's Chronicle of Bristol (1910) is online
- John Latimer's The Annals of Bristol in the Seventeenth Century (1900) is online
- Bristol and Its Environs (1875) is online
- 1637-1700 - Marriage Bonds for the Diocese of Bristol, Excluding the Archdeaconry of Dorset, Vol. 1, 1637-1700 (1952) by Denzil Hollis and Elizabeth Ralph, online at FamilySearch Books - free]
- 1701-1710 - Bristol Marriage Licence Bonds 1701-1710, by Roger Price, 2014, online at Bristol and Avon Family History Society website - free.
- 1750-1789 - Marriage License Register, Diocese of Bristol, 1750-1789 online at FamilySearch - free (begins at Image 527 of 2001) (some restrictions may apply)
Bristol suffered badly from Luftwaffe air raids in World War II, claiming some 1,300 lives of people living and working in the city, with nearly 100,000 buildings being damaged, at least 3,000 of them beyond repair. The original central shopping area, near the bridge and castle, is now a park containing two bombed out churches and some fragments of the castle, kept to remind the citizens of the havoc caused.
Here is a sampling of pre-1900 Bristol historical newspapers available online.
To learn how to access these newspapers, see: Richard Heaton's Index to Digitalised British and Irish Newspapers Online Beta (updated 12th September 2015).
- 1716-1900 - Bristol Mercury
- 1744 - Bristol Oracle and Country Advertiser
- 1744 - Bristol Oracle and Country Intelligencer
- 1782-1789 - Felix Farley's Bristol Journal
- 1793 - Sarah Farley's Bristol Journal
- 1808-1842 - Bristol Mirror
- 1829-1831 - The Bristolian
- 1839-1870, 1897 - Bristol Times and Mirror
- 1858-1950 - Western Daily Press
- The Bristol Post Website includes a huge historical archive, including obituaries.
- List of local Bristol newspapers
- Occupations of 18th Century Inhabitants of Bristol, by Ron Lewin, available online at Bristol & Avon Family History Society website - free.
- Guttridge, George Herbert, ed., The American Correspondence of a Bristol Merchant, 1766-1776: Letters of Richard Champion (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1934). FHL Book 979.4 B4c v. 22 no. 1
- Minchinton, W.E. The Trade of Bristol in the Eighteenth Century (1957) available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- McGrath, Patrick. Merchants and Merchandise in Seventeenth-Century Bristol (1955) available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- Matthews, H.E. Proceedings, Minutes and Enrolments of the Company of Soapmakers, 1562-1642 (1940) available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- Hollis, D. Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book, 1532-1565: Part 1 1532-1542 (1949), available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- Ralph, E. and N. Hardwick. Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book, 1532-1565: Part 2 1542-1552 (1980), available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- Ralph, Elizabeth. Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book, 1532-1565: Part 3 1552-1565 (1992), available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- Bristol Burgesses 1525-1557, by Roger Price, available online at Bristol & Avon Family History Society website - free.
- Missing Bristol Burgesses 1599-1607, by Ron Lewin, available online at Bristol & Avon Family History Society website - free.
- Carus-Wilson, E.M. The Overseas Trade of Bristol (In the Later Middle Ages) (1937), available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- Vanes, Jean. Documents Illustrating the Overseas Trade of Bristol in the Seventeenth Century (1979), available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- McGrath, P.W. Records Relating to the Society of Merchant Venturers of the City of Bristol in the 17th Century (1952), available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- Sacks, David Harris. The Widening Gate: Bristol and the Atlantic Economy, 1450-1700 (1992) available online at University of California E-Books Collection - free.
- Richardson, David. Bristol, Africa and the Eighteenth-Century Slave Trade to America, 4 vols. (1986-1996), available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- Farr, Grahame E. Records of Bristol Ships, 1800-1838 (vessels over 150 tons) (1950), available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- Main article: Court of the Bishop of Bristol (Episcopal Consistory)
Records of wills, administrations, inventories, indexes, etc. were filed by the court with jurisdiction over this parish. Go to Gloucestershire Probate Records to find the name of the court having primary jurisdiction. Scroll down in the article to the section Court Jurisdictions by Parish.
- 1379-1674 - A Calendar of Wills in the Great Orphan Books, 1379-1674
- 1542-1650 - George, E., S. George, and P. Fleming. Bristol Probate Inventories Part 1: 1542-1650 (2002) available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- 1546-1603 - Lang, Shelia and Margaret McGregor. Tudor Wills Proved in Bristol 1546-1603 (1993) available online at Bristol Record Society website - free. Will abstracts with every-name index.
- 1572-1792 - A Calendar of Wills Proved in the Consistory Court of the Bishop of Bristol, 1572-1792
- 1579-1857 - Goucestershire Wills Index online ~50 Bristol wills
- 1657-1689 - George, E., S. George, and R.H. Leech. Bristol Probate Inventories Part 2: 1657-1689 (2005) available online at Bristol Record Society website - free.
- 1666-1788 - Bristol Probate Administrations available online at FamilySearch - free. (Begins at image 42 of 1869)
- 1715-1858 - Index of wills proved in Bristol, 1715 to 1858
- 1754-1766 - Bristol Seamen's Probate Inventories available online at FamilySearch - free. (Begins at image 7 of 1869)
- 1781-1858 - The Bristol Record Office has an online index to wills for 1781-1858
Maps and Gazetteers
Maps are a visual look at the locations in England. Gazetteers contain brief summaries about a place.
- Bristol in 1832
- Bristol in 1868
- Bristol in 1885
- Know Your Place: Historic Bristol, various historic photos and maps about Bristol
- Bristol and Avon Family History Society Downloads
- Bristol Record Society Publications
- Bristol Record Office Online Catalogue
- The Bristol and Gloucestershire Archeological Society Publications
- GENUKI: Bristol, Gloucestershire
- Lewis, Samuel A.,A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848), pp. 379-389. Date accessed: 07 May 2013.
- 'Richard Heaton's Index to Digitalised British and Irish Newspapers Online Beta (updated 12th September 2015),' https://web.archive.org/web/20171015224245/http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com:80/~dutillieul/BritishandIrishNews.html.