Dorset Genealogical Records

Dorset Birth & Baptism Records

England & Wales Birth Index (1837-2006)

An index to births registered throughout England & Wales. Provides a reference to order copies of birth certificates from the national registrar of births, marriages and deaths – the General Register Office.

Dorset Baptism Index with Images (1813-1906)

Original images of baptism registers, searchable by a name index, covering almost all Dorset parishes.

Dorset Baptism Transcripts (1538-1905)

Transcriptions of baptisms in Dorset covering most Anglican parishes.

Dorset Bastardy Papers (1821-1853)

A collection of records documenting the birth and maintenance of illegitimate children.

Dorset Parish Registers (1538-1936)

An index to over 445,000 entries from Dorset Anglican church registers.

Dorset Marriage & Divorce Records

England & Wales Marriage Index (1837-2008)

An index to marriages registered throughout England & Wales. This is the only national marriage index that allows you to search by both spouse's names. Provides a reference to order copies of marriage certificates from the national registrar of births, marriages and deaths – the General Register Office.

Dorset Marriage Index with Images (1813-1912)

Original images of marriage registers, searchable by a name index, covering almost all Dorset parishes.

Dorset Marriage Transcripts (1538-1952)

Transcripts of marriages in 252 Dorset parishes.

Vicar General’s Office Marriage Licences (1600-1679)

Abstracts of marriage licences granted by the Vicar-General in London. These licences could be used to marry in any church in the Province of Canterbury.

Sailsbury (or Sarum) Diocese Marriage Licences (1609-1837)

An index to over 75,000 marriage bonds covering the counties of Wiltshire, Berkshire, Dorset & Devon. The index can be used to order the original documents, which may supply details not listed in marriage registers, such as age and parents' names.

Dorset Death & Burial Records

England & Wales Death Index (1837-2006)

An index to deaths registered throughout England & Wales. Provides a reference to order copies of death certificates from the national registrar of births, marriages and deaths – the General Register Office.

Dorset Burial Index with Images (1813-2001)

Original images of burial registers, searchable by a name index, covering almost all Dorset parishes.

Dorset Burial Transcriptions (1531-1995)

Transcriptions of burials from 234 parishes in Dorset.

Dorset Monumental Inscriptions Index (1020-2007)

An index to inscriptions found on 56,608 gravestones and monuments in Dorset. The index includes details of relationships.

Dorset & Hampshire Quaker Burials (1657-1837)

An index to registers of burials for people buried at the church.

Dorset Church Records

Dorset Vestry, Poor and other Parish Records (1640-1932)

Original images of Dorset parish records. Including: poor rates, overseers, churchwardens, vestry, incumbents' and other records.

Dorset Parish Apprentices Indentures (1605-1799)

Abstracts of apprenticeship indentures initiated by parishes in Dorset. These records provide details on parents' names and occupations.

Dorset Parish Register Index with Images (1538-1812)

Original images of parish registers, searchable by a name index, covering almost all Dorset parishes.

Catholic History in South West England (1517-1856)

A history of Catholicism in South West England with biographies of noted Catholics. Contains details of the Dominican, Benedictine, and Franciscan orders.

Dorset Vestry, Poor and other Parish Records (1511-1997)

Original images of Dorset parish records. Including: poor rates, overseers, churchwardens, vestry, incumbents' and other records.

Dorset Census & Population Lists

England, Wales, IoM & Channel Islands 1911 Census (1911)

The 1911 census provides details on an individual's age, residence, place of birth, relations and occupation. FindMyPast's index allows searches on for multiple metrics including occupation and residence.

Dorset Electoral Registers (1839-1922)

A full name index, connected to original images of the registers. These records list those who were eligible to vote and may give a description of an individual's property.

Dorset Poll Book (1807)

A list of freeholders in the county, with their residence, the name of their tenants and the location of their freehold.

Dorset Hearth Tax Assessments (1662-1664)

Transcriptions of hearth tax records for the county of Dorset.

Dorset Jury Lists (1825-1921)

A name indexed connected to original images of juror lists. These images list Dorset men eligible to serve on juries, by meeting the criteria of being between 21 and 70 years old and possessing enough property to be liable for the poor rate. The records may contain occupations, parish of residence, nature of their property and details of their property.

Dorset Wills & Probate Records

England & Wales National Probate Calendar (1858-1966)

Searchable index and original images of over 12.5 million probates and administrations granted by civil registries. Entries usually include the testator's name, date of death, date of probate and registry. Names of relations may be given.

Dorset Wills and Probate Documents (1565-1858)

An index linked to original images of wills, administrations and inventories proved in Dorset courts. Documents contain much genealogical information.

Prerogative Court of Canterbury Admon Index (1649-1660)

An index to estate administrations performed by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. The index covers the southern two thirds of England & Wales, but may also contain entries for northerners.

Prerogative Court of Canterbury Admon Index (1581-1595)

An index to estate administrations performed by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. The index covers the southern two thirds of England & Wales, but may also contain entries for northerners.

Prerogative Court of Canterbury Admon Index (1581-1619)

An index to estate administrations performed by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. The index covers the southern two thirds of England & Wales, but may also contain entries for northerners.

Newspapers Covering Dorset

Western Morning News (1894-1950)

A politically independent newspaper, covering the affairs of Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. It includes family notices.

Western Gazette (1863-1950)

A regional newspaper covering the counties of Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire Hampshire and Berkshire. It covers local and national news, family announcements, business news, legal proceedings and more.

Western Times (1827-1950)

A liberal newspaper covering the counties of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. It includes family notices.

Dorset County Chronicle (1824-1867)

A regional newspaper including news from the Dorset area, family announcements, business notices, advertisements, legal & governmental proceedings and more.

The Daily Herald (1926)

A London newspaper that later became The Sun.

Dorset Obituaries

iAnnounce Obituaries (2006-Present)

The UKs largest repository of obituaries, containing millions of searchable notices.

United Kingdom and Ireland Obituary Collection (1882-Present)

A growing collection currently containing over 425,000 abstracts of obituaries with reference to the location of the full obituary.

Quakers Annual Monitor (1847-1848)

A collection of 364 obituaries of Quakers from the British Isles. The volume was published in 1849 and includes obituaries of those who died in late 1847 through 1848.

Musgrave's Obituaries (1421-1800)

This transcribed and searchable work by Sir William Musgrave contains 10,000s of brief obituaries. The work is a reference point for other works containing information on an individual.

British Medical Journal (1849-Present)

A text index and digital images of all editions of a journal containing medical articles and obituaries of medical practitioners.

Dorset Cemeteries

Dorset Monumental Inscriptions (1200-2000)

An index to vital details engraved on gravestones and other monuments across the county of Dorset.

Dorset Monumental Inscriptions Index (1020-2007)

An index to inscriptions found on 56,608 gravestones and monuments in Dorset. The index includes details of relationships.

Dorset Memorial Inscriptions Index (1421-1985)

An index to inscriptions found on over 11,500 gravestones in Dorset. The index includes details of relationships.

Dorset Church Monuments (1300-1900)

Photographs and descriptions of Dorset' most illustrious church monuments, often featuring effigies, medieval inscriptions and heraldic devices.

Deceased Online (1629-Present)

Images of millions of pages from cemetery and crematoria registers, photographs of memorials, cemetery plans and more. Records can be search by a name index.

Dorset Directories & Gazetteers

Kelly's Directory of Dorset (1931)

A comprehensive place-by-place gazetteer, listing key contemporary and historical facts. Each place has a list of residents and businesses. Contains details on local schools, churches, government and other institutions.

Kelly's Directory of Dorset (1927)

A comprehensive place-by-place gazetteer, listing key contemporary and historical facts. Each place has a list of residents and businesses. Contains details on local schools, churches, government and other institutions.

Kelly's Directory of Dorset (1920)

A comprehensive place-by-place gazetteer, listing key contemporary and historical facts. Each place has a list of residents and businesses. Contains details on local schools, churches, government and other institutions.

Kelly's Directory of Dorset (1915)

A comprehensive place-by-place gazetteer, listing key contemporary and historical facts. Each place has a list of residents and businesses. Contains details on local schools, churches, government and other institutions.

Kelly's Directory of Dorset (1912)

An exhaustive gazetteer, containing details of settlement's history, governance, churches, postal services, public institutions and more. Also contains lists of residents with their occupation and address.

Dorchester Prison Documents (1782-1901)

Over 60,000 documents relating to prisoners held at Dorchester Prison. The collection includes admission and discharge books and photographs of the latter prisoners.

Dorset Alehouse Licences & Recognizances (1754-1821)

Documents relating to the licensing of alehouses. Contains details on the proprietor, establishment and conditions of the licence.

Dorset Vestry, Poor and other Parish Records (1640-1932)

Original images of Dorset parish records. Including: poor rates, overseers, churchwardens, vestry, incumbents' and other records.

Dorset Quarter Sessions Records (1625-1905)

The records document Quarter Session judges’ decisions in matters that include settlement inquiries, highway rates, criminal trials, registers of settlement, orders of removal, bastardy examinations, apprenticeships, licensing, contracts, lists of justices, and other matters related to the business of running the county.

Dorset Vestry, Poor and other Parish Records (1511-1997)

Original images of Dorset parish records. Including: poor rates, overseers, churchwardens, vestry, incumbents' and other records.

Dorset Taxation Records

Dorset Tithe Apportion & Maps (1835-1850)

Maps delineating fields in Dorset, which are referenced to documents recording field names, land owners, occupiers, land use and land size.

Dorset Land Tax (1780-1832)

Digital images of 18th and 19th century records that record landowners and their tenants. The taxable value of the land is given, and sometimes a description of the property. These records can be searched by names and place indices.

Dorset Hearth Tax Assessments (1662-1664)

Transcriptions of hearth tax records for the county of Dorset.

Tithe Apportionments (1836-1856)

An index to 11,000,000 parcels of land and property, connected to digital images of registers that record their owner, occupier, description, agricultural use, size and rateable value.

Land Tax Redemption (1798-1811)

This vital collection details almost 1.2 million properties eligible for land tax. Records include the name of the landowner, occupier, amount assessed and sometimes the name and/or description of the property. It is a useful starting point for locating relevant estate records and establishing the succession of tenancies and freehold. Most records cover 1798, but some extend up to 1811.

Dorset Land & Property Records

Dorset Electoral Registers (1839-1922)

A full name index, connected to original images of the registers. These records list those who were eligible to vote and may give a description of an individual's property.

Dorset Tithe Apportion & Maps (1835-1850)

Maps delineating fields in Dorset, which are referenced to documents recording field names, land owners, occupiers, land use and land size.

Dorset Land Tax (1780-1832)

Digital images of 18th and 19th century records that record landowners and their tenants. The taxable value of the land is given, and sometimes a description of the property. These records can be searched by names and place indices.

Dorset Poll Book (1807)

A list of freeholders in the county, with their residence, the name of their tenants and the location of their freehold.

Dorset Absent Voters (1918-1919)

A list of Dorset-men who were in the military and registered to vote as absent.

Dorset Occupation & Business Records

Dorset Crew Lists (1863-1914)

A collection of nearly 60,000 documents including crew lists, ship agreements and log books for Dorset. Records may contain information of a sailors birth, life, duties and discipline.

Dorset Parish Apprentices Indentures (1605-1799)

Abstracts of apprenticeship indentures initiated by parishes in Dorset. These records provide details on parents' names and occupations.

Dorset Hemp & Flax Bounties (1782-1793)

Over 3,300 documents relating to bounties offered to farmers by the government to grow hemp & flax.

The Dorsetshire Labourer (1887)

An article describing the life of labourers in Dorset in the 19th century. Includes details on hiring practices and poverty.

Smuggling on the South Coast (1700-1867)

An introduction to smuggling in Dorset & Hampshire.

Dorset School & Education Records

Teacher's Registration Council Registers (1870-1948)

A name index linked to original images of registers recording the education and careers of teachers in England & Wales.

National School Admission & Log Books (1870-1914)

A name index connected to digital images of registers recording millions of children educated in schools operated by the National Society for Promoting Religious Education. Records contain a variety of information including genealogical details, education history, illnesses, exam result, fathers occupation and more.

Oxford University Alumni (1500-1886)

A name index linked to original images of short biographies for over 120,000 Oxford University students. This is a particularly useful source for tracing the ancestry of the landed gentry.

Cambridge University Alumni (1261-1900)

A transcript of a vast scholarly work briefly chronicling the heritage, education and careers of over 150,000 Cambridge University students. This is a particularly useful source for tracing the ancestry of the landed gentry.

Cambridge Alumni Database (1198-1910)

A searchable database containing over 90,000 note-form biographies for students of Cambridge University.

Pedigrees & Family Trees Covering Dorset

Victoria County History: Dorset (1086-1900)

A detailed history of the county's hundreds, parishes and religious houses.

British & Irish Royal & Noble Genealogies (491-1603)

Extensive and impeccably sourced genealogies for British, Irish & Manx royalty and nobility. Scroll down to 'British Isles' for relevant sections.

FamilySearch Community Trees (6000 BC-Present)

A searchable database of linked genealogies compiled from thousands of reputable and not-so-reputable sources. Contains many details on European gentry & nobility, but covers many countries outside Europe and people from all walks of life.

Visitation of England and Wales (1700-1899)

Over 600 pedigrees for English and Welsh families who had a right to bear a coat of arms.

Ancestry Member Family Trees (6000 BC-Present)

A compilation of lineage-linked family trees submitted by Ancestry users. The database contains over 2 billion individuals and is searchable by numerous metrics.

Dorset Royalty, Nobility & Heraldry Records

Victoria County History: Dorset (1086-1900)

A detailed history of the county's hundreds, parishes and religious houses.

Dorset Church Monuments (1300-1900)

Photographs and descriptions of Dorset' most illustrious church monuments, often featuring effigies, medieval inscriptions and heraldic devices.

British & Irish Royal & Noble Genealogies (491-1603)

Extensive and impeccably sourced genealogies for British, Irish & Manx royalty and nobility. Scroll down to 'British Isles' for relevant sections.

FamilySearch Community Trees (6000 BC-Present)

A searchable database of linked genealogies compiled from thousands of reputable and not-so-reputable sources. Contains many details on European gentry & nobility, but covers many countries outside Europe and people from all walks of life.

Visitation of England and Wales (1700-1899)

Over 600 pedigrees for English and Welsh families who had a right to bear a coat of arms.

Dorset Military Records

Dorset Militia Lists (1757-1860)

An index linked to original images of lists men eligible to serve in the militia. Records may include name, residence, occupation, age, height, marital status, disabilities and family details.

Dorset Absent Voters (1918-1919)

A list of Dorset-men who were in the military and registered to vote as absent.

Dorset WWI Memorials (1914-1918)

A list of names found on World War One monuments in Dorset, with some service details.

Dorset WWII Memorials (1914-1918)

A list of names found on World War Two monuments in Dorset, with some service details.

Prisoners of War of British Army (1939-1945)

A searchable list of over 100,000 British Army POWs. Records contains details on the captured, their military career and where they were held prisoner.

Dorset Immigration & Travel Records

Dorset Vagrant Passes (1739-1791)

An index linked to original images of documents for vagrants. These records were draw up for poor people who moved to parishes where their presence was unwanted. They contain much genealogical information.

Dorset Convict Transportation Records (1724-1791)

Indentures and other records that recorded the transportation of Dorset men and women to the colonies.

Dorchester Company Emigrants (1623-1628)

Details of individuals who left Dorset for New England.

Passenger Lists Leaving UK (1890-1960)

A name index connected to original images of passenger lists recording people travelling from Britain to destinations outside Europe. Records may detail a passenger's age or date of birth, residence, occupation, destination and more.

UK Incoming Passenger Lists (1878-1960)

A full index of passenger lists for vessels arriving in the UK linked to original images. Does not include lists from vessels sailing from European ports. Early entries can be brief, but later entries may include dates of births, occupations, home addresses and more. Useful for documenting immigration.

Dorset Histories & Books

Notes and Queries for Somerset and Dorset (1888-1906)

Selected issues of a periodical which contains many historical and genealogical tracts relating to the counties of Somerset and Dorset.

Catholic History in South West England (1517-1856)

A history of Catholicism in South West England with biographies of noted Catholics. Contains details of the Dominican, Benedictine, and Franciscan orders.

Victoria County History: Dorset (1086-1900)

A detailed history of the county's hundreds, parishes and religious houses.

Dorset Church Photographs (1890-Present)

Photographs and images of churches in Dorset.

Dorset Church Histories & Photos (1066-Present)

Short profiles of Dorsetshire churches, containing photographs and bibliographies.

Biographical Directories Covering Dorset

Oxford University Alumni (1500-1886)

A name index linked to original images of short biographies for over 120,000 Oxford University students. This is a particularly useful source for tracing the ancestry of the landed gentry.

Cambridge University Alumni (1261-1900)

A transcript of a vast scholarly work briefly chronicling the heritage, education and careers of over 150,000 Cambridge University students. This is a particularly useful source for tracing the ancestry of the landed gentry.

Crockford's Clerical Directories (1868-1914)

Brief biographies of Anglican clergy in the UK.

The Concise Dictionary of National Biography (1654-1930)

A directory containing lengthy biographies of noted British figures. The work took over two decades to compile. Biographies can be searched by name and are linked to images of the original publication.

Church of England Clergy Database (1500-1835)

A database of CoE clergy, giving details of their education of service. Contains references to source documents. Also contains profiles of various church institutions.

Dorset Maps

Dorset Tithe Apportion & Maps (1835-1850)

Maps delineating fields in Dorset, which are referenced to documents recording field names, land owners, occupiers, land use and land size.

Maps of Dorset (1610-1900)

A collection of digitalised maps covering the county.

Ordnance Survey 1:10 Maps (1840-1890)

Maps showing settlements, features and some buildings in mainland Britain.

Tithe Apportionments (1836-1856)

An index to 11,000,000 parcels of land and property, connected to digital images of registers that record their owner, occupier, description, agricultural use, size and rateable value.

Parish Maps of Britain (1832)

Maps of parishes in England, Scotland and Wales. They are useful in determining which parish records may be relevant to your research.

Dorset Reference Works

England Research Guide (1538-Present)

A beginner’s guide to researching ancestry in England.

Parish Register Abstract (1538-1812)

Compiled in 1831, this book details the coverage and condition of parish registers in England & Wales.

Building History Research Guide (1066-Present)

A comprehensive guide to researching the history of buildings in the British Isles.

Surname Origins (1790-1911)

A service that provides advanced and custom surname maps for the British Isles and the US.

British Family Mottoes (1189-Present)

A dictionary of around 9,000 mottoes for British families who had right to bear arms.

Dorset Information

Historical Description

DORSETSHIRE is a maritime county, of about 160 miles in circumference; in length, from east to west, about 55; and in breath, from north to south, about 35; containing about 775,000 acres of land. It has four considerable ports, viz. Poole, Weymouth, Bridport, and Lyme Regis, besides Sandwich, called Swannage, and Portland; from whence stone, to a great value, is shipped. It has also 24 market towns, and 243 parishes. The population of the county, in 1811, amounted to 124,693 persons.

It is situated in the S. W. of England, bounded on the N. by Wiltshire and Somersetshire, on the E. by Hampshire, on the W. by Devonshire, and part of Somersetshire: on the S. (which way it extends farthest) by the British Channel, stretched out from E. to W. with a very oblique shore, full of turnings and windings, to the Island of Portland, and thence westward, bounded by the banks of pebbles for more than 16 miles.

The county of Dorset was anciently inhabited, according to Ptolemy, by the Durotriges. The Britons, according to Asser Menevensis, who was himself a Briton by birth, and flourished about the year of Christ 890, termed them Dwr-Gwyr; and the Saxons called them Dorsettan.

The name of Durotriges is ancient, and though in sound it bears great affinity to the Greek language, it is entirely of British origin, derived probably from Dour, or Dwr, in British, water, and Trig, an inhabitant; q.d. dwellers by the water or seaside. The same etymology must be assigned to those places in ancient Gaul (where formerly the same language was spoken), that begin or end with Dur, or Dour, of which we have many instances, as well as in our own country. But the Saxon Dorsettan is partly British and partly Saxon, in which the same signification is preserved : for settan, among our ancestors, as well as other Germans, signifies to dwell upon, to inhabit, to be seated, or settled. Thus they call mountaineers Dunsettan; those who dwell upon the Chiltern Hills, Chilternsettan; those who bordered upon the river Arrow, Arowsettan; as the Germans called those who dwelt among the woods, Holtsettan. And in this sense the Britons called the Durotriges, Dwr-Gwyr, dwellers on the seacoast, as Mr. Camden justly observes: and perhaps this etymology, expressive of the natural situation of a place, may vie with most others both in propriety and antiquity, and carry with it a degree of evidence, at which a mere fabulous notation can never arrive. There are not wanting instances of whole countries, cities, and seas, of the greatest note, which owe their names to such originals: as Mesosopotamia, Halicarnassus, Mediterranean; names which never can be mistaken or forgotten.

Some are of opinion that the county took its name from Dorchester, as that did from King Dorn, or Dor, whom they imagine to have been its founder; but this is supported by no historian of credit, and may be allowed to pass for fabulous, nothing being more easy than to have recourse to feigned names, when real names are wanting.

Topography of Great Britain, written: 1802-29 by George Alexander Cooke

DORSETSHIRE takes its name from the shire town, or from the tribe of the Dorsaettas, and lies on the south coast of England, being in the west, between Hampshire and Devonshire. On the north-east it is bounded by Wiltshire, on the east by Hampshire, on the south by the English. Channel, on the west by Devonshire, and on the north-west by Somersetshire. The shore line is the only natural boundary; its shape is something like a pyramid, with the head to the west, but having a spur on the south side, which forms the Isle of Portland. The breadth, from east to west, is 54 miles; and the length, from north to south, varies from 5 to 40 miles; its area is 632,272 acres. In 1700 the population was 90,000; in 1801, 114,452; in 1851, 184,207; in 1861, 188,789; in 11871, 195,537; in 1881, 191,028; and in 1891, 194,517, viz. males, 94,735; females, 99,782. The number of houses were, inhabited, 40,904; uninhabited, 3,081 ; and building, 221. Dorset lies between 50° 30' and 51° 5' north latitude, and between 1 48' and 3° 7' west longitude.

The south shore is in two lines, a wide sweep trending south-easterly from Lyme Regis to the Bill or Beel of Portland, and the western part, which forms a deep bay within the Isle of Portland, called Weymouth Bay, and then runs easterly to St. Alban’s Head and Durleston Head, having in it Lulworth Cove and Kimmeridge Bay. From Durleston Head the shore runs northward along the east of the Isle of Purbeck, and forms Swanage Bay and Studland Bay, and then the mouth of Poole Harbour.

The Isle of Portland is a long narrow headland, extending south-easterly into the sea, and joined to the mainland by a spit 10 miles long, called the Chesil—that is to say, the Shingle-Bank. The Isle of Purbeck is a large tract joined to the mainland on the west, but on the other side bounded by the river Frome, Wareham and Poole Havens, and the sea. Poole Haven is a large inlet in the south-east of Dorsetshire, having many arms running up into the land; on one is Wareham, at the mouth of the Frome and Piddle, and on another, Poole.

The rainfall of Dorset is about 30 inches in the year, but rather less in the northern part. Daily measurements are taken by means of rain-gauges at 13 places. The climate is mild, especially along the coast.

The great rivers run across from north-west to southeast ; they are the Stour, Piddle and Frome. The Stour comes in at the north, passes Gillingham, takes the Shreen water, then the Cale from Wincanton, and the Lyd, or Lyddon, from the south, winds through Sturminster Newton (taking the Ewern), to Blandford Forum, below which fall in the Tarrant Bourne from the north, and the North Winter Bourne from the west; the course is then to Wimbourne, where the Wim, or Allen, joins, and the river then runs south-easterly to Christchurch, in Hampshire; it is more likely that the Wim, or Allen, was the Alauna of the Romans, than that the Stour was.

The Wim is the only considerable stream; it works a paper mill. The Piddle, Puddle, or Trent, lies between the Stour and the Frome, and is a small stream running in a parallel direction with the Frome, about 4 miles off, and falling into Poole Harbour; it gives its name as an affix to many villages. The Frome, anciently named the Varia, rises in the north-west, and flows to Dorchester, where the Churn Bourne comes in from Cerne or Churn Abbas; the South Winterbourne is another feeder; from Dorchester the Frome runs easterly to Wareham; it is in these western shires we meet with the class of streams called “winterbournes,” because they flow chiefly in the winter. Other streams are-the Wey, 5 miles long, falling into the sea at Weymouth; the Purbeck, 7 miles long, running from Corfe Castle to Swanage; the Fleet, flowing between the Chesil Bank and the main land; the Breedy, or Bride, 7 miles long, falling into the sea near Bridport Harbour; the Brit, or Bride, rising at Beaminster, flowing through Bridport into the sea, and having the Asker and other small streams as affluents; the Char, falling in at Charmouth; and the Lyme at Lyme Regis. In the north-west parts the Parret, Ivel and their headsprings rise, but their course in Dorsetshire is short. Near Broadway is a sulphureous spring named Nottington Spa.

The land is hilly, but well watered. The vale of Blackmore, or that of the Frome and Piddle, is a fruitful grazing ground, nearly 20 miles long and 14 broad; on the Downs sheep are fed. The soils are of many kinds, from rich loam to hard stone. The chalk formation covers the greater part of the shire, the north downs beginning at Cranbourne and running to Beaminster, and the south downs running from Beaminster to Meleombe and Swanage. Between these are the upper formation of plastic, potters' and pipe clay, and sand, called the “Poole Trough.” Here a light earthy coal is found, like Bovey coal; in the south, chalk, marl, green-sand, weald clay and iron-sand are found, and in Purbeck and Portland the oolite formations; westward of Weymouth Bay are the oolites, which form a “saddle,” and are repeated; in the north the green-sand is found. Dorsetshire yields Portland stone, Purbeck marble, lime, founders’ sand, iron-sand, copperas, alum, pottery clay, pipeclay, firebricks, bituminous shales, salt, sheep and cattle, wool, corn, hay, potatoes and cider. It is best known for its Dorset, Portland and South Down sheep; it has also a small breed of ponies. The dairy is much looked to, a large proportion of the land being in pasture, and the butter and cheese of Dorsetshire are much esteemed. In Cranborne Chase and in Sellwood, to the north of Shaftesbury, some timber is grown; but most of the woods have been cleared.

Lime, sea-weed, and fish are to be had in most parts for manures, and for meadows the catch water plan is used. Barley is more grown than wheat; hemp and flax are likewise grown.

The railways are the Southampton and Dorchester, belonging to the London and South Western Company; the Somerset and Dorset line from Burnham, Somerset, to Wimborne and Poole, passing through Stalbridge, Sturminster Newton and Blandford. The London and South Western Extension to Exeter and North Devon, has stations at Gillingham and Sherborne, and skirts the north of the county. The Dorsetshire line enters from Ringwood, in Hampshire, and passes Wimborne (with a branch to Poole and West Bournemouth), Wareham (with a branch to Swanage), Wool and Moreton to Dorchester, thence to Weymouth and Portland. The Great Western Company have a branch to Dorchester and Weymouth, connected with their line at Yeovil, and from thence to Bristol; another branch from Maiden Newton to Bridport; and a short line from Upway, on the Weymouth branch of the South Western line to Abbotsbury.

The manufactures are sail-cloth, sacking, nets, shoemakers’ thread, paper, silk and agricultural implements, carried on at Bridport, Beaminster, Blandford, Bourton, Gillingham, Sherborne, Wimborne and Dorchester; with malting and brewing. The potteries are of some importance. In some of the large towns are iron foundries. Ships and yachts are built at Poole. The chief fisheries are those of mackerel; oyster beds are likewise kept up. In the rivers, salmon, trout, jack and; cels are caught. The fishing towns are Poole, Swanage, Lulworth, Weymouth, Bridport and Lyme.

The import trade is in the supply of coals, timber and wine, with some Newfoundland trade. The exports are Purbeck and Portland stone, clay, many thousand tons of which are annually sent to the potteries, Portland cement, bricks, sheep, wool, butter, poultry, cheese, ale, cider and mackerel.

The inhabitants on the coast depend on the fisheries, quarries and visitors to the watering places. These last are Weymouth, Swanage, Lyme Regis and Parkstone. The havens are Poole, Wareham, Swanage, Weymouth, Bridport, Lyme and Studland Bay; but Lyme has much fallen off. A breakwater has been made in Portland Bay, so as to form a great harbour of refuge over against Cherbourg, capable of sheltering 200 vessels in safety; it extends 2 ¼ miles out to sea, and forms a roadstead 4 miles long.

The county contains 292 civil parishes.

Dorsetshire is in the Western Circuit, province of Canterbury, Salisbury diocese, and forms an archdeaconry, subdivided into the rural deaneries of Bridport, comprised in the Abbotsbury, Bridport, Lyme and Beaminster portions; Dorchester, in the Dorchester, Weymouth and Purbeck portions; Pimperne, in the Blandford and Wimborne portions; Shaftesbury, arranged in Shaftesbury, Stalbridge, Sherborne and Sturminster Newton portions; and Whitchurch (Bere Regis, Poole, Cerne and Milton) portions.

The town of Poole is a county of itself. Dorsetshire has one Court of Quarter Sessions, held at Dorchester and Poole, and forms nine petty sessional divisions-Blandford (North and South), Bridport, Cerne, Dorchester, Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Sturminster, Wareham and Wimborne. The Poor-law Unions are twelve-Beaminster, Blandford, Bridport, Cerne, Dorchester, Poole, Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Sturminster, Wareham and Purbeck, Weymouth and Wimborne.

The municipal boroughs are, Blandford, population in 1891, 3,974; Bridport, 6,611; Dorchester, 7,946; Lyme Regis, 2,365; Poole, 15,438; Shaftesbury, 2,122; Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, 13,866; and Wareham, 2,141. Other towns are, Beaminster, population in 1891, 1,915; Bere Regis, 1,144; Cerne Abbas, 834; Corfe Castle, 1,708; Cranbome, 2,395 ; Gillingham, 3,303; Sherborne, 5,690; Stalbridge, 1,705; Sturmingter Newton, 1,863; and Swanage, 2,674.

Dorsetshire seems to have been taken from the Britons by the Belgian Durotriges, likewise called Morini, which words are said to mean “dwellers by the sea.” Of the Briton's and Belgians there seem to be many remains-as Agglestone and Puckstone, near Studland, in the Isle of Purbeck; Portisham Cromlech, called Hellstone, a circle of stones near Winterbome St. Martin; another near Pokeswell, and another at Little Breedy; perhaps Bradbury Rings and Maumbury belong to this period.

Under the Romans it was a part of Britannia Prima, and they has many settlements, as Durnovaria (Dorchester), Morinio (Wareham), Vindio Gladia (Wimborne), Canca Arista (Charmouth), Londinis (Lyme Regis), Bolclanio (Poole), and Clavinio (Weymouth). Other settlements were-Alcester, Stoborough, Charborough, Chelborough, Gainsborough, Bedcister, Horchester, Hogchester. A great road, named by the English the Ikening, or Ikenield way (Via Iceniana), comes in by Woodyates, passes through Durnovaria, and goes to the west. At Durnovaria, the most famous remain is the amphitheatre. The part of Ikening way, near Dorchester, called Ackling Dike, is in fair preservation.

On the downs and cliffs are many camps and barrows, British, Belgian, Roman or English; among these are Badbury and Maumbury, those on the Stour between Sturminster and Bradford, Weatherbury, Eggardon, Loosebarrow, Rowbarrow, Shaftesbury, Melbury, Hazelbury, Spettisbury, Chalbury, Abbotsbury, Netherbury, Symondsbury, Hamilton Hill, Worbarrow, Woolbarrow, Churchbarrow, Flowersbarrow, Wardstonebarrow, Blackbarrow, Woodbury, Boltonbarrow, Banbury, Westlbury, Figbury, Lushbarrow, Conquerbarrow, Laurencebarrow, Churchbarrows, Seabarrow, Poundbury, Knapbarrow, Bullbarrow, Dodsbury, Broadfordbarrow, Barrow Hill, Henbury, Strawbarrow, Kingbarrow, Ballbarrow, Greatbarrow, Egertonbarrow, Boorsbarrow, Longbarrow, Stablebarrow, Powbarrow, Bridwellbarrow, Mawerbury, Buzbury, Eastbury and Westbury, near Tarrant Gunville, Thorncombe, Bealon, Mowlamsbarrow, Tadnollbarrow, Lordsbarrow, Endbarrow, Youbarrow, Cernebarrow, Stonebarrow, Swyrsebarrow, Cholbury, Hakebury, Swan Knoll, Bound Pound, Five Meersbarrow, and Mawerbury. Many tesselated pavements, also pottery and Roman coins, have been found. The whole number of Roman camps has been reckoned at 25.

After the fall of the Romans and Britons this shire became part of the kingdom of the West Saxons, and the see of a bishop; the kings dwelt here at Corfe Castle and Kingston, and in the minsters many of them are buried. On the shore near Wareham, Portland and Charmouth, many fights took place with the Danish rovers. In the Parliamentary War the gentry took part with the King, and held out in many sieges and fights, in which their castles were ruined; the townsmen sided with the Parliament; but the country people held aloof from both King and Parliament, and formed companies of “clubmen” to keep them off.

Dorsetshire had formerly many rich and old abbeys of Benedictines and Cistercians; among those were Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Cerne, Abbotsbury, Bindon, Cranborne, Horton and Mitton; likewise priories at Dorchester, Bridport, Wareham, Loders, Frampton and Spettisbury. Sherborne was the see of a bishop from 705 to 1075. There are still some Catholic nunneries and chapels well endowed by the wealthy members of that communion.

The objects of interest are many; the fossils of the Isles of Purbeck and Portland and of Lyme Regis; the shore scenery, Lulworth Cove, and Chesil Bank (the curious spit which joins the Isle of Portland to the main); the amphitheatre at Dorchester; Agglestone, Puckstone, Hellstone, Badbury Rings, Maumbury; the pits on Bladen Heath; the earthworks surrounding Wareham; the figure on the Giant’s Hill, near Cerne, which is an ancient figure cut in outline on the chalk, 180 feet long; at Osmingtton is a similar figure of a horse and rider covering an acre of ground, representing George III. on horseback; the churches at Shaftesbury, Sherborne and Wimborne; and the remains of the abbeys and priories.

The County Asylum is an extensive range of buildings, one mile from Charminster, it was opened in 1864 for 320 patients; the cost, including 56 acres of land, was about £44,000; in 1894 an additional block of buildings was added at a cost, including 94 extra acres of land, of nearly £70,000; it will now hold 750 patients; private patients are received at a charge of 14s. and upwards weekly. Peter William Macdonald M.D. medical superintendent; John Alfred Ewan M.A, M.D., C. M. George Burton Robinson M. B. assistant medical officers; Rev. J. C. Prior, chaplain; Thomas Coombs, clerk to the asylum and the committee of visitors.

The Dorset County Hospital, Dorchester, was built in 1841, in the Tudor style, and a wing added in 1866: at present it has beds for 50 patients, but possesses ample room for a larger number. Robert Williams, treasurer; William George Vawdrey Lush M. D. physician; John Tudor, consulting surgeon; George Aldridge George L. R. C. P. Lond. Frederick Bazley Fisher L. R. C. P. Lond. and William Ernest Good L. R. C. P. Edin. surgeons; Samuel Wesley Wilson L. R. C. P. & S. Irel. house surgeon; Rev. Randolph Charles Marriott M. A. . chaplain; George M. Archdale, auditor; C. Hansford and G. J. G. Gregory, financial secretaries; Miss Frances Ward, matron; Walter E. Groves, clerk; C. T. Carter, dispenser.

The Weymouth and Dorset County Royal Eye Infirmary, Weymouth, was established in 1836, the present building was erected in 1872, and contains 20 beds; the yearly average number of in-patients is about 180, and the out-patients about 970; Christopher Childs M.A. , M. D. and Rowland Wimburn Carter M. D. and Hubert Houssemayne Du Boulay M. R. C. S. surgeons; John Laws L. D. S. Irel. dental surgeon; Edward Fooks, secretary.

Dorset County School, Charminster, near Dorchester, is a large brick building with stone dressings, on the brow of a hill, for 80 boarders, with chapel; Rev. William S. Watson M.A. headmaster.

Her Majesty’s Prison, Dorchester, is situate on the site of the ancient castle, and was originally erected in 1793, on the plan of Mr. Howard, at an expense of £16,179; since the transfer from the County Authorities it has been entirely rebuilt, now containing 161 cells. Edwin Witheford, chief warder in charge; Rev. Thomas Kingdom Allen M.A. chaplain; William Ernest Good L. R. O. P. Edin. medical officer; Miss Bazell, matron.

Parliamentary Representation of Dorsetshire

The County of Dorset formerly returned three members to Parliament, but under the provisions of the “Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885” it now returns four members, in four divisions.

(1) The Northern division comprises the petty sessional divisions of Blandford, Shaftesbury, Sherborne (except so much as comprised in division No. 3) and Sturminster.

(2) The Eastern division comprises the sessional divisions of Wareham (except so much as is comprised in division No. 3), Wimborne and the municipal borough of Poole.

(3) The Southern division comprises the sessional division of Dorchester (except so much as is comprised in division No. 4), and the municipal boroughs of Dorchester, Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, and the parishes of AS-Puddle, Chaldon-Herrdng, Coombe Keynes, East Lulworth, Moreton, Turner’s Puddle, West Lulworth, Winfrith and Wool, in the sessional division of Wareham.

(4) The Western division comprises the sessional divisions of Bridport and Cerne,and the municipal boroughs of Bridport and Lyme Regis and the parishes of Abbotsbury, Chilfrome, Compton Abbas, Compton Vallence, Evershot, Frampton, Frome Vauchurch, Kingston Russell, Langtom Herring, Littlebredy, Litton Cheney, Longbredy, Maiden Newton, Melbury, Sampford, Portisham, Puncknowle, Rampisham, Swyre, Toller Fratrum, Toller Porcorum, Winterborne Abbas, Winterborne Steepleton and Wynford Eagle, in the sessional division of Dorchester, and the parishes of Chetnole, Leigh, Melbury Osmond, Ryme Intrinsica, Stockwood and Yetminster, in the sessional division of Sherborne.

Under the provisions of the above-mentioned Act, the Boroughs of Weymouth, Bridport, Dorchester, Poole, Shaftesbury and Wareham were disfranchised. MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT FOR THE COUNTY. Eastern Division, Hon, Humphrey Napier Sturt D.L., J.P. Crichel, Wimborne; & 38 Portman square W. & Carlton club, London S. W.

Northern Division, John Kenelm Digby Wingfield-Digby J.P. Sherborne castle, Sherborne, Dorset; & Arthur’s, White’s & Carlton clubs, London S W Southern Division, William Ernest Brymer M.A., J.P., IIsington house, Putldletown, Dorchester, 8 St. James’s st. & Carlton club, London S W Western Division, Col. Robert Williams D.L., J.P. Bridgehead, Dorchester ; 1 Hyde Park street W. & National Liberal club, London S W.

Military

Dorchester is the depot of Regimental District No. 39, the Dorsetshire Regiment, which is comprised of the 1st Battalion (39th Foot) ; 2nd Battalion (54th Foot) ; the Dorset Militia being its 3rd Battalion ; the head quarters of the latter are at Dorchester. Full particulars will be found at p. 71.

Fairs & Markets

Beaminster, Sept. 19, for cattle; market day, Thur. for butchers’ meat & provisions.

Bere Regis, September 21 & 22, on Woodbury hill.

Blandford, March 7, principally for sheep, horses & horned cattle; September 9, November 8 & the Sat. next before July 10 for wool: market day, sat.

Bridport, April 6, for cattle & cheese; & October 11; market days, Wed. & sat.

Corfe Castle, May 12 & October 29.

Cranborne, December 6, for pleasure.

Dorchester, February 14, July 6, August 6 & October 25, for horses, sheep & cattle ; & one at Poundbury the last Thur. in September, principally for horn ewes, market days, Wed. & sat.

Gillingham, Trinity Mon. for cattle ; & September 12, for pleasure; market day, every alternate Mon.

Iwerne Courtnay, Sept. 25 & 26, for horses, cattle & cheese.

Lyme Regis, first Tues. after Candlemas & Michaelmas; market days. & Fri., Tu for butchers’ meat, poultry & vegetables.

Maiden Newton, March 9 & May 4.

Milborne St. Andrew, November 30, for cattle, sheep, corn & cheese.

Poole, St. Philip & St. James’ fair, May 1st; & All Saints, November 2, each for 8 days; market day, Thur.

Portland, November 5, for pleasure.

Puddleton, October 29.

Shaftesbury, sat. before Palm Sun. last sat. in August & November 23, for sheep, cattle, cheese & agricultural produce & pleasure; market day, sat.

Sherborne, May 8, July 18 & 26, for cattle & sheep; & a large fair, well known as Pack Monday fair, on the first Mon. after October 10; market days, Thur. & sat.

Stalbridge, May 6 & September 4, for cattle; market day, every alternate Thur.

Sturminster Newton, May 12 & October 24; market day, alternate Mon. chiefly for cattle.

Toller Down, May 18 & September 7.

Wareham, Tues. nearest April 17 & September 11, for cattle: market day, Tues.

Weymouth, market held daily.

Wimborne, market day, Fri.

Wool, May 14, for cattle.

Yetminster, April 27 & October 5.

Dorset County Council

Local Government Act, 1888, 51 & 52 Vic. c. 41.

Under the above Act the county of Dorset after the 18th April, 1889, became for the purposes of this Act an administrative county (sec. 46), governed by a County Council, consisting of chairman, alderman & councillors (the number of councillors being determined by the Local Government Board) and elected in manner prescribed by the Act (sec. 2).

The chairman is, by virtue of his office, a justice of the peace for the county without qualification (sec. 46).

The police for the county is under the control of a standing joint committee of the Quarter Sessions and the County Council appointed as therein mentioned (sec. 9).

The Coroners for the county are elected by the County Council and the clerk of the peace appointed by such joint committee and may be removed by them (sec. 83-2).

The clerk of the peace for the county is also the clerk of the County Council (sec. 83-1).

The administrative business of the county (which would, if this Act had not been passed, have been transacted by the justices) is transacted by the County Council.

Meet at Dorchester.

The following Table shows the acreage under each kind of crop, and the number of horses, cattle, sheep and pigs in the County of Dorset, as taken from the Agricultural returns, 1894:—

CROPSACRESLIVE STOCKNUMBER
Corn and cereals89,953Horses for agriculture, brood mares16,438
Roots, artificial grasses, cabbage, and rape52,616And unbroken horses51,152
Clover and grasses45,946Cows in milk or calf28,803
Permanent pasture298,634Other cattle242,708
Bare fallow3,087Sheep, 1 year old140,985
Orchards4,338Ditto, under 1 year53,769
Market gardens187
Nursery grounds126
Woods and plantations31,457
Kelly's Directory of Dorset (1895)

Most Common Surnames in Dorset

RankSurnameIncidenceFrequency
1White1,9381: 99
2Smith1,5471: 124
3Brown1,5051: 127
4Bartlett1,2681: 151
5Legg1,0961: 175
6Stone1,0821: 177
7Cox9201: 208
8Miller8321: 230
9Davis8171: 235
10Harris8091: 237
11King7831: 245
12Hunt7671: 250
13Gale7621: 252
14Pearce7171: 267
15Taylor7151: 268
16Baker7101: 270
17Read7091: 270
18Barnes6941: 276
19Foot6911: 278
20Green6841: 280
21Parsons6751: 284
22Marsh6721: 285
23Andrews6671: 287
24Hansford6651: 288
25Symes6591: 291
26Williams6391: 300
27Rose6291: 305
28Roberts6151: 312
29Bishop6041: 317
30Hallett6001: 320
31Young5741: 334
32Warren5721: 335
33House5701: 336
34Mitchell5601: 342
35Moore5471: 351
36Allen5461: 351
37Burt5431: 353
38Lane5391: 356
39James5331: 360
40Stickland5271: 364
40Samways5271: 364
42Frampton5251: 365
43Collins5241: 366
44Curtis5091: 377
45Watts5081: 377
46Coombs5041: 380
47Way4941: 388
48Churchill4891: 392
49Gray4851: 395
50Martin4841: 396
51Saunders4791: 400
52Burden4601: 417
53Phillips4591: 418
53Carter4591: 418
55Bennett4521: 424
56Russell4391: 437
57Clark4381: 438
57Thorne4381: 438
59Rogers4341: 442
60Tucker4331: 443
61Ridout4321: 444
62Wills4311: 445
63Fry4281: 448
64Hawkins4211: 455
65Stevens4161: 461
66Wareham4131: 464
67Cross4101: 468
68Barrett4081: 470
69Gibbs4061: 472
70Clarke3941: 487
70Palmer3941: 487
72Vincent3901: 492
73Bailey3891: 493
73Harvey3891: 493
73Cole3891: 493
76Riggs3881: 494
77Edwards3821: 502
77Cook3821: 502
79Pitman3811: 503
80Knight3771: 509
81Hill3691: 520
81Gillingham3691: 520
83Miles3661: 524
84Hardy3651: 525
85Morris3641: 527
86Ford3611: 531
87Parker3601: 533
88Adams3581: 536
89Richards3561: 539
89Randall3561: 539
91Pike3521: 545
92Drake3511: 546
93Crocker3501: 548
94Hann3481: 551
95Sansom3471: 553
96Groves3441: 557
97Short3431: 559
97Bridle3431: 559
99Turner3421: 561
99Guy3421: 561
101Northover3361: 571
102Hart3351: 572
102Arnold3351: 572
104Thomas3331: 576
105Slade3321: 578
106Newman3291: 583
106Crabb3291: 583
108Whittle3221: 596
109Elliott3211: 597
109Gould3211: 597
111Hoare3181: 603
112Pope3171: 605
113Dunford3151: 609
114Lucas3131: 613
114Hayward3131: 613
116Hall3081: 623
116Norman3081: 623
116Budden3081: 623
119Hodder3051: 629
120Jones3041: 631
121Abbott2991: 641
122Hussey2971: 646
123Cobb2911: 659
124Christopher2901: 661
125Payne2881: 666
126Best2871: 668
126Jeans2871: 668
128Cooper2861: 670
129Hopkins2851: 673
130Maidment2841: 675
131Fox2821: 680
131Hiscock2821: 680
133Loader2811: 682
134Sims2801: 685
135Long2791: 687
136Harding2781: 690
136Cutler2781: 690
138Lock2761: 695
139Ellis2671: 718
139Gill2671: 718
141Travers2661: 721
142Scott2641: 726
143Wright2631: 729
143Meech2631: 729
145Matthews2621: 732
146Holloway2611: 735
147Dean2601: 738
148Bower2591: 740
149Coward2581: 743
150Paul2561: 749
150Trim2561: 749
152Day2531: 758
153Masters2511: 764
153Bowditch2511: 764
155Lawrence2501: 767
155Trevett2501: 767
157Powell2481: 773
157Hayter2481: 773
159Lambert2471: 776
159Hatcher2471: 776
161Hutchings2451: 783
162Butt2441: 786
163Hooper2431: 789
164Lovell2391: 802
164Larcombe2391: 802
166Rolls2381: 806
166Squibb2381: 806
168Lee2331: 823
168Dunn2331: 823
168Pitcher2331: 823
171Hawker2321: 827
172Wheeler2311: 830
173Orchard2301: 834
173Comben2301: 834
175Oliver2271: 845
175Brickell2271: 845
177Grant2261: 848
177Goddard2261: 848
179Talbot2251: 852
179Bowring2251: 852
179Guppy2251: 852
182Francis2241: 856
183Willis2221: 864
184Chubb2211: 868
185Hounsell2201: 872
186Morgan2181: 880
187Mills2171: 884
187Fudge2171: 884
189Childs2161: 888
189Toms2161: 888
191Spicer2151: 892
192Wallis2141: 896
192Stockley2141: 896
194Foster2121: 905
194Ricketts2121: 905
196Greening2101: 913
197Roper2091: 917
197Galpin2091: 917
199Hicks2081: 922
199Kellaway2081: 922