Gloucestershire Parish Boundary Changes, 1844-1974
In common with most genealogical websites, the parish groupings by county on this site relate to the so-called “Ancient” Counties - boundaries which were in place prior to the Local Government reorganisation which took place in 1974. Since then, however, there have been significant changes in both county, and administrative boundaries, which may influence our expectations either in trying to locate a parish (or place) in a particular county, or in determining where the original records we are interested in are kept.
This page attempts to draw together the significance of these boundary changes for Family and Local Historians, with particular emphasis on Gloucestershire.
Why Change a Boundary?
Most boundary changes have involved “re-drawing” an existing boundary so that a town or village can be included within a different area of administration. Very often this will have been the result of changing populations so that the current administrative load is shared more evenly, as for example, Taxal, formerly in Cheshire, transferred to Derbyshire in 1936.
Another example closer to home illustrates the complexities contemporary administration may bring - for an account of these issues at a local level see the notes on Honeybourne, below.
A small proportion of other changes involved what were formerly ‘detached’ parishes - parishes which (for historical reasons) were outside the border of the county to which they belonged, and wholly surrounded by parishes of a neighbouring county. This would have made perfect sense when the Lord of the Manor owned both, but would be an administrative nightmare when managing more prosaic matters such as payment of rates, or refuse collection! So for Civil Administration reasons, most, or all of these detached parishes have now been absorbed into their surrounding county.
Types of Parish Record
For most counties, the parish records of greatest use to Family Historians fall into two classes - those kept by the parish, and those kept by the diocese to which a parish belonged. The former category includes the original registers of baptisms, marriages and burials, and documents from the “Parish Chest”, such as Settlement and Removal Orders. The latter includes Wills and Bishops Transcripts (copies of parish register entries which were sent to the Bishop).
As a general rule of thumb, records which belonged to the parish will be found at the appropriate County Record Office for that parish, whereas records belonging to the diocese will be found at the Record Office for the Diocese. Where the diocese is the same as the county it covers, these are same place.
This is true for most of Gloucestershire - the Gloucestershire County Record Office is also where both parish, and diocesan records are held. But the parishes surrounding the city of Bristol, in the south of the county (a group roughly corresponding to the 1974-1998 county of Avon) belong to the Diocese of Bristol, which has its own Record Office, and records of both types for those parishes will be found at Bristol Record Office. A list of parishes in Bristol Diocese will be found later in this document.
However for parishes on the boundaries of the county (now or in the past), or which, historically, were part of another Diocese, the matter may not be so simple.
Which Record Office?
Gloucestershire does seem to have had more than its fair share of boundary changes. And there as also been considerable variation in when a particular parish may have transferred its records to its local record office. Until the Parish Register Act of 1979, this wasn't obligatory - preserving parish records depended on the choices made locally by the incumbent of the parish, and in many cases, this meant that records were still kept at the church. However after 1979, parishes were legally obliged to deposit parish registers over 100 years old in the local record office - or demonstrate that they were providing suitable archival conditions for storing them locally. When faced with the choice of providing an air conditioned environment at the church, or losing records to “County Hall” many, or most incumbents would have chosen the latter.
In consequence, MOST original parish registers will now be found in a local Record Office - but which one? This may not be the most obvious or logical one, as it depends on what county and/or diocese a parish was in at the time the registers were deposited. As we've already seen, this may have varied with time, and - at its most extreme - in the case of more recent (1998) changes, it is possible for the change of county to be after the records have been deposited.
For instance, the parish registers of Redmarley d'Abitot, which was transferred to Gloucestershire from the county of Worcester in 1931, are held at the Gloucestershire Archives, because at the time they were deposited, Redmarley was (and still is) in Gloucestershire. However Redmarley's Diocesan Records are kept in Worcester Record Office, as Redmarley would have still been part of Worcester Diocese at the time they were consigned to archives. Overall however, there is less variation in where Diocesan records are kept, as they would all have been moved from the Bishops' Registries into archival storage at a similar time.
It is as well to be aware that if the parish where your research interests lie is on the boundaries of Gloucestershire that you may not have a one-stop-shop for all your research needs. Roughly speaking, diocesan records will be held in the county record office for the county the parish was in prior to 1844, and parish records will be held in the county record office the parish is in now, but this is just a rule-of-thumb. There are exceptions to every rule, and many special cases, so please do check with the record office concerned, or with their online catalogues, prior to any visit.
The DetailsThe following section lists the parishes for which boundaries have changed with neighbouring counties. A list of parishes in Bristol Diocese may be found later in this document.
NB: Parishes marked with an asterisk (*) were in their original county, detached.
|Admington (parish of Quinton)||1935||Gloucestershire||to||Warwickshire|
|Ashton under Hill||1931||Gloucestershire||to||Worcestershire|
|Clopton (parish of Mickleton) 1||1935||Gloucestershire||to||Warwickshire|
|Great Barrington (part) 2||1844||Berkshire||to||Gloucestershire|
|Hinton on the Green||1931||Gloucestershire||to||Worcestershire|
|Honeybourne (Cow Honeybourne) 3||1931||Gloucestershire||to||Worcestershire|
|Icomb (Church Icomb) 4||1844||Worcestershire||to||Gloucestershire|
|Kingswood (nr. Wotton) *||1844||Wiltshire||to||Gloucestershire|
|Lea (Lower Lea) 5||1844||Gloucestershire||to||Herefordshire|
|Lechlade (part) 6||1844||Oxfordshire||to||Gloucestershire|
|Marston Sicca (or Long Marston)||1931||Gloucestershire||to||Warwickshire|
|Milcote (parish of Weston upon Avon)||1931||Gloucestershire||to||Warwickshire|
|Minety (part) *||1844||Gloucestershire||to||Wiltshire|
|Preston on Stour||1931||Gloucestershire||to||Warwickshire|
|Quinton (Lower & Upper)||1935||Gloucestershire||to||Warwickshire|
|Staunton (nr. Newent)||1931||Worcestershire||to||Gloucestershire|
|Sutton under Brailes *||1844||Gloucestershire||to||Warwickshire|
|Welford on Avon||1931||Gloucestershire||to||Warwickshire|
|Weston upon Avon||1931||Gloucestershire||to||Warwickshire|
The above parish transitions have been compiled with the assistance of the Handlist of the Contents of the Gloucestershire Record Office, 1995 (Third Edition); a Guide to the Parish Records of the City of Bristol and the County of Gloucester; I. Gray & E. Ralph, 1963; and Historic Parishes of England & Wales: An Electronic Map of Boundaries before 1850, Roger J.P. Kain and Richard R. Oliver, 2002.
1 Mickleton itself stayed in Gloucestershire.
2 Part of Great Barrington was in the county of Berkshire (yes, really!) until it was transferred to Gloucestershire in 1844. [Ref: Guide to the Parish Records of the City of Bristol and the County of Gloucester; I. Gray & E. Ralph, 1963]
3 The portion of the parish of Honeybourne known as Church Honeybourne has always been in Worcestershire, whilst the portion of the parish known as Cow Honeybourne was in Gloucestershire until 1931. The present parish of Honeybourne is an amalgamation of the two former parishes, now (2010) in Worcestershire, though its parish records are to be found at the Gloucestershire Archives Office. The merger was instigated because the School and Village Hall for both wards was in Cow Honeybourne, whilst the Old Church (now closed), and the cemetery were in Church Honeybourne. The merger resulted in more equable returns of rates (council tax) from both wards. [Ref: Kain & Oliver; OS Map 144, parish #13/24 and #40/226, and information provided to me by Norman Overington, who was the Parish Clerk for Cow Honeybourne when the two Honeybournes were amalgamated in 1953]
4 The portion of the parish of Icomb known as Church Icomb was in Worcestershire until October 1844, whilst the portion of the parish known as Westward Icomb has always been in Gloucestershire. The whole parish is now (2010) in Gloucestershire. [Ref: Kain & Oliver; OS Map 144, parish #13/3 and #13/94]
5 The portion of the parish known as Lower Lea was in Gloucestershire until 1844. The portion of the parish known as Upper Lea belonged to Herefordshire both before and after October 1844. The whole parish of Lea is now (2010) in Herefordshire. [Ref: Kain & Oliver; OS Map 143, parish #15/64 and #15/65]
6 Whilst the bulk of Lechlade parish has always been in Gloucestershire, the area of the parish surrounding the hamlet of Great Lemhill Farm belonged to Oxfordshire until 1844. Now, it belongs with the remainder of Lechlade parish, in Gloucestershire. [Ref: Kain & Oliver; OS Map 157, parishes #13/4 and #13/295]
The following parishes in the ancient county of Gloucestershire belong(ed) to the Diocese of Bristol. Parish registers, Wills, and other parish related material for these parishes, and their chapelries will be found at the Bristol Record Office. Those listed with an asterisk (*) are now Bristol City Parishes.
For further reading, see Administrative Regions of the British Isles on the GENUKI website.
[Prepared by Rosemary Lockie on 26th October 2010]