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Are you researching your Gloucestershire family history? Here are some links to online genealogy resources you might not be aware of and which can help you.

Gloucestershire Archives

Gloucestershire Archives is the primary archives centre for both the county of Gloucestershire and the Diocese of Gloucester. It holds important collections of major interest to genealogists and family historians, such as

  • parish registers and other parish records
  • Bishop's Transcripts
  • Nonconformist registers
  • wills and probate records
  • records of schools, businesses, societies and organisations
  • family and estate papers
  • etc.

Searching the Gloucestershire Archives online catalogue is the best way to explore the resources available prior to visiting.

There is also an online genealogical database which lets you search the following collections by name, date, parish and occupation:

  • will, inventories, administrations and other probate records
  • overseers accounts and other Poor Law and settlement records
  • Nonconformist registers
  • gaol calendars (prisoners detained in Gloucester gaol awaiting trial)
  • canal boat inspections

Bear in mind that some of the earlier records will be difficult to read or understand. Prior to 1733, documents may be in Latin and before the 18th century handwriting can also be very different from ours today. If you can't get to Gloucestershire Archives to look something up yourself, or if you need help with reading, transcribing or understanding anything, we would be happy to assist.

Gloucestershire Family History Society

Gloucestershire Family History Society publishes a range of extremely helpful indexes and transcripts of local records, such as

  • parish registers
  • Noncomrmist registers
  • monumental inscriptions

Their online BMD indexes are particularly helpful. These are the result of an ongoing project to create an online database from the indexes to civil registration of births, marriages and deaths held by local registry offices in the county. Using these indexes has a number of significant advantages over resources such as www.freebmd, and the civil registration indexes available from and , all of which are taken from the indexes compiled nationally by the General Registry Office in London.

(Some - but not all - of these advantages have been superseded by the new GRO indexes released in 2017, however).

For example:

  • The GFHS birth indexes contain the former surname of the mother right from 1837
  • This makes it much easier to find children of the same family, in particular where the surname is common. For example, if you're looking for the children born to a couple called SMITH, you've got a pretty much impossible job on your hands unless you can narrow things down (there are 4585 births of children named SMITH in the GFHS index for the period 1837-1860, for example - and that's just for Gloucestershire). But if you known the mother's maiden name was, say, VIZARD, your job becomes much easier (only 9 SMITHs where the mother was formerly VIZARD were registered in that period, all in Stroud district, and so more than likely to the same couple). The mother's maiden name was not recorded in the national birth indexes until 1911, so this technique to narrow things down is impossible until after that date, when working with the national indexes.
  • The GFHS birth indexes contain the father's surname as well as the child's and mother's
  • Having the father's surname recorded separately from the child's surname makes it easier to identify probable cases of illegitimacy, and is not available from the national indexes.
  • The GFHS death indexes contain and allow searching on the age at death from 1837
  • The national indexes do not provide this information until 1866.
  • The GFHS marriage indexes allow searching on groom's full name and bride's full name from 1837.
  • The spouse's surname does not appear in the national marriage indexes until 1912. When you search on spouse's name prior in 1912 on what you actually get is a list of possible "hits" where that name appears on the same page of the register, but with no guarantee that person was actually the spouse.
  • if you know the family were from Gloucestershire, it will be easier and quicker to find the entries you're interested in

Please bear in mind, however, that the GFHS indexes are not yet complete (neither are those at, for all years, of course).

Also remember that the reference shown on the GFHS BMD site is the reference used by the local registrar and can only be used for ordering a certificate from the local office: you can't use it for ordering from the GRO online certificate ordering service. To do that, you will need to cross-reference to the national indexes using or another similar website and take the GRO reference from that site.

If you can't find the person you're looking for, feel free to contact us for help. We have over 25 years of experience working with the records of civil registration and are well aware of some of the pitfalls and traps our ancestors laid for us! We might be able to find them if you can't.

Forest of Dean Family History Pages

The Forest of Dean Family History Pages are a fantastic online resource for anyone with an interest in Gloucestershire west of the River Severn.

The transcripts of parish registers for parishes in the Forest and adjoining areas are perhaps especially valuable to researchers.

Bristol Archives (formerly Bristol Record Office)

Although technically Bristol was never part of the county of Gloucestershire, many Gloucestershire families have close ties with the historic city just to the south.

Bristol Archives is the archives centre for the city, county and diocese of Bristol.

The Bristol Record Office online catalogue will give full details of their holdings.

Of particular interest to family historians are the registers of Church of England parishes and Nonconformist churches in the area, as well as the Bishop's Transcripts of the parish registers. The handlist to these records will tell you what is available. The record office also holds wills that were proved in the Bristol Probate Court and a full index to these is available online.

Bristol and Avon Family History Society

The Bristol and Avon Family History Society has produced a range of publications of interest to family historians with connections to the Bristol area. See their online shop for details. They also have a number of free electronic publications available to download.

The Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society

The Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society (BGAS) has produced and continues to produce a range of publications that will appeal to those with an interest in Gloucestershire family or local history.

One particularly valuable resource now available online is a general index and list of contents pages for the Society's Journal Transactions, since 1876, with PDF copies available to download.

Also of use to those with ancestors from the Cheltenham area is the online gazetteer of Cheltenham, which is helpful in identifying addresses that no longer exist.

Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is a non-profit organisation founded to build an Internet library. It provides free online access to digitised out-of-copyright material in a variety of formats. Its resources include a number of items of considerable interest to those with ancestors from Gloucestershire, including the following (PDF format, some large):