Preface to Old Wiltshire Parish Marriage Registry (which contains several Pearces)

Phillimore’s Parish Register Series.
VOL. CV. (wilts., vol. VI.)
-150 printed-
Wiltshire, UK, Parish Registers
Edited by
Issued to the Subscribers by Phillimore & Co.,
124 Chancery Lane, London, 1908.


In this volume are printed the Marriage entries in the Registers of eleven parishes — six of which commence in the sixteenth century ; three in the seventeenth ; and the remaining two in the early years of the eighteenth.

Once more evidence is afforded of the risks to which these important records have been exposed in the past. At Great Somerford the earlier Register has been lost as the result of a fire in 170? at the house of the Parish Clerk; presumably the volume was kept there, for a memorandum in the earliest Register. At present, remaining states that it “was burnt with ye house.”

One naturally turns to the Transcripts supposed to have been sent regularly to the Bishop, and from this source the records of twenty-eight Marriages have been obtained ; but unfortunately the transcripts for the whole period have not been found. The Register of Little Somerford begins a year later, 1708, but there is no explanation of the absence of the earlier volume.

At Patney a different kind of danger is reported. There the Register, which was begun in 1592, was “found by chance in parsson Biggs his garden 1635″, and the entries were transcribed into the present earliest volume. And again, in the neighbouring parish of Chirton, the earliest Register was ” lost for divers years ” ; no information is forthcoming as to the date or manner of its recovery ; we only know that it was recovered by the entry of the loss made afterwards. There is a gap at the time (from 10 January 161?] to 27 November 1615), but similar gaps are not infrequent, and it is perhaps fair to assume that the Marriages for the “divers years” during which the book was lost were after-wards recorded.

Happily these cases of want of proper care may be called things of the past ; the latest instance, that of Great Somerford, having occurred two centuries ago ; but with the experience of the early part of last year at Kirkby in Ashfield, and Annesley, in Nottinghamshire, fresh in the mind it cannot be said that anxiety in regard to fire is altogether unwarranted, although Church wardens are understood to see that the Registers are kept in a properly painted iron chest.

Other Registers, it is a pleasure to state, have been more carefully preserved, and are practically perfect from their commencement, that of Castle Eaton dating from 1549, only about ten years later than the first institution of these records.

The Editors desire to express their best thanks to the clergymen of the various parishes whose Marriage Registers are printed here for their kind assistance and co-operation ; and particularly to those who have supplied transcripts — the Rev. C. M. R. Luckman, of Castle Eaton, the Rev. H. W. Cholmeley, of Kemble, the Rev. F. H. Manley, of Great Somerford, who supplied the transcript for Little Somerford as well as for his own parish, the Rev. Dr. Gardiner, of Southbroom, and the Rev. W. Symonds, of St. Andrew’s Mission, Salisbury, who supplied that for Winterslow ; they also desire to thank Mr. J. H. Parry, who afforded valuable help by transcribing the Marriages of Southbroom, Patney, Chirton, Marden and Alton Barnes, and also Mr. Thomas H. Baker, who transcribed the Rouestone Marriages.

It must be remembered that these transcripts of the Registers are not ” evidence ” in the legal sense. Certificates, if required, must be obtained from the Clergy who have custody of the Registers.

The Editors will be greatly obliged for further assistance in the transcription of Registers, as it is only by means of this assistance that the work can be carried on, and what still remains of these valuable records preserved to posterity.

(Click on flashing book in upper left hand corner,
then type “Pearce” in SEARCH box, and click on
yellow timeline bubbles at bottom of screen.)

Property of Allen Co. Public Library Genealogy Center,
Ft. Wayne, IN

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.