For family history research.
Records Offices and Register Offices
Bristol Register Office
Here are details of location, opening hours, etc, and also a list of the registers destroyed by bomb damage in the Second World War.
The Bristol Archives are located in 'B Bond', at Smeaton Road, Hotwells, Bristol. The telephone number for enquiries is 0117 9224224.
Gloucestershire Record Office
The Record Office is in Clarence Row, Gloucester. The website features a very useful online wills index. A list of locations of parish records for the whole of Gloucestershire (including places such as Clifton and Fishponds which are now within Bristol) can be found on the GENUKI site.
The Somerset Archive and Record Service
The Somerset Heritage Centre is at Brunel Way, Langford Mead, Norton Fitzwarren, Taunton, TA2 6SF. A list of locations of parish records for the whole of Somerset (including locations such as Brislington and Bedminster which are now within Bristol) can be found here.
Bristol Central Library
The Bristol Central Library holds 1841 - 1891 census records on microform for the whole of our area, and the 1901 census on a less wide coverage. It also holds microfiche copies of the General Records Office records of births, marriages and deaths from 1837, and many other resources of use to the family historian.
General Register Office
This is the government body which keeps the records of births, marriages and deaths. It has details on how to order certificates by post or online.
Bath Record Office
The Bath Record Office holds microfiche copies of pre 1900 parish registers for the whole of North East Somerset. Also Bath voters lists, street directories, wills, apprenticeships, and non-conformist church records.
Know Your Place
Bristol City Council launched this site in 2011 with maps of Bristol from 1750 to the present day. Designed primarily to identify the location of places of historic interest and sites illustrated in the Braikenridge Collection, the site has many maps from different times including one aerial photograph, all of which can be enlarged and shown at the same scale. It offers hours of pleasure to anyone wanting to know how places have changed over the years. Although the modern maps cover the whole city, the older ones are only of the central area.
Here are some websites owned and produced by members of the Society. Members, please get in touch if you have a website which you think may be of interest to other members.
Suzanne and Richard Brown have combined her family history skills with his 'like for playing with computers' to produce a website aimed at providing all the basic links for those tracing their English and Welsh ancestors and to describe the sources in clear terms - have they succeeded? Have a look and let them know!
Marsha and Clare have built this site (Marsha is a BAFHS overseas member) where you can find loads of information including transcriptions and extractions from Bitton and surrounding parishes in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
Bristol Family History
Over the last thirty years, Pat Lindegaard has collected information from miscellaneous records including parish registers, newspapers, criminal records, wills and other sources to create an index of historical inhabitants of the Forest of Kingswood, including the parishes of Bitton, St George, Mangotsfield, Siston, Wick & Abson, St Philip & St Jacob etc. She makes it available (for free) on her website. Pat would welcome any Bristol family history anecdotes to add to the website.
Bristol Home Children
Shrley Hodgson's website gives loads of useful historical background to the practice of emigrating children to Canada and provides a listing of names.
Bristol, W.D. & H.O. Wills and Napier family history
Dave's site has three themes: Bristol including a list of all the Mayors and Sheriffs of Bristol from 1216; W.D. & H.O. Wills, the famous Bristol tobacco company, there are some good photos of production methods in the 1920s; and there is a section on the Napier family history.
High Littleton and Hallatrow History and Parish Records
Michael Browning was an original member of BAFHS and one of our Vice Presidents. He died in 2006 but this website continues to be maintained by his family for those interested in High Littleton and Hallatrow - includes parish record and census transcriptions.
John Davies Mereweather
A website by Ole Pein from Sweden with an international flavour about the life of John Davies Mereweather. Never heard of him? Well, visit the site, learn, and be impressed!
Ridler Family History
The family history website of the Ridler Family. Also includes the Ancrum family.
Roger Vaughan is a member of the Society. His site includes a useful list of Bristol photographers and their dates.
West Penwith Resources
Rick and Mary Parsons' site will be very useful to anyone interested in this western extremity of Cornwall. You will also find a base for the one name study of the Renowden family.
Local Family History Society Sites
Some of the local societies around us were formed after the Bristol and Avon FHS and boundaries may overlap.
Weston-super-Mare & District FHS
Covers the south-west of the old County of Avon, and extends into North Somerset
Other Local Websites
Other websites with local history or family history content.
Avon Local History and Archaeology
Local organisation for those interested in local history.
This database covers the years 1603-1990 and contains about 90,000 records of people who lived in and around Bath, UK. Each record contains information from original documents held by the Bath Record Office. The records have been indexed and transcribed by volunteers over many years and are searchable by surname/firstname. Copies of the original paper records can be requested from Bath Record Office.
The Register Office in the district of Bath and North East Somerset, England, holds records of local births, marriages and deaths back to the start of civil registration in 1837. Independent volunteers are collaborating with the local Registration Service to make the indexes to these records freely searchable via the Internet. Although the indexes are not yet complete for all years and districts, the database will eventually cover Bath and North East Somerset births, marriages and deaths for the years 1837 to 2007.
Bristol 2014 was an extensive programme of activity marking the centenary of the start of the First World War and looking at other conflicts that have had an impact on the city over the last century. Find out all about it on this website.
Bristol and Gloucester Archaeological Society
Founded in 1876, the Society promotes 'the study of the history and antiquities of Bristol and the historic County of Gloucestershire'.
This site by Phil Draper is a historic and architectural study of churches of all denominations in the greater Bristol area.
Bristol Historical Association
Local branch of The National Historical Association, an independent charity incorporated by Royal Charter which has been supporting the study and enjoyment of history since 1906.
Bristol's Lost Pubs
This site by Kevin Brice features information and old photographs of old public houses in Central Bristol, Clifton, Hotwells, St. Paul’s, Easton, Old Market, St. George, St. Philip’s, Kingsdown, Redcliff and Bedminster plus other Districts such as North & East Somerset and Bath which have now disappeared. There is a pub name search facility and a potted history of George's Brewery.
Bristol Mayors and Sheriffs
This section of a bigger site lists all the Mayors and Sheriffs of Bristol from 1216. There are also historical notes about some of them.
Clevedon Civic Society
As well as lots of information about this town in North Somerset, about 10 miles south-west of Bristol, parish register and census information is available online.
Fishponds Local History Society
Fishponds is in north-east Bristol and has its own history society.
The George Muller Foundation
The George Muller Foundation is an evangelical Christian organisation, which has evolved from the Muller Homes, the major orphanage in nineteenth-century Bristol. The organisation has extensive records of the children who were in its care.
History of Bath Research Group
The 'History of Bath Research Group' are publishing digitised version of the Bath Directories. The website was launched in November 2018 with a total of 15 of the 60 available directories completed. They are continuing to add directories as they are available.
The site is free to use and offers a wide range of search tools designed to get the most out of the entries, currently numbering just over a quarter of a million records.
It should make the job of researching Bath families from 1846 to the late 1930s much easier, no longer needing a trip to the Bath Record Office and much quicker generally to find people and organisations. Take a look if you have research interests in Bath!
Keynsham & Saltford Local History Society
Local History Society website with online local Baptism Marriage and Burial records including Keynsham Cemetery.
The Kingswood History Society
Kingswood local history, events programme and some pictures of visits.
The Malago Society
The Malago Society is the local history society for south-west Bristol.
Nailsea and District Local History Society
Nailsea is about ten miles south-west of Bristol. Although now largely a dormitory area, it had a thriving history in coal mining and glassmaking.
The Portbury Hundred included villages and towns in North Somerset such as Nailsea, Clevedon, Long Ashton and the Gordano Valley. This website has transcriptions of parish registers, school log books and other documents.
Radstock is in the south of our area, about 15 miles from Bristol. It was one of the main centres of the North Somerset coalfield.
Thornbury & District Museum
Thornbury is a small town about ten miles north of Bristol. The museum is run by volunteers and organises events concerned with the town and its history.
W.D. & H.O. Wills
Tobacco was one of the major Bristol industries. This section of a bigger site is about W.D.& H.O. Wills, the famous Bristol tobacco company, and about Imperial Tobacco, of which it became a part. There are some good photos of production methods in the 1920s.
Winterbourne Family History
This site is presented by Frenchay Village Museum and contains family history resources for Frenchay, Hambrook and Winterbourne. There are parish records, other records of births, marriages and deaths, census transcriptions, photographs and much more.
Handy Family History Links
A number of links that don't fit any obvious category.
Another U.S. based site with world-wide data. Lists memorials and includes photos. Free to use, but requires registration and more commercial in approach than Findagrave.
A U.K. site with burial records, mostly from municipal cemeteries. Free searching, but you pay to see the full record. Restricted scope. Now has some municipal burials from BANES.
Find A Grave
A U.S. based site with world-wide data. Lists memorials and includes photos. Easy to use, and free, but requires registration. Also available through Ancestry.
Find A Will
The subscription sites all give access to will calendars and some original documents. This site lists all wills from 1858 to the present day, and you can order online copies. Searching is free, but a copy of a will costs £10.
Lloyd George Survey
The transcription of this survey of property ownership is still in progress, but what is available can be found free of charge here. Gloucestershire includes Bristol. A separate set of survey documents is in The National Archives and a street index of these for Bristol compiled by David Hawkings is available in the BAFHS Research Room.
The three general websites all contain much military and service material, and there are many specialist websites. There are many specialist military websites, and the principal one is Forces War Records.
Neil Dun's GRO/Church Cross Reference for Marriages
The British Newspaper Archive currently contains over 700 titles. These are also included in a Findmypast PRO subscription, with marginally less functionality.
Surnames of England and Wales - the ONS list. How common (or rare) is your surname?
This site is aimed particularly at newcomers to genealogy and provides loads of helpful advice and many useful links.
The UK pages of this American organisation contain indexes to the 1841-1901 censuses, together with access to the original census pages. You can either take out a subscription or use their pay-per-view system. There are now various editions to which you can subscribe, and all are different to the edition available in public libraries and record offices. Each English-speaking country has its own edition, and there is a world edition if you want to research overseas. Now includes Bristol Diocese Parish Registers and Bristol area nonconformist records.
Family Tree Resources
Rachel Dunkley introduces her website saying 'Tracing your genealogy is like being a detective trying to solve a mystery, your own family being at the centre of it, just waiting to be discovered'. She hopes that the information provided on her site will help you to embark on 'a magical journey back to the past' and she aims to help you on your way! If you are new to family history, you will find lots of helpful advice. Be aware that there are links to other commercial and pay websites but Family Tree Resources seems to be a very helpful gateway.
Federation of Family History Societies
The Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS) is an educational charity which exists to represent, advise and support its membership of family history societies and other genealogical organisations worldwide. This page gives useful research tips on family history research: https://www.familyhistoryfederation.com/resources-research-tips
A paysite with full online access to the 1841-1911 census collection, 1837-2006 BMDs, parish, migration and military records. Various options to subscribe, pay-as-you-go or buy vouchers.
The index of online family history resources for the UK and Ireland. It lists societies and organisations, record offices and libraries, and also lists sites by county.
LDS Family History Centres
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a world-wide interest in family history, and its facilities are open to both church members and the general public. It has family histories and other books available for free download, and user-submitted genealogies. Data is not always reliable, so needs to be used with care, but contains information not readily available elsewhere.
The National Archives
The National Archives holds the A2A database containing catalogues of archives held across England and dating from the 900s to the present day as well as thousands of other archives. You can search the Discovery catalogue free of charge, but you will have to pay to download wills, service records and other documents. Documents can be digitised on request and emailed to you.
RootsWeb is an American co-operative organisation which hosts millions of pages of free genealogical data. It is also the home of the Roots Surname List, which lists other researchers of particular surnames, and RootsWeb World Connect, which contains information submitted by family historians all over the world. Largely of U.S. origin, this is the largest free international resource. RootsWeb also hosts a large number of mailing lists about individual counties, places and surnames.
This General Register Office for Scotland site enables you to search records of births, marriages and deaths from 1553 onwards. There is a charge.
This site gives access to the projects transcribing the indexes to local BMD records. The advantage of the local transcribed indexes is that they include information not available on indexes to the nationally held records.
There are three local projects which you can also access directly: