Beaminster, Dorset Family History Guide

Beaminster is an Ecclesiastical Parish and a market town in the county of Dorset, created in 1849 from chapelry in Netherbury Ancient Parish.

Other places in the parish include: Parnham, North Mapperton, Wansley, Axknoll, Langdon, Marsh, and Meerhay.

Alternative names:

Parish church: St Mary

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1585
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1585

Nonconformists include: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Independent/Congregational, Presbyterian, and Wesleyan Methodist. 

Adjacent Parishes

  • Stoke Abbott
  • Netherbury
  • South Perrot
  • Corscombe
  • Mapperton
  • Chedington
  • Broadwindsor
  • Melplaish

Historical Descriptions

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

BEAMINSTER, pronounced Bemminster a small town, a parish, a subdistrict, and a district in Dorset. The town stands on the river Birt, near the confluence. of its headstreams, among high environing hills, 4¾ miles NW of Powerstock r. station, and 6 NNE of Bridport. It is a place of considerable antiquity; but it was burnt to the ground by the troops of Prince Manrice in 1644, and again much destroyed by fire in 1684 and in 1781; and it now presents a modern and neat appearance. It has a post office‡ under Bridport, a banking office., a hotel, a townhall, a church, a chapel of ease, an Independent chapel, a Wesleyan chapel, a free school, and almshouses with £173, and other charities with £99; and is a polling-place for the county. The church is later English and large; contains tombs of the Strodes of Parnham; has a tower nearly 100 feet high, with curious sculpture on the western side; and was restored in 1862. A weekly market is held on Thursday; and a fair on 19 Sept. A good trade exists in double Dorset or mould cheese; and the manufacture of sailcloth, sacking, and pottery is carried on. The Rev. T. Hood, father of Lords Hood and Bridport, was master of the free school; and Bishop Spratt the poet, and Russell who defended Warton's History, were natives.

The parish includes also the tything of Langdon, and the hamlets of Axknoll, Marsh, Meerhay, North Mapperton, Parnham, and Wansley. Acres, 5,118. Real property, £13,632. Pop., 2,614. Houses, 590. The property is much subdivided. The manor belongs to the prebends of Beaminster Prima and Beaminster Secunda in the cathedral of Salisbury. Parnham House, formerly the seat of the Strodes, now the seat of Sir Henry Oglander, Bart., is an old Tudor edifice, and contains a fine hall, with gallery of portraits. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury. Value, £246. Patron, the bishop of Salisbury. The subdistrict comprises the parishes of Beaminster, Mapperton, Hook, North Poorton, and Poorstock. Acres, 11,901. Pop., 4,112. Houses, 912. The district comprehends also the subdistrict of Netherbury, containing the parishes of Nether bury, Stoke-Abbott, Broadwinsor, Burstock, Bettiscombe, Pilsdon, and Marshwood; the subdistrict of Evershot, containing the parishes of Evershot, Melbury-Osmond, Melbury-Sampford, Wraxall, Rampisham, East Chelborough, West Chelborough, Halstock, and Corscombe; and the subdistrict of Misterton, containing the parishes of Cheddington, South Perrot, Mosterton, Misterton, and Seaborough,-the two last electorally in Somerset. Acres, 53,764. Poor-rates in 1866, £10,116. Pop. in 1861, 13,587. Houses, 2,913. Marriages in 1866, 72; births, 420, of which 20 were illegitimate; deaths, 219, of which 71 were at ages under 5 years, and 10 at ages above 85 years. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1,020; births, 4,465; deaths, 2,821. The places of worship in 1851 were 31 of the Church of England, with 6,893 sittings; 7 of Independents, with 1,482 s.; 1 of baptists, with 194 s.; 9 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 758 s.; and 1 of Primitive Methodists, with 65 s. The schools were 24 public day schools, with 1,286 scholars; 24 private day schools, with 523 s.; 35 Sunday schools, with 2,127 s.; and 2 evening schools for adults, with 25 s. The workhouse is in Stoke-Abbott.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

BEAMINSTER, a market-town and parish, in the union and hundred of Beaminster, Bridport division of Dorset, 17½ miles (W. N. W.) from Dorchester, and 137¼ (W. S. W.) from London; containing, with the tything of Langdon, 3270 inhabitants. During the civil war in the reign of Charles I., Prince Maurice, commanding a party of royalists engaged in besieging Lyme, took up his quarters in this town, which, a few days after, was nearly reduced to ashes by fire, stated by some historians to have been occasioned by accident, and by others to have been the result of a quarrel between the French and the Cornish men in the service of the king, who set fire to it in five different places. It was rebuilt by means of a parliamentary grant of £2000, but was again nearly destroyed by a fire which occurred in 1684: in 1781, it experienced a similar calamity, but the greater part of the buildings having been insured, it soon recovered its former prosperity. The town is pleasantly situated on the river Birt, which is formed by the union of several small springs that rise in the immediate vicinity; the houses are in general modern and well built, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water. The manufacture of woollen-cloth, which formerly flourished here, is at present on the decline, and that of sail-cloth is now the principal source of employment; there is also a pottery for the coarser kinds of earthenware. The market, granted to William Ewel, prebendary of Sarum, in the 12th of Edward I., is on Thursday; and a fair is held on Sept. 19th, for cattle. Constables and other officers are appointed at the court leet of the lord of the hundred. The quarter-sessions for the county, now held at Dorchester, were formerly held here; and in 1638, an order of session was issued for building a house of correction at the expense of the division. The town-hall is a neat and commodious edifice, in which the public business is transacted.

The parish contains the manors of Beaminster Prima and Secunda, both till lately forming prebends in the Cathedral of Salisbury; the former valued in the king's books at £20. 2. 6., and the latter at £22. 5. 7½. The Living is a vicarage, annexed to that of Netherbury: the great tithes have been commuted for £220, and those of the incumbent for £300. The church, founded in honour of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, is a stately edifice in the later style of English architecture, with a fine tower 100 feet high, richly ornamented with sculptured designs of the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and other subjects of scriptural history. There is a place of worship for Independents. The free school was founded in 1684, by Mrs. Frances Tucker, who endowed it with £20 per annum for the master, leaving also £30 per annum for apprenticing boys: the endowment now produces about £140, and the number of scholars is 100. The Rev. Samuel Hood, father of Lords Hood and Bridport, was master of the school early in the eighteenth century. An almshouse for eight aged persons was founded in 1630, by Sir John Strode, of Parnham, Knt., the income of which amounts to £20. Gilbert Adams, Esq., in 1626, gave £200 to the poor; and the Rev. William Hillary, in 1712, bequeathed the reversion, after ninety-nine years, of land in the parish of Carscombe, worth £35 per annum, for the benefit of twelve distressed families. The Knowle estate, in the parish, has been in the possession of the Daniels since the reign of Henry VIII., and there is a burial-ground for the family upon it. Dr. Thomas Sprat, Bishop of Rochester; and the Rev. Thomas Russel, Fellow of New College, Oxford, who distinguished himself by his defence of Warton's History of English Poetry, were natives of the town.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848

Parish Records

FamilySearch Catalog - Free

Cemeteries

Monumental inscriptions, parish church of St. Mary Beaminster, Dorset Author: Faulkner, Pat; Faulkner, Harold; Somerset and Dorset Family History Society. West Dorset Group

Census

Census returns for Beaminster, 1841-1891

1851 census of Dorset : surname & location index of Beaminster reg. dist., P.R.O. piece H.O. 107/1860 Author: Way, Derek H.

Church Records

Baptisms, 1796-1837 Author: Independent Church (Beaminster)

Bishop's transcripts for Holy Trinity Church, Beaminster, 1857-1879 Author: Church of England. Holy Trinity Church (Beaminster, Dorsetshire)

Bishop's transcripts for St. Mary's Church, Beaminster, 1585-1879 Author: Church of England. St. Mary's Church (Beaminster, Dorsetshire)

Churchwardens' accounts, 1646-1873 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Beaminster (Dorsetshire)

Marriages at Beaminster, 1558-1812 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Beaminster (Dorsetshire)

Parish registers for Holy Trinity Church, Beaminster, 1851-1943 Author: Church of England. Holy Trinity Church (Beaminster, Dorsetshire); Dorset Record Office

Parish registers for St. Mary's Church, Beaminster, 1585-1993 Author: Church of England. St. Mary's Church (Beaminster, Dorsetshire); Dorset Record Office

Record of members, Beaminster Branch, Dorsetshire, ca. 1851-1876 Author: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Beaminster Branch (Dorsetshire)

Parish register printouts of Beaminster, Dorset, England (Independent, East Street) ; christenings, 1796-1836 Author: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Department

Court records

Court records, 1632-1640 Author: Church of England. Prebendal Court (Netherbury in Ecclesia)

History

A history of Beaminster Author: Eedle, Marie de G.

Land and property

Land tax assessments for Beaminster, 1781-1832

Poor law records, 1676-1876 Author: Beaminster (Dorset)

Occupations

Poor law records, 1676-1876 Author: Beaminster (Dorset)

Poorhouses & Poor Law

Poor law records, 1676-1876 Author: Beaminster (Dorset)

Probate records

Original wills, 1608-1857 ; Index to wills, 1608-1799 Author: Church of England. Prebendal Court (Netherbury in Ecclesia)

Public records

Poor law records, 1676-1876 Author: Beaminster (Dorset)

Taxation

Land tax assessments for Beaminster, 1781-1832

Poor law records, 1676-1876 Author: Beaminster (Dorset)

Voting registers

Electoral registers for the district of Beaminster, 1843-1850 Author: Great Britain. Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace (Dorset)

Maps

Vision of Britain historical maps

Administration

County: Dorset
Civil Registration District: Beaminster
Probate Court: Court of the Peculiar of the Prebend of Netherbury in Ecclesia
Diocese: Salisbury
Rural Deanery: Bridport
Poor Law Union: Beaminster
Hundred: Beaminster
Province: Canterbury