Great Yarmouth, Norfolk Family History Guide

Great Yarmouth is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Norfolk.

Alternative names: Yarmouth

Other places in the parish include: Great Yarmouth South and Great Yarmouth North.

Parish church:

Parish registers begin: 1558

Nonconformists include: Calvinist, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Countess of Huntingdon Methodist, General Baptist, Independent Methodist, Independent/Congregational, Jewish, Methodist New Connexion, Particular Baptist, Presbyterian, Primitive Methodist, and Roman Cat.

Parishes adjacent to Great Yarmouth

  • Acle
  • Southtown
  • Caister
  • Gorleston

Historical Descriptions

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

YARMOUTH, or Great Yarmouth, a town, a parish, and a district, in Norfolk. The town stands on the coast, at the mouth of the river Yar, and at the termini of two lines of the Great Eastern railway, 19 miles E of Norwich; originated on alluvial deposits at what was anciently the mouth of a long estuary; did not acquire firm footing, from consolidation of these deposits, till about the year 1008; appears first on record in 1081; had a church and 60 burgesses at Domesday; was long a mere fishing-village, frequented by fishermen from France, Holland , and Norway; was for a considerable time, during every herring season, controlled or governed by bailiffs sent from the Cinque ports; got borough rights of its own from King John and subsequent monarchs, and eventually asserted these to the exclusion of the Cinque ports bailiffs; was fortified, with encompassing walls and with a central castle, in the times of Henry III., Edward I., and Edward II.; sent 43 ships to the siege of Calais in 1346; was ravaged by the plague in 1348, 1554, 1579, and 1664; was besieged by Kett, in the rising of 1549; was visited by James I. in 1614; was denuded of its castle, but fortified with an additional rampart, in 1621; was garrisoned by the parliamentarians in 1642; witnessed the burning of 16 reputed witches inn 1644; was visited by Charles II. in 1671, by Prince George of Denmark in 1687, by William of Orange in 1692, by the Princess of Orange in 1795, by Louis XVIII. in 1807, by the King of Sweden in 1810; was a naval station during the great war with France; was the place to which Duncan brought his prizes after Camperdown, and where Nelson embarked and 1 and ed in connexion with Copenhagen; numbers among its natives and residents Bishop Felton who died in 1626, Bishop Ellys who died in 1761, the antiquary Wilson who died in 1652, the antiquary Swinden who died in 1772, the antiquary Ives who died in 1776, General Ireton, Sir W. Gough, the painter Crome, and the antiquary D. Turner; and gives the title of Earl to the Marquis of Hertford.

A narrow peninsular strip of land extends from N to S, between the sea on the E, and the river Bure, Breydon-water, and the river Yar on the W, and terminates in a point on the S at the influx of the Yar to the sca. The old town stands on the river or W side of this peninsula; is regularly aligned; comprises five principal streets, crossed at right angles by 145 narrow lanes called rows; and has not inaptly been designated by Dickens the Norfolk Gridiron. The ancient encompassing wall restricted it to a length of 240 yards; occasioned it to assume the density of narrow lanes,-not intersected by an open cross street till 1813; consisted of flint, pebbles, and shingle, very strongly cemented; was pierced with 10 gates, and surmounted with 16 towers; and is still represented by very considerable remains. The new town extends both N and S of the wall-line, spreads eastward to the sea, and includes fine terraces, places, and squares, along the beach. The North and South quays are nearly 1½ mile long, and very spacious; and present peculiar and interesting features. The Victoria suburb, facing the sea, was commenced in 1841; lines an esplanade 2,610 feet long; and comprises Brandon terrace, Kimberley terrace, Albert-square, Camperdown-place, and other fine ranges of superior houses. The unedificed portions of the peninsula form pleasant outskirts, include a promenade and carriage-drive along the entire sea-frontage, afford pleasant facilities for sea-bathing, and command charming views across the Yare. The Wellington and the Britannia piers, at respectively the S end and the N end of the Parade, also afford agreeable promenades. Water supply is obtained from Ormesby broad, 6 miles distant.

The Town-hall was built in 1716, is in the Tuscan style, and includes court-rooms and a record-room. The Toll-house is mainly early English, and is the place of the town council meetings. The Town-house was built in 1600, and contains the public library and the office of port-dues. The Borough jail stands behind the Toll-house, and has capacity for 44 male and 12 female prisoners. The Custom-house stands on the Quay, and is large and handsome. The Corn exchange was built in 1842, but is now used only for meetings and exhibitions; and the corn market is held on the open Quay. The Market place covers an area of 3 acres. A new and spacious fish-market, with wharves and very complete appliances, was formed in 1868. The Bath-house was built in 1759, but has been converted into a hotel, with hot and cold sea-water baths. The Star-inn was the mansion of the Bradshaw family, and contains some curious carvings and pendant ceilings. A house on the South quay was the mansion of the Carter family, and contains some fine Tudor rooms. The Theatre was built in 1778, and remodelled in 1820. Spacious and elegant assembly and reading rooms stand immediately opposite the Wellington pier; were built in 1862; and are in the Italian style, with an open colonnade and wings. A handsome iron lifting bridge over the Yare into Suffolk, was completed in 1854. A suspension bridge, over the Bure, at the N end of the town, was constructed in 1821, at a cost of £4,000; but fell under pressure of a crowd in 1845, when 400 persons were precipitated into the river, and 79 were drowned. A substantial wrought iron bridge now occupies the same site; and was erected in 1854, at a cost of £5,000. A handsome iron tubular bridge in two compartments, connects the railway with lines of tramway along the quays. Nelson's monument was erected in 1817; consists chiefly of a Doric column, with fluted shaft, rising to the height of 144 feet; and is crowned by a statue of Britannia.

St. Nicholas' church was founded in 1101, by Bishop Lozinga, as part of a cell to Norwich priory; underwent additions, restorations, and alterations, in 1251, in 1286, and at subsequent periods; is a cruciform structure, 230 feet by 108; has a central tower, with a spire 186 feet high, rebuilt in 1806; included, at one time, sixteen chapels; and now has accommodation for about 4,000 persons. St. Peter's church was built in 1833, at a cost of £12,000; and is of white brick, with a tower 118 feet high. St. George's church was built in 1714; and is an octagon, with tower and cupola. St. John's was built in 1857, for the accommodation of seamen; and St. Andrew's was built chiefly for a similar class. There are two Independent chapels, four Baptist, one of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, two Wesleyan, two New Connexion Methodist, one Primitive Methodist, two U. Free Methodist, one Unitarian, one Roman Catholic, and a Jews' synagogue. An ultra-mural cemetery of 12 acres for Churchmen, Dissenters, and Jews, was recently formed. A small cemetery for Roman Catholics is on the road to Caistor; and was provided, in 1867, with a mortuary chapel. An old Benedictine priory, near St. Nicholas' church, has been converted into a national school. An Augustinian friary was founded in 1278, a Black friary, in 1270, a Grey friary, in the time of Henry III.; but all these, as also two ancient leper-houses, have disappeared. The grammar-school was rebuilt in 1863, and has £857 a year from endowment. The Children's hospital school was rebuilt in 1845; gives free education to 30 boys and 20 girls; admits also, as day scholars, 150 boys and 50 girls; and is largely endowed. A charity school is attached to the Unitarian chapel. National schools, besides the one in the old priory, are connected with St. Peter's and St. John's churches, and with Gorleston and Southtown. A British school is in St. George's-road. A school for the Church South-end mission, in the Gothic style, was built in 1867. The public library is supported by subscription, and contains about 10,000 volumes. A parochial-library, with museum, is in Priory-row; and a working-men's institute, with reading room, is in High-street. The Victoria gardens contain an American bowling-alley and other attractions, and are open to the public. The Sailors' home was erected in 1860, at a cost of about £2,000; serves as a refuge for shipwrecked seamen; and contains baths, a reading room, a library, and a small museum. The Fishermen's hospital was built in 1702, for 20 decayed fishermen; and has £217 a year from endowment. The Royal hospitaland dispensary was founded in 1838, and has accommodation for 20 inpatients. The workhouse was built in 1838, at a cost of £7,000; and has accommodation for 400 inmates. The aggregate of endowed charities is about £1,430.

The town has a head post-office,‡ a r. station with telegraph, four banking offices, and five hotels; publishes two weekly newspapers; and is a seat of petty sessions, quarter sessions, and county courts, a polling place, a sea-bathing resort, and a head port. Markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays; fairs, on Shrove-Monday and Tuesday, and on Easter-Friday and Saturday; races, in the latter part of Aug.; and two yearly regattas, in the roadstead and on Breydon-water. Silk mills employ nearly 700 hands; ship and boat-building employs many h and s; and there are three large roperies, a cement manufactory, and numerous and extensive malting-houses. The mackerel fishery employs about 90 boats and 870 men; the herring fishery employs upwards of 200 luggers and about 2,000 men; fisheries for cod, whitings, skate, soles, turbot, eels, sprats, and shrimps, also give large employment; and all these fisheries involve likewise much employment to men and women on shore. The import trade is chiefly in coals and corn; the export trade, chiefly in barley, timber, salt, and colonial produce. Three several harbour channels existed prior to 1337, but were successively choked up. The present channel was formed in 1559-67, by a Netherland s engineer; is defended, along each side, by piers and jetties; has a depth, on the bar, of about 12 feet in neap tides, and of from 18 to 20 at spring tides; and was improved in 1866-8, at a cost of about £14,000. The roadstead, outside, somewhat resembles the Downs in Kent; is protected by various sands from all winds except the easterly and the north-easterly: affords excellent anchorage in from 15 to 18 fathoms; is a great resort, by merchantmen and colliers, for shelter from the neighbouring dangerous coast navigation; and has often so many as 1,000 vessels at anchor at one time. The vessels belonging to the port, at the beginning of 1868, were 509 small sailing-vessels, of aggregately 15,819 tons; 166 large sailing-vessels, of aggregately 18,764 tons; 8 small steam-vessels, of aggregately 168 tons; and 2 large steam-vessels, of jointly 327 tons. The vessels which entered, in 1867, were 4 British sailing-vessels, of aggregately 1,051 tons, from British colonies: 1 foreign sailing-vessel, of 288 tons from British colonies: 125 British sailing-vessels, of aggregately 13,413 tons, from foreign countries; 96 foreign sailing-vessels, of aggregately 11,954 tons, from foreign countries: 1,169 sailing-vessels, of aggregately 96,919 tons, coastwise; and 166 steam-vessels, of gately 34,682 tons, coastwise. The amount of customs, in 1862 was £22,496. Steamers sail regularly to Hull, Newcastle, and London. The borough comprises Yarmouth and Gorleston parishes; is governed, under the new act, by a mayor, 12 aldermen, and 36 councilors; and sent two members to parliament from the time of Edward I. till 1867, but was then disfranchised. The corporation revenue is about £7,960. Pop. in 1851, 30,879; in 1861, 34,810. Houses, 7,792.

The parish comprises 1,270 acres of land, and 240 of water; and is ecclesiastically distributed into the charges of St. Nicholas, St. Peter, St. George, St. Andrew, St. John, and South Mission. Real property, £76,849; of which £289 are in gasworks. Pop. in 1851, 26,880; in 1861, 30,338. Houses, 6,819. The living of St. Nicholas is a vicarage, and the other livings are p. curacies, in the diocese of Norwich. Value of St. N., £360: of St. P., £190; of St. G., £200; of the others, not reported. Patrons of St. N., the Dean and Chapter of Norwich; of St. P., St. A., St. J., and South Mission, the Vicar of St. Nicholas; of St. G., the Church Patronage Society.—The district is conterminate with the parish; and is cut into two sections, N and S. Poor rates in 1863, £16,065. Marriages in 1866, 346; births, 1,088,-of which 89 were illegitimate; deaths, 808,-of which 344 were at ages under 5 years, and 26 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 2,826; births, 9,261; deaths, 7,075. The places of worship, in 1851, were 3 of the Church of England , with 6,028 sittings; 1 of Independents, with 700 s.; 3 of Baptists, with 780 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 255 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 400 s.; 1 of Wesleyans. with 1,200 s.; 1 of New Connexion Methodists, with 750 s.; 1 of Primitive Methodists, with 1,000 s.; 1 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 400 s.; 1 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, with 620 s.; 2 undefined, with 480 s.; and 1 of Jews, with 60 s. The schools were 10 public day-schools, with 1,490 scholars; 61 private day-schools, with 1,653 s.: and 7 Sunday schools, with 2,214 s.

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


Below is a list of people that were declared bankrupt between 1820 and 1843 extracted from The Bankrupt Directory; George Elwick; London; Simpkin, Marshall and Co.; 1843.

Agnew Alex., Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, draper and tailor, March 15, 1823.

Algar John, Great Yarmouth, fishing merchant, May 14, 1841.

Batley John, Great Yarmouth, grocer, Sept. 18, 1821.

Beart John, Great Yarmouth, money scrivener, March 27, 1829.

Blagg Edward, Yarmouth, grocer, March 21, 1826.

Bond James Garrett, Great Yarmouth, draper and mercer, Jan. 31, 1840.

Bradfield James Knight, Great Yarmouth, builder, Sept. 8, 1826.

Breeze Robert, jun., Great Yarmouth, ironmonger, Oct. 2, 1827.

Brooks James, Great Yarmouth, grocer, Dec. 25, 1835.

Brown John and Samuel, Yarmouth, Norfolk, maltsters, Nov. 3, 1829.

Bunn Thomas, Great Yarmouth, and South Town, corn dealer, Nov. 17, 1837.

Eabbage William Boutt, Yarmouth, mast and block maker, Aug. 23, 1831.

Ely Henry, Great Yarmouth, blacksmith and coach builder, June 15, 1830.


  • County: Norfolk
  • Civil Registration District: Yarmouth
  • Probate Court: Court of the Archdeaconry of Norwich
  • Diocese: Norwich
  • Rural Deanery: Flegg
  • Poor Law Union: Yarmouth
  • Hundred: Great Yarmouth Borough
  • Province: Canterbury