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This website does not cover all possible record sources for Bridgnorth by a very long way. Some records are just too big a project to tackle single-handedly, and others have already been transcribed elsewhere.
Here are some of the other records which might be helpful:
These are listed individually below:
The parish registers contain a record of all the baptisms, marriages and burials which took place in a parish. The practice was instituted in Elizabethan times, and the records go back to 1556 for St. Leonard, and 1610 for St. Mary Magdalene. These registers can be searched in several ways:
The records of both parishes have been recently photographed and transcribed, and these transcriptions can now be searched online at findmypast. The images are very clear, and a vast improvement over the microfiches, but you will need to take out a subscription to view either the transcriptions or images.
The records of both parishes have been microfilmed, and can be searched on microfiche readers at Shropshire Archives. They may also allow you to look at the originals if you can show that the entry you need is illegible on the fiche.
The microfilming procedure was originally carried out by the Church of Latter Day Saints, and they still have copies of the films. You should be able to order the relevant films from your local Family History Library.
The L.D.S. Church has transcribed many of its microfilms, and baptisms and marriages can be searched online using the I.G.I. The relevant parish numbers are C085821 or M085821 for St. Leonard and C037341 or M037341 for St Mary Magdalene. (Note that the C is for christenings/baptisms and the M is for marriages.) The transcriptions are usually pretty good, although I noticed some of my Milner marriages were missing from the Index. The I.G.I. rarely notes deaths, unless the transcriber noticed someone dying within a few lines of their baptism entry.
However, if you plan to search the I.G.I. it's important to note that it is made up of two distinct categories of record. One type, usually annotated "Extracted birth/christening/marriage record for the locality listed in the record", is usually fairly reliable and has been submitted by someone systematically transcribing a perticular parish register. The other type, usually annotated with "Record submitted by a member of the LDS Church", is usually submitted by someone researching their own tree, and may well be a rough guess rather than a literal transcription.
It’s important to note that dates in the I.G.I. are transcribed as written, and so prior to the calendar change in 1752, dates between the first of January and the 25th of March are not quite right - “25 Jan 1732” really means “25 Jan 1733” and should be noted as “25 Jan 1732/3”.
The census returns, in theory, have recorded every single person in the country every 10 years since 1841. They can be searched online at Findmypast.com, Ancestry.co.uk or a few other websites, although you will almost certainly need to take out a subscription to access them.
On the other hand, you may also be able to search the census manually on microfilm/fiche, either at Shropshire Archives or your local Family History Centre. However, it can be a lot harder to find an individual record this way unless you already know where it is. It may also be worth checking to see whether your local archives have free access to the genealogy sites mentioned above.
The 1800s saw an explosion in local newspaper publication and circulation, due in part to advances in printing technology and communication networks. Bridgnorth was no exception, and local newspapers from the 1850s onward are available to view on microfilm at Bridgnorth Library.
The microfilms cover two particular newspapers:
The "Bridgnorth Beacon and South Shropshire Advertiser" was first printed on the first of October 1852. It seems to have been the project of W. Jepson Rowley, a printer in the town, and was published monthly to begin with, but soon graduated to a fortnightly publication.
Copies of the newspaper exist on microfilm for the years 1852-1854 (albeit with a gap between August 1853 and January 1854). The last available issue of the Bridgnorth Beacon is dated 23rd December 1854.
The "Bridgnorth Journal and General Advertiser" began publishing in September 1854 (with the tagline "Deserve success and you shall command it"). It was first published and printed by Clement Edkins, a bookseller, and is still going strong today, over 150 years later. The first available copy is issue 3, dated 2nd November 1854.
NOTE: Although I originally considered transcribing articles from these microfilms, technology is now available which is far, far faster and more efficient. In consequence, a large assortment of regional publications can now be searched online at Findmypast.
Whilst the Bridgnorth newspapers may not have been specifically transcribed, many articles were syndicated, so there is an overlap between other local publications and the Bridgnorth newspapers. In particular, court reports from the local Petty Sessions were repeated in several other Shropshire newspapers and can now be found online.
Between 1662 and 1689, people were taxed according to the number of hearths they had in their homes. It was intended to be a fair tax, on the grounds that the wealthy, who had grander houses, would pay more. However, it caused unrest as it entitled the tax-collectors and constables to enter a person’s house and inspect every room. It also allowed wealthy landowners to escape the tax on buildings they owned, as it would be paid by their tenants. It was eventually repealed by William and Mary on their accession to the throne.
Whilst the tax was in operation, the names and number of hearths were required to be listed, and so the hearth tax acts as a sort of early census. It lists the names of the heads of households, and the number of hearths, and the tax due (two shillings per year per hearth). The number of hearths can give a good idea of a person’s wealth.
The hearth tax returns for the whole of Shropshire from the year 1672 were transcribed and printed some years ago, and I am aware of at least one copy, at Lichfield Archives, though I am sure other archives and family history societies will also have copies.
Shropshire Archives also has a microfilmed copy of some of the earlier hearth tax returns, but it is extremely difficult to search and decipher.
The marriage licences for Bridgnorth have apparently been lost somewhere between Wales, Lichfield and Hereford many years ago - quite frustrating, as many of my own Milner ancestors were married by licence (quite rare in my family!). If anybody finds them down the back of the sofa, or the like, please deliver them to Lichfield Archives.
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