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Publications for sale

All publications are available at Dorset History Centre, or send a cheque made payable to Dorset County Council to Dorset History Centre, Bridport Road, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1RP.

Dorset History Centre publications

Who's A'feard of Family History

The indispensable guide to starting your family history research at Dorset History Centre. This volume takes you through all the main sources for family history using examples of Dorset documents held at the History Centre such as parish registers, census returns, tithe maps, wills, quarter sessions and prison records.

£4

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Railway Records in the Dorset Record Office

A comprehensive guide to the history of all of the Dorset railways and branch lines. This guide includes a map of the railways in Dorset, and a descriptive catalogue of their records held at Dorset History Centre.

£4

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Dorset Record Society Publications

The Case Book of Sir Francis Ashley 1614-1635, ed. J. H. Bettey. Vol. 7 (1981)

Ashley was Recorder, or borough magistrate, of Dorchester from 1610 until his death in 1635. His case book shows the wide variety of local affairs with which JPs were then concerned. Ashley was not only involved in the trials of offenders in Dorchester, but also tried many of those arrested each year at Woodbury Hill Fair, and his case book provides much detailed evidence about this annual event (150 pages, index of personal names) .

£4

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The Building Accounts of Mapperton Rectory 1699-1703, ed. R. Machin. Vol. 8 (1983)

The complete building accounts for Mapperton rectory are in the parish records, a rare survival providing detailed information on building practices and costs at an important period. The house too is still in existence, not drastically altered (56 pages, 2 illustrations, 3 plans, glossary of technical terms).

£4

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Dorset Quarter Sessions Order Book. Vol. 14 (2006)

The courts of quarter sessions were held four times a year to hear criminal cases and deal with administrative business. Criminal offences ranged from physical violence, theft and damaging property to begging or causing a public nuisance. Those found guilty were punished with a fine, imprisonment, hard labour, public whipping, the pillory, or even death by hanging, according to the seriousness of the offence.

Administrative business included the maintenance of roads and bridges, the licensing of alehouses, bastardy, pensions for ex-service men, the relief of poverty, and the collection of rates and taxes. The order book provides an insight into the administration of the county in the years leading up to the profound political upheavals of the English Civil War.

The volume includes a glossary of less familiar legal terms, a list of justices and a comprehensive index of places and personal names. An introduction explains the work of the quarter sessions courts. The index of several thousand personal names, often with indication of rank, domicile and occupation, makes this volume of great value to those in search of family history.

£10

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Dorset in Wartime: The Diary of Phyllis Walther 1941-1942, ed. Patricia Malcolmson & Robert Malcolmson. Vol. 15 (2009)

Phyllis Walther wrote this Mass Observation Diary as she worked during the war for the WVS as a volunteer. She was responsible for the welfare of evacuees, particularly for providing clothing for children and displaced civilians. She organized the provision of hand-knitted comforts for the troops and despaired of the tangle caused by garments mistakenly knitted in the wrong sizes and service colours. Phyllis had an enquiring mind and decided opinions, and everyday life in wartime Dorset comes alive in her diary.

£10

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Birth, Marriage, Death and Taxes: Lyme Regis Censuses 1695-1703, ed. Judith Ford. Vol. 16 (2011)

In 1695 the `Marriage Duty Act' imposed a tax on births, marriages and burials, as well as an annual charge on bachelors over the age of 25, and on childless widowers. The tax was introduced by William III to help pay for war with France. The administration of the tax involved the drawing up of a certified list of the names of the inhabitants of every town, village and hamlet in England and Wales.
Only about 150 of the Marriage Duty Act documents are known to survive nationally and so the survival of seven assessments for Lyme Regis is a remarkable bonus. The Marriage Duty Act assessments for Lyme Regis survive for the years 1695, 1698, 1699, 1701 (two copies), 1702 and 1703. One undated assessment survives for the tithing of Colway, adjacent to Lyme.
The tax assessments were intended to be complete enumerations of the population. The assessors listed the members of every household and recorded liability on the same page. The tax increased for those of greater wealth and status.
The war for which the tax was raised damaged Lyme's trade with France in serges and linens and the town's resulting decline can be traced in the tax assessments, both in the decrease of the total number of inhabitants and in that of individuals liable to surcharges.
The book reproduces in full all the Marriage Duty Act censuses/assessments for Lyme Regis and Colway, with an index of names, and is of particular value to the family historian. There is a comprehensive introduction and the book is illustrated with engravings and photographs. The book is hardback with a coloured jacket.

£10

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Early Years: Recollections of Life in Sturminster Newton in the Early Nineteenth Century, by Robert Young [Ed. Alan Chedzoy] Vol. 16 (2011)

At the age of 97, Young sat down and filled an exercise book with his remarkable memories of life in the opening years of the 19th Century. His life saw the coming of the railway, horseless carriages and a gradual improvement in the lot of the working man in the largely agricultural society he knew so well. A friend of William Barnes, his memories provide a direct glimpse of the world described by Barnes and Hardy. The book is illustrated with early photographs of Sturminster Newton and the area.

£4

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The Sherborne Almshouse Register, Vol 17 (2013)

Sherborne has one of Dorset's oldest almshouses. The founders established a strong management group of twenty brethren, with rules as to how they should behave and govern the house. More than a century later, the brethren copied into one volume important foundation and endowment documents, together with surveys of lands held, making them readily accessible. Later, governance decisions and bequests from benefactors were added. Registers were compiled listing  elections of brethren and admissions of over 800 almspeople from 1582 till the 1860s. Entries for many almspeople recorded their possessions.

All of these records are transcribed in this book, in modern English for accessibility. The introduction is comprehensive and places the almshouse in the context of national and local almshouse provision.

The book is hardback, illustrated with photographs and has a coloured jacket.

£12.50

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William Whiteway of Dorchester: his diary 1618-1635, ed. David Underdown. Vol 12 (2015 hardback reprint)

Whiteway was the son of a leading Dorchester merchant and a friend and associate of John White, the rector of Holy Trinity and a founder of the Massachusetts Bay Company, who turned Dorchester into a model Puritan stronghold in the generation before the Civil War. In his diary, brought to an abrupt end by his early death, Whiteway gives a first-hand account of these momentous years. (195 pages, index of personal names)

£12.50

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Farming in Dorset: the diary of James Warne, 1758, and letters of George Boswell, 1787-1805, ed. J F James and J H Betty. Vol 13 (2015 hardback reprint)

James Warne's diary is a remarkably comprehensive snap-shot of the life, work and attitudes of a respectable tenant farmer before agricultural improvement. It I set alongside the letters of George Boswell whose working life as a tenant farmer saw many agricultural changes. The two sets of records provide an insight into many aspects of the lives of the people of rural Dorset in the eighteenth century.

£12.50

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Dorset Natural History And Archaeological Society Occasional Paper no. 2 (2011)

Dorset Manorial Documents: A Guide for Local and Family Historians, by Mark Forrest

Manorial documents are a useful and yet under used source for local and family historians in Dorset. They illustrate many aspects of the lives of ordinary people: property ownership, maintenance of roads and hedges, punishment of minor crimes, election of local officers and interpretation of local customs all fell within the remit of the manor court. In resolving the issues brought before it the manor court its records provide a range of additional information: genealogical details, evidence of changes in agriculture and land use, place and field names and dialect words all find their way into the documents.

This volume compliments the recently launched updated listing of Dorset Manorial Documents on the National Archives website which allows researchers to locate documents in dozens of different repositories across the country through a single search.

The guide explains the history and development of Dorset manors and introduces the documents produced by the manorial administration through examples from the collections held at the Dorset History Centre. The focus is on those documents written in English produced between the mid-seventeenth century and the early twentieth century which are most easily accessible to researchers who have not previously worked on manor and estate records. Examples of court rolls, perambulations, stewards' papers, presentments and customs are provided with transcriptions to illustrate the contents and uses of a variety of records. A historical overview places the documents in context and a glossary of terms aids interpretation.

£6

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Dorset Maps

The early editions of Ordnance Survey maps listed below are reproduced at the scale 1:2500 [approximately twenty-five inches to one mile].

Price £2.25 each. Please add £1.25 postage if ordering online, £2 if outside the United Kingdom.

  • Christchurch, 1896 edition
  • Dorchester, 1901
  • Gillingham, 1900
  • Lyme Regis, 1903
  • Poole, 1900
  • Poole Harbour and Bournemouth, 1893
  • Portland (Easton and Weston), 1927
  • Portland (Castletown), 1927
  • Portland (Fortuneswell and Grove), 1927
  • Portland (Southwell), 1926
  • Shaftesbury, 1900
  • Sherborne, 1901
  • Sturminster Newton, 1900
  • Swanage, 1900
  • Weymouth, (Westham), 1901
  • Weymouth, 1901
  • Wimborne, 1900
  • Wyke Regis, 1901
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