Dursley, Gloucestershire Family History Guide

Dursley is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Gloucestershire.

Parish church: St James the Great

Parish registers begin: 1639

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

Parishes adjacent to Dursley

Historical Descriptions

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

DURSLEY, a small town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district in Gloucester. The town stands at the base of a steep hill, amid very fine scenery, at the terminus of a short branch of the Bristol and Gloucester railway, 5 ½ miles ESE of Berkeley, and 15 SSW of Gloucester. It is irregularly built, and contains many old houses. It was a borough so early as the time of Edward I., but does not appear to have ever been represented in parliament; and it was governed by a chief officer styled præ-positus, who has been succeeded by a bailiff of little authority. It is a seat of petty sessions, and a polling-place; and it has a head post office, a railway station, two banking offices, a chief inn, a market-house, a church, two dissenting chapels, alms-houses, a workhouse, and charities £179. The market house was built about the year 1738; and has, at its east end, a statue of Queen Anne. The church is later English, beautifully decorated; has a handsome modern Gothic tower at the west end; and includes a chantry-chapel erected, in the time of Henry VI., by Thomas Tanner. Copious springs arise on the south-east side of the churchyard; have a perennial volume of such power as to drive a fulling-mill at about 100 yards distant; and are supposed to have given rise to the name Dursley, as a corruption of dur and ley, signifying “water-meadow.” A weekly market is held on Thursday; and fairs are held on 6 May and 4 Dec. A woollen manufacture was formerly carried on, to the extent of employing 115 persons, in 4 mills, in 1838; but has materially declined. The town had Bishop Fox, of Henry VIII. ‘s time, as a native; and it gives the title of Viscount to the Earl of Berkeley. The parish comprises 1,059 acres. Real property, £8,008; of which £300 are in railways, and £146 in gas-works. Pop., 2,477. Houses, 550. The property is much subdivided. The manor belonged to the Berkeleys, from Domesday till the time of Richard II.; and passed through the Cantelupes, the Chedders, and others, to the Escorts. A baronial castle of the Berkeleys stood at the north-west end of the town; was pulled down about the time of Queen Mary; and is still-commemorated by vestiges of its moat, and by the name of Castle fields borne by the neighbouring fields. A peculiar kind of building material, called puff-stone, very soft when first excavated, but becoming hard and durable on exposure to the air, is worked. The living is a rectory, united with the p. curacy of Woodmancote, and was till Feb. 1865 annexed to the archd. of Gloucester, in the diocese of Gl. and Bristol. Value, £228. The sub-district contains also the parishes of Stinchcombe, Cam, and Slimbridge. Acres, 9,899. Pop., 5,106. Houses, 1,172. The district comprehends also the sub-district of Wotton-under Edge, containing the parishes of Wotton-under-Edge, North Nibley, and Kingswood; and the sub-district of Uley, containing the parishes of Uley, Owlpen, Nymphsfield, and Coaley. Acres, 26, 521. Poor-rates in 1862, £7,424. Pop. in 1851, 14,803; in 1861, 13,331. Houses, 3,234. Marriages in 1860, 75; births, 383, of which 27 were illegitimate; deaths, 299, of which 69 were at ages under 5 years, and 23 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 850; births, 3,805; deaths, 2,977. The places of worship in 1851 were 14 of the Church of England, with 5,618 sittings; 8 of Independents, with 3,128 s.; 4 of Baptists, with 1,173 s.; and 7 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 1,466 s. The schools were 22 public day schools, with 1,615 scholars; 33 private day schools, with 581 s.; and 31 Sunday schools, with 3,217 s.

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

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales 1851

Dursley, a market-town and parish, in the upper division of the hund. of Berkeley, union of Dursley, county of Gloucester; 108 miles west by north of London, and 15 miles south-west by south of Gloucester. Acres 1,360. Houses 635. A.P. £5,565. Pop., in 1801, 2,379; in 1831, 3,226. The town stands at the foot of a hill, near the source of a small stream, called the Cam. Living, a rectory in the archd. and dio. of Gloucester and Bristol, formerly annexed to the archd. of Gloucester; rated at £10 14s 4½d. Patron, the bishop of the diocese. Here are an Independent church, formed in 1764; a Wesleyan Methodist, in 1801; and also 2 daily and 4. Sunday schools, one of the former of which is National, and is supported by endowment. Only 1 in 20 of the population of Dursley has been educated. Charities, upwards of £70 per annum. Poor rates, in 1837. £1,186. There are many poor in Dursley, and their houses are wretched and destitute. A workhouse has been erected here for the union of Dursley, by the poor-law commissioners, capable of accommodating 280 persons. The Dursley poor-law union comprehends 11 parishes, embracing an area of 36 square miles; with a population returned, in 1831, at 19,518. The average annual expenditure on the poor of this district, during the three years preceding the formation of the union, was £10,931. Expenditure, in 1838, £7,250. in 1839, £7,631 1s. Dursley was one of the boroughs included in the return made by the sheriff of Gloucestershire in the reign of Edward I., but it does not appear that it ever sent members to parliament. If it ever did, it has long since lost the privilege. It is the principal place of election for the members for the western division of the county. The local authorities are a bailiff and 12 aldermen. At a court-leet, in October, the homage jury annually present the names of three inhabitants of the town, of whom the lord of the manor selects one to be bailiff; who, on his office expiring, becomes an alderman, if the number of 12 be incomplete. Nether bailiff nor aldermen have municipal functions or municipal property of any kind. Four woollen mills here, in 1838, employed 115 hands. In the district of Dursley, however, there were, in 1839, 11 cloth mills in use. This is one of the principal woollen districts in the county. In the town itself there were formerly about 150 hand-loom weavers, and it was a very brisk manufacturing town; but, in 1839, there were only about 20: the clothing trade had greatly declined: two or three mills were then vacant, and almost in ruins. Near the centre of the town is a market-house built in 1738. The market was chartered by Edward IV., in 1471. It is held on Thursday, and there are fairs for the sale cattle and pedlery on 6th May, and 4th December. There is here a stratum of tophus or puff stone, so soft as to be worked with facility; but, on exposure to the air, it becomes uncommonly hard and durable. The walls of Berkeley castle were built of the stone, which, though upwards of 700 years old, are in good repair.

Source: The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales; A Fullarton & Co. Glasgow; 1851.

Parish Records


Marriages at Dursley 1639-1812

Marriages at Dursley 1639-1812 – UK Genealogy Archives


Marriages at Dursley 1810 to 1812

Marriages at Dursley 1805 to 1809

Marriages at Dursley 1801 to 1804


Online Records (Free)

Census returns for Dursley, 1841-1891

Births and baptisms at the Tabernacle, 1825-1837

Births, baptisms and burials at the Tabernacle, 1754-1837

Births, baptisms and burials, 1800-1837

Bishop’s transcripts for Dursley, 1606-1886

Church records, 1702-1970 Cam Meeting Church (Dursley, Gloucestershire : Congregational)

Parish register printouts of Dursley, Gloucester, England (Independent) ; christenings, 1754-1837

Parish register printouts of Dursley, Gloucester, England (Methodist) ; christenings, 1800-1837

Chapters of parochial history: Dursley and its neighbourhood; being historical memorials of Dursley, Beverston, Cam, and Uley Author:
Blunt, John Henry


Dursley Gell and Bradshaw Gloucestershire Directory 1820

Dursley (inc Uley) Universal British Directory 1791


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.

Beard Thos., sen., Dursley’s Cross inn, Gloucestersh., victualler, Aug. 7, 1835.

Buchanan William Cox, Dursley, Gloucestershire, scrivener, May 13, 1842.

Denley Cornelius, Dursley, & St. Catherine mill, paper maker, March 21, 1826.

Gough John, Dursley, Gloucestershire, linen draper, April 30, 1825.

Gough John Wood, Dursley, Gloucestershire, stationer, Nov. 17, 1835.

Gough John Wood, Dursley, Gloucestershire, stationer, July 18, 1837.

Harris Alpheus, Dursley, Gloucestershire, wool broker, April 2, 1841.

Moore Thomas, Dursley, Gloucestershire, ironmonger, Sept. 17, 1838.

Trotman Thomas, Dursley, Gloucestershire, mealman, Feb. 14, 1824.

Whittard Thomas, Dursley, Gloucestershire, shopkeeper, Feb. 17, 1832.

Young Henry, Dursley, Gloucestershire, common brewer, Dec. 9, 1831.

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  • County: Gloucestershire
  • Civil Registration District: Dursley
  • Probate Court: Court of the Bishop of Gloucester (Episcopal Consistory)
  • Diocese: Pre 1836 – Gloucester, Post 1835 – Gloucester and Bristol
  • Rural Deanery: Dursley
  • Poor Law Union: Dursley
  • Hundred: Berkeley (Gloucestershire)
  • Province: Canterbury