Amesbury, Wiltshire Family History Guide

Amesbury is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Wiltshire.

Status: Ancient Parish

Other places in the parish include: West Amesbury and Little Amesbury.

Parish church:

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1579
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1622

Nonconformists include: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Wesleyan Methodist.

Parishes adjacent to Amesbury

  • Newton Tony
  • Idmiston with Porton
  • Cholderton
  • Winterbourne Stoke
  • Wilsford cum Lake
  • Durnford
  • Durrington
  • Allington
  • Boscombe
  • Bulford

Historical Descriptions

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales 1851

Amesbury, formerly Ambrosebury, or Ambresbury, and in Domesday-book, Amblesberie, a market-town and parish in the division and union of the same name, county of Wilts; 7½ miles north from Salisbury, and 78 west-south-west from London. It stands in a valley on the river Avon. Living, a perpetual curacy in the archd. of Wilts and dio. of Salisbury, in the patronage of the dean and chapter of Windsor; rated at £40; in the parliamentary returns at £80; gross income £141. The Wesleyan Methodists have a meeting house here. There is a National school supported by subscription; and three charity schools: one endowed by H. Spratt in 1708, for teaching an indefinite number of children to read; another for 20 boys, founded and endowed in 1677 by Mr John Rose; and a third established in 1819, out of funds left by the same John Rose, in 1677. The annual income of the first varies from £44 to £50; of the two latter, the yearly revenue is £54 5s. The only other charity connected with the parish is that of Richard Harrison, for apprenticing poor boys. Its annual income is £42. The town of Amesbury is of great antiquity. In the reign of King Edgar, a synod was convened here to settle disputes between the regular and secular clergy. According to Domesday-book, Amesbury was never assessed, nor divided into hides. There is little trade; even the market, which used to be held on Friday, has been discontinued. Fairs for horses, sheep, pigs, and horned cattle, are held on May 17th, June 22d, October 6th, and December 18th. The town is within the jurisdiction of the county-magistrates; constables, who are the only municipal officers, are appointed annually at the court-leet of the lord of the manor. The Amesbury poor-law union comprehends a district of 99 square miles, with a population returned, in 1831, at 7,084. The average expenditure on the poor of this district, during the three years preceding the union, was £4,445. Expenditure in 1838, £3,641. Pop., in 1801, 721 ; in 1831, 944. Houses 198. Acres 6,060. A. P. £5,710. Poor rates, in 1837, £621 It has been proposed to construct a new road from Amesbury to Kennet, which will form a connecting link between the Great Western and the Southampton and Salisbury railways. The best tobacco-pipe-clay in England is dug in the neighbourhood of the town; and the streamlets of the vicinity are famed for loaches. The surrounding country is fertile and well-cultivated. On the western side of the river there are traces of an ancient encampment, with a vallum and deep fosse, inclosing a space of 39 acres: this has been attributed to Vespasian, but is more generally supposed to be of British origin. “Here is said to have been an ancient British monastery for 300 monks, founded, as some say, by Ambrius an abbot; and others, by the famous Prince Ambrosius, who was therein buried, and destroyed by that cruel pagan, Gurmundus, (Gurthurm) who over-ran all this country in the 6th century. It has been thought that here was one of the two monasteries which were given to the learned Asserius by King Alfred. But it is more certain, that about the year 980, Alfrida or Ethelfrida, the queen-dowager of King Kdward, erected here a monastery for nuns, and commended it to the patronage of St Mary and St Melorius, a Cornish saint, whose relics were preserved here. It was of the Benedictine order; but, A.D. 1177, the abbess and about 30 nuns were expelled for their ill lives; and then King Henry II. placed here a prioress and 24 nuns, from Font Ebrald in Normandy, to which monastery this house was for some time subject, but at length was made denizen, and became again an abbey, endowed 26° Henry VIII. with £495 15s. 2d., Dugd.; £558 10s. 2d., Speed. This nunnery was surrendered, December, 1540, or 32° Henry VIII., by the abbess and 34 nuns, and granted in April following to Edward, earl of Hertford.” — Tanner’s Not. Mon. — Amesbury abbey was one of the richest and most celebrated of the non-mitred abbeys in England, and many distinguished females took the veil here at different times. A society of nuns, of the order of St Augustine, from Louvain in Flanders, took up their residence at a house which occupies a part of the side of the ancient nunnery, probably attracted by a notion ot the sanctity of the place; but they afterwards removed into Dorsetshire. Amesbury was the birth-place of Addison. Near the town is Amesbury-house, the once celebrated seat of the Dukes of Queensbury, built by Webb, from the designs of Inigo Jones, and subsequently improved by the Earl of Burlington. About 2 miles west from the town is the well-known Druidical structure, called Stonehenge: which see. There is a penny-post to Netheravon.

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

Leonard’s Gazetteer of England and Wales 1850

Amesbury, 78 miles S.W. London. Market, Fri. P. 1171

Source: Leonard’s Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850.


  • County: Wiltshire
  • Civil Registration District: Amesbury
  • Probate Court: Court of the Archdeaconry of Salisbury
  • Diocese: Salisbury
  • Rural Deanery: Amesbury
  • Poor Law Union: Amesbury
  • Hundred: Amesbury
  • Province: Canterbury

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