Abbotsbury Dorset Genealogy & Family History Guide

Photo of St Nicholas parish church, Abbotsbury, Dorset. by Mark A Coleman, some rights reserved.

Abbotsbury is an Ancient Parish in the county of Dorset.

Other places in the parish include: Elworth and Rodden.

Parish church: St Nicholas

Parish registers begin: 1574

Nonconformists include: Independent/Congregational and Primitive Methodist.

Parishes adjacent to Abbotsbury

  • Puncknowle
  • Litton Cheney
  • Long Bredy
  • Portesham
  • Langton Herring

Historical Descriptions

Beeton’s British Gazetteer 1870

Anaorsauav, a market town of England, in Dorsetshire, situated on the sea coast, 8 miles S.W. from its post town, Dorchester. It has a money Ord. off. Pop. 1089.

Source: Beeton’s British Gazetteer 1870. Ward, Lock & Tyler, Paternoster Row, London.

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

St. Catherine's Chapel, Abbotsbury, England

ABBOTSBURY, a village, a parish, and a subdistrict, in the district of Weymouth, Dorset. The village stands in a vale, about a mile from the sea, 7¼ miles W of the Weymouth railway, and 9 SW of Dorchester. It has a post office under Dorchester, and an inn. It was formerly a market town, and has now a fair on 10 July. Most of its inhabitants engage in fishing. The parish contains also the hamlets of Rodden and Elworth; and exhibits picturesque features of both shore and surface. Acres, 5,616; of which 545 are water. Real property, £5,651. Pop., 1,089. Houses, 213. The property is divided among a few. The rocks belong to the shelly oolite. The coast commands brilliant views, and is flanked by Chesil Bank, occasioning tumultuous tides. See Chesil Bank. St. Catherine’s Chapel, romantically situated on the crown of a hill between the village and the sea, is a very strong edifice of the 15th century, with large buttresses, a clerestory, and an octagonal tower, and serves as a landmark to mariners. A Benedictine Abbey was founded at Abbotsbury, in 1044, by Orcus, steward of King Canute; and passed, at the dissolution, to the Strangeways. The gateway of its church, the walls of a dormitory and barn, and some fragments scattered over a large area, still remain. A swannery, which belonged to the Abbey, and is said to have contained about 8,000 swans, still exists, with about 1,000 swans, and is connected with a decoy for the extensive capture of wild fowl. A castellated seat of the Earl of Ilchester, the present proprietor, is adjacent. An ancient fortification, 1½ mile to the west, occupies 20 acres, comprises very high ramparts, ditches, and redoubts, and commands a noble view. Hardy’s Monument, About 3 miles distant, commands a still nobler view; and the key for it may be had at Portisham. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury. Value, £140. Patron, the Earl of Ilchester. The church adjoins the Abbey ruins, and is an old embattled edifice with a curious weather worn sculpture over the west door. A school has £20 a year from endowment; and other charities £19.-The subdistrict includes three parishes-Acres, 11,358. Pop., 2,034. Houses, 405.

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

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1831

Abbotsbury. Undoubtedly one of England's most interesting villages. This is the junction of Church Street with the B3157 as it bends into Market Street, seen from the churchyard. The copyright on this image is owned by Derek Harper and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

ABBOTSBURY, a parish, (formerly a market town,) in the hundred of Uggscombe, Dorchester division of the county of Dorset, 8¼ miles (W. S.W.) from Dorchester, and 128 (S.W. by W.) from London, containing 907 inhabitants. The name of this place is evidently derived from its ancient possessors, the abbots of the monastery of St. Peter, supposed to have been founded in 1044 by Orcus, or Orking, steward of the household to Canute the Great, and Tola his wife, for monks of the Benedictine order. It occupied a large extent of ground; and its revenue at the dissolution was £485. 6. 5. : there are still some remains, consisting of a gateway and portions of the walls. At the dissolution it was granted to Sir Giles Strangeways, and on its site was erected a mansion, which, having been garrisoned for the King in 1644, was attacked by Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, and burnt to the ground. The church was also occupied by a party of royalists, who surrendered before it sustained any damage. The town, situated in a valley surrounded by lofty hills, consists of three streets, partially paved, and is well supplied with water. Fishing is the chief occupation of the inhabitants. The weaving of cotton, which was introduced here about thirty years since, has of late much declined. A fair, for sheep and toys, is held on the 10th July. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Dorset, and diocese of Bristol, rated in the king’s books at £10, and endowed with £600 private benefaction, and £600 royal bounty. The Earl Of Ilchester was patron in 1797. The church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, is a large handsome structure, in the later style of English architecture, with a square em battled tower. A school, originally founded for twenty boys, was further endowed in 1754 by Mrs. Horner, with £21 per annum for instructing ten additional boys. A charity school, for clothing and educating twenty girls, instituted a few years since, is supported by the Countess of Ilchester, who has also established an infant school. St. Catherine’s chapel, supposed to have been erected in the reign of Edward IV., stands on an eminence south-west of the town, and serves as a land mark. It is built wholly of stone, the roof is finely groined, and on each side is a handsome porch. Between this and the shore, is a large decoy for wild fowl, and near it, an extensive swannery, the property of the Earl of Ilchester. About a mile and a half to the West of Abbotsbury, is an ancient entrenchment occupying an area of nearly 20 acres, and near the town, is a cromlech.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1831

A Topographical Dictionary of the United Kingdom 1808

Abbottsbury, a parish in the hundred of Ugglescomb, Dorset, 8 miles from Dorchester, and 128 from London; contains 170 houses and 788 inhabitants; the living is a vicarage, value 10l. It took its name from a magnificent abbey, built on an adjacent liill, by Orisius, steward to Canute the Great, for secular canons. On the ruins of part of the abbey stands the mansion of the lord of the manor. The town is a poor, ill-built place, in the shape of a Y: its chief trade is fishing: here is a weekly market on Thursday.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of the United Kingdom. Benjamin Pitts Capper. 1808.

A panoramic view of Abbotsbury, Dorset


Abbotsbury - The Universal British Directory 1791 - Google Books


  • County: Dorset
  • Civil Registration District: Weymouth
  • Probate Court: Court of the Archdeaconry of Dorset
  • Diocese: Salisbury
  • Rural Deanery: Bridport
  • Poor Law Union: Weymouth
  • Hundred: Uggscombe
  • Province: Canterbury