01935 429609
Somerset & Dorset
Family History Society

Welcome to the SDFHS

How can we help you? We will help you to find documented facts about the lives of your former family members which will unlock doors to your own personal family story. Although we do specialise in Somerset and Dorset and have extensive records from our two counties, our experienced Research Volunteers have skills which can help you trace your family roots, regardless of where they might have originated.

SDFHS Family History Centre

Broadway House Family History Centre, our home in Yeovil, is an ideal location in the centre of the town.

Online Talks

Online talks are being hosted by some of our local Groups, giving us the opportunity to engage with our members and the family history community worldwide.

Visit Our Shop

Are you looking for family history publications? Why not try looking in our on-line shop. We have a wide range of books and CDs relating to both Somerset and Dorset, as well as more general family-history and local-history publications.

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Every story of a person buried and identified by a numbered marker in the cemetery we read, transcribe from medical notes and research, touches the heart.Some are incredible, some sad, some unfathomable, some make you smile but others are so sad that a tear or two is shed.Sophia’s story, or lack of it, is one of those.SOPHIA HORLER 1844 – 1907Sophia was admitted to the Asylum from Clutton Union Workhouse on May 17th 1877. She was single aged 33 had worked as a domestic servant and was suffering from Dementia.There is a note on her record which says that the cause of her ill health was possibly a “failed love affair ?"On admission “She is quiet and apathetic and has little to say. Is occasionally excited, occupies herself and is in moderate health.”April 30th 1903Mentally she remains the same. Is demented, dull and stupid and will not answer the simplest questions. Health fair.October 3rd 1905Has no idea where she is, who she is or where she came from. January 30th 1906Has a double cataract. Sits in one place all day, has no interests, does not communicate with other patients, and will not speak unless directly addressed. Gives no troubleApril 16th 1907Has to be assisted with washing and dressing. Sits by herself all day, will not interact with anyone. Health failing.October 1st 1907Gradually becoming feebler now has to have everything done for her. Is quiet, much emaciated and seems thankful for small attentions paid to her. Fluids only.October 6th 1907 *Sick note sent to address of a friend but no response. Friends do not seem interested in her.Sophia died on October 8th 1907 aged 63 at 6.30 pm in the presence of Grace Huish, Day NurseCause of death: Senile decay.Sophia is buried in Mendip Hospital Cemetery E266Rest in peace Sophia. We remember you.*When a person was admitted the address of the next of kin, a relative or simply a friend was taken so that when a patient was nearing the end of life the Asylum would let them know through a “sick note” so that they could pay their last respects.In Sophia’s case, there was no-one.Photograph: South West Heritage Centre. ... See MoreSee Less
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The fatal poisonings at Castle CaryWhen school broke for lunch on Tuesday 7th June 1892, three little boys of Castle Cary decided to go for a walk. This wasn’t the first time that Charles Bargery, Frederick Bond and Joseph Francis, all aged eight, had played truant. The boys spent the afternoon playing on Lodge Hill which overlooked the town. During the afternoon the boys wandered across the local fields and arrived at an open field named nine acres at about 3 pm. Strolling across the field the boys came across a sheepfold and spotted a jar of liquid. Joseph Francis and Frederick Bond were excited as they thought they had found a jar of unsupervised cider. The two boys decided to have a taste and although encouraged to join, Charles Bargery declined, saying that he and his family were members of the band of hope. The boys took a gulp, one after the other and were immediately sick. Charles watched in horror as his two playmates turned a shade of green and fell to the floor holding their stomachs as they continued to vomit.The two boys got back to their feet and stumbled, crying in pain, towards Galhampton Gate, where they sat beneath a hedge. Neither boy would speak to Charles until eventually, Bond asked him to fetch him some water. Charles ran down the lane until he reached the house of William Clothier, a local rake maker. He told the man that the boys had drunk something bad and William gave him a teacup of water. Charles returned down the lane and William Clothier followed after him. When they arrived back to the boys who were now rolling around the ground, the shepherd, John Ayres, was watching the boys. Clothier and Ayres briefly spoke, both stating they didn’t know the boys or know what was wrong, they both then turned and went their separate ways. John Ayres returned to the sheepfold and discovered the jar, which had contained half a pint of Prangley’s foot rot lotion but was now almost empty. The bottle lay on the ground and the cork was missing. He was tired, he had dipped 240 sheep at Pitcombe that day, so rather than return himself, he sent a lad that worked with him to see how the boys were faring, but the lad returned saying they had gone.Meanwhile, William Clothier, a man who did not like to involve himself in other people’s business went on to the Wheat Sheaf Inn where he had a workshop. On his way, he saw labourer Cornelius Bidgood and told him two boys may be poisoned up the lane. Cornelius at once went to find the boys and when he arrived he found them rolling about and foaming at the mouth whilst a horrified Charles Bargery looked on. Cornelius ran out into the lane and flagged down a spring cart going past. With help, he loaded the two little boys onto the cart and headed straight to the surgery of Doctor Coombes.The doctor was not there when they arrived, but on hearing that the boys had most likely drunk poison the nurse moved them to the floor of the yard and began trying to administer emetics. Frederick Bond swallowed the remedy but little Joseph Francis, in a frenzied state, refused. Doctor Coombes arrived and the boys were moved into the surgery but sadly Frederick Bond died within minutes. Joseph Francis was rushed into the kitchen where he was wrapped and rolled in blankets while the doctor tried to administer medicine. The boy died within half an hour.The inquest into the boy's deaths was held at the Town Hall on the following evening. Eight-year-old Charles Bargery who was described as a fine-looking boy who delivered his evidence concisely told the story of what happened that afternoon. The deceased’s boys' mothers appeared and said they had sent their boys off to school that morning as usual and Mrs Bond, mother of seven, admitted she knew her son was truanting on that afternoon and had sent her daughter to fetch him from Lodge Hill but he had refused to go home or return to school.Dr Coombes told the jury what happened at the surgery and stated he had since tested the concoction the boys had drank. He found it contained copper, mercury, oil of vitriol and arsenic. He said that even two teaspoons of the lotion would cause death and that no remedy would have been effective in saving their lives no matter how soon they were applied.The jury deliberated only for a short time before delivering a verdict of ‘death caused by the effects of an irritant poison’. At the request of the jury, both John Ayres and William Clothier were called before the coroner. John Ayres was reprimanded for leaving an unlabelled and unattended bottle of poison in an open space, he was also censored for not offering any help or returning to the dying boys once he found the bottle. William Clothier was then told of the jury’s disgust that he did not take any meaningful action when asked for help by Charles Bargery or when discovering the boys in the field. Cornelius Bidgood was complimented by the coroner for what he described as “obeying the dictates of humanity.”amgouldsomersetauthor.com/the-fatal-poisoning-at-castle-cary/ ... See MoreSee Less
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We will be opening a new museum 🥳 in Street by 2025 which will celebrate the rich and diverse history of not only our local area, but also the wider shoemaking industry. Our museum will be rooted in our shared community values of equality, integrity, sustainability and civic pride.We will serve our communities and inspire learning and play and we invite you to join us on this adventure.Help us shape the future of our heritage by completing this survey www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/P8QC2G2 The survey closes on 31 March 2023 and everyone who completes it will be in with a chance to win a £50 voucher. #newmuseum #shoes #alfredgilletttrust ... See MoreSee Less
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Happening today! Free sessions this afternoon and this evening with talks on women in history ... See MoreSee Less
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The latest issue of SDNQ (vol. 39, part 397) contains the following articles, notes and queries:• East Somerset maltsters in 1647 by Steve Hobbs.• Establishing the date of document M179 in two cartularies of the Augustinian Priory of Bruton and the Cluniac Priory of Montacute by Allan Sheppard.• The Great Plague in Dorset 1665-1666: an order made at the Quarter Sessions to preserve public health by Barry Brock.• Two Catholic families: the Keynes family of Compton Pauncefoot and the Ewens family of Wincanton by Stuart Raymond.• Disputes over the supply of Portland Stone for St Paul's Cathedral from the Tucker family papers in the Bodleian Library by Joseph Bettey.• Canons of Bruton 1408-1539 by R.W. Dunning.• A 16th century blacksmith's workshop in Cranborne by Mark Forrest.• James Buglar alias Buckler of Thornford: an old soldier from Waterloo by Ann Smith.• An unidentified sketch by Somerset artist Harry Frier (1849-1921) by Adrian Webb.• Tracing the Talbot family of Dorset by Daniel Talbot.• Paddy Thompson queries the use of amusing illuminated initial letters on documents in the Somerset Archives relating to Low Ham (ref. DD/MKG/14).• Steve Hobbs replies to Todd Gray's article about bribery in the election of MPs for the borough of Ilchester, with evidence from the 1818 parish register against Sir William Manner's manipulation of the voting system.• Roger Guttridge replies to Roger Ottewill's article on Pokesdown Congregational church during the Edwardian era with photographs of and information about earlier Congregational churches in Pokesdown.• Adrian Webb reviews Ian Coleby's West Somerset Railway Guide Book and Paul Upton's James Date, Watchet Photographer 1807-1895. ... See MoreSee Less
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🚨 BREAKING NEWS 🚨We’re pleased to announce that we've awarded Ancestry UKthe contract to digitise the first tranche of MOD service personnel records.Both parties are looking forward to working to make these important records accessible in digital format. Details of the schedule will be announced soon.More about the records themselves, including answers to the most frequently asked questions about the transfer, here 👇nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/news/mod-service-personnel-records-now-available-update/ ... See MoreSee Less
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Don't forget our talk on Peter Wickens Fry on Wednesday 22nd at 7.30pm! He was a fascinating gentleman involved in the pioneering time of early photography. Refreshments will be available.The talk is being held at Somerset Heritage Centre. To book please email: [email protected] or call 01823 272429(Suggested donation of £5) ... See MoreSee Less
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For a few weeks last summer Quantock Landscape Partnership Scheme, with an amazing band of volunteers, went in search of a lost medieval manor that had been forgotten for three centuries.At the foothill of the Quantocks, with the magnificent Crowcombe Court as the backdrop, the community excavation for Quantock Landscape Partnership Scheme proved to be a most memorable experience.But did they find what they were looking for?At 2pm on Saturday, February 25th at Crowcombe Village Hall they will present the results of the excavation for the first time. ... See MoreSee Less
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The English Parish, by @joe_saunders1. Most of England’s parishes had been established by 1200. Throughout subsequent history they have been instrumental in shaping English life. https://howtohistory.substack.com/p/the-english-parish

📢Announcing the ninth episode of Setting The Record Straight in which I consider the often-held misconception that registration of births in England & Wales was, at least in the early years of Civil Registration, in any way optional.
Hint: it wasn't...

We've transcribed the 1921 Census for the Parish of Tyneham. There is an alphabetical index and a downloadable pdf.
#Tyneham #OnePlaceStudy #FamilyHistory #Genealogy #LocalHistory