Dover, Kent Genealogy

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Guide to Dover (city) history, family history, and genealogy: parish registers, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.

White cliffs of Dover.jpg

History[edit | edit source]

Dover coat of arms
Dover location in England
Flag of Kent

Recent studies have shown that Phoenician sailors from the Eastern Mediterranean sailed to the British isles for tin as early as 1,000 B.C. Certainly there was ongoing trade and communications between the Celtic tribes of Britain, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, as early as 400 B.C.

Dover’s history, because of its proximity to France, has always been of great strategic importance to Britain. Archaeological finds have shown that there were Stone Age people in the area; and that by the Bronze Age the maritime influence was already strong.

The name Dover was first recorded in its Latinized form as Portus Dubris. With the coming of the Romans Dover became more important, and was made part of their communications network with the continent.

Dover figured largely in the Domesday Book as an important borough. It also served as a bastion against various attackers from the times of the Vikings, then William the Conqueror, and always the French during the 100 year war. In the Middle Ages, Dover was a port of last defense against the incursions of the Spanish from the vast Armada fleet.

The last time there was a major threat of invasion was from the Nazis of Adolf Hitler during WWII. There was a huge build up of arms and personnel by the German army at the start of the war, and England always expected it to come across the narrowest point in the Channel.

While Plymouth became the main Naval port for the developing British navy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Dover was also a large replenishment port, and because of its location, the major defense port at the eastern end of the English Channel.

In the nineteenth century, the railway reached Dover from two directions: the South Eastern Railway's main line connected with Folkestone in 1844, and the London, Chatham and Dover Railway opened its line from Canterbury in 1861.

During the period of WWII, tunnels were built into the Dover cliffs for military purposes. Additionally, a large number of heavy duty naval batteries were built along the coast adjacent to the city. Dover also played a significant roll as the main port for the armada of small ships during the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force stranded at Dunkirk by the German armies.

Today, Dover has become the primary port for transshipment of goods and people to France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Ferries are now operated frequently between Dover and Dunkirk, for the northern routes, and Dover to Calais for the southern routes. [1]

Dover port.jpg

Dover is situated about 75 miles south east from London. Transport to the Continent has always traveled from the major British Cities, to London and thence to Dover.

It is about 21 miles across the English Channel from the area of Calais in France, making it the closest UK city to France. While even on a clear day it is difficult to see the French coast, it is normally quite possible to see the Dover White Cliffs from France.

The site of its original settlement lies in the valley of the River Dour, making it an ideal place for a port, sheltered from the prevailing south-westerly winds. This led to the silting up of the river mouth by the action of long-shore drift from the English Channel; the town was then forced into making artificial breakwaters to keep the port in being. These breakwaters have been extended and adapted so that the port lies almost entirely on reclaimed land.

The higher land on either side of the valley – the Western Heights and the eastern high point on which Dover Castle stands – has been adapted to perform the function of protection against invaders.

Dover has an oceanic climate similar to the rest of the United Kingdom with mild temperatures year-round and a light amount of rainfall each month. [2]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Census records[edit | edit source]

Census records are available every 10 years from 1841 up to 1911. Use England Census wiki page to locate websites that have online census indexes and links to images.

Cemeteries (Civil)[edit | edit source]

Dover has several cemeteries, both active and already closed. The names and locations of these follow:

Buckland Cemetery
St. Andrew's Church
Buckland, Dover

  • pre-1857 Closed

Charlton Cemetery
Old Charlton Road, Dover

  • Open and functioning

Cowgate Cemetery
Cowgate Hill, Dover

  • Closed

St. James's Cemetery
Old Charlton Road, Dover

  • Open and functioning

St. Mary's Cemetery
Old Charlton Road, Dover

  • Open

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Parishes[edit | edit source]

St Mary's Church
St. Marys Parish Center
Dover, Kent, CT16 1AA

St. Peter and St. Paul's Church River
Minnis Ln
Dover CT17 0DG, UK
Phone:+44 1304 822037

St. Nicholas Church
The Linces
Dover CT16 2BN, UK
Phone:+44 1304 821187

Buckland Church of St. Andrew
Dover CT17 0TR, UK
Phone:+44 1304 821187

St. Mary in the Castle
Dover Castle
Dover CT16 1HU, United Kingdom
Phone:+44 1304 202979

Other Christian denominations active in Dover and its suburbs follow:

  • Baptist Church
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
  • Evangelical Church
  • Methodists
  • Roman Catholic

While there are followings for a number of non Christian religions, Dover does not have places of worship for them within the city bounds.

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Birth, marriages and deaths records have been kept by government since July 1837 to the present day. Prior to that, local parishes of the Church of England, and local branches of other faiths were the only repositories of this information. There are several locations for BMD records for Dover. These follow:

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Occupations[edit | edit source]

The English Channel, here at its narrowest point in the Straits of Dover, is the busiest shipping lane in the world. Ferries crossing between here and the Continent have to negotiate their way through the constant stream of shipping crossing their path. Because of this, maritime occupations are one of the main sources of employment in the Dover area.

In addition to this, the train Chunnel to France is nearby, again providing major opportunities for employment.

Other than these two major areas, Dover is the primary location for retail activities for the South East corner of the UK, with major stores and shopping centers providing much employment. [3]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

East Kent Archives Centre
The UK National Archives
Kew, Richmond, Surrey,
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8876 3444

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Dover." in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 29 November 2016.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Dover," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, accessed 3December 2016.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Dover." in "Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia",, accessed 5 December 2016.