Glastonbury, Somerset Genealogy

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Guide to Glastonbury, Somerset ancestry, family history, and genealogy: parish registers, transcripts, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.

Glastonbury, Somerset
Type Ancient Parish
Civil Jurisdictions
Hundred Glaston-Twelve-Hides
County Somerset
Poor Law Union Wells
Registration District Wells
Records begin
Parish registers: 1603
Bishop's Transcripts: 1597
Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions
Rural Deanery Glastonbury
Diocese Bath and Wells
Province Canterbury
Legal Jurisdictions
Probate Court Court of the Bishop (Consistory) of the Archdeaconry of Wells
Location of Archive
Somerset Archives and Local Studies

Flag of the county of Somerset
Location of Glastonbury in Somerset

Parish History[edit | edit source]

GLASTONBURY, a market-town, in the union of Wells, hundred of Glaston-Twelve-Hides, E. division of Somerset, 124 miles (W. by S.) from London. Glastonbury consists of the parishes of St. Benedict and St. John the Baptist, for uniting which an act was obtained in 1834. The livings are distinct, and are perpetual curacies in the patronage of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the appropriator. There are places of worship for Baptists, Wesleyans, and Independents.[1]

Glastonbury is a very ancient town. It is located in the western regions of the British Isles, and was never conquered by the Romans. William the Conqueror also never really entered this region, and it was left to later kings to finally assimilate it into the kingdom later known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Evidence from timber trackways such as the Sweet Track show that the town has been inhabited since Neolithic times. Glastonbury Lake Village was an Iron Age village, close to the old course of the River Brue and Sharpham Park approximately 2 miles (3 km) west of Glastonbury, that dates back to the Bronze Age

In Pre-Roman times, it was part of a loosely federated group of Celtic or Germanic peoples, spreading from Ireland, through Wales, Scotland, Devon and Cornwall, and continuing through Brittany, Normandy, and modern day Belgium, Holland, and Northern Germany. They were not barbaric in nature, but settled in small villages and towns. It is believed that there were schools and even institutes of higher learning we might call Universities in southwest England, Brittany and Normandy.

Centwine was the first Saxon patron of Glastonbury Abbey, which dominated the town for the next 700 years. One of the most important abbeys in England, it was the site of Edmund Ironside's coronation as King of England in 1016. Many of the oldest surviving buildings in the town, including the Tribunal, George Hotel and Pilgrims' Inn and the Somerset Rural Life Museum, which is based in an old tithe barn, are associated with the abbey. The Church of St John the Baptist dates from the 15th century.[2]

Glastonbury is linked through tradition, legend, and balladry, with 2 major figures in antiquity. While there is no specific evidence for the following, a number of eminent writers have attested to the veracity of this information.

It has been identified as the location of the graves of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. It was alleged that in 1191 the discovery of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere's tomb was made by monks associated with the Abbey. In 1184, a great fire at Glastonbury had destroyed the monastic buildings and all the records, and so this discovery by the monks could not be confirmed, but had been a tradition for hundreds of years previously.

The second legend associated with Glastonbury is attested to by Dr. Vaughn E. Hansen in his book, "Whence Came They", as well as by other major authors.

Joseph of Arimathaea was the Biblical figure who took Jesus' body after the crucifixion. He is reputed to be the uncle of Jesus. This would provide support for the fact that he was able to claim the body, as close living male relatives would have been given that right by Jewish custom.

Legend has it that when Jesus died, Joseph thought it prudent to flee Palestine, and after many travails he came to Britain with a company of followers. When Joseph came to Britain he was granted land at Glastonbury by the local king. The story has prevailed for thousands of years, and among the tin workers in Cornwall, up until the last century, there was a ballad sung that included the words, "Joseph was a tin man..."[3]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries (Civil)[edit | edit source]

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from July 1837 to the present day. The civil registration article tells more about these records. There are several Internet sites with name lists or indexes. A popular site is FreeBMD.

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Glastonbury St John the Baptist parish registers of christenings, marriages and burials are available online for the following years:

JOIN = The Joiner Marriage Index - (£)[4]
MARR = Somerset Marriages (findmypast) - (£)[5]
NBI = National Burial Index (findmypast) - (£)[6]
SOPC = Somerset Online Parish Clerks - free[7]


Indexes Images Indexes Images Indexes Images
FREG 1597-1598, 1649-1864
1597-1598, 1653-1844
1597-1598, 1653-1855, 1857-1861



SOPC 1649-1861

Parishes[edit | edit source]

  • Church of St. John the Baptist.
  • Church of St. Benedictine
  • Glastonbury Abbey. While this is now a ruin, it is a major historical site in the UK,with hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Non Conformists[edit | edit source]

Glastonbury is not a large town. However it is known for its pagan and Celtish following and these are particularly active during the solstices and the summer months. The following non Conformist groups are active:

  • Catholic
  • First Christian Church
  • Grace Community Church

There are communities of non Christian religions including the following:

  • Buddhist
  • Muslim
  • Sikh

Census records[edit | edit source]

Census records from 1841 to 1911 are available online. For access, see England Census Records and Indexes Online. Census records from 1841 to 1891 are also available on film through a Family History Center or at the Family History Library.

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from July 1837 to the present day. The civil registration article tells more about these records. There are several Internet sites with name lists or indexes.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Records of wills, administrations, inventories, indexes, etc. were filed by the court with jurisdiction over this parish. Go to Somerset Probate Records to find the name of the court having primary jurisdiction. Scroll down in the article to the section Court Jurisdictions by Parish.

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Maps are a visual look at the locations in England. Gazetteers contain brief summaries about a place.

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Glastonbury itself does not have its own newspaper. Instead locals read the following:

Occupations[edit | edit source]

Glastonbury has no indigenous industry. It survives primarily on tourism and as a local market town.

It is a center for religious tourism and pilgrimage. As with many towns of similar size, the center is not as thriving as it once was but Glastonbury supports a large number of alternative shops. As part of the redevelopment of the old industrial site, a project has been established by the Glastonbury Community Development Trust to provide support for local unemployed people applying for employment, starting in self-employment and accessing work-related training.[8]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of England, (1848). Adapted. Date accessed: 20 September 2013.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Glastonbury," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 15 April, 2017.
  3. Vaughn E Hansen, Ph.D., Whence Came They, Israel Britain, and the Restoration (Springville, Ut, CFI Publishing, 1993).
  4. 'Somerset Coverage,' The Joiner Marriage Index, accessed 18 October 2013.
  5. 'Somerset Marriages', findmypast (WayBack Machine), accessed 30 April 2014.
  6. 'Parish Records - National Burial Index Records 1538 - 2005 Coverage', Find My Past, accessed 17 October 2013.
  7. Somerset Online Parish Clerks Genealogy, accessed 22 October 2013.
  8. Wikipedia contributors,"Glastonbury" in "Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia",, accessed 15 April 2017.