Plymouth, Devon Genealogy

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Guide to Plymouth St Andrew, Devon ancestry, family history, and genealogy: parish registers, transcripts, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.

Plymouth, Devon
Type Ancient Parish
Civil Jurisdictions
Hundred Plymouth Borough; Roborough
County Devon
Poor Law Union Plymouth Incorporation
Registration District Plymouth; Plympton St Mary
Records begin
Parish registers: 1581
Bishop's Transcripts: 1608
Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions
Rural Deanery Plympton
Diocese Exeter
Province Canterbury
Legal Jurisdictions
Probate Court Court of the Bishop (Consistory) of the Archdeaconry of Totnes
Location of Archive
Devon Record Office

Parish History[edit | edit source]

PLYMOUTH, a sea-port, borough, and market-town, having separate jurisdiction, locally in the hundred of Rororough, Roborough and S. divisions of Devon, 44 miles (S. W.) from Exeter, and 215 (W. S. W.) from London containing the parishes of St. Andrew and Charles the Martyr. Trinity church, in the early English style, of which the foundation stone was laid in May, 1840, was completed in August 1842 from St. Andrew's. A church district named Sutton-on-Plym was formed out of Charles parish, in 1844, and endowed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Christ Church, in St. Andrew's parish, was built in 1845, and is in the later English style. Church districts named respectively St. James' and St. Peter's, were formed in 1847 by the Ecclesiastical Commission, the former out of St. Andrew's parish, and the latter out of the parishes of St. Andrew and East Stonehouse. There are places of worship in the town for Baptists, the Society of Friends, Independents,Wesleyan Methodists, Presbyterians, and Unitarians; and a synagogue. [1]

Plymouth coat of arms
Plymouth location in S.W. England
Flag of Plymouth

Plymouth lies between the River Plym to the east and the River Tamar to the west; both rivers flow into the natural harbor of Plymouth Sound. The River Tamar forms the county boundary between Devon and Cornwall and its estuary forms the Hamoaze on which is sited Devonport Dockyard.

Geologically, Plymouth has a mixture of limestone, Devonian slate, granite and Middle Devonian limestone. Plymouth Sound, Shores and Cliffs is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, because of its geology.

To the north and north east of the city is the granite mass of Dartmoor; the granite was mined and exported via Plymouth. Rocks brought down the Tamar from Dartmoor include ores containing tin, copper, tungsten, lead and other minerals.

Upper Paleolithic deposits, including bones of Homo sapiens, have been found in local caves, and artifacts dating from the Bronze Age to the Middle Iron Age have been found at Mount Batten showing that it was one of the main trading ports of the country at that time.

An unidentified settlement named 'TAMARI OSTIA' (mouth/estuaries of the Tamar) is listed in Ptolemy's Geographia and is presumed to be located in the area of the modern city.

It is well known that tin from Cornish tin mines was being shipped from this area to the middle east at least by 800 BC, and that Phoenician sailors were regular visitors to these shores. The harbor at Plymouth is ideally suited for trade of this kind.

Plymouth castle served to protect Sutton Pool, which is where the fleet was based in Plymouth prior to the establishment of Plymouth Dockyard. In 1512 an Act of Parliament was passed for further fortifying Plymouth, and a series of fortifications were then built, including defensive walls at the entrance to Sutton Pool.

Plymouth was the home port for successful maritime traders, among them Sir John Hawkins, who led England's first foray into the Atlantic slave trade, as well as Sir Francis Drake, Mayor of Plymouth in 1581 and 1593.[16] According to legend, Drake insisted on completing his game of bowls on the Hoe before engaging the Spanish Armada in 1588. Plymouth Hoe is a prominent hill at the entrance of Plymouth harbor, one of the best natural harbors in the world. A picture of the Hoe follows:

Plymouth Hoe.jpg

Throughout the 17th century Plymouth had gradually lost its preeminence as a trading port. By the mid-17th century commodities manufactured elsewhere in England cost too much to transport to Plymouth and the city had no means of processing sugar or tobacco imports, although it did play a relatively small part in the Atlantic slave trade during the early 18th century.

During the First World War, Plymouth was the port of entry for many troops from around the Empire, and also from North America, and also developed as a facility for the manufacture of munitions.

As the primary HQ for the British navy, the city was heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe in WWII, in a series of 59 raids known as the Plymouth Blitz. This was largely due to Plymouth's status as the major Royal Navy port for the Atlantic fleet.

Post-war, Devonport Dockyard was kept busy refitting aircraft carriers such as the Ark Royal and, later, nuclear submarines while new light industrial factories were constructed in the newly zoned industrial sector attracting rapid growth of the urban population. The army had substantially left the city by 1971, with barracks pulled down in the 1960s, however the city remains home to the 42 Commando of the Royal Marines.[2]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries (Civil)[edit | edit source]

There are presently four cemeteries, and several outlying cemeteries within the Plymouth city district. The following link provides details on each location:

Other useful sites follow:

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.

Church records[edit | edit source]

Plymouth parish registers of christenings, marriages and burials are available online for the following years:

BOYD = Boyd's Marriage Index (findmypast) - (£)[3]
FMP = FindMyPast - (£)[4]
FAMR = Family Relatives - (£)[5]
IGI = International Genealogical Index (FamilySearch) - free[6]
PRTS = The Parish Register Transcription Society - (£)[7]
TGEN = TheGenealogist - (£)[8]


Indexes Images Indexes Images Indexes Images






IGI 1581-1633





Plymouth has a number of active Anglican Parishes. They follow:

St Andrew's
Royal Parade
Plymouth PL1 2AD
Phone: +44.1752.661.414

St Budeaux's
The Vicarage
Agaton Rd
Plymouth PL5 2EW
Phone: +44 .752.361.019

St Edward's 100 Church Hill
Plymouth PL6 5RN
Phone: +44.1752.781.564

Plymouth Harbor.jpg

Compton Ave
Plymouth, Devon, PL35 BZ
Phone: +44.1752.220.195

St John the Evangelist Exeter St
Plymouth PL4 0HQ
Phone: +44.1752.664.191

St Jude's Beaumont Rd
Plymouth PL4 9BJ
Phone: +44.1752.263.163

St Mark's
1 Sanctuary Close
Plymouth, PL2 1EN
Phone: +44 1752 202401

St Mary's
Market Rd
Plymouth, PL7 1QW
Phone: +44.1752.348.525

St Paul's
Durnford St
Plymouth PL1 3QR
Phone: +44.1752.22.1241

St Peter's
Wyndham Square
Plymouth, PL1 5EG, UK
Phone: +44.1752.222.007

Stoke Damerel
Paradise Rd
Stoke, Plymouth PL1 5QL
Phone: +44.1752.565.798

Non-Conformist Churches[edit | edit source]

  • 1717 England & Wales, Roman Catholics, 1717 at FindMyPast ($), index and images (coverage may vary)
  • Baptist
  • Bible Christian Methodist
  • Calvinist
  • Christians
  • French Protestant
  • Independent/Congregational
  • Jewish
  • Protestant Dissenters
  • Trinitarian
  • Wesleyan Methodist

The following non-Church of England denominations were located somewhere in Plymouth, but the exact parish has not been identified:

  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Moravian/United Brethren
  • Baptist
  • Christ Church
  • Efford Christian Fellowship
  • Living Well Church
  • Methodist
  • Plymouth Bretnren
  • Plymouth Christian Centre
  • Plymouth Vinyard church
  • Unitarian
  • Wolseley Road Gospel Church

Other groups active in Plymouth

  • Buddhist
  • Hindu
  • Muslim
  • Sikh

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from 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. The following link provides access for Plymouth records:

Genealogy from Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Haddon, Gordon.  The Two Bligh Admirals. A rough outline of the Bligh Family Tree, indicates the respective lineages close or distant, starting with Richard Bligh in 1742. Drawing of William Bligh.  Mr Haddon was trying to prove the connection between Admiral Sir Richard Bligh, and his son, Captain George Bligh, and Lieutenant William Bligh of the Mutiny of the Bounty saga of 1789. Article in The Hampshire Family Historian, vol. 17, part. 4, Feb 1991, pages 252-253, FHL Ref. 942.27 B2h

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

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]

Occupations[edit | edit source]

Because of its coastal location, the economy of Plymouth has traditionally been maritime, in particular the defense sector with over 12,000 people employed and approximately 7,500 in the armed forces. Devonport Dockyard is the UK's only naval base that refits nuclear submarines and the Navy estimates that the Dockyard generates about 10% of Plymouth's income. Plymouth has the largest cluster of marine and maritime businesses in the south west with 270 firms operating within the sector.

Other substantial employers include the university with almost 3,000 staff, as well as the Plymouth Science Park employing 500 people in 50 companies. [9]

Finally Plymouth is the regional shopping hub for the local area, with several major shopping centers.

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

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

Societies[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Naval History Library
Plymouth Central Library
Drake Circus
Plymouth PL4 8AL
Phone: +44.1752.306796

Because of Plymouth's chequered naval history, it has a unique library section dedicated to naval events

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848), pp. 578-586.
  2. Wikipedia contributors,"Plymouth" in "Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia",, accessed 5 May 2017.
  3. Percival Boyd, A List of Parishes in Boyd's Marriage Index (London: Society of Genealogists, 1987).
  4. 'Devon Parish Marriages,' findmypast, accessed 8 January 2014.
  5. 'Devon Parish registers collection 1538 on,' Family Relatives, accessed 12 March 2012. Derived from Phillimore Marriage Indexes.
  6. Hugh Wallis, 'IGI Batch Numbers for Devon, England,' IGI Batch Numbers, accessed 13 February 2014.
  7. 'Parish Records - Coverage', The Parish Register Transcription Society, accessed 27 September 2013.
  8. 'Parish Records,' TheGenealogist, accessed 26 April 2014.
  9. Wikipedia contributors,"Plymouth" in "Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia",, accessed 9 May 2017.