Discover if your ancestor was born in the British county of Dorset. Search more than 387,000 records from the Dorset Baptism Registers to find out your ancestor’s name, date of birth and the names of their parents. This collection is published in partnership with Dorset Family History Society and the Family History Federation.
With each record you will find a transcription of an original parish record created by the Dorset Family History Society. There are a small number of records from the College of Arms that will provide you with a transcript and an image of the original College of Arms records. The information contained varies but you may be able to find out the following about your ancestor:
There are more than 500,000 records in this collection taken from the baptism registers of more than 250 parishes. These transcriptions are due to the hard work of the volunteers of the Dorset Family History Society and appear here with thanks to them. A small number of records were transcribed by Findmypast from baptism register created by the College of Arms, the official heraldic authority for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and much of the Commonwealth including Australia and New Zealand.
Before the introduction of the civil registration of births, marriages and deaths in 1837 all such events were recorded in the local parish. Parish records generally begin from 1538 after the Church of England mandated the keeping of parish registers in 1537. Baptisms, marriages and burials were all recorded in a single volume until 1774, when the law changed to required separate registers for marriages and banns (or proclamations of an intent to marry). Standardised forms for these registers appeared in 1812.
Other religious denominations, with the exception of the Quakers and Jews, often registered these events in their local Church of England parish even after the Toleration Act of 1689. It is worth noting that between 1754 and 1837 it was illegal to marry anywhere other than a Church of England parish.
Dorset is a rural county in the south west of England, bordering on the English Channel coast. On the west it borders Devon, with Somerset to the northwest, Wiltshire to the northeast and Hampshire to the east.
The farming economy of Dorset provided the spark for the trade union movement. In 1833, a group of farm labourers, including George Loveless a Methodist preacher and his brother James Loveless, formed the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers to protest against the lowering of agricultural wages. In forming the union, members took an oath of secrecy. The six founding men were convicted of bounding their members by ‘unlawful oaths’ and convicted by the Dorchester Assizes. The group, known now as the Tolpuddle Martyrs, were sentenced to banishment in Australia. Their arrest and conviction lead to wide protests. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were the beginning of modern-day trade unionism.
The records hold the baptism record for George Loveless, one of the six men transported. George, son of Thomas and Dinah, was born in Tolpuddle on 2 February 1797 and baptised at St John the Evangelist on 26 February 1797. George’s brother, James Loveless, is also in the records. He was baptised in the same church on 4 April 1808. The collection also holds the baptism records of the other Tolpuddle Martyrs: James Brine, James Hammett, and John and Thomas Standfield.