Source Information

Reakes, J. comp.. Somerset England, Evercreech Parish 1538 - 1890 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2001.
Original data: Somerset County Record Office. Original Parish Registers. County Record Office, Somerset County England, 1538 - 1890.

About Somerset England, Evercreech Parish 1538 - 1890

For years, every Sunday morning on British BBC radio, the bells of St. Peters church in Evercreech, Somerset, peal out, heralding yet another Sabbath day. This claim to national fame is perhaps the only thing that the East Somerset village can boast about, yet virtually unrecognised, is the parish's contribution to record keeping. The Evercreech parish registers were commenced in 1540 and therefore rank as the second oldest set in Somerset. This database includes birth, baptism, bastardy bonds, marriage and death records.

In 1538, Henry Vlllth commanded the church to record the major three events of a person's life - his christenings, marriage and burial. Family historians can thank the royalist obedience of the Evercreech parish minister of that time, for commencing his registers shortly after the injunction was issued. When other rulers re-iterated the injunction in 1547 and 1588, Evercreech already had a fine record of local events. During the civil war Evercreech was a royalist stronghold, since the nobleman of the village, Sir Robert Hopwood was a principal commander in the King's Army. The registers themselves make no reference to the civil war and continue uninterrupted during that period. From 1653 to 1660, the records nationally were kept by a registrar or preacher appointed by the Government. James Dugdale, the vicar during this time managed to keep the records safe, but a change in the information recorded in the registers from 1653 until 1660 does suggest that someone else had control of the input since for the first time, birth dates were included with baptisms. Probably due to the need for soldiers in the civil war, the number of marriages in the 1640s averaged only two a year. The Great Plague of 1665/6 seemed to cause little effect in the village since burials remained virtually constant in number, averaging about fifteen a year. The major problem connected with the registers is the unfortunate jump in the registers of about 15yrs, and the subsequent loss of about 250 unrecorded christenings, between 1675 and 1690. When a new vicar was appointed in 1690 the entries were once again maintained giving descendants of the villagers a set of parish registers covering a time period of four hundred and forty three years, virtually unbroken from today back to 1540. When using the following databases bear in mind that these are transcripts. Missing entries may occur through damaged or faintly written pages. Always try an entry just as a surname, if you cannot find it with a Christian name. For example John Jupe may be Jn, Jno Johannis or even Dupe. See the Evercreech web page for background on name changes for families. Remember that prior to the 1900s there was no standardised spelling. The parish registers are very detailed at the time of Rev West's incumbency in the 1820s. Reverend John West's appointment improved the quality of the record keeping considerably. He made a point of cross-referencing burial entries with marriage and christening dates, and invariably added the names of the parents of young married women who died, giving us a clue of their maiden names. He also added other interesting titbits: 'George the son of George & Ann Dupe, christened 31 May 1828, (he was one of twin brothers, the other died about 5 minutes after birth). "Charles, son of William & Ann Reakes, a day labourer with a wooden leg. # Of great genealogical benefit was his inclusion of the new child's position in the family, whether firstborn, seventh son, or fourth child. Often he added other details: 'John Hinks the son of John and Charlotte Hinks , publicly received into the church at the time of his father's funeral. Privately baptised. John Hinks and his wife were at the time at his wife's father's home, Edward March's ,Bagbury,.. John Hinks was a labourer and pensioner of Doulting. The father of the baby) died at Bagbury , February, 20 and buried February 1831. SETTLEMENT PAPERS & BASTARDY BONDS: Evercreech has a good collection of Settlement Papers and Bastardy Bonds. These form part of the Poor Law records, and are excellent in tracing movements of an ancestor and also the father of an illegitimate baby. A Settlement Paper gives details on a person's birthplace, past history, family and occupation. The purpose of these documents was like a form of identity. As the Parish Church was responsible for the poor, everyone received a place of settlement, normally for their birthplace, or by virtue of work or possession of property in another parish. If the person became destitute then they appealed for help through the Church. The Church would first establish through a settlement examination if they were bound to look after this person/family or whether some other parish had to do it. A Bastardy Bond is a document that names the alleged father of the baby. Except during Rev Wests time as minister. almost all the fathers of illegitimate children christened were not recorded in the parish registers. Marriage Licenses. Another great source of information that survives are the Marriage Licences which record ages and in the case of minors, their father's name. The original records are held at the Somerset County Record Office, Obridge Rd, Tauunton, Somerset. Some of the Bishops Transcripts are on microfilm through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Family History Centres. The Parish Registers can also be purchased on fiche from the County Record Office. BURIAL RECORDS -after 1813 the registers almost always give an age of the deceased. Prior to this date it was spasmodic. MARRIAGE RECORDS - Prior to 1837 parents' names and the bride and grooms ages were not normally recorded. However, after Civil Registration commenced on the 1st July 1837, the ages, occupations, residences and fathers names of the bride and groom were recorded. CHRISTENING RECORDS -The earliest records often only record the father of the infant. Very rarely is a birth date given. The Parish Church is the Church of England. ABBREVIATIONS EV= Evercreech MC = Milton Clevedon SM = Shepton Mallet SS = Stony Stratton INF = Infant D/- = daughter of S/- = Son of W/ = Wife of Wid = Widow/er Mths = Months Yrs = Years Labr = Labourer Ag Lab = Agricultural Labourer cdn = Children A full genealogical history of Evercreech is being undertaken and more details can possibly obtained from contacting Janet Reakes ; email: [email protected]