Parish boundaries (General)

by fozzy, Saturday, January 18, 2014, 15:15 (2469 days ago)

I'm studying the Triggs at the moment and getting thoroughly confused about the parishes of East Dean, Abenhall, Westbury etc and their overlaps through time.
Is there a guide anywhere to the boundaries of these parishes and how they've changed through time?

Thanks Fozzy

Parish boundaries

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Saturday, January 18, 2014, 15:46 (2469 days ago) @ fozzy

Hi Fozzy and belated welcome to the forum.
Have you tried searching "parish boundaries" within this forum via the search box at top right ?. If in doubt about your researches it's always worth searching as the questions have probably already been asked, indeed you may find someone else has already researched "your" family.
If you do then this is one of the hits you'll see.

This query has been asked several times over the years, I too found it all very confusing when I started researching a few years ago. If it's any consolation if you're searching the western Forest say Lydbrook, then you also get added complications as county and country boundaries enter the mix !!

I wrote this post (and a few more similar ones), which try to explain how/why the boundaries have apparently moved or changed names. Altho it's essentially about the Western side of the Forest, the same basic principles apply.
From this post the main points for your enquiry are;

In the early days say late 1700s, before the Forest population really "exploded",.... general lack of "normal" C of E Churches within the Forest is why the PRs show so many apparently different places of worship & religions, such as the Chapels & Circuits of various Methodists, Baptists, etc; this all confused & intrigued me having been brought-up in Cinderford as a "standard" C of E lad with no exposure or knowledge of Dean's rich religious history !

Before this the nearest sizable towns, which had existed for centuries so were the main local "civic centres", were Westbury On Severn to the east in England, and Monmouth to the West and just inside Wales #. ie all outside the upper plateau of the central Forest. For the Eastern forest Littledean was another ancient town, clearly linked to Westbury wrt geography and land usage, still outside the central plateau.

In 1842 (as this central Forest filled with immigrants to the many new mines etc) the Forest was split into West Dean & East Dean Townships for local government purposes. Hence when I see "East Dean" on a Census they're usually referring to the-then "new" town of Cinderford, or Woodside as it was known in it's early days. Similarly "West Dean" = Lydbrook and Coleford areas towards Monmouth.

As the population within the Forest continued to grow with industrial expansion, and towns such as Coleford expanded and new towns such as Cinderford were created, so the civic boundaries had to change too and new names of Civic Districts came along. At the same time new Churches were being built so new Parishes created.

The best way I've found to understand this is using the excellent Genuki site which deserves thorough reading, very informative indeed, you can follow the various changes of Districts etc.
Eastern FoD = Westbury =
Western FoD = Monmouth =

Hope this helps.

PS # ref Monmouth being in Wales, this has been a bone of contention and much discussion in recent centuries. Altho it is undoubtedly considered part of modern Wales, in Victorian times it was perhaps convenient for the politicians of Westminster et al to think of Monmouthshire as English, if only because of it's huge wealth of coal and such-like.

Parish boundaries

by fozzy, Saturday, January 18, 2014, 20:40 (2468 days ago) @ Jefff

Thanks for the pointers, I'll study them!
I think the crux of my question is that when you have a baptism, marriage or burial in which the listing states the "parish chapel" as being Westbury on Severn, does this mean the Westbury Church of St Mary, St Peter, and St Paul or a church/chapel within the parish? I'm just trying to get to grips with relatives in the Plump Hill area returning to Westbury "parish chapel" for notable events.
Cheers Fozzy

Parish boundaries

by shepway @, Saturday, January 18, 2014, 20:49 (2468 days ago) @ fozzy

If the parish records states the parish/chapel is Westbury on Severn then it will be Westbury on Severn Parish Church i.e.St Mary, St Peter and St Paul, Westbury on Severn. This link may be helpful:
If you use the link and go to the Find Us page you will see a link which will take you to a map displaying the parish boundaries as they are today.

Best wishes

Parish boundaries

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Saturday, January 18, 2014, 20:58 (2468 days ago) @ fozzy

Hi Fozzy,
I stand to be corrected but I think the meaning of Parish is the area around and under the jurisdiction of THE Parish Church, presumably always in a Church of England sense as far as we're concerned. Thus (apart from perhaps Private Chapels in a grand country house ?) there are no other Churches/Chapels within that Parish at the time the Church was inaugurated and it's boundaries created. Hence Westbury Parish is "under" Westbury On Severn Church of St Mary..., as you say.

Where the Parish Records quote a particular "Chapel" (why not called a "Church" I've always wondered ?) then I've always presumed this meant that particular CoE Church. Don't forget the PRs we see on this website were initially written in a record book wholly about, belonging to and housed within the relevant Church/Chapel; each Record wouldn't need to mention which Church the event occurred in as it was probably written on the book's cover and always "obvious" to the people involved.

Sometimes a PR will mention another "lesser" religion as a memo, such as "Forest of Dean Bible Christians", presumably a case of the official English Church being asked to recognise/endorse an earlier ceremony performed by one of the other religious movements that were once prominent in the Forest including up on the Plump, especially in the days before CoE Churches were built within the Forest.

Re your ancestors returning to Westbury Church from the Plump, please advise about when this was happening ?. In early times as per my original reply there were no C of E Churches within the Forest including areas such as Plump Hill, so you can understand why they might want to return to what was presumably their "home" Church. This might especially happen if they have relatives living there, perhaps older less mobile ones ?. One branch of my family, like many Foresters, moved to South Wales in the late 1800s, yet they always had their Newport-born children Baptised "back home" at Longhope Church. Again, until the early 1800s or so, the likes of Westbury and to a lesser extent Littledean and Abenhall were the main centres of population, their people living off the fertile land of the Severn vale. However this was always very hard work for little reward, so it's easy to see why younger members of a family might move up Littldean and Plump Hills towards the central Forest when the "new" mines, quarries, etc started needing more and more men.

Hope this helps, J

Westbury On Severn - Genuki site

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Saturday, January 18, 2014, 22:55 (2468 days ago) @ Jefff

Hi again Fozzy,
just a thought that may be of interest to you, regarding the Genuki site I mentioned earlier wrt local government districts; there's another aspect to that great website that I think very usefull for FH research. It gives a good insight into how a place was in olden times, gives usefull references to local small villages whose names we may not recognise today, and sometimes contains extra data such as Census returns.

For Westbury On Severn this site link is

and associated pages, again a site I think well-worth browsing around, and very usefull when researching a "new" area in your tree.

One of it's linked sites about Westbury is a good read and also includes a few Triggs, perhaps yours.
"Most Victorian burial registers make dry and depressing reading, but the register for Westbury on Severn is an exception.... which highlight the hazards of life in this rural parish in the late 19th century."

Parish boundaries

by fozzy, Saturday, January 18, 2014, 23:25 (2468 days ago) @ Jefff

thanks to both Jeff and Mike for your help, it looks like I've got quite a bit of studying to do! But it is appreciated
cheers Fozzy

Parish boundaries

by shepway @, Saturday, January 18, 2014, 16:02 (2469 days ago) @ fozzy

We have a Parish Map on this site. You can find it here:

Other maps can be found from this link:


RSS Feed of thread

powered by my little forum