James THOMAS born "1850 Cinderford" (Parish Records)

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Saturday, July 30, 2016, 15:06 (2915 days ago) @ Debbielakin

Thank you I think the Thomas family were methodists so maybe that's why they can't be found in the church records ? Would that be correct?

Hi Debbie.
No, not necessarily true, as this site's PRs do include the records of several of the area's Non Conformist Curches and Chapels, if not all of them ? (hopefully someone else can please confirm this ?).
Cinderford itself has the Wesley Church, built abt 1849. Altho my family were C of E so attended St Stephen's just up the same (Belle Vue) Road, I had Methodist school friends and we all went to the Wesley every Christmas to enjoy the great pantomines held by the Wesley Players in their Church Hall.

I attach a link to an excellent website about the Forest in general, with a huge amount of historical info as well as old photos etc, the section about Cinderford is particularly full and includes a good history of the Wesley Church. The site can be a little awkward to navigate at first but is still a remarkably good website which rewards methodical browsing via the little green arrow icons.

Like so many of the area's Churches the Wesley was largely funded by local colliery owners to encourage their workforce to spend spare time in healthy Godly pursuits rather than pubs, traditionally the Foresters were renowned as being a rowdy wild bunch of backwoodsmen, indeed they still are by some Gloucester folk ! ;-)
Also see


As you probably know, when searching this FoD site's PRs you can select which Church/Chapel to view from a dropdown menu, you can see this alphabetical list includes many Non Conformist chapels, including a few listed under Cinderford.

For Merriman I can find the following, which may fit into your tree somewhere ?;

Record_ID: 87213
Entry_Number: 3
Year: 1880
Month: Dec
Day: 25
Parents_Surname: MERRIMAN
Child_Forenames: John Edward
Fathers_Forenames: John
Mothers_Forenames: Catherine
Residence: East Dean
Officiating_Minister: Edward Fison
Event: Baptism
Memoranda: Born Dec[ember] 1 1880
Notes: [Fison underlined]
Register_Reference: D2598 2/12
Page_Number: 5
Parish_Chapel: Cinderford Methodist
Soundex: M655

Record_ID: 87435
Entry_Number: 225
Year: 1891
Month: Sep
Day: 27
Parents_Surname: MERRIMAN
Child_Forenames: not stated
Fathers_Forenames: John
Mothers_Forenames: Catherine
Residence: Cinderford
Officiating_Minister: John Penberthy White
Event: Baptism
Memoranda: Born Aug[ust] 2nd 1891
Register_Reference: D2598 2/12
Page_Number: 61
Parish_Chapel: Cinderford Methodist
Soundex: M655

I think these PRs must relate to the Wesley Church.


The database also includes PRs for "Cinderford Bridge Methodist". The Bridge is at the southernmost and oldest part of the town, at the base of the Cinderford side of Littledean Hill, at junction of Valley Road and St Whites Rd which goes up the Hill to "the Barn" at the top. The Bridge end of town leads into Ruspidge which had large mines which caused the town's growth in Victorian times.

I think "Cinderford Bridge" Chapel would have been in use before the Wesley was built as the town expanded northwards; I think it's the Chapel referred to as "Littledean Hill" in the history website linked earlier, although this photo suggests it's towards the top of the Hill well above the "Bridge" so ??.
However I cannot see any Merrimans within that part of the PR database.

Travelling from the Bridge back up St Whites Rd to the top of the Hill the main road splits into two; west is down Belle Vue Road (A4151) which houses the Wesley etc and Cinderfords "newer" town centre, and on thro High Street and out into the Forest "proper".

The same A4151 road in the opposite eastward direction from the top of Littledean Hill (aka the Barn), the road drops steeply down several hundred feet into the much older village of Littledean. Here you've fallen off the high plateau of the inner Forest "proper", trees and coal etc, into flat farming countryside leading towards the fertile plain of the River Severn. Since Norman times Littledean was traditionally as far west towards the "wild" Forest as most people wanted to go (until industry created demand for the woods and minerals), hence Cinderford area is much "newer" than Littledean. The PRs don't specify a Methodist Chapel in Littledean, but does have an "Independent", which doesn't show any Merriman PRs.
For a detailed definitive history of all of the Forest, the British History site is always worth searching, for Non-Conformity see;

I do hope this helps you, particularly regarding the local geography and placenames. I was born and grew-up in Cinderford, one of the main Forest towns, so it came as a shock when I saw a map c1840 that showed Littledean and nearby Flaxley - home of an Abbey so important in olden times - yet not the much larger town of Cinderford !?. Hence the Census forms for the area often confuse people, including me at first, as the placename changes as the town itself grew thro Victorian times, all the time taking-on differing names (Bilson then Woodside then East Dean, etc), before becoming known as just Cinderford.

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