The Dorset Record Society

Dorset Record Society was set up in the 1960s with the aim of publishing original manuscripts to make them accessible to the general reader. They have concentrated on documents that are not readily available for study, those that are difficult to read, or those that are of particular interest. Publication is occasional, and depends on funding from sales of previous volumes. The Record Society is a committee of DNHAS. For general enquiries please contact the Hon. General Secretary, Dorset County Museum, High West Street, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1XA.

Dorset Record Society, Volume 17

The Sherborne Almshouse Register 1437-1866

(Picture of the almshouse building)

Edited by Dr Ann Clark.
Price £12.50 (add £2.50 for post and packing)
Hardback with jacket, with photographs.
Published December 2013

The Hospital of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist at Sherborne, founded 1437, is one of Dorset's oldest surviving almshouses.

In the late 16th century, the brethren managing the almshouse began to copy into one register, probably for easier reference, important individual foundation and endowment documents and surveys of lands held by the almshouse. Governance decisions; oaths sworn by brethren and residents on admission, with rules for behaviour; and bequests from benefactors were added. They also began to list in the same volume the elections of brethren and admissions of over 800 almspeople from 1582 till the 1860s, usually noting their deaths and sometimes their expulsion. Entries for many almspeople recorded the possessions they brought into the house.

These records are transcribed here in modern English for accessibility. The comprehensive introduction places Sherborne almshouse in the context of national and local almshouse provision. It also highlights the unexpected role of the brethren in managing private philanthropy destined for the poor of Sherborne, some of whom are named. Additional sources help to bring to life certain individual almspeople and brethren.

The book is hardback, with photographs and a coloured jacket. It should be of interest to social, local and family historians as well as to those with a more general interest in almshouses, Sherborne and its inhabitants. Dr Clark is the author of several academic articles on social history and her chapter on the possessions of Sherborne almspeople will appear in a major new volume on almshouses to be published by the Family and Community Historical Research Society in 2014.


DNHAS Occasional Paper no.2

Dorset Manorial Documents: A guide for local and family historians

(Map of Timothy Wakley's Tenement)

By Mark Forrest
Published by DRS 2011
Price £6.00 (add £1.00 for post and packing)
48pp, index, colour photographs, A4 stapled, glossy cover

Manorial documents are a useful and yet underused source for local and family historians in Dorset. They illustrate many aspects of the lives of ordinary people: property ownership, maintenance of roads and hedges, punishment of minor crimes, election of local officers and interpretation of local customs all fell within the remit of the manor court. The guide explains the history and development of Dorset manors and introduces the documents produced by the manorial administration through examples from the collections held at the Dorset History Centre. The focus is on those documents written in English produced between the mid-seventeenth century and the early twentieth century which are most easily accessible to researchers who have not previously worked on manor and estate records. Examples of court rolls, perambulations, stewards' papers, presentments and customs are provided with transcriptions to illustrate the contents and uses of a variety of records.

Dorset Record Society, Volume 16

Birth, Marriage, Death and Taxes, the Lyme Regis Censuses 1695-1703

(1823 watercolour of the Cobb)

Edited with an introduction by Dr Judith Ford.
Price £10.00 (add £2.50 for post and packing)
Hardback with jacket, illustrated with engravings and photographs.
Published July 2011

This book reproduces in full all the Marriage Duty Act assessments for Lyme Regis and Colway, with an index of names. In 1695 the 'Marriage Duty Act' imposed a tax on births, marriages and burials, as well as an annual charge on bachelors over the age of 25, and on childless widowers. The tax was introduced by William III to help pay for war with France. The administration of the tax involved the drawing up of a certified list of the names of the inhabitants of every town, village and hamlet in England and Wales. Only about 150 of the Marriage Duty Act documents are known to survive nationally but the Marriage Duty Act assessments for Lyme Regis survive for the years 1695, 1698, 1699, 1701 (two copies), 1702 and 1703. One undated assessment survives for the tithing of Colway, adjacent to Lyme. The war for which the tax was raised damaged Lyme's trade with France in serges and linens and the town's resulting decline can be traced both in the decrease of the total number of inhabitants and in that of individuals liable to surcharges.


Dorset Record Society, Volume 15

Dorset in Wartime, the diary of Phyllis Walther 1941-1942

Published 2009, price £10.00
(add £2.50 for post and packing)
Hardback with jacket. Illustrated with contemporary photos.

Phyllis Walther worked as a volunteer for the WVS and witnessed at first hand the effects of war. She was responsible for the welfare of evacuees and for providing clothing for displaced children and their mothers. She organized the provision of hand-knitted comforts for the troops and despaired of the tangle caused by garments mistakenly knitted in the wrong sizes and service colours. She is an acute observer of patriotic fund-raising events and local military exercises and her descriptions of some of the inevitable muddles make amusing reading. Phyllis had an enquiring mind and decided opinions. Everyday life in wartime Dorset comes alive in her diary.

(Portrait of Phyllis Walther) (Charmouth Women's Institute, queueing)

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