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Name Dropping

1.  Royal Connection - Sir John Davies was born at Lower Chicksgrove Tisbury in 1569.  An accomplished lawyer, popular poet, and Attorney General for Ireland 1603-1616, Davies was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth 1.  In 1603 he was part of the deputation sent to bring King James V1 of Scotland to London as monarch.  


2.  Hatch House, an ancient manor situated in West Tisbury, was the seat of the Hyde family in the 16th and 17th centuries.  A tablet in the house bears the following inscription:  "In this house was born, lived and died Laurence Hyde, whose third son, Edward, was created Earl of Clarendon and Lord Chancellor of England in 1660 and whose daughter married James, Duke of York, afterwards King James 11, and became the mother of Queens Mary and Anne.  These two queens of England lived some while here.  Also Prince George of Denmark, Consort of Queen Anne, was quartered here the 3rd December 1688 on his way to Sarum to join the King."


3.  American Connection - Thomas Mayhew was born in Tisbury in 1593.  After completing an apprenticeship to a mercer in Southampton, he set up his own business in the port.  In 1631 Thomas accepted a post as agent in Massachusetts for a wealthy London merchant and set sail with his wife and family for America.  He became so successful that he eventually secured part of his employer's business and purchased the offshore islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.  Thomas and his sons helped to establish the towns of Tisbury and Chilmark in New England and famously ministered to the spiritual needs of the Indian population and the early settlers.

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Friendly Societies

Long before the advent of government and employer health insurance and other financial services, friendly societies played an important part in many people's lives.  Two of the most prolific were the Ancient Order of Foresters (established in 1834), so called because members assisted their fellow men who fell into need "as they walked through the forests of life" and Oddfellows (established in 1810) which evolved from the medieval Trade Guilds and were so called because they were fellow tradesmen from an odd assortment of trades.


Members of friendly societies paid a regular fee and attended ceremonial meetings.  If they became sick, emotional and other support would be given along with an allowance to help them meet their financial obligations.  The society might have a doctor who could be freely consulted and when a member died, funeral expenses were paid and the lodge or court would attend the funeral in ceremonial dress; often there would be some money left over for the widow.  Fetes, dances and sports were held regularly to supplement branch funds - these were much anticipated events - parishioners turned out in large numbers to watch members parade the village with their banners and other regalia, usually accompanied by a local band.  All Friendly Society information has been placed here regardless of where the lodge or court was based within the parish.  Newspaper reports of the friendly societies' activities often contain members names.


Tisbury People
Contributing to Photo Galleries etc

The information and images on this page are of great interest to researchers in the UK and Worldwide who are tracing their family history.  If you would like to share photographs of your ancestors who were born or married in Tisbury, old picture postcards, or any other information relating to the village, please email us.  Contributions really are appreciated.  Thank you. 

Newspaper Articles

Newspapers are a treasure trove of information for family history researchers and social historians.  Tisbury certainly gets its fair share of news coverage.  You may find your ancestors mentioned in court reports as the perpetrator or victim of crime.  Primarily, articles shown are those that contain names of parishioners to assist family history researchers, however,  the articles shown should not be presumed to be the only ones in the given years, or that there are no articles in any of the years omitted.

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Pythouse and the Benett's

There can be few country houses better placed in the surrounding landscape than Pythouse, on the border of Semley and West Tisbury villages.  Built on the side of a hill that slightly enfolds it, it faces south-west overlooking the beautiful Sem Valley and further still, the Blackmore Vale.  Behind the house, the tree covered hills eventually lead on to the Wiltshire Downs and in the foreground the park, dotted with oaks, gives the whole picture a stage-like setting.  For many years this was the home of the powerful Benett family.  It was the base from which they ruled over much of the local population; they were large land owners and played a major part in local and national politics. Pythouse, a Palladian style mansion, rebuilt in 1805, remained in the Benett family until the mid 1950's.  


John Montague Benett-Stanford (1870-1947) was an army officer, cinematographer and war correspondent, expeditionist and big game hunter, Wiltshire Magistrate and eccentric country squire.  Nicknamed 'Mad Jack', his many appearances in court as the plaintiff or defendant, rather than the Magistrate, highlight his eccentricity and irrepressible passion for practical jokes. 





Coroners' inquests were held within 48 hours of a sudden, unnatural or unexplained death.  In rural locations they were conducted at the alehouse, parish workhouse or in the building where the death occurred.  The jury could consist of between 12 and 24 people, but this reduced to between 7 and 12 after 1926.  Many historical Coroner's Reports were destroyed under 1958 Public Records Act so newspaper reports are often the only source of an inquest having been carried out; the names of parishioners on the jury are often included in the report. 

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Misc Information

Almost 700 historical wills for Tisbury are held at Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre; some can be downloaded from their website for a small fee.


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Population Figures

A census was not taken in 1941 due to World War 2


Tisbury (East Tisbury and Wardour) 

1841 - 1685    1851 - 1679    1861 - 1650    1871 - 1541    1881 - 1649    1891 - 1730    1901 - 1593    1911 - 1653    1921 - 1509    1931 - 1387     1941 -  n/k      1951 - 1599    1961 - 1656    1971 - 1870    1981 - 1728    1991 - 1836    2001 - 2056


West Tisbury

1841 - 734    1851 - 680    1861 - 653    1871 - 855    1881 - 799    1891 - 712    1901 - 695    1911 - 697    1921 - 691    1931 - 635 

1941 - n/k     1951 - 516    1961 - 451    1971 - 429    1981 - 526    1991 - 577    2001 - 601 

Neighbouring Parishes

Swallowcliffe, Ansty, Fonthill Bishop, Fonthill Gifford, Sutton Mandeville, Chilmark and Berwick St. Leonard are all within 3 miles of Tisbury and Wardour. The nearest towns are Mere Wiltshire (9 miles), Shaftesbury Dorset (7 miles), Gillingham Dorset (10 miles); the city of Salisbury is 14 miles distant.

Civil Registration District

July 1837 - Apr 1936 Tisbury Registration District;  Apr 1936 - Jan 1978 Mere Registration District; then Salisbury 


Registers held at WSHC

Baptisms        1563 - 1967 

Marriages       1563 - 1991

Burials            1563 - 1939

Baptisms not recorded    1646-1652 & 1677-1678

Marriages not recorded   1643-1652 & 1675-1678

Burials not recorded        1643-1652 & 1679-1688



Baptisms         1751-1769     1770-1789     1790-1799     1800-1816     1817-1837 

Marriages       1563-1599     1600-1699      1700-1799     1800-1837  

Burials             1699-1724     1724-1759     1760-1785      1786-1800    1801-1817     1818-1837


East Tisbury Census                       1841     1851     1861     1871     1881     1891     1901     1911  

East Tisbury Voters Lists               1872     1874      1880     1912     1915      

East Tisbury Electoral Registers   1918     1919     1925       


Tisbury Service Register                1946         


West Tisbury Census                      1841     1851    1861     1871     1881     1891    1901    1911  

West Tisbury Voters Lists              1872     1874    1880     1912     1915      

West Tisbury Electoral Registers  1918     1919    1925     1939       

West Tisbury Service Register       1946         


Kelly's Directories                           1848     1855     1868     1875     1880     1898     1907     1923     1931     1939 

All material on the Wiltshire Footprints website is subject to copyright law

Information is for personal research only; no part of this website should be copied or published elsewhere

without written permission from Wiltshire Footprints.

Pythouse was the scene of a bloody riot in November 1830 during the 'Swing' rebellions in southern England.  Over 300 agricultural labourers, fearful of losing their jobs with the gradual introduction of farm machinery, took part in the Pythouse riot including William Sanger, Thomas Rixon, William Gray and James Mould - all from Tisbury. John Harding from nearby Hindon was killed; some rioters were deported or imprisoned after the subsequent trials.  A plaque, commemorating the plight of the agricultural labourers during the rebellions throughout Wiltshire, hangs in Salisbury Guildhall.

Tisbury Page 2
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