first parish register disappeared many years ago. One
knows that a register once existed because the annual
copy (or Bishop’s Transcript) survives for 1599 and for
several years afterwards. Theoretically Bishop’s
Transcripts (BTs) should provide a duplicate record of
events in the lost parish register from 1598. However,
the BTs retained in the registry at Wells were
transferred during World War II to Exeter, where it was
thought they would be safer. Unfortunately, the building
housing the documents in Exeter suffered a direct hit in
the blitz and BTs for High Littleton for only 13 years
between 1599 and 1640 now survive.
In 1653 the High Littleton ratepayers elected a Register, who was made
responsible for recording the parish "events", in place
of Simon COTTON, who had been vicar since 1639. The
Register (Registrar) – probably John BEDFORD, who was
holding that office in 1655 - started a new register. It
may be that High Littleton’s first parish register was
lost or destroyed at this time. The first page of what
is now the oldest surviving register is so faded that it
is unreadable, even under ultra violet light and the
next few pages are partly illegible, as a result of
damage by water, vermin and general wear and tear.
BEDFORD died in October 1656, whereupon Francis AMOR was
appointed Register. After the Restoration Simon COTTON
resumed his full duties as vicar and continued using
AMOR’s civil register book, which became the parish
register. AMOR died in March 1665.
Simon COTTON remained as vicar until his death in 1684. No successor
to COTTON was appointed after his death and the church
gradually fell into decline. The few baptisms, burials
or marriages that might have taken place at High
Littleton were not recorded in the register.
Periodically some of the more influential parishioners
caused the events for their own families to be entered
retrospectively in the register but it was not
maintained regularly for the next 52 years.
Following the rebuilding of High Littleton Church Philip WHITAKER was
appointed curate in 1737 and Joseph DANDO parish clerk.
DANDO started a new register and from then to the
present time, events have been recorded without a break.
At the beginning of the 1737 register, "by order of
some of the gentlemen and chief inhabitants of the
parish" DANDO entered the previously omitted events
of members of their families, some of which went back 60
years. A few of these were duplications of entries
recorded as a result of earlier retrospective
"rounds-up" in the previous register. To DANDO’s credit
he recorded dates of death alongside burial entries.
This was not continued by his successor.
marriages and burials were originally recorded in
different parts of the same register. After the passing
of Lord HARDWICKE’s Act, marriages after 25th March 1754
were recorded in a separate register. Although
pre-printed marriage registers had been available since
then, High Littleton clerks did not use one until 1811,
preferring to copy out all the detail in longhand.
Similarly, a pre-printed Banns Book was not used until
1823. Although Philip WHITAKER was only a curate he
rather pretentiously signed himself as vicar in the
Marriage Register, which started in 1754. In fact High
Littleton was without a vicar from 1684 to 1782.
parish clerks had been recording ages at death in burial
registers from the latter part of the 18th century, it
was not made compulsory until 1813. High Littleton
clerks felt no need to provide gratuitous information.
The burial registers also make no reference to deaths by
accident or contagious disease, from which one might
conclude that nothing exciting ever happened. However,
other parish records like Overseers Accounts and School
Log Books reveal the usual range of tragic deaths from
such causes as coalmining accidents, drowning and
epidemics of smallpox, measles and scarlet fever.
From 1813 onwards
baptisms and burials were recorded in separate
pre-printed registers. In 1955 the vicar started a
Cremations Book, which was maintained until 1991.
several religious denominations represented in High
Littleton but, with one exception, they all used the
same parish churchyard. The exception was the Society of
Friends, who had their own burial ground in Hallatrow
until 1817. Plymouth Brethren operated in Hallatrow for
over a hundred years from around 1856. Their burials can
be easily identified in the register, because they were
certified by a layman (from 1880 onwards, under the
Burial Laws Amendment Act). Methodist burials can also
be identified in the burial register by recognising the
name of the ministers officiating.
the parish registers, differences between BTs and the
register have been noted. Additional details from the
Banns Books and Marriage Licences have also been noted
against marriage entries. It has been thought useful to
record "strays". These are out of parish baptisms,
burials and marriages of people whose abode was recorded
as High Littleton or Hallatrow.
after the various transcriptions. It has been considered
more user friendly to arrange these alphabetically by
surname and then by date, so that the baptisms of a
single family tend to appear in a batch together. The
author has used his local knowledge to index under a
standard spelling a few surnames, which were commonly
misspelt or evolved over the years such as STICKLER to
STICKLAND or STRICKLAND or WHITEHEAD to WHITING.
Readers may find it helpful to read the History file listed
below before searching the transcriptions.
History of Parish Registers & Registration
HL Baptisms 1599 to 1948 & Index
HL Baptisms 1948 to 1992 & Index
HL Marriages 1599 to 1957 & Index
HL Marriages 1958 to 1986 & Index
HL Burials 1599 to 1961 & Index
HL Burials 1961 to 1991 & Index
HL Stray Baptisms & Index
HL Stray Marriages & Index
HL Stray Burials & Index
The only Register for Hallatrow
Meeting has its first entry in 1651 but this was
probably entered a year or two after the event. This
contains Births, Marriages and Deaths and was
maintained rather imperfectly for some forty to
Records of "events" at the local
meeting were also reported and registered at Monthly
and Quarterly Meetings, so that in theory events
should be registered more than once. In practice
variations occurred between the different registers
and it is clear that many events were not recorded
in the local register. Indeed no entries at all were
recorded in the Hallatrow meeting register after
1707. From then on the only source of information
about births, marriages and deaths for Hallatrow
meeting was the record of the Monthly Meetings of
the North Division of Somersetshire and the
Quarterly Meetings of Bristol and Somersetshire.
Whilst their registers record the events with names
and places of abode, the birth and death entries do
not mention to which local meeting the parties
belonged. To make the transcription of the Hallatrow
register more meaningful the transcriber has noted
the additional events, which he believes related to
Hallatrow meeting. Events occurring at other meeting
houses involving Hallatrow quakers have also been
Because of the comparatively small
number of events, births, marriages and deaths have been
included in the same file and have not been indexed.
HL Quaker Birth
Marriages and Deaths
REGISTERS of OTHER DENOMINATIONS
Although various denominations met in High Littleton and
Hallatrow over the centuries, only the baptism
records of the Wesleyan Methodists from 1841 to 1955
have survived and these have been transcribed and
indexed. The next baptism register, covering the
period from 1956-1988 may be found at Bristol Record
Office under ref. DABRO22, Acc. 40690.
HLWesleyan Baptisms1841 to 1955 & Index