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Bristol & Gloucestershire

Discussion in 'Gloucestershire' started by Dally, Feb 18, 2019.


Which is more correct (as say, a death location)?

  1. Clifton, Bristol, England

  2. Clifton, Gloucestershire, England

  3. Clifton, Bristol, Gloucestershire, England

  1. Dally

    Dally LostCousins Member

    As someone who doesn't live in the UK, I'm very confused about civil and ecclesiastical parishes, registration districts and physical/geographical places, particularly in relation to Bristol & Gloucestershire. From everything I've read, Bristol is its own county. Wikipedia and other sites state "Bristol became a county in its own right, separate from Gloucestershire and Somerset in 1373". I do understand that it's a ceremonial county, rather than a 'proper' county.

    At all the major genealogy sites (e.g. Ancestry, Findmypast, FamilySearch and even this forum), everything regarding Bristol seems to be lumped under Gloucestershire. Is this simply because, at a registration district level, Bristol rolls up to Gloucestershire? What do I use if I'm entering the physical location of someone's birth or death (see poll).

    I'm a bit of a sticker for standards, which is why I like tools such as FamilySearch Places. The problem is that FamilySearch Places seems totally wrong for Bristol. I would like to see something like:

    Clifton, Bristol, England, United Kingdom
    1801-Today, Suburb
  2. Bryman

    Bryman LostCousins Megastar

    I would tend to use . . .

    Clifton, Bristol, (county), England .... without United Kingdom.

    Similarly, I do not follow Ancestry's use of Greater London for places recorded in mid 1800s.

    I don't understand what is meant by "1801-Today, Suburb".
  3. Tim

    Tim Moderator Staff Member

    Never use United Kingdom or UK, they are not a country. The last option is the most accurate.
  4. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    That makes two of us and can't even guess.

    I agree with Tim that the United Kingdom (UK) is not a country and is a superfluous inclusion. As for Bristol that to me as always been just plain Bristol (as a city) - and as Dally mentions Clifton, where I lodged for a while attending a course associated with my job - at that time it would have been Clifton, Bristol, Avon. For genealogical purposes I accept the addition of England to separate it from other towns and areas called Bristol worldwide, particularly America.

    I am aware that Avon is no longer regarded as a county (although I believe still used as a blanket name by the Police & Fire Service) and own to the fact that in my own Tree I always associated Bristol with Gloucestershire. I seem to recall a record showing Bristol in Somerset and put that down to some boundary change of the time, and was pleased to find it reinstated in Gloucestershire later. I also learned that to avoid such confusions (and no doubt settle local arguments) that was the reason the county of 'Avon' was devised.

    Although I never regarded Bristol as a county in my own record keeping, I am aware that historically it was granted that status from 1373. Even so I would not use Bristol as a county reference other than for perhaps some small village or community well outside the City boundaries. Then I would need to emphasise Bristol (County), and guarantee most people seeing same would still regard it as being part of the city of Bristol.

    Today Bristol needs no county qualification and my records showing it in Gloucestershire, (England of course) will stand.
  5. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    A reminder for others reading this discussion that part of Bristol was in Somerset:

    "Bristol, city, municipal and parliamentary borough, seaport, and county of itself, chiefly in Gloucestershire but partly in Somerset"
    [Extract from Bartholemew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887 at GENUKI]
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    No wonder Daly is confused about what county to place Bristol. As this article explains in some detail - Bristol - I don't think they are quite sure themselves, and their own 1373 county status does not seem to have helped.

    I personally think it a shame they dropped 'Avon' as certainly in the 70's & 80's when my timber trade job occasionally required me to visit the magnificent Bristol docks, it was clearly identified with Avon.
  7. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    Clifton was an ancient parish in Gloucestershire. Exactly how places should be defined does depend on the date concerned, but as Clifton was also a civil parish until 1898, then in my opinion it would be incorrect to use Clifton, Bristol ..... before that date. After 1898 Clifton was absorbed into Bristol.
  8. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    To expand a bit on what I wrote yesterday, places may be defined differently for different purposes, so what is correct in one context may be incorrect in another. For genealogical purposes, the geographic description of a location is the one most commonly used. So while Clifton may have been administratively in Bristol (from 1835?), and described as such in the censuses (for example), geographically it was in Gloucestershire (as was Bristol itself) - at least until 1974.

    So for family history purposes, and until 1974, an accurate and adequate description would be:
    Clifton, Gloucestershire, England.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  9. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    In recording places and their counties in my Ancestry Trees (and synced to FTM) I go along with protocol for the date i.e. that used in the Census or BMD record. Now and again one comes across one of those multiple county choices - e.g. Warwickshire /Worcestorshire/Herefordshire - which after a brief look at the Places map in FTM (or even an archaic map viewed on line) I select the one I think best fits.

    However in my private Tribal Pages I often qualify a place in a way that I think gives better understanding . So, using Clifton as the example, I might well record Clifton (Bristol), Gloucestershire. If I think an explanation necessary for showing Bristol in brackets, then I would add that in my notes.
  10. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I would suggest using the form that Ancestry supports, rather than aiming for historical accuracy - you can always record the actual address elsewhere (which you would have to do anyway if it was a street address).
    For example, in the case of Clifton the only form that Ancestry supports is Clifton, Gloucestershire, England
  11. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Precisely the point I made when I said I followed protocol (Ancestry or FMP) and giving Pauline my agreement tick for Clifton being in Gloucestershire. What I do in TP is my own subjective take on things which, yes, may be influenced by historical accuracy, or even disregard if I so choose. I do so to aid family who view the Tree and who - for the most part - are not interested in the minutiae of FH research.
  12. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    That isn't what you said, hence the need for clarification. You said 'protocol for the date i.e. that used in the Census or BMD record' which is hardly the same thing. Indeed it implies that your description of the birthplace would vary according to when the birth occurred.
  13. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    You are being pedantic me thinks, and misinterpreting what I said. By protocol I mean the information depicted on the record as found in Ancestry or FMP which, obviously would be the one in vogue at the time. I can't make it any clearer than that. In other words if (at the time) the record showed Clifton, Gloucestershire; that is what I would show.
  14. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Thank you for confirming that I was right in my assumption about what you meant. Perhaps I didn't make my point very well.

    It is not a good idea to describe a birthplace in an Ancestry tree in a form which Ancestry do not recognise, even if that description is more accurate. So showing a birthplace as it would have been described at a particular point in time, or as it might appear on a census, may not work. For example, people are often shown on the census as having been born in London, Middlesex - but at Ancestry you can't search for people born in London, Middlesex.
  15. Bryman

    Bryman LostCousins Megastar

    That is just a short coming of Ancestry now and may (?) be corrected in the future. My tree is not limited to Ancestry and lists locations in 19th century as being Richmond, Surrey and Kingston upon Thames, Surrey rather than Greater London, which did not exist at that time.

    Similarly, many parish records in the London area show their county as being Surrey or Middlesex even after the county of London was created and the transcription/summary at Ancestry now shows London. I record what the original document shows, regardless of whether Ancestry is able to find it in a search. I do not wish to have a big job of updating my records just because Ancestry gets corrected.
  16. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    It's up to you - I just assumed that anyone who was a member of this forum would be interested in being contacted by their cousins. I can't see the point of entering information that can't be found in a search.

    It's particularly important for anyone who has tested their DNA - especially if their cousins are following the strategies in my Masterclass (or arrived at them independently - they're not 'rocket science').
  17. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    Since I created my Ancestry tree solely to use alongside my DNA results, I have entered places in the format given by Ancestry, though I had to grit my teeth somewhat using "Islington, Middlesex" (for example) in the era when it should be "Islington, London".

    However, some places are missing from Ancestry's drop-down list so the only option is to enter the place manually, and I guess that means it won't be found in a search.

    Away from Ancestry I aim for historical accuracy, and I also enter places in the more traditional way using the Chapman codes for counties.
  18. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    It can be difficult to decide what the correct address is. Is it the postal address at the time in question, is it the civil parish, is it the ecclesiastical parish? What about chapelries, hamlets, and extra-parochial locations? You could have several different answers, all of them correct.

    Fortunately most of the divergence occurred after 1851, which is the date FamilySearch use for their maps. I suspect Ancestry place names are from the same era.

    It's also worth mentioning that many birthplaces are assumed, based on the place where the child was baptised, or the address given at the time of the baptism.

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