Click on the map to see a larger map of Hampshire (72,416 bytes)
When the county councils were set up in 1889, the Isle of Wight was defined as a separate county from Hampshire, and remained so until 1974, when they were merged; the island became independent again more recently. Also in 1974, a small but populous area of south-west Hampshire, containing Bournemouth and Christchurch, was transferred to Dorset. For the purpose of this page, as with other counties, I am dealing with the area as defined between 1889 and 1974.
Researchers should be aware that the county of Hampshire is often referred to in old documents as The County of Southampton, and that it is frequently abbreviated (now and in the past) to Hants.
In the north-west of the county, the high chalk hills of the Hampshire Downs are an extension of Wiltshire's Salisbury Plain. This chalk upland divides further east into the North Downs and the South Downs, two ridges of chalk hills running eastwards across south-east England through Surrey/Kent to the famous White Cliffs of Dover, and through Sussex to Beachy Head (the highest cliff on England's south coast), respectively.
South of the chalk there is lower, flatter land, very fertile in the river valleys of the Avon, Test and Itchen and along the coast further east, but far from it in the heaths and forest in the south west of the county, which is largely occupied by the New Forest. All the rivers mentioned flow into the English channel, the Avon at Christchurch in the west, the Test and Itchen both at the head of Southampton Water.
The administrative headquarters are in the ancient Wessex capital of Winchester, but the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton and the large town of Bournemouth (transfered to Dorset in 1974) are much larger today. Southampton, at the head of that marvellous natural harbour Southampton Water, is an ancient port, and now also a major industrial centre. Portsmouth, which also has a great natural harbour, has long been one of the Royal Navy's major ports, and Nelson's famous flagship H.M.S. Victory is still there. Nearby Gosport is also an important naval dockyard. Other important centres of industry are Eastleigh (just north of Southampton), Fareham (at the head of Portsmouth Harbour) and Havant (just east of Portsmouth) and oil refining at Fawley. Bournemouth is primarily a tourist centre with extensive sandy beaches, but also has growing industries and is proving attractive for people settling into retirement. In the north-east of the county, Aldershot has grown large because of the major army barracks located there, while its neighbour Farnborough is also home to a part of the aerospace industry. Also in the north of the county, Basingstoke has grown rapidly in recent years after designation as an "overspill" town to house people moved out of London.
One of the major landings of the West Saxons was in Hampshire when they invaded in the late 5th century, and Jutes (thought to have come from Jutland) also landed here at that time. Part of south Hampshire was conquered for a time by the Mercians in the second half of the 6th century before the Wessex kings recovered it. Winchester became the capital of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, and later of England, until the Normans moved the administration to London. The area was subject to many raids by the Danes during the Saxon period, but was relatively peaceful in mediæval times. In consequence, few castles were built. The prosperity of the area was based on its rich agriculture, especially wool, and on the activities of the busy port at Southampton. With no coal or iron ore to be worked, the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries was over-shadowed here by the modernisation of agriculture.
In World War 2, Gosport, Portsmouth and Southampton all suffered heavy bombing raids. Gosport was one of the major departure points for the invasion of Normandy in June 1944.
The Hampshire Chronicle is the local newspaper for the county. It's a small web site, but includes archives of published news items for a number of years.
SOUTHERN LIFE Chris and Caroline have a useful website which gives the history of over 460 villages in Hampshire and neighbouring counties along with over 60 parish church histories and lots of other information on the relevant counties. Also links to Record Offices and other useful departments including a full list of the Register Offices in Southern England. SOUTHERN LIFE can be found at: http://southernlife.org.uk.
Tony and Linda put loads of their own parish register transcriptions, and have converted their work into a Hampshire section of the On-Line Parish Clerks project, so the site now includes transcriptions and photos from other people. The Hampshire On-Line Parish Clerk project is well worth a visit now, but more help is needed.
Tony and Linda issued the following message on 20th March 2006 (but the need for help still exists):
As many of you know we have regularly done free parish register look ups at Record Offices and from the fiche we have at home. In addition we have transcribed thousands of other parish register entries and for a number of years have posted these online for viewing of other family historians. However, in view of the sheer number of parishes in a County of the size of Hampshire it would have been a never ending task and so we have decided to change the parish register transcription section of the Knightroots website into an Online Parish Clerk (OPC) project which has been successfully run in other counties by Genuki. What this means is that as well as transcriptions completed by ourselves we will include other entries from volunteer transcribers. Links to other transcription websites will also be included as it seems a waste of energy to duplicate the great work already completed by others. There are a number of ways that YOU can help:-
1. If you already have any transcriptions or you would be willing to transcribe parish register data either at home, Record Office or LDS Family History Centre please contact us. Transcriptions maybe for an entire parish or just transcribe part of a single register. Full credit will of course be given to the transcribers.
2.If you know of other existing online transcriptions please let us know and we can contact the owner of the data to seek permission to add a link from the appropriate parish page to the site in question. This project can ONLY succeed with the help of others.........YOUR OPC PROJECT NEEDS YOU.
There are two mailing lists for people with an interest in Hampshire genealogy. For the WESSEX-PLUS list, which includes Hampshire, the following introduction was supplied by the former list owner:
WESSEX-PLUS A well maintained & helpful mailing LIST for hobbyists who have an interest in genealogy or general and local history related to and incorporating the counties of Berkshire, Bristol, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, and Wiltshire, England. To subscribe to the list, send a message to:
WESSEX-PLUSfirstname.lastname@example.org to receive individual messages, or to
WESSEX-PLUS-Demail@example.com to receive digests approximately daily.
in the body of the message in either case (not in the subject line - anything you put in the subject line is ignored). You DO NOT have to leave the subject line blank. It is IGNORED except to quote it back to you if there is an error.
A second, specifically Hampshire list is HAMPSHIRE. Subscribe using the same instructions as for WESSEX-PLUS, but with "HAMPSHIRE" in place of "WESSEX-PLUS" in each case.
The same instructions go for the much more localised ENG-HAM-PORTSMOUTH-GOSPORT mailing list.
Chris Broomfield maintains a Hampshire surnames interests list, to which you can have your interests added.
The GENUKI page for Hampshire gives links to most of the main genealogy sites related to the county, and the snail mail addresses of relevant organisations such as county record office, libraries, family history socities, etc., etc.
Information about the Hampshire Genealogical Society can be obtained from its web site.
Details of opening times, etc. of the Hampshire Record Office can be obtained from its web site. The office is located in Winchester.
However, for completeness sake, if the place meets the first criterion but fails on one or more of the others, then it will at least appear here as a heading, so the reader will have some idea which places may "get the treatment" at some time in the future.
The location of Andover can be seen on this map of Hampshire.
My maternal grandfather's parents were married and lived for some time in Goodworth Clatford (a village near Andover). These two photos (107,073 bytes and 97,568 bytes), taken 30th December 1997, show the parish church where they were married.
The location of Goodworth Clatford (just under 2 miles south of Andover) can be seen on this map of Hampshire.
C.R.J Currie and C.P.Lewis A Guide to English County Histories (Sutton Publishing Ltd., 1994), ISBN 0-7509-1505-6.
A. Room: Dictionary of British Place Names (1988), ISBN 1 85605 1775.
A.D. Mills: A Dictionary of English Place-Names (Oxford University Press, 1991, revised 1995), ISBN 0-19-869156-4.
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