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Genealogy and Leicestershire, England

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Map showing where Leicestershire is
Click on the map to see a larger map of Leicestershire

Contents

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Introduction

This page is devoted to the county of Leicestershire, England, and covers the origin of its name, an outline of its history and geography, links to other web sites concerned with the county, genealogical resources relating to the county and the same types of information in more detail for those cities, towns and villages in the county in which I have a family history interest. In doing this, it is not my intention to duplicate unnecessarily, nor to compete with, web pages which already do some of those things, but to complement such pages and provide links to them, with appropriate description of what they have to offer.

Some of the genealogy pages on this site contain no data whatever at present. To save you frustration I have marked links to such pages with the symbol NO. Such pages do, however, always provide a means for you to obtain an automatic email when I do put something potentially useful on it, so you may well feel it is still worth following the link.

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Origins of the Name

Recorded on a document of 1087 as Lægreceastrescir, the county takes its name from that of the city of Leicester, referred to as Ligera Ceaster in a document of 917AD. The origin of the first part of the latter's name, "Lei-", is not certain. The last part "-cester" shows the town developed on the site of a former Roman station (Old English ceaster. The most likely origin of the first part is that it comes from the name given to the people who lived in the area.

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Geography

Leicestershire is a very average English county, placed in more or less the centre of the country, with just below average population and area, and slightly above average population density (based on Whitaker's Almanack for 1923, with reference to the geographic county). It consists almost entirely of the valley of the River Soar, a tributary of the River Trent, with sparsely populated rolling hills to the east (rising to about 500 feet above sea level) and the hills of the (now largely treeless) Charnwood Forest to the west. The highest point is Bardon Hill (912 feet), in the north-west of the county. Geologically, most of the county is New Red Sandstone, but with some of Britain's oldest surface rocks, Precambrian gritstone, in the Charnwood Forest area.

Much of the county is agricultural, and is famous for its pigs (and Melton Mowbray pork pies!) and its dairy products (including Stilton cheese). However, it has long been a prime centre for manufacture of hosiery and footwear, while its local small coalfield and iron ore helped in the development of a thriving engineering industry.

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History

The major events of history largely passed Leicestershire by, the only famous incident being the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, when Henry Tudor founded his dynasty by defeating Richard III not far from Market Bosworth. There was some action during the Civil War at Belvoir Castle in the north-east of the county, which was held for most of the war by the royalists, and no doubt there were much earlier skirmishes as Celts, Romans, Saxons and Danes succeeded one another.

The city of Leicester was the site of a Celtic settlement and later was the Roman town of Ratae. For a time it was the capital of the Saxon Kingdom of Mercia. The county later became a part of the Danelaw, but, strangely, was largely unaffected by the Normans. No doubt its relatively peaceful history has made a major contribution to the prosperity of the area.

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Web Pages about Leicestershire

Of general interest for many aspects of life in Leicestershire is the large Leicestershire County Council web site.

A local newspaper site is the Leicester Mercury.

The Leicestershire Villages site gives information about every parish in the county, with links to other sites where they exist.

Three independent web sites about the county are About Leicestershire, The Quorndon Magazine county directory and Go Leicestershire.

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Genealogical Resources for Leicestershire

As with other counties, the most important place to look first for information is the GENUKI web site, where considerable information can be found about the county, its parishes and the various resources which are available.

The Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland is at:
Long Street,
Wigston Magna,
LEICESTER,
LE18 2AH.
Telephone: (+44)(0)116 257 1080

Additional material on many Leicestershire towns and villages, as well as census records and parish registers for the city, can be found in the Local Studies Collection of Leicester City Council's Reference and Information Library at:
Bishop Street,
LEICESTER,
LE1 6AA.

The Leicestershire & Rutland Family History Society web site gives details of its meetings, publications and library facilites.

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Some Places in Leicestershire

To appear in this section a town or village has to meet a number of criteria. First, it has to be of family history interest to me; in other words, one or more of my or my wife's ancestors lived there. Second, I must have, or have access to, the appropriate information to be able to set up the page. Third, I must have managed to find the time to do it. Finally, if I am aware that it has already been done by someone else, all that will be found here is a link to that other site.

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.

Dadlington

Church of St. James the Greater, Dadlington There is some evidence (but I'd like confirmation) that my great great great great great great great great great grandfather Humphrey (ap) Jasper was curate of Dadlington for a short time up to 1613, at which time he was certainly curate of neighbouring Stoke Golding. The photo on the left (click on it for a larger image, 129,333 bytes) shows the little Church of St. James the Greater. According to the blue signboard outside the church, it dates from the early 12th century. It also tells us that the decisive Battle of Bosworth in 1485 (when Henry Tudor defeated Richard III) took place within the parish.

There is an informative web site about the parish at http://www.tmj.homechoice.co.uk/ which gives more photos and information about the church, the history of the village and of the Battle of Bosworth.

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Hinckley

St. Mary's Church, Hinckley St. Mary's Church, Hinckley My great great great great great great great great great great grandfather Jasper (ap) Gruffyth was vicar of Hinckley in 1607 and presumably for some time before and after that date. He probably also died here. He was born, however, in Guilsfield, Montgomeryshire. The two pictures on the left show St. Mary's Church (click on each for a larger image, 135,748 and 324,815 bytes respectively).

 

 

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Stoke Golding

St. Margaret of Antioch Church, Stoke Golding St. Margaret of Antioch Church, Stoke Golding The photos on the left (click on each image for a larger picture, 347,546 and 276,997 bytes respectively) show views of St. Margaret of Antioch Church. My great great great great great great great great great grandfather Humphrey (ap) Jasper was curate of Stoke Golding, according to the church records, from 1607 to 1634. However, the records of South Cerney in Gloucestershire show he was vicar there from 1633 to his death in 1662. Like his father, he was born in Guilsfield, Montgomeryshire (in his case in 1577).

Humphrey married local girl Joanne Mabell, daughter of Amias Mabell. They had at least two children, my ancestor Humphrey (born 1627) and Basil (born early in 1642 and died in March that year).

The village maintains its own excellent web site with many photos, information about village history and much else.

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Surnames of interest to me

As indicated in the place comments above, the surnames of my ancestors in Leicestershire are:
GRUFFYTH(S)/GRIFFITHS,
MABELL (sometimes called ABEL) and variants, and
JASPER.

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Acknowledgements

The following have provided information which I have paraphrased on this page:

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.

J. Whitaker: An Almanack For the Year of Our Lord 1923 (Whitaker, 1922)

C.E.M. Joad (ed): The English Counties (Odhams Press Ltd., 1949 reprint)

J.G. Bartholomew (ed): The Survey Gazetteer of the British Isles, (George Newnes Ltd., 1904)

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