Matters genealogical

This blog post began as a result of an email from Lizzy.

Dear Sirs

I wonder if could help me. My husband’s Great Uncle was the Reverend Harry Sanders born 1863 in Budleigh Salterton in Devon.  He spent most of his adult years in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.  He was a very prominent gentleman. I have just recently found he died in Fiddington House in Market Lavington in September 1929.

First of all we can confirm that what Lizzy says is correct. This is the probate record for Harry – not held at the museum but available on line.


Sadly, we can’t help all that much but maybe it is time to say what we can do easily and why there may be problems at other times.

We’ll start with the Fiddington area. The whole area was once an outpost belonging to the parish of West Lavington. Prior to the 1870s, therefore, parish and census records for Fiddington are with those for West Lavington. Census records can be a tad confused afterwards for people who had never moved house might say, quite rightly, that they were born in West Lavington but now live in Market Lavington. At much the same time the parish of Easterton was created and included parts of Fiddington it all adds to confusion.

Fiddington House itself was a mental hospital, privately run as a profit making venture. At times it was very much a retirement home for the elderly gentry who had some kind of nervous disorder. To protect the identity of such unfortunate folks, some censuses only give their initials which makes tracing them very hard.

However, when the Reverend Harry Sanders died Fiddington was well and truly in Market Lavington and may well have been taking ‘county’ patients as well as those with plenty of cash.

We looked to see if Harry Sanders had been buried in Market Lavington. We have fairly complete lists for the churchyard and can assert with reasonable confidence that he is not buried there. The other burial ground, still in use in the village is the Drove Lane Cemetery. This started life as a non-conformist burial ground. Sadly, we have no records but we have photographed many of the graves and we find no Harry Sanders on any of them.

But Harry Sanders was a Baptist minister so he could have found his final resting place at the almost forgotten Baptist burial ground which is behind the present fish and chip shop. No trace of it having been a burial ground seems to survive.

There is a fourth burial ground but it would have been out of use by the time of Harry’s death. This is attached to the former Quaker chapel at the Fiddington end of High Street.

Our best bet is that Harry was returned to his home town of Trowbridge for burial.

When it comes to genealogy we have:

Church baptism records for Market Lavington and Easterton

Access to census data

Marriage records for Market Lavington up to 1812

Church burial records for Market Lavington

A few electoral registers for Market Lavington between 1926 and the 1980s

Directories or extracts from them covering the mid 1800s to mid 1900s. Two directories one in the 1950s and one in the 1960s lists every head of house in Market Lavington and Easterton

We also, of course, have a wealth of local knowledge.

Above all, we are always keen to help people who make enquiries.



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