SDFHS Projects

The Somerset & Dorset Family History Society has a number of official Projects which aim to collect, transcribe and make available data which will be of assistance to members and other researchers engaged in studies of family history. The Society's volunteers can search our databases for you. 

Some of these Projects have been ongoing for many years transcribing records which are then entered into the Society's searchable databases for baptisms (Somerset only), marriages, burials, monumental inscriptions and pedigrees (all covering both counties), while others have only recently been initiated.

Now that so much of the 'basic' data for genealogical research is readily available on-line, the Society is starting to concentrate on collecting and publishing information from less well-known sources, such as cast lists, school records, sports team lists, etc which can provide a rich source of previously untapped data for both Somerset and Dorset.

We would welcome suggestions for new projects, especially if you would be willing, and able to undertake the research yourself. Please contact us if you would like to help with any of the current Projects, or suggest a new one. 

Indexes to the Parish files held at our Family History Centre:  Somerset   Dorset

Summary of SDFHS Datasets

If there is a live blue link, you can click on this to download indexes, and access further information.

Somerset Baptisms

At present this dataset, which is work in progress, only covers parts of Somerset (no Dorset parishes are included). The first baptism is 1538 and the latest 1996, but the majority cover the period approximately 1700-1812. Very few of the parishes are complete and the parishes transcribed are dotted about over Somerset. 

Somerset & Dorset Marriages

The Dorset Marriage Index is a computerised dataset of marriages which took place in the old county of Dorset, between 1538 and 1837. The Somerset Marriage Index is divided into two parts: pre-1754 and 1754-1837.

Somerset & Dorset Burials

The bulk of the Society's database comprises details of Burials transcribed by members from the Parish Registers of the two counties. This is an ongoing project and new data is regularly being added.

Monumental Inscriptions

Monumental Inscriptions are transcriptions taken from gravestones, tombs, plaques and war memorials and they provide useful information for family history research. You can download lists of Somerset & Dorset Parishes/Cemeteries transcribed to date and an index to names on Dorset Monumental Inscriptions.


The Society holds more than 3,500 sets of documents donated by members and others. The collection, which is continually increasing, consists mainly of pedigrees and family trees, but also includes some copies of deeds and indentures, lists of names extracted from parish registers, a few wills and some family histories and biographical notes. You can download an index to the Pedigrees we currently hold.

Sherborne Pageant Participants

In 1905, to mark 1,200 years since the founding of the town, Sherborne staged a historical pageant, which involved around 900 local people. Our project is researching the particpants and you can download a list of all those who took part and detailed biographical profiles of many of them.

Sherborne Rate Books 

This is a joint project with Sherborne Museum to transcribe the local rate books in the Museum's collection.

The Somerset & Dorset Photographic Project

This a searchable database of photographs of named people from Somerset and Dorset.

One Name Studies

'One Name' studies are projects which aim to research all occurrences of a surname and, as such, have a much broader reach than our two counties of Somerset & Dorset. If you wish to pursue all occurrences of one surname, then you should consider joining the  The Guild of One Name Studies. The SDFHS Library and Archive does, however, contain 'one name' material which has been donated to us, and where the names in question are very strongly associated with either Somerset or Dorset, then we encourage further research into those names. We currently have two 'one name' studies.

The Ridout/Rideout Project

The Hardy Project


Have you lost an ancestor? Try an enquiry to the Strays Index.  A Stray is an event (e.g. baptism, marriage, census entry, newspaper reference) which takes place outside the county or area where the person usually lived or was born. Over 69,000 entries now in the database and being constantly added to. Surnames are also added from a slip index as they are requested. All surnames A to Q inclusive are already in the database.

Database Search

The Society's volunteers can search any of all of our databases for you. For details of research charges see here.