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Genealogy and West Harnham, England


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This page is devoted to the village of West Harnham, Wiltshire, England, and covers the origin of its name, an outline of its history and geography and genealogical resources relating to the village. In doing this, it is not my intention to duplicate unnecessarily, nor to compete with, any web pages which already do some of those things (I haven't found any anyway), but to complement such pages and provide links to them, with appropriate description of what they have to offer.

My maternal grandmother grew up in The Old Cottage, and most of her siblings were born there. She also married in St. George's Church, just across the road from the cottage. My mother and at least one of her sisters as children used to visit the cottage for holidays with their grandparents.

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Origins of the Name

The name Harnham was used with that same spelling as early as 1115. It is thought to be derived from either harahamm or harenahamm. Hara is Old English for "hare", while harena is the genitive plural of the same word, meaning "of hares". One authority (A.D. Mills in "A Dictionary of English Place Names") says the hamm part means "enclosure", hence "enclosure frequented by hares". Another (Martyn Whittock in "Wiltshire Place Names") says it means "land in bend of a river", the river here being the Nadder; hence "land in bend of a river frequented by hares".

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As indicated above, West Harnham stands on the south side of the River Nadder in south Wiltshire, adjacent to the water meadows around Salisbury Cathedral. This map (10,382 bytes) shows its location to the south west of Salisbury. The map is a small part of Crocker's 1820s map of the hundreds of Wiltshire. As can be seen, it lies on the north slope of a hill, called Harnham Hill (only the latter word shows on this piece of the map).

The cross marked in West Harnham is St. George's Church, while that in Salisbury is the cathedral. The road through the village, passing to the east and north of the church is Middle Street, while from it and running north east towards Salisbury is a footpath across the water meadows and two river bridges. The road passing just south of the church runs due west to the village of Netherhampton, and is now quite a big, busy road. The bridge immediately north of the main road junction at East Harnham is Harnham Bridge, which carries all traffic leaving Salisbury for points south.

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The earliest evidence of human occupation of the Harnham area that I am aware of is an enclosure with storage pits on Harnham Hill which date from the Iron Age. Pottery from two Iron Age periods were found in the pits.

A few hundred yards from the church is a Saxon cemetery, containing 64 graves (men, women and children), mostly from the early 6th century. Iron weapons, saucer brooches and glass and amber beads were found in the graves, and one male grave contained two saucer brooches, a Roman brooch, an iron knife and gold, silver and bronze rings.

St. George's Church dates from the Norman period, and Harnham Bridge (actually in East Harnham) was built in 1244 by Bishop Bingham to replace an earlier ford. This is revealed in the original name for the bridge "pontem de Aylewad", a mixture of Latin and Saxon meaning "bridge of Aegel's ford". The last syllable "..wad" is from the Saxon waed, an alternative to "ford", literally meaning "wade".

The Old Mill, West Harnham The Old Cottage and Hunter's Cottage, West Harnham Beside the river and the path across the water meadows is an old mill. Its age is not known, but it contains many ancient timbers and Tudor doorways. On the other (east) side of the path, where it meet the road (Middle Street) there stands a pair of picturesque 16th century cottages sharing a single thatched roof, "The Old Cottage" right on the corner and"Hunters Cottage" adjoining it. There are several other old and interesting buildings in the village, making it well worth a visit by tourists attracted by such things.

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St. George's Church

St. George's Church, West Harnham St. George's Church, West Harnham My maternal grandparents were married at the little church (St. George's) just across the road from The Old Cottage where my grandmother lived. These two views of it (74,619 bytes) and (123,716 bytes) were taken 30th December 1997.

The age of the church is apparently not known, but the nave and chancel were both built in Norman times (making it older than nearby Salisbury Cathedral); one chancel window, one nave window, and the north door remain from that period. The remodelled chancel and another nave window are 13th century, and a niche in the chancel contains a late 13th century wall painting in red outline. Also on a wall inside are two carved Flemish panels from the early 16th century. Clearly the church did not suffer over-much from the attentions of Oliver Cromwell's men, but the exterior especially was subject to much restoration in Victorian times, the brick west front and the east wall dating from 1874.

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The Old Cottage

West Harnham cottage Salisbury Cathedral from West Harnham My maternal grandmother moved as a child with her parents to this 16th century thatched cottage (see photo, 41,229 bytes) and remained there until her marriage. It was open to the public in 1981 when I visited it with my sister and our aunt (who used to have holidays there with her grandparents when she was a child). My aunt was able to show the owner a well in the garden which had been the only source of water. The view from the back garden is roughly that shown in Constable's famous painting of Salisbury Cathedral, but just a little more distant (see photo taken 7th July 2007, 48,680 bytes). The cottage is now a "Grade II listed building", which for my non-British readers means it is subject to special legal protection against damage, demolition or any alteration which would significantly change its appearance or character. When I had a look at the end of December 1997 it appeared to be in serious need of maintenance (broken windows, flaking paint, overgrown garden) but still inhabited.

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Genealogical Resources for West Harnham

I understand the registers of St. George's Church date from 1567. I haven't checked, but I assume they are held in the Wiltshire County Record Office, which at the time of writing (July 2007) are in process of being moved from Trowbridge to Chippenham.

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Some Books about Harnham

Sarum Studies series published by Sarum Chronicle includes the following books:

Harnham Mill by Michael Cowan 2008 £4.95

The Harnham Water Meadows by Hadrian Cook, Michael Cowan and TimTatton-Brown 2008 £5.95

Harnham Historical Miscellany edited by Jane Howells 2013 £9.95
The contents list for this last one is:
Introduction. Jane Howells
Harnham: the beginning of the book. Michael Cowan
'Harnham': the place-name and its meaning. Alan Crosby
Medieval Harnham. Tim Tatton-Brown
Harnham Bridge. John Chandler
East Harnham in the Middle Ages. Steven Hobbs
Harnham's Mills. Kenneth Rogers
William Small's Harnham. Ruth Newman
The Miss Warres of Parsonage Farm. William Alexander
East Harnham joins the city. Helen Wilcockson
Harnham Memorial Hall. William Alexander
Schools at West and East Harnham. Jane Howells
Michael Cowan: a profile published on his retirement from the British Association for Local History. David Dymond
Publications by Michael Cowan. Bridget Cowan
Harnham in Wiltshire Record Society volumes. Jane Howells

All the above can be obtained from Jane Howells

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Surnames index

This is an index to the surnames interests listed in detail in the next two sections of this page:-


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Other People Researching Local or Family History in West Harnham

I would be happy to include here details of anyone else who may be researching either their family history in, or the local history of, West Harnham. This can include web site links, email addresses, possibly lists of surnames of interest in the town, and any resources in which you may be willing to do lookups for others (but no commercial advertising). If you would like a mention, please get in touch.

The following have asked to be included so far:


From Deb Hill
LAWES: Jesse Lawes (son of William Lawes and Jane Case and born in Coombe Bissett) married to Jane (?). Together, Jesse and Jane had 9 children, 2 of whom were born in West Harnham. They were William Lawes born 1867 and James Lawes born 1869.


From Brian Wright
HOLLOWAY: My grandparents were George Holloway and Emma (née HARRIS).
The Holloways lived in an old house just the other side of the turning to the old mill from the Old Cottage described above. It`s set back a bit. I stayed there off and on during the war, we also stayed in the old mill after my grandmother died, She was buried in the church there, and also I think my grandfather.


Susan Leake has asked me to put a link to her REBBECK Reunion web site dealing with her REBBECK ancestors who were at one time in West Harnham, as well as James Knight REBBECK who was born in Lockeridge, Wiltshire. In particular, George REBBECK was born at Swan Close (or Court) in 1847.


Bob Tuxford writes:
Seeking all Tuxfords and connecting families, also any Garthons


Pam Curtis writes:
Trying to locate James Naish b. 1770 and his wife Eliza.
His sons were as follows and all lived and worked in the Salisbury area.
Joseph b. 1792
William m Maria Still - was a baker
Harry - Hatter
Samuel b. 1817 m Jemima Doughty of the Shoulder of Mutton Inn in Salisbury
James 1793 m. Louisa Lawrence b. 1805

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Tony Aspeslet writes:

I am researching the families of my grandmother and grandfather; they are:
Edwin Newnham b. Titchfield, Hants August 27, 1851.
He married, Louisa Emma Phillips b. West Harnham, Wilts. April 6, 185?.
She had a sister named Dinah who married George DYER I.O.W.

My grandfather and grandmother had four children Edwin, Frank, Alfred and Ethel Jane (my mother) who emigrated to Canada in 1918.

I do not know the date of their marriage. At sometime during their life they moved to Shalford, Surrey, He was a gardener at an estate called Lochner Holt.
My grandfather died in 1915 and was buried in a church just outside this estate. My grandmother died in 1939 and we think is was in Red Hill, Surrey.

Louisa Emma Phillips's father was William Phillips, born about 1804, possibly in West Harnham. He married MARY WEEKS. She was born about 1817 in Charlton, and died Before 1871.

I am unable at this time to find out anything about Edwin Newman's parents. Any help or ideas would be appreciated.


Nicole Descottes is trying to establish if this couple are her ancestors:

Jacob GUYER married Mary POPE on 9 Mar 1716 West Harnham, Wilts, England.

In her database she has:

Jacob GWYER (born abt 1691-place unknown; died 26 Sep 1757 Downton) married Mary ______( b. abt 1696 place unknown; died 17 Mar 1777 Downton) about 1716/1717 also place unknown.

There is nothing in the IGI Index to indicate that the couple were married in Downton nor are the children born & baptised in Downton, so, to determine if this is the same couple she needs to know the names of the respective parents plus the children & their birthdates of Jacob GUYER & Mary Pope.


Darren Standen writes:

My wife is trying to trace her grandfather's history (Charles Henry Crabbe). Unfortunately we know very little as he was killed in S.E Asia during WW2. We do know however that his wife and the three children went to live in west harnham as this is on his death note from the war graves commission.

My wife's grandmother's name was Amy Crabb and she lived in West Harnham in 1943. We think that maybe his parents home was there and she came to Britain from Malaya in 1942.

If anyone can help it would be wonderful as the only history we have is that her grandfather worked for the Asian brewing company Fraser and Neaves pre world war two but he is English and did come from the Salisbury area.


Yvonne Henderson writes:

I am from Australia. I am trying to trace my G.G.Grandfather's early life. His parents were William & Ann (née Bell) Lewis. My G.G.Grandfather's name was John Robert Lewis and he was born in 1832 at West Harnham, Wiltshire, England.

She has more recently added that she would like to know if there are any people related to the Lewis family still around the district,and if they would be interested in helping with the family records.


Peter Hardy writes:

I am interested in finding out more about my ancestors who lived in Harnham. So far I have the following information:

My great grandfather was James Sanger born 1838 and married to Sarah Sanger born 1836 (maiden name as yet unknown) The 1881 census shows them living at Harnham Road with children Ann, Harriet and Henry. (Henry was my grandfather). I believe at this time James was producing Tallow at the Old Mill. Certainly the 1901 census shows him as being a "Tallow Melter" and now living at Harcourt Bridge Road with his wife. By this time they were 62 and 64 years of age.

Meanwhile, the same 1901 census shows my grandfather Henry Sanger born 1870 married to Emma Sanger (née Carnell) also born 1870 living at 68 Badwin Street (Bedwyn Street ??) Salisbury with their 6 children. He is listed as being a Currier (apparently "somebody who curries leather").

A family birth certificate for 1915 shows Henry as now being a "Tallow Chandler" and living at 39 Wyndham Road Salisbury -I believe he took over at Harnham Mill when great grandfather retired. Certainly I remember my Father saying that they weren't always looked on too favourably in Salisbury due to the awful smell that the bone crushing mill produced.

I would be grateful if anyone can shed further light on things -Is there any published information about Harnham Mill maybe?


John Bragg of Calgary, Alberta, Canada writes:

I strongly believe that my great-great grandfather was born in West Harnham in 1805 and emigrated to Newfoundland. The marriage records of Greenspond, Newfoundland indicate that Charles Bragg, my great-great grandfather, was married there in 1840 and he listed himself as being from Salisbury. After an exhaustive search in Trowbridge in 1999 I finally found a family of Bragg's in West Harnham through a marriage of John Bragg and Jane Kite in 1793 in west Harnham parish.

It has been very difficult finding Bragg's of recent in Salisbury, let alone from West Harnham. Would you happen to know of any currently in the area?


Gary Colquhoun writes:

I am descended from a family of Kites who lived in West Harnham from at least the 1st half of the 18th century. Robert (1718-1801) and Jean Kite (1724-1791) had 2 children that I know of in West Harnham, Jean (b.1742) and Robert (b.1749). Jean seems to have married out of the village, but Robert raised a family in West Harnham - Robert, John, Martha, and Nicholas, and possibly also Jane Kite who married John Bragg in West Harnham in 1793. The family continued living in West Harnham into the 2nd half of the 19th century - my great grandmother Louisa (b.1832) moved to Bristol, married James Slade and emigrated to Australia in 1865. However, Kites continued living around the area - in Fisherton Anger in particular.

Anyone interested in sharing information about the Kites please contact me.


Sandy Horne writes:

My grandmother was NELLIE VICTORIA DOWNER and her birth certificate states that she was born on 30 October 1891 at West Harnham. (I remember her telling me that she was born within sight of the Salisbury Cathedral.) She was the daughter of EDWIN DOWNER and SARAH JANE DOWNER née COX. Edwin Downer was listed as a farm labourer however in the 1881 census he is listed as a "Drowner" (something I had to look up - very interesting!). The informant was her sister, EDITH DOWNER. Other (more recent) records show my grandmother's birthplace to be Netherhampton. The Downer family lived at 1 Whickers Building, West Harnham. I'd be very interested in learning where, exactly, this building is - or was, if it no longer exists. My grandmother died in 1973.

My grandmother worked at the Wilton Carpet Factory and I believe some of the Downer family lived at Quidhampton.

Nellie married Australian soldier GEORGE SMILEY right after WWI and moved to Queensland, Australia. They were married in 1919 at St. John's Church, Bemerton which I understand is near Salisbury. George's father was born at Milton, England. I believe there is some family connection with the LIGHT family of Salisbury also.

One day I hope to visit and see these places for myself. Also to follow my grandfather's footsteps in the war in France.


Toni Philipoom writes:

William Charles BOWYER was born in Bristol in 1801. On 4th December 1823 in the Parish of Britford, he married Mary Anne DREW. William and Mary's child Eliza Frances was baptised on 9th January 1825 and their place of abode was listed as HARNHAM.

William was charged with stealing a watch from John Honeywood at Britford in 1827. He was transported to Australia in 1829. By this time Mary Anne had died. I am interested in any information at all but am particularly interested in Mary Anne DREW's Family and what happened to baby Eliza Frances?

I am more than happy to re-reimburse any costs incurred on my behalf.


Sally Rawlings writes:

I am looking for information relating to William Sweetapple who was born in West Harnham in 1820. He was a farm labourer, married to Ann (née Futcher) and was my great, great, great grandfather. We know from the census data that they lived on 'the road leading to the River Nadder'.

[Jim Fisher note: This is presumably the short lane from what is now Middle Street to the Old Mill]


Diane Marcotte writes:

I am searching for information on Emma Sarah Lewis born 31 May 1825 in West Harnham (daughter of William Lewis and Ann Bell). Emma married Job Stephen Sutton, son of John Sutton and Elizabeth Bell. John Sutton is my 3rd Great Grandfather. I'm especially interested in any Sutton relations I may have.


Mervyn Reger writes:

While your attention is West Harnham you may be able to help me with an East Harnham query. My great Grandmother, jane Green migrated to Australia in 1837 under a child migration scheme. She had been in an orphanage. Her mother was Ann Green and there was a sister Elizabeth Green. Jane was baptised at Britford on 23 Sept 1823 along with Emma a daughter of James and Frances Green. It seems likely that Ann and James were brother and sister. Elizabeth was baptised 18 Nov 1827.

Relations named Anne and George Bowns ran the Three Swans Inn at East Harnham. She was formerly Anne Rattue born 1793 in Salisbury. I am trying to find out what happened to Ann Green and /or the Green family and their background. Secondly, as Anne Rattue (Bowns) was a relation where/how the connection existed. If anyone can throw further light here I would be most grateful. Perhaps someone has a Rattue family history researched.


Jemma writes:

I am researching MARTIN Edward b. Cir 1796-1800 West Harnham, Wiltshire, England, who is my GGGGG grandfather, together with his wife TROWBRIDGE Leah b. Cir 18 Nov 1798, Ebbesborne Wake ? West Harnham ?, Wiltshire,  England. d. 31 Oct 1867 West Harnham, Wiltshire,  England.  I am seeking any advice on any additional records to search for their ancestors & life in England or anyone else with knowledge of their below listed descendants.

1.0 MARTIN Edward b. Cir 1796-1800, West Harnham, Wiltshire, England.
TROWBRIDGE Leah b. Cir 18 Nov 1798, Ebbesborne Wake /West Harnham, Wiltshire,  England. d. 31 Oct 1867 West Harnham, Wiltshire,  England.

Their Children:
2.1 MARTIN Phoebe b. 24 Jan 1821, West Harnham, Wiltshire,  England. d. ?
2.2 MARTIN Isaac b. 18 May 1823, West Harnham, Wiltshire,  England. d. 1890, aged 66 years, St Arnaud, Victoria, Australia.
2.3 MARTIN James b. 08 Feb 1826, West Harnham, Wiltshire,  England. d. 1898, aged 72 years, South Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. bur. Nathalia.
2.4 MARTIN Elizabeth b.25 Oct 1828, West Harnham, Wiltshire,  England. d. 1907, aged 78 years, Coburg, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. bur. Nathalia.
 + RATHBONE William  b. Cir 06 May 1821 Whitegate, Cheshire, Wiltshire,  England. d. 1907, aged 85 years, Coburg, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. bur. Nathalia.
   3.1 RATHBONE William Edward b. 1858, Bakery Hill Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, d. 20 Sep 1942, Ryde, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
   + HAW Keturah b. 22 Aug 1861, Amherst or Talbot, Victoria, Australia, d. 4 Jul 1919 "Ormonde" near Tullamore, NSW, Australia.
     4.1 RATHBONE George b. 1889 "Ormonde" near Tullamore, NSW, Australia, d. 1937, Australia.
     4.2 RATHBONE William b. 1890 "Ormonde" near Tullamore, NSW, Australia, d. 1961, Australia.
     4.3 RATHBONE Arthur Rupert b. 1892 "Ormonde" near Tullamore, NSW, Australia, d.1976, Australia.
     4.5 RATHBONE Harry b. 1893 "Ormonde" near Tullamore, NSW, Australia, d. 1917, Palestine. 
     4.6 RATHBONE Florence b. 1895 "Ormonde" near Tullamore, NSW, Australia, d.1984, Australia.
     4.7 RATHBONE Frank b. 1899 Dubbo, NSW, Australia, d.1964, Australia.
     4.8 RATHBONE Elizabeth b. 1904 "Ormonde" near Tullamore, NSW, Australia, d.1905, Australia.

   3.2 RATHBONE Albert b.1860, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, d 1937, aged 77, Nathalia, Victoria, Australia.
   3.3 RATHBONE Leah Ann b.1863, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, d 1952, Forbes, Victoria, Australia. 
   3.4 RATHBONE George b.1872, Amherst, Victoria, Australia, d 1967, Kyabram, Victoria, Australia. 
2.5 MARTIN George b. 21 May 1831, West Harnham, Wiltshire,  England. d. ?
2.6 MARTIN William b. 18 Oct 1833, West Harnham, Wiltshire,  England. d. ? Australia  
2.7 MARTIN Mary Anne b. 07 Aug 1835, West Harnham, Wiltshire,  England. d. ? 
2.8 MARTIN Sarah b. 13 April 1838, West Harnham, Wiltshire,  England. d. ?
2.9 MARTIN Ellen b. 30 April 1844, West Harnham, Wiltshire,  England. d. ?


Joseph Laurel Osgoode writes:

I live in Mississippi in the US. I descend from an Abraham Osgood of Amesbury. He married an Elizabeth Langely-salisbury-St. Thomas parish. Early 18th century. I found a roger and a robert Langely of West Harnham mid 17th century. Might be connected?


Barry Stephen writes:

Seeking any information about Harriet Burrows who married William Wills on 19/2/1802 in Salisbury, St Thomas. In the 1851 Harriet was recorded as age 70 i.e. born around 1781 in West Harnham.

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My West Harnham Surnames

The following surname is of interest to me in this village:

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Genealogy and Wiltshire, England

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