New Records: Court of Sewers

If your ancestors had connections with Gloucestershire’s coastal parishes from Slimbridge to Shirehampton between 1583 and 1642 you will be interested in these newly published records.

Rose Hewlett’s edited transcription of the records associated with land drainage and sea defence along the Severn Estuary’s east bank contains more than 600 surnames plus variants. The people (male and female) come from all walks of life, and a large proportion can be identified to their tithing or parish. You may even be able to discover exactly where they lived and the fields they owned or rented.

The Gloucestershire Court of Sewers 1583-1642 has been published by the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society as volume 35 of the Gloucestershire Record Series. It has proved so popular among family and local historians that a paperback edition is now available at £15 plus p&p from Rose: More details can be found at including a link to Rose’s Gloucester History Festival talk, ‘Defending Gloucestershire’s Coast’.

Sewers, in this instance, are watercourses. This wonderful resource brings a somewhat neglected record-set to life. A glossary of the unusual terminology and a comprehensive introduction to the court of sewers ensure that everyone’s place in these records can be understood. The book makes a great companion to John Smyth’s Men and Armour of 1608 which lists those deemed fit to serve by tithing, and gives their approximate age, stature and occupation (see:

Gloucestershire’s Court of Sewers records form an extensive collection, mainly catalogued under D272 at Gloucestershire Archives.