Place:Bristol, England

TypeUnitary authority
Coordinates51.45°N 2.58°W
Located inEngland     (1996 - )
Also located inAvon, England     (1974 - 1996)
See alsoBristol, Gloucestershire, Englandprincipal city on which the unitary authority is based, abolished 1974
Contained Places
Inhabited place
Redland ( 1996 - )
Shirehampton ( 1996 - )
Stoke Bishop ( 1996 - )
Westbury on Trym ( 1996 - )
Henbury ( 1996 - )
Westbury on Trym ( 1996 - )
Registration district
Bristol (post 1996) Registration District ( 1996 - )
Avonmouth ( 1996 - )
Bishopston ( 1996 - )
Bristol St. George ( 1996 - )
Clifton ( 1996 - )
Henbury ( 1996 - )
Henleaze ( 1996 - )
Redland ( 1996 - )
Shirehampton ( 1996 - )
Stapleton ( 1996 - )
Westbury on Trym ( 1996 - )
Urban district
Bristol St. George ( 1996 - )
Stapleton ( 1996 - )

NOTE: This page deals with the modern, unitary authority of Bristol. For the original city whose governing body was abolished in 1974, see Bristol.

the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Bristol, England is a unitary authority and ceremonial county in southwest England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009. It is England's sixth and the United Kingdom's eighth most populous city, and by far the largest city in the southwest of the country.

Bristol was established as a unitary authority independent of any county in 1996 when the short-lived County of Avon, made up of the original Bristol and surrounding parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset was abolished.


Bristol is unusual in having been a city with county status since medieval times. The city first received a Royal Charter in 1155 and was granted County status in 1373. From the 13th century, for half a millennium, it ranked amongst the top three English cities on the basis of tax receipts, with only London, York and Norwich in the top echelon. The Industrial Revolution in the latter part of the 18th century brought Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester into play.

The city is built around the River Avon, and has a short coastline on the Severn Estuary, which flows into the much-wider Bristol Channel.

The county was expanded to include suburbs such as Clifton in 1835, and it was named a county borough in 1889, when the term was first introduced. At this point many more parishes surrounding the borough were absorbed into it.

Bristol is the largest centre of culture, employment and education in the region. Its prosperity has been linked with the sea since its earliest days. The commercial Port of Bristol was originally in the city centre before being moved to the Severn Estuary at Avonmouth and the Royal Portbury Dock on the opposite side of the River Avon on the western boundary of the city. In more recent years the economy has depended on the creative media, electronics and aerospace industries, and the city centre docks have been regenerated as a centre of heritage and culture.

Research Tips

  • Bristol Archives is where paper and microfilm copies of all records for Bristol and its environs are stored.

Online sources which may also be helpful:

  • Three maps on the A Vision of Britain through Time website illustrate the changes in political boundaries over the period 1830-1945. All have expanding scales and on the second and third this facility is sufficient that individual parishes can be inspected (except in the immediate Bristol area--for Bristol, see English Jurisdictions).
  • Gloucestershire Hundreds as drawn in 1832. This map was prepared before The Great Reform Act of that year. Note the polling places and representation of the various parts of the county.
  • Gloucestershire in 1900, an Ordnance Survey map showing rural districts, the boundaries of the larger towns, the smaller civil parishes of the time, and some hamlets and villages in each parish
  • Gloucestershire in 1943, an Ordnance Survey map showing the rural districts after the changes to their structure in the 1930s
  • A Vision of Britain through Time has a group of pages of statistical facts for almost every parish in the county
  • GENUKI gives pointers to other archive sources as well as providing some details on each parish. The emphasis here is on ecclesiastical parishes (useful before 1837)
  • A listing of all the Registration Districts in England and Wales since their introduction in 1837 and tables of the parishes that were part of each district and the time period covered with detailed notes on changes of parish name, mergers, etc. The compiler has gone to a lot of work to provide this material. Respect his copyright.
  • The FamilySearch Wiki for Gloucestershire provides a similar but not identical series of webpages to that provided by GENUKI
  • English Jurisdictions, a supplementary website to FamilySearch outlining local parish boundaries in the middle on the 19th century. The information provided is especially useful for establishing the locations of ecclesiastical parishes in large towns and cathedral cities, as well as changes in their dedications (names). Very useful for Bristol.
  • The Church Crawler has a website of photos and histories of English Churches with emphasis on Bristol.
  • Unfortunately, the Victoria County History series provided by the website British History Online only provides information on Gloucestershire Churches in this part of the county. More general information on the Bristol and South Gloucestershire area is sadly omitted.
  • Ancestry UK has recently added Gloucestershire Burials, 1813-1988; Confirmations, 1834-1913; Baptisms, 1813-1913; Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1813; and Marriages and Banns, 1754-1938. (entry dated 1 Aug 2015)
  • Ancestry has also now updated Bristol, England, Select Church of England Parish Registers, 1720-1933 (entry dated 14 Mar 2016)