The Somerset Record Society exists to make record sources for the study of Somerset history available in printed form. The Society has been preserving, promoting and making accessible the written heritage of the county of Somerset since 1886. These volumes have been heavily used and widely cited by scholars, and sets are maintained in major libraries all over the world. The Society remains the only entirely dedicated organisation to publish the written heritage of the ancient county. Somerset’s archival history contains a wealth of unique material which the Society has been making more widely accessible for over a century.

The Society developed from the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society who had themselves been established over thirty years earlier. The first Council of the Record Society consisted of the Bishop Edmund Hobhouse, F.H. Dickinson, E.A. Freeman, E. Green, Revd. W. Hunt, with the Revd. J.A. Bennett acting as Hon. Secretary. It was Bishop Hobhouse who edited the first volume being a Calendar of the Register of John de Drokensford, Bishop of Bath and Wells, which was published in 1887. The membership was £1 1s and many philanthropists donated extra funds to secure the future of the society. The Right Hon. Lord Carlingford of Chewton Mendip gave £10, Bishop Hobhouse himself gave £7, with P.P. Bouverie of Brymore House, Revd. J.J. Moss of Lydford and H.G. Moysey of Bathealton Court all giving £5 each.

Bishop Hobhouse

The membership currently stands at just over 250.   It includes most of the major history libraries in the English-speaking world, as well as many leading national and university libraries in other countries.   However most members are individuals:  historians and supporters of the history of Somerset who support the Society because of their sense of the importance of its work.   We welcome new members and no formal qualification or nomination is needed.

The Society is a registered charity. The Chairman of the Society is Mr Gerard Leighton, Dr Robert Dunning, MA, PhD , FSA and Dr. A. Butcher, are the joint Hon. General Editors and Mr David Bromwich, Hon. Secretary and Treasurer. They are supported by the Council who include archivists, historians and editors of the society’s volumes. 

The Society has published over 90 volumes across many different fields of record keeping, including Quarter Sessions, Glastonbury Abbey, probate courts, topographic maps, correspondence, diaries, bishops’ registers, feet of fines, and many more. Recent volumes (that are still in print and available from the Hon. Secretary) include: Wells property records; A list of Monmouth Rebels; 16th century Subsidy returns for the County of Somerset; Sir Stephen Glynne’s church notes for Somerset; Somerset Wills and Probate records; Elizabethan visitation and Quarter Sessions records; Letters of the Trevelyan family; The Diary of John Allen Giles. For a full list of volumes click here.

The Society is administered by Mr David Bromwich, Hon. Secretary and Treasurer, Somerset Record Society, c/o Somerset Heritage Centre, Brunel Way, Norton Fitzwarren, Taunton, TA2 6SF, telephone +44 (0)1823 680197. Please note that we are unable to answer general questions about family history, which should be addressed to the Somerset Heritage Centre itself and/or Somerset and Dorset Family History Society as appropriate. Editors give their services free, but the Society depends on the support provided by members’ subscriptions to spread the high cost of printing and to enable the series to continue.

The Annual General Meeting is held at a different venue each year. The venue is carefully chosen to have a connection to either the publication of a recent volume, or a volume in preparation, or at an archive of Somerset interest. The AGM is usually held in October.

Our work depends largely upon the income from members' subscriptions of £10 per annum.

Associate membership is available at £1 to others in a full member’s household. These rates include all dispatch costs and entitle a member to annual volumes. A new member may backdate to any recent year so as to obtain all volumes from then to the current year.

All that is needed to join the Society is to send name, address and the first years subscription to the Somerset Record Society, c/o Somerset Heritage Centre, Brunel Way, Norton Fitzwarren, Taunton, TA2 6SF. The Society is a registered charity and can reclaim income tax on subscriptions from members who are taxpayers and who complete a gift aid declaration as well. For further information or to obtain an application form to join the Society please click here.

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