Hanna Nicholas and Liz James (formerly Hebditch) have been sharing research for many years, being cousins three times over through the HEBDITCH, VAUX  & HARDING families. The families lived in South Petherton or the surrounding villages for at least 400 years, many of whom were non-conformists so do not always appear in the parish registers.  

The surnames we are researching are:-
Axe, Clark, Gifford, Gundry, Harding, Hare, Hazelbrook, Hebditch, Humphr(e)y, Laver, Light, Mantel, Masters, Ostler, Palmer, Terrell, Vaux, Vile, Weare, Wheller, Wines.  

These and other families from South Petherton can be found on Hanna's database on the Rootsweb Worldconnect website and type in the name of the database: hnicholas1

Liz is also researching: Anstice, Beaton, Bishop, Chaffey, Goodland, Judge, Kingwill, Lentell, Lovibond, Robbins, Stark, Savidge, Trenchard, Winslade. 

We have been fortunate in that one of our ancestors, Benjamin Hebditch (1791-1861) compiled a diary and although we do not have the original we have photocopies.  Benjamin lived in the parish of South Petherton in a small hamlet known as Over Stratton where he owned land. Benjamin was a farmer but his ancestors were blacksmiths.

Benjamin Hebditch (1791-1861)- diary


Benjamin Hebditch lived in the South Petherton all his life.  He was born in 1791 and married Sarah Harding.  They had four children - two daughters, Sarah and Anna  who married two brothers, John and Gilbert Vaux. The eldest son, William married Ruth Terrell and the younger son Robert married Jane Daniels.


The diary is in the care of a cousin but a photocopy has been deposited at Taunton Record Office. 


March 12 1818 – Uncle Stephen Gifford’s son Wm Gifford with wife and 6 children, his daughter Elizabeth Lye with husband and 3 children, his grandson James Mathews with his wife Mary Holt, his grand daughter Jesse Warr with a husband Saml Gentle of South Petherton who never spoke to the said Jesse Warr until the Sunday before Wednesday they was married and went off for America the day after, James Stower a wife and 2 children, Lawrence Harding’s son John, Isaac Griffin and family, John Davey Junr a wife and 1 child, John Davey Senior 2 daughters and one more son Samuel Davey.  Many others from our parish went the year before.  Our work man James Wines went to Lyme with Waggon and two horses with their goods and clothes.

10th March 1841 - This day Simeon Male, wife and five children, his brother Thos, wife and 2 children, John Davis, Ann Bunsen and Jos Hart and 3 others left Yeabridge, Stratton and Watergore - together 19 - for Australia.  I drew up papers for several of them who was successful in obtaining money to help them off.

30th March 1841 John Littlejohns sold Mr Wm North his house by Corner Orchard Gate for £110- 0 0 and went to America with his Brother Wm and family, his wife and 8 children and also Jane Humphrey. 

Peter Tutcher of Compton (Durville) with his wife and 8 children and also Wm Vile of Lower Stratton with wife and 5 children left this Parish the 6th day of April 1841 for New Zealand, the Guardians gave Tutcher £4 0 0 and Wm Vile £3 0 0 to help them to London.

 27th May 1842.  Petherton Parish sent off to Van Damans Land 9 or 10 young men – Samuel Bunsen’s brother Harry and Joseph Bartlett’s son Wm were among the number.  Cousin Simeon Hebditch was employed by the Parish to see them in the vessel at London and while there he being very near the Queen who was going to Parliament some Enemy fired at her Simeon hearing the report and immediately ran into Parliament House to give the alarm when all business stopped to find out the offender.

 14th October 1844 – This day I went to Sherborne Pack Monday Fair and Bought a Pair of Pebble Spectacles for 10s 0d and on my return through Montacute every window were illuminated with gas or candle light, canons and guns roaring and the bells at Yeovil, Odcome and Montacute ringing all in consequence of young Mr Phelps being 21 years of age.


South Petherton


South Petherton is a market town, and a parish but also the name of an ancient Hundred and a Manor.

The Hundred of South Petherton included the parishes of:

·         Barrington

·         Chaffcombe

·         Chillington

·         Cricket St Thomas

·         Cudworth

·         Dinnington

·         Dowlish Wake

·         Knowle St Giles

·         Lopen

·         South Petherton

·         Seavington St Mary

·         Seavington St Michael

·         Shepton Beauchamp

·         Wambrook

·         Whitestaunton


The manor of South Petherton was made up of four tythings -

1. Town tithing - 3 irregular streets about the church

2. South Harp tithing (SE) - also sometimes known in the past as Southington or Southapbrigg

3. Over Stratton (SW)

4. Compton Durville (NW)


Look ups

We are in the process of seeking permission from the copyright owners to put on this website transcriptions of the South Petherton Parish registers, manorial records, non-conformist records from the Old Meeting House, Roundwell St Chapel, South Petherton Wesleyan Chapel and Middle Lambrook Chapel. In the meantime if anyone wants simple look ups for a baptism, marriage or burial for a specific person over a short time period, please contact Hanna

Useful links

The South  Petherton Parish website – includes local photos and a History of South Petherton


South Petherton photographs and old maps:


A description of South Petherton in 1868 and Information on family history sources:


Holdings for South Petherton  in the Somerset Record Office:

You can also use their online catalogue to search for documents with your family names (insert name into "Text" box - do not use the other fields which do not work).


Curious Fox - a website of village by village genealogy, family and local history enquiries for Somerset. With nearby village finder, links to old photographs and maps etc:



 If your ancestors ended up in the Workhouse check out this fascinating website: (From 1834 the nearest Workhouse was at Yeovil.)




The Somerset Record Office has a lot of pre 1858 Wills. See their website for more information

Other Wills can be found at the National Archives website

 (As at November 2006 there were 159 Wills from South Petherton, including the surnames Anstice, Baker, Colberd, Edmonds, England, Fort, Gawler, Gundry, Hillard, Latty, Lavor, Ostler, Palmer, Prowse, Sampson, Sandys, Stuckey, Thorne, Vile and Westcott)


Genealogyforum covering villages around Martock at Genealogyhelp:

Census returns for South Petherton:

All census returns can be viewed various commercial websites such as (1881 is free) and Free transcriptions will be available at  - keep checking this link. Alan Swayne is in the process of transcribing the 1841 South Petherton census and other South Petherton records:

If you have anything which will interest other researchers of South Petherton families that you are willing to share, please click on this link to contact Liz

Last updated: 18 November 2006