Words can be entered in any combination of upper and lower case; it will make no difference to the search.

Wildcard searching

You can use the asterisk symbol * as a "wildcard" in any part of a word to widen your search and allow you to search for both the singular and plural versions of that term. For example entering manor* will bring up manor, manors, manorial etc

Boolean searching

You can use Boolean searching to narrow your results.

  • + represents Boolean And, meaning the search result must include both words, e.g. marriage + register will bring up all examples where the phrase ‘Marriage register’ has been used in the database.
  • - represents Boolean Not, meaning the search result must exclude the second word, e.g. register-marriage will show all records that mention registers apart from those that also include marriage.
  • | represents Boolean Or, meaning that the search result may include either word, e.g. marriage|register will show all records with the word marriage as well as all records with register in the title or description fields.
  • " ..." represents phrase search. Use of (double) quotes around a search term will return exact matching phrases. For example: "Railway Station" Searches all configured fields only for the exact phrase 'Railway Station' i.e. the two words together with a space between, in the specified order.

Refining advanced search criteria

There are three ways to refine the search option:

  • to search only for records that contain your search terms ('with all words')
  • to search for records which contain at least one, but not necessarily all of your search terms ('with at least one of the words')
  • to exclude from your search certain words or phrases that you are not interested in and that might otherwise be called up by the search criteria that you have chosen ('without the words').

Navigating Search results

The search results are presented as a hitlist in 3 columns:

  • Reference number
  • Title
  • Date

Results can be arranged alpha-numerically by clicking on the column heading. For example, clicking on the heading of the ‘Date’ column will rearrange all results to appear in numerical order according to date (i.e. chronological order), whereas clicking on the heading of the ‘Title’ column will rearrange all results to appear in numerical then alphabetical order (i.e. A-Z, but preceded by any records whose titles start with a number).

If the results extend to more than one page click on Next and Previous to navigate through the pages.

To view further details about a specific record, click on it. Once you are viewing this fuller record description, you can click on the symbol to see the record in an outline (tree) view of the collection to which it belongs.

If you are looking at an individual record and wish to return to the overview list of search results press “Back” on the toolbar at the top of the screen. Alternatively you can click on the words “Search Results” above the full record view. Clicking on "Advanced Search" will allow you to begin a new search.


When you view a full record you will see options to Add, View or Delete Bookmarks.

The bookmark allows you to bookmark or flag a record for viewing later in the same search session.

To bookmark a record, simply click Add Bookmark. If the record already has a bookmark then Delete Bookmark will display instead.

Clicking View Bookmark at any time will list in full record view all records currently bookmarked. This allows the user to review a specific list of records or to print them off.

Navigating through series

If you want to browse through a particular series it is possible to do so by accessing the “Hierarchy Browser”.

Example: If you search for records of the Earl of Radnor you will find they are all prefixed by “1946…” in the reference number field. If you click on the symbol next to any item in the hitlist from that collection you will be able to view the “Hierarchy Browser” for the entire 1946 collection (nearly 2000 records). Clicking on any of the items in the browser list will take you directly to the full record view of that individual item. If you click on "Record" at the top of the “Hierarchy Browser” you will be able to view the full record for the original record once more.

Searching by name, place or subject

Most collections have only been indexed by personal name and place at collection level rather than item level, with the exception of WILLS and other probate records. The latter have also been indexed by occupation. The following formats have been used:

Personal name

Surname, forename(s)

While spellings of names have generally been modernised there may still be many variations of the same name. Therefore please try alternative spellings with wildcards eg ‘Bayl*+Bail*’ to ensure you bring up variations such as ‘Bayly’, ‘Bayley’, ‘Baillie’ etc. Please be aware of the West Country tendency to use ‘Z’ and ‘S’ interchangeably and the swapping of initial letters such as ‘C’ and ‘K’, ‘Ph’ and ‘F’, ‘R’ and ‘Wr’ and so on.

The spelling of forenames has been standardised as much as possible but please note that there are still some variants eg ‘Geoffrey’/’Jeffrey’ where both are acceptable and therefore you may need to search under alternative spellings.


Place has only been used for the wills and for other collections at collection level (as opposed to item level.) The place is based on an authority file, or controlled list, containing farm or house name (where given), hamlet, ecclesiastical parish, town or village and county. If you are unsure about which placename to search under Wiltshire Community History may be of use.

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