Is anyone familiar with the geography of Dorset?

+6 votes
I wanted do some clean up on the profile of my ggg grandfather Matthias Hayward (Hayward-951) after a recent merge but thought I'd try to find a bit more info on his early life first. I think I've managed to trace him from Newfoundland back to England in the mid-1800's. It looks like he was baptized in Sturminster-Newton, Dorset in 1827 and got married there in 1846. However, a later census record has him living in Poole and being born in Holwell. There don't seem to be signs of his father's family in Sturminster-Newton prior to Matthias and his siblings being born so I suspect this family may have moved around a bit. The problem is I don't know Dorset geography at all and don't have a sense of how far people would have been likely to travel during that time period. Looking at a map helps a little but it's hard to get a sense of scale.

I think I might have found his father, Robert, being baptized in Holwell but Hayward is a far more common surname in Dorset than I'm used to. Are there other towns or villages around there where I should be checking to see if anyone else fits the description? Are Holwell and Sturminster-Newton close enough that Matthias's mother might have gone back there to give birth? Any general advice about researching that area?

WikiTree profile: Matthias Hayward
asked in Genealogy Help by Larissa Hayward G2G6 (9.1k points)
edited by Karen Tobo
Matthias, I edited your question title Dorest -> Dorset to attract the right experts. - Karen
Sturminster-Newton is only about 8 miles from Holwell so someone born in one of those places might easily have been baptised in the other. Poole is approx. 25 - 30 miles from both the other places, my experience of that period is that people often moved around within that sort of radius
That gives me some perspective. Thanks!
I've taken to googling xxxxx to yyyyy how far? Very useful.
I get directions from one place to another on Google maps, I find that very useful.

5 Answers

+3 votes
In 1851, Matchias is living with his wife & family in Market Street, Poole, Dorset. he is noted to be born in Sturminster around 1827 & employed as a Cooper.

Matchias Hayward    24
Anna Hayward    22
Priscilla Hayward    3
Robert Hayward    1

He was indeed born in Sturminster as his christening is noted as 14 Janaury1827, Mathias Hayward, the son of Robert Hayward & Mary.(

This is Mathias with his parents & siblings, living in Sturminster in 1841:

Robert Heyward    45
Mary Heyward    46
Matilda Heyward    20
Robert Heyward    19
Mary Ann Heyward    15
Mathias Heyward    14
answered by R W G2G6 Pilot (257k points)

My apologies. I had been looking at different things with place of birth for both Matthias and Robert and mixed the two up. You are correct. 

I'm still quite curious about the movement of this family though. I've also come across baptism records for the sister Matilda but there are two different listings for the same baptism on FamilySearch. Both give the birth date of June 15, 1919 and a baptism date of July 11. But one says it took place in Shaftesbury ( and the other says Gillingham (

Non conformist records, which relate to a series of Chapels within a circuit.

Looking at the Shaftbury circuit: England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970 for Matilda Hayward (Piece 0466: Shaftesbury Circuit (Wesleyan), 1796-1839). This record image reads:

Born,15 June 1819, baptised 11 July 1819, Matilda Hayward, the daughter of Robert & Mary Hayward of Sturminster Newton.

I am unable  to trace the finite Gillingham image, but I suspect it was the actually Chapel of Baptism. Usually, individual Chapel records were collated into Circuit records. 

Thanks. Where did you find that? Is there a place to look up non-conformist records?
Some non conformist events were further recorded in England, Births, England marriages, Select births etc.

Ancestry UK carries some non conformist records, which is where I found the previous entry. Ancestry also carries the The Shaftesbury & Gillingham entries under Select Births, although I don't have this subscription.

Of interest, Select Marriages  has Matilda's marriage in 1845, Sturminster to Henry Odling.
Good to know. Thanks for your help!
+3 votes

Perfectly possible given that he had a skilled occupation and  the Hayward family in Holwell were farmers.

The dorset OPC is your easiest source for parish records

Googling found this which you may have seen. Unfortunately you had to apply before 15th October 1945 maybe some other relatives mentioned though and there may be some case records somewhere (sorry about the lack of spaces in the cut and paste)


PURSUANT to anOrderoftheChanceryDivision

Of the HighCourt of Justice, England,dated 1stMay


And made in re Robert Hayward deceased(late of Poole,Dorset,who diedon 11thJune1943 )Hames


Whereby the following Inquiry was ordered,


i.An Inquiry who upo nthe death of Robert Hayward becamebeneficially entitled either absolutely or contingently to any property of his as to which he died intestate ............................. ( snip)

NOTE.—Information is particularly sought as to:—

1 .DeathofEdwardHenryShort,bornin184 8at SturminsterNewton,Dorset.


3.DeathofSydneyJosephStrange,bornin1850 ,atSturminsterNewton,Dorset;believedtohave



5.Issue of Matthias and Anna Maria Hayward, nee Rose,marriedi n1846  at Sturminster Newton, Dorset,and believed to have emigrated to Newfound land about 1850

answered by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (191k points)
edited by Helen Ford
Oh now that's interesting! It's curious that they were looking for Matthias's kids that long after he left. There is an old family legend that he left Anna Maria and kidnapped their son when he went to Newfoundland. There's no actual evidence for that but obviously the family didn't know what became of them.
+5 votes

I live in Dorset England if I can be of assistance please contact me.


Ralph Barnes
answered by anonymous G2G1 (1k points)
+2 votes
Karen this is my research area and there are several villages in that area.

My family are from Sturminster Newton and nearby Belchalwell and Okeford Fitzpaine. You may even find some move across the county border in to Wiltshire.

If Anna Maria mentioned in comment was a ROSE then she could be part of the family I am researching as I have ROSE family in Sturminster area.
answered by Hilary Gadsby G2G6 Mach 3 (39.8k points)
edited by Hilary Gadsby
+1 vote
Just as a matter of interest, I grew up on Sherborne Causeway on the A30 2 miles from Shaftesbury. Cherry orchard lane ran up to Shaftesbury the back way. There was a farm there owned by the Hayward family. I lived there from 1958 till 1968
answered by Kathleen Macdonald G2G Rookie (230 points)

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