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Guide to East Dereham, Norfolk ancestry, family history, and genealogy: parish registers, transcripts, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.

East Dereham, Norfolk
Type Ancient Parish
Civil Jurisdictions
Hundred Launditch; Mitford
County Norfolk
Poor Law Union Mitford and Launditch
Registration District Mitford
Records begin
Parish registers: 1538
Bishop's Transcripts: 1698
Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions
Rural Deanery Hingham
Diocese Norwich
Province Canterbury
Legal Jurisdictions
Probate Court Court of the Archdeaconry of Norfolk
Location of Archive
Norfolk Record Office


Parish History

DEREHAM, EAST (St. Nicholas), a market-town and parish, in the union of Mitford and Launditch, hundred of Mitford, W. division of Norfolk, 16 miles (W. N. W.) from Norwich.[1]

East Dereham St Nicholas is an Ancient Parish in the Hingham Deanery of the Diocese of Norwich. There is a large detached bell tower in addition to the church tower.
It is believed that Dereham's name derives from a deer park that existed in the area, although it is known that the town pre-dates the Saxon era. Saint Withburga, the youngest daughter of Anna, King of the East Angles, founded a monastery there in the Seventh century after seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary. Many of the town's ancient buildings were destroyed in the serious fires that took place in 1581 and 1659. Notable buildings that survived the fire include the Church of Saint Nicholas' and the nearby Bishop Bonner's cottage.
The town lies on the site of a monastery founded by Saint Withburga in the seventh century. A holy well in the town supposedly began to flow when her body was stolen from the town by monks from Ely, who took the remains back to their town.

In the 18th century an attempt was made to turn Dereham into a new Buxton or Bath by building a bath house over Withburga's Well. It was described at the time as a hideous building of brick and plaster and was never popular. In 1880 the local vicar, Reverend Benjamin Armstrong obtained permission to pull the building down. The spring was then protected by iron railings, but fell out of use and became choked with weeds. Since 1950, however, it has been kept clear of weeds—although the railings still prevent access to the waters.

Close examination of the Withburga story will cast doubt on Dereham being the location of the Saint's abode and resting place. The legend states that monks from Ely came 'up the river' at night and stole her body, taking it back to Ely to rest with her sisters, who were already considered saints. A look at a map will prove this to be an impossibility as there is no river connecting Ely with Dereham, although it is possible to navigate a river from Ely to West Dereham.

Until proved otherwise, Dereham continues to be considered the site of Withburga's home and violated grave.


Civil Registration

Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from July 1837 to the present day. The civil registration article tells more about these records. There are several Internet sites with name lists or indexes. A popular site is FreeBMD.

  • Mitford 1837-1938
  • East Dereham 1939-1974

Church records

East Dereham, Norfolk Genealogy parish registers of christenings, marriages and burials are available online for the following years:

FMP = Norfolk Parish Registers Browse (findmypast) - (£)[2]
FREG = FreeREG - free[3]
FS ATs = England, Norfolk Archdeacon's Transcripts, 1600-1812 (FamilySearch) - free[4]
FS BTs = England, Norfolk, Bishop's Transcripts, 1685-1941 (FamilySearch) - free[5]
FS PRs = England, Norfolk, Parish Registers, 1538-1900 (FamilySearch) - free[6]
JOIN = The Joiner Marriage Index - (£)[7]
NBI = National Burial Index (findmypast) - (£)[8]
NTA = Norfolk Transcription Archive - free[9]
TIN = Tinstaafl Transcripts - free[10]
East Dereham, Norfolk Genealogy Online Parish Records


Indexes Images Indexes Images Indexes Images
FMP 1679-1883 1679-1934 1679-1908
FREG 1679-1902
FS ATs 1725-1812 1725-1812 1725-1812
FS BTs Undefined Undefined Undefined Undefined Undefined Undefined
FS PRs Undefined 1679-1934 Undefined 1679-1934 Undefined 1679-1934
To 1837


NTA 1771-1811
TIN 1813-1880

Norfolk Record Office reference PD 86

Census records

Census records from 1841 to 1911 are available online. For access, see England Census Records and Indexes Online. Census records from 1841 to 1891 are also available on film through a Family History Center or at the Family History Library. The first film number is 438863.


Perry, Edmund G. Goulty and the Nelson Connection. History and family tree of Richard Goulty and Ann surname unknown, and Edmund Nelson and Mary nee Bland, with the following surnames, Wallis, Sharp, Fletcher and Suckling. Dates cover 1703-1839, and the article is in The Norfolk Ancestor. vol. 6 pt. 3, pages 178-179, Family History Library Ref. 942.61 B2j new series. v.6. pt.3 (Sept 2009)

Glass, Valerie. James Mallett of the Brig James and Eleanor. Story of one of the crew, James Mallett of the Brig, James and Eleanor, who married Ann Davis, from Blyth, in 1853, photo included. History of James parents, and Christopher Mallett and Elizabeth Stebbing. Article includes the following surnames: Coe, Davis, and from Yaxham, Blakeney, Yaxham, East Dereham, and is dated from 1846-1990. Article in Northumberland Family History Society Journal, vol. 36no.4. winter 2011, pages 12-15, Family History Library Ref. 942.8 B2jo v,36, no.4.

Poor Law Unions

Mitford and Launditch Link

Records of the Mitford and Launditch Poor Law Union1776-1948
Norfolk Record Office C/GP 14
Extent 137 pieces
The following parishes comprised the 1836 union: Bawdeswell, Beeston, Beetley, Billingford, East Bilney, Bintry, Brisley, Bylaugh, Colkirk, Cranworth, East Dereham, Great Dunham, Little Dunham, North Elmham, Elsing, Foxley, Great Fransham, Little Fransham, Garvestone, Gately, Gressenhall, Guist, Hardingham, Hockering, Hoe, Horningtoft, Kempstone, Letton, East Lexham, West Lexham, Litcham, Longham, Lyng, Mattishall, Mattishall Burgh, Mileham, Oxwick with Pattesley, Reymerstone, Rougham, Scarning, Shipdham, Southburgh, Sparham, Stanfield, Swanton Morley, Thuxton, Tittleshall, East Tuddenham, North Tuddenham, Twyford, Weasenham All Saints, Weasenham St Peter, Wellingham, Wendling, Westfield, Whinburgh, Whissonsett, Wood Rising, Worthing, Yaxham.
All fifty parishes of Mitford and Launditch Hundreds were incorporated in 1775 under the terms of An act for the better relief and employment of the poor within the hundreds of Mitford and Launditch, 15 Geo. III, cap. 59. In 1801 the parish of East Dereham separated from the Incorporation, but in 1836 all fifty original parishes plus ten from Eynesford Hundred joined together in a new union. The House of Industry belonging to the old incorporation, built at Gressenhall in 1776-1777, was repaired and altered in 1836 to become the new Union Workhouse. Mitford and Launditch Union Board of Guardians was replaced by Guardians Committee No. 10 in 1930.

Norfolk Poor Law Unions

Probate records

Records of wills, administrations, inventories, indexes, etc. were filed by the court with jurisdiction over this parish. Go to Norfolk Probate Records to find the name of the court having primary jurisdiction. Scroll down in the article to the section Court Jurisdictions by Parish.

Maps and Gazetteers

Maps are a visual look at the locations in England. Gazetteers contain brief summaries about a place.



  1. Samuel A. Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of England(1848), pp. 32-46. Date accessed: 19 September 2013.
  2. 'Norfolk Parish Registers Browse', findmypast, accessed 31 July 2015.
  3. 'Norfolk Coverage', FreeREG, accessed 22 February 2014.
  4. 'England, Norfolk Archdeacon's Transcripts, 1600-1812,' FamilySearch, accessed 22 March 2014.
  5. 'England, Norfolk, Bishop's Transcripts, 1685-1941', FamilySearch, accessed 22 March 2014.
  6. 'England, Norfolk, Parish Registers (County Record Office), 1538-1900', FamilySearch, accessed 17 March 2014.
  7. 'Norfolk Coverage,' The Joiner Marriage Index, accessed 8 February 2014.
  8. 'National Burial Index - Norfolk Coverage,' findmypast (WayBack Machine), accessed 16 April 2014.
  9. Norfolk Transcription Archive, accessed 14 April 2014.
  10. 'Norfolk Baptism Project 1813 to 1880,' Tinstaafl Transcripts, accessed 10 April 2014.


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  • This page was last modified on 31 July 2015, at 20:46.
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