William Nurse of Chew Stoke (Born ~1675)

6th Great Grandfather – FFFFFFFF1

It appears that my Nurse family ancestors settled in the Hanham Abbots area of Hanham2 towards the end of the eighteenth century, as there is no record of the family living in the parish of Hanham before that time.3 

It can be stated with some confidence that the family moved to Hanham from the north Somerset parish of Compton Dando,4 with a brief stay in the neighboring parish of Keynsham.5 However, where they came from before then is still not completely clear, although it looks very likely that they came from the Chew Magna area.

Early References to Nurses in the Chew Magna Area

There are quite a few references to Nurses in the Chew Magna area in the 16th and 17th century although there is not enough evidence to categorically link any of them.

  • Will. Nures is mentioned as a witness in the will of Agnes Webbe of West Harptree – proved on 10 Apr 1535.6
  • There are several references in the parish register of Chew Magna, including the baptism of Marie, the daughter of Richard Nure on 5 Apr 1587, and the burials of Joane Nurse of Stoke on 19 Nov 1573 and Richarde Nurse on 17 Mar 1597, probably the father of Marie.7

William Nurse of Chew Stoke

While the records are not complete, and where available, are not always legible, a survey of the parish registers in northern Somerset8 reveals that the only references to a Nurse family in the late 17th and early 18th century are to William and Rebecca Nurse of Chew Stoke (sometime part of the parish of Chew Magna).

Figure 1: Map of North Somerset Parishes

William Nurse was married to Rebecca Cox9 in the parish of Norton Malreward on July 1st 1694.10 The parish register notes that both were from Chew Stoke, and the parish register for Chew Stoke reveals the baptisms of three children Robert, John and William, as well as the burial of the eldest child, Robert.11

The reference in the Chew Stoke parish register to the burial of the infant Robert Nurse is interesting as it was an affidavit under the Burial in Woollen Act of 167812.  The reference is as follows:

5 Jan 1695 – Robert Nurse was buried
Rebecca Nurse of Chew Stoke hath made affidavit before Robert Payne Rector of Norton Malreward in the presence of Mary Lassey and Jone Walker for burying in woolen. – January 12 1695

Between 1705 and 1730 the parish register is illegible, but I believe that William and Rebecca had at least one more child and named him Robert as well. It was quite common to name a child after a deceased sibling. There is a reference in the parish register of Long Ashton in 1709 of the baptism of Robert son of William Nurse, and I belief this is William and Rebecca's son . This Robert, moved to Compton Dando in the early 1730’s.  I believe that he is my direct ancestor. In fact it appears that the other two sons also lived at one time in the parish of Compton Dando, as did Rebecca.

Figure 2: The Family of William and Rebecca Nurse

In 1714, William Nurse was buried in Keynsham parish.5 In the burial register he is listed as being “of Chewton”. Chewton is a small village on the road from Keynsham to Compton Dando.  His wife Rebecca was buried in Compton Dando in 1741,3 so she obviously moved to that parish with her sons.

The eldest surviving son William apparently moved to Whitchurch, another neighboring parish, and the parish register reveals that he had 7 children – John (baptized in 1728), William (baptized in 1733), James (baptized in 1735), Sarah (baptized in 1737/8), Robert (baptized in 1739/40), Robert (baptized in 1742/3) and Elizabeth (baptized in 1745).13

One of them, James was also baptized, the week before, in Compton Dando, probably while they were visiting William’s mother, Rebecca, who as mentioned above was probably living in Compton Dando at the time.14

Although people did not travel very far in the early 18th century, this conclusion is still quite reasonable, as the parishes concerned are quite close to each other. As can be seen quite clearly in Figure 1, no single movement between parishes is more than about 5 miles, which is quite a comfortable walk.

The second son John had three children – John (1736) and William (1738) who were both baptized in Compton Dando and Susannah (1733) who was baptized in Publow, a neighbouring parish, to the south east.

It appears from the Compton Dando records that both sons married (John to Elizabeth Wilton in 1757, and William to Ruth Sage in 1761) and had families of their own.

Robert, my direct ancestor, had 7 children, and many of the children had families of their own.  I will tell the story of Robert and Sarah’s family in a future article.

Bibliography and Notes


  1. When showing relationships F means Father, M means Mother. So FFM is my father’s father’s mother.

  2. According to Wikipaedia, “Hanham is a village nearBristol,England*, situated on the A431 between Bristol, Bath and Keynsham”.

  3. Parish Register for the Parish of St. Mary, Bitton, including the chapelries of Hanham and Oldland, 1571 - 1934. Microfiched by the Bristol Record Office, Bristol and Bishop's Transcripts for the Parish of St. Mary, Bitton, including the chapelries of St. George, Hanham and St. Anne, Oldland, 1578-1813. Microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints.

  4. Parish Register for the Parish of Compton Dando Somerset, 1652-1812. Microfiched by the Somerset Record Office, Taunton, and Land Tax Records for the Parish of Compton Dando, Somerset, 1766 – 1831. Microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints, Film No. 1526847.

  5. Parish Register for the Parish of St. John, Keynsham, 1750 - 1807. Microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints, Film No. 1526662.

  6. Wells Wills, Frederick William Weaver, 1890.

  7. Parish Register of Chew Magna 1569-1812. Microfiched by the Somerset Record Office, Taunton.

  8. The parish registers of the following parishes were searched:- Bedminster (from 1722), Brislington (from 1566), Charlcombe (from 1709), Chelwood (from 1720), Chew Magna (from 1686), Chew Stoke (from 1663), Compton Martin (from 1559), Corston (from 1567), Dundry (from 1695), Farmborough (from 1561), High Littleton (from 1599), Kelston (from 1538), Keynsham (from 1629), Long Ashton (from 1558), Nempnet Thrubwell (from 1611), Norton Malreward (from 1666), Pensford (from 1650), Publow (from 1660), Queen Charlton (from 1562), Stanton Drew (from 1607), Weston (from 1538), Whitchurch (from 1617), Winford (from 1695).

  9. The entry in the parish register is not very clear – the first three letters are all that is readable and are either “Deb” or ”Reb”. However, as there are references to William and Rebecca Nurse, it appears that William married Rebecca Cox.

  10. Parish Register of Norton Malreward 1666-1812. Microfiched by the Somerset Record Office, Taunton.

  11. Parish Register of Chew Stoke 1661-1789. Microfiched by the Somerset Record Office, Taunton.

  12. Your Family History, Issue 12 (June 2004), Future Publishing, p24.

  13. Parish Register of St. Nicholas, Whitchurch 1565-1812. Microfiched by the Bristol Record Office, Bristol.

  14. It is not uncommon to find that a child appears to have been baptized more than once, as is the case with James Nurse, who, at least according to the parish registers is baptized in Compton Dando and then again a week later in Whitchurch. It is quite likely that the second occasion is not actually a baptism, but a recording in their home parish of the fact that James Nurse had been baptized.

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