Branscombe Project © 2009-2022

The Branscombe Project

Branscombe Diaspora


If you look through the old parish registers or census returns, or wander round the graveyard, you’ll find family names that lasted for over a century – Bartletts, Perrys, Dowells, Deans, Frenchs, Gushs, Northcotts, Piles, Pikes, Wards, to name just a few. Nowadays these families have all gone. There are a few exceptions – a couple of Dowells, a Cox, a few hidden below a different surname (Betty Rowson was a Somers; Eileen Carpenter a Northcott; Jean Brimson a Perryman; Ivor Dowell’s mother was a Dean; John Bass’s a French; Sid Sweetland’s wife a Gosling; and Bill Carpenter & Frank Adlam are both members of the Ward clan) - but that’s all.


People left the parish for many reasons. Branscombe was never a rich village and opportunities to ‘get on’ were few and far between. By the nineteenth century – and earlier as well – people left to seek work, or maybe they’d got a girl in trouble, run up debts, or run foul of ‘important’ people within the community.  Some, no doubt, went out of a spirit of adventure. By the mid nineteenth century, with the railways opening up, and mines and factories, London, Manchester, and South Wales were favoured locations. But some went much further afield, to the States and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and South Africa. And it is these people that we would like to track.

We’ve combed through our oral history transcripts, added details from the Parish Registers and Census Returns, as well as other stray references. We intend to trace the names of some of the ships on which the emigrants sailed.


Now it’s over to you - when a person disappears abroad from the parish, no record tells us where they have gone to. If you know of anyone who left Branscombe to live in another country in the past, please contact us by email and we will add your stories to the website.


Now read on to find out about the following families...Collier, Bromfield, Dean, Dowell, Gush, Rendell (Rendel/Randle/Rendell), Spiller, Newton, Northcott, Pile, Ward, Williams