For the purposes of this website, ‘Dorset’ means both the historic and modern county. The widest possible interpretation has been used to include deaths that may be useful to researchers.

Lyme Regis is included even though in the nineteenth century, for registration purposes, it fell within the Axminster registration district in Devon.

Bournemouth and Christchurch are also included, for the whole period from 1837, although they did not transfer from Hampshire to Dorset until 1974.

Places such as Stockland, in Devon, are included as they formed part of the exclave of Dorset until 1844. This change resulted from the Counties (Detached Parts) Act (7 & 8 Vict. c. 61). The Act also transferred Holwell and Thornecombe to Dorset from other counties, and deaths in these parishes have also been included even if they took place before the transfer.

If you are planning to donate certificates, but you are unsure whether the locations fit with this wide definition of ‘Dorset’, please send them anyway. They will be included if at all possible.


The Dorset DCI also includes a small number of deaths of individuals in institutions in other counties, but only where it can be proved conclusively that the deceased normally resided in Dorset. Such evidence usually comes from the burial record, rather than the death certificate, and citations are given in the relevant entry on this site (burial registers with a reference beginning ‘PE/…’ are held by the Dorset History Centre.)

These institutions include workhouses, asylums and hospitals. In the nineteenth century, many inmates from Dorset County Asylum were sent to Fisherton Asylum in Wiltshire, and some died there. Likewise, several poor law unions in Dorset – including those at Blandford, Poole, Shaftesbury and Wimborne – sent their sick paupers to Salsibury Infirmary, also in Wiltshire. If those cases ended fatally, the deaths would be registered in Wiltshire rather than Dorset. Paupers from Lyme Regis who died in the workhouse had their deaths registered as taking place in Devon, as their ‘local’ workhouse was at Axminster.