Researching the Woodleys of Appledore

John and Elizabeth Woodley

I am excited to learn more about the Woodley family that I recently discovered using records from the GRO. (See this article for more information about the “GRO PDF Pilot“). I have dubbed this family the Woodleys of Appledore. Here are a few insights I have gained into this little family.

The household consists of John H. Woodley, his wife Elizabeth (Jarman) Woodley, and their children. Originally from South Wales, the family moved to North Wales in about 1880. John was a mariner in the Royal Navy which meant long absences from home. He doesn’t appear with the family in most Censuses, for example. His wife, Elizabeth was the daughter of my ancestor, William Vinicombe Jarman. She is listed as a school mistress in the 1881 census.

The success story for the birth record I received from the GRO was for their son, Sydney Leopold Woodley. From the birth record I learned he was born in 1873 in “the School House in Bickington.” Another son, Samuel Percy Woodley was born in Appledore, Devon, in 1881. In fact, the birth record lists the residence as Bude Street, Appledore. We will explore this in a bit.

Where is Appledore?

Appledore is a small port city in North Devon. Because it is located in the United Kingdom I highly recommend looking it up on the great resource from known as England and Wales Jurisdictions 1851. Keep in mind that these contain jurisdiction information as of 1851. The family of interest here spans a period of about 1860-1910. Some changes may have occurred, but it is a good starting place.

I do a search for “Appledore,” and choose “Appledore, Devon from the list. It then zooms in to that jurisdiction on the map and gives me some options. I quickly learn that Appledore is an ecclesiastical parish created in 1841. If I want to learn more I can click on the “Jurisdictions” tab for more useful information. Here is a table showing the relationship of Appledore to other types of jurisdictions. Of particular interest to me is the Civil Registration District of “Bideford.” This is where I would need to look for birth or death records.

Place: Appledore
County: Devon
Civil Registration District: Bideford
Probate Court: Court of the Bishop (Consistory) of the Archdeaconry of Barnstaple
Diocese: Exeter
Rural Deanery: Hartland
Poor Law Union: Bideford
Hundred: Shebbear
Province: Canterbury

Appledore Parish, Devon

Google Street View

I love seeing places in Google Street View wherever possible. (For a detailed explanation of how to do this, read this article.). Searching for Appledore in Google Maps is easy. After searching, I explore the area and see that it is located at the convergence of two rivers near the northern coast of Devon. It is just a short distance from the Bristol Channel.

Appledore is 3 miles north of Bideford. This is the Civil Registration District it is part of. It is a small village and contains the North Devon Maritime Museum.

Next comes the magic. Remember that the birth record for Samuel Percy indicated that the family resided on “Bude Street?” Well Bude Street is quite easy to find. I drop the pegman on the end of Bude Street and begin my virtual tour. I love the quaint, well-kept row houses and shops throughout the town. If I turn around from the view shown here, I can head down to the waterfront. I imagine a short walk for John when he returned from sea to be with his family.


I have loved learning more about the Woodleys of Appledore. This journey has been a reminder that there is a lot of wonderful information you can discover from records besides just names and dates! It can be very fulfilling to put together a story of the individual or family by incorporating occupations, residences, and moves from one place to another.

Share your experience researching a family place in the comments below.


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