Find your ancestors in Gloucestershire, Bristol Burial Index 1625-1950

Is your ancestor listed among the 176,626 Bristolians in this burial index? The index includes over 60 parishes. Explore the records and discover if your ancestor is buried in South West England. Find out their age at the time of death and their burial date. Found among the records is Scipio Africanus, an African servant brought to Bristol through the slave trade.

Each record includes a transcript of the information found in the original documents. Each transcript can vary in the amount of information included but most will have a combination of the following:

  • Name
  • Age at death
  • Birth date
  • Burial place
  • County and Country

Discover more about these records

The Gloucestershire, Bristol Burial Index includes 176,626 burials from over 60 parishes. Bristol is located in South West England on the rivers Frome and Avon. It is 120 miles west of London. The city prospered from maritime trade. The city traded with France, Portugal, Wales, Ireland and America.

Slave Trade

In the 17th and 18th century many of the city’s merchant class benefitted from the slave trade. In 1698 merchants were given the right to trade slaves. In Bristol, the trade peaked between 1730 and 1745. Bristol was an intricate part of the slave trade and many made fortunes off the exploitation of Africans. During the transportation of the slaves, thousands would die. Bristol was just a stop on the Atlantic triangular slave trade. Not all Africans were sent to America. Some stayed in Britain as slaves or servants. These individuals were often more fortunate than their counterparts working on plantations in the American South, but they were still regarded as little more than pets or property within these grand homes.

Within this burial index we have found the record of Scipio Africanus. Scipio’s grave is one of the few known graves or memorials to a slave (or servant). He has come to represent the lives of thousands of Africans who were exploited in the slave trade. Scipio would not have been the name given to him at birth. Slaves or servants were usually given a new name and as a kind of joke they were given names of Roman emperors. Scipio was named after the Roman general famous for defeating Hannibal.

Scipio died at the age of 18. He worked in the service of Charles William Howard, 7th Earl of Suffolk. It can be interpreted that Scipio was treated well by Howard because of the elaborate head stone and foot stone dedicated to him. Both are painted and the foot stone is inscribed:

I who was Born a PAGAN and a SLAVE

Now sweetly sleep a CHRISTIAN in my Grave

What tho' my hue was dark my SAVIOR'S sight

Shall Change this darkness into radiant Light

Such grace to me my Lord on earth has given

To recommend me to my Lord in heaven

Whose glorious second coming here I wait

With saints and Angels him to celebrate