Our Research

The Society has a Bliss Genealogical Data Base (BGDB) and other genealogical material which is available from our Records Secretary. The BGDB includes all Blisses found in the complete Census Series of Blisses in England and Wales 1841 to 1911. We also hold thousands of extracts of Bliss family events from parish registers in many English counties, entries from Trade and Post Office Directories and many other sources. In addition to the BGDB we hold a complete index to Bliss birth registrations in England and Wales 1837-2005 marriage registrations 1837-2005 and deaths 1837-2005.

We also possess the three volume Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America, which the chairman or our North American Secretary will consult for lookups requested by members.

You can find some interesting information on the Bliss name by clicking on “THE BLISS NAME” at the top of this page and in “LISTINGS” there are: 

1. A Calendar of Bliss Marriages in Great Britain to 1575
2. A list of Passengers, Arrivals Overseas and Court Cases.


Tom Bliss, our previous Chairman, has published a book “Homelands of Bliss: the British Origins of American Bliss Families” is now available on Amazon $32.05 (£24.81).


This book is intended to help people in North America with Bliss family ancestry trace their English origins – especially those whose lineage can be traced to the early New England Bliss pioneers. 

The following pages illustrate the subjects covered in the three sections of the book, together with the chapter explaining how Tom examines anomalies and successfully resolves the conflicting claims published on the internet and elsewhere, about the British origins of American Bliss families.

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Over a period of nearly four centuries the Bliss name has spread out of England and around the globe.

It all began with the Portuguese and Spanish discoveries in the New World at the end of the 15th C. The horizons of the people of Western Europe were greatly increased but, for many years, Englishmen could only entertain dim hopes of colonising the new lands across the Atlantic. The power of Spain, backed by a Papal interdict, prevented other nations from attempting to explore and settle in the Americas.



English scholars, scientists, explorers and courtiers formed a lobby to plant a new colony in North America, to be called Virginia, in honour of the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I.

The Queen’s favourite, Sir Walter Raleigh, led the campaign to colonise Virginia. In 1585 an attempt was made to settle colonists at Roanoke Island, off Virginia. Their nerve was broken by a hurricane and they eagerly accepted the offer of a passage back to England from Sir Francis Drake, who was returning from a raiding expedition on Spanish strongholds in the West Indies. Raleigh sent out a second expedition to Roanoke in 1587.

The colonists were abandoned to their doom, when the Queen refused permission for a relieving expedition the following year. This was the year of the Spanish Armada and all ships were commandeered to repel the invasion. The lost colonists were never seen again.

In 1593 RICHARD BLISSE of Hingham, Norfolk, made his will, wistfully declaring his eldest son William his heir- ‘should he return again to this country’. It is tempting to think that WILLIAM BLISSE was one of the lost colonists, particularly as one of the colonists, Ananias Dare, whose daughter Virginia was the first English child to be born in the New World, was also from Norfolk in England.

The English naval triumph over the Armada ensured that, eventually, Englishmen would return to the Americas and they would settle pemanently and prosper. In 1607 the Virginia company sent out 120 colonists to settle at Jamestown. Some sketchy records remain in the Public Records of early Bliss colonists who went to this new land on the Chesapeake Bay.

  • 12 Aug 1620 MOYSES BLISSE was sentenced to transportation to Virginia.
  • 7 Apr 1623 John Blisse, smith, of Newport Mews mentioned in dispatch from Sir Frances Wyatt. First proven Bliss in America.
  • Mar 1655 WILLIAM BLISSE was reprieved from sentence of death at Surrey Assizes and sentenced to transportation.
  • 7 Nov 1655 letters were granted in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury for the estate of MARY BLISSE of Virginia to be administered by her sister Martha, the wife of John Ward.
  • 12 Nov 1657 SUSANNAH BLISSE of Bristol was bound apprentice to John Charles for four years service in Virginia.
  • 16 Jun 1661 JOHN BLISSE yeoman was bound apprentice in Bristol to Richard Greene, mariner, for five years service in Virginia. Perhaps this John Bliss (and a brother?) survived the fevers and dangers of Virginia for:-
  • 20 Sep 1667 Mary Shepheard was bound apprentice in Bristol to JOHN BLISSE for 7 years service in Virginia. And:-
  • 18 Nov 1667 Richard Towsey was bound apprentice in Bristol to THOMAS BLYS for 4 years service in Virginia.
  • 10 May 1667 Captain Thos Busby was granted 1170 acres in Surrey Co. & Charles City Co. …… 650 acres for the transportation of 13 persons including THOMAS BLISS. – Virginia Land Grants Patent Book 6 page 17
  • 3 Apr 1667 Thos Page, Wm. Hodgson & Sam. Weilding granted 3075 acres in Rappa. Co. for transportation of 62 persons including THOMAS LISS. – Virginia Land Grants Patent Book 6 page 47
  • 10 Oct 1672 Robert Moss granted 944 & 1/2 acres in Sittingbourne parish, Rappa Co. ……613 acres for transportation of 16 persons including JOHN BLISS.
  • 26 Oct 1694 Captain John Battaile & Mr. Francis Merriwether 1091 acres deserted and now granted by order. Importation of 22 persons including JOHN BLISS – Cavaliers & Pioneers page 120.

We would welcome any evidence that any of these Virginian Blisses survived and had descendants.

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West Indies

England took possession of the uninhabited island of Barbados, in 1627. Much prized for its sugar production, Barbados became a favourite destination for BLISS colonists.

  • 03.04.1635 Passengers embarked on the ‘Falcon’ of London, commander Mr Thomas Irish, bound from London to Barbados, included OWEN BLISS aged 30. He is the earliest recorded Bliss colonist with a known pedigree. He was baptised at Morley St Botolph, Norfolk, 4th Nov 1604, the son of Owen and Mary Bliss, yeoman.
  • 13.01.1661 Apprenticed in Bristol to Henry Bankes mariner to serve 4 years in Barbados JOHN BLISSE yeoman.
  • Christened at St Peters All Saints, Barbados 25.03.1678-29.09.1679 MARY BLISSE & DOROTHY BLISSE.
  • From list of soldiers under command of Lt/col Sam Tidcomb 11.11.1679 Barbados GEORGE BLISSE SNR, GEORGE BLISSE JNR
  • From list of soldiers under command of maj. Wm Foster Barbados Jan 1679/80 WILLIAM BLISE
  • From list of soldiers taken this 31.12.? belonging to capt. Giles Hall (presumably taken about the same time as the other two lists) WILLIAM BLISS.
  • List of Barbados Inhabitants 1715 Smith MSS vol I
  • MARGRIT BLISS aged 17 St Andrews parish
  • JOHN BLISS family of 1 man 1 woman St Lucys parish.
  • JOHN BLISS aged 35 St Peter All Saints, wife aged 37, 3 sons aged 12,11,2 & daughter aged 16 -12 Oct 1715.
  • Barbados Wills 1681-1720
  • Proved 06.05.1690 Will of JOHN BLISS of St Peter’s All Saints parish signed (x) wife PHYLLIS children THOMAS, JOHN & SARAH BLISS.
  • Proved 28.11.1694 Will of John Kenn of St Lucy’s parish. Named in Will: brothers GEORGE & JOHN BLISS also SARAH BLISS.
  • Proved 20.03.1700/1 Will of Maudlin Hall widow of St Peter’s All Saints parish. THOMAS BLISS (witness)
  • Proved 17.02.1703/4 Will of Sarah Wells widow of St Peter’s All Saints parish. Named in will: SARAH BLISS spinster (goddaughter)
  • Proved 22.01.1712/13 Will of Ann Thomas widow of St Peter’s parish. JAMES BLISS (witness)
  • Proved 08.06.1716 Will of Phyllis Richardson widow of St Peter’s parish. Named in will: THOMAS BLISS (son).
  • Proved 19.10.1719 Will of William Murphy, Planter, of St Lucy’s parish, Barbados. Named in will KATHERINE BLISS (Murphy’s sister) & GEORGE BLISS (brother in law).

Blisses can be found in the records of Barbados throughout the 18thC but we have no knowledge of Bliss inhabitants thereafter.

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New England

The settlement of New England, as everybody knows, began with the voyage of the Mayflower and the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts Nov 11th 1620. The future of New England was not however fully secured until Governor John Winthrop led his fleet of well provisioned pioneers into Boston Bay in 1630.

England was riven by political and religious dissention in those years. There was also widespread economic hardship and thousands began to cross the seas in search of a new and better life. About the year 1638 three Bliss families emigrated to Boston. The story of these three pioneer families and their many American descendants is told in the ‘Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America’ published privately by Aaron Tyler Bliss in 1982. The Bliss FHS recommends all American Bliss family history researchers to consult the above publication if possible. We are willing to do look ups for anyone unable to locate ‘The Genealogy’.

One widespread and completely erroneous idea about the English roots of Thomas Bliss of Hartford, Connecticut should be laid to rest. The false genealogy is becoming ever more widely spread by the power of the internet and the trust still placed in the veracity of a hired researcher in Victorian times.


These are the first generations of the three Bliss pioneers in New England.

  • THOMAS BLISS of Hartford Connecticut was probably a native of Co. Gloucester, England and we now think he lived his adult life prior to emigrating in the City of Gloucester. First wife? Margaret wife of Thomas Blisse was buried 4 Jun 1621 at St Nicholas church in Gloucester. Thomas had children by his first marriage to Margaret (maidenname unknown) THOMAS born c 1618 ANN born c 1620. Sarah christened 23 Ap 1620 at St Nicholas.Thomas then married Margaret Hulins of Rodborough at Gloucester St Nicholas 18th Oct 1621. Their son Nathaniel was baptised at Rodborough 28th Dec 1622. Other children by Margaret Hulins were MARY born c 1625 LAWRENCE born c 1628 HANNAH born c 1633 JOHN born c 1635 Samuel christened 4 Feb 1637/8 St Mary de Crypt, Gloucester, HESTER & ELIZABETH twins born c 1640 (Hartford?).
  • THOMAS BLISS blacksmith of Rehoboth, Mass., son of JOHN of Preston Parva, Co. Northants. Married 22 Nov 1614 at Daventry, Co. Northants. DOROTHY WHEATLEY. Children: ELIZABETH bap Daventry 19 Sep 1615 MARY bap Daventry 16 Mar 1617 JANE bap Daventry 14 Jan 1618 (buried 16 Sep 1621) JOHN bap Daventry 21 Nov 1620 (died?) MARTHA bap Daventry 8 Dec 1622 (Note Martha not Nathaniel!) THOMAS bap Daventry 19 Sep 1624 (buried 14 Aug 1628) JONATHAN bap Daventry 2 Apl 1626. Dorothy died and was buried 10th May 1631. Thomas remarried Abigail Southam Feb 1632/3. They had two children but both died and were buried at Daventry. It is not known if Thomas Bliss was accompanied by his second wife when he left for Boston MA c1638 but an Abigail Bliss, blind, was buried at Holy Cross, Daventry 6th Oct 1681.
  • GEORGE BLISS blacksmith of Newport, Rhode Island, son of JOHN of Preston Parva, Co. Northants and brother of Thomas of Rehoboth. Married 30 May 1635 at Daventry ANN SHAW. One son JOHN born c 1645 (Sandwich Mass.)

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United States

  • Circa 1822 JOHN BLISS, carpenter & sons JOHN EDWARD & WILLIAM SAMUEL emigrated to New York City. John was the son of John & Sarah (nee Pluckwell) of Rochester, Co. Kent.
  • Circa 1835 ROBERT BLISS & wife MARY ANN, nee Dallett who was born in Pennsylvania, emigrated to Westchester and Elizabeth, New Jersey. Robert was born 16 May 1802, the son of William Bliss of Chipping Norton, Co. Oxford. For a time he managed the Bliss Woollen Mills which afterwards became famous for the production of Bliss tweed.
  • 1836/7 JOSEPH BLISS & wife LUCY, nee Warwick, emigrated to unknown State. Joseph was son of Richard & Elizabeth (nee Chambers) of Farthingstone, Northants.
  • Late 1853 THOMAS BLISS with wife ELIZABETH, nee Chapman, & son GEORGE EPHRAIM emigrated to Ballston, NY state with brother:
  • Late 1853 PETER BLISS & wife ANN, nee Townley. Thomas and Peter were sons of Thomas and Ann (nee Aspland) Bliss of Upwell, Co. Cambs and their earlier genealogy may be found in Blissful Times.

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Little is known about early Bliss settlers in Canada. Several Loyalist Blisses crossed over from the new USA after the Revolutionary war (or the war of American Independence as we know it in Britain). We welcome information about other Bliss arrivals in Canada.

  • WILLIAM BLISS arrived 1748/9 at unknown place.
  • DANIEL BLISS ex Harvard and Concord Mass. was a Loyalist and attained the rank of colonel in the British army. He became a member of the New Brunswick Council 1784
  • JONATHAN BLISS ex Harvard Mass. was a Loyalist who became the first Attorney General of New Brunswick 1784.
  • JOHN BLISS was a Loyalist trooper disbanded after receiving rations at Port Hampton 1802.
  • WILLIAM BLISS aged 2 died at Grosse Isle Immigrant Hospital, Quebec 1834.
  • JOHN BLISS tailor of Bugbrooke, Co. Northants & wife RHODA, nee Billings, emigrated to Pennsylvania circa 1841/2 , thence to New York and eventually resided at Queensville, Ontario.
  • JAMES BLISS arrived Quebec 17 May 1856 from Hull, England. He was the only son of James & Mary (Vicars) Bliss of Upwell, Cambridgeshire, England. He finally settled at Buttonville, Ontario. His earlier pedigree maybe found in Blissful Times.

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  • JOHN BLISS a victualler of Stoke Goldington Co. Bucks convicted for forging banknotes was transported from Portsmouth to Colus, NSW on board the ‘Admiral Gambier’ 2nd Jul 1808. John was pardoned and was buried at sea 23 Nov 1817 off the Cape of Good Hope on his homeward voyage.
  • ELIZABETH BLISS 19 convicted Aug 1809 at Gloucester Assizes was sentenced to 7 years transportation and arrived in NSW on board the ‘Canada’ 23 Mar 1810.
  • GEORGE BLISS farm labourer of Co. Kent , convicted for theft of meat at Maidstone Sessions, was transported on board the ‘Parkfield’ to NSW 1839. He married Sarah Ann Furrill 1850 at Yass NSW where they had numerous children.
  • JOHN BLISS son of Moses and Sarah of Rochester Kent arrived at Armidale, NSW 1852.
  • GEORGE BLISS 29 & wife LOUISA 32 with daughter LOUISA 2 on board the ‘Earl of Charlemont’ from Liverpool bound for Sidney. Shipwrecked off Barwon Heads Victoria 18 Jun 1853. John was baptised at Balscott, Co. Oxford, the son of John & Elizabeth Bliss. The family probably settled at Balmain NSW.
  • Arrivals in Victoria:
    • JOHN BLISS & wife SARAH ANN, nee Christmas, arrived 6 Apl 1853 at Port Philip Bay on board the ‘Confiance’ with daughter CONFIANCE who was born on voyage. John was the son of Robert & Elizabeth (White) Bliss of Tydd St Mary, Co. Lincoln. His earlier pedigee may be found in Blissful Times.
    • JOHN BLISS 31 arrived in Victoria on board the ‘Lady McNaghten’ May 1853.
    • THEODORE BLISS 20 arrived Victoria on board the ‘Royal George’ Nov 1855.
    • ALFRED BLISS 17 arrived Victoria aboard the ‘Mermaid’ Aug 1857.
    • JOHN BLISS 34 arrived Victoria on board the ‘Kent’ Oct 1857
  • Arrivals in New South Wales:
    • On board the Fairlie 1848:
      • JOHN BLISS 28 brick & tilemaker born Potterspury Co. Northants & wife SARAH 28 dressmaker, nee Horner, born Dudley Co. Warwicks with children JOHN 2 born Yardley Gobion, Northants and GEORGE born Potterspury.
      • THOMAS BLISS 26 brick & tilemaker born Potterspury & wife LOUISA 30 lacemaker, nee Sharon, born Yardley Gobion.
    • On board the Hydasfies 1852:
      • HENRY BLISS 27 stonemason born Hoxton? Co. Middlesex & wife MARY ANN 27 with daughter HYDASFIES ELIZA BLISS born on voyage.
    • On board the ‘New Britain’ 1857:
      • JOB BLISS 20.
    • On board the Pericles 1877:
      • ISAAC BLISS 24 born Middlesex Arrival at Moreton Bay, Brisbane
    • On board the Erato 1878:
      • GEORGE BLISS 29 clothier born Northampton & wife SOPHIA born Lincolnshire.

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New Zealand

  • JESSIE REBECCA BLISS 21 left Plymouth on board the ‘Piako’ for New Zealand 1877.

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