Eton

(including Eton Wick)

"Eton is situated on the north bank of the Thames, and is connected with Windsor by a bridge across that river. The land lies low, and nowhere reaches a greater height than 75 ft. above ordnance datum. It is on a bed of gravel deposited in the Thames basin clay which overlies the chalk. Besides the Thames the parish is watered by several small streams, of which the largest, Colenorton Brook, flows through Eton Wick, being there known by the name of the Common Ditch, and finally meets the Thames in the north-east of the parish. Eton, with Eton Wick, has an acreage of 778 acres, of which 259 acres are arable land and 465 permanent grass. Of this extent the greater part is included in Eton Wick, which since 1894 has formed a separate civil parish. The remaining 150 acres, which constitutes the parish of Eton proper, is almost entirely occupied by the college and the town, and it is here that the historical interest of the parish mainly centres." [© copyright of the editors of The Victoria Histories of the Counties of England]

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Bibliography

The following reference sources have been used in the construction of this page, and may be referred to for further detail. Most if not all of these volumes are available in the Reference section of the County Library in Aylesbury.

"Buckinghamshire Returns of the Census of Religious Worship 1851", Legg E. ed., 1991, ISBN 0 901198 27 7.
"Magna Britannia: Buckinghamshire", Lysons S. and Lysons D., 1806.
"The Place-Names of Buckinghamshire", Mawer A. and Stenton F.M., 1925.
"The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Buckinghamshire", Page W. ed., 1905-1928

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Census

In 1798 the Posse Comitatus listed 340 men between the ages of 16 and 60 in Eton.

In the earliest government census of 1801, there were 2026 inhabitants in 335 families living in 290 houses recorded in Eton.

Census Year Population of
Eton
Population of
Eton College
Extra Par.
1801* 2026
1811* 2279
1821* 2475
1831* 3232
1841 3526 83
1851 3666 130
1861 3122
1871 3261
1881 3984
1891 2955
1901 3666

* = No names were recorded in census documents from 1801 to 1831.
** = Census documents from 1911 to 2001 are only available in summary form. Names are witheld under the 100 year rule.

Microfilm copies of all census enumerators' notebooks for 1841 to 1891 are held at the Local Studies Libraries at Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, as well as centrally at the PRO. A table of 19th century census headcount by parish is printed in the VCH of Bucks, Vol.2, pp 96-101.

Availability of census transcripts and indexes.

  • 1851 - Full transcripts and indexes for Buckinghamshire are available on CD-ROM, hard copy and microfiche from the Buckinghamshire Family History Society.
  • 1861 - Available on CD-ROM with advanced search and mapping capabilities etc. from the Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society.
  • 1881
    • Available on CD-ROM from the Church of the Latter Day Saints, as part of the National 1881 Census Index.
    • Available on CD-ROM for Buckinghamshire, with advanced search and mapping capabilities etc. from Drake Software.
  • 1891 - Available on CD-ROM with advanced search and mapping capabilities etc. from the Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society.

Churches

You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Eton area or see them printed on a map.

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Church Records

Eton

The original copies of the parish registers for St John the Evangelist, Eton have been deposited in the Buckinghamshire Record Office in Aylesbury, and they hold the following years:

Event Dates covered
Christenings 1598 - 1927
Marriages 1603 - 1967
Burials 1603 - 1938

Eton Wick

The original copies of the parish registers for St John the Baptist, Eton Wick have been deposited in the Buckinghamshire Record Office in Aylesbury, and they hold the following years:

Event Dates covered
Marriages 1899 - 1960
Banns 1897 - 1936

An ecclesiastical census was carried out throughout England on 30 March 1851 to record the attendance at all places of worship. These returns are in the Buckinghamshire Record Office and have been published by the Buckinghamshire Record Society (vol 27). The returns for Eton showed the following numbers:

Church Attendance
Eton, Eton College Church 130 - Morning General Congregation

180 - Afternoon General Congregation

Eton (Upton), The Collegiate
Church of the Royal College
700-800 - Morning Total

700-800 - Afternoon Total

Eton, Chapel of Ease
High Street
300 - Morning General Congregation
158 - Morning Sunday Scholars
458 - Morning Total

250 - Afternoon General Congregation
158 - Afternoon Sunday Scholars
408 - Afternoon Total

300 - Evening General Congregation
300 - Evening Total

Eton, a school room licensed
for divine service Eton Wick
80 - Evening General Congregation
28 - Evening Sunday Scholars
Eton, Eton Wick Independent
or Congregational
25 - Afternoon General Congregation
25 - Afternoon Total
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Description and Travel

You can see pictures of Eton which are provided by:

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Gazetteers

Ask for a calculation of the distance from Eton to another place.

Click here for a list of nearby places.

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Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Eton has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.

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History

Eton was described in 1806 in "Magna Britannia" as follows:

ETON, in the hundred of Stoke and deanery of Burnham, is seperated from Windsor, in Berkshire, by the river Thames, being 22 miles distant from London: it is chiefly noted for its college, founded by King Henry VI. in the year 1440, for a provost, ten priests, four clerks, six choristers, twenty-five poor grammar-scholars, and twenty-five poor men. Henry Sever was the first provost; his successor was William Waynfleet, founder of Magdalen College, in Oxford. This foundation was particularly excepted in the act of dissolution of colleges and chantries, in the reign of King Edward VI. Its establishment, however, has been somewhat altered, and it consists now of a provost, seven fellows, two school-masters, two conducts, seven clerks, seventy scholars, and ten choristers, besides inferior officers and servants. The annual election of scholars to King's College, in Cambridge, founded by the same monarch, takes place about the end of July, or the beginning of August, when twelve of the head boys are put on the roll to succeed at King's College, as vacancies happen. The average number of vacancies is about nine in two years: at 19 years of age the scholars are superannuated. Eton College sends two scholars to Merton College, in Oxford, where they are denominated post-masters, and has a few exhibitions of 21 guineas each, for its superannuated scholars, towards whose assistance Mr. Chamberlayne, a late fellow, has bequeathed an estate of 80 l. per annum after the death of his widow. The scholars elected to King's College succeed to fellowships at three years standing. The independent scholars at Eton, commonly called Oppidans, are very numerous, this school having been long ranked among the first public seminaries in this or any other country. The average number of independent scholars, for some years past, has been from 300 to 350: when Dr. Barnard was master, under whom the school was more flourishing perhaps than at any other period, the number at one time exceeded 520. To enumerate all the Etonians who have become eminent in the republic of letters, or have distinguished themselves as lawyers, statesmen, or divines, would be no easy task. From Harwood's Alumni Etonenses, which is confined to such scholars as have been on the foundation, may be collected, among others, the names of bishop Fleetwood, bishop Pearson, the learned John Hales, Dr. Stanhope, Sir Robert Walpole, and the late Earl Camden. Among such celebrated characters as have received their education at Eton, but not on the foundation, more immediately occur to notice the names of Outred the mathmatician, Boyle the philosopher, [Footnoe: Boyle was offered the provostship, but declined accepting it; upon which Waller was actually appointed, but the chancellor refused to set his seal to the appointment, it being contrary to the Statutes (although there had been several precedents for it) that a layman should hold the office.] Waller the poet, the late Earl of Chatham, Horace, Earl of Orford, Gray, West, and the late learned Jacob Bryant. A considerable number of literary characters of the present day, as well as of those who are highly distinguished in public life, have received their education at this celebrated seminary of learning.

Before we dismiss the subject of Eton School, the ancient custom of the procession of the scholars ad montem may be thought not undeserving of notice. This procession is made every third year on Whit-Tuesday, to a tumulus near the Bath road, which has acquired the name of Salt-hill, by which also the neighbouring inns have been long known. The chief object of the celebrity is to collect money for salt, as the phrase is, from all persons present, and it is exacted even from passengers travelling the road. The scholars who collect the money are called salt-bearers, and are dressed in rich silk habits. Tickets inscribed with some motto, [Footnote: one of the most appropriate perhaps was "Mopros lege".] by way of pass-word, are given to such persons as have already paid for salt, as a security from any further demands..

This ceremony has been frequently honoured with the presence of his majesty and the royal family, whose liberal contributions, added to those of many of the nobility and others, who have been educated at Eton, and purposely attend the meeting, have so far augmented the collections, that it has been known to amount to more than 800 l. The sum so collected is given to the senior scholar who is going off to Cambridge, for his support at the university. It would be in vain perhaps to endeavour to trace the origin of all the circumstances of this singular custom, particularly that of collecting money for salt, which has been in use from time immemorial. The procession itself seems to have been coeval with the foundation of the college, and it has been conjectured with much probability, that it was that of the bairn or boy-bishop [Footnote: This part of the ceremony has been supposed by some to have originated from an ancient practice among the friars of selling consecrated salt.]. We have been informed, that originally it took place on the 6th December, the festival of St. Nicholas the patron of children; being the day on which it was customary at Salisbury, and in other places where the ceremony was observed, to elect the boy-bishop, from among the children belonging to the cathedral [Footnote: This mock dignity lasted till Innocents day; during the intermediate time the boy performed various episcopal functions, and if it happened that he died before it was expired, he was buried with the same ceremonials which were used at the funeral of a bishop]. In the voluminous collections relating to antiquities bequeathed by Mr. Cole, (who was himself of Eton and King's College,) to the British Museum, is a note, in which it is asserted, that the ceremony of the bairn, or boy-bishop, was to be observed by charter, and that Geoffrey Blythe, bishop of Litchfield, who died in 1530, bequeathed several ornaments to King's College and Eton, for the dress of the bairn-bishop. From whence the industrious antiquary procured this information, which if correct would end all conjecture on the subject, does not appear [Correction/Addition at the end of Magna Britannia states "It is probable that Mr. Cole had mistaken the Will of Archbishop Rotheram, (by which ornaments were bequeathed to the college at Rotheram, for the use of the bairn-bishop,) for that of Bishop Blythe."]. We cannot learn that there are any documents in support of it at King's College or at Eton, and the prerogative court of Canterbury, as well as the registries of the dioceses of London, Chester, and Litchfield, where alone there is any probability of its being registered, have been searched in vain for bishop Blythe's will. Within the memory of persons now living, it was part of the ceremony at the montem, that a boy dressed in a clerical habit, with a wig, should read prayers. The custom of hunting a ram, by the Eton scholars, on Saturday in the election week, supposed to have been an ancient tenure, was abolished by the late provost, Dr. Cooke.

Eton College consists of two quadrangles. In the first is the school, the chapel, and lodgings for the masters and scholars. The other is occupied by the library, the provost's lodgings, and the apartments of the fellows. The chapel, as far as relates to its external appearance, is a very handsome Gothic structure; the inside has none of that ornamental architecture, so much admired in King's College chapel at Cambridge, to which this has sometimes been compared, but is quite plain, and has been much disfigured by some injudicious alterations, which were made in the beginning of the last century, when several of the old monuments were removed, and others concealed behind the wainscot then placed at the east end, by which also was hid a Gothic altarpiece, of stone, enriched with niches. The whole length of the chapel is 175 feet, including the ante-chapel, which is 62 feet in length. Among the eminent persons who lie buried in this chapel, are Richard Lord Grey of Wilton, Henchman to King Henry VIII.; John Longland, bishop of Lincoln, confessor to that monarch; Sir Henry Saville, the learned warden of Merton, and provost of this college, who founded the Savillian professorships of astronomy and geometry at Oxford; Sir Henry Wotton, an eminent ambassador and statesman, who was also provost of Eton; Francis Rowse, a distinguished writer among the puritans, and one of the lords of Cromwell's upper-house, who died provost of Eton in 1658; Dr. Allestree, provost of Eton, (an eminent royalist,) who built the new or upper school, with the cloisters beneath, at the expence of 1500 l. and died in 1680; and Nathaniel Ingelo, who died in 1683. The monuments of some of the above-mentioned persons are not now to be seen. Sir Henry Wotton's tomb has the following singular inscription:

 

"Hic jacet hujus sententiæ primus auctor -
Disputandi pruritus sit ecclesiarum scabies."
"Nomen alias quære."

Dr. Ingelo was author of a romance, called Bentevolio and Urania, which is alluded to in the following singular passage of his epitaph. - "Cujus stylus, dum dramate pietatem ad Christi morem suaviter insinuat, an ingeniosus an patheticus sit magis, vicissim acriter et diu contenditur; quâ lite nondum sopitâ, feliciter quiescit autor eruditus beatam præstolans resurrectionem, donec decisionis dies supremus illuxerit." In the ante-chapel is a statue of the founder, by Bacon, erected in 1786, the sum of 600 l. having been bequeathed for that purpose, by the Rev. Edward Betham, fellow of the college, who died in 1783; and a monument of the young earl of Waldegrave, who was drowned when at Eton school in 1794. In the school-yard is another statue of the founder in bronze, erected at the expence of Provost Godolphin. In the cemetery belonging to the college is the tomb of the learned John Hales.

The library of Eton College contains a very large and valuable collection of books, having been from time to time enriched by munificent bequests, particularly by the library of Dr. Waddington, bishop of Chester, consisting chiefly of divinity; that of Mr. Mann, master of the charter-house; that of Richard Topham esq. formerly keeper of his Majesty's records in the Tower, chiefly remarkable for its fine edition of the Classics; and that of the late Anthony Storer esq. containing a great number of early printed and rare books, in various departments of literature, a fine set of Aldus's, and many scarce editions of the Classics, particularly a very rare copy of Macrobius, and a large collection of engraved portraits and other valuable prints, exclusive of what had been bound up at a great expence, with various historical and topographical works, which formed part of his library. Mr. Topham's collection comprises also some very valuable engravings, drawings by the old masters, medals, &c. Mr. Hetherington bequeathed the sum of 500 l. to the college, to be expended in books.

In the provost's lodgings are portraits of Queen Elizabeth, Sir Thomas Smith, a learned statesman, who was provost of the college, Sir Robert Walpole, Provost Stewart, clerk of the closet to King Charles I. Sir Henry Saville, Sir Henry Wotton, Francis Rowse, and several other provosts of the college: here is also a picture, said to be a portrait of Jane Shore.

In 1452, the college had a charter for a market on Wednesdays, at Eton, with considerable privileges, But it has been long disused. Two fairs were granted by the charter of 1444: one for the three days following Ash-Wednesday; the other for six days following the 13th of August. There is now only one fair held on Ash-Wednesday.

The manor of Eton was acquired by the college in the reign of Edward IV. of the Lovel family, who inherited it through female heirs from the families of Fitz-Other, Hodenge, Huntercombe, and Scudamore. The manor of Eton-Stockdales cum Cole-Norton, in this parish, was for several centuries in the Windsor family. During the last century it has been successively in the families of Ballard, Wassell, and Buckle, and is now the property of John Penn esq. of Stoke-Park. The parish church of Eton, called in ancient records Eton-Gildables, having been suffered to fall to decay, the inhabitants are permitted to attend divine service in the college chapel. The provost of Eton is always rector, and has archidiaconal jurisdiction within the parish. There is a chapel of ease in the town, served by one of the conducts of the college: it was built for the use of the inhabitants, by William Hetherington, the munificent benefactor to the blind and poor of other descriptions, who had been one of the fellows of Eton.

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Names, Geographical

The name Eton derives from the old english eg-tun and means 'island-farm'.

The name Eton Wick means 'the dairy farm of Eton'.

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Societies

The following is a list of societies and groups specifically for this parish or village and which relate to either local, or family history.