Great Marlow

"Great Marlow, including the Borough and waste belonging to it, is bounded, on the North, by High and West Wycombe; on the East, by Little Marlow; on the South, by the Thames; and on the West, by the parishes of Medmenham, Hambleden, and Fingest; the whole parish being about four miles and an half long, and three in breadth: and containing, by computation, about 6000 acres; of which, 800 are woodland, 200 meadow, and 4500 arable, divided into about 35 farms; the waste, or common, not exceeding one hundred acres." [The History and Antiquities of the County of Buckingham, by George Lipscomb, 1847]


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 History and Antiquities of the County of Buckingham", Lipscomb G., 1847
"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
"War Memorials and War Graves: Marlow and area, Volume 12", Peter Quick.



The following Monumental Inscriptions are available as publications or as part of a Society library



In 1798 the Posse Comitatus listed the following numbers of men between the ages of 16 and 60: Great Marlow Borough - 429, Great Marlow Parish - 202.

In the earliest government census of 1801, there were 3236 inhabitants in 652 families living in 617 houses recorded in Great Marlow.

Census Year Population of Great Marlow
1801* 3236
1811* 3965
1821* 3763
1831* 4237
1841 4480
1851 4485
1861 4661
1871 4701
1881 4763
1891 5250
1901 5645

* = 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.


Church History

Details of the stained glass in the church can be found on the following web sites (the site includes many photos):


Church Records

The original copies of the parish registers for Great Marlow have been deposited in the Buckinghamshire Record Office in Aylesbury, and they hold the following years:

Event Dates covered
Christenings 1592 - 1983
Marriages 1592 - 1987
Burials 1592 - 1985

Copies, or transcripts or indexes to the parish registers are available as follows:

Society Library*
Dates covered
Society Publications
Dates covered
Online Transcript
1592 - 1715
1800 - 1875
  Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society
1592 - 1925
  Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society
1592 - 1837
  Buckinghamshire Family History Society
Marriages     1592 - 1780 An Online Transcript
1592 - 1611
  Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society

* = material held in a Society library is generally available for loan to all members either via post, or by collection at a meeting


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 Great Marlow showed the following numbers:

Church Attendance
Great Marlow, All Saints 620 - Morning General Congregation
450 - Morning Sunday Scholars
1076 - Morning Total

416 - Afternoon General Congregation
410 - Afternoon Sunday Scholars
826 - Afternoon Total

Great Marlow, St Peter's
Catholic Church,
St Peter's Street
56 - Morning General Congregation
37 - Morning Sunday Scholars
93 - Morning Total

58 - Evening General Congregation
10 - Evening Sunday Scholars
68 - Evening Total

Great Marlow, Independent
or Congregationalist Salem
200 (abt.) - Morning General Congregation
40 (abt.) - Morning Sunday Scholars
240 - Morning Total

200 (abt.) - Evening General Congregation
200 - Evening Total

Great Marlow,
Primitive Methodist Chapel
100 - Morning

150 - Afternoon

200 - Evening

Great Marlow,
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel
80 - Morning General Congregation
50 - Morning Sunday Scholars
130 - Morning Total

60 - Afternoon General Congregation
50 - Afternoon Sunday Scholars
110 - Afternoon Total

160 - Evening General Congregation
10 - Evening Sunday Scholars
170 - Evening Total


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Great Marlow which are provided by:




Historical Geography

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



Great Marlow was described in 1806 in "Magna Britannia" as follows:

GREAT MARLOW, in the hundred of Desborough and deanery of Wycombe, distant about 31 miles from London, has been a market town by long prescription, as appears from its ancient name of Chipping-Marlow. It sent members of parliament as early as the year 1299, but after the year 1308, this ancient privilege was disused until 1622, when it was restored by act of parliament. The right of election is in the inhabitants paying scot and lot: the government of the town is vested in constables, who are the returning officers. In the year 1599, John Rotheram, of Seymours, in this parish, left the sum of 40 l. towards procuring a charter of incorporation, and reviving a market to be kept weekly, the profits of which should be vested in the corporation; but his intention never took effect. The market, which appears to have been then discontinued, has been revived, and is held on Saturdays. In 1324, Hugh de Spencer had a grant of a fair at Marlow. There are now two fairs held, on the second and third of May, and the 29th of October. The latter is a great fair for horses. The town and parish of Great Marlow, according to the returns made to parliament, under the population act in 1801, then contained 643 houses, of which 26 were uninhabited. The number of inhabitants was 3236, of whom 1436 were males, 1800 females: the number of persons employed chiefly in agriculture, was 236, and those in trade, manufacture, and handicraft, 306.

The manor of Marlow, which had belonged to the Earls of Mercia, was given by William the Conqueror, to his Queen Matilda. Henry the First, bestowed it on his natural son, Robert de Melhent, afterwards Earl of Gloucester, from whom it passed, with that title, to the Clares and Despencers, and from the latter, by female heirs, to the Beauchamps and Nevilles, Earls of Warwick. It continued in the crown from the time of Richard the Third's marriage with Anne Neville, till Queen Mary granted it to William Lord Paget, in whose family it continued more than a century; after which, it passed, by purchase, to Sir Humphrey Winch, in 1670; to Lord Falkland in 1686; to Sir James Etheridge in 1690; to Sir John Guise in 1718; and to Sir William Clayton in 1736. It is now the property of Sir William Clayton bart. a descendant of the last purchaser.

Harleyford, the seat of Sir William Clayton, was formerly a distinct manor, belonging to the family of Cawood. It was annexed to the manor of Marlow, by the first Lord Paget, who made it one of his seats. His great grandson, William Lord Paget, resided here during the civil war. Harleyford has continued to be the residence of the subsequent proprietors of the manor, most of whom have represented the borough of Marlow in parliament. Sir James Etheridge was one of its members during the whole of King William's reign. The old mansion, which was very spacious, was pulled down in the year 1755; and the present house, which stands in a singularly beautiful situation on the banks of the Thames, was then built, after a design of Sir Robert Taylor.

The manor of Widmer, in this parish, belonged to the knights templars, and after the dissolution of their order, to the knights hospitallers. After the reformation it belonged for some time to the Widmers, an ancient family, who seem to have taken their name from the place, and it is probable, had been tenants under the hospitallers. About the year 1634, it was purchased by the Borlases, from whom it passed, by marriage, to the Grenvilles. The late Earl Temple sold it, about the year 1747, to Mr. Moore, of whom it was purchased in 1766, by William Clayton esq. father of Sir William Clayton bart. who is the present proprietor. Part of the manor-house (now a farm) is very ancient. The chapel has been converted into a brew-house.

The manor of Seymours, in this parish, belonged to the noble family of that name, and was given by them in exchange, to the dean and chapter of Bristol, under whom it was successively held on lease, by the Willoughbys of Woollaton, and the Earls of Powis. They resided occasionally in the manor-house, till the great civil war, when it was nealy destroyed. The lease continued in the Powis family till after the death of the Marquis of Powis, in 1748. It is now vested in Mr. Johnson.

Court-Garden, the seat of Richard Davenport esq. belonged to the noble family of Paget, and was reserved by them long after the manor had been alienated. In 1748 it was sold by Henry, Earl of Uxbridge, to Dr. Battie, an eminent physician, who built the house.

The parish church of Marlow is a spacious Gothic structure, and has a wooden spire, erected in 1627: between the nave and chancel, is a screen of chalk, with Gothic tracery. A neat baptistry was fitted up, and a new marble font given by the late vicar, Dr. Cleobury. The most remarkable monuments are those of Sir Miles Hobart, one of the members for this borough, who was killed by the over turning of his coach, as it was going down Holborn-hill, in 1632; and Katherine, wife of Sir William Willoughby, who was sheriff of the county in 1603. There are some memorials for the families of Clayton, Chase, &c. In the chancel are a few brass plates, one of which commemorates some children of Sir John Salisbury, who died in 1383.

The rectory was appropriated by John Russell, bishop of Lincoln, in 1494, to the abbot and convent of Tewksbury, after the dissolution of which monastery it was given to the dean and chapter of Gloucester, together with advowson of the vicarage. Part of the ancient rectorial house still remains, the great hall is now used as a kitchen. The sum of 80 .l per annum is paid to the vicar out of the impropriation. Mrs. Hawes, in 1749, gave a rent-charge of 10 l. per annum to the vicar. Mr. Drewe gave 20 l. per annum for a lecture on Tuesdays or Thursdays. This lectureship has been usually held by the vicar. Anthony Ellys, bishop of St. David's, was vicar of Marlow from 1729 to 1753.

The book of church-wardens' accounts in this parish, makes mention of a sum of money, disbursed for throwing in the bulwarks about the church and in Duck-lane, and cleaning after the soldiers had been quartered in it, in 1642. This was, when the parliamentary army, under the command of Major-General Brown, was quartered at Marlow. The sum of five shillings appears to have been paid to the ringers, when the unfortunate monarch passed through the town as a prisoner, in 1647.

Sir William Borlase founded a free-school in Marlow, in the year 1624, for 24 boys, three of whom are to be of Medmenham, three of Little-Marlow, and the remainder of this town. The master has a salary of 16 l. per annum, a house, garden and a large pasture field. An apprentice fee of 40s. is given to each boy when he leaves the school. Sir William founded also a house of correction, and a school for 24 girls, who were to be taught to spin, sew, and make lace, but this institution has not been kept up.

John Brinkhurst, in 1608 founded alms-houses for four poor widows, two more have since been added, out of the savings of the estate, which now produces 42 l. per annum. There are several other benefactions belonging to the town, the most important is that of 1000 l. left by Mr. Loftin in 1759, for the purpose of apprenticing poor children.

There has been a bridge over the Thames at Marlow from a very early period. Mention is made of it in a record of the reign of Edward III. Part of Marlow bridge was destroyed by General Brown, when his army was quartered in the town in 1642, in consequence of which, parliament issued a warrant for a county rate to repair it. The present bridge, which is of wood, was built by subscription in the year 1789.

The second department of the Royal Military College, a more particular account of which will be found under High-Wycombe, has been for some years placed at Great Marlow; where it is intended to remain till the building about to be erected for the whole establishment, at Sandhurst, in Berkshire, shall be completed.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SU849866 (Lat/Lon: 51.571887, -0.776363), Great Marlow which are provided by:


Names, Geographical

The name Marlow derives from the old english mere, laf and means 'land remaining after the draining of a pool'. Early forms of Great Marlow called it Chipping Marlow, the prefix being derived from the old english word cieping meaning 'market' or 'market place'. The name Great is used as a distinguishing affix.