Berkshire, one of the inland cos. of England, lying between Hants and the river Thames, bounded on the N. by Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, and Bucks, E. by Surrey, S. by Hants, and W. by Wilts; greatest length, E. and W., 53 miles; greatest breadth, N. and W., 30 miles; area 462,210 ac., pop. 218,363. It is intersected in a westerly direction by a line of chalk hills, a continuation of the Chilterns, the highest elevation being White Horse Hill, alt. 893 ft. N. of this is the White Horse Vale (so called from the figure of a horse cut out on the hill-side), and to the S. lies the Vale of Kennet, watered by the Kennet stream. These tracts are well cultivated, and produce good crops of grain, &c., especially in the Vale of the White Horse. Dairy farms and commons abound; much of the surface is under woods, chiefly of oak and beech. Windsor Forest, covering upwards of 50,000 ac., lies in the E. (For agricultural statistics, see Appendix.) The Thames flows along the entire N. boundary (100 miles in extent); its tributaries are the Kennet, Lambourn, Ock, and Loddon. The mfrs. are unimportant, being chiefly agricultural implements and malt. The Great Western Ry., the Thames, and 2 canals are the chief means of transit. The co. contains 20 hundreds, 193 pars. with parts of 4 others, the parl. and mun. bors. of Reading (1 member) and New Windsor (1 member), the mun. bors. of Maidenhead, Newbury, and Wallingford, and the greater part of the mun. bor. of Abingdon. It is almost entirely in the diocese of Oxford. For parliamentary purposes it is divided into 3 divisions, viz., Northern or Abingdon, Southern or Newbury, and Eastern or Wokingham, 1 member for each division.
John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles 1887
See also general descriptions about Berkshire from Berkshire FHS, Pigot's 1830 Directory, The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868), Cassell's Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland, 1899 . Other descriptions can be found from other periods in various trade directories covering Berkshire from the early 19th century onwards and from A Vision of Britain Through Time.
What is Berkshire? The geographic extent of the county has changed over the centuries (more about boundary changes... and also see Historical Geography below). For the purposes of these pages, Berkshire is the pre-1974 county defined by the Towns and Parishes list and this map of the ecclesiastical parishes of 19th century Berkshire. If in any doubt, consult the GENUKI Gazetteer to determine on which county page your place of interest is located.
See Berkshire Genealogy to understand how these Berkshire pages are structured and how do we fit into the rest of GENUKI.
- General information about archives.
- The Berkshire Record Office (BRO) hold most local and family history records for historic Berkshire (including some records of parts that are now in Oxfordshire). Email: arch[at]reading.gov[dot]uk. Note that you will require a County Archive Research Network (CARN) reader's ticket (or bring suitable ID to get a day pass) to consult any of their onsite records (more about visiting...). The methods available to search different parts of their holdings are:
- Catalogued holdings: use all of the following to be sure:
- Online catalogue (not yet complete, but being added to).
- Use TNA's Discovery advanced search and include "Berkshire Record Office" in the "Exact word or phrase" field, in addition to your own search term(s).
- Use Google (or similar search engine) and include "Berkshire Records Office" (with quotes) in the search field.
- Un-catalogued holdings: can only be identified by contacting or visiting the BRO. Some are listed on this, and linked, pages under the relevant section (e.g. Business and Commerce, Schools, Courts, Towns & Parishes).
- List of their holdings of the parish registers, non-parochial registers, other church records, C of E parish records, borough & town records, court records.
- Some holdings are featured in online galleries.
- Some BRO records have been indexed, transcribed and published by Berkshire FHS (see below), the Berkshire Record Society and the Eureka Partnership.
- The history of the BRO.
The Berkshire Record Office first opened its doors in 1948 in the basement of Shire Hall (now the Forbury Hotel) in Reading with Felix Hull as County Archivist and sole member of staff. The first holdings were those of the County Council itself, the court of Quarter Sessions and the Boards of Guardians. Parish records, privately owned deeds and manorial records were also deposited. In 1951 the office moved to the basement of the Assize Courts and by 1981 it was at the new Shire Hall at Shinfield Park. In 1998 the Berkshire County Council was abolished and the BRO began its new life as a joint service of the 6 Berkshire unitary authorities. It moved to its present home in Coley Avenue in October 2000.
- Berkshire Family History Society (Berkshire FHS):
- Their website provides an extensive collection of information and resources for the whole of Berkshire (both present and historic boundaries).
- List of local archives.
- Their Centre for Heritage and Family History in Reading Central Library is open for members and non-members, and contains information about Berkshire and elsewhere in the UK.
- Benefits of membership.
- Berkshire Family Historian magazine.
- The shop catalogue is searchable and orders may be placed online. Some items are available for digital download.
- Collections Gateway locates information on research collections held by Berkshire and Reading institutions.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers a wide range of genealogical resources at its Family History Centres (FHC) around the world. For contact details, click here and search for the centre nearest you. Reading FHC is the only centre in Berkshire. They are best known for the IGI, see Church Records, below.
- Reading Central Library offer the following:
- Family history and local history sections with much useful information about Berkshire, not just Reading, including the Berkshire FHS's Centre for Heritage and Family History (see above).
- Approximately 8000 photographs and illustrations of the Reading area to view online and also on History Pin.
- For books about a Berkshire organisations, church, town or parish, search the library catalogue.
- Research service, for which there is a charge.
- Their factsheets: Family history, Electoral Registers, Aerial photographs, Historic local maps, Historic local newspapers.
- See also Bibliography.
- Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM):
- RBWM Libraries have local and family history services at Maidenhead, Windsor and Ascot Libraries which cover each of their local areas. The borough-wide catalogue is useful for local studies queries about items stocked. The above libraries also each maintain their own substantial databases of local information. The libraries offer a research service, for which there can be a charge.
- Maidenhead Heritage Centre is the museum for Maidenhead and the surrounding villages.
- Windsor & Royal Borough Museum.
- Windsor Castle:
Reading University's museums and collections, including their Virtual Reading Room, where you can access thousands of items, including images from across Berkshire and rare books, from the University of Reading's Special Collections, Art Collections and Museum of English Rural Life.
Locations and contacts for other record offices and archives in the UK and Ireland.
- Other record repositories and organisations that hold Berkshire-related records or copies (others are mentioned on individual parish pages):
- The National Archives (TNA)'s Discovery catalogue allows you to search their own holdings and also the catalogues of other subscribing archives held locally in England and Wales, including most in Berkshire, from the eighth century to the present day. Some TNA records are digitised and can be searched and downloaded. They publish many Research Guides.
- National Register of Archives (NRA) from TNA is particularly useful for finding the location of the archived records of a named organisation (e.g. The Abingdon Railway Company or Robert Adams, blacksmith).
- Similarly, the Archives Hub provides a gateway to hundreds of other archives in over 180 colleges and universities in the UK.
- And AIM25.
- Family Search provided by the Church of Latter-day Saints or Mormons (Genealogical Society of Utah). They also offer an incomplete Research Wiki for Berkshire.
- Bracknell Library and their archive photographs on Flickr.
- Bodleian Library, Oxford.
- Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) of the University of Reading is a specialist museum of farming and rural life in England.
- Museum of Berkshire Aviation.
- Newbury Library has local and family history information and the West Berkshire Museum (look under Arts and Heritage).
- Oxfordshire History Centre (combining the Oxfordshire Record Office (ORO), Oxfordshire Studies and Oxfordshire Health Archives).
- Oxfordshire Family History Society (OFHS) publish data for parishes that were in historic Berkshire and are now in present day Oxfordshire.
- Reading Museum has a number of online collections.
- Society of Genealogists (SoG).
- Swindon Library's Swindon Collection offers local studies and family history material, some specific to Berkshire. They have published some historic photographs on Flickr.
- Thames Pilot – a collection of documents and images charting the history of the River Thames.
- University of Reading's Special Collections.
- Vale and Downland Museum in Wantage has a particularly good set of articles on local history.
- Wiltshire and Swindon Archives holds Bishop's Transcripts for Berkshire (to 1835/1836), wills and probate documents from the Diocesan Court, and some Berkshire family and estate records.
- Wokingham libraries.
- General information about bibliography.
- Reading Central Library has a particularly good selection of Berkshire-related books and, even if you cannot visit, their catalogue can still be used to identify titles that can then be sourced elsewhere (see below).
- Berkshire FHS library & shop catalogues.
- The Eureka Partnership publish printed transcriptions of a number of Berkshire records.
- Online books are available from various websites that provide free digitised copies of out-of-copyright books that can be downloaded or read online, some relating to Berkshire history. When searching, beware of hits relating to Berkshire in the USA. They are particularly useful to find local history written in the 17th, 18th and early 20th centuries, magazines, professional & army listings. Because they are fully text searchable, they are useful for finding passing reference to events, people and places without having to know the title of the book. Be aware that these files can be large. See article about Google Book Search in Berkshire Family Historian, Jun 2009, Vol 32, page 10. Examples of books about Berkshire include:
- Bygone Berkshire, 1896, P. H. Ditchfield.
- Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde (about his time locked up there, see Correctional Institutions).
- The War Service of the 1/4 Royal Berkshire Regiment (T. F.) (in WW1) by CRMF Cruttwell.
- Berkshire Parish Registers, 1908, Volume 1 and Volume 2.
- The Journey Book of Berkshire, 1840, Charles Knight.
- General information about Business and Commerce.
- See also Occupations
For books about companies and industries, see Bibliography.
- Biscuits. Beer & Bulbs - Reading's old company records, article from the Berkshire Family Historian, Dec 1999.
- Many records are held by the BRO but some are un-catalogued. For catalogued records, use TNA's Discovery advanced search and include "Berkshire Record Office" in the "Exact word or phrase" field, in addition to your own search term(s). Some un-catalogued records appear on this list and others are listed below:
Berkshire Printing Company, Reading, 1900-2001 (D/EX1667); Blatch’s Brewery, Theale, 1763-1972 (D/EX 1639); S & E Collier Ltd of Reading, brick and tile makers, 1902-1964 (R/D 130); Henry Bird & Sons, brewers of Reading, 1738-1867 (D/EX 1668); S H Higgs Ltd, brewers of Reading, 1937-1960s (D/EX 1668); John Hooper of Reading, pill manufacturer 1787-1849 (D/EX 1830), see also Vol 26 2004 page 3 of the Berkshire Echo; Strange & Sons, brewers of Aldermaston, 1818-1999 (D/EX 1668); Thomas Wethered & Sons, brewers of Marlow, Buckinghamshire, 1580-1983 (D/EX 1668); Heelas & Co of Wokingham, department store 1798-1919 (D/EHS); Maidenhead Waterworks Company, 1874-1957, and Wokingham District Water Company, 1926-1934 (D/EX 1913).
Check also the links below.
- Berkshire Industrial Archeology Group (BIAG) aims to encourage a wider appreciation of industrial archeology and the area's industrial heritage.
- Agricultural business records of farms and Berkshire firms in agricultural engineering, processing, and farm and garden seed production are held by MERL (part of University of Reading), including: Gascoignes, Reading; Goodenoughs, Reading; Nalder & Nalder Ltd, Wantage; Suttons Seeds, Reading (see also below); Wantage Engineering Company; Thomas Baker of Newbury; John Wilder of Reading.
- Bus Companies - Paul Lacey has published several illustrated books about Berkshire (and other) bus companies.
- The BRO have archives of the Kennet and Avon canal and Reading Borough’s register of canal boats, 1879-1921 (see the Berkshire Echo Vol 60, 2012, page 4).
- Railway & Canal Historical Society.
- A Parliamentary Act of 1877 introduced the registration of canal boats to ensure that only the registered number of people lived on them and that conditions on board each boat were maintained at a level considered fit for human occupation. The registers subsequently created by the Reading Registration Authority are published in the book Reading Registration Authority, Canal Boat Registrations 1879-1921, Eureka Partnership, 16pp, 2018. It contains 53 boat registrations. Each registration includes the name and registration number of the boat, the name of the owner(s), the master’s name, details of the route along which the boat is intended to ply, the nature of the traffic (cargo) the boat is intended to carry, the mode of propulsion and whether it is a ‘narrow’ or ‘wide’ boat. Also the registers give the number and dimensions of the cabins, the date of registration and the maximum number of persons permitted to occupy the boat. Many of the registration pages have additional information regarding the history of the boat.
- Kennet & Avon Canal:
- Kennet & Avon Canal Trust's museum describes the way the canal was planned, built and worked during its 200 year history.
- Barge People of the River Thames, published by The Eureka Partnership, 2007, A5, 56pp.
- The novel The Cry Of The Heron by Dick Allan (ISBN 0-9533291-2-7) has a background on the River Wey and Basingstoke Canal in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, available from Reading Central Library.
- Clifford's Dairy of Bracknell - archives are held by the BRO (see the Berkshire Echo Vol 64, 2013, page 4).
- Cookham Bridge Company operated a private toll bridge over the Thames at Cookham until 1947, when it was nationalised. Their archives are held by the BRO (see the Berkshire Echo Vol 60, 2012, page 4).
- H Dolton & Sons, grain dealers in Newbury 1840s to 1910s, see article in Berkshire Family Historian, June 2016, Vol 39, page 22.
- Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Reading Lodge - Two lists of members, one 1855–1891, with notes of their involvement up to 1919, and the other of those wishing to join the Branch 1855– 1863 which gives details of their current and previous employment and the names of those supporting their application. Companies mentioned include William Parsons, Great Western Railway, Huntley and Palmers (see below), and Barrett, Exall & Andrewes (see Reading Iron Works below). Available on line to members only of the Berkshire FHS.
- Healas of Reading is a major department store in Reading, part of John Lewis. Their archives are held in Cookham.
Huntley & Palmer began in 1822 as a small bakery in London Street, Reading. In 1846, a new factory on King’s Road was opened and by 1900, the company was the largest biscuit manufacturer in the world and one of Berkshire’s largest employers, employing over 5,000 people. If you have ancestral roots in Reading or the surrounding area in the early 1900s, then you may well have a Huntley and Palmer’s employee. Unfortunately, few records about individual employees survive. Those that do are mostly held at the Reading University Library:
- Reading Museum collection.
- University of Reading archives.
- Bats, Balls and Biscuits, a brief history of cricket at Huntley and Palmers.
- Fire maps of the factory 1929-1941 are held by the BRO (D/EX2116) and records of their football club 1946-1992.
- Quaker Enterprise in Biscuits: Huntley and Palmers of Reading, TAB Corley, London, Hutchinson, 1972 is available from Reading Central Library.
- Their sister company Huntley, Boorne & Stevens of Reading made the tin boxes. Records 1878-1959 are held by the BRO (D/EX 1745).
- Jacksons of Reading - The last independent department store in Reading, its origins lie with the small shop of Henry Fox, clothier, woollen draper and tailor, hatter, hosier and general outfitter, at 6 High Street, Reading, established in 1848. Edward Jackson bought the shop in 1875 and expanded the business, which stayed in the hands of his family until its closure in 2013. Their archives are held by the BRO (D/EX2414, D/EX2670). See the Berkshire Echo Vol 89, Oct 2019.
- Peek Frean (biscuit manufacturers) archives are in the University of Reading archive.
- Pitman & Bazett, Newbury solicitors, Records 1481-1937 are held by the BRO (D/EPT) .
- Plenty of Newbury (lifeboats, marine steam engines, and latterly, pumps), 1746-1997 records are held by the BRO (D/EX1739, 1771, 2097, 2240). See article in Berkshire Family Historian, Dec 2012, Vol 36, page 12.
- Most railway records are held by TNA.
- The BRO hold only limited records, including:
- Some 19th and 20th century photographs and papers relating to Reading and Twyford stations (D/EX 1680).
- East Berkshire railways, 1845-1884 (D/EX 1705), including material on the opposition in 1846 to a proposed line (never built) Windsor Slough and Staines Atmospheric Railway.
- Also use TNA's Discovery advanced search and include "Berkshire Record Office" in the "Exact word or phrase" field, in addition to your own search term(s).
- They hold some books about railways for reference, including some specific to Berkshire.
- Reading Central Library hold many books about local railway companies and lines.
- British Railways Pre-Grouping Atlas and Gazetteer, Ian Allan, has maps of the routes served by the railway companies before they were amalgamated, available in Berkshire FHS library.
- Brunel: An Engineering Biography by Adrian Vaughan, 2006, ISBN (10) 0 7110 3078 2 and (13) 978 0 7110 3078 7. Provides some detail of the engineering of the Great Western Railway, with drawings and photographs. Available from Reading Central Library.
- My Ancestor was a Railway Worker, Frank Hardy, Society of Genealogists, 2009, A5, 110pp, ISBN 9781907199028, available from Berkshire FHS.
- Railway & Canal Historical Society.
- Disused Railway Stations has a number of Berkshire railway stations.
- Didcot Railway Centre and the Great Western Society.
- Museum of the Great Western Railway, including online photographs. GWR staff records and accident reports are held by TNA, see above.
- Great Western Hotel, Reading (now Malmaison Hotel): designed by Brunel, built in 1844, probably the oldest railway hotel in the world still operating, was used as offices by the Ministry of Supply in WW2, see Wikipedia.
Lambourn Valley Railway.
- Reading Football Club
Reading Gas Company and Reading Gas Work
- Records 1899-1965 are held by the BRO (D/SG 8 & D/EX 1593).
- Reading Iron Works - Barrett, Exall & Andrews' Reading Iron Works, an article in Berkshire Family Historian, Dec 2010, Vol 34, page 19 describes the life of this agricultural equipment manufacturer 1858 - 1872.
- Snares of Minster Street, printers in 19C Reading. The Snares of Minster Street, the Printer and the Picture, Diana R Mackarill, booklet available from Reading Central Library and Berkshire FHS.
- Stuchbery & Son, Windsor solicitors, records 1708 - 1893 are held by the BRO (D/ESB).
Suttons Seeds was formed in 1806 to sell corn, moved to Market Place, Reading in 1832. The Market Place site was vacated in the early 1960s and the company moved to Torquay in 1976. At present, it is part of a large multi-national conglomerate.
- Their website provides a brief history.
- Sutton's Seeds - The History 1806-2006, Earley Local History Group, 48 Harcourt Dr, Earley, Reading RG6 5TJ, ISBN 0954004124 (available from Reading Central Library and Berkshire FHS).
- Records 1860s-1940s are held by the The Rural History Centre of University of Reading.
- MERL (part of the University of Reading) hold company records and family trees of the Sutton families.
- Taylowe (printers) founded in Slough in the 1930s and moved to Maidenhead in the 1950s - records are held by the BRO (D/EX2012).
- Thames Conservancy (see also River Thames).
- Windsor Royal Gas Light Company records are held by are held by the BRO (D/SG 8 & D/EX 1593), including an interesting photograph of the 1947 floods (D/SG7). They also have the records of gas companies in Ascot (D/SG1), Maidenhead (D/SG4), Pangbourne (D/SG5), and Newbury (D/SG11)
Whitchurch Toll Bridge records are held by the BRO.
- Some employers' and trade association archives are held by Warwick University's Modern Record Centre.
- General information about cemeteries. The cemetery records often provide more than just the name of the deceased and the date of burial. They can refer to who paid for the grave, if other family members are in the same plot, and in some cases even the date of death.
- Monumental Inscriptions (MIs):
- Berkshire FHS shop sells transcriptions of MIs for Berkshire (mainly on CD and a number of which also contain photographs).
- Some are also available for reference at Reading Central Library.
- The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies (IHGS) publishes free online transcriptions of a limited number MIs, including Faringdon, Hurst, Remenham, Stratfield Mortimer, Tilehurst, and Wantage from Berkshire.
- For Berkshire parishes now located in modern Oxfordshire, some MIs have been transcribed by OFHS.
- See also burials under Church Records and War Memorials below.
- The BRO hold the records of the three Reading cemeteries: Reading Cemetery (London Road/Cemetery Junction), 1843-2007 (R/UC1), Hemdean Road Cemetery, 1885-2007 (R/UC2); and Henley Road and Reading Crematorium (R/UC3 and DC/R/UC3). The records often provide more than just the name of the deceased and the date of burial. They can refer to who paid for the grave, if other family members are in the same plot, and in some cases even the date of death.
- Berkshire FHS have some information on churches and cemetaries (members only).
- Reading Cemetery opened in 1843 as one of the earliest ‘garden cemeteries’ in England. After the churchyards in Reading were closed for public health reasons in 1856, it was the main burial place for the town, and it also buried some people from further afield. (For more detail, see the Berkshire Echo Vol 90, Jan 2020). The records 1843 ‑ 1959 have recently been published on FamilySearch (text only database and no plot locations), Berkshire Burials CD and CD of transcriptions of the existing Monumental Inscriptions from Berks FHS shop. Details and history of the cemetery are given by Historic England.
- Hemdean Road Cemetery opened as Caversham Cemetery in 1885 following the closure of St Peter’s Churchyard to new burials, and was originally run by Caversham Burial Board, and later by Caversham Urban District Council. It was intended to serve the whole of Caversham apart from the area forming the Ecclesiastical District of Kidmore. (For more detail, see the Berkshire Echo Vol 90, Jan 2020).
- For the location of cemeteries, see Church Database under Church History.
- Contact details for Berkshire crematoria.
- The Monumental Brasses of Berkshire, William Lack, H Martin Stuchfield & Philip Whittemore, (Monumental Brass Society, 1993. ISBN 0 9501298 8 7). 194 pages; over 200 illustrations.
- Trade directories can provide some information about the cemeteries themselves through the years, see sample pages from a 1915 directory.
- FreeCEN is a volunteer project to provide free online access to transcriptions of the censuses. There is very little coverage of Berkshire.
- Street indexes to the 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871 and 1891 censuses are available from TNA's Your Archives because those online censuses do not allow address searches.
- The BRO hold all the census enumerators' returns for Berkshire 1841-1901 on microfilm or fiche, with indexes for 1851 and 1881.
- Joseph Toomer's census of Newbury 1815 - a full transcript and index is available from Berkshire FHS shop.
- The Community of St John Baptist, Clewer was established in 1852 and they ran orphanages, children’s homes, boarding schools, hospitals and convalescent homes around the country as well as carried out missionary work. They are probably best known in Berkshire for the House of Mercy in Hatch Lane, Clewer which was a place where ‘fallen women’ could be rehabilitated and was also the convent in which the Sisters lived. The Sisters relocated to Oxfordshire in 2001 and in 2012 they moved to the campus of Ripon College Cuddesdon (an Anglican Theological College) where they still offer support and education today. (see the Berkshire Echo Vol 78, 2017). Records held by the BRO (ref. D/EX 1675).
Robert Palmer’s Almshouse Charity in Sonning, 1815-1958. Records held by the BRO (ref. D/QX 24).
Royal Merchant Navy School (formerly Merchants’ Seamen’s Orphan Asylum, Royal Merchant Seamen’s Orphanage, now Royal Merchant Navy Education Foundation ) Bearwood, Winnersh was an orphanage for seamen's children. Records held by the BRO. See Vol 82, 2018 of the Berkshire Echo, including case studies of Richard Been Stannard and Elizabeth Mary Askins.
See Schools for charity schools.
- General information about church history and availability of records.
- The GENUKI Church Database lists places of worship (not just Church of England) and burial grounds, including links to the individual churches' own websites and to the related Genuki Parish page where further information may be found. It is tended to cover the whole of UK and Ireland. The coverage for Berkshire is fairly complete. Contributions and corrections are positively invited.
- Berkshire FHS have some information on churches and cemetaries (members only).
- For ministers, see also Church Ministers.
- The Berkshire Religious Census 1851, editor Kate Tiller, Berkshire Record Society, 2010, ISBN 13 9780954871642, lists places of worship, giving brief details of each (see sample page) and some photographs. Copies held by the Berkshire FHS and Reading Central Library.
- The book is a transcription of the entries of Berkshire churches in the full Ecclesiastical Census Returns HO 129 which is available as a series of free downloads from TNA containing the returns for all of England and Wales, arranged by registration district. The handwritten returns can be difficult to read (see sample page), so the transcription may be easier to use. This was the first and only census of places of worship in England and Wales and was made alongside the population census of the same year with the same registration districts. It was not compulsory and only about 80% of Berkshire churches seem to have responded, the C of E being particularly reluctant.
- All the Berkshire churches listed in the census are in the Genuki Church Database above and are identified as such.
- See article in Berkshire Family Historian, Mar 2008, Vol 31, page 8.
- Berkshire Nonconformist Meeting House Registrations 1689-1852 in 2 parts, editor Lisa Spurrier, Berkshire Record Society, 2005, ISBN 0952494698, copies available for reference in Reading Central Library and the BRO. It is a transcription of the applications to register the places of worship in historic Berkshire of Protestant Dissenters (those who dissented from the Church of England) and also some Roman Catholic churches, as a result of the Toleration Act . See sample record. Most of the 366 entries are for a room in a private house, and therefore often do not show in other records of the time. It also provides useful descriptions of the different denominations in Berkshire at the time: Methodists (Wesleyan, Primitive and Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion), Baptist (Particular, Strict, General), Presbyterians, Independents/Congregationalists, (Plymouth) Brethren).
- Thumbnail descriptions of church buildings and their histories can often be found in trade directories through the years, see sample pages from a 1915 directory.
- Church of England (C of E):
- The Clergy of the Church of England Database includes background information on particular dioceses, cathedrals & collegiate churches and non-diocesan locations (as well as historical information on the careers of some C of E clergymen).
Berkshire Glebe Terriers, 1634. Glebe terriers are descriptions of the extent of the glebe, or lands belonging to a parish church. The Berkshire set for 1634 is remarkably complete, having been drawn up in response to a visitation by the representative of the archbishop of Canterbury. Details are given of a wide range of Berkshire church lands and tithable products. Published by the Berkshire Record Society as their second volume of documents, 1995.
- Methodist Church:
- Records of some Berkshire Methodist churches are held by the BRO (see Vol 72, 2015 of the Berkshire Echo). Some are published by the Eureka Partnership.
- The Swindon Wesleyan Methodist Circuit was formed in 1817 from the Hungerford Circuit and covered a large area centred on Swindon including Clanfield [Oxfordshire], Faringdon [Berkshire], Highworth and Wootton Bassett [both Wiltshire].
- Wantage and Abingdon Circuit: documents are archived with the Oxfordshire History Centre.
- Reading (later Reading and Silchester) Circuit: the records of Valerie May Eyers, who was the Circuit archivist, are held by the BRO (ref. D/EX 1638) which contain much historical information about the Reading area Methodist churches c1891 to 1999, including leaflets, books, press cuttings and photographs.
- Congregational Church:
- For the early history of the Berkshire churches, see The History of the Congregational Churches in the Berks, South Oxon and South Bucks Association by WH Summers, 1905, copies held by Reading Central Library and Berkshire FHS library and online at Open Library. The book also includes some Presbyterian churches that later became Congregational.
- Roman Catholic Church:
- The Thames Valley Papists by Tony Hadlands is available free online and in hard copy from Reading Central Library. It "tells the story of the Catholics of the Thames valley from Henry VIII's break with Rome until Catholic Emancipation nearly three hundred years later."
- Berkshire falls under the Catholic diocese of Portsmouth.
- Religious Society of Friends (Quakers):
- Quaker Records in Berkshire are provided by the Quaker FHS.
- Early Berkshire Quakers article in Berkshire Family Historian, Mar 2009, Vol 32, page 17.
- Quakers in Britain provides a list of present Meeting Houses. Their library was founded in 1673 and includes books, periodicals, manuscripts and pictures, as well as the archives of the central organisation of Quakers in Britain.
- Mid-Thames Quakers.
- Quaker Enterprise in Biscuits - a history of Huntley and Palmers (biscuit manufacturers) of Reading.
- Baptist Church:
- The Baptists of Berkshire Through Three Centuries by Ernest A Payne, 1951, copies held by Reading Central Library. Describes the history of the church in Berkshire from 1600s to 1950s, with a table listing churches existing in 1949 with the name of pastor, number of members, etc. Includes pictures of famous ministers of the Reading King St Church: John Howard Hinton, William Anderson, Robert Gordon Fairbairn.
- A brief history of Baptists in Reading.
- Historic Churches of Berkshire from Royal Berkshire History provides brief histories (sometimes with photographs) of many Berkshire churches, including the ruined Reading Abbey.
- For churches that are Listed Buildings, see also Dwellings.
- Photographs of churches, see:
- The various resources listed above often have photographs or drawings.
- Churches of Britain and Ireland.
- Francis Frith's Berkshire Churches - Photographic Memories, David Parker, ISBN 1.85937-170.1, 2000, copy held by Reading Central Library
- The GENUKI church database (see above) has links to the churches' own websites which usually have photographs, and also links to Geograph.
- Oxfordshire Churches & Chapels include photographs of some churches and chapels in present day Oxfordshire including some that are in what was historic Berkshire.
- Oxfordshire Churches in 360 Degrees provide 3D interior views of some churches in present day Oxfordshire including some that are in what was historic Berkshire.
- For monuments in church yards, see Cemeteries.
- See also Historical Photographs under History.
- Reading Abbey
- General information about church records.
- Parish Registers: Before English & Welsh Civil Registration started in July 1837, baptisms, marriages and burials were only recorded by the churches in the Parish Registers. Births and deaths were not usually recorded as such.
- A useful guide to the Berkshire Parish Registers from the Berkshire FHS.
- Berkshire FHS have some information on churches and cemetaries (members only).
- They hold the originals and microfilms of most Berkshire parish and non-parochial registers for baptisms/births, marriages, and burials/deaths.
- Their online guide to Parochial (i.e. Church of England) registers covers all parishes past and present in the Archdeaconry of Berkshire and parishes in the Archdeaconry of Buckinghamshire that are within the present Berkshire borders. The English parish church was a key secular (as well as religious) institution until the Victorian period. As part of local government, it was responsible for poor relief, running local charities, and even local roads and law enforcement. As a result, the 'parish chest' contains a lot more than just the registers.
- Maidenhead Library: the Brooks Collection: transcripts of registers for all Maidenhead parishes except Waltham St. Lawrence, and transcripts of registers for a number of other parishes in historic Berkshire, but not including Windsor, for the period from 1500s to 1837. It is hoped that a full list of which registers are available at Maidenhead Library, will be online late 2013.
- Windsor Library: St. John the Baptist, New Windsor only: Baptisms 1559–1837; Marriages: 1559–1837; Burials: 1560–1837; Index: 1559–1837.
- OFHS publish data about the Parishes of north Berkshire (i.e., those parishes that were in historic Berkshire and are now in Oxfordshire):
- The Eureka Partnership publish printed transcriptions of a number of Berkshire Non-Conformist baptism, marriage and burial records and Marriage Notices.
- Index to the Parish Registers:
- The International Genealogical Index (IGI) contains many, but not all, indexes to the records of 131 Berkshire towns and villages, and is a useful finding aid.
- Berkshire FHS guide.
- IGI Batch Numbers: It is not always easy to locate your ancestors in the IGI using their search. Manually typing in the batch numbers can be tedious. Hugh Wallis has created a database of those numbers and the source records that they apply to. A very powerful feature includes a hotlink from each batch number to the IGI search, including the ability to enter the surname you are looking for. This makes it very easy to search all the batches for a particular geographic location using just the last name. See description from FamilySearch.
- Berkshire FHS's Berkshire Baptisms CD contains indexed transcriptions of baptisms many parish and non-parochial registers. Also subscription access online from Findmypast.
- Berkshire FHS's Berkshire Marriages CD contains indexed transcriptions of the marriages (both Anglican (Church of England) and nonconformist) in all pre-1974 Berkshire parishes. Those Berkshire FHS transcriptions of events more than 85 years old are also available online from Findmypast.
- Phillimore's marriages transcripts for Berkshire are sold on CD by Archive CD Books for most, but not all, parishes.
- Some parishes that were in historic Berkshire and now in Oxfordshire are on the North Berkshire Marriage Index compiled by the OFHS.
- Berkshire FHS's Berkshire Burials CD contains indexed transcriptions of over 900,000 burials. Those transcriptions of events more than 50 years old are also available online from Findmypast. NOTE: inscriptions on gravestones (memorial inscriptions, MIs) are not the same as burial records, see Cemeteries.
- FreeREG provides free online access to "baptism, marriage, and burial records, which have been extracted from parish registers, non-conformist records and other relevant sources in the UK". Sadly only about 35000 out of 37 million records have been transcribed for Berkshire (as of 2017).
- For deaths, see also Coroners Index below.
- The International Genealogical Index (IGI) contains many, but not all, indexes to the records of 131 Berkshire towns and villages, and is a useful finding aid.
- For post-July 1837 English & Welsh civil records of births, marriages and deaths, see Civil Registration.
- Some other church records (e.g. records of meetings) are also held by the BRO and may be listed on the NRA.
- The Archdeaconry of Berkshire was part of the Diocese of Salisbury until 1836 when it was transferred to the Diocese of Oxford. As a result of this, Bishop's Transcripts and items, such as some wills, which came under the jurisdiction of the diocesan courts are found in the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre or the Oxfordshire Record Office. There are three Peculiar jurisdictions.
- Oxfordshire Archdeacon's Marriage Bonds index is available free online and, because of boundary and jurisdiction changes, contains some prospective Berkshire marriages.
- Berkshire, Wiltshire and Dorset marriage licence bonds are available on CD from the Berkshire FHS shop. Contains details of 70,000 bonds of people expecting to get married in the Salisbury docese, including those living outside.
- Map of the ecclesiastical parishes (not to be confused with administrative parishes) of 19th century Berkshire from Berkshire FHS.
- A comprehensive listing of Parish Registers, Monumental Inscriptions and transcripts can be found in the National Index of Parish Registers Volume 8 Part 1 - Berkshire, 2nd edition, compiled by Anthony Wilcox and published by the Society of Genealogists in 2003 and available from the Berkshire FHS shop.
- Berkshire FHS (see under Archives) sells a number of Parish Registers on microfiche and CD. Some of this data is also searchable online by subscription at Find My Past.
- Parish register copies for Berkshire in the library of the Society of Genealogists.
- General information about civil registration.
- Births, marriages and deaths (BMDs) in England and Wales post-July 1837 were recorded by local Register Offices (even those marriages conducted in church), with copies also held by the General Register Office (GRO). See explanation of Civil Registration in England and Wales and how to order certificates. Indexes are available:
- FreeBMD offer free online access to the GRO indexes for the whole of England and Wales (not just Berkshire), presently covering 1837 to the 1960s (see current coverage), with more being added.
- The BRO (and other offices in the UK and overseas, see list) hold microfiches of the GRO indexes for the whole of England and Wales, although these are now less necessary (and less convenient) as the FreeBMD coverage expands.
- BerkshireBMD offer free online access to some local indexes for Berkshire. Currently only some records of the Reading and Bradfield Registration Districts have been transcribed for the period 1837 to mid 20th century.
- See explanation of the difference between local indexes and GRO indexes.
- Registration Districts in Berkshire.
- Ancestry and Find My Past allow free searching of their records, but require a subscription to see the full records. Findmypast offers a bit more detail on their free search results, including town and implied registration district.
- For deaths, see also Coroners Index below.
See Church Records for pre-1837 baptisms, marriages and burials.
Brett Langston has provided details of the Registration Districts in Berkshire from 1837 onwards.
- General information about correctional institutions.
- House of Correction in Reading (the old lock-up) was in what is now Greyfriars church and housed petty criminals, ‘rogues and beggars’, see the Berkshire Echo Vol 67, 2014 from the BRO.
- The original county jail was built in 1786 in Reading and later replaced in 1844 by Reading Goal on the same site. A description is given in the Reading Gaol by Reading Town mentioned below.
- Reading Gaol (1844-2013):
- Descriptions of the (now closed) gaol from Berkshire FHS, BRO and Wikipedia.
- Reading Gaol by Reading Town, Peter Southerton, ISBN 0750902965, 1993 is a detailed history with a list of governors and executions; this, and other related books, are held by Reading Central Library.
- Light in Dark Places: Photographs of Prisoners in Reading Gaol, article from the Berkshire Family Historian, Dec 1999.
- Visiting Justices’ report book on Reading Gaol, 1860-1878 (D/EX 1847), Reading Prison, 1878-2013 (P/RP1) and Reading Prison execution book (P/RP1/14/1)are held by the BRO.
- Their best known prisoner was Oscar Wilde in 1895. See his book Ballad of Reading Gaol, free online from Project Gutenberg, describing his time there.
- It housed internees during WW1, both enemy aliens and Irishmen involved in the Easter Rising, see the Berkshire Echo Vol 75, Apr 2016 from the BRO.
- The prisoners and/or staff will be listed periodically in the censuses and trade directories.
- General information about Court Records. While court records can be thin, many cases were subsequently reported in local newspapers (not necessarily just in those covering the area where the inquest took place), see Newspapers.
- They were the lowest tier in the court system and developed at the beginning of the 18th century to take on some of the work previously undertaken by the Quarter Sessions. They dealt with minor criminal matters. They were replaced by Magistrates Courts in the 1970s. Read more ....
- Archived court records are held by the BRO for the following : Abingdon County Division, Faringdon Division, Forest Division, Hungerford and Lambourn Division, Hungerford Division, Ilsley Division, Lambourn Division, Maidenhead Borough, Maidenhead County Division, Maidenhead Division, Moreton and Wallingford Division, Moreton Division, Newbury Borough, Newbury County Division, Reading Borough, Reading County Division, Slough Division, Wallingford Borough, Wantage Division, West Berkshire Division, Windsor Borough, Windsor County Division and may be listed on the NRA.
- Justices of the Peace (JPs) presided at Quarter Sessions, where they were tasked with addressing many matters ranging from criminal offences, to questions relating to settlement rights and paternity, which affected entitlement to poor relief. They were replaced by Crown Courts in the 1970s. Read more ....
- County Quarter Sessions: records held by the BRO (ref. Q/AC).
- Reading Borough Quarter Sessions, 1682-1969 held by the BRO (ref. R/JQ), unfortunately very little from the period before 1836, when the borough was reformed. Includes calendars of prisoners to 1969, and papers such as depositions and convictions in criminal cases to 1909. The papers also supplement the records of Reading Petty Sessions, as there are copies of summary proceedings at Reading Petty Sessions filed at the superior court, which are earlier in date than anything in the records of that court. For the earlier period, there is a sessions diary for the 1680s, and some miscellaneous but interesting survivals from the late 18th century. These include bonds and agreements relating to the transportation of convicts to America in the 1760s and 1770s.
- The Maidenhead Quarter Sessions records are held by the BRO (ref. M/JQS).
- Inquests were carried out by the coroner in England and Wales where a sudden, accidental, suspicious or unnatural death occurred. Read more ....
- Berkshire Coroners' Notebook 1775-1813 has been transcribed by The Eureka Partnership.
- Berkshire Coroners' Index 1688 - 1926 is an index to the surviving papers of coroners' inquests available on CD from Berkshire FHS shop. This is an index only; the records themselves are only available to view in hard copy at the BRO.
- See article Investigating Berkshire Crime in Berkshire Family Historian, Sep 2016, Vol 40 page 26.
- For books describing Berkshire, see Bibliography.
- Descriptions of the county and its towns and parishes from different periods can be found in various trade directories, from the early 19th century onwards, including:
- Pigot's 1830 Directory
- The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868), transcribed by Colin Hinson.
- Individual town and parish pages on this website.
- See sample pages from a 1915 directory.
- Parochial Topography of the Hundred of Wanting with other miscellaneous records relating to the County of Berks by William Nelson Clarke, of Arlington, 1824, free from the Open Library.
- General information about Directories in UK and Ireland.
- Electoral Registers and Poll Books - see Voting Registers.
- Hearth tax returns - see Taxation.
- Jurors Lists (those qualified to serve on a jury) are held by the BRO, including the period 1897-1922 (ref. Q/RJ/1 to 19). They typically list just the names and qualification.
- Militia muster rolls - see Military Records.
- Protestation Returns for Berkshire, 1641/1642 - copies are held by the BRO (T/A 40) and the originals and digital copies are held at the Parliamentary Archives. On the eve of the English Civil War, Parliament ordered that a protestation be made as an oath of allegiance to the King, to Parliament and to the established church. Signed initially by members of Parliament in 1641, the order to take the protestation was later extended to all males in England and Wales over the age of eighteen. The officials of the parish were required to make the oath in front of the Justices of the Peace of the hundred, and then in turn the parish officials administered the oath of loyalty for their parishioners. The returns usually take the form of a list of the names of all of the men in the parish over the age of eighteen who took the protestation. Very occasionally, children and servants are listed, as in the case of Sutton Courtenay; or women took the protestation, as in the case of West Shefford. Those who refused to take the oath also had their names listed. The returns were later used to identify Roman Catholics by their refusal, who were then subject to increased taxation. The returns that survive for Berkshire offer partial but substantial coverage, with most of central Berkshire extant. Only males are listed and no family relationships. See article in the Berkshire Family Historian, Vol 23, Sep 2009, page 15.
- Rate Books and Valuation Lists - see Taxation.
- Trade Directories
- See sample pages from a 1915 directory.
- The University of Leicester's free online Historical Directories collection currently (2020) includes 12 directories for Berkshire from 1833 to 1915.
- Berkshire FHS sell various Berkshire trade directories 1842 to 1931.
- Reading Central Library holds various trade directories for reference, the earliest being the Universal British Directory of 1796. To see what is available, search in their catalogue for "directory". They also provide free online the following: The Post-Office Reading directory 1842, Macaulay's Reading directory, almanac, and official register 1865, and Steven's Directory of Reading and neighbourhood 1888.
- Windsor and Maidenhead libraries hold a selection of local directories.
- Direct Resources have provided Surname Indexes to several trade directories of around 1848. The 1847 index for Berkshire includes 4,641 surnames.
- Stephen Whatley's Gazetteer of England of 1750 is available free online from Google Books in two volumes, with an index from Mel Lockie. It was never intended to be a complete gazetteer and Whatley concentrates on medieval lordships and their history of ownership but it provides a unique source of information about places not otherwise mentioned in conventional gazetteers.
- British-Genealogy.com features a list of county directories for Berkshire at parish chest
- The Genealogist offers subscription access to some Trade Directories.
- See general information about Dwellings.
The BRO has a guide to researching buildings and places and a detailed catalogue of the leases of borough properties, 1514-1875 (R/AT3). See also an article in the Berkshire Family Historian, Vol 33, Sep 2009, page 22. The BRO holds house sale catalogues for Berkshire properties. These are the forerunners of the estate agents' particulars that we use today to tell us what we would get for our money, and are mostly 19th and 20th century.
Reading Central Library also holds over 4000 house sale catalogues which give detailed descriptions of houses when put up for sale in the past, see their Factsheet. To identify their holdings, search the library catalogue with "sale catalogue" in the search field.
Descriptions of some of the historic buildings, including castles and grander houses, of Berkshire are available from Royal Berkshire History.
The homes of the more prominent residents of towns and villages are usually described in trade directories, with their residents' names.
Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of England: Berkshire, 21 May 2010, ISBN: 9780300126624, copies held by Reading Central Library.
Valuation Office survey 1910 - 1915. - see Taxation.
For Public Houses (pubs) - see Licenced Victualers (under Occupations).
For books about a building, or perhaps just a passing reference, try searching online books, see the Bibliography.
- For photographs, see Historical Photographs (under History).
- Help from Genuki to get you started:
- Help from the Berkshire FHS:
- Research Services:
- Berkshire Name Search, provided by Berkshire FHS, searches a master index covering a range of individual databases.
- Reading Central Library and Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM ) Libraries (and others) offer charged-for research services.
- Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGC) offer a free lookup service by volunteers.
- Some members of message boards and forums, see immediately below, are willing to make look-ups.
- Professional research: For those thinking of using the services of a paid researcher, and only in response to a prior written application, Berkshire FHS can return a short list of names and contact details of researchers who undertake commissioned projects. This information is offered by the society purely as a public service. Inclusion of a researcher on a list neither constitutes nor implies recommendation, endorsement or warranty of any kind by the society. Client and researcher should always negotiate any commissioned work directly and in entirety.
- Mailing lists, message boards and forums for Berkshire:
- Berkshire FHS runs for its members the most active forum to discuss issues concerning Berkshire genealogy and to solicit help and advice.
- Facebook Berkshire genealogy group.
- Groups.io discusion group Berkshire Genealogy - for the discussion of genealogy and family history relating to the county of Berkshire, UK. (It replaces the now closed BERKSHIRE list at RootsWeb).
- British Genealogy.
- Curious Fox is a village by village contact site for anybody researching family history, genealogy and local history in the UK and Ireland. Every UK county, town and village has a page for family history, local history, surname and genealogy enquiries.
- General information about heraldry.
- Nigel Batty-Smith has scanned the entire volumes I and II of the Visitations of Berkshire, 1532, 1566, 1623, 1665-66, Harleian Society, volumes 56 & 57 old series and they are now available to view free online on his website. It is also available online (possibly more accessibly) from the Open Library (see under Bibliography).
- For books about Heraldry, see Bibliography.
- General information about historical geography.
- For books about Berkshire geography, see Bibliography.
- The local government reorganisation of 1974 brought major changes to the boundaries of Berkshire with parts being lost to Oxfordshire and others gained from Buckinghamshire. Further changes in 1998 finally abolished Berkshire as an administrative unit and replaced it with six Unitary Authorities - Bracknell Forest, Reading, Slough, West Berkshire, Windsor & Maidenhead, and Wokingham. More about boundary changes... N.B. Information on GENUKI pages is organised on the basis of the pre-1974 counties.
- The Genuki Gazetteer shows the location of places and lists neighbouring places with links to online maps and to Genuki pages that may contain information about that place and the genealogical resources which are available for it.
- Trade directories can provide some information of the changes to administrative areas through the years, see sample pages from a 1915 directory.
- A similar facility is provided by the LDS Family Search's England Jurisdictions 1851 where the boundaries of parishes, civil registration districts, C of E dioceses, rural deanerys, Poor Law Unions and Hundreds can be superimposed on maps.
- List of Berkshire hundreds, the historical sub-divisions of counties, introduced in the 10th century primarily as a unit of taxation but also having administrative, judicial and military functions.
- Enclosure in Berkshire, 1485-1885, ed. Ross Wordie, Berkshire Record Society, vol 5, 2000. Between 1600 and 1900 the landscape and agriculture of Berkshire was transformed. In 1600, three quarters of the county was covered by large open fields, common land or waste. By 1900 all but 4% was in the form of small enclosed, hedged fields, owned by individual landowners.
- See also New Landscapes: Enclosure in Berkshire in Maps below.
- Royal Berkshire History provides information about Berkshire country houses and churches.
- See also Maps.
- General information about history.
- Victoria County History of Berkshire (VCH) was founded in 1899 as a national project to write the history of every county in England. At its inception, the project was dedicated to Queen Victoria, which is how it derives its name. The VCH aims to complete authoritative, encyclopaedic histories of each county, from the earliest archaeological records to the present day, as well as topics such as topography, landscape and the built environment. It was completed in four volumes between 1906 and 1924, with a separate index produced in 1927. Although published more than 80 years ago and in need of some updating, the sections on borough government remain particularly useful.
- A more recent history is A History of Berkshire by Dr. Judith Hunter, published by Phillimore in 1995.
- David Nash Ford, history editor at Britannia.com, is the author of Royal Berkshire History, a website "featuring details of all aspects of the Royal County's fascinating & historic past."
- Francis Frith sells modern books about the history of Berkshire places.
- For the history of religious denominations and individual churches, see Church History.
- Many older historical books are available free online, see Bibliography. For example:
- Bygone Berkshire by P. H. Ditchfield, 1896, from Open Library.
- A History of Berkshire (1887), Charles Cooper King, from Internet Archive.
- The Antiquities of Berkshire (1723), Elias Ashmole, from Internet Archive.
- Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis, 1845, from Internet Archive, provides a description of each English parish and county in alphabetical order: Vol. 1 A-C, Vol. 3 L-R and Vol. 4 S-Z. Vol 2 is not currently available.
- Volume 1 of Magna Britannia by the Rev. Daniel Lysons and his brother Samuel Lysons, published in 1806 and re-issued in 1813, is perhaps the most famous history of Berkshire, from Open Library. (and also from Archive CD Books)
Trade directories provide a description of the places listed, see Directories.
- Berkshire dialects:
- See article Old Berkshire Voices in Berkshire Family Historian, Dec 2016, Vol 40, page 19.
- The British Library has online recordings of British accents, including Berkshire.
- A Glossary of Berkshire Words and Phrases, Barzillai Lowsley, Job Lowsley, English Dialect Society, 1888.
- Bygone Berkshire by P. H. Ditchfield, 1896, from Open Library, contains a section on Berkshire words and phrases.
The Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland, "an evolving electronic archive of British and Irish Romanesque stone sculpture," contains a section on Berkshire buildings, mainly churches.
- Historical photographs are available from:
- Reading Central Library, search their catalogue.
- Reading Museum holds the Reading Chronicle collection of over 40,000 negatives taken by the newspaper between 1938 and 1964, and has published many of them online on History Pin.
- Flickr publish many historical photographs, including these from Swindon and Bracknell Forest libraries.
- The BRO, including more than 9000 aerial photographs of the county commissioned by Berkshire County Council 1964 and 1996 (ref. C/PL).
- MERL (part of the University of Reading) has a collection of photographs of English rural life.
- TNA has a brief guide to researching photographs.
- Heritage Images.
- English Heritage's ViewFinder shows historic photographs of England from the 1850s. (For example, St Mary's church, Aldworth in c1890).
- Badger's Heritage (line drawings).
- For images in books, see also Bibliography.
- For monuments and monumental inscriptions (MIs, gravestones), see also Cemeteries.
- For churches, see also Church History.
- For railways, see also Business and Commerce
- For buildings, see also Dwellings.
- For public houses, see also Licenced Victualers.
- For modern photographs, try:
- Flickr, Panoramio and Geograph have user-submitted photographs.
- Google Streetview (through Google Maps) will provide modern images of buildings if you know their location.
- Images of England provide a ‘point in time’ photographic library of England’s listed buildings, recorded at the turn of the 21st century, with over 300,000 images of England’s built heritage from lamp posts to lavatories, phone boxes to toll booths, milestones to gravestones, as well as thousands of bridges, historic houses and churches. Note that they use the current boundary of Berkshire, not the historic ones used by these pages, see more about boundary changes.
- Google Images.
- General information about manors.
- At the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, the manor was the basic unit of local government. The manor court evolved as the forum where all matters relating to the manor were dealt with, including property transactions, byelaws and local disputes. Records of these courts, surviving from the mid thirteenth century, tell us much about how society was organised at a local level. They can reflect the impact of national events and movements like the Great Plague or Tudor enclosure. They are arguably at their most informative in the medieval period, when the power of the manor was at its height. It was later supplanted by the parish vestry and local magistrate. However, the manorial court system survived officially until 1922 when the Law of Property Act abolished both the courts and the manorial land tenure called copyhold. Manorial records can be a great way to find out information on individuals beyond their birth, marriage and death dates. Going back in time much before census, electoral register and civil registration, manorial records can fill in where other records are patchy or non-existent, with so many interesting notes of family relationships, abodes, occupations and life events. Manorial Documents Register (MDR) is published by TNA and most of the records of the 350 Berkshire manors are at the BRO, with others at TNA and in public and private repositories.
- For manor houses, see Dwellings.
- General information about maps of England and UK & Ireland.
- Digital Ordnance Survey (OS) maps of Berkshire (and elsewhere) from the mid 19th century to 1970s are available online at Old Maps. Although intended for the sale of maps, the free on-screen images can still be useful. An article in the Berkshire Family Historian, Vol 33, Sep 2009, page 18 describes how good use can be made of them.
- TIP 1: It can also be accessed via the Genuki Gazetteer: Enter the place name and click Search; click the pin on the map (NOT the single item on the list top right); pick the third item "Other maps"; pick "OldMaps" (not "Old Maps On Line"); zoom in as necessary; pick a suitable date and scale from the maps along the right hand edge.
- TIP 2: If looking for the location of a church on a map, use the Genuki Church Database and follow the links to OldMaps.
- Berkshire FHS sells many historical maps of Berkshire, including a CD of the fifty-one 6 inch maps of Berkshire (produced with the BRO), originally published by the Ordnance Survey between 1881-1887.
- BRO holds a number of historical maps, including:
- Speed’s 1611 map of Reading – the earliest known (D/EX2385).
- New Landscapes: Enclosure in Berkshire, a joint project with the Museum of English Rural Life, shows historic manuscript maps and land awards, and thus documents the process of enclosing the common fields of Berkshire between 1738 and 1883, particularly useful for finding older place names.
- Tithe maps (best source for finding who owned/farmed what land and how in the early Victorian period), and manuscript and printed maps, indexed by place. See description from the TNA. Available by subscription from The Genealogist.
- Deposited Plans (plans required to be submitted for major infrastructure projects (e.g. a new railway line)) which include, not only the map itself, but also details of the ownership of the land affected. E.g. the Deposited Plan of Great Western Railway at time of widening of the line from Maidenhead to Reading in 1890, ref. D/P 113/28/4. A fully index transcript of some of this data is available online only to members of the Berkshire FHS for two new railways proposed in 1845: Reading, Guildford & Reigate Railway and the Reading & Reigate Railway.
- A small group of plans which have strayed from the Englefield Estate archive (D/EZ175).
- 6 inch and 25 inch to the mile OS maps from the first edition in the 1870s to the 1930s.
- The Genealogist provide subscription access to Tithe maps.
- Oxfordshire Record Office’s tithe maps of Steventon and North Moreton in the pre-1974 county of Berkshire.
- Reading Central Library:
- A selection of maps from 1574 onwards for reference, including enormous 1:500 OS maps of Reading in the 1870s, see their Factsheet.
- The Rocque maps of 1761, see article in Berkshire Family Historian, Dec 2008, Vol 32, page 12.
- Free online estate maps for for some estates in Berkshire, including Hardwick, Rose Hill, London Street, Good Rest, Castle Hill, Earley, Burfield and Shinfield.
- Maidenhead, Windsor and Ascot Libraries hold a large selection of printed OS maps for each of their distinct areas from 1868 to 1993.
- An Historical Atlas of Berkshire, editor Joan Dils and Margaret Yates, Berkshire Record Society, 2012, ISBN 0 9548716 9 3, shows maps of: parishes, geology, administration divisions, agriculture, country houses, Poor Law areas, railways, roads, population, etc. Copies are held by Berkshire FHS and Reading Central Library.
- The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies produces a Parish Map of Berkshire giving the name of each parish and showing parochial boundaries and probate jurisdiction in colour. It is also available from the Berkshire FHS shop.
- Cambridge University Library have digitised John Speed's Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine published in 1611/12 of the UK, including a map of Berkshire (page 8 of 66).
- General information about medical records.
- Many records are held by the BRO but some are un-catalogued. For catalogued records, use TNA's Discovery advanced search and include "Berkshire Record Office" in the "Exact word or phrase" field, in addition to your own search term(s).
- Early Medical Services : Berkshire and South Oxfordshire from 1740, by Railton, Margaret. Polmood Publications, 1994, available from Reading Central Library. A history of medical treatment for the poor, from the Old Poor Law in 18th C to health care under the New Poor Law from 1834, with the development of hospitals, dispensaries and medical societies on which the NHS was built.
- The Index of English and Welsh Lunatic Asylums and Mental Hospitals, based on a comprehensive survey in 1844, and extended to other asylums.
- Care and Compassion: Old Prints and Photographs of Hospitals and Nurses in Berkshire and South Oxfordshire 1839-1930. Published by the Heritage Centre. ISBN 0 9539417 0 1. Available from Berkshire FHS and Reading Central Library. Covers the following hospitals: Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading; Maidenhead General Hospital; Newbury District Hospital; King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor; Speen Cottage Hospital; Wallingford Cottage Hospital; Royal Victoria Cottage Hospital, South Ascot; Henley War Memorial Hospital; Broadmoor; Berkshire County Mental Hospital; Peppard Sanatorium; Pinewood Sanatorium; Cold Ash Children's Hospital; Heatherwood Hospital; London and Ascot Convalescent Hospital; St Andrew's Convalescent Hospital, Clewer; Wallingford Isolation Hospital; Maidenhead Isolation Hospital; Hungerford Isolation Hospital; Cippenham Isolation Hospital; Park Hospital, Reading; Workhouse Infirmaries: Eton, Windsor, Bradfield, Wallingford, Wokingham, Newbury, Reading, Easthampstead, Maidenhead, Hungerford; various temporary War Hospitals in WW1.
- Early Medical Services. Berkshire and South Oxfordshire from 1740. Margaret Railton.
- Leonard and John Joyce: Surgeons of Reading and Newbury. Marshall Barr and Lionel Williams.
- Marcham Road Hospital, founded in about 1897 as Abingdon Joint Hospital for Infectious Diseases, later known as Abingdon Joint Isolation Hospital.
The Warren Cottage Hospital became part of the NHS in 1948, closed in July 1968, reopened in February 1969, closed finally in 1977 and the building sold in 1984.
- Royal Victoria Cottage Hospital, South Ascot opened 1898 to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, later used housing and training nurses, then closed and land sold for housing.
- Heatherwood Hospital opened 1923 for the benefit of ex-servicemen and dependents, became a general hospital in 1934.
- London and Ascot Convalescent Hospital (aka Ascot Priory) opened in 1863, after 1947, became a private nursing home.
- Binfield Park Hospital, Binfield was built in 1775 for the splendidly named Onesiphorus Elliot, became a military hospital in the Second World War and from 1949 to 2000 an NHS hospital. The building has since been converted into housing.
- Borocourt Hospital was built in 1870s as Wyfold Court, a private house for Edward Herman, converted to a hospital for mental defectives in 1930, closed in 1993. The Grade II listed building was converted into flats and houses.
- Broadmoor Hospital, Crowthorne was Britain's first criminal lunatic asylum. The original buildings have been closed and a new hospital of the same name built on 2019 on the same site.
- Historic archives are held by the BRO, including some inmates' stories (Edward Oxford, Richard Dadd, Christiana Edmunds, William Chester Minor, Henry Dodwell)
- Broadmoor: A History of Criminal Lunacy and its Problems, Ralph Partridge, 1953, available from Reading Central Library.
- Broadmoor Revealed, Mark Stevens (BRO archivist), ISBN: 9781781593202, includes chapters on inmates Edward Oxford, Richard Dadd, William Chester Minor. Available from Reading Central Library, Berkshire FHS and Amazon. Listen to a podcast of his talk, 50 mins.
- Life in the Victorian Asylum, Mark Stevens (BRO archivist), ISBN 9781781593738, 2014, describes why county asylums were built, the sort of people they housed and the treatments they received. See review in Berkshire Family Historian, June 2015, Vol 38, page 30.
- Research guide from Berkshire FHS.
- Article about inmate Emma Greenwood in Berkshire Family Historian, June 2011, Vol 34, page 27.
- Interpreting Mental Health Records article in Berkshire Family Historian, Dec 2006, Vol 30, page 12.
- BBC article.
- Inside Broadmoor - TV documentary, 2002, 47 mins.
- Church Hill House Hospital, Bracknell, based in the former Easthampstead Workhouse, records are held by the BRO (ref. D/H8), including the admissions register, 1929-1933.
- Cippenham Isolation Hospital built in early 1900s, rebuilt over the years, closed early 1950s.
- St Andrew’s Convalescent Hospital, Clewer, built in the 1866, closed and demolished in 1954, archives are held by the BRO, including photographs of several wards (ref. D/EX2183).
- Cold Ash Children's Hospital founded in 1886, moved to new building in 1892, closed in 1963 and site sold for development.
- Fair Mile Hospital, Moulsford - was opened in 1870 for 285 patients as the Moulsford Asylum, Cholsey, later became the Berkshire County Mental Hospital, Fairmile. Now closed and converted into housing.
- Records are held by the BRO (ref. D/H10), including burials. Lost casebooks for 1884-1924 have recently been found (ref. D/EZ181). See their gallery.
- Nursing at the Fairmile Mental Hospital, Cholsey, 1935-1939 by Mary Fairbairn Macintyre, 2013, Berkshire Medical Heritage Centre. A memoir of a student nurse in the 1930s. Available from Berkshire FHS. See review in Berkshire Family Historian, June 2015, Vol 38, page 31.
- Berkshire FHS have limited information online (members only).
- Fair Mile Hospital: a Victorian Asylum, Ian Wheeler, the History Press, 2015. A comprehensive history of the facility from 1870 to 2010. See review in Berkshire Family Historian, Sept. 2015, Vol 39, page 33.
- Research guide from Berkshire FHS.
- Henley War Memorial Hospital built in 1923 to commemorate the 339 local men who died in WW1, closed 1984 and land sold for redevelopment.
- Hungerford Isolation Hospital used in WW1, demolished in 1940s.
- Littlemore Hospital, Oxfordshire, provided care to Berkshire residents between 1847 and 1870.
- Maidenhead hospitals:
- Maidenhead General Hospital, also known as St Lukes, opened 1879 as a cottage hospital for 8 patients, built and maintained by voluntary donations, closed in 1977, demolished and overbuilt. Registers of operations, 1966-1970, archives are held by the BRO (ref. D/H 1).
- St Mark's Hospital, 1946-1978 (previously Cookham (later Maidenhead) Workhouse), archives are held by the BRO (ref. D/H 3).
- Maidenhead Isolation Hospital opened 1893, rebuilt over the years, closed 1984 and site sold for development. Records 1940-1978 are held by the BRO (ref. D/H 3).
- Moulsford Asylum - see Fair Mile Hospital, above.
- Newbury District Hospital
- Historic archives are held by the BRO (ref. D/H4).
- Built in 1884 in Andover Road, Newbury, to meet the medical needs of the people of Newbury and Newbury Rural District following the closure of the Nurses Home and Navvy Hospital in Bartholomew Terrace. The hospital originally housed 12 patients, but various additions were made from 1894 onwards, with a major building programme in 1936-7.
- Peppard Sanatorium opened in 1898 for TB patients, became the Peppard Hospital as the need for TB treatment declined, closed in 1980s and site sold for development.
- Battle Hospital (built as Reading Union Workhouse) closed and demolished in 2005.
- Park Isolation Hospital, Prospect Park. Built in 1906, closed 1987 and used an NHS offices, now demolished and replaced by Prospect Park Hospital. 1910-1931 records (subject to a hundred years’ closure) are held by the BRO (ref. D/H 11), including diphtheria and scarlet fever case books.
- Royal Berkshire Hospital:
- Museum and archive.
- Royal Berkshire Hospital 1839 - 1989, Margaret Railton & Marshall Barr, ISBN 0951437305 is available from Reading Central Library.
- The Story of the Royal Berkshire Hospital 1837-1937, ed. Ernest W Dormer, 1937, available from Berkshire FHS library.
- An autograph album kept by Barbara Arnst, a nurse 1901-1908, including several photographs of the wards, is held by the BRO (D/EX2299).
- Their most famous patient was perhaps Douglas Bader in 1931.
- Sandleford Hospital was built as Newbury Union Workhouse in 1836, closed in 2004 and demolished. Records are held by the BRO.
- Speen Cottage Hospital, opened 1869, by 1912, it became a convalescent home, closed in 1946.
- Wallingford Cottage Hospital (aka Morrell Cottage Hospital) opened 1881 on London Road, moved to new building in 1929, became the Wallingford Community Hospital in 1973.
- St Mary's Hospital was built as Wallingford Workhouse, becoming the Berkshire County Council Institution in 1930. Closed and demolished in 1982. Records are held by the BRO.
Wallingford Isolation Hospital, built in 1904, was known at various times as Wallingford and Crowmarsh Joint Isolation Hospital, Wallingford and Bullingdon Joint Isolation Hospital, St George's Hospital in 1950. It was sold in 1981 and houses built.
- Waylands Hospital - was built in 1835 as the Bradfield Workhouse and became Waylands Hospital in the 1900s. In 1990, the hospital (and associated SS Simon and Jude chapel of ease) was demolished except for the front which is incorporated into a new housng development. Records are held by the BRO.
- Wokingham Hospital was originally built in 1848 as Wokingham Workhouse. Records are held by the BRO.
- Pinewood Sanatorium was built by London County Council in 1901 for TB patients from the London area, closed in 1966, site sold and redeveloped.
- Wokingham Orthopedic Clinic opened in 1920, closed c1974.
- Henry Lucas Hospital
Monumental Inscriptions (MIs) - see Cemeteries.
- See general information on Military History and Military Records.
- Berkshire Militia:
- Militia Ballot Lists (all those eligible to serve) and Enrollment Lists (those chosen by ballot to serve) 1757-1831 are held by the TNA under WO13 and some by the BRO, see article in Berkshire Family Historian, June 2007, Vol 30, page 11.
- Berkshire FHS shop sells CDs of Berkshire enrollment lists for 1807 and 1808.
- 1522 Muster Roll for West Berkshire in 5 parts (scroll down the list).
- The Eureka Partnership publish transcriptions of various Berkshire Militia Rolls.
Berkshire Yeomanry - First raised in 1794 to counter the threat of invasion from Revolutionary France, used to counter social unrest in Berkshire in early 1800s, members served in the Boer War, WW1, WW2, Iraq, former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan.
The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) amalgamated in 1959 with the Wiltshire Regiment to form the Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment which in turn amalgamated in 1994 with the Gloucestershire Regiment to form the Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment, which again amalgamated in 2007 with the Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, the Light Infantry and the Royal Greenjackets to form The Rifles.
- The Rifles Museum (the Wardrobe) holds all the records for the Royal Berkshire Regiment (and its predecessors the 48th and 66th Regiments) and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire). It is the only regimental museum in the country to have its war diaries on site and available to researchers. Much of their archive is searchable online. See article in Berkshire Family Historian, Sep 2007, Vol 31, page 24.
- 66th Berkshire Regiment, 1887, J Percy Groves, a brief history 1758 to 1881, free download from Internet Archive. See also Maiwand Lion below.
- The War Service of the 1/4 Royal Berkshire Regiment (T. F.) [in WW1] by CRMF Cruttwell, free download from Project Gutenberg.
- 2nd Battalion The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) veterans' website, mainly about the WW2 Burma theatre.
- 8th battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment during WW1 - research by Andrew Tatham.
- Royal Berkshire Regiment 1743-1914 and Royal Berkshire Regiment 1914-1959, Martin McIntyre, Tempus Publishing, 2006 and 2012, available from Berkshire FHS. See review in Berkshire Family Historian, Mar 2014, Vol 37, page 30.
- History of the Royal Berkshire Militia (now 3rd battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment), Emma Elizabeth Thoyts, 1897, 349 pages, is available from Reading Central Library and a free download from the Internet Archive.
- World War 1:
- Some war diaries from WW1 for operations between 1914 and 1922 have been digitised by TNA for download for a modest charge; they contain daily reports of operations, intelligence summaries and other material for Berkshire (and other) regiments.
- WW1 records held by the BRO.
- General information from Berkshire FHS.
- Reading Central Library holds many books about local regiments and militia, including the war diaries of the Berkshire Regiment from the World War I.
- Reading Standard produced a series of booklets entitled Berkshire and the War which was published monthly during WW1 with stories and photos of local casualties. It includes people from outside Berkshire who joined a Berkshire regiment, Berkshire people who joined other regiments, Berkshire people in Berkshire regiments and Berkshire people in the Navy. Copies are held by the BRO, Reading Central Library and Berkshire FHS. Also available on CD.
- A County at War - Berkshire 1914-1918, John Trigg, 2007. Available from Berkshire FHS.
- Reading in the Great War 1914-1916, available from Berkshire FHS.
- The Ration was a magazine produced monthly by the staff of the Reading War Hospitals for staff and patients, bound in three volumes covering 1916-18, held by the BRO (ref. D/EE/Z34) and Reading Central Library. See article in Berkshire Family Historian, Mar 2015, and BBC report.
- Abingdon men who served in WW1: from the book Abingdon (Borough) Roll of Service August 1914 - June 1919.
- For King and Country - 'Uncovering the stories behind our Great War heroes' from Windsor and Maidenhead who served.
- Berkshire POWs held in Germany from Berkshire Family Historian, Jun 2003. Information can often also be found in contemporary local newspaper accounts.
- German POWs held at Newbury Racecourse from Berkshire Family Historian, Jun 2003. Some injured ones were also held at Broadmoor Hospital, records held by the BRO, ref. D/H14/D1/1/4/1 and D/H14/A6/2/51.
- Reports from BBC Radio Berkshire about Berkshire's involvement in WW1.
- World War 2:
- Some WW2 records are held by the BRO. Highlights include a scrapbook from Oakfield Hostel in Wokingham for children evacuated from London, 1940-1951 (D/EX1362/1), a service register for Remenham parish annotated with commentary on the war, 1939-1945 (ref. D/P99/1B/4), and local government efforts for the home front, such as Maidenhead Borough’s Holidays at Home and Entertainment Sub-Committees, 1943, 1945 (ref. M/AC2/3/2).
- Berkshire Airfields in the Second World War by Robin J Brooks describes the history of each airfield, highlights some of the major operations carried out from them, and their overall contribution to the war effort.
- Prisoner of War camps in Berkshire: Winter Quarter Camp, Ascot; Lodge Farm Camp, Baydon, Newbury; Mortimer Camp, Stratfield Mortimer; Stanbury House Camp, Stanbury Park, Spencers Wood, Reading; Basildon House, Lower Basildon, Pangbourne; Durnell's Farm Camp (Magazine Camp), Central Ordnance Depot, Didcot; Crookham Common Camp, Thatcham, Newbury. From Churchill's Unexpected Guests: Prisoners of War in Britain in World War II by Sophie Jackson, 2010, ISBN: 9780752455655. See also Wikipedia.
- Ascot Internment Camp No. 7 - in Swinley forest near Ascot West rail station to intern upto 700 enemy aliens and British fascist sympathisers classified medium risk. Closed in 1943 when it became the Winter Quarter POW camp, above. Remembering Wartime - Ascot and Sunningdale 1939-1945 by Christine Weightman, 2006, ISBN 0 9537945 2 0 contains a brief description of the camp. See also Wikipedia.
- Bombing of Reading and Newbury in 1943.
- Through Their Eyes, from the BRO describes how the people of Berkshire prepared for the WW2, adapted to unimaginable change and finally celebrated peace, through the eyes of residents, including the evacuees who made this county their temporary home; the air raid wardens who protected citizens; the troops who trained here; the Home Guard members who defended towns from invasion; and the partygoers who took to the streets to celebrate on VE Day.
- Reading at War, Stuart Hylton ISBN-10: 0750912162, ISBN-13: 978-0750912167, The History Press, 1996, "An illustrated insight into the realities of wartime life in the town of Reading, which draws on contemporary accounts from local newspapers to provide examples of both heroism and tragedy, in addition to details of the bureaucracy that developed as Britain went into war, and information on the everyday struggle of life during the conflict"
Berkshire Victoria Cross holders:
- Berkshire FHS have produced the Berkshire War Memorials CD edition 2 which holds transcriptions and photographs of nearly 900 war memorials ie. nearly all of those in pre-1974 Berkshire, some with phoographs. It covers not only World Wars 1 and 2 but also others, including the Boer War, Korea, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Location map of Windsor & Maidenhead war memorials.
- The Cemetery Junction War Graves website (previously Reading Remembrance Trust) has photographs, transcriptions and short biographies of many of those who lost their lives as a result of WW1 and are buried or commemorated on graves in the Old Reading Cemetery, Cemetery Junction, Reading. It also includes the Alfred Sutton School War Memorial.
- The names on some Berkshire war memorials are available from Roll of Honour.
- You can also search online photograph sites (see Historical Photographs under History for details) eg, this one in East Ilsley.
- Berkshire War Memorials provides an online inventory of war memorials in Berkshire.
- The West Berkshire War Memorials Project: online photographs and transcriptions of the war memorials in West Berkshire.
- The Maiwand Lion war memorial in Forbury Gardens, Reading for the Afghan War of 1880:
- British Empire website.
- Roll of Honour (with photo and list of names).
- Maiwand: The Last Stand of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment in Afghanistan, 1880 by Richard J Stacpoole-Ryding, ISBN 978 0 7524 4537 3 (available from Reading Central Library and Berkshire FHS) aims to be the definitive description of the battle and associated campaign, with a full list of participants and many photographs, very useful for anyone with ancestors involved. See review by Berkshire FHS.
- A list of names on the plinth was published in Berkshire Family Historian, Spring 1981, Vol 6, page 58.
- The battle is also commemorated by a memorial in Shalbourne (once in Berks, now in Wilts) to remember 3 fatalities from the village: George Tuttle, Joseph Cope, Charles Rolfe.
- Burghfield War Memorial: article in Berkshire Family Historian, June 2019, Vol 42, page 26 lists those of the parish who died during WW1 and 2, including those recorded on the memorial, with additional historical information.
- See also Cemeteries.
- Philip Johnston's History of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
- General information on geographical names.
- The Hundreds of Berkshire.
- Extra-parochial places for Berkshire.
- Berkshire place-names and landowners in Domesday Book Online.
- The Place-names of Berkshire - an essay by Frank Merry Stenton, Research Fellow in Local History, University College, Reading. Published 1911 by University College Reading; free online from Internet Archive.
- The River Thames:
- Thames Pilot provides historical information about the river.
- The BRO has the archive of the Thames Conservancy which is an unbroken record of 200 years of the river's management from the source to Teddington and an early 17th century map showing the River Thames and its channels and islands at Cookham (D/EZ 132).
- Thames Navigation Commission Minutes, 1771-1790 from the Berkshire Record Society.
- The Royal River: The Thames from Source to Sea was first published in 1885 (and re-published by Bloomsbury Books in 1985, ISBN 0 906223 77 6) provides a description of the river as it was, with maps and wood engravings, available in Reading Central Library.
- A Picturesque Tour of the River Thames in its Western Course: including Particular Descriptions of Richmond, Windsor, and Hampton Court, by John Fisher Murray, 9 editions, first published in 1845, free online from Open Library.
- Commissioners’ minute books are held by BRO (ref. D/TC) and record battles with vested interests, problems with barge-owners, negotiations with riverside landowners, struggles to raise the capital required (and problems caused by financial mismanagement), as well as the technical problems encountered in building the new locks.
- River & Rowing Museum, Henley
- Down by the River: the Thames and Kennet in Reading by Gillian Clark, 2009, childhood memories of millers, bargees, lock-keepers, boat builders etc, available from Berkshire FHS shop and Reading Central Library.
- General information on personal names.
- The location of archived personal papers may be listed on the NRA.
- Published family trees: Genes Reunited, Rootsweb, Ancestry, Mocavo (but be careful to verify what you find).
The BRO have portraits of the following: George Charles Cherry (1822-1887), Richard Benyon (1811-1897), Lord Wantage (1832-1901) (Robert James (Lloyd) Lindsay), James Herbert Benyon (1849-1935), Robert Palmer (1793-1872), William George Mount (1824-1906).
Some 19th Century Berkshire Squires; A County History 1800-1900, John Trigg (Self published, 2005) A5, 168pp, Softback
Richard Barry (seventh earl of Barrymore) was a reckless Georgian rake - see article in Berkshire Family Historian, June 2011, Vol 34, page 19.
Amelia Dyer née Hobley (1837 – 1896) "Ogress of Reading" was the most prolific baby farm murderer of Victorian England.
Sydney Langford Jones of Blewbury was an artist, a Quaker and pacifist, records are held by the BRO (ref. D/EX1795), including two small sculptures he created out of porridge whilst interned in Pentonville Prison as a conscientious objector during the First World War.
John Nevil Maskelyne (1839–1917) was a nationally celebrated illusionist who lived in Bucklebury, see article in Berkshire Family Historian, Sep 2016, Vol 40 page 25.
George Blackall Simonds (1843 - 1929) (of the Reading brewing family) was a famous sculptor (including the Maiwand Lion war memorial in Reading), see article in Berkshire Family Historian, Mar 2017, Vol 40 page 22.
John Soane (1753-1837) is regarded as one of England’s finest architects. He grew up and went to school in Reading and designed, among other things, the Simeon Monument in the Market Place, Reading.
The Toomers of Newbury - see articles in Berkshire Family Historian, Sep 2008, Vol 33 page 25 and Dec 2008, Vol 32 page 23.
Jethro Tull (1674 – 1741) was an agricultural pioneer who helped bring about the British Agricultural Revolution.
Conrad Birdwood Willcocks 1887-1973, architect. His records, containing all the plans and papers for almost every project he worked on, are held by BRO (ref. D/EWK). See Vol 74 Jan 2016 of the Berkshire Echo.
County Genealogies. Pedigrees of Berkshire Families. Collected by Berry, William, 1774-1851. Transferred from his own hand writing and printed in lithography by E. Barwick, published 1837, free online from HathiTrust Digital Library.
- General information about newspapers.
- Wikipedia has a list of online newspapers around the world, including the UK.
- Reading Central Library holdings are described in their Factsheet, and includes:
- Various unindexed historic Berkshire newspapers on microfilm for reference.
- The Illustrated London News (1842-2003 incomplete).
- Full text search online access to The Times 1785-2007. This will also be available to members of other libraries that subscribe.
- The Early Newspaper Press in Berkshire 1723 - 1855, KG Burton, Reading, 1954 describes the history and development of newspapers in Berkshire (i.e. mainly Reading).
- Bracknell Library has past copies of Bracknell News and Wokingham Times (not at Wokingham Library, as might be expected).
- Newbury Library has past copies of the Newbury Weekly News from its founding in February 1867 on microfilm. Although not the first in its field, it is the only Newbury newspaper to have been published continuously from its Victorian beginning through to the present day. A copy of a memoir relating to the setting up of the newspaper written in 1917 by founder Thomas Wheildon Turner is held by BRO (D/EX 1755).
- PhD thesis 'The Newspaper Press in the Town of Reading 1855-1980' by A.T. Watts available free online from the University of Stirling.
- The Guardian and Observer archives offer online every page of the Guardian since 1821 and the Observer since 1791. It is free to search, but they charge to read the articles.
- To trace the history of a newspaper, trade directories can provide some information through the years, see sample pages from a 1915 directory.
See also Periodicals.
- General information about researching occupations and guides from TNA.
- See also Business and Commerce.
- TNA's Discovery facility allows you to search their records of a person by occupation (try "apothecary AND richardson") and may be listed on the NRA.
- Trade directories can provide some information about individuals and companies through the years, see sample pages from a 1915 directory.
- Warwick University's Modern Record Centre provides definitions of trades and occupations, many of which will be unfamiliar (scroll down the page).
- Ancestry provides subscription access to some occupational records.
- Apprenticeships: The BRO have some registers of apprentices in their Poorhouse records.
- Many early ministers of the Church of England were graduates of Cambridge or Oxford Universities which publish brief biographical details - see under Schools.
- Crockford's Clerical Directory: first published in 1858, contains biographies of over 26,000 clergy of the Church of England, the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Ireland. Copies are held by many libraries, including Reading Central Library. Also available free for different years from various online books sites (e.g. this 1865 edition from Google Books). Clergy since 1968 are also listed online.
- The Church Times is a weekly C of E newspaper which often contains obituaries; a full set is archived at the Church of England Record Centre.
- The Surman Index is an online biographical card index of Congregational ministers which "includes the names of about 32,000 ministers, and, where known, their dates, details of their education, ministries or other employment, together with the sources used. It covers the period from the mid-seventeenth century to 1972".
- The Dictionary of Quaker Biography consists of approximately 20,000 biographical entries of prominent British and American Friends from the 17th to the 20th centuries.
- Trade directories can provide some information about ministers through the years, see sample pages from a 1915 directory.
- See also Church History.
- For hospital medical staff, try also the Hospital Records Database below.
- Some hospital staff will be listed in the censuses.
Horse racing and training is well established in Berkshire, see sketch map.
- The Sport of Kings (and Queens) from Berkshire Family Historian, June 2002.
- Reading Racing article in Berkshire Family Historian, Mar 2008, Vol 31, page 18.
- The Running Horses - A Brief History of Racing in Berkshire from 1740, 1978, 29pp booklet by David Boyd, ISBN 0905538307 is available from Reading Central Library.
- Horse Racing in Berkshire by James Douglas-Home, 1992, ISBN 0-7509-0138-1 is available from Reading Central Library.
- Free Rein: Racing in Berkshire and Beyond 1700-1905, Penelope Stokes ISBN 0 9528339 1 3, available in Berkshire FHS library.
- National Horseracing Museum have an online archive of some jockeys, horses etc. The Jockey Club no longer regulates the industry.
- Trade directories and local newspapers can provide some information through the years.
- The Cox Library is a collection of books and other printed material related to the worldwide history and organisation of horse racing and thoroughbred breeding.
Licenced Victuallers (aka public house (pub) landlords, licensees):
- See also Inns, Hotels and Pubs.
- The records of their licences issued by the local authorities are held by the BRO. Search their holdings using TNA's Discovery advanced search and include "Berkshire Record Office" in the "Exact word or phrase" field, in addition to your own search term(s).
- See this description from TNA.
- Berkshire Windmills, Guy Blythman, 2007, available from Berkshire FHS shop and Reading Central Library, lists the 49 windmills known to have existed in Berkshire with brief details and locations.
- Mills Archive Trust is a repository for historical and contemporary material on traditional mills and milling worldwide (including Berkshire) and is located in Reading.
- District Nurses - healthcare for the poor in the first half of the 20th century was often provided by District Nurses who were funded by District Nursing Associations.
- These District Nursing Associations' records are available from the BRO:
- The Bagley Wood Nursing Association (for Kennington, Radley, Sunningwell and Wootton), 1923-1948, (D/QNA/BW).
- The Wantage District Nursing Association (for Grove and Wantage, and from 1940 Letcombe Bassett and Letcombe Regis), 1928-1942, (D/QNA/WT).
- Also available are the minutes of Sonning Deanery Moral Welfare Association, 1934-1938 (D/RDS) which helped unmarried mothers, fallen women and deserted wives by providing financial assistance, places in homes, referrals to the police, and assistance with prosecutions for maintenance, although the names of its clients are omitted.
Police - Berkshire is currently policed by the Thames Valley Police, formed by the amalgamation of various local forces:
- Abingdon Borough Police 1836-1889 amalgamated with the Berkshire Constabulary.
- Newbury Borough Police 1836-1875 amalgamated with the Berkshire Constabulary.
- Reading Borough Police 1836-1968 amalgamated to form the Thames Valley Constabulary (now Thames Valley Police).
- New Windsor Borough Police 1836-1947 amalgamated with the Berkshire Constabulary.
- Wokingham - policed from Reading.
- Berkshire Constabulary 1855-1968, amalgamated with the Buckinghamshire Constabulary, Oxford City Police, Oxfordshire Constabulary and Reading Borough Police to form the Thames Valley Constabulary (now Thames Valley Police).
Sources of historical information about the police:
- General information about the Police.
- The Thames Valley Police Museum is located within Sulhamstead House, known locally as the 'White House', at Sulhamstead, Berkshire, open by appointment.
- Surviving personnel records are patchy:
- Buckinghamshire police records are held by the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, Aylesbury.
- Oxford City Police records are held by the Oxfordshire History Centre.
- Berkshire Constabulary records are held by the BRO, including examination records for many police officers 1856-1929 (Q/APE series), including details of age, address, previous jobs, reading ability, etc. Search by name at TNA.
- Oxfordshire Constabulary and Reading Borough police records are held at the Thames Valley Police Museum, Sulhamstead.
- Windsor Borough Police records were destroyed by flood.
- Reading Borough Police Registers for the periods 1865-1880 and 1881-1905 are available from Berkshire FHS shop and the originals are held at the Thames Valley Police Museum.
- Was Your Ancestor a Berkshire Policeman?, article in Berkshire Family Historian, Vol 14, page 112 gives a brief history of the Berkshire police forces.
- Queens Peace, a History of Reading Borough Police 1836-1968, Alan Wykes, 1968, available from Reading Central Library.
- Short History of the Berkshire Constabulary, 1856-1956, 1956, ISBN: 9999043185, available from Reading Central Library.
Prisons - see Correctional Institutions.
Railway workers - see Business & Commerce.
Royal household in Windsor castle - see The Royal Archives.
- Soldiers, see Military.
- Teachers - see Schools.
- Trade Union records
The Weavers’ Company in Newbury was a powerful trade gild founded in the 16th century. Records held by the BRO (ref. D/ENM, etc), including the organisation’s 1602 charter from Queen Elizabeth I.
See below for records of organisations other than Business and Commerce Records, Schools, Courts, Military, Newspapers. Check the links below, and use TNA's Discovery advanced search and include "Berkshire Record Office" in the "Exact word or phrase" field, in addition to your own search term(s).
- Reading Co-operative Society - records are held by the BRO (ref. D/EX1497).
Sports clubs - The BRO hold records of a number of Berkshire sports clubs, see the Berkshire Echo Vol 60 of 2012, Vol 64 of 2013, including those of Berkshire County Cricket Club 1903-2013. Typical records might include administrative records, minutes, annual reports, accounts, programmes, newsletters, photographs, membership lists.
- Statutory authorities - various records of some public companies are held by the BRO.
Thames Conservancy - see Names, Geographical.
Parish Records - see Church Records.
- General information about periodicals.
- Berkshire Old and New is published annually by the Berkshire Record Society.
- Berkshire Family Historian is published quarterly by Berkshire FHS for its members. All issues from its first publication in 1975 are available in their Centre for Heritage and Family History and (for members only) online.
- Berkshire Echo is published quarterly free online by the BRO with articles about their holdings, in particular new additions. The best way to search the articles seems to be using Google (or similar) and include "Berkshire Echo" (with quotes) in addition to your search terms in the search field.
- See also Newspapers.
- General information about poorhouses. In 1782, the Gilbert Act divided counties into districts providing unions of parishes to be controlled by Boards of Guardians in order to benefit the old, the sick, the infirm and orphans. During the First World War many workhouses were used as war hospitals. Under the Local Government Act of 1929, the Poor Law Unions were abolished. Responsibility for poor relief passed to local authorities from April 1930. Berkshire County Council took over all the former workhouses in Berkshire apart from Reading, which was taken over by Reading Borough Council. See article in the Berkshire Echo Vol 76 of Sep. 2016 for general information about the poorhouses and social care generally before the welfare state in 1948.
- Peter Higginbotham's The Story of Workhouses provides a detailed description of each poorhouse and the location of their archived records, including these serving Berkshire: Abingdon, Bradfield, Cookham (later re-named Maidenhead), Easthampstead, Faringdon, Hungerford (and Ramsbury), Newbury, Reading, Wallingford, Wantage, Windsor and Wokingham.
- Many records are held by the BRO and, where they exist, may contain: lists of inmates, register of Apprentices, register of births, register of deaths, rate books, admission and discharge registers, Board of Guardians' records. A useful source of information on those at the bottom of the social heap.
- Records of the original Oracle cloth workhouse are held by the BRO.
- The Eureka Partnership publish a number of birth and death records of the Berkshire Workhouses.
- Berkshire FHS have information about the Berkshire Workhouses and their shop sells a number of booklets of Poor Law Union records.
- If you are looking for someone who was in a workhouse, it is worth checking if they also appear in the Quarter Sessions records, also held by the BRO.
- The Berkshire Overseers Papers are published by Berkshire FHS on CD which contains virtually all of the surviving pre-1834 records arranged by Poor Law Union, and with a master index.
- Berkshire FHS identify the Berkshire Poorlaw Unions and their constituent parishes (for members only). See also their sketch map of Berkshire Poorlaw Union areas.
- For photographs of workhouses, see The Story of Workhouses above and Historical Photographs under History.
- See articles in Berkshire Family Historian, Dec 2001, Vol 25, page 93 and Sep 2009, Vol 33, page 12.
The Probate Service allows you to search for and order a will or ‘grant of representation’ for people who died in or after 1858. You need the surname and year of death. The free index can be quite informative, even if you do not pay for the will.
Pre-1858 Wills: administrations and other probate records will be found in the Record Office holding the documents of the ecclesiastical (church) court where the will was proved:
- Berkshire wills and probate documents from the archdiaconal court are held at the BRO. Those Berkshire documents of the Consistory Court of Salisbury (the diocesan court) can be found at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre where the catalogue is online searchable. It contains 105,000 wills and inventories dating from 1540 to 1858 for Wiltshire, Berkshire, parts of Dorset and Uffculme in Devon.
- Berkshire FHS, in partnership with the BRO, Berkshire Record Society and OFHS, provide an online index of over 38,000 entries of the Archdeaconry of Berkshire wills, administrations and inventories for the period 1480 to 1857. It is also available on CD. Note that this is an index; it does not contain the actual documents but gives all the details necessary to order the records from the BRO.
- Those Berkshire wills proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury and their associated documents are at TNA.
- The National Wills Index - subscription access from Origins.Net.
- Probate documents from 'peculiars' (parishes in one archdeaconry or diocese but subject to the religious or lay authority of another archdeacon, bishop or other body or person) may be found elsewhere.
- The following Berkshire parishes were 'peculiars' of the Salisbury Diocese: Arborfield, Blewbury, Hurst, Ruscombe, Sandhurst, Sonning & Wokingham, with the Chapels of Upton and Aston Upthorpe.
- Probate documents for Hungerford, Langford, Shalbourne, Wantage (early) and West Ilsley can be found at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
- Wills of the few inhabitants of Windsor Castle are kept at The Aerary.
- Berkshire was an archdeaconry in the diocese of Salisbury in the archdiocese of Canterbury until, in 1836, it was moved to the diocese of Oxford.
Transcriptions of some Berkshire wills are available online:
- From TNA: Anthony Bigot of Reading, Katherine Harling, and Edward Jones.
- OFHS publish transcriptions of mainly Oxfordshire wills, but also some for testators who were born or lived in historic Berkshire.
- Nick Hidden has provided a collection of about 1000 abstracts of probate documents from c1500 to 1858 (when civil probate registries came into being in England & Wales) relating to testators from the neighbourhood of Hungerford and Wantage in Berkshire. There is some spread into Wiltshire and to a lesser degree Hampshire and Oxfordshire.
- General information about school records in England and UK & Ireland.
- Berkshire Schools in the Eighteenth Century from the Berkshire Record Society. "In 1833 the Government provided the first public money for schools; within 70 years there was a national system of primary and secondary education covering every place in every county. These milestones built on what had existed earlier: a complex patchwork of charity, religious and private schools – many of which are now long gone, having left little evidence of their existence. This volume recreates that pre-1833 picture and, in doing so, celebrates the wide range of schooling offered in Georgian Berkshire."
- BRO holdings:
- Research guides listing some of their historical school records. They are generally subject to a 50-year closure period.
- For catalogued records, use TNA's Discovery advanced search and include "Berkshire Record Office" in the "Exact word or phrase" field, in addition to your own search term(s).
- Some are un-catalogued, of which some are listed below:
Beech Hill Church of England School, 1951-1967 (D/EX 1864); Mrs Bland’s School, Burghfield Common, 1904-1991 (D/EX2082); Bradfield CE Primary School, 1921-2000s (SCH24); Wildmoor Heath (formerly Broadmoor) Primary School, Crowthorne, 1873-2000 (SCH29); Princess Margaret Rose School (formerly St Stephen’s Senior Girls’ School), Clewer, 1889-1983 (SCH8); St Mary’s School, Datchet, 1844-1980s (SCH30); St Nicolas’ Primary School, East Challow (2003/SCH/1 & 21?); Maidenhead Infant School, Brock Lane, 1870-1884 managers’ minutes (D/P 194); Reading schools: the British Infants School (later a Board School) in Southampton Street, 1870-1907, and George Palmer Infants School, 1907-1996 (2001/SCH/3) (see also The Centenary of the George Palmer School, Daphne Barnes-Phillips); Battle Mixed/Senior/Secondary Modern School, 1891-1968, Wilson Mixed, Central and Senior Schools, 1905-1972, and Meadway Comprehensive, 1972-2001 (2001/SCH/4); and Christchurch C of E Primary School (now New Christ Church CE (VA) School), 1983-2000 (2001/SCH/5); Katesgrove Primary School, Reading 1872-1987 (SCH6); Reading and Earley Board School (later New Town Board School and New Town Secondary Modern School) and Alfred Sutton Secondary Girls’ School, Reading, log books, 1877-1895 and 1949-1973 (D/EX2015); plans for several Reading schools, 1851-1872 (D/EX2009); Reading Teachers’ Centre, 1970-c.1983 (D/EX2081); Battle Primary School, Reading, 1893-2000 (SCH20); Wilson Primary School, Reading, 1904-c.1990s (SCH14); and Churchend School, Tilehurst, 1962-2008 (SCH15); Letcombe Bassett National school, 1864-1926 log books (D/EX 1904); Newbury County Grammar School for Girls, 1950-1961 (D/EX2308); Newbury County Girls’ Grammar School, 1904-2003 (SCH12 and D/EX2060); St Bartholomew’s Grammar School, Newbury, 1945-1975 (SCH11); St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury admission registers, 1975-1998 (2004/SCH/1); St Bartholomew’s [Comprehensive] School, Newbury, 1975- 2001 (SCH13); Winchcombe Junior School, Newbury records, 1950-2005 (SCH2); Winchcombe Infants’ School, Newbury, 1964-1981 (SCH10); Streatley C of E School 1873-2003 (D/EX2127); photographs of Courtenay Lodge School, Sutton Courtenay and Maiden Erlegh School, Earley, 1930s-1950s (D/EX1914); Lambs Lane Council School, Swallowfield 1908-1916 (SCH19); Sir Charles Russell's school, Swallowfield 1873-1908 admissions register (SCH17); St Mary’s Church of England Junior School, Thatcham, formerly Thatcham National School, 1883-2005 (SCH4); Parsons Down Junior School, Thatcham, 1997-2004 (SCH27); West Hendred School admission register, 1904-1966, (SCH1/11/1); St John’s Primary School, Wallingford, 1863-2010 (SCH22); Robert Piggott Church of England Junior School, Wargrave, 1993-2000 log books (2001/SCH/2); Lambrook School, a private preparatory boarding school for boys in Winkfield, 1870-1997 (D/EX1832); Winkfield St Mary’s Church of England School 1943-2003 (SCH18); Ranelagh School, founded as an elementary charity school in Cranbourne by the Earl of Ranelagh in 1709, refounded as a grammar school in new premises in Bracknell in 1908, and since 1981 a comprehensive school (SCH5) and Cranbourne Ranelagh School, Winkfield, 1904-1942 (D/EX1979).
- School Records at the BRO, article in Berkshire Family Historian, Dec 2006, Vol 30, page 21.
- BRO's album of early 20th century photographs of Berkshire schools (D/EX1964/1), see the Berkshire Echo Vol 62 of 2013 and the links below.
- The location of archived papers may be listed on the NRA.
- Schools records from Berkshire FHS
- Useful information about schools through the years can often be found in trade directories, see sample pages from a 1915 directory.
- Blewbury Charity School: see The Story of Blewbury Charity School, Peter Northeast (Blewbury Local History Group, 1964, 3rd ed with amendments by BLHG, 2007) A4, 30pp. ISBN 978-0-9504794-7-7
- Bradfield College, Bradfield
- Radley College (aka St Peter's College), Radley near Abingdon:
- Reading Mechanics Institute: now closed, records are held by the BRO (D/EX1431).
- Reading School is one of the town's oldest institutions.
- Ryeish Green School, Spencers Wood, see booklet Ryeish Green School by Spencers Wood Local History Group, 2010, A4, 60pp. See review by Berkshire FHS.
- St Bartholomew's School, Newbury
- Wellington College, Sandhurst.
- White House Preparatory School, Wokingham (formerly Grosvenor House School and Wokingham Preparatory School), now closed.
- University College, Reading (now the University of Reading) was established in 1892.
- The University of Reading: the first fifty years, Holt, J.C. (Reading, Reading University Press, 1977), is available from Reading Central Library.
- The names of senior staff can often be found in trade directories, see sample pages from a 1915 directory.
- See their archives and links in the relevant sections of this page.
- For national societies, see United Kingdom and Ireland Societies.
- Oxfordshire Family History Society (also covers the northern part of the historical area of Berkshire).
- Berkshire Record Society was formed in 1993 and publishes in printed form historic documents and records of the history of Berkshire that are held in BRO and elsewhere. Reading Central Library hold many of their publications.
- Berkshire Local History Association provide information about Berkshire.
- For societies covering specialist subjects, see under the related subject sections on this page.
- Death Duty records kept by TNA have useful genealogical information, often including: the name of the deceased, with address and last occupation, the date of the will, the place and date of probate, and the names, addresses and occupations of the executors, the date of death, and information about the beneficiaries. See article in Berkshire Family Historian, Dec 2009, Vol 33, page 19.
- The E179 database by TNA is a searchable index to the "King's Remembrancer, particulars of account and other records relating to lay and clerical taxation", containing detailed information about over 26,000 documents relating to the taxation of lay people in England and Wales between c.1200 and c.1700, which are likely to contain many names. Click here for Berkshire documents.
- The Hearth Tax was levied between 1662 and 1689 on each householder according to the number of hearths in their dwelling.
Protestations Returns 1641-42: On the eve of the English Civil War, Parliament ordered that a protestation be made as an oath of allegiance to the King, to Parliament and to the established church. Signed initially by members of Parliament in 1641, the order to take the protestation was later extended to all males in England and Wales over the age of eighteen. The officials of the parish were required to make the oath in front of the Justices of the Peace of the hundred, and then in turn the parish officials administered the oath of loyalty for their parishioners. The returns usually take the form of a list of the names of all of the men in the parish over the age of eighteen who took the protestation. Very occasionally, children and servants are listed, as in the case of Sutton Courtenay; or women took the protestation, as in the case of West Shefford. Those who refused to take the oath also had their names listed. The returns were later used to identify Roman Catholics by their refusal, who were then subject to increased taxation.
- BRO has a copy of the Protestation Returns for Berkshire (reference T/A 40) for consultation; the originals are held at the Parliamentary Archives. The returns that survive for Berkshire offer partial but substantial coverage, with most of central Berkshire extant.
- See article in Berkshire Family Historian, Sep 2009, Vol 33, page 15.
- See article in Vol 31, 2005 of the Berkshire Echo.
Rates (local property tax): An article in Vol 63, 2013 of the Berkshire Echo explains their history. The BRO publish this Guide to Rate Books and Valuation Lists (excluding church rates) held by them. Entries typically include owner’s name, address and type of property, rateable value and amount levied and sometimes the occupier. Used with other sources, rate books can be useful for: studying all kinds of property, residential, commercial and industrial; filling gaps between the publication of trade directories and censuses; tracing owners and occupiers before 1918 who do not appear in electoral registers; finding the rough age of a property, its relative value and size, changes to street names and numbering, and the number of occupied houses and tenements in a locality.
- General information about town records.
- Archived town and borough records:
- BRO hold the following: Bracknell Development Corporation, Maidenhead Borough, Newbury Borough, Reading Borough 1850-1962 (R/FR1-5), Slough Borough, Windsor Borough, Wokingham Borough.
- Search also use TNA's Discovery advanced search and include "Berkshire Record Office" in the "Exact word or phrase" field, in addition to your own search term(s).
- The location of archived records may be listed on the NRA.
Vital Records - see Civil Registration.
General information about Voting Registers in UK & Ireland.
- Electoral Registers/Rolls (aka Burgess Lists) (lists of those eligible to vote in local and national elections). See explanation from Family Search. British Library holds copies of all past and present Electoral Registers for view by personal visit. Their online guide provides details of what is available, both from them and from companies offering paid-for online access.
- An article in Berkshire Family Historian, Dec 2012, Vol 36, page 20 explains their value.
- Berkshire FHS talk on Feb 2016 Poll Books, Burgess Lists, Electoral Rolls and Family History.
- Berkshire FHS publish the Electoral Roll for Berkshire for 1832. It is particularly useful since it reflects the increased franchise as a result of the wide-ranging reforms to the electoral system of England and Wales in 1832, and the next best thing to a census.
- Reading Central Library hold Electoral Registers for Reading and Berkshire. See their Factsheet or search their catalogue for "Electoral Register".
- The BRO hold Electoral Registers for 1832, and from 1839 to the present day.
- Ancestry, The Genealogist and Find My Past provide subscription access to some electoral rolls, including Berkshire.
- Poll Books (lists of those who actually voted, and often how). See explanation from Family Search.
- Berkshire FHS talk Poll Books, Burgess Lists, Electoral Rolls and Family History.
- Berkshire FHS have published online (members only) Poll Books for 1727, 1768, 1796, 1812, 1818 and Electoral Register for 1832. The information is also published as CDs in the shop.
- Reading Central Library hold Poll Books for Reading and Berkshire. See their Factsheet.
- The BRO hold county and borough Poll Books for certain years between 1688 and 1863.
- Berkshire Poll Book 1727, transcribed and published by The Eureka Partnership.
- Ancestry, The Genealogist provide subscription access to some poll books, including Berkshire.
- Reading’s Voter’s List for 1790 was contested, although the sitting MPs, Francis Annesley and Richard Aldworth Neville would go on to hold their seats against the opposing candidate, Richard Barry, 7th Earl of Barrymore. Annesley had sat in the House of Commons since 1774 and by 1790, enjoyed wide support and popularity in Reading. He came top of the poll that year. Aldworth Neville, later 2nd Baron Braybrooke, had served Reading since 1784. Both were supporters of William Pitt the younger. Their opponent, an English nobleman also infamous as a rake, gambler, sportsman and womanizer, perhaps unsurprisingly was defeated. A transcript is available to members of the Berkshire FHS giving names, occupations and how they voted. The original document is held in the BRO.
Workhouses - see Poorhouses.