[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2013

"SOHAM, a parish in the hundred of Staploe, county Cambridge, 18 miles north-east of Cambridge, 8 north of Newmarket, and 6 south-east of Ely, its nearest station on the Great Eastern railway. There is a navigable canal called "The Lode" which joins the Ouse at Ely. The parish is 9 miles in length, and comprises the chapelry of Barway. It formerly included a large mere or lake and about 10,000 acres of fen, but these have been drained, and are now in a high state of cultivation. The chief employment of the inhabitants is agricultural, with dairy farming and market gardening. Excellent Cottenham cheese and butter are made, and large quantities of fruit are sent to the London and other markets. The town, which is straggling and irregularly built, consists principally of one street, and has been much improved within the last quarter of a century. It is lighted with gas, but indifferently supplied with water. There are a branch bank, breweries, and tile works. The principal neat is The Place. In the Saxon times it was selected as the seat of a diocese founded in 630 by St. Felix, but removed to Dunwich in 870, when the convent was destroyed by the Danes. A court-leet is held in the town annually. The living is a vicarage with the curacy of Barway annexed, in the diocese of Ely, value £1,653 10s., in the patronage of Pembroke College, Cambridge. The church, dedicated to St. Andrew, or St. John the Baptist, is a cruciform structure, with an old tower containing a peal of ten bells. The register dates from the early part of the reign of Elizabeth. There are places of worship for Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, Independents, Baptists, and Unitarians. The boys' school has an income from endowment of £100 per annum, and Haggitt's Sunday-school one of £10. The parochial charities produce about £700 per annum, including the endowment of Thomas Peachey's almshouses for 17 widows, founded in 1582, and the bequest of Bishop Laney for apprenticing poor children of Ely and Soham. The Commissioners of the Bedford Level allotted a certain portion of fen lands in lieu of common rights. Roman urns and other antiquities have been found here. An annual cattle fair is held 9th May and a pleasure fair on the Monday nearest to St. John's Day."

"BARWAY, (or Barkway or Barraway) a chapelry in the parish of Soham, and hundred of Staploe, in the county of Cambridge, 3 miles from Ely. It is situated near the junction of the river Cam with the Ouse. The curacy is annexed to the vicarage of Soham, in the diocese of Ely. The church is dedicated to St. Nicholas.

[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]


  • "A Cemetery, of 3¾ acres, was formed in 1856, at a cost of £2,700; it is under the control of the Parish Council." [Kelly's Directory Cambridgeshire - 1900] The Monumental Inscriptions in the graveyard of St. Andrew 1598-1977 are recorded in the Cambridge Records Office and an index to the burials in the public cemetery 1856-1993. The monumental inscriptions for Soham are also available on microfiche from the Cambridgeshire Family History Society Publications list (search)





Church History

  • "The church of St. Andrew, erected towards the end of the 12th century, is a cruciform edifice, chiefly in the Transition-Norman style, with portions and insertions of later date, and consists of chancel, with two chapels on the north side, now used as Vestries, clerestoried nave of four bays, aisles, transepts, north and south porches, and an embattled western tower 100 feet in height, with pinnaces, and containing a clock and 10 bells: the chancel is lighted by Decorated windows inserted about the middle of the 14th century: the stained east window is a memorial to the Rev. Henry Tasker, vicar (1832-74), who died 17 Jan. 1874; on each side of the window is a small niche, with traces of painting: the north wall retains a fresco of a bishop in the act of benediction, uncovered in 1849, and it would seem that the whole chancel was at one time ornamented in this way: the chancel roof, and the woodwork at the east end, are both of panelled oak; the stalls, 20 in number, are of the same material and with the exception of six on the north side, added in 1880, were fixed in 1849, when the rood screen, a fine example of modern work, was also erected: on the south side are ancient stone sedilia and a piscina, and there are finely carved altar rails of oak : in the chancel is buried the Rev. D. Harwood, a former vicar, d. 1746, and Mrs. Elizabeth Cawthorne, his sister, d. 1782: the easternmost of the two chapels, built in the 14th century, retains a stone altar at the east end, an aumbry and an irregular oblong tombstone, with incised lettering, as well as some old glass: here also is interred Dr. Cressener, vicar 1678-1717: the other chapel is of Late Perpendicular date and has on its east wall a monument to Edward Bernes esq. and Dorothie (Drurye), his wife; she died 18 Feb. 1598; the chapel is inclosed at the west end by a very perfect and elaborately wrought parclose screen, restored in 1880: each of the transepts has octagonal pinnacles at the angles, and in the south transept is an Early English piscina and a nearly illegible inscription and shields of arms to some member of the Dowman family, and on the east wall a brass with inscription to John Thornton gent. and Ann (Drurie), his wife; he died Sept. 13, 1598: the north transept contains an altar tomb of the 15th century, and a large marble slab, inscribed, but undated, to Thomas Dockwra and his wife: the south aisle retains an aumbrvy on the south side of the nave is a small brass to Oliver Robins, ob. 12 Aug. 1608, and Katherine (Salisbury) his wife, and at the west end are ten ancient stalls, with misereres, formerly in the chancel: the north porch is Perpendicular and has a stoup; the south porch, of the 14th century, has a large sundial over the entrance with the motto :-" Ab hoc momento pendent aeterna:" the tower, 25 feet square, is also Perpendicular: the royal arms, placed at the west end of the north aisle, date from the reign of Queen Anne: the church was completely restored in 1879-80, under the direction of Mr. J. P. St. Aubyn, at a cost of nearly £3,000, and was reopened May 18th, 1880, the whole of the galleries being removed, new roofs placed on the transepts and chapels, and the flooring repaired: parts of the pinnacles were blown down by the gale: of March 24, 1895, but have been restored under the direction of Mr. T. D. Atkinson, architect, of Cambridge. The church now affords 630 sittings: in the churchyard, near the north porch, is the grave of Mary D'Aye, great-grand-daughter of the Lord Protector Cromwell; she died Nov. 5, 1765, aged 75; on the south side of the chancel is buried Dr. John Ward, who died in 1641, aged 125. The registers are complete from the year 1558." "The Congregational chapel was built about 1837 and will seat 450 persons. In 1880 a school room, with class rooms, was built near the chapel, and there is also a minister's house. The Wesleyan chapel, erected in 1841, affords 200 sittings; the Primitive Methodist chapel, erected in 1869, will seat 300 and has Sunday school and class rooms, erected in 1890; and there is another Primitive Methodist chapel at Soham Fen, erected in 1872, and seating 164 persons. The Baptist chapel, erected in 1752 and rebuilt in 1837, seats 500; this chapel was the first pastoral charge, in 1775, of the Rev. Andrew Fuller D.D. a celebrated Baptist minister, born at Wicken in 1754, who was educated at the Free school here and died 7 May, 1815." [Kelly's Directory Cambridgeshire - 1900]
  • "The chapel of St. Nicholas, which is attached to the church of St. John the Baptist, Soham, is a small and plain building, consisting of chancel and nave only, and will seat 80 persons." [Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire 1929]

Church Records

  • Church of England
    • Soham, St Andrew: Records of baptisms 1558-1907, marriages 1599-1915, burials 1558-1922 and banns 1754-1930 reside in the Cambridgeshire Archives.The Bishop's Transcripts for the years 1563-1641, 1663-1845 reside at Suffolk Record Office and 1850-56 can be found in the Cambridge University Library, microfilm copies at held at the Cambridgeshire Archives for the years 1563-1641, 1663-99. Indexed transcripts are also available for baptisms 1558-1875, marriages 1559-1875, burials 1558-1875 at the Cambridgeshire Archives. The parish register transcripts are available, on microfiche, from the Cambridgeshire Family History Society Publications list (search)
  • Independent Church
    • Soham Independent Church: Records exist for the baptisms 1801-37, 1879-94 and burials 1830-34 (on microfilm).
  • Methodist Church

Description & Travel

  • "A cattle fair is held on the 9th of May and a pleasure fair or feast on the Monday next before the Nativity of St John the Baptist, and continues for three days. There are five clubs, viz. the Loyal Star of Charity Lodge (No. 3,710) of Odd Fellows and the Loyal Ancient Order of Stepherds, the meetings of both being held at the Red Lion inn; the United Brethren Friendly Society, the meetings of which are held at the White Hart P.H; the Star of Providence Society, whose meetings are held at the Queen's Arms inn; and the Soham Friendly Society which meets at the Primitive Methodist school room. The Liberal and Conservative associations have also each club houses in the town, comprising large rooms for meetings and reading, the latter having a good billiard room and an excellent hall, fitted with a stage for dramatic performances. The People's Hall, in Station road, contains reading and recreation rooms. There are six almshouses, granted by Thomas Peachey, in April, 1582, and occupied by poor and aged persons; to these a portion of the fen lands was allotted by the Commissioners of the Bedford Level in lieu of the common rights. Charities :- In 1674 Dr. Benjamin Laney, Bishop of Ely (1667-75), bequeathed by deed 200a. Ir. 24p. of land, now (1900) producing £245 5s. yearly, in trust for binding apprentices, children of the poor inhabitants of Ely and Soham, paying not more than £20 with each. George Goward esq. by deed, in 1744, left 18 acres of land, called " Soham Cote Piece," £6 of the proceeds of which are given away annually in bread to the poor and the remainder assigned for charitable purposes to the parish of Lakenheath. Richard Bond, by deed in 1502, gave 22a. 22p. in divers parts of Soham and Fordham, in trust for the repairs of the church and highways; also three tenements near the Free school, as well as 10a. 2r. 16p. in Soham, for the benefit of the poor. Wright's gift, dating from about 1540, consists of three acres of copyhold land, called "Brook Dam Close," the produce of which is for the repairs of the church. Tyler's gift, dating from 1630, consists of three roods of land, being part of "Brook Dam Close," also for the benefit of the poor. There is also a charity, called "Soham Church Rents," the donor of which is not known; a rent-charge on land near Barway, and the like from an estate called "Lug Hill," amounting together to £1,13s. 4d. for the repairs of the church. By a scheme dated 25 Sept. 1896, Bond's poor charity has been united with some smaller charities and made applicable for various purposes for the benefit of the sick poor; and at the same time the charities applicable to the repairs of the church were separated and placed under distinct management. The Town Lot, or Allotment, set out in 1663 as 48 acres, but now let as 46a. 2r. 21p. is for the benefit of the most impotent of the poor of Soham. Mrs. Cawthorne, by deed in 1750, left freehold lands in Soham, 4a. 2r.; 30s. to be paid yearly to the clerk of Barway chapel, the rest to such of the sick poor as are communicants of the Church of England and not in receipt of parish relief. There is also a property called " The Hundred Acres," let in allotments, the profits from which are divided annually amongst the persons entitled to common rights on the various commons." [Kelly's Directory Cambridgeshire - 1900]
  • Soham has its own village website called Soham On-Line






You can see maps centred on OS grid reference TL592732 (Lat/Lon: 52.333789, 0.335079), Soham which are provided by:


Military History




Probate Records

  • Two courts cover Soham as follows:
    • Archdeaconry Court of Sudbury: Jurisidiction in various parishes including Soham which were in the diocese of Norwich until they were transferred to the diocese of Ely in 1837.
      • Records are held at the Suffolk Record Office covering Wills, 1439-1857, administrations, 1544-46, 1568-93, 1605-12, 1630-1858, inventories, 1573-76, 1617, 1625, 1640, 1650-1747. Index to wills to 1535 are published in Proceedings of Suffolk Institute of Archaeology, volume 12 and of all records to 1700 in the Index Library of the British Records Society, volumes 95 and 96
    • Consistory Court of Norwich: Records are held at the Norfolk Record Office. Wills 1370-1857, administrations, 1370-1499, 1549-1640, 1666-1857, inventories, 1584-1846. There is an index to wills covering 1370-1857 published by the Norfolk Record Society, volumes 16, 21, 34, 38 and 47.


  • Land Tax: records were compiled afresh each year and contain the names of owners and occupiers in each parish, but usually there is no address or place name. These records reside in the Cambridgeshire Archives for the years 1798, 1829-32, 1878-88, 1923-48.
  • Hearth Tax The Hearth tax for Soham, 1662 and 1664 can be found on the archive.org website