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 FHSPigot'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. 


Archives & 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:
  • Online sources of new and secondhand books for purchase: 

Business & Commerce Records

  • General information about Business and Commerce.
  • See also Occupations
  • For books about companies and industries, see Bibliography
  • Biscuits. Beer & Bulbs - Reading's old company recordsarticle from the Berkshire Family Historian, Dec 1999.  
  • Many records are held by the RBA 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.
  • Canals:
    • The RBA 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:
    • The Wilts & Berks Canal opened in 1810 and linked the Kennet and Avon Canal at Semington near Melksham, to the River Thames at Abingdon. It had a chequered career until its legal closure in 1914, its demise hastened by the collapse of Stanley Aqueduct in 1901. In 1977, restoration of the canal began in a few places by the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust.
    • 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 RBA. The firm started in 1874 in Hounslow, Middlesex, when William Clifford, a gardener’s son, sold milk from his own two cows, delivering them by pails joined with a yoke. By the 1920s it was an enormous regional operation with all the milk being purchased from farms in the Wokingham and Bracknell areas, brought to Hounslow by rail. Bracknell was picked for the site of the firm’s HQ in 1947, with a large modern dairy building and state-of-the-art testing laboratory.  (see the Berkshire Echo Vol 64, 2013, page 4 and Vol 97, Oct 2021).  
  • 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 RBA  (see the Berkshire Echo Vol 60, 2012, page 4).
  • Cox & Wyman printers of Reading, c.1901-2001 (some records DEX2477 are held by the RBA).
  • 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.  
  • Heelas 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
    • Wikipedia
    • Bats, Balls and Biscuits, a brief history of cricket at Huntley and Palmers.  
    • Fire maps of the factory 1929-1941 are held by the RBA (D/EX2116 and D/EX1748/1/10, 14) 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 tin box manufacturers of Reading (records for 1846-1987 D/EX2870, D/EX 1745 are held by the RBA). It was founded by Joseph Huntley Junior, a relative of the biscuit making family, who made tin boxes for Huntley and Palmer’s biscuits from 1832 onwards. Part of Huntley and Palmer’s success has been credited to the highly decorative and interesting tins produced by Huntley, Boorne and Stevens, a large collection of which may be seen at Reading Museum. The firm also carried out general ironmongery and contracting. Due to the Quaker beliefs of managing director Samuel Beaven Stevens, the firm would not make weapons, but they did manufacture cases for smoke bombs and some of the first steel helmets issued to British troops at the front as well as rations tins during the First World War. The business was sold to Huntley and Palmer’s outright in 1918. The factory finally closed in 2000.
  • 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 RBA  (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 RBA (D/EPT) .
  • Plenty of Newbury (lifeboats, marine steam engines, and latterly, pumps), 1746-1997 records are held by the RBA (D/EX1739, 1771, 2097, 2240).  See article in Berkshire Family Historian, Dec 2012, Vol 36, page 12. 
  • Railways:
    • Most railway records are held by TNA.
    • The RBA 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 RBA (D/SG 8 & D/EX 1593). 
    • Reading Gas Company 1862 -1912, Douglas H Helps, 1912  available from Reading Central Library and Berkshire FHS library.
    • Gasworker Ancestors: How to Find Out More About Them, a guide to genealogical sources for the British gas industry, A4 booklet available in Berkshire FHS library.
  • 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.
  • Salter’s Steamers (founded in Oxford in 1858 and known for much of its existence as Salter Bros Ltd) did more to popularise pleasure boating on the non-tidal river Thames than any other business. It grew from a leading racing-boat constructor in Wandsworth to become one of the largest inland boat-builders and passenger boat operators in the country.
  • Simond's Brewery was founded in Broad Street, Reading, by William Blackall Simonds in 1785. After a move to Bridge Street, it remained there until 1978 and is one of the reasons Reading was known for the 3 Bs – biscuits, beer and bulbs.  Wikipedia entry.
  • 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 RBA  (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.
  • Taylowe (printers) founded in Slough in the 1930s and moved to Maidenhead in the 1950s - records are held by the RBA (D/EX2012).
  • Thames Conservancy (see also River Thames)
  • Windsor Royal Gas Light Company records are held by are held by the RBA (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 RBA
  • 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.
  • This list of Berkshire cemeteries from Berkshire FHS lists what records are available and from where.
  • Monumental Inscriptions (MIs):
    • Berkshire FHS shop sells transcriptions of MIs for Berkshire (on CD and digital download) 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 RBA 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 of how to find records and the history of the cemetery are given by the RBA and Historic England. The Reading Old Cemetery undertaking Project (ROCuP) provides information about the cemetery and those intered there.
  • 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 and RBA.).
  • Henley Road Cemetery, Caversham, opened in 1927, and was run by Reading Borough Council, more details from the RBA.
  • Reading Crematorium was built at Henley Road Cemetery in 1932, and served people from Berkshire, north Hampshire and south Oxfordshire, more details from the RBA.
  • For the location of cemeteries, see  Church Database under Church History
  • 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.




  • 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 RBA (ref. D/EX 1675).
  • Robert Palmer’s Almshouse Charity in Sonning, 1815-1958.  Records held by the RBA (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 RBA.  See Vol 82, 2018 of the Berkshire Echo including case studies of Richard Been Stannard and Elizabeth Mary Askins.
  • See Schools for charity schools.

Church History

  • 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 RBA.  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 RBA (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 RBA (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:  
  • 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):  
  • 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.
  • Jews:  
  • 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:
  • Reading Abbey- In medieval times, Reading was the site of a great royal abbey. The religious community was centred round a magnificent church and one of the largest monasteries in Europe. It was formed in 1121 by Henry I, who was later buried near the High Altar. Because of its royal patronage, the abbey soon became one of the important pilgrimage centres of medieval England and also one of the richest and most important.   It contained a number of religious relics, including the reputed hand of St James. Visited by successive kings, it was the venue for several important weddings and a meeting of Parliament in 1453. The abbey was closed in 1539, as part of Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Church Records

  • 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 Berkshire Parish Registers from the Berkshire FHS.
    • Berkshire FHS provide a list of what Registers are available and from where. Some of this data is also searchable online by subscription at Find My Past.
    • RBA:
      • 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.  
      • The Non-Parochial registers cover non-Church of England baptisms, marriages and burials.  
      • Some of the RBA registers are also available in CD and fiche from  Berkshire FHS and partial coverage online from Findmypast, see Index to the Parish Registers below.
    • 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.  Some are available for digtal download (which may be more economic than a CD if you are not interested in many parishes).  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 37000 out of 37 million records have been transcribed for Berkshire (as of 2022).
    • For deaths, see also Coroners Index below.
  • 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 RBA 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. 
  • Information on the location of Quaker Records in Berkshire provided by the Quaker FHS.
  • Parish register copies for Berkshire in the library of the Society of Genealogists.

Civil Registration

  • 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 RBA (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.

Correctional Institutions

  • 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 RBA.  
  • 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):
  • Historical criminal records at the TNA for England and Wales (including some for Berkshire) are available online by subscription from Find My Past containing records from 1770 to 1935. 

Court Records

  • 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.
  • Petty Sessions:
    • 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 RBA 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.  
  • Quarter Sessions
    • 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 RBA (ref. Q/AC).
    • Reading Borough Quarter Sessions, 1682-1969 held by the RBA (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 RBA (ref. M/JQS).
  • Coroners' Court:
    • 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 RBA.  
  • Historical criminal records at the TNA for England and Wales (including some for Berkshire) are available online by subscription from Find My Past containing records from 1770 to 1935. 
  • Trade directories can provide some information through the years of the courts, their location and officers, see sample pages from a 1915 directory.
  • Research Guides from TNA or search their catalogue (set Dept to "HO47").
  • See article Investigating Berkshire Crime in Berkshire Family Historian, Sep 2016, Vol 40 page 26.

Description & Travel



  • 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 RBA, 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 RBA (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 1842Macaulay'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 RBA 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 RBA 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.
  • British Listed Buildings Online.
  • Berkshire Return of Landowners, 1873 (of land over one acre) is held by the at TNA.  Ancestry provide subscription access.  An extract is available on both microfiche and CD from Berkshire FHS 
  • Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of England: Berkshire21 May 2010, ISBN: 9780300126624, copies held by Reading Central Library
  • Coley Park, Reading from the RBA
  • Shaw House records are held by the RBA
  • Welford Park records are held by the RBA
  • 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
  • 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.



Historical Geography

  • 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.
  • Enclosures:
    • 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 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:
  • Trade directories provide a description of the places listed, see Directories.  
  • Berkshire dialects:
  • 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:


  • 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 RBA, with others at TNA and in public and private repositories.
  • For manor houses, see Dwellings


  • General information about maps of England and UK & Ireland.
  • Berkshire FHS sells many historical maps of Berkshire, including a CD of the fifty-one 6 inch maps of Berkshire (produced with the RBA), originally published by the Ordnance Survey between 1881-1887.
  • RBA 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.
    • Reading Board of Health maps were drawn up by the Reading Borough surveyor, John [Berry] Clancy, to a scale of 50 feet : 1 inch in 1853 to survey the state of sanitary provision in the town, available free online.
    • 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).

Medical Records

  • General information about medical records. 
  • Many records are held by the RBA 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.
  • Hospitals
    • 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.
    • Abingdon:
      • 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.
    • Ascot:
      • 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.
    • Church Hill House Hospital, Bracknell, based in the former Easthampstead Workhouse, records are held by the RBA (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 RBA, 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 RBA (ref. D/H10), including burials.  Lost casebooks for 1884-1924 have recently been found (ref. D/EZ181).   See their gallery
      • County Asylums website provides details, photos and history.
      • 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
      • 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 RBA (ref. D/H 1). 
      • St Mark's Hospital, 1946-1978 (previously Cookham (later Maidenhead) Workhouse), archives are held by theRBA (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 RBA (ref. D/H 3).   
    • Moulsford Asylum - see Fair Mile Hospital, above.
    • Newbury District Hospital 
      • Historic archives are held by the RBA (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.
    • Reading:
      • 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 RBA (ref. D/H 11), including diphtheria and scarlet fever case books. 
      • Royal Berkshire Hospital:
        •  Museum and archive contain records of the Royal Berkshire Hospital dating back to its foundation in 1837.
        • 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 RBA (D/EX2299).  
        • Wikipedia.  
        • 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 RBA.  
    • Speen Cottage Hospital, opened 1869, by 1912, it became a convalescent home, closed in 1946.
    • Wallingford: 
      • 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 RBA.  
      • 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.
    • Wantage:
    • 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 RBA.  
    • Windsor:
      • King Edward VII Hospital was opened in 1909 as the successor to the Windsor Dispensary and Infirmary.
      • Old Windsor Unit of the King Edward VII Hospital was built as Windsor Workhouse in 1840, closed in 1991 and converted to housing.  Records are held by the RBA.  
    • Wokingham:

Monumental Inscriptions (MIs) - see Cemeteries


Military Records

  • See general information on Military History and Military Records
  • Berkshire FHS shop sells books and CDs of  Berkshire military records.
  • Berkshire Militia:
  • 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.  You can search for individual soldiers in Collections and check out their wartime service history in the online war diaries. The information presented here is that of the actual diaries and totals almost 16,500 records covering 15 battalions during World War 1 and the 8 battalions during World War 2. Usefully, you can use text search to find, for example, all records where another unit is mentioned, a particular place or even a person, although sadly Other Ranks rarely get mentioned by name in World War 1 diaries. See also 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:
  • World War 2:  
    • Some WW2 records are held by the RBA.  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 RBA 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
  • War Memorials
    • 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 photographs.  It covers not only World Wars 1 and 2 but also others, including the Boer War, Korea, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.
    • Berkshire war memorials list by the IWM.
    • 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:
    • 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.
    • Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) memorial in Reading is one of the country’s best regarded memorials to volunteers who served in the International Brigades. It was moved to its present location in 2015. At least 16 people from, or with a strong connection to, Reading are known to have gone to Spain to join the International Brigades. They fought as soldiers, treated the wounded and drove ambulances. Three were killed. In Reading itself, many more people helped raise funds for refugees and to collect for food aid to go to Spain.
    • See also Cemeteries
  • Philip Johnston's History of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
  • The Museum of Berkshire Aviation has, among other things, a list of military airfields in Berkshire.

Names, Geographical


Names, Personal



  • General information about newspapers.
  • Wikipedia has a list of online newspapers around the world, including the UK.
  • Berkshire newspapers from Berkshire FHS
  • 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 RBA (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 RBA have some registers of apprentices in their Poorhouse records.
  • Church ministers
    • 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
  • Dentists
  • Doctors
    • 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.
  •  (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 RBA.  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.  
    • Abbot Cook to Zero Degrees: an A to Z of Reading’s Pubs and Breweries, a comprehensive directory and history of pubs and breweries in Reading, both past and presen, around 500 in all.  Factual information about the premises, landlords and surveys is embellished with anecdotal information and contemporaneous reports from newspapers, periodicals, etc.
  • Millers:
    • 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. 
  • Nurses:
    • 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 RBA
      • 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 RBA,  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.  
  • Wikipedia.  
  • Post Office workers
  • 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 
    • RBA hold records of the Reading Typographical Society, 1898-1970 (ref. D/EX1941); and the Reading branch of the GMB union and its predecessors (originally the National Union of Gasworkers and General Labourers), 1911-1988 (ref. D/EX2017).
    • The location of archived papers may be listed on the NRA.  
  • The Weavers’ Company in Newbury was a powerful trade gild founded in the 16th century. Records held by the RBA (ref. D/ENM, etc), including the organisation’s 1602 charter from Queen Elizabeth I.

*Organisations, Other

See below for records of organisations other than Business and Commerce RecordsSchoolsCourtsMilitaryNewspapers.  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 RBA (ref. D/EX1497). 
  • Sports clubs - The RBA 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 RBA
  • 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 has been published by the RBA until Oct 2021 with articles about their holdings, in particular new additions.  The best way to search these past articles seems to be using Google (or similar) and include "Berkshire Echo" (with quotes) in addition to your search terms in the search field. It has now been replaced by an e-bulletin containing all their latest blogs, available by subscribing to their mailing list.
  • See also Newspapers.

Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • 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 RBA 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 RBA
  • 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 RBA
  • 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. 
  • Newbury Poor Law Union Workhouse births and deaths.  
  • For photographs of workhouses, see The Story of Workhouses above and Historical Photographs under History.
  • Trade directories can provide some information through the years, see sample pages from a 1915 directory.

Probate Records

  • General information about probate records in England and UK & Ireland.
  • See articles in Berkshire Family Historian, Dec 2001, Vol 25, page 93 and Sep 2009, Vol 33, page 12.  
  • Explanations about probate and wills are provided by TNA - Pre 1858 and post 1858
  • Post-1858 wills:
    • 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.
    • Indexes to 1858 to 1943 wills and admons for England and Wales (also known as the National Probate Calender) can be viewed on microfiche at the RBA. (A less complete version of the calendar can be viewed on Ancestry.)
  • 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 RBA.  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 RBABerkshire 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 and online subscription access from Findmypast.  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 RBA.
    • 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.  
    • 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).  
    • 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:


  • 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."
  • RBA 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).







  • General information about taxation records in England and UK & Ireland.
  • 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. 
    • RBA 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 RBA 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. 

Town Records

  • General information about town records.
  • Archived town and borough records: 
    • RBA 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


Voting Registers

  • 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.
  • 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 RBA 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 RBA.

Workhouses - see Poorhouses