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"A county of England, 47 miles in length, and 29 in breadth; bounded by Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Berkshire, Warwickshire, and Northamptonshire. It is divided into 14 hundreds, which contain 1 city, 12 market towns, 280 parishes, and 51 villages. The air is sweet, mild, pleasant, and healthy, for which reason it contains several gentlemen's seats; and the soil, though various, is fertile in corn and grass, and the hills are shaded with woods. It is also a great sporting country, there being abundance of game preserved here. It has no manufactures of any account, being chiefly agricultural. Its chief city is Oxford. Population, 161,643. It sends 9 members to parliament." [James Barclay's Complete and Universal English Dictionary, 1842.]
When looking at a modern map of Oxfordshire, please do remember that until the local government reorganisation of 1974 much of modern south-west Oxfordshire was in Berkshire. The river Thames (or Isis) which runs through Oxford, defined the southern boundary of the county until 1974 (as shown in the nearby image). Prior to that date towns such as Shrivenham, Faringdon, Wantage, Abingdon, Didcot and Wallingford (to name but a few) were in Berkshire as, indeed, was a considerable piece of what is now the south-west corner of the City of Oxford.
Oxfordshire History Centre
This opened in July 2011 bringing together Oxfordshire record Office, Oxfordshire Studies (formerly in Oxford's Central Library) and the Oxfordshire Health Archives (formerly at the Warneford Hospital).
St Luke's Church, Temple Road, Oxford, OX4 2HT
Telephone: +44 (0)1865 398200
Fax: +44 (0)1865 398201
A CARN (County Archive Research Network) card is required, bring two passport-sized photographs and some independent ID if you don't already have a CARN card. There is no charge for the card.
Oxfordshire Health Archives
Now part of the Oxfordshire History Centre, above.
Oxfordshire County Library
Note: The former Oxford Central Library has reopened at its old location in the Westgate Centre.
Although not an archive, a number of paper and computer resources are available on the second floor in part of the old Oxfordshire Studies area. Oxfordshire Studies is now part of the Oxfordshire History Centre, above. The library has some computers on the History Centre's Heritage Network and thus with access to some of their digital material.
Central Library, Westgate, Oxford, OX1 1DJ
- General enquiries: +44 (0)1865 815509 and +44 (0)1865 815549
- Information and reference enquiries: +44 (0)1865 815409
Fax: +44 (0)1865 721694
There are local and family history sections in a number of branch libraries around the county.
Oxford College Archives
A new web site for 2018 - Oxford Archivist's Consortium - supplying information and contact details for the numerous archives held in Oxford Colleges.
Brian Curtis maintains this site of Oxfordshire Churches & Chapels - as they are now, rather than historical.
A Guide to the Churches of Oxfordshire Auth: Jennifer Sherwood (photographs & drawings by John Piper); Pub: (1989) Robert Dugdale in association with Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust; ISBN: 0 946976 0 3.
Oxfordshire Churches Auth: Richard Lethbridge; Pub: (2000) for Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust by The Stonesfield Press; ISBN: 0 9527126 3 6.
The Society of Genealogists Search Records page provides search facilities for the many church-related and other types of record that they hold. Here is a means of finding their Oxfordshire resources.
Donnette Stringham Smith's pages of Oxfordshire Archdeacon's Marriage Bonds.
Harris, Colin and Kearsey, Hugh (eds.) Oxfordshire Parish Registers and Bishops Transcripts (7th ed.) Oxfordshire FHS (2006) [ISBN 0 905863 43 7]
(This guide to the location and coverage dates of PRs and BTs, and transcripts thereof, is included in the Oxfordshire FHS new members pack. Here is its Introduction and key to Church Records data, with post-2006 updates by various members of Oxfordshire FHS .)
The long established publication Oxfordshire Parish Registers and Bishops Transcripts (7th ed.) Oxfordshire FHS (2006) [ISBN 0 905863 43 7] by Colin Harris is now available in onine form at https://free.ofhs.org.uk. This details the existence and availability of the registers for the whole of modern Oxfordshire (thus including parishes formerly in Berkshire).
Brett Langston has put online details of Oxfordshire's Registration Districts and the towns and villages served by each.
Here is a quite substantial county summary from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868).
Oxfordshire County Council website.
Town (Oxford City)
Oxford City Council website.
B&B in the City Centre in College accommodation
As long as you don't have a car in tow, you'll not find B&B much closer to the City Centre than Lincoln College.
Gown (Oxford's Universities)
There is a terrific selection of local and trade directories spanning the period from 1750 to 1919 on the Historical Directories website. (These are their Oxfordshire directories.)
The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868 - section for Oxfordshire as a whole, and miscellaneous extracts. (Extracts for individual parishes can be found on the respective parish pages.)
The GenWeb page for Oxfordshire.
Here are the main lists that may be of general interest to those whose ancestors came from Oxfordshire:
This is the (open) list for Oxfordshire discussions: details regarding joining instructions and access to the list's archive.
This is a closed list for members of the Oxfordshire Family History Society. The traffic volume is low but if you just want news of OFHS activities without the high-volume discussion element this is just the list for you.
This is the list for specifically 'Banburyshire', i.e. Banbury, and adjacent (approximately 20 mile radius) areas of Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, and Northhamptonshire: details regarding joining instructions and access to the list's archive.
This is by far the longest established of these mailing lists. You may not think of Oxfordshire as being part of Wessex, that's where the "Plus" comes in - this list covers Berkshire, Bristol, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset and Wiltshire: details regarding joining instructions and access to the list's archive.
OXSIL, the Oxfordshire Surname Interests List is looked after by Paul Brazell, Bill Seary and Wendy Archer. As well as accepting all interests in Oxfordshire, it includes world-wide interests of members of Oxfordshire FHS.
OXSIL issues monthly updates on its news page and accompanying RSS feed
Karen Fraser's Oxfordshire Lookup Exchange has gone missing.
For completeness, I should mention that the Oxfordshire FHS runs a search service which will often help to establish which of its microfiche publications may contain material of interest.
Oxford History - a very well-illustrated, extensive and informative website.
Remembering that many (south/west) Oxfordshire towns used to be in Berkshire, you might also want to contact the Berkshire Family History Society. Note that for these “overlap” areas either (or both) societies may have published material available for sale. Note in particular that a Vale (of White Horse) group holds regular meetings in Abingdon under the auspices of the Berkshire FHS.
For other surrounding counties that may overlap, check the full county-by-county FHS list.
Smith's New Map of the County of Oxford of 1801 from MAPCO.
Map showing the Hundreds of Oxfordshire in 1808 from Oxford History.
Baedecker's Old Guide Books Oxford City 1910
Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (52nd and 43rd Foot).
A history of the Ox & Bucks light Infantry on the Long Long Trail web site.
The main list of place names: Oxfordshire places (towns, parishes, ...)
The above list includes links to pages for individual places.
The following old lists will be gradually merged into the above list/pages:
- Parishes of Oxfordshire and the dates of the earliest known/surviving registers.
- Towns and Place names taken mostly from modern sources.
Oxford History's listing of the Hundreds of Oxfordshire in the Nineteenth Century (and of the parishes within each hundred).
Oxfordshire FHS has a free online library of will transcriptions.
Nick Hidden, as part of a one-name study has put together an indexed set of probate abstracts for Hungerford (Berks) and Wantage (ex-Berks, now Oxon) covering the years 1500 to 1958.
Here are three files forming "Index Of Probate Inventories, Oxfordshire 1550-1590" based upon an original document "Household And Farm Inventories In Oxfordshire, 1550-1590" published by the Historical Manuscript Society & H.M.S.O. (Editing By Dr. W. O. Hassall. Original transcription by M.A.Havinden, D.G.Vaisey & Jane E. Sayers. Computer transcription by M.Brewerton © Copyright 1994.)
Oxfordshire FHS covers the whole county.
Remembering that many (south/west) Oxfordshire towns used to be in Berkshire you might also want to contact the Berkshire Family History Society. Note that for these "overlap" areas either (or both) societies may have published material available for sale. Note in particular that a Vale (of White Horse) group holds regular meetings in Abingdon under the auspices of the Berkshire FHS.
For other surrounding counties that may overlap, check the full county-by-county FHS list.