Over four million historic parish records have been digitised for the first time, offering insight into the history and people of the county of Oxfordshire.
Published in conjunction with Oxfordshire Family History Society and the Oxfordshire History Centre, the Oxfordshire Parish Registers, 1538-1965 detail generations of baptisms, marriages and burials that took place in the local area over a period of 400 years.
Searchable by name, birth date, parish, baptism, marriage, confirmation and burial date, name of spouse and name/s of parents, these records contain vital information for anybody looking to find out more about an ancestor who lived in Oxfordshire.
A number of famous names feature in the extensive collection. From prime ministers to novelists, these include:
Sir Winston Churchill – Prime Minister, officer in the British Army, writer and artist, Churchill held many important political and cabinet positions – leading the nation during World War Two. Churchill’s baptism record from December 27, 1874, appears within the collection, noting him as the “second son of the Duke of Marlborough, Member of Parliament for the Borough of Woodstock”
C.S. Lewis – Novelist, scholar and broadcaster best known for his fictional work, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Space Trilogy and The Screwtape Letters, which sold millions of copies and were translated into more than 30 languages worldwide. Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast but his burial record is included in the Oxfordshire collection. He passed away in Oxford the same day US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, November 22, 1963.
Hardwicke Rawnsley – One of the most prolific writers of sonnets, Hardwicke became known for his writing on the Lake District. Oxford-educated, Hardwicke was a Church of England clergyman, poet, hymn writer, local politician, and conservationist. He encouraged Beatrix Potter to write ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’, even contributing to one of the versions. He was also one of the founders of the National Trust. Hardwicke was baptised in the parish Shiplake on October 26, 1851, the record of which can be found in the digitised collection.
At the start of the 15th Century, both the British government and the Church of England became particularly interested in record keeping, and a 1538 Act of Parliament required ministers to document the key life events that took place across their parish. In 1812, George Rose’s Act called for preprinted registers to be used for separate baptism, marriage, and burial registers as a way of standardising records.
Starting in 1538, the collection pre-dates the censuses and civil registration making it a valuable resource for anybody looking to trace their ancestors back before official systems were established.
Analysis of the records shows that 1834 was perhaps the busiest year on record for Oxfordshire couples – being the year most babies were baptised (5,026) as well as the year most marriages were recorded (4,402).
This was not an isolated year, as 1833 was the second busiest year for couples in the county on both fronts, with 4,938 baptisms and 4,209 marriages processed.
Ancestry’s Senior Content Manager Miriam Silverman comments: “The Oxfordshire collection tells a story of the lives of people living in the area over four centuries of fascinating history – including a host of famous names with connections to Oxfordshire. Now with the newly digitised collection, it is the perfect time to get online and find out more about Oxfordshire’s history.”
To search the Oxfordshire Parish Registers, 1538-1965 and more than 18 billion historical records worldwide, visit www.ancestry.co.uk