Monday, 10 April 2006

Berkshire

Berkshire's land area, 1,847 sq kilometres, puts it in the middle rank of counties. It's proximity to London means a population density higher than the national average and concentrated in the eastern part of the county. The population has continued to grow in every census, and exploded after 1931 with the development in the east of the county. The old county lost territory in 1974, including the former county town of Abingdon.

Established in 1948 the Berkshire Record Office is at its third location, now on the western edge of Reading town centre, on the corner of Coley Avenue and Castle Hill/Bath Road (A4). It has an array of genealogical resources typical of a CRO: parish registers; other parish records such as settlement and removal papers, apprenticeship indentures and bastardy orders; a limited number of non-parochial registers; the IGI for the area; census return for 1841 to 1901; pre-1859 indexed wills and admons granted by the archdeacon of Berkshire's court 1508-1857 and wills for the peculiar of Faringdon 1547-1853 (other Berkshire wills, proved in higher church courts, are
held at Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office (to 1836), Oxfordshire Record Office (1836-1857) and in the PCC collection); workhouse and school records; tithe and inclusure maps and records; poll books and electoral registers; directories, maps and a selection of national indexes.

The web site includes a search facility for finding both parochial and non-parochial records which includes a note on major gaps in the records.

My own experience with this record office, which goes back to its previous location at Shire Hall, was of the helpfulness of the staff in assisting me find information on a farm for which one of my ancestors' was bailiff in the 1830s

The catalogue of holdings may also be found at the Access to Archives database. The collections gateway web site offers single ‘first point of call’ for anyone seeking
to locate information on research collections held by Berkshire and Reading
institutions

The Berkshire Family History Society is active, and issued the 4th edition of their county burial index on CD, with over 420,000 entries, in December 2005.

No particularly significant migration from the county to Canada has been located.

Reference Web Sites

Berkshire Family History Society

Berkshire Record Office

Collections Gateway

GENUKI (Berkshire)

200 Years of the Census in Berkshire

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