Research Help

Family History / Local History Information

Researching family history/local history is becoming increasingly popular and is both interesting and rewarding. However, as you can appreciate, this research in often time consuming, and therefore we are unable to undertake research on your behalf. We can advise you on how best to begin your research, and details are given below. If you have any other queries please do not hesitate to contact us.

We hope you find this information useful, and good luck with your research.

As Wantage was in the county of Berkshire until 1974, many of the records relating to the local area are at the Berkshire Record Office in Reading, however any thorough search should cover both Berkshire and Oxfordshire collections as both counties will hold information relating to Wantage and the Vale of White Horse.

The Berkshire Record Office holds thousands of documents relating to Berkshire. They date from the 12th century to the present day and include:

Records of local government: including the former Berkshire County Council and district and parish councils, and their predecessors, including Quarter Sessions, Poor Law unions and turnpike trusts.

Records of the Archdeaconry of Berkshire: including church court records and wills.

Records of Anglican and nonconformist churches: including registers of baptisms,marriages and burials.

School records: including log books and admissions registers.

Private records: including manorial and estate records, family papers, and the records of businesses and societies.

Maps and plans: including, tithe, enclosure, estate, Ordnance Survey and other printed maps.

Printed sources: including trade directories, electoral registers and an extensive library of books and pamphlets.

Copies of some national sources: including indexes of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, and census returns (Berkshire only).

The Berkshire Record Office website is a good place to begin your research, as many of the items they hold are listed online. The website is:, and their telephone number is 0118 901 5132. If you wish to visit it is advisable to ring beforehand and arrange an appointment.

The Oxfordshire Record Office also holds documents that relate to local history. Their collections include:

Quarter Sessions records 1687-1972

County Council, District Council and Parish Council minute books, correspondence, etc. 1889 onwards

Borough records from Banbury, Chipping Norton, Henley and Woodstock

Poor Law Union and Highway Board records

Regional Health Authority records (records of Oxfordshire NHS hospitals and local administration are held by Oxfordshire Health Archives, Warneford Hospital, Oxford)

Electoral registers from 1833 onwards

Parish registers of baptism, marriage and burial for the towns and villages of pre-1974 Oxfordshire

Wills proved in the county from the sixteenth century to 1858

Records of the Church Courts 1542-1871

School records, mainly from 1863 onwards

Poor Law records (such as settlement and removal papers, and the accounts of the overseers of the poor)

Business papers

Estate and Family papers

Nonconformist (i.e. non-Anglican) church records

Solicitors’ records (mainly property deeds)

The Oxfordshire Record Office website is on the Oxfordshire County Council website, which is:

Also on the Oxfordshire County Council website is the page for the Centre for Oxfordshire Studies. Oxfordshire Studies has records and information relating to:

guides to the study of local history

printed books and pamphlets about Oxfordshire people, places, buildings, subjects and events

local newspapers, journals and magazines

local government reports and census data.

General Register Office Index of Births, Marriages and Deaths for England and Wales, 1837-2000

National Probate Index, 1858-1957

Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919 database

26,000 printed books and pamphlets, microforms and CD-ROMs

56,000 images and records relating to 100,000 more.

Photographs can be seen online  through our Heritage Search and English Heritage’s viewfinder website

A selection of images from our collections relating to the River Thames can be seen on the ThamesPilot website.

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