Amersham is split into two distinct areas: Old Amersham, set in the valley of the River Misbourne, which contains the 13th century parish church of St. Mary's and several old pubs and coaching inns; and Amersham-on-the-Hill, which grew rapidly around the railway station in the early part of the 20th century.
Prior to the organization of the Chiltern Vale District in 1974, Amersham was the seat for the Amersahm Rural District Council. This level of local government dealt with many functions best carried on above the parish level, but below that of the county. It was in existence from 1894 until 1974 and covered 16 parishes, the largest of which was Amersham itself. The Chiltern District Council merged Amersham Rural District Council with Chesham Urban District Council. The enlarged district council performed much the same duties as the former councils, but the remit covered a wider geographic area.
Records date back to pre-Anglo-Saxon times, when it was known as Egmondesham, and by the time that the Domesday Book was written around 1086 it had become known as Elmodesham. The Domesday entry is as follows:
In 1200 Geoffrey, Earl of Essex obtained a charter for Amersham allowing him to hold a Friday market and a fair on 7 and 8 September. In 1613 a new charter was granted to Edward, Earl of Bedford, changing the market day to Tuesday and establishing a statute fair on 19 September.
In 1521 seven Lollard dissenters (William Tylsworth, John Scrivener, Thomas Barnard, James Morden, Robert Rave, Thomas Holmes and Joan Norman) were burned at the stake in Amersham. A memorial to them was built in 1931 and is inscribed as follows: "In the shallow of depression at a spot 100 yards left of this monument seven Protestants, six men and one woman were burned to death at the stake. They died for the principles of religious liberty,for the right to read and interpret the Holy Scriptures and to worship God according to their consciences as revealed through God's Holy Word". The Universal Magazine of September 1749 (p139) quotes that 'William Tylesworth' was in fact burnt in 1506, and that Thomas Bernard and James Morden, a labourer, were burnt about two years later.
The area of the town now known as Amersham on the Hill was referred to as Amersham Common until after the arrival of the Metropolitan Line in 1892. After this date growth of the new area of the town gradually accelerated, with much work being done by the architect John Kennard). It is now known locally as "Top Amersham","the Top Town" or "the New Town".
Birth, marriage and death certificates can now be ordered online from Buckinghamshire County Council. The full postal address is Buckinghamshire Register Office, County Hall, Walton Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1YU.
The Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies (County Hall, Walton Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1UU) holds
In Buckinghamshire, as with other counties in England and Wales, the location of offices where Births, Marriages and Deaths were registered has altered with other changes in local government. A list of the location of Registration Offices since civil registration began in 1837 has been prepared by GENUKI (Genealogy: United Kingdom and Ireland). The table also gives details of when each Registration Office was in existence. In the case of Buckinghamshire, the same registration offices were used for the censuses since 1851.
Nineteenth Century Local Administration
English Jurisdictions is a webpage provided by FamilySearch which analyses every ecclesiastical parish in England at the year 1851. It provides, with the aid of outline maps, the date at which parish records and bishops transcripts begin, non-conformist denominations with a chapel within the parish, the names of the jurisdictions in charge: county, civil registration district, probate court, diocese, rural deanery, poor law union, hundred, church province; and links to FamilySearch historical records, FamilySearch Catalog and the FamilySearch Wiki. Two limitations: only England, and at the year 1851.
During the 19th century two bodies, the Poor Law Union and the Sanitary District, had responsibility for governmental functions at a level immediately above that covered by the civil parish. In 1894 these were replace by Rural and Urban Districts. These were elected bodies, responsible for setting local property assessments and taxes as well as for carrying out their specified duties. Thses districts continued in operation until 1974. Urban districts for larger municipalities were called "Municipal Boroughs" and had additional powers and obligations.
Poor Law Unions, established nationally in 1834, combined parishes together for the purpose of providing relief for the needy who had no family support. This led to the building of '"union poorhouses" or "workhouses" funded by all the parishes in the union. The geographical boundaries established for the individual Poor Law Unions were employed again when Registration Districts were formed three years later. In 1875 Sanitary Districts were formed to provide services such as clean water supply, sewage systems, street cleaning, and the clearance of slum housing. These also tended to follow the same geographical boundaries, although there were local alterations caused by changes in population distribution.
Online Historical References