Chesham (pronounced Chessam by local inhabitants) is a market town in the Chiltern Hills of Buckinghamshire, England. It is located 11 miles south-east of the county town of Aylesbury and about 3 miles north of Amersham. Chesham is also a civil parish and designated as a town council within the Chiltern District. Geographically, it is situated in the Chess Valley and surrounded by farmland, as well as being bordered on one side by Amersham and Chesham Bois. The earliest records of Chesham as a settlement are from the second half of the 10th century although there is archaeological evidence of people in the area from around 8000 BC.
The town is known for its four Bs, usually quoted as: boots, beer, brushes and Baptists. Chesham's prosperity grew significantly during the 18th and 19th centuries with the development of manufacturing industry. In the face of fierce competition from both home and abroad, all these traditional industries rapidly declined, mostly during the first half of the 20th century. The ready availability of skilled labour encouraged new industries to the town both before and after the end of the Second World War. Today employment in the town is provided mainly by small business engaged in light industry, technology and professional services.
From the early part of the 20th century onwards there has been a considerable expansion of the residential section of the town with new housing developments and civic infrastructure. Chesham is connected to the London by the Underground and road networks. The town centre has been progressively redeveloped since the 1960s and was pedestrianised in the 1990s. The population of the town has increased to slightly over 20,000 but further growth has been restricted because the area forms part of the Metropolitan Green Belt.
Chesham formed part of Amersham Poor Law Union from 1835 and Amersham Rural Sanitary District from 1875. From 1884 the town was administered by the Chesham Local Government District, which was succeeded in 1894 by Chesham Urban District under the Local Government Act 1894.
When the Local Government Act 1972 came into effect on 1 April 1974 the urban district was abolished in favour of the Chiltern District and the civil parish was given town council status. At town council level, Chesham is divided into 9 electoral wards and 19 councillors.
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Chesham. which includes a long discourse on the history of Chesham through the ages.
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