Fenny Stratford is a constituent town of the Milton Keynes unitary authority in Buckinghamshire, England. Originally an independent town, it was included in the Milton Keynes "designated area" area in 1967. From 1895 it had formed an urban district with Bletchley, first as Fenny Stratford Urban District and then as Bletchley Urban District from 1917. In 1974 it became part of Milton Keynes (since 1997 a unitary authority). It is located at the southeast edge of the district and is its gateway to northbound travellers on the A5 road.
The town name is an Old English language word that means 'marshy ford on a Roman road'. The Roman road in this case is the Watling Street. There are traces of the Roman settlement Magiovinium on the edge of the present day occupation. (Possibly the oldest known gold coin in Britain was found here, a gold stater of the mid-second century BCE). The town was recorded in manorial rolls in 1252 as Fenni Stratford, though previously it was just known as Stratford: the prefix being added to distinguish the town from nearby Stony Stratford.
Being an ancient market town, Fenny Stratford was the location of a weekly market for many years until 1665 when the town was badly hit by the bubonic plague. As a result the main road that ran through the town was diverted away from it, and the market died as a result. The market was never reinstated: the town was very much in ruins by the early eighteenth century, and had by this time joined with both Bletchley and Simpson, being commonly considered a hamlet of the former.
On St Martin's Day 1724 the first stone was laid of the new parish church of Fenny Stratford, marking a fresh start in the town's history. Browne Willis, a historian of the day, had raised the funds for the reconstruction. The Church was built on the site of the old Chantry Chapel of St. Margaret and St. Catherine at Fenny Stratford. Willis erected the church as a memorial to his grandfather Dr. Thomas Willis, a famous physician, who lived in St. Martin's Lane in the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, and who died on St. Martin's day, 11 November 1675.
The Diesel Engine
The world's first successful heavy oil engines were invented and built by Herbert Akroyd Stuart in Fenny Stratford. There is a plaque commemorating this at the westerly end of Denmark Street in Fenny Stratford opposite The Foundry public house – though the location of Akroyd Stuart's workshop is usually given as "Bletchley", which is a larger town adjoining Fenny Stratford. These engines were precursors to what is now known as the Diesel engine: Rudolf Diesel based his designs (1892) on Akroyd Stuart's proven inventions (1890) of direct (airless) fuel injection and compression ignition. An experimental model was tried out at the offices of the Fenny Stratford Times Newspaper, and the first production models were installed at the nearby Great Brickhill Waterworks where they were in operation from 1892 to 1923. (It has been argued that engines of this type might have become known as "Akroyds", had Diesel not been a rather paranoid person not prone to giving other inventors credit.)
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