Henley on Thames is a town and civil parish on the River Thames in Oxfordshire, England, about 10 miles downstream and 7 miles northeast from Reading, 10 miles upstream and 7 miles west from Maidenhead. It is near the tripoint of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
The 2011 UK census recorded the parish population as 11,619.
The first record of Henley is from 1179, when it is recorded that King Henry II "had bought land for the making of buildings". King John granted the manor of Benson and the town and manor of Henley to Robert Harcourt in 1199. A church at Henley is first mentioned in 1204. In 1205 the town received a paviage grant, and in 1234 the bridge is first mentioned. In 1278 Henley is described as "a hamlet of Benson with a chapel". The street plan was probably established by the end of the 13th century.
As a demesne of the crown it was granted in 1337 to John de Molyns, whose family held it for about 250 years. It is said that members for Henley sat in parliaments of Edward I and Edward III, but no writs have been found to substantiate this.
The existing Thursday market, it is believed, was granted by a charter of King John. A market was certainly in existence by 1269; however, the jurors of the assize of 1284 said that they did not know by what warrant the Earl of Cornwall held a market and fair in the town of Henley. The existing Corpus Christi fair was granted by a charter of Henry VI.
During the [[wikipedia:Black Death|Black Death pandemic that swept through England in the 14th century, Henley lost 60% of its population.
By the beginning of the 16th century the town extended along the west bank of the Thames from Friday Street in the south to the Manor, now Phyllis Court, in the north and took in Hart Street and New Street. To the west it included Bell Street and the Market Place.
Henry VIII granted the use of the titles "mayor" and "burgess", and the town was incorporated in 1568 in the name of the warden, portreeves, burgesses and commonalty. The original charter was issued by Elizabeth I but replaced by one from George I in 1722.
Henley suffered at the hands of both parties in the Civil War. Later, William III rested here on his march to London in 1688, at the nearby recently rebuilt Fawley Court, and received a deputation from the Lords. The town's period of prosperity in the 17th and 18th centuries was due to manufactures of glass and malt, and trade in corn and wool. Henley-on-Thames supplied London with timber and grain.
Victoria County History of Oxfordshire, volume 16, introductory chapter on Henley and the following ten chapters.