Place:Abingdon, Berkshire, England

Alt namesAbingdonsource: from redirect
Abbendunsource: Canby, Historic Places (1984) I, 3
Abbentoniasource: Orbis Latinus (1971) p 1
Abindoniasource: Canby, Historic Places (1984) I, 3
Abingdon-on-Thamessource: NIMA, GEOnet Names Server (1996-1998), Wikipedia
Abingdonensissource: Orbis Latinus (1971) p 1
Abintoniasource: Orbis Latinus (1971) p 1
Aebbandunasource: Orbis Latinus (1971) p 1
TypeBorough (municipal)
Coordinates51.667°N 1.283°W
Located inBerkshire, England     (860 - 1974)
Also located inOxfordshire, England     (1974 - )
Contained Places
Abingdon Abbey
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Abingdon , also known as Abingdon on Thames or Abingdon-on-Thames, is a market town and civil parish in England. Historically it was the county town of Berkshire, but has been in the county of Oxfordshire since 1974. Abingdon is one of several places that claim to be Britain's oldest continuously occupied town, with people having lived there for at least 6,000 years.

Abingdon is 5.5 miles (8.9 km) south of Oxford and 5 miles (8 km) north of Didcot in the flat valley of the Thames on its west (right) bank, where the small river Ock flows in from the Vale of White Horse.


Historically, Abingdon was made up of two ecclesiastical parishes: Abingdon St. Helen and Abingdon St. Nicolas. It was a municipal borough in Berkshire until 1974, when it was transferred to Oxfordshire along with a large part of northern Berkshire. Before 1835 it was known as an ancient borough.

From The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868), transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003 and found in GENUKI

"ABINGDON, comprises the two parishes of St. Helen, and St. Nicholas, it is a municipal and parliamentary borough and market town, having separate jurisdiction, locally in the hundred of Hormer, in the county of Berkshire, of which it is the chief town, 6 miles S.W. of Oxford, and 56 miles N.W. of London. It is on a branch of the Great Western railway, the Abingdon-road station being about 2½ miles from the town. It consists of several large streets, diverging from the market-place, and is pleasantly situated on the Thames, where the small river Ock falls into it. In the time of the Britons it was a city of importance, and a royal residence, where the councils of the nation were held. Its earliest name was Seouechesham or Suekesham (Chron. Abbend.). In the year 680, a Benedictine monastery, which had been previously founded at Bagley Wood by Cissa, viceroy of the King of Wessex, was removed to this place, which then took the descriptive name of Abbandune, or Abbendon, the 'town of the abbey'."

[This is the start of an extensive article on the history of Abingdon as seen from the middle of the 19th century.]

For more information about the 20th and 21st century in the town, see the Wikipedia article Abingdon-on-Thames.

Research Tips


  • GENUKI's collection of maps for Berkshire. For basic reference are the two online maps Berkshire Parishes (highly recommended) and Berkshire Poor Law Union areas. These locate the individual parishes and indicate the urban and rural districts to which each belonged. There are many other maps listed, some covering specific parts of the county.
  • Wikipedia's outline map of the unitary authorities, shown on many of their Berkshire pages, shows how the new divisions of government relate to the former districts. It has to be remembered that the county was reshaped in 1974 with the urban and rural districts of Abingdon and Faringdon and part of Wantage going to Oxfordshire, and the Borough of Slough (with Eton) coming in from Buckinghamshire. Every attempt is being made to indicate here in WeRelate the civil parishes, towns and villages for which these transfers occurred. Currently there are maps to be found on place pages that deal with civil parishes that transferred from Buckinghamshire into Berkshire. It is planned to provide maps within WeRelate for places that transferred from Berkshire to Oxfordshire--a much wider geographical area.
  • The extensive collection provided by Genmaps is provided free of charge online (currently offline, March 2016).
  • The Ordnance Survey has produced an up-to-date map of the boundaries of all the post-1974 districts throughout the country. This also shows the electoral constituency boundaries which are destined to change before 2020.

Online Historical References

  • Berkshire Record Office. The Berkshire Record Office [BRO] was established in 1948 to locate and preserve records relating to the county of Berkshire and its people, and anyone who is interested in the county's past. As well as original documents, catalogues and indexes, there is a library at the Record Office.
  • Berkshire Family History Society Research Centre. "The Berks FHS Centre can help you - wherever your ancestors came from. There is a Research Centre Library open to all."
  • West Berkshire Museum, Newbury, is housed in a building with an interesting past, but is currently closed for redevelopment. No information on their collections.
  • The GENUKI provision for Berkshire has been updated more recently than that for some of the other counties. A member of the Berkshire Family History Society is credited with this revision.
  • The FamilySearch Wiki on Berkshire explains the jurisdictions relating to civil affairs, parishes and probate (wills and testaments) for each parish in the county and also outlines when these jurisdictions were in existence. Alterations required to cover the post-1974 period have not been carried out for every parish concerned.
  • Brett Langston's list of Registration Districts in Berkshire will lead to specific parishes with dates.
  • Local History Online is a compilation of websites from Berkshire local history clubs, societies and associations.
  • The Berkshire section of The Victoria History of the Counties of England, in four volumes, is provided by British History Online. Volumes 3 and 4 provide an extensive history of the county, parish by parish, up to the end of the 19th century. There are local maps illustrating the text. Manors and their owners are discussed. Parishes are arranged in their original "hundreds"; the hundred for each placename in the Berkshire section of WeRelate will eventually be available.

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.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Abingdon-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Abingdon-on-Thames. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.