Place:Bray, Berkshire, England

Alt namesBraisource: Domesday Book (1985) p 35
Braiosource: Domesday Book (1985) p 35
Brassource: Domesday Book (1985) p 35
Bray-on-Thamessource: Wikipedia
Bray on Thamessource: alternate spelling
Bray Wicksource: hamlet in parish
Braywoodsidesource: hamlet in parish
Fifieldsource: hamlet in parish
Foxley Greensource: hamlet in parish
Hawthorn Hillsource: hamlet in parish
Holyportsource: hamlet in parish
Moneyrow Greensource: hamlet in parish
Oakley Greensource: hamlet in parish
Stud Greensource: hamlet in parish
Touchen Endsource: hamlet in parish
Water Oakleysource: hamlet in parish
Monkey Islandsource: island in Thames (part of parish)
TypeVillage, Civil parish
Coordinates51.508°N 0.702°W
Located inBerkshire, England
See alsoBray Hundred, Berkshire, Englandhundred in which it was located
Cookham Rural, Berkshire, Englandrural district of which the parish was a part 1894-1974
Windsor and Maidenhead District, Berkshire, Englandadministrative district which the parish joined in 1974
Windsor and Maidenhead, Berkshire, Englandunitary authority which the district became in 1998
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog
source: Family History Library Catalog
source: Family History Library Catalog
the text in this section is a condensation of an article in Wikipedia

Bray, sometimes known as Bray on Thames, is a village and large civil parish in the English county of Berkshire. It stands on the banks of the River Thames, just southeast of Maidenhead.

The civil parish of Bray continues to includes a number of other villages and hamlets over an area of 2,498 hectares (6,170 acres) 24.98 km2 (9.64 sq mi) and a population of 8,425 at the 2001 UK census. These hamlets and villages were originally scattered amongst the remains of dense woodland of Windsor Forest that once covered the area. They include Bray Wick, Holyport, Water Oakley, Oakley Green, Moneyrow Green, Stud Green, Foxley Green, Touchen End, Braywoodside, Hawthorn Hill and Fifield.

Monkey Island, in the Thames, is associated with the 3rd Duke of Marlborough, and houses two amusing structures that he built and furnished with paintings of monkeys, and the architecturally Grade I (listed) Monkey Island Hotel.

The parish of Bray constituted the whole of the Bray Hundred and was part of the Cookham Poor Law Union. The parish was located in the Cookham Rural District 1894-1974, and since that date in the Royal Burgh of Windsor and Maidenhead (both the administrative district and the unitary authority).

Bray is known as the village mentioned in the song The Vicar of Bray, a satirical song which traces the changes in the alliance between church and state during the reigns of English monarchs from Charles II to George I (1660-circa 1730). The song is reproduced with annotations in Wikipedia and the article is worth a thoughtful read.


For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Bray, Berkshire.

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 Bray, Berkshire. 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.