First Waddesdon Parish Register

Nominated by: Tony Sargeant

My nomination is the first Waddesdon parish register, as it represents the history of many individuals within parishes stretching from Olney and Lavendon in the north of the county to Wraysbury in the south. The first Waddesdon register was started in 1538 when Henry VIII was on the throne and continued, with some gaps, to 1735 when George II was king.  The role of the parish register has changed over the centuries with the advent of civil registration.  Just as the Buckinghamshire has changed many times since 1844 to the present day with the formation of Milton Keynes and Slough as separate authorities.  While the Waddesdon registers do not record the Rothschild family in the village, their estate workers and staff appear in the pages as the parish changed to meet the needs of the new Waddesdon Manor.

The role of registers and ecclesiastical parishes have also evolved over time.  Dealing with lawlessness and helping the poor were part of parish responsibilities, work eventually being transferred to civil parishes, councils, poor law unions and the courts in the form of Petty and Quarter Sessions.

The turmoil of the Civil War is reflected in the pages of registers with missing years and incomplete entries, as Buckinghamshire was on the front line between royalist Oxford and parliamentarian London.  The registers also represent the authority that the rise of non-conformity was fighting against and were eventually superseded by civil registration in 1837.

This book also represents all the documents in public and private records held by the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies.  All aspects of county life can be found in the archives, detailing the histories of houses, hamlets, and towns and most importantly the people. Everybody got a line or two in the parish register, from the wealthy gentry to the unnamed traveller who died on the road.  In the many pages of baptisms, marriages and burials handwriting and language changes to reflect the style and needs of the time.  In some registers the plague can be seen and the individuals remembered.

History is the activity of many ordinary people.  Some actions are unremarkable while others affect many and become meaningful on the national and international stage.  In many ways local history can explain how some national history happened. Buckinghamshire people will be continuing to make history in their own way for many years to come.

The first Waddesdon Parish Register was nominated by Tony Sargeant, Honoury Secretary, on behalf of Bucks Family History Society.