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of Berkshire, England
Berkshire is an inland county, bounded on the north by the county of Oxford, and a small part of the county of Buckingham, from both of which it is separated by the Thames; on the east by the counties of Buckingham and Surrey; on the south by the county of Southampton (Hampshire); and on the west by the county of Wilts.
Until 1836, Berkshire lay within the diocese of Salisbury, (with the exception of the parishes of Chilton and Langford, the former of which was in the diocese of Oxford, and the latter in the diocese of Lincoln,) and province of Canterbury (see below for additional), forming an archdeaconry which was divided into the deaneries of Abingdon, Newbury, Reading and Wallingford, with a total of one hundred and forty-eight parishes, of which, seventy-two were rectories, sixty-four vicarages, and twelve perpetual curacies. For civil purposes, Berks was divided into twenty hundreds: Beynhurst, Bray, Charlton, Compton, Cookham, Faircross, Farringdon, Ganfield, Hormer, Kintbury-Eagle, Lambourn, Moreton, Ock, Reading, Ripplesmere, Shrivenham, Sonning, Theale, Wantage, and Wargrave, including the boroughs and market-towns of Abingdon, Reading, Wallingford, and Windsor; the incorporated market towns of Maidenhead, Newbury, and Wokingham; and the market towns of Farringdon, Hungerford, East Ilsley, Lambourn, and Wantage. In 1974, some parishes became part of Oxfordshire, but for the purposes of our research, ancient boundary lines have been respected (see below).
Berkshire was home to a number of Combs &c. families, and its history and geograhpical location may have played a significant role in the lives of some of the early Combs &c. families of this county, and Lovett families, and for this reason, we refer researchers to the Combs-hosted History of Berkshire, including footnotes in respect to the Archdale, Combs and Lovett families, and others.
Of the many Combs families in Berks, at least one is being actively researched at present:
John COMBE (s/o John & Margaret ARCHDALE Combs), baptised 16 Aug 1602, St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, London; d Apr 1652, Sparsholt, Berks; m 8 Jul 1630, Soulbury, Bucks, Elizabeth LOVETT, d/o Sir Robert & Anne SAUNDERS Lovett of Liscombe, Bucks (1.24 miles south of Soulbury; no Combs records found in that parish as yet). See Also the Combs-Associated Archdale Families and Lovett Families)
Due to the strong interest and active research of the Sparsholt Combs, the records of this county have been segregated by parish, with the early Combes of many other parishes viewed in terms of possible relationships to the Combes of Sparsholt. (See Parishes within 11 miles of Sparsholt)
Note: Numerous Berkshire parish records have been read by Archdale-Combs-Lovett researcher Denise Mortorf which are published in many of the following parishes. In a number of other cases, Denise read parish register films with negative results. A separate list of these will be published here shortly (See Also Combs Research List Archives, Year: 1998)
Also note: A number of marriages of Berks residents took place in Oxfordshire. All of those marriages have not yet been cross-filed here.
Our primary geographical source, unless otherwise stated, is A Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis, S. Lewis and Company, London, 1831 (See also History of Berkshire).
Wills and Administrations: Entries from various published indices to wills and administrations have been added to applicable parishes/towns. These sources may be incomplete, however, due to the following, courtesy of Gen-UKI, Berks:
“Berkshire was an archdeaconry in the diocese of Salisbury in the archdiocese of Canterbury, until it was transferred to the diocese of Oxford in 1836, Wills, Administrations and other probate records (prior to 1858) will be found in the Record Office related to the ecclesiastical court where the will was proved. For the archdiaconal court this is Berkshire Record Office near Reading, for the Consistory Court of Salisbury this is the Wiltshire Record Office in Trowbridge and for the Prerogative Court of Canterbury this is the Public Record Office at Chancery Lane.”
“Unfortunately, for various ‘peculiars’ the records may be elsewhere, such as the Bodleian Library at Oxford for Langford, Wantage (early), Hungerford, West Ilsley and Shalbourne. Wills for the few inhabitants of Windsor Castle are kept at The Aerary in Windsor Castle.”
Combs &c. researcher Denise Mortorff adds that during the Interreggnum (1649-1660), the archdeaconry did not, by order of Parliament, handle probates and that many wills and administrations from this period are not extant.
Combs &c. Records by Hundred and Parish(in which Combs and Associated Families have been found thus far)
- Hundred of Beynhurst: (none at this time)
- Hunded of Bray: (none at this time)
- Hundred of Charlton:
- Hurst (including Twyford and Whistley Hurst)
- Hundred of Compton:
- Hundred of Cookham:
- Hundred of Faircross:
- Hundred of Farringdon:
- Great Farringdon (also partly in the hundred of Shrivenham)
- Hundred of Ganfield:
- Hundred of Hormer:
- Hundred of Kintbury-Eagle:
- Hundred of Lambourn:
- Lambourn (New 2 Apr 2009)
- Hundred of Moreton:
- Hundred of Ock:
- Hundred of Reading:
- Hundred of Ripplesmere: (none at this time)
- Hundred of Shrivenham:
- Hundred of Sonning:
- Hundred of Theale:
- Hundred of Wantage:
- Hundred of Wargrave: (none at this time)
To learn more about medieval terms for land see the ENGLAND: Land from Medieval to Present Day.
* In 1974, the county lost the Vale of the White Horse, including Wantage, Didcot, Wallingford and Abingdon, to Oxfordshire, but gained Slough from Buckinghamshire. An earlier boundary change assimilated Reading's growth north of Thames into Berkshire. (Gen-UKI, Berks) Also since 1974, North and South Hinksey have been in Oxfordshire, but for research purposes are “filed” in Berks, the “county of record” at the time.
Lovett Manors in Berks
The Lovett Memorials and other sources also refer to early properties in Berks, the Memorials state: “William LOVETT, (2) the elder son of Richardus de LOUVET, received from William the Conqueror, the manors of … Dentone, Anebone and Mortune in Berkshire.”2 According to The Domesday Book, these were:
Domesday Survey. Berkshire. Donnington (modern) “Deritone: William LOVETT.”
The Domesday Book adds that “The ruins of 14th century Donnington Castle; successfully defended by Royalist Sir John BOYS during the Civil War, are nearby.” According to Castles of Britain, Donnington Castle, Berks, was an enclosure built in 1386 by Sir Richard ABBERBURY, and purchased in 1415 by Thomas CHAUCER. It later passed to de la POLE and in 1644 was besieged by the Roundheads, but did not fall until 18 months later. The only parish of Donnington in Berks is Shaw cum Donnington, 3.62 miles northeast of Enborne, about 5 miles southwest of Frilsham, and only three mi. from Hampshire (parishes of Newtown and Burghclere). No Combe or Lovett families have been located in its parish records as yet.
Domesday Survey. Berkshire. Enborne (modern) “Taneburne/Aneborne: William LOVETT; William FitzCorbucion; Giles, brother of Ansculf; Roger de Lacy. Mill.”
According to this source, Enborne is “near the site of the first battle of Newbury, in 1643.” Enborne is less than three mi. from Hampshire (parishes of Newbury, Newtown and East and West Woodhay), and 3.16 miles southeast of Kintbury. No Combe or Lovett records have been located in Enborne parish as yet.
Domesday Survey. Berkshire. South Moreton (modern) “Moretune: William LOVETT; Humphrey Visdeloup. Church, mill.”
The Domesday Book adds “on Mill Brook; moat; church with a Saxon doorway.” South Moreton lies southwest of Cholsey and three mi. from the border of Oxfordshire (parishes of Crowmarsh Gifford and Mongewell). No Lovetts, and only Combe record located thus far.
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