Bray Berkshire Family History Guide

Parish church: St. Michael

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1652
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1607

Nonconformists include:

  • Countess of Huntingdon Methodist
  • Independent/Congregational
  • Primitive Methodist
  • Wesleyan Methodist

Parishes adjacent to Bray

  • Dorney
  • Clewer
  • Cookham Dean
  • Cranbourne
  • Taplow
  • White Waltham with Shottesbrooke
  • New Windsor Holy Trinity
  • Boveney
  • Maidenhead St Luke
  • Warfield

Historical Descriptions

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales 1851

Bray, a parish, in itself a hund., union of Cookham, county of Berks; 2 miles south by east of Maidenhead, on the southern bank of the river Thames, and intersected by the Great Western railway. It comprises the divisions of Bray, Touchen, Mater-Oakley, and part of Maidenhead. Living, a vicarage, formerly in the archd. of Berks and dio. of Salisbury, now in the dio. of Oxford; valued at £25 4s. 4½d.; gross income £520; in the patronage of the bishop of Oxford. The vicarial tithes, the property of the vicar, were commuted in 1814. There are three daily schools, one of which is endowed with £21 per annum, three Sunday schools and a day and Sunday school, in this parish. Here are eighteen free tenements, given for the use of the poor by Sir John Norris. In 1627, William Goddard, Esq., founded and endowed here an hospital, called Jesus hospital, and placed it under the direction of the Fishmongers’ company in London. The inmates are 40 in number, 6 of whom must be free of the Fishmongers’ company. One poor person of this parish is entitled to a place in Lucas’s hospital. Other charities connected with this parish produce about £250 per annum. Bray was famous for a time-serving vicar, who, during the reigns of Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth, changed his religion so as to retain his charge, being twice a protestant, and twice a papist. This unprincipled conduct having attracted notice, he is said to have defended himself on the ground that his ruling principle was “to live and die vicar of Bray.” About three quarters of a mile from this place stands Monkey island, a picturesque spot in the river Thames, fancifully decorated by the third duke of Marlborough for the accommodation of angling parties. Pop., in 1801, 2,403; in 1831, 3,480. Houses 703. Acres 8,900. A.P. £17,950. Poor rates, in 1837, £1,102.

Source: The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales; A Fullarton & Co. Glasgow; 1851.

Leonard’s Gazetteer of England and Wales 1850

Bray, 1m. S. Maidenhead. P. 3722.

Source: Leonard’s Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850.


  • County: Berkshire
  • Civil Registration District: Cookham
  • Probate Court: Court of the Archdeaconry of Berkshire
  • Diocese: Pre-1836 – Salisbury, Post-1835 – Oxford
  • Rural Deanery: Reading
  • Poor Law Union: Cookham
  • Hundred: Bray
  • Province: Canterbury

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