Cambridge (city), Cambridgeshire Genealogy

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Guide to Cambridge (city) history, family history, and genealogy: parish registers, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.

Cambridge Kings college.jpg

History[edit | edit source]

Settlements have existed around the Cambridge area since prehistoric times. The earliest clear evidence of occupation is the remains of a 3,500-year-old farmstead discovered at the site of Fitzwilliam College.

Cambridge is located about 50 miles north east of London, very similar to the distance to Oxford to the north west.

The city is located in an area of level and relatively low-lying terrain just south of the Fens, which varies between 6 and 24 meters (20 and 79 ft) above sea level. The town was thus historically surrounded by low lying wetlands. The fens are an area of marsh interspersed with channels that drain into the Wash.

The area around Cambridge is rich in deposited alluvial soil and is an ideal location for market gardens to support the needs of Londonl, just to the south.

The principal Roman site at Cambridge is a small fort (castrum) named Duroliponte located on Castle Hill, just northwest of the city center and around the location of the earlier British village.

After the Romans left Britain,there is some evidence that the invading Saxons began occupying the area by the end of the fifth century.

By the 7th century, the town was less significant and was described by Bede as a "little ruined city" containing the burial site of Etheldreda. However another hundred years later, the arrival of the Vikings in Cambridge was recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 875. Viking rule, the Danelaw, had been imposed by 878.

In 1068, two years after his conquest of England, William of Normandy built a castle on Castle Hill. Like the rest of the newly conquered kingdom, Cambridge fell under the control of the King and his deputies.

In 1209, Cambridge University was founded by students escaping from hostile townspeople in Oxford. The oldest college that still exists, Peterhouse, was founded in 1284. Thus the Cambridge University complex is not as old as Oxford. It is still considered to be one of the top 5 Universities in the world. [1]

One of the most well-known buildings in Cambridge, King's College Chapel (image above), was begun in 1446 by King Henry VI. The project was completed in 1515 during the reign of King Henry VIII.

Cambridge played a significant role in the early part of the English Civil War as it was the headquarters of the Eastern Counties Association, an organization administering a regional East Anglian army, which became the mainstay of the Parliamentarian military effort prior to the formation of the New Model Army. In 1643 control of the town was given by Parliament to Oliver Cromwell, who had been educated at the University's Sidney Sussex College.

During the late middle ages, and until the Industrial Revolution, Cambridge remained as a University town and market town.

In the 19th century, in common with many other English towns, Cambridge expanded rapidly. This was due in part to increased life expectancy and also improved agricultural production leading to increased trade in town markets.

The railway came to Cambridge in 1845 after initially being resisted, with the opening of the Great Eastern London to Norwich line. This was actually quite late in the development of the British rail system. The station was placed outside the town center following pressure from the University, who restricted travel by undergraduates.

During the Second World War, Cambridge was an important center for defense of the east coast. The town became a military center, with an R.A.F. training center and the regional headquarters for Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Hertfordshire, and Bedfordshire established during the conflict. Many of the German air raids were flown from Scandinavia, arriving in England over the coast next to Cambridge.

After the war, Cambridge was granted its city charter in 1951 in recognition of its history, administrative importance and economic success.

The importance of Cambridge in the early 21st. century, can be attributed to its concentration of Educational facilities, and to its publishing background, all springing from the colleges of the University.

Resources[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries (Civil)[edit | edit source]

There are presently eight cemeteries, including outlying cemeteries within the Cambridge area. This includes an American graveyard from WWII. The links follow:

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Cambridge, due to its long association with the University, is a city of churches. The major Anglican Churches are listed below under the Parishes sub-section:

Parishes[edit | edit source]

  • The Parish Church of St. Matthew.
  • Christ Church.
  • St. Bene't's Church
  • Great St. Mary's Church.
  • St. Giles Church.
  • St.Barnabas Church.
  • Little St. Mary's Church
  • St.Andrews the Great Church
  • St. Luke's Church
  • St. Andrews Church
  • Holy Trinity Church
  • St. Paul's Church
  • Church of St. Peter and St. Paul
  • St.Martin Church
  • St. Mary the Virgin Church

Non Conformists[edit | edit source]

  • Baptist
  • Catholic (Roman)
  • Calvinist
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
  • Hope Fellowship Church
  • Jehovah's Witness
  • Methodist
  • Plymouth Brethren
  • Seventh Day Adventist
  • United Reformed Church

Non Christian groups follow:

  • Buddhist
  • Hindu
  • Humanist
  • Muslim
  • Sikh

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Birth, marriages and deaths records have been kept by the UK government since July 1837 to the present day. Prior to that, local parishes of the Church of England, and local branches of other faiths were the only repositories of this information. The following link provides access for Cambridge records:

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Occupations[edit | edit source]

Historically Cambridge was the center of the agricultural industry based in this portion of the Fen country. This is still the case, with Cambridge being the market town for the region.

The second major occupation, particularly for the city, has been education, and particularly as related to the University itself. Parallel to that sector has been a thriving publishing industry.

Since the last decade of the past century, Cambridge has become a major center for the UK Pharmaceutical Industry. Such world renowned companies as AstraZenica (which has established a major R&D and Development center in Cambridge, as well as its UK HQ), Cambridge Antibody Technology, GSK, Takeda, Napp and GW Pharmaceuticals have all established their UK centers in Cambridge.

Copying the well known ID in the USA, Silicon Valley, Cambridge has recently been titled "Silicon Fen". It is certainly a major center for electronics in the UK. More than 1000 high-technology companies established offices in the area, during the five years preceding 1998.

Cambridge and surrounding areas have established major Technology centers such as CAMBRIDGE SCIENCE PARK, CAMBRIDGE BUSINESS PARK, PETERHOUSE TECHNOLOGY PARK, MELBOURN SCIENCE PARK, GRANTA PARK, and CAMBOURN BUSINESS PARK, all since 1970. The primary focus of these parks is technical development, and especially in the electronics sector. [2]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Cambridgeshire Archives:

  • Shire Hall
  • Cambridge CB3 0AP
  • Telephone: 01223 699 399

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Cambridge," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 1 April, 2017.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Silicon Fen," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 2 April, 2017.