Reading (city), Berkshire Genealogy

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Guide to Reading, Berkshire history, family history, and genealogy parish registers, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.


History[edit | edit source]

Berkshire flag
Coat of arms of Reading
Location of Reading in England

Reading is a large, historically important town in Berkshire, England, of which it is the county town.

It is located in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway. Reading is 75 miles (121 km) east of Bristol, 25 miles (40 km) south of Oxford, 42 miles (68 km) west of London, 17 miles (27 km) north of Basingstoke, 13 miles (21 km) south-west of Maidenhead and 20 miles (32 km) east of Newbury.

The first evidence for Reading as a settlement dates from the 8th century. It was an important trading and ecclesiastical centre in the medieval period, as the site of Reading Abbey, one of the richest monasteries of medieval England with strong royal connections, of which the 12th century abbey gateway and significant ruins remain.

By 1525, Reading was the largest town in Berkshire, and tax returns show that Reading was the 10th largest town in England when measured by taxable wealth. By 1611, it had a population of over 5000 and had grown rich on its trade in cloth. The town was seriously affected by the English Civil War, with a major siege and loss of trade, and played a pivotal role in the Revolution of 1688, with that revolution's only significant military action fought on the streets of the town.

The 18th century saw the beginning of a major iron works in the town and the growth of the brewing trade for which Reading was to become famous. The 19th century saw the coming of the Great Western Railway and the development of the town's brewing, baking and seed growing businesses. During that period, the town grew rapidly as a manufacturing center.

During the 19th century, the town grew rapidly as a manufacturing center. The Great Western Railway arrived in 1841, followed by the South Eastern Railway in 1849 and the London and South Western Railway in 1856. The Summer Assizes were moved from Abingdon to Reading in 1867, effectively making Reading the sole county town of Berkshire, a decision that was officially approved by the Privy Council in 1869. The town became a county borough under the Local Government Act 1888. The town has been famous for the Three Bs of beer (1785–2010, Simonds' Brewery), flower seeds and bulbs (1837–1974, Suttons Seeds), and biscuits (1822–1976, Huntley and Palmers).

The town continued to expand in the 20th century, annexing Caversham across the River Thames in Oxfordshire in 1911. Compared to many other English towns and cities, Reading suffered little physical damage during either of the two World Wars that afflicted the 20th century, although many citizens were killed or injured in the conflicts. One significant air raid occurred on 10 February 1943, when a single Luftwaffe plane machine-gunned and bombed the town center, resulting in 41 deaths and over 100 injuries.[1]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries (Civil)[edit | edit source]

Reading Cemetery and Crematorium
All Hallows Rd
Reading RG4 5LP
Phone: +44 118 937 2200

Mays Lane Burial Ground
Mays Ln
Earley, Reading RG6 1JX
Phone: +44 118 986 8995

Caversham Cemetery
Victoria Rd
Reading RG4 5LP

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Parishes[edit | edit source]

Church address:
Friar St
Reading RG1 1EH
Phone: +44 118 951 6700

Minster of St Mary the Virgin
Church address:
Chain Steet
Reading RG1 2HX
Phone: +44 118 957 1057

Church of the Holy Trinity
Church address:
Oxford Rd
Reading RG1 7NQ

All Saints
Church address:
14 Downshire Square
Reading RG1 6NH
Phone: +44 118 957 2000

St Michael's
Church address:
New Ln Hill
Tilehurst, Reading RG30 4JX
Phone: +44 118 942 7331

Non Conformists[edit | edit source]

The following other Christian denominations and religions are also represented in Reading:

  • All Nations Christian Center
  • Baptists
  • Evangelical
  • Christian Science
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
  • Jehovah's Witness
  • Methodists
  • Roman Catholics
  • Seventh Day Adventist

Non Christian populations include:

  • Buddhists
  • Jews
  • Muslims
  • Sikhs

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Birth, marriages and deaths, have been kept by the UK government from July 1837 to the present day.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Occupations[edit | edit source]

Reading has a significant historical involvement in the information technology industry, largely as a result of the early presence in the town of sites of International Computers Limited and Digital. Whilst both these companies have been swallowed by other groups, their respective descendants in Fujitsu and Hewlett-Packard both still have local operations. More recently Microsoft and Oracle have established multi-building campuses in the town. Other technology companies with a significant presence in the town include Access IS Agilent Technologies, Audio & Design (Recording) Ltd, Bang & Olufsen, Cisco, Ericsson, Harris Corporation, Huawei Technologies, Intel, Nvidia, Sage, Sagem Orga, SGI, Symantec, Symbol Technologies, Verizon Business, Virgin Media, Websense, Xansa (now Steria), and Xerox.

Procter & Gamble has an innovation center in the town, which is active in the production of Gillette razors, and is the second largest in the world of its kind.

The financial company ING Direct had its headquarters in Reading, as does the directories company Yell Group and the natural gas major BG Group. The insurance company Prudential has an administration center in the town, whilst PepsiCo and Holiday Inn have offices. Like most major cities, Reading has offices of the Big Four accounting firms Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young and KPMG.

Reading is the major shopping center for the Thames Valley, and, as such, provides major employment opportunities. The principal town center shopping area is around Broad Street, which was pedestrianized in 1995. Broad Street is anchored at its east and west ends respectively by The Oracle and Broad Street Mall enclosed shopping centers.


Societies[edit | edit source]

Reading does not have a dedicated FHS society. Berkshire does have some groups as identified below:

Archives[edit | edit source]

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Reading, Berkshire," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, Berkshire, accessed 16 November, 2017.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Economy of Reading," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Berkshire, accessed 18 November, 2017.