Headington Family History

Headington Parish registers available on Ancestry

On 1 October 2016, the Headington parish registers (and those of the rest of Oxfordshire, but excluding the areas that used to be in Berkshire) became available on Ancestry for those who have a subscription or can access it in libraries.
Full details here

Warning about the “Headington Registration District”

Church baptisms and weddings take place in a small local parish, and if the person you are researching was baptised or married in a church in Headington itself, you are now in the right place.

Civil registration, however, covers a huge district, and the chances are weighted against someone born in the Headington registration district having been born in Headington itself.

Headington censuses
1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901

The Headington area in this period included the three villages of Old Headington, New Headington, and Headington Quarry, as well as Headington Hill, the Marston Road area, Barton, and Sandhills. By the time of the 1891 census, there are over 3000 people listed under Headington, and over 5,300 in 1901. The Headington webmaster has typed up all the censuses, from 1841 to 1901

Headington Rate Book, 1850

An Act of Parliament in 1850 (13 & 14 Vict. cap. 19) enabled the Parish Vestry to order that rates should be charged on the owners of property below the rateable value of £6, rather than the occupiers. As a result, a rate-book was sent to all Headington rate-payers. You can gauge the kind of house your Headington ancestors lived in, and see who owned it.

Headington parish registers

Headington directories

Early directories only list the principal inhabitants of an area, that is the gentry and farmers, plus a trade list including the kind of people to be found in the Yellow Pages today (shopkeepers, blacksmiths, carpenters, innkeepers etc.). This means that almost all the women and about four-fifths of the men (the labourers) will be missing. It is not until the 1930s that Kelly’s Directory started to include every householder. Here are the entries from two early directories of Headington:

Log books of Headington schools

School log books became compulsory in 1864, and are a valuable source of information. Most of the Headington logbooks have survived:

Detailed Headington maps: 1876, 1898, 1921, 1939

Copies of the above large-scale Ordnance Survey maps of Headington (which show every house) are available in the Oxfordshire History Centre in Cowley. They also have more OS modern maps, but only the above four maps are copyright-free.


Finally, although it’s a bit of a long shot, don’t forget published diaries!

Top twenty Headington surnames in 1891

In 1891, the three Headington villages had a total population of 3005. Here are the top twenty names (number of people with the name given in brackets):

Morris[s] (117); Coppock (107); Taylor (85); Cooper (70); Jacob[s] (68); Smith (65); Jones (58); Horwood (47); Kimber (45); Webb (44); Gard[e]ner (43); Bushnell (42); Adams (41); Trafford (40); Tolley (36); Bateman (35); Goodgame (33); Ward (31); Clark[e] (28); Louch (27)

Specific Headington surnames
  • Goodgame and Hedges are names often found in Headington
  • Louch: here are some family photographs waiting to be identified
  • Morris: Here is a brief Morris pedigree, drawn up for William Morris (Lord Nuffield), but as his father came from Witney, he was not related to the Headington Morrises. You are more likely to be related if you have his mother’s surname, Pether
  • Tolley: every member of the Tolley family of Headington is descended from one man, Samuel Tolley alias James (1774–1835), who had five sons by his two wives

For pages of Oxford History including house biographies and lists
of people in directories, please go to

Quarry church
Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry in the early twentieth century, when many of the graves still looked new
Presence of war memorial shows that it dates from soon after October 1920 Image contributed by Ian Garrett

© Stephanie Jenkins


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