Historical Research Group

What was Charlbury like 400 years ago? Or even only 200 years ago? We can’t answer these questions unless we look at the lives of ordinary people of the time. There are several invaluable sources to do that. The one we chose to investigate were the wills and other documents written after someone had died. But there are almost 400 people in Charlbury who have left these records (from 1524 to 1732), with well over 700 documents to read. So in 2013 a group of us learnt to read the handwriting of the time, and started to look for, read, and write up in Word what we found.

These documents are fascinating, telling us a lot about the people then, their houses and trades, their families and even their thoughts about their relatives as they wrote their wills.

See below for some examples of the stories we have discovered.

If you have a particular interest or skill that would relate well to this work and would like to be involved then please contact us at

Sadly we have been unable to meet during the Covid pandemic but work has continued to transcribe the Manor Court records and members have undertaken their own personal researches.

Hixet Wood

By Barbara Allison and Linda Mowat     Where did the name of this road come from? The earliest map of Charlbury – the 1761 Thomas Pride map, tracings of which are…

A Charlbury baker

By Linda Mowat John Penn, baker of Charlbury, died in 1695, leaving his worldly goods to his widow Ellenor. He did not list these items in his will, but the inventory subsequently made of…

Inventory of 1680

Here is the inventory of a labourer named Thomas Becket. He died in 1680. We don’t know his age, but he didn’t appear to have any children. His wife died…