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Nash Woodham family of Shepreth

William Woodham of Debden, Essex, purchased the manors of Docwraies and Tyrells in Shepreth in 1759 and 1760. The name Nash Woodham was granted in 1825 by royal licence to William's great grandson, also William.

Tyrells Hall stayed in the family until being sold in 1953 after the death of Ann Nash Woodham, Docwraies Manor having previously been sold c.1918.

The collection (R53/4) comprises deeds with family and estate papers, 1616-1923, with some manorial records, including court books for Shepreth manors, 1730-1923 (R53/4/402-404), and minutes of the manor of Bassingbourn Richmond, 1645-1800(R53/4/1-5). A catalogue is available online.

A family tree has been deposited with the parish records (P139/28/27). The records are in part complementary to those of the Beldam family of Toft and Royston (R56/20 and supplementary accessions).

National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies

The charity NADFAS was founded in 1968 by Patricia Fays 'for the promotion of the advancement of the aesthetic education of the public in the cultivation, appreciation and study of the decorative and fine arts and the giving of aid to the preservation of the artistic heritage of the United Kingdom and other Countries for the benefit of the public.'

An important area of their work is church recording where volunteers compile detailed, illustrated inventories of church furnishings. Many of the completed volumes have been deposited in the archives.

National Health Service Executive Councils

Insurance Committees were set up under the National Insurance Act 1911 to administer health insurance. In 1948 they were replaced by NHS Executive Councils, which administered insurance and GP services. The Executive Councils were abolished in 1974. Executive Council records are public records under the Public Records Act 1958.

Records at Huntingdonshire Archives

We hold minutes of:

  • Huntingdonshire NHS Executive Council 1912-1960
  • Soke of Peterborough NHS Executive Council committees, 1913-1954

Records at Cambridgeshire Archives

  • Insurance Committee for County of Cambridge, Finance and General Purposes sub-committee, minutes 1930-48
  •  National Health Service Executive Council for County of Cambridge, minutes 1960-61
  •  N.H.S. Executive Council for Isle of Ely, minutes 1947-58, inventory 1912-65

Nene Valley Railway

Originally called the Peterborough Locomotive Society. Peterborough Development Corporation gave its backing to a local steam railway in 1970, and in 1977 the Nene Valley Railway Ltd began steam train services for the public between Orton and Wansford.

Although primarily known for its recreational passenger services, the company also carries commercial freight, and supplies engines for film and TV productions.

Huntingdonshire Archives holds a major series of civil engineering plans of the lines now operated by the company.


Huntingdonshire Archives

We have very few copies of newspapers or cuttings: references to the few that we have may be found by looking at 'newspapers' in the General Index cards.

Better runs of local newspapers may be found in the Huntingdonshire Collection at Huntingdon Library and Archives, in the Norris Museum in St Ives, or in St Neots Library.

Huntingdonshire newspapers and where to find them:

  • Huntingdon, Bedford and Cambridge Weekly Journal, 1825 Huntingdon Library
  • Huntingdon, Northampton, Bedford and Cambridge Weekly Journal, 1825-1828 Huntingdon Library
  • Hunts and Cambs Observer,1890-1893 Huntingdon Library 
  • Hunts Chronicle, 1890-1900 Huntingdon Library
  • Hunts County News, 1886-1926 Huntingdon Library
  • Ditto, 1886-1908 Norris Museum
  • Hunts Guardian and East Midlands Spectator 1870-1893 Huntingdon Library
  • Hunts Post, 1893 to present Huntingdon Library
  • Ditto, 1933 to present Norris Museum
  • Ditto, 1963 to present St Neots Library
  • Hunts Weekly News, 1889 Huntingdon Library
  • Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 1812-1826 Norris Museum
  • Peterborough Citizen and Advertiser, 1963-1973 Huntingdon Library
  • Peterborough Standard, 1963-1973 Huntingdon Library
  • St Ives Chronicle, 1889-1901 Huntingdon Library
  • St Neots Advertiser, 1853-55, 1885-1964,1975-79 St Neots Library
  • Town Crier (St Ives/Hunts edition) 1988 to present Huntingdon Library
  • Weekly News (St Neots) 1979 to present St Neots Library.

Cambridgeshire Archives

The first Cambridge newspaper (Cambridge Journal and Weekly Flying Post) appeared in 1744, and it wasn?t until some 144 years later when the first daily paper arrived in 1888 (Cambridge Daily News).

The large time gap was mainly due to the heavy tax that was levied upon newspapers and advertisements, which restricted their circulation and also the production of new titles. When the duty was lifted during the mid 1850s, the price of the newspaper dropped and the number of titles increased along with their circulation.

The early regional papers tended to carry little local information - they mainly concentrated on national and international news (relied on from London prints) and advertisements. Local news gradually increased and by the time the tax was lifted local papers had more pages along with increased detail and variety in content.

Typical articles include reports on crime, court proceedings, reports of accidents, birth, marriage and death notices, obituaries, society meetings, local businesses, advertisements etc.


Cambridgeshire Archives has relatively few copies of newspapers or press cuttings. Our main collection is the Cambridge Chronicle & Journal, 1770 -1934, which is available on microfilm.

The Cambridge Chronicle & Journal was published weekly and leant politically towards the Conservative party and religiously towards the established church. We hold original copies of other local and national newspapers but these are very incomplete.

Local Studies

A more comprehensive run of local newspapers can be found at the Cambridgeshire Collection at Central Library, Cambridge.

Other local newspapers can be found in the Fenland Collection (Wisbech Library and Ely Library) and the Huntingdonshire Collection (Huntingdon Library and St Neots Library); we advise you to contact them direct for more information.

National collections 

For national papers, 1800-1900 you can search the British Library Newspaper Collection which is now available online.

Nonconformist Churches

Cambridgeshire Archives holds, as well as the records of various Baptist and Methodist churches, records of:
  • Eastern Province of the Congregational Union of England and Wales
  • Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Congregational Union
  • United Reformed Church Cambridge District Council
  • United Reformed Church Cambridge District Women's Committee
  • Barrington Congregational Church
  • Bassingbourn Congregational Church
  • Cambridge Castle End Mission
  • Cambridge Emmanuel United Reformed Church
  • Cambridge St Columba's United Reformed (formerly Presbyterian) Church
  • Cambridge St Luke's United Reformed Church (formerly Victoria Road)
  • Castle Camps United Reformed Church
  • Chatteris United Reformed Church
  • Cherry Hinton Road United Reformed Church (formerly Free Church)
  • Great Eversden and Kingston Congregational Church
  • Great Eversden Congregational Church
  • Fowlmere and Thriplow United Reformed Church
  • Linton Congregational Chapel
  • March United Reformed Church
  • Melbourn United Reformed Church
  • Guilden Morden Congregational Church
  • Newmarket United Reformed Church
  • Reach Congregational Chapel
  • Sawston United Reformed Church
  • Shepreth Congregational Church
  • Soham United Reformed Church
  • Whittlesey Broad Street United Reformed Church
  • Whittlesford United Reformed Church

Huntingdonshire has always had a strong tradition of nonconformity, with many towns and villages supporting free congregations. The history of these congregations is often quite complex, with chapels splitting and recombining over time.

As well as the records of various Baptist and Methodist churches, we hold records of:

  • Hemingford Grey Congregational Chapel
  • Houghton Union Chapel (used by Baptist and Congregational congregations)
  • St Ives Free Church (originally Presbyterian; later Independent; later still combined with the Baptists)
  • St Neots United Reformed Church (originally Congregational)
  • Warboys Union Chapel (used by Baptist and Congregational congregations)

Norman Cross Prisoner of War Camp

A camp for French and Dutch soldiers and sailors was built at Norman Cross during the Napoleonic War. Between 1796 and 1816 roughly 10,000 prisoners were held there, of whom at least 1,700 died and were buried in the Camp's cemetery. Several thousand English troops were stationed there as well, to guard the POWs. 

Huntingdonshire Archives has microfilm copies of some records concerning the Camp now held at the Public Record Office in Kew, including the general entry books of Dutch and French prisoners. We also have a list of all known marriages between English soldiers and local women, and of baptisms of any of their children, compiled from Stilton and Glatton parish registers. Please ask a member of staff if you wish to see these. 

Our searchroom library has a copy of T.J.Walker's book 'The Depot for Prisoners of War at Norman Cross' (1915) and of S.Berrill's 'Norman Cross Prison Camp' (1989).

We also have a photocopy of the L'Entente Society circular inviting subscriptions towards the memorial to the prisoners, with a drawing of the proposed memorial, 1914 (accession 4655).

Models made by the POWs can today be seen at Peterborough Museum and at the Norris Museum in St Ives.

Ordnance Survey

The OS was established in 1791 to prepare maps of southeast England as part of the defences against the French. Although the war ended in 1814 the OS has continued since then to map the entire country.

Huntingdonshire was surveyed for the Old Series OS in 1808-1821: we have a book containing reprints of published Old Series one-inch maps for this area, and photostats of the surveyors' draft maps on a scale of 2 inches to the mile.

Huntingdonshire was then surveyed for the County Series (or New Series) in 1884-87, 1899-1901, and (some places only) 1924-25.

Huntingdonshire Archives holds a large collection of County Series maps on the popular 25-inch (1:2500) and 6-inch (1:10560) scales. We also have some 6-inch maps from the post-war provisional edition.

There are some gaps in our holdings. Huntingdon Library has some maps which can fill the gaps, however.

The county was first surveyed for the National Grid in 1961. We have some NG maps on various scales, though coverage is patchy.

Papworth Hospital

Recently Papworth has been more associated with cardiothoracic services. However, before the First World War tuberculosis was considered a threat to national efficiency as it killed people during their most working productive years.

Social pioneer and physician Sir Pendrill Varrier-Jones founded the Cambridgeshire Tuberculosis Colony in direct response to this national concern. Following research at Cambridge University, Varrier-Jones theorized that alongside treatment, a nourishing diet alongside copious amounts of fresh air was the most effective way to combat the disease.

This theory led to the founding of the Papworth Village Settlement. Papworth helped patients with long-term treatment of the disease. Patients had access to financial support and paid work resulting in the successful Papworth Industries, which continued into the late 1950s. These ideals encompassed the ethos Varrier-Jones purported of supporting people back into independent living and rehabilitation.

Varrier-Jones sought to establish a working community rather than simply a hospital.

The newly formed NHS inherited Papworth Hospital in 1948, and the hospitals medical emphasis has since shifted. Nowadays it has established a reputation for pioneering thoracic surgery, cardiac surgery, cardiology and respiratory medicine.

Papworth has left an extensive documentary legacy, of papers, publications, photographs, cine film, and in the experiences of those who have lived through and been involved in these developments.

Papworth Village Settlement

The Cambridgeshire Tuberculosis Colony was founded initially at Bourn in 1915 and moved to Papworth Hall in neighbouring Papworth Everard in February 1918, taking the name Papworth Village Settlement, by which it is best known, in 1927.Cambridgeshire Archives has a substantial number of records of the Settlement and of Pendrill Charles Varrier-Jones (1883-1941), who ran the establishment.


A parish is an ecclesiastical territorial division, the area under the spiritual control of a priest. During the 16th and 17th centuries the parish gradually superseded the manor as the main unit of local government, but this came to an end in the late 19th century with the reforms which created civil municipal and borough councils, rural and urban district councils, and parish councils.

There are 104 ancient ecclesiastical parishes in the area covered by Huntingdonshire Archives and 184 in the area covered by Cambridgeshire Archives. From the 19th century, additional parishes have been created by the Church of England in response to changing population patterns.

Parish records

Each parish generated a wide variety of records, although their survival can vary greatly from one church to another. Many local churches have deposited documents with us, including churchwardens accounts, tithe records, overseers papers, constables books and so on. Details of all these records may be found on the Access to Archives (A2A) website.

Parish records are popular sources for family and local history, and there are many books which can provide you with help in understanding them. The best overall introduction is still W.E.Tate The Parish Chest (Cambridge 1951). Those of you purely interested in the registers themselves should read Eve McLaughlin Parish Registers (FFHS 1988). 

Parish registers

Registers of baptisms, marriages and burials are among the most frequently consulted documents at Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Archives. Parishes were ordered to keep them from 1538, but in many parishes they survive only from a later date.

 Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire's registers have been transcribed and indexed by the Cambridgeshire Family History Society and the Huntingdonshire Family History Society; these transcripts are available in our searchrooms. Original registers covered by these transcripts are usually not produced, in order to protect the originals, but registers not yet transcribed are usually available for consultation.

 Some registers are too fragile to be produced, but you may consult microfilm copies. Please note that no photocopies can be made of any pre-1837 register.

Please follow the links below for lists of all original parish registers currently held at Cambridgeshire Archives and Huntingdonshire Archives.

Parish Councils

The Local Government Act of 1894 created elected parish councils in places with a population of 300 or more, and allowed them to be created for those in the 100-299 range. These new councils took over the civil responsibilities of parish vestries before 1894.

Until 1930 they were empowered to collect the poor rate. A copy of Macmorran and Dill's commentary on the act, 'The Local Government Act 1894' (London 1896) is available.

The Record Office library also contains a number of books and guides published to help parish councillors conduct their business, including R.C.Maxwell's 'Parish Councillor's Guide' (London 1935), W.H.Dumsday's 'Parish Councils Handbook' (London 1946) and Charles Arnold-Baker's 'New Law and Practice of Parish Administration' (London 1966).

Some parish councils have deposited their records with us.

Peterborough City archives


The municipal borough of Peterborough was incorporated in 1874 and covered the urban area only. In 1974 it was abolished and replaced by a wholly new Peterborough City Council, covering both the urban area and the outlying rural areas which formerly formed part of the Liberty.

In 1998 this in turn was abolished and replaced by a new unitary authority, which has also adopted the name Peterborough City Council.

The main series of signed minutes are held at Peterborough Town Hall.

For general information about archival sources concerning Peterborough's history, please contact Peterborough Archives Service.

Petty Sessions

Petty Sessions were courts of summary jurisdiction at which two or more local Justices would meet to deal with the more minor criminal cases and routine business that threatened to overwhelm Quarter Sessions.

 Formal records of their proceedings often survive from no earlier then the mid- late 19th century. In 1974, the Petty Sessions courts were replaced by Magistrates Courts

Cambridgeshire Archives

Anciently, the county was split into several Petty Session Divisions:

  • Arrington and Melbourn
  • Bottisham
  • Cambridge Borough and Cambridge County
  • Caxton
  • Linton
  • Newmarket
  • Whittlesey
  • Wisbech Borough
  • Wisbech Division
  • Ely and South Witchford
  • North Witchford (divided in to Chatteris and March sub-divisions)

In the main, the records consist of registers of the court and the Juvenile Court which provide a summary account of proceedings. Minute books of the court may also survive which tend to be more detailed.

Registers of licences (most commonly for  beer and ale houses and clubs) are available for many divisions although these usually cover only the late 19th- early 20th century.

From 1927 adoptions had to be approved by magistrates meeting in a Petty Sessions Court and each court maintained a register. 


The main Petty Sessions divisions were based on the historic 'hundreds' (groups of parishes) of Hurstingstone, Leightonstone, Norman Cross and Toseland, but the towns of Huntingdon, Godmanchester and Ramsey had their own divisions.

Records held at Huntingdonshire Archives include:

  • Godmanchester Borough 1872-1901
  • Huntingdon Borough 1872-1958
  • Huntingdon and Leightonstone Division 1957-1990
  • Hurstingstone Division 1844-1978
  • Leightonstone Division 1878-1958
  • Norman Cross Division 1872-1960
  • Ramsey Division 1909-1974
  • Toseland Division 1878-1974

Please note that some records may be closed to general public access, under data protection legislation.

Police Records


The Police Act 1856 prompted the creation of both Huntingdon County Constabulary, with its own Chief Constable, and the Liberty of Peterborough Police Force, sharing its Chief Constable with Northamptonshire Constabulary.

In 1874 the City of Peterborough Constabulary was created with its own Chief Constable; in 1947 the City and Liberty forces were amalgamated, and in 1965 further amalgamation with Cambridgeshire created the Mid-Anglia Constabulary (since 1974 Cambridgeshire Constabulary).


Huntingdonshire Archives holds original records of:

  • Huntingdon County Constabulary 1857-1965, including records of Hurstingstone, Leightonstone, Norman Cross, Ramsey and Toseland police divisions.
  • Mid Anglia Constabulary: Eastern Division covered the Peterborough area 1965-1974

Huntingdonshire Archives also holds some printed annual reports of Cambridgeshire Constabulary, as part of the Office Library collection.

The following records were transferred to Peterborough Local Studies and Archives in 2009:

  • Liberty of Peterborough Police Force 1812-1947
  • City of Peterborough Police Force 1874-1947
  • Peterborough Combined Police Force 1947-1965

Details of these can be found by following the link to the Peterborough Local Studies and Archives webpages in the right hand column.


Cambridge Borough had a police force from 1836;  the Municipal Corporation Act required boroughs to appoint a Watch Committee, which, in turn, appointed constables to police towns.

The County Police Act of 1839 permitted Justices to set up paid county police forces. The Isle of Ely had its own Constabulary from 1841, comprising of four divisions - Ely, Wisbech, Whittlesey and Chatteris - each of which were self-contained and independent from one another.

There was no organised policing for the rest of Cambridgeshire until 1851 when the Cambridgeshire County Force was established.

The Mid-Anglia Constabulary was formed in 1965 from the amalgamation of Cambridge City Police (formerly Cambridge Borough), the Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Huntingdonshire Constabulary, Isle of Ely Constabulary, and the Soke of Peterborough Combined Police Force.

In 1973, the Mid-Anglia Force became the present Cambridgeshire Constabulary.


Cambridgeshire Archives holds records of the following forces, transferred from the Police Museum in Peterborough [R96/19]:

  • Cambridge Borough Constabulary, 1836 - 1965
  • Isle of Ely Constabulary, 1841 - 1965
  • Cambridgeshire County, 1851 - 1965
  • Mid Anglia Constabulary, 1965 -1974
  • Cambridgeshire Constabulary, 1974 - 1991


Some of the more recent records of these forces may be closed to the public, due to the details they contain about individual members of the police, and about specific crimes.

Poll Books

Before secret ballots were introduced in 1872, poll books were often printed following elections, listing all the electors and how they voted. Copies of the poll books were sometimes handed over to the Clerk of the Peace for permanent preservation. Some poll books were also produced prior to elections, to help candidates canvass for votes.


Huntingdonshire Archives has some original poll books for Huntingdon Borough and for Huntingdon County constituencies: photocopies of these are available on the searchroom shelves.


Cambridgeshire Archives holds a 'broken' series of poll books for the county of Cambridgeshire, 1705-1868 and similarly for  Cambridge Borough, 1774-1868 and the University of Cambridge, 1727-1882.

Please contact us to check availability of specific dates. There are helpful descriptions of the history and usefulness of poll books in the Gibson Guide 'Poll Books c 1696-1872' and J.R.Vincent 'Pollbooks: How Victorians Voted' (Cambridge 1967), both of which are available in the searchroom.

Poor Law records after 1834

Before 1834 the Poor Law was administered on a parish-by-parish basis, by officers called Overseers who were authorised to collect a rate from the parishioners, and then distribute it as benefits to those in need. In practice the system often worked very cruelly, with paupers (often entire families) being pushed around from village to village by Overseers unwilling to pay for relief. W.E.Tate's 'The Parish Chest' (1951) and Eve McLaughlin's 'Annals of the Poor' (1990) both give clear and vivid descriptions of how the system operated.

The Poor Law created many records (settlement examinations, removal orders, rate books, account books and so on) which were usually kept in the church's parish chest. Surviving records have therefore made their way to Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire Archives as part of the parish church archives.

After 1834 the Poor Law was administered by Boards of Guardians, each covering a group of parishes, working in partnership with the parish Overseers.


Huntingdon Old County Gaol

A gaol (pronounced 'jail') had been built by 1768 in Orchard Lane in Huntingdon. Conditions were appalling even by early 19th century standards, and it was closed in 1830. The barred windows are still visible today at ground level. Few records survive.

Huntingdon New County Gaol

The New County Gaol and House of Correction was built in 1829 in St Peters Road, Huntingdon. The building was enlarged in 1850. In 1877 the Home Office took control of the prison, which was closed in 1892, and its prisoners were transferred to Bedford.

Huntingdonshire Archives has a number of documents of the prison, including some registers of prisoners admitted, correspondence re the construction of the gaol, and a poster of 1847 giving notice of seven escaped prisoners. The habitual criminal returns (1870-78) include photographs of offenders.


Towns and villages often had lock-ups or 'cages' where offenders could be temporarily held before being moved to the County Gaol to await trial. Very few records of these lock-ups survive.

The County Gaol, Cambridge

The Old Norman castle on Castle Hill in Cambridge was used as a gaol from at least the mid fourteenth century. Before 1601 a Bridewell was made from the old castle barracks, with a separate keeper, but by Howard's time in 1776 the positions of keeper and gaoler had merged.

The gallows stood in the castle courtyard. The gaol was maintained in a far better condition than the borough one next to the guildhall.

The increasing number of Bridewell inmates and the shortage of solitary cells led to demands for a new gaol and House of Correction, and in 1802 - 07 a new octagonal County Gaol was built on the castle site, designed by G. Byfield on Benthamite principles.

This new gaol was used until 1915, prisoners after that date being sent to Bedford or Holloway.

The prison building was demolished in 1928 - 9, and the site is now occupied by the county's Shire Hall (which indeed uses bricks from the prison in its walls).

Few records survive relating to the early phases of the prison but there are plans of the buildings from 1801 - 1913 and lantern slides depicting the prison in 1740 and 1815 [23/Z 178-9].

The record office also holds registers of male and female prisoners, 1885-95 [1271/1/1- 4]; female prisoners, 1893-1914 [1271/1/5]; male prisoners, 1895-1916 [1271/1/7-12] officers, 1897-1916 [1271/4] and photographic registers of prisoners, 1882-1905 [1271/2/1-2].

Calendars of prisoners and dietaries can sometimes be found amongst the Cambridgeshire Quarter Sessions rolls which commence 1730 and reports and accounts of gaolers and gaol committees may appear in the Quarter Sessions order books.

Cambridge Borough Gaol

Cambridge was granted the right to its own gaol in 1224. By the sixteenth century prisoners were being kept in a building known as the Tollbooth, which was situated next to the Guildhall.

Described by Carter in 1753 as 'a shocking place to be confined in' with no fireplace, exercise yard or water supply, it was replaced in 1790 by a second gaol, built in St Andrew's Street behind Hobson's Spinning House.

In 1829 this was in turn abandoned and replaced, at great expense, by a gaol, on the south -east side of Parkers Piece; the site is now occupied by the YMCA and a multi-storey car park.

Finally, in 1878 this gaol, too, was pulled down under the provisions of the Prisons Act, and all borough prisoners were sent to the County Gaol.

A limited number of sources relating to the buildings, reports on conditions, and accounts can be found among the Borough archives at Cambridgeshire Archives including a gaol delivery of 1503 [PBX/27] the deed and contract for the new gaol, 1828-9 and the gaol sessions (mainly reports of the gaoler and chaplain) which can be found in the Borough Petty Sessions minutes, 1844-78.

The accounts of John Payne, gaoler 1821-39 also survive [R96/19] and there are illustrations of the third gaol [R58/5/7 p.292, X20/107]. Registers of prisoners cover a limited period only; receiving book, male and female, August-September [1271/5/1]; register of prisoners, male and female,1850-1859 [1271/5/2].

Prisoners are listed by name in the 1841 census [HO.107/85/24] and 1851 [HO107/1760/78b]. Initials only appear in the 1861 census [RG9/1024/68a] and 1871 [RG10/1857/29a]

Hobson's Spinning House

The Spinning House was founded in 1628 by Thomas Hobson, the carrier, to serve both the university and the borough as a bridewell (or house of correction) and as a workhouse, although the latter function was gradually dropped. A building for this purpose was erected in St Andrew's Street.

It became associated with the correction of prostitutes and served as the University Vice-Chancellor's gaol for this purpose, although, until 1829, other petty offenders were also sent there by the borough magistrates. In 1852 the northern part of the building was used as the Vice-Chancellor's prison, and the southern part as a lock-up and police station. The building was handed over to the Borough in 1897 and demolished in 1901.

As the Spinning House was controlled by the University, most original records relating to prisoners and administration are held at the University Library, but useful secondary sources available at Cambridgeshire Archives include:Victoria County History of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely Vol II pp.107-111, III, pp.121-122, illus. opp. pp.77. Annals of Cambridge 1845 Vol. III pp. 230-237 C.H. Cooper Memorials of Cambridge Vol. III pp.144-47 C.H. Cooper 1860. Lists of prostitutes also appear in the 1851 census [HO107/1760/596a] and in the 1871 along with other prisoners [RG10/1589/17a]

Ely Gaol

The Old Gaol is situated on the corner of Lynn Road and Market Street in the centre of Ely. The earliest reference to a building on the site occurs in the Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1416-22 when ownership of the site was disputed between the bishop and the prior: this private building appears to have been incorporated into the Bishop's Gaol which is known to have occupied the site from circa 1679 -1836 (before this the gaol was in the vicinity of Barton Square and known as the 'Ely Barton').

The gaol served the Liberty of Ely which included parts of Norfolk and Suffolk as well as the Isle of Ely.

By 1764 the gaol had a reputation for excessive use of restraining irons, due in part to the poor condition of the building. Conditions gradually improved: salaried gaolers were employed and repairs undertaken, but in 1836 an act was passed abolishing the Liberty of Ely, with authority passing to the secular powers.

Prisoners were then committed to the Cambridgeshire County Gaol.

No records of prisoners are known, but a detailed report including documentary sources relating to gaolers and building works by Kate Fearn of the Historic Buildings Survey Group (1994), on which these notes are based, can be seen at Cambridgeshire Archives.

Wisbech Gaol

Wisbech Castle was used as a prison from at least the late thirteenth century, to 1619 for both county and municipal criminals. The Burgesses built a combined gaol and bridewell in 1616.

In 1757 the town relinquished its rights to the county. In 1807 a third or New Gaol combined with House of Correction was built next to the new Sessions House on South Brink, and was used for French prisoners of war.

This gaol closed in 1846 and was replaced by a fourth gaol, of only 43 cells, in Victoria Road (sometimes called 'Gaol Lane') modelled on Pentonville. In 1878 this prison too was closed under the Prison Act, and was soon demolished; the prisoners were sent to the County Gaol in Cambridge.

Protestation Returns

In 1641 Parliament organised a national protest against Charles I's style of government. All men aged 18 or above were required to sign a declaration of belief in the Protestant faith, and declare support for Parliament's rights and privileges. Most surviving returns (many were destroyed in the 1834 Houses of Parliament fire) are now held at the Parliamentary Archives. 


The protestation returns for Huntingdonshire were printed with an introduction by Granville Proby in Transactions of the Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Archaeological Society vol 5 (1937). An index was compiled in 1981 by Ray Waymont. Both of these works are now available in the searchroom library at Huntingdonshire Archives.


The only Protestation Returns surviving for Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely are for the University of Cambridge. These are held at the Parliamentary Archives [HL/PO/JO/10/1/78] and have been transcribed and indexed by Pamela Palgrave. A copy is available at the Cambridgeshire Collection.

Public Houses

 Huntingdonshire Archives

Sources for researching the history of inns, public houses and beer houses include:

Petty Sessions records

Licensing was the responsibility of the Justices of the Peace, and licensing records can be found within the Petty Sessions records. Each JP was responsible for a small group of parishes, an area known as a Petty Sessions Division (PSD). Huntingdonshire Archives holds the following PSD licensing registers.

  • Borough of Huntingdon, 1872-1901; 1903-1955 (PS2/5/1-2)
  • Borough of Godmanchester, 1872-1901 (PS1/2/1-2)
  • Leightonstone, 1890-1952 (PS3/5/1-4)
  • Norman Cross, 1872-1878 (PS5/4/1)
  • Hurstingstone, 1903-1909 (PS6/6/1)
  • Hurstingstone (St Ives only), 1875-1902 (PS6/6/2-3)
  • Ramsey, 1907-1910; 1925-1938 (PS7/5/1-3)
  • Toseland, 1887-1901 (PS8/4/1)
  • Toseland – files relating to licensing, including The Fox, The Dog & Duck and the Gardeners Arms public houses, St Neots and Great Gransden, 1915-1922 (PS8/4/2-5)
  • Toseland – plans of The Globe and The Woolpack, St Neots and The Cambridgeshire Hunter, Eynesbury, 1948, (PS8/4/6-8)

Quarter Sessions records

The Justices of the Peace met four times a year to hear charges brought against organisations and individuals. Occasionally people who ran public houses are mentioned for selling liquor in vessels which were not the standard size, or for keeping unruly houses. Of greater use to the researcher of pub history are the Quarter Sessions Licensing Committee records. These include:

  • Minute book, 1869-1879 (HCP/2/1939/1)
  • Minute book, 1881-1904 (HCP/2/1901/3/8)
  • Minute book, 1904-1916 (HCP/2/1939/2)
  • Minute book, 1916-1938 (HCP/2/1939/3)
  • Minute book, 1939-1964 (HCP/2/1958/10)
  • Minute book (draft), 1915-1947 (HCP/2/1939/4)
  • Letter book, 1911-1957 (HCP/2/9/2/9)
  • Papers , 1874-1880 (HCP/2/1939/5)
  • Files (2), 1933-1936 (HCP/2/2019)

Huntingdon Borough Quarter Sessions records

Huntingdon Borough had its own Quarter Sessions, and among the records are some references to public houses and beer houses, such as applications for public house licences and landlords being brought to court for unruly behaviour or for crimes having taken place in their establishment.

  • Minute book, 1765-1768 (HB11)
  • Minute book, 1776-1788 (HB15/8)
  • Minute book, 1817-1836 (HB12)
  • Applications for licences, 1823-1828;1834 (H3/2)


Many pubs appear in old photographs or postcards of local villages and towns. Huntingdonshire Archives also holds a series of photographs of pubs and beer houses which belonged to Huntingdon Breweries Ltd (formerly Marshall’s Brewery and Jenkins & Jones Brewery). These images date from the 1930s and include front and back views of most establishments, and names of the tenants. See Accession 2193/1-134.


The names of public houses can often be found on Ordnance Survey maps. There is a collection of 6” and 25” OS maps in the Local Studies area of the library. In addition, the 1910 Land Values Survey maps and registers list all the public houses and beer houses in a parish, along with the names of tenants and owners of the properties. However, please note that these records do not survive for a handful of Huntingdonshire parishes.

Trade Directories

These list the names of landlords (and landladies) of public houses, inns and beer houses. Huntingdonshire Archives has a collection of trade directories for various years dating from the early nineteenth century to 1940 on the search room shelves.