The shire for Men who Understand

When you think of Cambridgeshire you perhaps picture the University, the fens or the RAF / USAAF airbases of World War Two.

There is a rich collection of family history records for Cambridgeshire, held online or through their libraries, the Cambridgeshire Family History Society and Cambridgeshire Archives.

My talk explores these records in the context of the social and local history of the County.


Link to an edited version of my Slides, for my Talk ‘The shire for Men who Understand’



The title of my talk is based on a verse from the poem ‘The Old Vicarge, Grantchester’, by Rupert Brooke:

And get me to England once again!
For England’s the one land, I know,
Where men with Splendid Hearts may go;
And Cambridgeshire, of all England,
The shire for Men who Understand;


My talk begins with some context for the records held by Cambridgeshire Archives.

Cambridge Borough was granted a coat of arms in 1575 with the Municipal Borough of Cambridge being created in 1835.

The County Council of Cambridge was formed with the Local Government Act 1888 and excluded the Isle of Ely.

The talk continues to discuss in brief the County Council of Isle of Ely, County Council of Huntingdonshire, Soke of Peterborough and Cambridgeshire County Council right through to the election of the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in 2017.

Plan, plan, plan

As with a visit to any archive you should get in touch before your visit as you may have to reserve a microfiche reader or computer. Also check opening times, and any restrictions. Remember you’ll have to obtain a readers ticket. The readers ticket ‘County Archive Research Network Card (CARN)’ is accepted at a number of County Record Offices. For Cambridgeshire archives you can obtain this for free on a visit to Cambridgeshire or Huntingdonshire archives. Provide identification with your name and address, which can be a driving licence, gas or electricity bill or a Cambridgeshire Library card. Overseas visitor – a passport. The card is then valid for 4 years. You will need to check out location, address and how to get there. Is there on-site parking?


Cambridgeshire Ancestors

These are likely to be recorded at Cambridgeshire Archives:

Box SH 1009, Shire Hall, Cambridge CB3 0AP.
Telephone: 01223 699 399,

Cambridgeshire Archives, at Shire Hall in Cambridge preserves and promotes the use of historical records from the old county of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely. It holds records of:

+ local government
+ churches
+ schools
+ trade
+ agriculture
+ charities
+ families
+ manors
+ estates
+ local historians
+ courts
+ hospitals and much more.

Shire Hall, Cambridge

Parish Records

An almost complete set is held at the office. Bishops transcripts are held at Cambridge University Library (Diocesan office).


Non conformist records

The requirement to deposit them with the County Record Office doesn’t apply. However the archivist I spoke suggested the following representation of records:

+ Methodist – good
+ Baptist – poor
+ Quaker – good
+ Roman Catholic – good after 1837
+ Jewish – None held



Cambridgeshire from the 15th Century (C), which is poor compared to other parts of the UK which can go back to the 12th C. The Index of Wills to Probate Registry 1858 onwards.


Advertisement for a work house cook, 1850

During my talk I flavour it with snippets of local information and curiosity,. Having discussed workhouse records I then talk about an advertisement for the work house cook:

She must be a single woman, or widow without encumbrances of active habits, be able to read and write and be willing to make herself generally useful. Salary £10 per annum

St Neots workhouse (Eaton Ford)

There are many, many sources of information scattered across archives, family history societies, local history societies and museums across the County. To discover more book my talk for your group now.


Book my talk for your group to discover

+ The County now
+ Making Cambridgeshire a great place to call home
+ Contrasts
+ Archives
+ Basics – visiting
+ Shire Hall
+ Records overview
+ Huntingdon
+ Records overview
+ University Library
+ Central Library
+ Cambridgeshire Collection
+ Family History Society
+ Cambridge
+ Services/joining etc
+ Huntingdon
+ Services/joining etc
+ Fenland
+ Services/joining etc
+ Key websites
+ LDS Cambridge
+ Other
+ Cromwell Collection
+ St Neots, St Ives, Ely Museum
+ Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial
+ Fenland Collection, Wisbech
+ Key Sources
+ and much more

Link to an edited version of my Slides, for my Talk ‘The shire for Men who Understand’

View all my talks and book me

Robert Parker is a Genealogist and Trainer, based in Cambridgeshire. He delivers courses, guidance (coaching), talks, and research services for those interested in tracing their ancestors. See for further details. Contact Robert to discuss your requirements without obligation. What stories could your ancestors tell?