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Maidstone Parish

     A View of the Parish

Sattelite image of Maidstone
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1881 Ordnance survey map of Maidstonewith link to modern ordnance survey map
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Statistical Summary

Acres:  4,632 (parliamentary borough)
OS co-ordinates:  TR 75 55 (All Saints Church)
Latitude:   51:16.2239N (All Saints Church)
Longitude:   0:31.2800E (All Saints Church)

Parish Church:  All Saints
Registers commence:  1542
Other Denominations:
  Within Maidstone District:
  4 of Independents
  5 of Baptists
  1 of Quakers
  1 of Unitarians
  2 of Wesleyan Methodists
  3 of Primitive Methodists
  1 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion
  1 of Brethren
  3 undefined

  Corn, sees, hops every Tuesday;
  General every Saturday;
  Cattle second Tuesday each month

Fairs:  13 Feb, 12 May, 20 Jun, 27 Oct
Newspapers:  4 weekly; 1 twice weekly
Electoral Place:  Yes, for whole of West Kent
Courts:  County Court, assizes, quarter sessions petty sessions
Jails:  Yes, county jail
Bordering parishes:
  Allington, Aylesford, Bearsted, Boxley, Boughton Monchelsea, Detling, East Barming, East Farleigh, Langley, Linton, Loose, Hunton, Otham

  County lunatic asylum Barming Heath
  West Kent general hospital
  Ophthalmic Hospital

  Post office with savings bank and   money order office;
  Railway station with telegraph
  2 banking offices
  4 chief inns
  Mechanics' Institute

Registration District:  Maidstone
Poor Law Union:
  Coxheath in Linton 15 Oct 1835-1836;
  known as Maidstone from 1836+;
  in 1861, had 260 inmates

Workhouse:  Maidstone to c1834; Coxheath at Linton 1834+ Diocese:  Canterbury
Archdeaconry:  Maidstone
Deanery:  Sutton (All Saints, Holy Trinity, St. Peter, Tovil)
Probate pre-1859:
   Consistory Court of Canterbury
Lathe:  Aylesford
   Maidstone (excluding Maidstone borough); hundred also includes Boxley, Detling, Loose, Linton, East Farley, East and West Barming and parts of Bersted, Hunton, Marden and Staplehurst.  Acres, 13,357.1  Population in 1851, 6,562.1  Houses, 1,211.1

Greenwood_Maidstone 1821.jpg - 201412 Bytes
Greenwood's Map of 1821. Click map for larger image.

Domesday Reference:
   Medestan or Meddestane arable, meadow, woodland, a church; five mills and two eel fisheries; 25 villagers, 21 smallholders and 10 serfs; three knights held more arable, meadow, woodland, a mill, two eel fisheries and two salterns [salt-houses], and 32 villagers, 10 smallholders and 10 serfs lived there; value was £35.10s.

Principal landholder:
   Archbishop of Canterbury


Maidstone, is a town, a parish, two sub-districts, a district, and a hundred, in Kent.  The town stands on the river Medway, at the influx of the Len, adjacent to the Rochester and Paddock Wood branch of the Southeastern railway, at the junction with it of the line from Strood, 7-1/2 miles south-by-east of Rochester.  It dates from very early times.  It is said to have been the third largest city of the ancient Britons, and to have been called by them Medwag or Megwad, from the name of the river.  It was known to the Romans as Ad Madam, also from the name of the river, which the Romans called Madus.  Some antiquaries suppose it to have been the station Vagniacae of Antoninus;  and they fortify their opinion by the fact that numerous Roman remains have been found here;  but others hold the opinion as open to doubt.  The town was called Medwegestan or Medwagston, by the Saxons, and appears in Domesday book as Meddestane;  and it then had several mills, eel fisheries, and salt pans [see Statiscal Summary, above for more information of the town at the time of Domesday].

The manor belonged, from an early period, to the Archbishops of Canterbury;  was transferred to Henry VIII. by Cranmer;  remained with the Crown till the time of Edward VI.;  was given then to Sir Thomas Wyatt of Allington;  reverted, at Wyatt's rebellion, to the Crown;  was given, by Charles I., to the Hattons;  and passed, in 1720, to the Romneys.

The archbishops of Canterbury, for a time, had no residence in it;  but Archbishop Langton acquired the house of W. de Cornhill in it in the time of King John;  Archbishop Ufford commenced the reconstruction of that house into a palace in 1348;  and subsequent archbishops completed, enlarged, and adorned it, and used it as a favourite residence.  The palace was given by Queen Elizabeth to Sir John Astley;  passed to Sir Jacob Astley, Charles I.'s Baron of Reading;  and was alienated from the Astleys to the first Lord Romney.

The town acquired importance from the presence of the archbishops;  received some enrichments at their hands;  was long the halting place of pilgrims to Canterbury;  and had, for their use, an edifice called the Travellers' hospital or college, founded by Archbishop Boniface.

Some Protestant martyrs were burnt in the town in the time of Mary;  the plague devastated it in 1593-5, 1604, 1607 and 1666-8;  and Fairfax, at the head of 10,000 men, stormed it in 1648.  About 2,000 royalist troops, under Sir John Mayney, held it against Fairfax;  they made such stout resistance as to yield the ground only inch by inch;  and, after a struggle of five hours, they retreated into the church, and there made terms for surrender.  Clarendon says, "It was a very sharp encounter, very bravely fought, with Fairfax's whole strength;  and the veteran soldiers confessed that they had never met with the like desperate service during the war."

Archbishop Lee, Bishop Ralph de Maidstone, Bishop Walter de Maidstone, Jenkyns the composer, Woollett the engraver, Jeffrys the painter, Broughton the secretary at Charles I.'s trial, and Newton the local historian were natives;  and Earl Winchelsea takes from the town the title of Viscount.

Description of the Town

The town occupies a fine situation.  It is screened by surrounding hills, rising from the beautiful vale of the Medway;  it stands principally on the slopes of a hill, ascending from the right bank of the river, and declining toward the west and the south;  it derives ventilation and cleanliness from the nature of its site;  it is noted for both the excellence of its water and the dryness of its soil;  and it enjoys the amenities of a surrounding country rendered peculiarly charming by innumerable orchards and hop gardens.

It consists chiefly of four streets, intersecting one another near the public drinking fountain, and of smaller ones leading from them;  and it extends upwards of a mile from north to south, and is about 3/4 of a mile in breadth.  The High Street commences at an ancient seven-arched bridge over the Medway, ascends to the west, and is very spacious.  The London Road, partly edificed with elegant modern houses, goes off from the bridge, on a line with High Street;  and the Park Meadows, named from a park or pleasaunce which anciently belonged to the Episcopal palace and the Travellers' hospital, extend on the same side of the river.

A general view of the town, owing to the configuration of the ground on both sides of the vale, is not easily obtained;  but such partial views as can be got are very fine.  One of the best is from a point on the river bank below the west end of the churchyard;  and this shows the old palace, the old hospital and All Saints church in a very picturesque group.  Other views take much character from gabled houses and decorated fronts, and from the large royal horse artillery barracks.

A large proportion of the houses an ancient, and more or less quaint or picturesque;  but many, on the other hand, are modern and handsome.  A tendency to extension became pretty manifest in the third decade of the present century;  and it worked on all sides, particularly to the east of Gabriel's Hill and Week Street, on the Ashford Road;  but it has not seriously altered the general aspect of antiquity.

The old palace, as enlarged by Archbishop Courtenay and as both enlarged and adorned by Archbishop Morton, is now divided into two private residences, but still shows an east front in Tudor architecture, and other fronts in later English.  A long range of building, on the opposite side of the road, originally part of the palace offices, and now used for stables and tan stores, shows the original exterior little altered, exhibiting windows and an external stair of late decorated English character.  A small building at the end of Mill Street, immediately at the gate turning down to the palace, is probably of the 14th century, and shows interesting architectural features.

Another ancient house, with very rich carved and pargeted front, probably of the time of James I., is on the right in entering High Street from the rail station.  Chillington House, in St. Faith Street, originally the court house of the manor, and now occupied as the public museum, belongs to the early part of the 16th century, exhibits interesting features of that period, and contains a fine collection of local Roman antiquities, and a collection of fossils and birds from the neighbourhood.

The Travellers' hospital or college, situated on the slope between All Saints church and the river, underwent considerable alterations in 1845, but still presents to antiquarian observers a very fine upper gateway tower, a long downward range of quondam priests' apartments, a lower tower at the end of that range, part of the master's house occupying the side of a court toward the river, a ruined tower adjoining that house, and a second or back gateway.  The hospital was originally founded in 1260, by Archbishop Boniface;  was incorporated in 1395, by Archbishop Courtenay, with a new college or secular priests founded by him contiguous to All Saints church;  and continued to flourish till suppressed in the first year of Edward VI.  The ruins, besides the interest of their architectural features, possess the interest of rich variety of tinting from weather worn stone and clustering ivy;  and the upper gateway tower commands one of the best views over the town and vale.

Public Buildings

The town hall stands in High Street, near the centre of the town;  and is a large plain building.  The assize court and the county jail stand on the Rochester Road, on a plot of 14 acres;  form together one fine structure, of Kentish rag;  and were built in 1818, at a cost of £200,000.

The court house is in the front;  comprises a commodious range of rooms;  and is used both for assizes and for quarter sessions.

The jail has capacity for 466 male and 122 female prisoners.

The royal horse artillery barracks stand below, on the river side;  and have accommodation for about 400 men.  The West Kent militia barracks stand at the top of Union Street;  were erected in 1857;  and are a large brick building.

The corn exchange was erected over the market for meat, fish, and vegetables, at a cost of £4,000;  is entered by an archway from High Street, at the Mitre Hotel;  and was thought, for a time, to be very commodious;  but the business done in it, originally extensive and multifarious, grew rapidly;  and improvements on it, long felt to be much needed, were completed in the spring of 1867.

There are assembly rooms, a theatre, a conduit of 1624, public baths and wash houses, and a public drinking fountain.

The baths and washhouses stand in Fair Meadow;  and were erected in 1852, at a cost of £6,245.  The drinking fountain stands in the market place;  was erected in 1862, at the expense of Mr. Randall;  is an open Gothic quadrangular structure, enclosing a life-size marble statue of the Queen, and surmounted by richly-crocketted canopy;  consists of red Mansfield stone in the base, and of Portland stone in the upper part;  and has, at the angles, columns of red granite, with carved capitals, each surmounted by a statue figure of a winged angle.

The county lunatic asylum stands at Barming Heath;  and is an extensive range of building, with accommodation for nearly 700 inmates.

The West Kent general hospital was recently enlarged by a new wing;  and, at the census of 1861, had 23 inmates.  The ophthalmic hospital, at that census, had 37 inmates.

The mechanics' institution, as well as the public museum, is held in Chillington House;  and it has a library of upwards of 4,000 volumes, and maintains lectures during the winter months.


All Saints church stands commandingly on a cliff;  was mainly built in 1381-96 by Archbishop Courtenay;  is all later English;  measures 227 feet by 91;  comprises nave, aisles, and chancel, with a chantry of 1366;  had formerly another chantry of 1406;  has a southwest tower, 78 feet high, formerly surmounted by a spire 80 feet high, which was destroyed by lightning in 1730;  contains a richly painted chancel-screen, elaborately ornamented sedilia, the grave of Archbishop Courtenay, remains of an ancient fresco, several ancient monuments, and a Jacobean font;  was recently restored, and fitted with open seats;  has a new north memorial window to C. Mercer, erected in 1864;  and was collegiate from the 14th-century till the Reformation.  Visit their website.

Trinity Church stands in Church Street, was erected in 1828, and is a large plain stone edifice.

St. Peter's Church was originally the chapel of the Travellers' hospital;  stood long in a state of neglect and dilapidation;  and was restored and enlarged in 1839.

St. John's Church stands at Mote Park, the seat of the Earl of Romney;  was built in 1861;  and is in the early English style, of Bath-stone, with bell turret.

St. Paul's Church stands at Perryfields;  was built in 1860, at a cost of more than £5,000;  is in the style of the 14th century;  and consists of nave, aisles, and chancel, with a tower.  Visit their website.

St. Philip's Church stands at Kingsley, and was built in 1858, and greatly altered in 1869.  Visit their website.

St. Stephen's Church stands in Tovil township, about a mile from the town;  and is a stone building, with about 600 sittings.

St Faith's Church is a temporary iron building.

St. Luke's Church, located on the south-west side of St. Ludke's Road towards the outskirts of the town, has a long history dating back to the 12th century.  The church, constructed primarily of ragstone and ashlar, with tiled roof, has been added to over the centuries, particularly by the Victorians.  On the north side is an octagonal turret with spire.   Visit their website.

The Independent chapel in Week Street was built in 1865, at a cost of £2,649;  is in the Italian style, of white brick, with Bath-stone dressings;  and contains 800 sittings.

There are three chapels for Baptists, and one each for Presbyterians, Quakers, Unitarians, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists and Roman Catholics.

The public cemetery is on the Sutton Road, about a mile south of the town;  and has two handsome chapels.

There are remains of a grey friary, founded in 1331, and removed to Walsingham;  and of St. Faith's chapel, which was used, in the time of Elizabeth, by the Walloons.


The grammar school, in Earl Street, arose from property of the Corpus Christi brotherhood, founded in 1324, and suppressed in 1547;  and had an endowed income of £43 a year, and two exhibitions at University College, Oxford.

The blue coat school, in Knightrider Street, was founded in 1711;  give education to 53 boys and 43 girls;  and has an endowed income of £136.

Sir Charles Booth's school give education to 35 boys and 35 girls, and has an endowed income of £99.

The green coat school gives education to 12 boys and 12 girls.

There are seven national schools, two British schools, two infant schools, and industrial school for girls, and a Presbyterian school.


Sir John Banks' alms houses are for six poor persons, and have £60 a year from endowment;  Brenchley's are for old persons and have £50;  Duke's are for females, and have £191;  Hunter's are for twelve poor persons, and have £184;  Corrall's are for six persons, in six houses;  and Cutbush's are for decayed tradesmen or journeymen mechanics, were built and endowed in 1865 at a cost of nearly £12,000, and give £52 a year to the holder of each of six houses.  The total amount of endowed charities is about £1,500 a year.

Organizational Structure of Maidstone

An extensive navigation traffic was formerly carried on, seaward down the Medway;  amounted, for a number of years, to an annual aggregate of 120,000 tons, passing through Allington lock, and paying £3,000 of tolls;  but has been exceedingly reduced since the opening of the railways.  The wharves at the town are well suited for unloading coals, but afford no proper berth to a sea-going vessel, and have no suitable appliances for discharging heavy goods or for shipping timber.

There are several large paper mills, a large oil mill, paper mould works, breweries, malting establishments, a distillery, a tannery, iron foundries, agricultural implement manufactories, coach building establishments, Roman cement and lime works, ornamental plaster works, tobacco pipe works, and hop bag, matting, sacking and rope and twine manufactories.  There are also, in the neighbourhood, brick fields, extensive stone quarries, and extensive market orchards.  The stone from the quarries is a Kentish rag, much used for docks, wharves and church building;  and the fruit from the orchards is sent largely to the London market.  One of the neighbouring quarries furnished the famous fossil iguanodom, now in the British museum.  A large quantity of timber, from the Weald, is barged hence down the river for the use of the Chatham dockyard.

The town is a borough by prescription;  was first chartered by Edward IV., sends two members to parliament;  and, under the new act is divided into four wards, and governed by a mayor, 67 aldermen, and 18 councillors.  Corporation income, in 1855, £7,302.  Amount of property and income tax charged in 1863, £9,280.  The municipal borough excludes a small part of the parish, and the parliamentary borough is conterminate with the whole.  Acres of the parliamentary borough, 4,632.  Real property in 1860, £104,780;  of which £84 were in quarries, £992 in canals, £462 in railways, and £2,297 in gas works.  Electors in 1833, 1,108;  in 1868, 1,973.  Population of the municipal borough in 1851, 20,740;  in 1861, 23,016.  Houses, 4,111.  Population of the parliamentary borough in 1851, 20,801;  in 1861, 23,058.  Houses, 4,119.  A railway to Ashford was authorised in 1866.

Loddington hamlet, lying detached about 5 miles to the south, is the part of the parish not included in the municipal borough;  and it comprises 590 acres.  As of 25 March, 1883, Loddington hamlet was transferred to Linton parish.1  The hamlet of Luddington, anciently called Lodingford, from the ford over the river at it, is esteemed to be within the parish of Maidstone, although two other parishes intervene, viz. Linton and Loose.  It lies near Style-bridge, in the high road to Marden and Staplehurst.  The manor of it was lately in the possession of owners of the name of Piggott, in which it remained till Mrs. Mary Piggott marrying William Forster, D. D. intitled him jointly to her interest in it, which manor they continue to hold at this time.2

Tovil township or hamlet, lying on the Medway about 1 mile to the south is mainly but not wholly in the parish;  and, in 1861, it had a population of 897, of whom 660 were in the parish.

The Mote, the seat of the Earl of Romney, about 1 mile to the east, was rebuilt by the third Lord Romney about 1795;  took its name, not from any ancient moat around the previous edifice, but from the Anglo-Saxon word Màot, signifying "a gathering place";  and stands in a fine park, containing some grand old oaks and beeches, and comprising about 600 acres.  The river Len, crossed by a bridge, runs in front of the mansion;  and a pavilion, near the site of the previous house, marks a spot on which the third Lord Romney, in the presence of George III., gave a dinner to upwards of 3,000 of the Kentish yeomanry.

Penenden Heath, about 1-1/2 mile north-north-east of the town, is a large open space where county meetings have been held for centuries.

The parish is ecclesiastically cut into the sections of All Saints, around All Saints church;  Trinity and St. Peter, constituted in 1840;  St. John, St. Paul and St. Philip, constituted in 1861;  and part of St. Stephen or Tovil, constituted in 1842.  Population of All Saints, 3,739;  of Trinity, 8,729;  of St. Peter, 3,610;  of St. John, 320;  of St. Paul, 4,000;  of St. Philip, 2,000;  of the Maidstone part of St. Stephen, 660;  of the whole of St. Stephen, the rest of which is in Loose and East Farleigh, 897.

The head living, or All Saints, is a vicarage, and the other livings also are vicarages, in the diocese of Canterbury.  Value of All Saints, £650 with a habitable glebe house;  of Trinity £435 with a habitable glebe house;  of St. Peter, £200 with a habitable glebe house;  of St. John £107;  of St. Paul, £180 with a habitable glebe house;  of St. Philip and St. Stephen, each £100 with a habitable glebe house.  Patron of All Saints, Trinity, and St. Paul, the Archbishop of Canterbury;  of St. Peter, the Rev. W. A. Hill;  of St. John, the Earl of Romney;  of St. Philip, the Vicar of Maidstone;  of St. Stephen, alternately the Archbishop of Canterbury and Mrs. Charlton.

The two sub-districts are East Maidstone and West Maidstone; and they are jointly conterminate with the municipal borough.  Acres of East Maidstone, 1,986.  Population in 1851, 10,364;  in 1861, 12,109.  Houses, 2,257.  Acres of West Maidstone, 2,056.  Population in 1851, 10,376;  in 1861, 10,907.  Houses, 1,854.

The district of Maidstone also comprehends the sub-district of Yalding, containing the parishes of Yalding, Nettlestead, Teston, West Farleigh, and Hunton;  the sub-district of Marden, containing the parishes of Marden, Staplehurst, and Linton, and the hamlet of Loddington;  and the sub-district of Loose, containing the parishes of Loose, East Farleigh, Barming, West Barming, Bearstead, Otham, and Boughton-Monchelsea.  Acres, 38,082.  Poor rates in 1863, £26,363.  Population in 1851, 36,097;  in 1861, 38,670.  Houses, 7,152.  Marriages in 1863, 375;  births, 1,289 of which 108 were illegitimate;  deaths 1,040 of which 374 were at ages under 5 years and 21 at ages above 85.  Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 3,293;  births, 11,753;  deaths, 8,468.

Within Maidstone District the places of worship, in 1851, were 21 of the Church of England, with 10,845 sittings;  4 of Independents, with 1,700 sittings;  5 of Baptists, with 1,827 sittings;  1 of Quakers, with 250 sittings;  1 of Unitarians, with 400 sittings;  2 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 1,373 sittings;  3 of Primitive Methodists, with 258 sittings;  1 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, with 600 sittings;  1 of Brethren, with 25 sittings;  and 3 undefined, with 210 sittings.

Within Maidstone District the schools were 30 public day schools, with 3,603 scholars;  80 private day schools, with 1,764 scholars;  24 Sunday schools, with 2,890 scholars;  and 5 evening schools for adults, with 41 scholars.1

1John Marius Wilson, comp.  The Imperial Gazatteer of England and Wales. (London, England: A. Fullerton & Co., 1870).

2Edward Hasted, ed. and comp.  The town and parish of Maidstone: Town and manors, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 4 (1798), pp. 260-307.

Maidstone Bibliography

Set out on a separate page.  Click here.


Location of Records

Due to the voluminous nature of the available records, the record location charts have been set out on a separate page.  Click here.


1348-49 - plague
1544 - Plague
1562 - Plague
1564 - Plague
1574 - Plague
1576 - Plague
1578 - Plague
1579 - Plague
1592 - Plague
1595 - Plague
1596 - Plague
1597 - Plague
1602 - Plague
1603 - Plague - 112 died
1604 - Plague - 25 died
1604 - right of keep a gaol
1609 - Plague - 62 died
1614 - Plague
1618 - violent storm during which lightning set Middle row on fire
1621 - prior to this year corn and other provisions had been scarce
1621 - Plague
1625 - Plague
1626 - Plague - 6 died
1627 - Plague
July 1666 - Plague - 347 died - first victim died on 4 July Sarah, daughter of William Butteris; second fatality on 19 July a stranger; on 28 July another daughter of Butteris
1667 - Plague - 154 died
1668 - Plague - 3 died
1710 - Smallpox
1719 - Smallpox
1734 - Smallpox - four children of William and Mary Adams died in the same week, three buried on the same day
1753 - Smallpox - 70 died
1760 - Smallpox - 102 died
1766 - Smallpox - 54 died
1791 - paving and cleaning of streets
1791 - oil lamp lighting of streets
1819 - first police officer
1822 - gas lighting
1870s - drains and sewers created
1901 - first electricty
1904 - electric trams
1910 - first cinema

Church Registers


Parish Chest

  • Settlement Certificates
  • Removal Orders
  • Bastardy Examinations
  • Parish-assisted Immigrants
  • Churchwarden's Accounts
  • Overseer's Accounts
  • Surveyor's Accounts
  • Workhouse Records
  • Pew Rents
  • Donors' Rolls
  • Vestry Minutes
  • Bishops' Visitations
  • Parish Magazines
  • Parish Histories


Total Population

1066   -   est. 430 to 540
1550   -   2041
1640   -   6,000   -   stated to be "of or about 6000", in a petition to Parliament
1695   -   3,676   -   as numbered in a house-to-house visitation by the Rev. Gilbert Innes
1781   -   5,789   -   as ascertained by the Rev. John Denne, curate
1801   -   8027
1811   -   9443
1825   -   12604
1837   -   17021
1851   -   20,801
1861   -   23,026
1881   -   45,091
1891   -   48,052
1901   -   49,086
1911   -   51,873
2001   -   138,959

Maidstone Distance to

London 35 mi.
Canterbury 26 mi.
Ashford 20 mi.
Bromley 25 mi.
Chatham 11 mi.
Cranbrook 14 mi.
Dartford 18 mi.
Deptford 20 mi.
Dover 39 mi.
Faversham 18 mi.
FolMaidstonee 37 mi.
Gravesend 14 mi.
Greenwich 30 mi.
Hythe 31 mi.
Margate 43 mi.
Milton 10 mi.
Queenborough 18 mi.
Ramsgate 42 mi.
Rochester 9 mi.
Sandwich 39 mi.
Sheerness 16 mi.
Tenterden 18 mi.
Tunbridge 10 mi.
Woolwich 27 mi.


Municipal & Public Records

Wills & Estate Records

  • AD index 1448-1857
  • CC index 1448-1857
  • PCC 1338-1858
  • PPR 1858-1925
  • Depositions

Court Records

Military Records

Land Records
& Maps

Tax Lists

  • Poll Tax
  • Hearth Tax
  • Window Tax
  • Hair Powder Tax
  • Land Tax Assessments 1780-1831
  • Land Tax Assessments 1799-1805

Other Records

Village Resources