Luton Bedfordshire Family History Guide

George Street, Luton
George Street, Luton

Luton is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Bedfordshire.

Alternative names: Lutton

Other places in the parish include: Lightgrave, Biscot, Biscott, Christchurch, East Hyde, Leagrave, Leegrave, Limbury and Biscot, Limbury cum Biscot, St Mary, Stopsley, and West Hyde.

Status: Ancient Parish

Parish church:

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1603
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1602

Separate registers exist for East Hyde: parish registers begin: 1842

Nonconformists include: Baptist, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Independent/Congregational, Particular Baptist, Primitive Methodist, Society of Friends/Quaker, and Wesleyan Methodist.

Parishes adjacent to Luton, Bedfordshire

Historical Descriptions


The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

LUTON, a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Beds. The town stands on the river Lea, and on the Hatfield and Leighton-Buzzard branch of the Great Northern railway, 2¼ miles SE of Icknieldstreet, and 19 S by E of Bedford. Its site is a valley, surrounded by hills. Its name is a corruption either of Leatown or of Lowtown. The ground on which it stands was given by Offa, king of Mercia, in the 8th century, to the abbey of St. Albans; belonged, at Domesday, to the Crown; went, in 1216, to Fulke de Brent, who built a castle on it; and passed to the Wenlocks. The town acquired importance in the time of James I., by being made the seat of a straw-hat manufacture, which Mary, Queen of Scots, had introduced from France; it suffered a check to its prosperity, by the transference of that manufacture, in a considerable degree and for some time, to Dunstable; it eventually recovered its status as the largest seat of that manufacture in Great Britain; and it so throve upon it in the decade from 1851 till 1861 as then to increase its population, on account of it, nearly 50 per cent. It consists chiefly of streets diverging from a central market-place; but has, of late years, been greatly extended. The plait-hall stands in Cheapside and Waller-street; and was built in 1869, at a cost of about £8,000. The corn-exchange is on the site of the old hall-hall; was built in 1869, at a cost of about £8,000; and is in the Venetian-Gothic style. The town hall stands at the junction of the Bedford and the Dunstable roads; and is a handsome edifice. The courthouse was built by the county; stands in Stuart-street; and includes some prison cells. St. Mary's church is partly decorated English, partly later English; comprises nave, aisles, transepts, and choir; has an embattled tower in chequer-work 90 feet high, surmounted at the corners by hexagonal turrets; includes, in the S transept, a lofty stone baptistry, with groined roof and pinnacles, standing over a famous baptismal font supported by five pillars, and said to have been presented by Queen Anne Boleyn; includes also, on the N side of the chancel, an elegant chapel, built prior to 1461 by Sir John Wenlock; and contains four richly ornamented sedilia, several royal armorial bearings, several arched altar-tombs, some very ancient brasses, and a number of handsome modern monuments and cenotaphs. Christ Church was built in 1856; and was improved at a cost of £3,500 in 1865. The Independent chapel in King-street was built in 1866, at a cost of about £6,000; is in the pointed style, with a spire; contains about 1,200 sittings; and includes a basement-school, capable of accommodating 1,200 children. The Union Congregational chapel is in London-road. The Baptist chapel in Park-street was rebuilt in 1867; and that in Wellington-street is recent. The Ebenezer Baptist chapel is in Dumfries-street; the Ebenezer Calvinist chapel is in Hastings-street; and the Quakers' chapel is in Castle-street. Two Wesleyan chapels are in Waller-street and Chapel-street; the one built in 1863, the other also recent; and one of them is a handsome edifice, cost upwards of £3,000, and contains about 1,700 sittings. A Primitive Methodist chapel is in Hightown. There are a literary institution and news-rooms, a young women's literary institute, a national school, a British school, a school endowment of £30 a year, almshouses with £43, other charities £74, and a workhouse. The town has a head post office, a railway station with telegraph, two banking offices, a county police station, a fire-brigade establishment, and four chief inns; is a seat of petty-sessions and county courts, and a polling-place; and publishes two weekly newspapers. A weekly market for corn and straw-plait is held on Monday; a weekly market for provisions, on Saturday; fairs for cattle, on the third Monday of April and the third Monday of October; and a hiring-fair, on the Friday after the third Monday of September. The straw-hat and bonnet manufacture is carried on in large and handsome buildings, and exports its produce to all parts of the world. There is an iron-foundry. Pomfret, the poet, was a native. Real property, of the town, in 1860, £44,433; of which £554 were in the railway, and £526 in gas-works. Pop. in 1851,10,648; in 1861,15,329. Houses, 2,724. The township is conterminate with the town. The parish contains also the hamlets of East Hyde, West Hyde, Stopsley, Leegrave, and Limbury-cum-Biscott. Acres, 15,750. Real property, £62,350. Pop. in 1851, 12,787; in 1861,17,821. Houses, 3,196. Summeries Tower, 1¾ mile ESE of the town, formed part of an ancient mansion of the Wenlocks, now all destroyed ex.ept the portico. Luton Hoo, 1¾ mile SSE of the town, was built by the Earl of Bute, prime minister of George III.; was the seat of the late Marquis of Bute; had a splendid chapel of richly carved wood; suffered vast damage by fire, with total destruction of the chapel, in 1843; passed to John Shaw Leigh, Esq.; has been completely restored; and stands in a very fine park of 1,670 acres. Stockwood, 1 mile SSW of the town, is the seat of J. S. Crawley, Esq. The parish is ecclesiastically cut into the sections of St. Mary, Christchurch, East Hyde, Stopsley, and Biscott. East Hyde was made a separate charge in 1859; Christchurch and Stopsley, in 1861; and Biscott, in 1866. Pop. of the Christchurch section, in 1861, 6,658. Houses, 1,150. The livings of St. Mary and Christchurch are vicarages in the diocese of Ely. Value of St. Mary, £1,350. Patron, the Rev. A. King. Value and patron of Christchurch, not reported. East Hyde and Stopsley are separately noticed. The sub-district contains also the parishes of Sundon, Streatley, Barton-in-the-Clay, and Caddington, part of the last electorally in Herts. Acres, 26,967. Pop., 21,419. Houses, 3,967. The district comprehends also the sub-district of Dunstable, containing the parishes of Dunstable, Honghton-Regis, Totternhoe, Whipsnade, Studham, and Kensworth, all the last and part of the preceding electorally in Herts. Acres of the district, 40,836. Poor rates in 1863, £13,206. Pop. in 1851, 25,087; in 1861, 30,712. Houses, 5,865. Marriages in 1863, 297; births, 1,144, of which 92 were illegitimate; deaths, 631, of which 282 were at ages under 5 years, and 6 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 2,213; births, 9,876; deaths, 5,662. The places of worship, in 1851, were 12 of the Church of England, with 4,841 sittings; 13 of Baptists, with 3,956 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 220 s.; 18 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 4,705 s.; 2 of Primitive Methodists, with 530 s.; 3 undefined, with 1,142 s.; and 2 of Latter Day Saints, with 130 s. The schools were 13 public day schools, with 1,386 scholars; 50 private day schools, with 1,018 s.; 41 Sunday schools, with 5,688 s.; and 1 evening school for adults, with 31 s. The workhouse, at the census of 1861, had 150 inmates.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales 1850

Luton, 31 m. N.W. London, on the river Lea. P. 7748. Mrkt. Mon.

Source: Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850

Hyde (East and West)

Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales 1850

Hyde (East and West), in Luton parish. P. 631.

Source: Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850


Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales 1850

Leegrave, or Lightgrave, in Luton parish. P. 411

Source: Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850


Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales 1850

Limbury-cum-Biscott, in Luton par. P. 316.

Source: Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850.


Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales 1850

Stopsley, in Luton parish. P. 563.

Source: Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850


Below is a list of people from Luton that were declared bankrupt between 1820 and 1843.

Austin Charles, Luton, Bedfordshire, banker, June 19, 1824.

Banner Francis, Luton, Bedfordshire, straw hat manufacturer, July 17, 1840.

Birley John Реart, Luton, Bedfordshire, painter and glazier, May 17, 1836.

Brett John, sen., Luton, Bedfordshire, dealer and chapman, Jan. 22, 1830. 

Brett John, jun., Luton, Bedfordshire, dealer and Chapman, Jan. 22, 1830.

Ellerd William, Luton, Bedfordshire, painter and glazier, Feb. 29, 1828.

Gregory Charles, Luton, Bedfordshire, maltster, Oct. 18, 1833.

Newman William, Luton, Bedfordshire, straw ­hat manufacturer, Oct. 3, 1828.

Pain Joseph, Luton, Bedfordshire, straw hat manufacturer, Oct. 3, 1828.

Tomalin Thomas, Luton, Bedfordshire. baker. July 24, 1835.

Waring Richard, Luton, Bedfordshire, grocer and ironmonger, May 24. 1839.

Waters William, Luton, Bedfordshire, baker, May 29, 1827.

Parish Records

Bedfordshire Archives & Family History Groups

Bedfordshire Archives

Bedfordshire Family History Society

Bedfordshire Historical Record Society


England, Bedfordshire Parish Registers, 1538-1983

Bedfordshire County Cemetery Records

Stotfold Cemetery Search

Bedfordshire Gaol Register

Bedfordshire Quarter Session Rolls 1714-1832

Bedfordshire Poll Book 1722

Bedfordshire Poll Book 1722

Bedfordshire 1926 Valuation Maps

Bedfordshire Apprentices

Bedfordshire Police Roll of Honour

Bedfordshire Pubs Archive

Lost Pubs of Bedfordshire

Records for England

Births and Baptism Records

England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975

Great Britain, Births and Baptisms, 1571-1977

England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

Marriage Records

England Marriages, 1538–1973

Great Britain Marriages, 1797-1988

England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

Death Records

England Death Records, 1998-2015

England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991

Great Britain Deaths and Burials, 1778-1988

England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

England and Wales, National Index of Wills and Administrations, 1858-1957

England and Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1640-1660

Non-Conformist Records

England and Wales Non-Conformist Record Indexes (RG4-8), 1588-1977


England and Wales Census, 1841

England and Wales Census, 1851

England and Wales Census, 1861

England and Wales Census, 1871

England and Wales Census, 1881

England and Wales Census, 1891

England and Wales Census, 1901

England and Wales Census, 1911


United Kingdom, Merchant Navy Seamen Records, 1835-1941

War and Conflict

Great Britain, War Office Registers, 1772-1935

United Kingdom, Chelsea Pensioners' Service Records, 1760-1913

United Kingdom, Royal Hospital Chelsea: Discharge Documents of Pensioners 1760-1887 (WO 122)

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

United Kingdom, Militia Service Records, 1806-1915

United Kingdom, World War I Service Records, 1914-1920

United Kingdom, World War I Women's Army Auxiliary Corps Records, 1917-1920

Newspaper Archives

British Newspaper Archive, Family Notices

British Newspaper Archives, Obituaries


Goad Fire Insurance Maps of Luton

The Goad 1895 series of fire insurance maps of Luton were originally produced to aid insurance companies in assessing fire risks. The building footprints, their use (commercial, residential, educational, etc.), the number of floors and the height of the building, as well as construction materials (and thus risk of burning) and special fire hazards (chemicals, kilns, ovens) were documented in order to estimate premiums. Names of individual businesses, property lines, and addresses were also often recorded. Together these maps provide a rich historical shapshot of the commercial activity and urban landscape of towns and cities at the time. The British Library holds a comprehensive collection of fire insurance plans produced by the London-based firm Charles E. Goad Ltd. dating back to 1885. These plans were made for most important towns and cities of the British Isles at the scales of 1:480 (1 inch to 40 feet), as well as many foreign towns at 1:600 (1 inch to 50 feet).


  • County: Bedfordshire
  • Civil Registration District: Luton
  • Probate Court: Court of the Archdeaconry of Bedford
  • Diocese: Pre-1837 - Lincoln, Post-1836 - Ely
  • Rural Deanery: Dunstable
  • Poor Law Union: Luton
  • Hundred: Flitt
  • Province: Canterbury