Olney, Buckinghamshire Family History Guide

Olney is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Buckinghamshire.

Other places in the parish include: Warrington and Olney Park Farm.

Alternative names: Onlney, Oulney

Parish church: St. Peter and St. Paul

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1665
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1575

Nonconformists include: Baptist, Independent/Congregational, and Society of Friends/Quaker.

Adjacent Parishes

Parish History

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

OLNEY, a small town, a parish, and a sub-district, in Newport-Pagnell district, Bucks. The town stands on the river Ouse, at the terminus of an extension of the Newport-Pagnell railway, 2 miles S E of the boundary with Northamptonshire, and 5 N by E of Newport-Pagnell. It was formerly called Oulney; it is notable for the residence at it of Browne, author of “Piscatory Eclogues,” who was vicar, of John Newton, author of “Cardiphonia” and other religions works, who also was vicar, of Thomas Scott, author of “Force of Truth,” a “Commentary on the Bible,” and other works, who was curate, and especially of Cowper the poet, who wrote here and at Weston-Underwood, 1½ mile to the SW, many of his poems; and it was the place where Newton and Cowper wrote the “Olney Hymns.” The extension railway to it, from Newport-Pagnell, was authorized in 1865, on a capital of £80,000 in shares, and £26,000 in loans; but had not been formed at the end of 1867. A twenty-four-arched old bridge formerly spanned the Ouse and some small tributary streams in its neighbourhood, and was characterized by Cowper as of “wearisome but need ful length; “ and a seven-arched-bridge was erected in room of the old one in 1832. The surrounding tract is low, flat, and subject to winteri floods; and the road through it, from Olney to Weston-Underwood, used to be so bad that it gave rise to the rhyme, “Sle, sla, slud, stuck in the mud.” The Ouse follows a somewhat serpentine course, even before reaching Olney, especially in the neighbourhood of Newport-Pagnell; and it becomes so very serpentine after passing Olney that it describes an aggregate course of about 70 miles, over what is only a direct distance of about 20 miles, between Olney and St. Neots. Hence does Drayton say:

Ouse having Oulney past, as she were waxed mad, From her first stayder course immediately doth gad, And in meandering gyves doth whirl herself about, That, this way, here and there, back, forward, in and out; And like a wanton girl, oft doubling in her gait, In labyrinth-like turns and twinings intricate, Thro’ those rich fields doth run.

The environs of Olney are far from beautiful, and were less pleasant formerly than now; but they acquired charming associations in the minds of Newton and Cowper from their own intercourse, meditations, and employments. The town itself, also, both physically and morally, in their time, was dismal and miserable; but it interested them the more, on that very account, as a field for their Christian philanthropy. It is even yet an unattractive place, with more thatched houses than slated ones; but it is undergoing improvement. It consists of a central market-place, one long street, and a few smaller streets. Cowper’s house still stands at a corner of the market-place; is rather taller than the neighbouring house, and presents a very desolate aspect; and his garden lies behind it, and contains his “summer parlour.” The town has a post-office under Newport-Pagnell, a good inn, a church, three dissenting chapels, a national school, a British school, two infant schools, twelve alms-houses, a causeway estate yielding £66 a year, and other charities £46. The church is early English, and large; and has a tower and spire 185 feet high, seen at long distances from the town. The dissenting chapels are Independent, Baptist, and Quaker. The alms-houses were founded by Misses Smith, and have £124 a year from endowment. A weekly market is held on Thursday; and fairs are held on Easter Monday, 29 June, and 13 Oct. Pop. of the town, in 1861, 2, 258. Houses, 540. The parish contains also the hamlet of Warrington. Acres, with Olney-Park-Farm, 3, 140. Real property of O. alone, £7, 491; of which £60 are in gas-works. Pop., 2, 347. Houses, 557. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Oxford. Value, £163. Patron, the Earl of Dartmouth.

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

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

OLNEY (St. Peter and St. Paul), a market-town and parish, in the union of Newport-Pagnell, hundred of Newport, county of Buckingham, 19 miles (N. E.) from Buckingham, and 55 (N. W. by N.) from London; containing, with the hamlet of Warrington, 2437 inhabitants, of whom 2362 are in the town. This place is situated on the northern bank of the Ouse, and consists of one long street, which is paved. Most of the houses were thatched until the occurrence of a destructive fire, in 1786, but those erected since are covered with tiles; they are in general built of stone, and some of them are of very respectable appearance. The inhabitants enjoy an abundant supply of water. Over the Ouse is a handsome stone bridge with five large arches and five flood arches, replacing an ancient structure. The principal branch of manufacture is that of bonelace; but in consequence of the general use of machinery, the profits arising from it are much less than formerly. The market is held on Thursday; and there are fairs on Easter-Monday, June 29th, and October 21st. The parish is of level surface; its situation is low, and the soil gravelly. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king’s books at £13. 6. 8.; patron and impropriator, the Earl of Dartmouth; net income, £125, including 9 acres of glebe. The church is a large ancient edifice in the English style, with a tower, and a spire which was partially rebuilt in 1807: in the churchyard was once a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, with a chantry founded by Lord Basset. There are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, and Independents; also national and Lancasterian schools, the room of the former of which has been licensed for the performance of divine service. Almshouses for twelve widows and single women have been erected and endowed by the Misses Smith. Moses Brown, author of Piscatory Eclogues and other works, and the Rev. Henry Gauntlett, who wrote a commentary on the Apocalypse, were vicars of Olney; and the Rev. John Newton, a popular preacher and writer, and the Rev. Thomas Scott, the Biblical commentator, and author of various other theological works, were curates. Cowper the poet resided here for some time.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848

Parish Records

Olney Parish Registers 1665-1812

Buckinghamshire Archives & Family History Groups

Buckinghamshire Family History Society


Buckinghamshire Trade Directories

Buckinghamshire Maps

Buckinghamshire Remembers

Aylesbury Gaol Prisoners

Winslow History

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


Old maps of Britain and Europe from A Vision of Britain Through Time


  • County: Buckinghamshire
  • Civil Registration District: Newport Pagnell
  • Probate Court: Court of the Archdeaconry of Buckingham
  • Diocese: Pre-1845 - Lincoln, Post-1844 - Oxford
  • Rural Deanery: Pre-1845 - None, Post-1844 - Newport
  • Poor Law Union: Newport Pagnell
  • Hundred: Newport
  • Province: Canterbury