Bishop’s Stortford is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Hertfordshire.

Alternative names: Bishops Stortford, Bishop Stortford, Stortford

Parish church: St. Michael

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1561
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1800

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

Adjacent Parishes

  • Little Hadham
  • Birchanger, Essex
  • Farnham, Essex
  • Great Hallingbury, Essex
  • Thorley
  • Albury
  • Stanstead Mountfitchet, Essex

Parish History

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

STORTFORD, BISHOP (St. Michael), a markettown and parish, the head of a union, and formerly a borough, in the hundred of Braughin, county of Hertford, 14 miles (E. N. E.) from Hertford, and 30 (N. N. E.) from London; containing 4681 inhabitants. This place derives its name from its situation on each side of a ford on the river Stort, now crossed by two bridges, and the prefix to its name from having been bestowed by William soon after the Conquest, upon Maurice, Bishop of London, and his successors. In the reign of Stephen, the Empress Matilda endeavoured to obtain by exchange, from the Bishop of London, the castle erected here by William the Conqueror; and not succeeding, threatened its demolition. It remained however till the eighth year of King John, who, exasperated at the bishop’s promulgation of the pope’s menace of laying the kingdom under an interdict, razed it to the ground, seized the town into his own hands, incorporated the inhabitants, and granted them the elective franchise, which they appear to have exercised in the reigns of Edward II. and Edward III. In the reign of Mary the place became the scene of religious persecution, and Bishop Bonner made use of a prison, formerly attached to the castle, for the confinement of convicted Protestants, one of whom was burnt on Goose Green adjoining.

The town is situated on two gentle acclivities, called respectively Windhill and Hockerhill, in a fertile valley upon the navigable river Stort, and consists principally of four streets in the form of a cross, of which Windhill is the western, and Hockerhill the eastern extremity. The inhabitants are well supplied with water from springs. A public library was instituted in 1827. The trade consists chiefly in malt and other grain, of which considerable quantities are sent to London by the river, and by a canal: here is also a station of the railway from London to Cambridge and Brandon, 32¼ miles from the London terminus, and 25 from Cambridge. The market is on Thursday: a very handsome market-house of the Ionic order was erected in 1828, containing an assembly and coffee rooms, and a magistrates’ chamber, on the first floor, and underneath a spacious hall where the cornexchange is held. Fairs are held on Holy-Thursday, the Thursday after Trinity-Sunday, and on October 11th, for horses and cattle. The town is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, who hold a petty-session every fortnight. The powers of the county debt-court of Bishop-Stortford, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Bishop-Stortford.

The parish comprises 3241a. 3r. 11p. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king’s books at £12, and in the gift of the Precentor of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London; the great tithes have been commuted for £536; and the vicarial for £338, with a glebe of 208 acres. The church is an elegant structure, at the south-west angle of the town, with a fine tower surmounted by a lofty spire; it was erected in the reign of Henry VI., and partly rebuilt in 1820. In the building are many ancient and curious monuments, among which are those of Charles Denny, grandson to Sir Anthony Denny, Knt., privy councillor to Henry VIII.; and Sir George Duckett, who was the last surviving proprietor of the Stort navigation. There are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, Independents, and Methodists. A free grammar school formerly existed in High-street, to which an excellent library was presented by Thomas Leigh, Esq.; this library was increased by the Rev. Thomas Leigh, vicar, and other benefactors, and a valuable portion of it still remains, preserved in the tower of the church. Sir Henry Chauncey, a native of the town, author of the History and Antiquities of Hertfordshire, was educated in the school. Five almshouses have been established with the proceeds of the sale of two almshouses in Potterstreet, endowed by R. Pilston in 1572; and several estates, producing about £120 per annum, are appropriated to the apprenticing of children, the relief of the poor, and the repair of the church. To the last-named purpose about £75 per annum, arising from the revenue of a dissolved chantry and some ancient guilds formerly established here, are also applied. The union of BishopStortford comprises 20 parishes or places, half in the county of Essex, and half in Herts; and contains altogether a population of 19,380. There are some small remains of the castle, in the garden of which Roman coins have been found; and near the castle is an ancient well, dedicated to St. Osyth, which is esteemed beneficial in diseases of the eyes. Hoole, the translator of Tasso, was born here.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848

Parish Records


  • County: Hertfordshire
  • Civil Registration District: Bishops Stortford
  • Probate Court: Court of the Commissary of the Bishop of London (Essex and Hertfordshire Division)
  • Diocese: Post-1844 – Rochester, Pre-1845 – London
  • Rural Deanery: Pre-1845 – Braughing, Post-1844 – Bishop’s Stortford
  • Poor Law Union: Bishop’s Stortford
  • Hundred: Braughing
  • Province: Canterbury

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