Marlborough St Mary the Virgin is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Wiltshire.

Alternative names:

Parish church:

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1602
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1581

Nonconformists include:

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Parish History

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

MARLBOROUGH, a town, two parishes, and a district in Wilts. The town stands on the river Kennet, at the terminus of a branch railway, in a valley of the chalk range, between Marlborough downs and Savernake forest, near the site of the Roman station Cunetio, 17 miles E by S of Chippenham, and 26 N by E of Salisbury. The branch railway to it deflects from the Berks and Hants Extension at Savernake station; is 5¾ miles long; was authorized in 1861, and opened in 1864; and was formed on a capital of £45,000 in shares, and £15,000 in loan.

The name Marlborough was anciently written Marleberg, Marlbridge, and Malbridge; and is supposed, by some writers, to have been derived from Merlin, and to have been originally written Merlinesbourg; but seems much more likely to have been taken from the “marl ‘’or chalk hills which abound in the vicinity.

The site of the Roman Cunetio is at Folly Farm, and has yielded considerable Roman relics; but cannot be soberly imagined to have had any connexion with the origin or early history of the town. Neither any record nor any vestige of antiquity exists to show that any town was here in even the Saxon times.

The manor, at Domesday, belonged to the Crown, and had a church. A strong castle was built here, in the time of Henry I., by Roger, bishop of Salisbury; made a stand for the Empress Maud, against King Stephen; passed to Stephen only after his arms were everywhere else victorious; was seized by John during the time of Richard I.’s imprisonment in Germany; was re-taken for Richard by Archbishop Hubert; was possessed alternately by the king and by his opponents, in the barons’ wars; became a royal residence in the time of Henry III.: was the meeting-place, in 1267, of the parliament which enacted the laws known as the “statuytes of Marlbridge;’’ was visited in 1358, by Edward lII. and his queen; and went to ruin at some unrecorded period prior to the time of Henry VIII. Only a few fragments of its walls remained when Camden wrote his “Britannia;’’ and a mound in the garden of Marlborough College, long regarded as a sepulchral barrow, is now known to mark the site of its keep, and forms its only existing vestige.

The town was a place of assizes from the passing of “the statutes of Marlbridge’’ till the time of Charles I.

The manor was given, by Henry VIII., to the Duke of Somerset; and has descended, by intermarriage, to the Marquis of Ailesbury.

A large mansion was built, on the site of the Castle, by Sir Francis Seymour, grandson of the Duke of Somerset, and afterwards created Lord Seymour; was held in 1643, for the Parliament, by Sir Nevile Poole; gave accommodation, in the following year, to Charles I. and his staff; was visited, after the Restoration, by Charles II. and his queen; became, in the early part of the 18th century, the residence of the Earl and Countess of Hereford; was then an hospitable resort of Thomson, Pope, Dr. Watts, and other literary notabilities; was changed, after the death of the Countess, into a great inn, called the Castle Inn, long famous as a stage on the road from London to Bath; and, with additions and appendages of modern erection, is now Marlborongh College.

The figure of a white horse is cut on a chalky slope in the approach to the College from the direction of Calne; and has been thought, by some superficial observers, to possess a high antiquity; but is really the work of some modern school-boys, who had seen the white horses of Cherhill and Bratton. Yet some curious antiquities, particularly a cromlech called the Devil’s Den, a great artificial mound called Silbury-Hill, a Celtic camp on Martensell Hill, traces of the Wans dyke on the Downs between Walker’s Hill and Heddington, and remains of the great serpent temple of Avebury, are in the neighbourhood.

Henry of Marlborough, the historian, who flourished during the early part of the 15th century; John Hughes, author of the “Siege of Damascus, ‘’and one of the writers in the “Spectator; ‘’Dr. Henry Sacheverell, the notorious ecclesiastical demagogue; Walter Harte, the poet, friend of Pope, and biographer of Gustavus Adollphus; Sir Michael Foster, the lawyer; and Fowler and two Sedgewicks, the theologians, were natives of Marlborough. Thomson, the poet, wrote in it his “Spring;‘’ Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, Lord High Treasurer to James I., died in it; the great Earl of Chatham spent some weeks in it in 1767; Chief-Justice Ley took from it the title of Earl; and the family of Churchill take from it the title of Duke.

The town consists chiefly of one long street, called High-street, extending from E to W, terminated on the E by the town hall and St. Mary’s church, on the W, by Marlborough College and St. Peter’s church; and several lateral streets, diverging from High-street, and carried across the Kennet by bridges. It is irregularly built; but has, of late years, undergone considerable improvement. It suffered much injury, in old times, from fires; and an act of parliament, passed in the reign of William and Mary, forbade the existence in it of any thatched buildings. Some of its houses are of stone; but many are of brick or of wood; and the wooden ones are ancient, and have picturesque gables, carved timbers, and scaly coats of tile-work.

High-street forms an airy thoroughfare, well suited for market or fair; and has piazzas extending along much of its more elevated side. The town hall was erected in 1790, on the site of a previous edifice; is disposed as a market-house in the basement; and includes a council-chamber, a court-room, and an assembly-room. The public reading-room, in High-street, was opened in 1854; and has attached to it a library belonging to a mutual improvement society, established in 1844.

St. Mary’s church has an ancient tower and a Norman door-way; was considerably damaged during the civil war of Charles I.; and has, in the N aisle, a memorial window to the eldest son of Capt. Manders, put up in 1866.

St. Peter’s church has a lofty pinnacled tower, and was restored in 1863.

There are chapels for Independents, Baptists, Wesleyans, and Primitive Methodists.

Marlborongh College was established in 1845, for liberally educating sons of clergymen on economical terms; underwent modification in 1849, by a second charter which allows one half of the pupils to be sons of laymen; has attached to it a more recent school for pupils not intended to go to the universities; includes a chapel, built in 1847 by Blore, decorated afterwards by Butterfield, and designed entirely for the use of the pupils; and has, averagely, under tuition about 500 boys.

The free grammar school was founded in 1550 by Edward VI.; has £203 a year from endowment, and exhibitions at Brasenose College, Oxford, and at St. John’s College, Cambridge; and had, for pupils, alter Harte and Sir Michael Foster. There are also national schools, and charities £85.

There were, in old times, a Gilbertine priory, founded in the reign of King John, and given at the dissolution to the Stringers; a house of White friars, founded in 1316, by merchants of the town; a Trinitarian friary, founded in the time of Henry IlI.; an hospital of St. John, founded in the time of Henry II., and appropriated by Edward VI. to the endowing of the grammar school; and an hospital of St. Thomas, founded in the time of Henry III., and annexed in that of Richard II. to the Gilbertine friary; but all have completely disappeared.

The town has a head post office, a railway station, four banking offices, and four chief inns; is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, a polling-place, and the head quarters of the Wilts militia; and publishes two weekly newspapers.

A weekly market is held on Saturday; fairs are held on 10 July, 22 Aug., and 23 Nov; malting, brewing, tanning, rope-making, sacking-making, and wool-stapling are carried on; a large trade exists in the export of country produce to London; considerable business has arisen in connection with Marlborough College; much stir arises from the town’s being a central point for sporting over the surrounding downs, and for angling in the Kennet; and a large transit-traffic formerly existed in connection with the stage-coaches on the road from London to Bath, but was severely damaged by the formation of railways.

The town is a borough by prescription; is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors; and sent two members to parliament till 1867, but now sends only one.

The m. borough comprises the two parishes of Marlborough; and the p. borough includes also the parish of Preshute. Acres of the m. borough, 194. Real property in 1860, £10,486; of which £140 were in gas-works. Corporation income in 1855, £907. Pop. in 1851, 3,908; in 1861, 3,684. Houses, 644. Acres of the p. borough, 5,545. Amount of property and income tax charged in 1863, £2,177. Electors in 1833, 240; in 1868, 304. Pop. in 1851, 5,135: in 1861, 4,893. Houses, 821.

One of the Marlborough parishes is St. Mary, and the other is St. Peter and St. Paul. Acres of St. M., 115. Real property, £5,072. Pop., 1,903. Houses, 368. Acres, of St. P. and St. P., 79. Real property, £5,414; of which £140 are in gas-works. Pop., 1,781. Houses, 276.

The surface is much diversified; includes heights, with maximum elevation of about 500 feet; and both contains and commands pleasant views.

The living of St. M. is a vicarage, and that of St. P. is a rectory, in the diocese of Salisbury. Value of St. M., £100; of St. P., £130. Patron of both, the Bishop of Salisbury.

The district contains also the parishes of Preshute, Mildenhall, Ogbourne-St. George, Ogbourne-St. Andrew, Broad Hinton, Winterbourne-Bassett, Berwick-Bassett, Winterbourne-Moukton, Avebury, Fyfield, and East Kennet, part of the parish of Overton, and the extra-parochial tracts of Overton-Heath, Clatford-Park, North-Savernake, and South Savernake-with-Brimslade and Cadley. Acres, 42,092. Poor rates in 1863, £4,760. Pop. in 1851, 10,263; in 1861, 9,774. Houses, 1,857. Marriages in 1863, 51; births, 283, of which 14 were illegitimate; deaths, 183, of which 61 were at ages under 5 years, and 5 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 688; births, 3,123; deaths, 1,935. The places of worship, in 1851, were 18 of the Church of England, with 4,081 sittings; 6 of Independents, with 815 s.; 2 of Baptists, with 270 s.; 4 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 620 s.; 6 of Primitive Methodists, with 340 s.; 1 of Brethren, with 45 s.; and 2 undefined, with 150 s. The schools were 17 public day-schools, with 1,644 scholars; 14 private day-schools, with 287 s.; and 22 Sunday schools, with 1,498 s.

The workhouse is in Preshute parish, about ½ a mile from Marlborough town; is a building of white Bath stone; and, at the census of 1861, had 67 inmates.

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


Below is a list of people that were declared bankrupt between 1820 and 1843 extracted from The Bankrupt Directory; George Elwick; London; Simpkin, Marshall and Co.; 1843.

Eveleigh Robert, Marlborough, Wiltshire, victualler, Feb. 28, 1832.

Lindon Richard, Marlborough, Wiltshire, corn factor, Nov. 18, 1842.

Lindon Richard, Snapes, Marlborough, Wiltshire, corn factor, Nov. 11, 1842.

Parish Registers

Parish Records

FamilySearch Catalog

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Biography ( 3 )
Marlborough college register : from 1843 to 1899 inclusive, with alphabetical index

Marlborough college register : from 1843 to 1899 inclusive, with alphabetical index

Marlborough college register : from 1843 to 1933 inclusive, with alphabetical index
Author: Marlborough College (Marlborough, Wiltshire)

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Census ( 1 )
Census returns for Marlborough, 1841-1891
Author: Great Britain. Census Office

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Church records ( 15 )
Accounts and extract from the will of Hancock family, 1788-1812
Author: Marlborough Chapel (Wiltshire : Independent)

Births and baptisms, 1823-1837
Author: Independent Church (Marlborough)

Bishop’s transcripts for St. Mary’s Church, Marlborough, 1581-1880
Author: Church of England. St. Mary’s Church (Marlborough, Wiltshire)

Bishop’s transcripts for St. Peter and St. Paul’s, Marlborough, 1607-1880
Author: Church of England. St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church (Marlborough, Wiltshire)

Church records, 1838-1917
Author: Marlborough Circuit (Wiltshire : Wesleyan Methodist)

Church records, 1842-1919
Author: Market-Lavington Circuit (Wiltshire : Primitive Methodist)

Church records, ca. 1823-1934
Author: Marlborough Congregational Church (Wiltshire)

Hungerford, Marlborough & Wantage : Wesleyan Methodist Circuits historic roll 1899-1904
Author: EurekA Partnership

Marriages at Marlborough, St. Mary’s Church, 1602-1812
Author: Church of England. St. Mary’s Church (Marlborough, Wiltshire)

Marriages at Marlborough, St. Peter’s Church, 1611-1812
Author: Church of England. St. Peter’s Church (Marlborough)

Minute book, 1823-1874
Author: Marlborough United Reformed Church (Wiltshire)

Parish registers for St. Mary’s Church, Marlborough, 1602-1975
Author: Church of England. St. Mary’s Church (Marlborough, Wiltshire); Church of England. St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church (Marlborough, Wiltshire)

Reports from England

Society of Friends, Marlborough, births, marriages and burials, 1708-1751.
Author: Society of Friends. Marlborough Monthly Meeting (Wiltshire)

Transcripts of church records of Providence Chapel, Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, 1807-1891
Author: Challen, W. H. (William Harold); Providence Chapel (Marlborough, Wiltshire, England : Nonconformist)

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Church records – Indexes ( 3 )
Computer printout of Marlborough, St. Mary, Wilts., Eng

Computer printout of Marlborough, St. Peter and St. Paul, Wilts., Eng

Parish register printouts of Marlborough, Wiltshire, England (Independent) ; christenings, 1823-1837
Author: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Department

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Civil registration ( 1 )
Notices of marriage, 1838-1911
Author: Great Britain. Superintendent Registrar (District of Marlborough)

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Court records – 18th century ( 1 )
A miscellany of Marlborough records
Author: Cole, Jean A.

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Court records – 19th century ( 1 )
A miscellany of Marlborough records
Author: Cole, Jean A.

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – History ( 2 )
Marlborough and Preshute, a history
Author: Stevenson, Janet H.

Marlborough and the Upper Kennet country
Author: Stedman, Alfred Redvers

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Land and property ( 1 )
Deeds and documents of Marlborough Methodist Circuit, Wiltshire, 1714-1903

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Military records – 18th century ( 1 )
A miscellany of Marlborough records
Author: Cole, Jean A.

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Military records – 19th century ( 1 )
A miscellany of Marlborough records
Author: Cole, Jean A.

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Poorhouses, poor law, etc. ( 3 )
Index of pauper removals sanctioned by the Marlborough Board of Guardians, 1845-1874, W.R. O. H10/160/1
Author: Cole, Jean A.

Marlborough applications for relief : from out of town strays 1773-1835
Author: Cole, Jean A.

A miscellany of Marlborough records
Author: Cole, Jean A.

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Probate records ( 1 )
Marlborough probate inventories, 1591-1775
Author: Williams, Iris Lorelei, 1938-2004; Thomson, Sally

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Schools ( 6 )
Marlborough college register : from 1843 to 1879 inclusive, with alphabetical index

Marlborough College register : from 1843 to 1889 inclusive
Author: Marlborough College (Marlborough, Wiltshire)

Marlborough college register : from 1843 to 1899 inclusive, with alphabetical index

Marlborough college register : from 1843 to 1899 inclusive, with alphabetical index

Marlborough college register : from 1843 to 1933 inclusive, with alphabetical index
Author: Marlborough College (Marlborough, Wiltshire)

Marlborough College, 1843-1943 : a brief survey to commemorate the centenary
Author: Marlborough College (Marlborough, Wiltshire)

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Schools – History ( 1 )
A history of Marlborough College
Author: Bradley, A. G. (Arthur Granville), 1850-1943; Taylor, J. R.

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Taxation ( 1 )
Land tax assessments in Marlborough, Wiltshire 1780-1884
Author: Great Britain. Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace (Wiltshire)

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Vital records ( 1 )
Coroners’ records of a borough : Marlborough, Wiltshire 1773 to 1835
Author: Cole, Jean A.; Wiltshire Family History Society

England, Wiltshire, Marlborough – Voting registers ( 2 )
Burgess roll’s in Marlborough, Wiltshire, 1840-1874
Author: Marlborough (Wiltshire : Borough)

The list of freemen, of the borough and town of Marlborough, in the county of Wilts, entitled to vote in the election of members for the said borough
Author: Marlborough (Wiltshire); Poulden, G.; Merriman, William C.


Vision of Britain historical maps


  • County: Wiltshire
  • Civil Registration District: Marlborough
  • Probate Court: Court of the Bishop of Salisbury (Episcopal Consistory)
  • Diocese: Salisbury
  • Rural Deanery: Marlborough
  • Poor Law Union: Marlborough
  • Hundred: Marlborough Borough
  • Province: Canterbury

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