Headington Registration District

Note that civil registration districts were very large. The Headington one encompassed 42 square miles as early as 1852, and later became much larger. So if you find references in Free BMD to your ancestors in the Headington Registration District, the chances are that they did not live Headington itself.

Civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths in
England and Wales started on 1 July 1837.

The Headington Registration District existed
from 1 July 1837 to 31 December 1932

It was taken under the Oxford Registration District on 1 January 1933.

Hence when searching for Headington people using Free BMD you need to select the district as follows:
Headington from the third quarter of 1837 to the last quarter of 1932
Oxford from the first quarter of 1933 to the present.

The reason it is named the Headington Registration district is that Headington was the head of the Bullingdon Hundred and hence its Poor Law Union (which is why the workhouse for the whole area was built there). In 1871 the Headington Union covered an area of 26,400 acres with 2,027 houses.

The Parishes and Townships of the Headington Registration District/Union

Parishes from the foundation of the Headington Union up to abolition of Headington Registration District in 1931.
Where no date is given, the parish existed from the foundation of the Union


Church of the Assumption (from 1844)

Including Stow Wood (Stowood)


Cowley St James Church


Cowley St John Church (from 1870)

Formerly part of St James’s parish


All Saints’ Church

Including Denton and Chippinghurst


St Thomas à Becket Church


Forest Hill

St Nicholas’s Church

Including Shotover


St Mary’s Church



St Andrew’s Church


All Saints (Highfield) Church (from 1910)

Formerly part of St Andrew’s parish

Holy Trinity (Quarry) Church (from 1849)

Formerly part of St Andrew’s parish. Including Shotover Hill Place


St Bartholomew’s Church



St. Barnabas’s Church (from 1867)

Formerly part of Beckley parish


St Giles’s Church



St Mary the Virgin Church

Including Hockmoor


St Mary & St Nicholas (from 1836)



St Nicholas’s Church



St Andrew’s Church, north Oxford,
Part of parish (from 1906)

Formerly part of St Giles’s parish

St Clement’s Church


St Giles’s Church


St John the Baptist Church

Ceased to be parish church in 1900:
now Merton College Chapel

St Paul’s district chapelry (part of)

The part formerly in St Giles’s parish

Ss Margaret’s Church (from 1896)

Formerly part of Ss Philip & James’s parish

Ss Philip & James’s Church

Formerly part of St Giles’s parish

Stanton St John

St John’s Church



St Michael & All Angels (from 1834)

Formerly part of St Giles’s parish


St Mary the Virgin


Wood Eaton

Holy Rood


The Headington District Registry Offices

From the time of the Marriage Act of 1753 until 1837, the only marriages recognized in England and Wales were those conducted by the Church of England, or Quakers, or Jews. This was changed by the Marriage Act of 1836 which, in addition to introducing civil marriage, also allowed Nonconformist ministers and Roman Catholic priests to act as registrars.

From 1837 until 1932, the marriages of people who lived in the Headington District could take place in the area’s main registry office instead of a church. The first marriage in the Headington Register Office took place on 7 October 1839.

The analysis below of the Headington Union published in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 17 June 1871 shows that of the 17,182 people recorded in the recent census as living in the Headington Union, only 2,100 (or 12%) actually lived in Headington. The births, marriages, and deaths of all of them, however, have been recorded as taking place in the Headington registration district.

Population of Headington Union in 1871

The Headington District Registrars are not listed in directories until 1874, when Thomas H. Hewlett of St Clement’s is listed as Registrar of Births Marriages, & Deaths for the Headington Sub-District, and W. M. Lovelock, Wheatley for the Wheatley sub-district. In 1877, the Superintendent Registrar was named as Francis Cripps.

Kelly’s Directory from 1883 gives more detailed listings with addresses, as follows:

Headington Registration District


Registrar of Births & Deaths

Registrar of Marriages


St Clement’s



John Draper
49 Cowley Road (1883–1893) and 101 Cowley Road (1894–1911)

M. C. Tubb

John Draper
49 Cowley Road (1883–1893) and 101 Cowley Road (1894–1911)


Frank J. Draper,
101 Cowley Road

Francis Cripps
at 19 Market Street, Oxford (1883–90) and 9 South Parade, Summertown (1893)


John Hale



Thomas William
Mallam, M.A.,

126 High Street,


Henry Coles (1900–10)
Percy Neville Prior (1911–15)
at same address;
and Henry Coles at 127 Kingston Road,
Oxford (1916–19)


Richard Henry Life



Ernest A. Purnell
Stanton St John

Deputy: Mrs Florence Purnell



Charles Frederick Walter Talbot
83 Cowley Road

(also at 10 Woodstock Road and 32 South Parade from 1913)


George Quick 83 Cowley Road

Deputy Ernest G. Jackman

(also at 10 Woodstock Road and 32 South Parade)

Ernest Gordon Jackman
5 Bullingdon Road, Oxford

F. J. Grimsdale, 4 George Street, Oxford



George Quick
121 Iffley Road

(also at 10 Woodstock Road and 32 South Parade)

S. E. Winn
Stanton St John

Mrs Winn


A. S. Sheldon

Deputy: Mrs Sheldon


Thomas William Hull
Lloyd’s Bank Chambers,
2 & 3 High Street, Oxford


Leonard Vincent Murphy at Lloyd’s Bank Chambers, 2 & 3 High Street, Oxford until 1929, and then at 12 King Edward Street


Headington and Cowley became part of the City of Oxford in 1929, and it appears that shortly afterwards people from these areas could only get married in the Oxford Registry Office in St Giles. At the end of 1931 the Headington Registration District was abolished in its entirety

Note that although the Registrars were based in the sub-districts they represented, the Superintendent Registrar for Headington from 1893 onwards was actually based in the Oxford Registration district:

  • 1883–90: at 19 Market Street, Oxford
  • 1894–1923: at the solicitor’s office beside 126 High Street (in All Saints parish; St Martin & All Saints from 1896)
  • 19251929: at Lloyd’s Bank at Carfax (in St Michael-at-the-Northgate parish).

These offices would have been easy to reach from the parts of the Headington Union in north, central, and east Oxford, but people who lived well to the east of Headington would have had a long way to come for their weddings.

So if the wedding of your ancestors took place at the “Register Office of the Headington District in the Parish of St. Martin and All Saints in the City and County Borough of Oxford”, it was in the present HMG Law Offices (reached via a side passage at 126 High Street); and if it was at the “Register Office of the Headington District in the Parish of St. Michael-at-the-Northgate in the City and County Borough of Oxford” in the late 1920s, it was at the present Lloyd’s Bank.

After the absorption of Headington into Oxford

In 1929, Headington became part of the City of Oxford, and people who lived in the Headington Registration District immediately started to get married in the Oxford register office, although the Headington Registration District was not abolished until the end of 1931.

From 1929 to 1955 they would have been married at 13 St Giles’s Street (now part of the Lamb & Flag), and between 1955 and 1975 at 42 St Giles’s Street (now a dentist’s surgery).

In 1975 the Oxford register office then moved to the old Westgate Centre.

It is now in this building in New Road (below).

Register Office in New Road

Since 1 April 1995, civil marriages have been allowed to take place in building other than a register office that have been approved by the local authority as a suitable venue for wedding ceremonies. These venues include castles, restaurants, hotels, civic buildings and country houses.

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© Stephanie Jenkins


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