Jeremy Gibson obituary

Other lives: Genealogist and publisher, pioneer of a new type of local historical society and author of guides for family historians

My friend Jeremy Gibson, who has died aged 88, was well known in the 1980s and 90s as the publisher, and usually the author, of pamphlets for family historians, revealing the potential of such sources as hearth tax returns, poll books, victuallers’ licences and wills, and listing where records could be found. He had a passion for transcribing and publishing documents, particularly those useful to genealogists.

Most of his life was spent in Oxfordshire. Jeremy was born in Oxford, to Violet (nee Stone) and Frank Gibson, a long-serving army officer, in the North Staffordshire regiment. Through his mother he had links with Banbury, where he could trace his ancestry back to Quaker merchants of the mid-17th century.

He was educated at Stowe school, Buckingham, and during his national service was a clerk at Woolwich barracks, spending much of his leave in record offices and libraries in the capital. He studied for two years at the School of Printing and Graphic Arts (now London College of Communication) before joining his family firm, Henry Stone & Son (Printers) in Banbury in 1956.

While in Banbury he showed enthusiasm for Scottish dancing and mountaineering, but most of his leisure time was spent promoting the town’s historical society, formed after a series of extramural lectures on local history in the winter of 1957-58. He quickly arranged for newly enrolled members to begin copying the town’s parish registers, organised the publication of a short, popular history – Old Banbury, by ERC Brinkworth – and handled the production of the society’s journal, a task that he carried out until 2013. The first volume of parish registers appeared in 1960, and by 2019 the society’s record series totalled 37 volumes.

In the mid-60s he left the family firm and worked for the publishers Pergamon at Oxford, Longmans at Harlow and Phillimore at Chichester until 1979, when he resettled in Oxfordshire. He moved into sheltered accommodation in Romsey, Hampshire, in 2015.

Most of the subjects on which Jeremy published can now be easily researched online. The significance of his pamphlets lies in the evidence they provide of the surging interest in family history of the past 40 or so years.

He was active in the British Records Society and the Federation of Family History Societies, was a fellow of both the Society of Genealogists and the Society of Antiquaries, and in 2005 accepted a lifetime achievement award from the British Association for Local History.

Jeremy is survived by several cousins and a goddaughter.

Barrie Trinder

The GuardianTramp

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