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Jack of Newbury is a legendary figure of early Tudor England. However, you have to get the right one, out of several, including four generations of the same family where the heir was named John.

The first two of these, John Winchcombe I (d. 1520) and John Winchcombe II (d.1557) were both clothiers, and in early Tudor England to be a clothier meant that you were responsible for organising the production of woollen cloth at a time when 90 per cent of England’s exports consisted of woollen cloth.

John Winchcombe II had at least 250 sheep of his own at Greenham, but he also acquired wool from thousands of sheep across a wide area. Locally this included Kingsclere, Enborne, and the Berkshire Downs. He ran his own dye house in Newbury, using woad as his major dye and purchasing it by the ton. He employed his own carders to card the wool and there is documentary evidence that suggests that there may have been 70 or more of them. He used fulling mills at West Mills in Newbury, and produced thousands of cloths called Kerseys each year.

Berkshire Family History Society

Berkshire Family History Society

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Berkshire Family History Society works to meet the needs of those researching their ancestry across the UK and overseas – as well as those looking for former relatives in historic Berkshire.  You do not need to be a member to benefit.

The society offers:

  • Research Zone in central Reading that is free to use and open to all

  • Free access at The Centre for Heritage and Family History to online resources like FindMyPast, the 1939 Register, The Genealogist, the British Newspaper Archive and Ancestry (the worldwide edition)

  • Regular free help and advice sessions

  • Meetings in Abingdon, Bracknell, Newbury, Reading, Windsor and Woodley — open to everyone

  • Online discussion list for members  informed answers to research queries and advice from experienced researchers

  • Members’ Area with data and other information not readily accessible elsewhere

  • Indexes and transcriptions of Berkshire’s historic records on CD — parish registers, probate documents, monumental inscriptions, maps, First World War history and more

  • Quarterly magazine, the Berkshire Family Historian, for members

  • a chance to join in project work, recording, transcribing and helping to preserve records

  • Links to the research experience, advice and support of members worldwide

  • Opportunities to volunteer and so help others with their family history