Jeremy Gibson - mainspring of Banbury Historical Society - has died aged 88
Mr Gibson, who died on October 28, was, along with the university lecturer E R C (Ted) Brinkworth and the journalist Val Bromley, one of the founders of the Society in 1957-58.
He envisaged a new kind of local history society, meeting regularly for lectures and social occasions, organising exhibitions and publishing the town’s archives and articles on its history.
Jeremy was descended on his mother’s side from the Stone family who were members of the Banbury Quaker Meeting from the seventeenth century. He was born at Oxford and had pleasant memories as a small child of visits to his mother’s friends at Linden House by Banbury Cross.
He attended Stowe School and did his National Service as a clerk at Woolwich barracks, where he leaned to type proficiently and furthered his growing interest in family history by gaining acquaintance with London record offices and libraries.
In the mid-1950s, after studying at the School of Printing and Graphic Arts, Jeremy moved to Banbury to work for the family firm, Henry Stone & Son (Printers), and lived with his mother at Bloxham.
He was an enthusiast for Scottish dancing and mountaineering but much of his time was devoted to the Historical Society. As its Records Editor he oversaw the publication of 37 volumes relating to local history between 1960 and 2019. He was also responsible for producing the Society’s journal Cake & Cockhorse and was for some years its editor.
Since its first issue in 1959 more than 500 articles on ‘Banburyshire’ have appeared in its pages. One of his principal achievements was to persuade borough councillors in 1964 that the Globe Room panels, removed from the Reindeer Inn in 1912, long assumed to be in the United States but on sale in London, should be returned to Banbury.
Jeremy left Henry Stone & Son in the mid-1960s and worked for various publishers before returning to settle in Oxfordshire in 1979. While maintaining an active role in the Banbury Historical Society he also devoted much energy into publishing short guides for family historians. These included guides to the whereabouts of records, how to locate records offices, find details of past marriages, censusses and more.
At a national level he probably did more than any other individual to stimulate interest in family history. He was a fellow of both the Society of Antiquaries and the Society of Genealogists and was given a lifetime achievement award by the British Association for Local History in 2005.
In 2015, as old age took its toll, he moved to sheltered accommodation at Romsey, Hampshire, near to members of his family, but continued to attend meetings in Banbury and in 2019 published Banbury’s People in the Eighteenth Century, a valuable collection of sources for which future generations of historians will have cause to be grateful.
The well-known historian Dr Barrie Trinder, author of Victorian Banbury (1982/2005) said: “Jeremy Gibson has left a marvellous legacy in the books and articles that he wrote and edited, and a flourishing Historical Society.”