Stratford-upon-Avon is a market town and civil parish in south Warwickshire, England. It lies on the River Avon, 35km south east of Birmingham. The town is near the south-west border of the county of Warwick, on a gentle ascent from the banks of the river Avon, which approaches Stratford in a broad and stream. The town is a popular tourist destination owing to its status as birthplace of the playwright and poet William Shakespeare. Whilst none of my lines have a direct family connection with William Shakespeare, the Hiccox's are related to the Hathaway's, of whom Shakespeare's wife was a member. The above lines which were in Stratford were all of the same social class as the Shakespeare's, namely the middle class. The Shakepeare's and several of the above lines served together on the Stratford town council as aldermen and mayors. The families also appear together in numerous deeds and Richard Tyler was even mentioned in William Shakespeare's will. Given that all of these families were in Stratford before the 1550s when parish records began and were of the same social class in a small town (prior to 1700 the town had a population of less than 2000), it is quite likely there was an earlier undocumented family connection.
The name of Stratford is derived from its situation on the great north road, leading from London to Worcester, being a fusion of the Old English stręt, meaning "street", and ford, meaning that a Roman road forded the River Avon at the site of the town. By the late 7th century a monastry was located on the site that would later become Stratford. The Doomsday-book records there was a church and a mill. By 1291 the parish had 140 acres of arable land and many trades were represented, including weavers, tanners, tailors, carpenters, dyers, white-smiths, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, flesh mongers, shoemakers and coopers. Stratford is close to the Cotswolds. As a major sheep-producing area, the Cotswolds, up until the latter part of the 19th century, regarded Stratford as one of its main centres for the slaughter, marketing, and distribution of sheep and wool. As a consequence Stratford also became a centre for tanning during the 15th-17th centuries. Both the river and the Roman road served as trade routes for the town.
A number of useful resources exist for genealogical research in and around Stratford-Upon-Avon. The IGI (International Genealogical Index) has a fairly comprehensive coverage for the neighbouring parish of Alveston (for baptisms & marriages) and a reasonable coverage for Stratford itself, although with some gaps. Published volumes of parish register extracts for Stratford are available at archives.org (and elsewhere on the internet), often with considerably more detail that available in the IGI (occupations, abodes, social status etc). These also include burials. Several books focusing on the parish, also available on archive.iorg, include not only detailed background material on the town but also monument inscriptions from the parish church, Holy Trinity. Stratford is also rare in that the records of the Corporation of Stratford-Upon-Avon still exist and have been transcribed in over a dozen volumes. These records contain a wealth of background information on the residents of Stratford, especially (but not limited) to the middle class. These volumes are also available at archives.org. The British National Archives also contain an extensive number of records relating to Stratford, including legal firm records covering several centuries.