A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1959.
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Fritwell lies roughly mid-way between two market towns—Banbury nine miles to the northwest and Bicester six miles to the south-east. (fn. 1) In 1888 a detached part of the parish (fn. 2) (135 a.) on the eastern bank of the Cherwell, between Souldern and Somerton parishes, was transferred to Somerton, reducing the area of Fritwell from 1,878 to 1,743 acres. (fn. 3) In 1953 about 506 acres lying north of the Bicester-Banbury road was transferred to Souldern. (fn. 4) On the east and in the south-west corner the boundaries of the main body of the ancient parish, with their many right-angled bends, evidently followed open-field furlongs. Two of its boundaries were natural ones, the Ockley Brook (the county boundary between Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire) on the north, and a small stream, a tributary of the Great Ouse, on the south, while the Souldern-Somerton road formed the boundary on the north-west.
The parish lies between 400 and 450 feet above sea-level on a plateau forming part of the Great Oolite escarpment. The soil is stonebrash with a subsoil of clay and marl, and railway cuttings have exposed greenish clay beds, characteristic of the Upper Estuarine series of Northamptonshire. (fn. 5) Local quarries supplied the stone for Tusmore House in the 1760's (fn. 6) and freestone was quarried in the 19th century. (fn. 7) No woodland was recorded in Domesday Book and the plateau is bare except for a small fir plantation on the north-eastern boundary.
On Ploughley Hill (466 ft.) was a round barrow, at one time the meeting-place of the hundred. The barrow was levelled in the early 19th century, but in 1845 human bones were found on its site. (fn. 8) Numerous roads converge on the hill: the pre-Roman Portway, a grass lane which crosses the west of the parish, joins the road from Somerton less than a mile to the south, while the roads from Somerton, Souldern, and Tusmore meet the main BicesterBanbury road near by. All very probably follow the line of ancient tracks. So does the road between Fritwell village and Middleton Stoney. It runs along the line of Aves Ditch, (fn. 9) but the stretch near the village is called Raghouse Lane, after the raghouse built in the 18th century to serve the Deddington paper mill. (fn. 10) Before the inclosure in 1807 all these roads were gated: Troy Gate and other names are recorded by Blomfield. (fn. 11)
The London—Birmingham line of the former G. W. R., completed in 1910, (fn. 12) crosses the south of the parish.
Fritwell village, (fn. 13) standing about 400 feet up, lies in the south of the ancient parish. By 1086 and throughout the Middle Ages there were two settlements dependent on the two manorial estates in Fritwell, and the village is still divided into a western part on the Somerton road and a southern part on the Middleton road. (fn. 14) The latter, in the former Ormond manor, was perhaps the original settlement: it lay beside Aves Ditch and close to a spring which no doubt gave the village its name of Fyrht-w(i)elle or 'wishing well'. (fn. 15) This spring, with others in the village, feeds the southern boundary stream, and was thought by Plot to be the source of the Great Ouse. (fn. 16) In the 19th century it was known as the Townwell. (fn. 17) The church was built between the two settlements. Its dedication to St. Olave, the early-11th-century king of Norway, suggests that there was Danish influence before the Conquest.
For the hearth tax of 1665, besides the 2 manorhouses and 16 other listed houses there were 8 substantial farm-houses paying tax on 3 or 4 hearths. (fn. 18) In the 18th century incumbents recorded that there were about 66 houses in the parish, (fn. 19) and by 1811 there were 85. Increasing population led to more building after the Napoleonic War, but in 1821 there was still overcrowding, with only 95 houses for 100 families. Since the First World War there has been much new building, including 38 council houses. (fn. 20)
Today the village is still remarkable for the number of its well-preserved 17th-century houses. They are mostly two-story houses, built of the local rubble stone, and many have stone-slate roofs. The Vicarage, enlarged in 1933, (fn. 21) is a good example: it is built on an L-shaped plan, and on the first floor retains its original windows with wooden mullions. It may have been built at two dates, the earlier 16thcentury part being the southern wing. This consists of two ground-floor rooms and three bedrooms above. (fn. 22) Its ancient tithe barn still stands. 'The Hollies', with the date 1636 on its high-pitched gable and the initials n. k.(ilby), is another example. 'The Limes' has attic dormers, a stone-slate roof, brick chimney shafts, and a spiral newel staircase in the square stair projection on the north-west of the building. The Wheatsheaf Inn, built on a T-shaped plan, and the 'King's Head' are other 17th-century houses, although both have been much restored. (fn. 23) These, and the 'George and Dragon', mentioned by name in 1784, were probably the three inns licensed in 1735. (fn. 24) The last, however, is now a modern building. Seventeenth-century cottages also survive, some with thatched and some with stone-slate or Welsh slate roofs. One is dated 1637 with the initials I.W. Hazel Cottages, which are L-shaped in plan, may date from the 16th century; they are thatched and rubble built and have two-light windows with stone mullions and square labels.
There was much rebuilding in the 18th century, and today the main village street with its many derelict cottages and cheap brick accretions is redeemed by the plain dignity of its small stone 18th-century houses. (fn. 25) In striking contrast are the three-story raghouse, built in 1885, now used as a general store, and the late 19th-century block of two semidetached houses, also three stories high, and built of incongruous red brick with stone facings to the windows. In the mid-19th century the village was described as 'expensive and respectable'. By 1864, two Methodist chapels had been built—one at each end of the street. (fn. 26) A well-built school was erected in 1872 (fn. 27) and in 1919 two cottages were converted into a reading-room by Lord Jersey. (fn. 28) The number of small 19th-century houses is to be accounted for by Fritwell's convenient position for tradesmen: Bicester, Brackley, Deddington, and Banbury are all within easy reach. (fn. 29) A crescent of well-designed council houses opposite the school is the chief 20thcentury addition to the village.
Dovehouse Farm (called Lodge Farm by 1955), at the southern end of the village street, (fn. 30) apparently stands on the site of the Ormonds' manor-house and incorporates fragments of it. The old house may still have been standing in 1665 when two houses in Fritwell each paid tax on ten hearths, (fn. 31) but it is not marked on Plot's map of 1677, (fn. 32) and had presumably been partly pulled down and converted into a farmhouse. A farm-house on the Ormond estate, at all events, was rented by Samuel Cox in the early 18th century, and later let to Sir Edward Longueville. In 1702 Cox had built a large dovecote there, (fn. 33) which was still standing in 1897 (fn. 34) but had gone by 1955.
The De Lisle manor-house in the west end of Fritwell, on the other hand, has had a continuous history. It is a fine E-shaped house originally of 16th-century date, but probably rebuilt in 1619 by George Yorke. (fn. 35) His initials and this date were once carved over a chimney-piece. The house is built of coursed rubble, has two stories with three projecting gables on the southern front and a stone-slate roof. The main entrance is on the south side through a fine porch with two Corinthian columns, and there is a contemporary oak door. In the 1660's the royalist Colonel Sandys had the house and returned ten hearths for it in 1665. (fn. 36) In the 18th century it was occupied by Sir Baldwin Wake, (fn. 37) and later by Captain Barclay. In 1893 the house was extensively restored by the architect Thomas Garner; it was further modernized in 1910 and a west wing added in 1921 by Sir John Simon, who had bought it in 1911 and held it until 1933. Nearly all the casement windows have stone mullions, and a number of the rooms have stone-carved open fireplaces and oak panelling. There is a fine oak staircase, and the state bedroom has a plaster ceiling and oak panelling with carved Corinthian columns on either side of the fireplace.
The main appearance of the west end of the village is neat, though few of its houses have any aesthetic merit. Two 17th-century farm-houses are situated here: Court Farm, (fn. 38) built on an L-shaped plan, and a neighbouring farm-house which has preserved its original windows with their stone mullions. There is also a farm-house dated h.b. 1835, a Temperance Hall (1892), several modern houses built of stone, and some 20th-century cottages of rough-cast.
The village used to be known in the 19th century as Fritwell in the Elms, on account of its fine trees, (fn. 39) and this description still applies to the west end of the village, which is surrounded by fields.
At one time there were both a water-mill and a windmill. The water-mill, probably on the Cherwell, is mentioned in 1235, and was valued at 6s. 8d. in the 14th century. (fn. 40) In the early 19th century the windmill still stood in Windmill Ground Field, near the turnpike on the Souldern—Fritwell road. (fn. 41)
The three outlying farms, Inland, The Tower, and Inkerman, probably date from after the inclosure; (fn. 42) Inkerman was built about 1863. (fn. 43) The Bear Inn, on the north-west boundary at Souldern Gate, dates from at least the 1850's, (fn. 44) and was a well-known meet for the Bicester hounds.
Fritwell played a small part in the Civil War: parliamentary foot were quartered in the village during Essex's advance to relieve Gloucester. (fn. 45)
The village has had two notable residents: Robert Barclay Allardice (1779–1854), usually known as Capt. Barclay and renowned for his pedestrian feats and interest in the Bicester Hunt and in prizefighting; (fn. 46) and Sir John Simon (1873–1954), later created 1st Viscount Simon, who was a distinguished public servant and Lord Chancellor from 1940 to 1945. (fn. 47)
After the Conquest William FitzOsbern, Earl of Hereford, held an estate assessed at 10 hides in Fritwell. (fn. 48) On his death in 1071 his estates passed to his son Roger of Breteuil, who probably died in prison after the rebellion of 1075. (fn. 49) A large part of his lands was later granted to the De Riviers, Earls of Devon, (fn. 50) but FRITWELL manor seems to have been given to Roger de Chesney, the founder of a notable Oxfordshire family. (fn. 51) While the genealogy of the De Chesney family has not been worked out completely, it is clear that Fritwell, like Albury (fn. 52) and Noke, (fn. 53) which also belonged to William FitzOsbern, descended from Roger, who was dead by about 1109, to his granddaughter Maud. (fn. 54) By 1160 she had married Henry FitzGerold, chamberlain to Henry II, (fn. 55) and had been succeeded by 1198 by her son Warin FitzGerold (d. 1216). Warin was followed by his daughter Margaret, wife of Baldwin de Riviers. (fn. 56) Baldwin died in 1216, a year before his father, William, Earl of Devon, leaving a young son Baldwin as heir to the earldom. As Margaret married the notorious Fawkes de Bréauté, it is likely that the latter possessed the overlordship of Fritwell until his exile in 1224. (fn. 57) Although Margaret's son was not invested with his earldom until 1239, in 1236 Fritwell was said to be held 'de feudo comitis de Lill' de Cristischurck'. (fn. 58) The overlordship descended with the earldom until the death of Isabel, Countess of Aumale and Devon, in 1293. (fn. 59) One of her heirs was Warin de Lisle, a descendant of Henry, younger son of Maud de Chesney, (fn. 60) and through him the overlordship of Fritwell passed to the De Lisles of Rougemont. It was incorrectly reported in 1307 that the manor was held of the Earldom of Aumale: confusion had no doubt arisen from Isabel de Riviers having held two earldoms after the deaths of her husband William de Forz and her brother Baldwin de Riviers, and because part of Warin's inheritance was kept, like the Earldom of Aumale, in the king's hands. Warin's son Robert became the first Lord Lisle of Rougemont, and his successors were recognized as overlords of Fritwell (fn. 61) until 1368, when Robert de Lisle surrendered all his fees to Edward III, including 1½ fee in Fritwell. Although in 1428, when the Earl of Warwick held Fritwell, his overlord was stated to be unknown, tenants of the manor after 1368 did in fact hold in chief. (fn. 62)
In 1086 the tenant of the FitzOsbern manor of Fritwell was Rainald, (fn. 63) son of Croc, the Conqueror's huntsman, and an ancestor of the Foliot family, (fn. 64) one branch of which held Fritwell in the 12th century of the De Chesneys. The genealogy of the Foliots, a family with many branches in Oxfordshire, (fn. 65) is difficult to establish. A Ralph Foliot was definitely connected with Fritwell before 1166 (fn. 66) and was the successor of Robert, probably a brother of Gilbert Foliot, Bishop of Hereford and later of London. (fn. 67) As the bishop's mother was a De Chesney, the Foliots of Fritwell were kinsmen of their overlords. (fn. 68) The 1½ knight's fee in Oxfordshire held in 1199 by Ralph Foliot (d. c. 1204), perhaps the son of the first Ralph, may have been at Fritwell. (fn. 69) He was succeeded by Henry, the eldest of his three brothers, (fn. 70) who died about 1233, when the wardship of his son Sampson was given to Andrew de Chaunceus. (fn. 71) In 1236 Sampson held 1 knight's fee in Fritwell of the Earl of Devon, (fn. 72) but in 1243 1 fee there was held by Roger Foliot and ½ fee of Roger by Laurence de Broke. (fn. 73) Roger may have been Sampson's uncle, and he presumably held the 1½ fee of Sampson. By 1255 Fritwell was back in Sampson's own hands, (fn. 74) but by 1279 he had given the manor to his son Ralph. (fn. 75) Sampson was Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1267. (fn. 76) In 1265, after the battle of Evesham, his lands at Fritwell had been seized by the victorious royalists, but it does not appear that he had supported the Montfortians. (fn. 77) Ralph Foliot and another son Roger (fn. 78) died before their father, who was succeeded at Fritwell between 1281 and 1285 (fn. 79) by Henry Teyes, whose precise relationship to Sampson has not been determined. (fn. 80)
Laurence de Broke's ½ fee, held of the Foliots in 1243, had possibly originally belonged to the Fritwell family, which is frequently mentioned in the early 13th century. Miles of Fritwell, who was a tenant of Maud de Chesney at Deddington, (fn. 81) quitclaimed ¼ knight's fee in Wood Eaton to Eynsham Abbey in 1199, in return for a hide of land at Fritwell. (fn. 82) By 1209 Miles had been succeeded by his son Stephen, (fn. 83) who also held 2½ hides and the mill in Fritwell. He was at law over them with one Robert Wolf as early as 1209, (fn. 84) and appears to have lost this suit by 1219, when the Abbot of Eynsham promised to help him recover his lands in Fritwell. (fn. 85) Stephen was dead by 1231, (fn. 86) and in 1235 his widow Sarah quitclaimed to Robert Wolf the third part of the 2½ hides and the mill which she had claimed as dower. (fn. 87) By 1239 Stephen of Fritwell, presumably Sarah's son, was claiming the same 2½ hides and the mill but this time against Laurence de Broke, Roger Foliot, and Matthew le Bedel, who had apparently succeeded Robert Wolf. (fn. 88) Stephen was still pursuing his claims two years later, (fn. 89) but it is likely that in 1243 Laurence's ½ fee represented the original holding of Miles and the elder Stephen of Fritwell. Another Laurence de Broke was holding this ½ fee in 1368. (fn. 90) It is not mentioned separately in later records, but may be presumed to be included in the 1½ knight's fee held by the successors of the Foliots.
Henry Teyes, Sampson Foliot's successor, died in 1307, (fn. 91) and Fritwell passed to his son Henry, who was one of the rebels captured at Boroughbridge in 1322 and later hanged. His lands were seized by the king, and in 1326 his Oxfordshire manors including Fritwell were placed in the custody of Nicholas de la Beche. (fn. 92) His heir was his sister Alice, (fn. 93) whose husband Warin de Lisle (of Kingston Lisle) had suffered the same fate as her brother. (fn. 94) Alice recovered Henry's lands, and some time before her death in 1347 (fn. 95) gave Fritwell to her son and heir Gerard de Lisle, who was in possession in 1346. (fn. 96) By a settlement made in 1359, Fritwell was to be held by Gerard for life and then by his younger son Richard for life: (fn. 97) at Gerard's death in 1360 he and his son held the manor jointly. (fn. 98) Gerard's heir was his elder son Warin, who married firstly Margaret, daughter of Sir William Pipard, and secondly Joan, widow of John Wynnow, (fn. 99) and since he was recorded as sole lord of Fritwell in 1368, (fn. 100) his brother Richard may have died by this date. Warin died in 1382 holding Fritwell jointly with his wife, (fn. 101) who does not, however, appear to have continued to hold it. (fn. 102)
By his first wife Warin had a son, Gerard, who died in 1381, and a daughter Margaret, the wife of Thomas, Lord Berkeley. They inherited all Warin's lands, and in 1383 had possession of Fritwell. (fn. 103) Margaret died in 1392, and Thomas in 1417, leaving an only daughter Elizabeth, wife of Richard de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. (fn. 104) Thomas held Fritwell at his death, (fn. 105) and after Elizabeth's death in 1422 her husband retained the manor. (fn. 106) Richard and Elizabeth had three daughters, Margaret, Eleanor, and Elizabeth, and after Richard's death in 1439 (fn. 107) Fritwell passed to Eleanor. Eleanor's first husband, Thomas, Lord Ros, by whom she had a son Thomas, had died in 1430, and by 1436 she had married Edmund Beaufort, Earl and later Duke of Somerset. (fn. 108) By a settlement made in 1447, Fritwell was to pass to the male heirs of Edmund and Eleanor, with remainder to Eleanor's heirs. (fn. 109) Edmund was killed at the first battle of St. Albans in 1455, and his eldest son by Eleanor, Henry, Duke of Somerset, was attainted in 1461 and executed in 1464. (fn. 110) Fritwell had already been granted by Edward IV in 1462 to James Hyett. (fn. 111) Eleanor, who had married Walter Rokesley as her third husband, died in 1467, when her heir was found to be her grandson Edmund Ros. (fn. 112) But Edmund's father Thomas, Eleanor's son by her first husband, had been attainted after Towton and executed in 1464; (fn. 113) all his estates had been forfeited. According to the settlement of 1447, Fritwell should have gone to Edmund, Eleanor's second son by Edmund, Duke of Somerset, but he, the last of the house of Beaufort, also lay under attainder, and was beheaded in 1471. (fn. 114) Meanwhile Fritwell had been granted in 1467 to Edward IV's secretary, Master William Hatcliff. (fn. 115) In 1480, after his death, it was granted for life to Nicholas Southeworthe, clerk of the king's kitchen, (fn. 116) who probably held it until the accession of Henry VII.
In 1529 it was found that Fritwell had been occupied, presumably in 1485, by Edward, Duke of Buckingham, Mary, Countess Rivers, and Joan, Lady Howth. (fn. 117) Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, aged seven in 1485, was grandson of Humphrey Stafford, who had married Margaret, one of the daughters of Edmund and Eleanor Beaufort. (fn. 118) Lady Rivers was the daughter of Elizabeth, another daughter of Eleanor, while Lady Howth was probably Eleanor's only surviving daughter. (fn. 119) In 1506 these claimants handed over the manor to Sir Robert Spencer, (fn. 120) of Spencercombe (Devon), who must have based his claim on the right of his wife Eleanor, eldest daughter of Edmund and Eleanor Beaufort and widow of James Butler, Earl of Ormond and Wiltshire (see below). Since she had died in 1501, Sir Robert presumably sought the manor for her daughters. (fn. 121) In 1513, however, Henry VIII granted the manor to Walter Harper, Yeoman of the Male, and William Holmes for their lives. (fn. 122) Sir Robert duly gave up the manor. (fn. 123) It is clear that the king did not recognize any claim of the female line of the Beauforts. Although the attainder of the Ros family had been reversed in 1485, Edmund, the true heir of Fritwell, was found to be 'not of sufficient discretion to guide himself', (fn. 124) and his lands were reserved during the king's pleasure. (fn. 125) Edmund died without issue in 1508, and his title passed to his nephew George Manners, son of Thomas de Ros's daughter Eleanor. The family's claim to Fritwell was eventually recognized, for by 1571 Edward Manners, Earl of Rutland, was lord of the manor. (fn. 126)
In effect the earl seems to have been overlord, while the successors of Harper and Holmes remained the tenants of the manor. In 1530 Henry VIII granted the reversion of Fritwell to William Gunson or Gonson, whose son Christopher received the manor after the death of Harper and Holmes. Christopher died in 1553, leaving a son Benjamin, then aged about two, who eventually inherited Fritwell. (fn. 127) His son Anthony was baptized at Fritwell in 1575. (fn. 128) Within two years both father and son were dead, and in 1580 Benjamin's younger brother Anthony was found to be his heir. (fn. 129) William Andrews, who married Benjamin's widow Jane, claimed Fritwell from Anthony as her jointure, (fn. 130) but in 1587 Anthony's claims were upheld. (fn. 131) Soon after the manor passed to Edward, son of the George Yorke who had purchased the advowson of Fritwell in 1562. (fn. 132) Edward was living at Fritwell by 1584. (fn. 133) It is uncertain when he acquired the manor, but he appears by a series of conveyances to have purchased the overlordship from the Earl of Rutland and the lands from the Gonsons. (fn. 134)
Edward Yorke died in 1613. His son George succeeded to the manor (fn. 135) but sold it to Dr. Hugh Barker in 1626. (fn. 136) Barker died in 1632, and the manor was purchased from his widow Mary by Samuel Sandys about 1639. (fn. 137) Between 1647 and 1651 there was considerable litigation over it, apparently to establish Sandys' title. (fn. 138) It is uncertain at what date he sold Fritwell to Sir Samuel Danvers of Culworth (Warws.): Sir Samuel is said (fn. 139) to have come into residence at Fritwell in the early 1650's, but members of the Sandys family were still there in 1665. (fn. 140) Sir Samuel died in 1683, and was succeeded by his son Sir Pope Danvers. (fn. 141) He appears to have sold the manor to Sir Baldwin Wake, Bt., who already held the advowson. (fn. 142) The Wake family held the manor until 1770, when Sir William Wake sold it to John Freke Willes of Astrop (Northants). (fn. 143) Like his predecessors Willes was not continuously resident in Fritwell, but his daughter Frances, who married one of the Fermors (see below), lived in the manor-house after 1784. On Willes's death in 1802 the manor passed to his cousin, the Revd. William Shippen Willes. (fn. 144) The latter died in 1822, (fn. 145) and William, second son of John Freke Willes, who was occasionally resident, was lord of the manor (fn. 146) until 1863. He then sold it to Isaac Berridge, who in turn sold it to Samuel Yorke of Penzance, the holder of the advowson. In 1876 the manor was bought by William Remington, whose son the Revd. Reginald Remington came into residence in that year, (fn. 147) but the original estates of the De Lisle manor had long been split up and manorial rights seem to have lapsed after the time of Samuel Yorke. (fn. 148)
A Fritwell estate, assessed at 6 hides and held in 1086 by Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, (fn. 149) passed after his exile to the Arsic family, who remained overlords of the manor until 1230, when Robert, last of the male line, died. (fn. 150) Robert's possessions were divided between his daughters, Joan and Alexandra, and their husbands, Eustace de Grenville and Thomas de la Haye. (fn. 151) Fritwell seems to have fallen to Joan's portion, and by 1245 she and her second husband Stephen Simeon had granted the manor to Walter de Grey of Rotherfield. (fn. 152) The overlordship of this Fritwell manor, later known as ORMONDESCOURT, then followed the same descent in the Grey family (fn. 153) as one of the Fringford manors (fn. 154) until the early 14th century. Edmund Butler, the tenant of the manor, held it of John de Grey at his death in 1321, (fn. 155) but Edmund's successors, the Earls of Ormond, held the manor in chief and no more is heard of the Grey overlordship.
In 1086 Odo of Bayeux's tenant was his retainer Wadard, (fn. 156) who held many of his Oxfordshire manors. This manor next appears in the possession of Gilbert Pipard (fn. 157) of Rotherfield Peppard, a descendant of another Gilbert who had been steward to Miles Crispin in 1106–7. (fn. 158) Gilbert died on his way to the Holy Land in 1191 or 1192, and his brother and successor William died about 1195. He was succeeded in turn by his sons Walter (d. 1214) and Roger, who inherited the family lands in Ireland from his uncle Roger. He died in 1225, and his son William survived him by only two years, leaving a young daughter Alice as his heiress. Alice became the ward of Ralph FitzNicholas, who by 1242 married her to his younger son Ralph. (fn. 159) In 1243 Ralph held Fritwell of the honor of Arsic as ¼ knight's fee. (fn. 160) He died about 1265, (fn. 161) but the date of Alice's death is not known. Her son Ralph took the name of Pipard, and inherited Fritwell, where he was in possession in 1279. (fn. 162) On his death in 1303 he was succeeded by his grandson John, a minor, whose father Ralph had died by 1302. (fn. 163) By 1306 John too was dead, and was succeeded in 1309 by his uncle John. The latter married Maud, daughter of Theobald Butler, (fn. 164) and in 1310 granted the reversion of his English lands after his death to his brother-inlaw, Edmund Butler. (fn. 165) Although Edmund was said to be lord of the Arsic fee in Fritwell in 1316, (fn. 166) and although he received a grant of free warren in his demesnes at Fritwell in the same year, (fn. 167) John by the terms of his agreement with Edmund remained in possession until his death in 1331. (fn. 168)
Edmund Butler, twice Justiciar of Ireland, died in 1321, (fn. 169) and was succeeded by his son James, the future Earl of Ormond, (fn. 170) but then a minor. In 1328 he received a new grant of free warren at Fritwell, (fn. 171) although John Pipard was still alive. James died in 1338, leaving as his heir his second son James (II), aged seven, who eventually received his father's estates in 1347. Fritwell was held of James and his father by John de Alveton, (fn. 172) who was Sheriff of Oxfordshire for several terms between 1335 and 1354. (fn. 173) Since John died without known heirs in 1361 (fn. 174) his holding must have fallen in to his lord. James (II) Butler died in 1382, (fn. 175) and Fritwell was then held in dower by his widow Elizabeth until her death in 1390. (fn. 176) Her son James (III) succeeded her, and held 'Ormondescourt' manor until his death in 1405. (fn. 177) His son and successor James (IV) died in 1452; his grandson James (V), who had been created Earl of Wiltshire in 1449, married as his second wife Eleanor Beaufort, daughter of Edmund, Duke of Somerset, who held the former De Lisle manor in Fritwell in his wife's right (see above). Like his father-in-law, James was one of the leaders of the Lancastrian faction, and was beheaded after the battle of Towton in 1461. (fn. 178) 'Ormondescourt' was forfeited to the Crown, and between 1462 and 1485 it shared the history of the De Lisle manor, being held in turn by James Hyett, William Hatcliff, and Nicholas Southeworthe. (fn. 179)
James Butler's brother and heir, John, died in 1477, but his younger brother Thomas, after the reversal of his attainder by Henry VII, (fn. 180) seems to have recovered Fritwell. It passed on his death in 1515 to his daughter and coheiress Margaret, the widow of Sir William Boleyn and the mother of Sir Thomas, later Lord Rochford. (fn. 181) By 1519 Margaret and Sir Thomas had alienated the manor to Richard Fermor, merchant of the Staple at Calais. (fn. 182) Richard continued to live at Easton Neston (Northants) and Fritwell was held by his younger brother William, who also acquired Somerton. On his death in 1552 William was succeeded by his nephew Thomas, younger son of Richard. (fn. 183) By his will, made in 1580, Thomas left Fritwell to his son Richard Fermor of Somerton, (fn. 184) who died in 1643.
The 'Ormond' manor remained in the possession of the Fermor family, which lived at Tusmore after 1643, until the death of William Fermor in 1828. He left the manor to his illegitimate daughter Maria, the wife of Capt. John Turner Ramsay. (fn. 185)
The Ramsays divided all their property between their children. In 1857 Fritwell manor was bought by Henry Howard, Earl of Effingham, (fn. 186) who sold the estate within a few years in several lots. By 1867 the greater part of the original manor had been bought by Pembroke College, Oxford, which held it until 1923, (fn. 187) but manorial rights lapsed when the estate was broken up.
Economic and Social History.
In 1086 there were two manorial estates: (fn. 188) the larger, which was to become the De Lisle manor, had 8 ploughlands, but only 6 plough-teams. The demesne had 2 plough-teams and 2 serfs at work, while 8 villeins (villani), and 6 bordars shared 4 plough-teams. There had been a drop in value since the Conquest from £7 to £6.
The smaller manor, the later Ormond manor, had 4 plough-teams and was worth £3 as before the conquest. Only 1 plough-team and 1 serf are recorded on the demesne and there were 4 villeins and 1 bordar with 1½ plough-teams. There were 32 acres of meadow, 20 on one manor and 12 on the other. (fn. 189) Thus on both the estates, neither of which was fully cultivated, there was a recorded working population of 22, a number which had almost doubled by 1279, when 40 tenants are mentioned for the two manors. (fn. 190) At that time there were 58 virgates under cultivation: 16 were in demesne, 12½ were held by freeholders, and the rest by customary tenants. Since at the time of the inclosure award (fn. 191) the open fields were reckoned as 68 yardlands, it would appear that 10 virgates were as yet uncultivated.
On the De Lisle manor in 1279, where there were 8 virgates in demesne, 14 peasants (servi) held a virgate each for a rent of 6s. the virgate, and worked, paid tallages at will, and fines if their sons left the manor. Three cottagers with a few acres each paid 5s. rent and did no labour services. Of the 6 free tenants, the most important was Philip Stiward, who held 3 virgates at a rent of 9s. and for suit at the hundred and county courts. The 5 other free tenants had holdings of various sizes, ranging from 2 acres to a virgate. St. Frideswide's Priory, the only religious house to hold land in the parish, had 1½ virgate. (fn. 192)
The Ormond manor had by now expanded its demesne to 8 virgates. As on the other manor, there were 14 villein virgaters owing the same services and paying rent. Five paid 4s. and nine 6s. There were also 2 cottagers, with 2 acres apiece, who each paid 2s. The free tenant with the largest holding was the Rector of Souldern, (fn. 193) with 1 hide, while of the others one held 2 virgates for 12s. and the other, John son of Guy, held a virgate and as much meadow as belonged to 3 hides of land. (fn. 194)
An early-14th-century extent of the De Lisle manor gives further information about these tenants. (fn. 195) There were five classes: free tenants who paid only a money rent; free tenants holding in free socage, who paid a money rent and worked for the lord when the meadow was mown; villeins, who paid rent and worked one day in autumn—certainly no more than the free tenants; and villein sokemen and cottars, both of whom worked in autumn. The total value of the manor then was about £20, and the greater part of the revenue, more than £15, came from the rent of villeins. This had more than doubled since 1279, each villein paying about 13s. Other developments were that the size of the demesne had decreased, and the number of tenants, especially cottagers, had increased. A less detailed extent of the other manor, taken the next year, shows that this manor, valued at £74s. 8d., was considerably less rich. (fn. 196)
Many of the inhabitants were moderately prosperous. Thirty-four were assessed for taxation in 1316. (fn. 197) By far the richest was William of Tingewick, assessed at 15s. 8d., who may have been a tenant of one of the manors; eleven others were fairly substantial men. The subsidy list of 1524 with 21 names listed shows that wealth continued to be fairly widely distributed. (fn. 198)
From this point until the 18th century the history of Fritwell is a blank. The earliest indication of the field system dates from about 1700. There were then seven fields, and deeds relating to several small pieces of property (¼, ½, and ¾ yardland in extent) show that each holding was divided among these seven fields. Holders of arable strips had been entitled to common for 5 beasts and 30 sheep for each yardland, but at the end of the 17th century this was reduced to 4 beasts and 25 sheep. (fn. 199)
From the inclosure map of 1808 it is possible to work out the approximate position of the fields. (fn. 200) In the west of the parish there were three fields: Meadway Field, in the western corner; next to it Wheatland Field, running from the northern to the southern boundary; and east of that, bounded on the north by the Souldern Hedge road and on the east by the road from Souldern to Fritwell, lay Darlow Field. The eastern part of the parish was divided into four fields, whose positions are not so easy to define, since furlong rather than field names are commonly used. The south-east corner of the parish, to the east of Raghouse Lane, was South Field; north of that, along the eastern boundary on both sides of the Souldern—Bicester road, lay Lindon Field; Horwell Field was in the north of the parish towards Ockley Brook; and between the Souldern Hedge road and the Souldern—Bicester road, south of the Bear Inn, lay Souldern Field. South of the village, on the west of Raghouse Lane, was the cow common, sometimes also called Fritwell Moor, and in the north-east corner were the Leys.
Except for the cow common, almost the whole parish, as might be expected in the middle of the Napoleonic War, was arable. (fn. 201) Fritwell was noticeably lacking in meadow-land, probably the reason why it had a detached portion of 135 acres on the east bank of the Cherwell—the meadow mentioned in Domesday Book (fn. 202) and in the 14th century. (fn. 203) Before inclosure each land-holder was entitled to a certain proportion of this meadow-land, known as Fritwell Meadow, the exact location to be decided by lot before the hay was cut. Every yardland also had a certain allotment of fuel from the 'meadlands', (fn. 204) which must have been more wooded than now (1955).
Fritwell was notable in the 18th century for its large number of freeholders. While the smaller manor consisted of about 600 acres, (fn. 205) and was thus virtually intact, the lands of the larger manor had been sold, only 236 acres remaining. Much of this land had probably been bought by yeoman farmers, and in 1754 there were twenty-nine 40s. freeholders in Fritwell, the largest number in Ploughley hundred except for Bicester. (fn. 206) Twenty-one of these lived in the parish.
A churchwardens' rate of 1746 shows how the land was held. (fn. 207) Of the 24 people who paid the rate, eleven, excluding the lord of the manor, had a yardland or more. Farms had started to grow larger, for there were six farms of from 5 to 6 yardlands. Nine of the larger farmers were freeholders, (fn. 208) but they may have also rented part of the Fermor land. In the early 18th century the land of this manor, consisting of about 28 yardlands, was divided among seven tenant farmers and a few cottagers, and let on a yearly tenancy of about £5 a yardland. (fn. 209)
Because Fritwell yeoman families owned their own land they show an unusual continuity. Of the eleven farmers who held a yardland or more in 1746, Kilby and Wise were from families which had been in the parish since the 16th century, (fn. 210) and Colley, Rand, and Hickock were from families which had been there since the 17th. In 1665 these were the families which had the largest houses in the village, (fn. 211) but about 100 years later they neither owned nor rented any of the principal farms, although several of their members remained in the parish. (fn. 212) The Kilby farm, for example, was sold to the Fermors, and the Hickock farm, once the property of William Hickock (d. 1638), (fn. 213) had become the Court Farm. (fn. 214)
The yeoman family of Hopcroft had the longest connexion with Fritwell. In 1279 Philip de Oppercroft was a villein virgater; (fn. 215) by the early 16th century there were five Hopcroft households, some of them fairly prosperous. (fn. 216) The family throve throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1754 two Hopcrofts were freeholders, (fn. 217) but by the early 19th century the Hopcrofts were smallholders or cottagers (fn. 218) and soon disappeared altogether.
The subdivision of the land undoubtedly delayed inclosure. In the 1570's the tenant of the manor appears to have attempted to inclose. A number of 'poore men' petitioned the Earl of Rutland, the lord, against their threatened eviction and offered to purchase their land. (fn. 219) Inclosure was evidently prevented, for in 1790 and 1791 another attempt was made. Some of the landowners petitioned Parliament for an inclosure bill, but William Fermor, by far the largest landowner, successfully opposed it on the grounds, it is said, (fn. 220) that it was proposed to commute the tithes beyond their value. (fn. 221)
When inclosure finally came in 1808, only 100 acres out of 681/8 yardlands or 1,850–1,900 acres had been inclosed. (fn. 222) By the award, William Fermor received 715 acres; W. S. Willes 236 acres, and 252 as commutation for the great tithes; the vicar 85 as commutation for the small tithes; the Rector of Souldern 122; three proprietors received from about 50 to 100 acres; twelve under 20 acres and 23 cottagers received under an acre each. (fn. 223)
After inclosure the greater part of the land was divided into medium-sized farms, let to tenants. The Fermor manor consisted of four such farms of 140 to 220 acres: two were Fritwell and Dovehouse farms, and one formed part of Roundhill farm in Stoke Lyne. (fn. 224) To the other manor belonged two farms: one of 298 acres, with a farm-house near the church, (fn. 225) part of the land of which later became Inkerman farm, (fn. 226) and the Great Tithe farm. (fn. 227) In the mid-19th century the land belonging to both the manors was broken up and sold to various owners. (fn. 228) Other farms were Inland farm, belonging to the Rector of Souldern, (fn. 229) and Court farm, the only large freehold farm. (fn. 230) In 1956 there were 12 farms. Out of their 1,298 acres, 786 acres were grassland and 512 arable. (fn. 231)
Apart from the usual village craftsmen Fritwell has had a succession of clockmakers. In the 17th century there was George Harris (1614–94), (fn. 232) a clockmaker of repute, (fn. 233) who made among others the clock of Hanwell church; in the mid-18th century and early 19th century there was Thomas Jennings, followed by William Jennings. (fn. 234) Quarrying and brick-making were also local occupations. (fn. 235) The size of the village encouraged an increase in craftsmen and tradesmen. In the 1850's there were three public houses (fn. 236) and a number of shops. Craftsmen included a straw-bonnet maker, a harness-maker, a cordwainer, a maltster, and a brazier. Lace-making was a considerable home industry and several lacemakers were recorded in the 1851 census. (fn. 237) At the end of the century Blomfield commented on the high number of resident tradesmen.
Since at least the 17th century Fritwell has had a comparatively large population. Forty houses were listed for the hearth tax of 1662 and these can hardly have been more than a portion for in 1676 the adult population numbered 252, the fourth highest figure in the Bicester deanery. At the first official census in 1801 there were 396 inhabitants. The number increased until 1891 when it reached 560. It had dropped to 468 by 1931, but rose again to 497 in 1951. (fn. 238)
The dedication to the Norwegian saint, Olave, suggests that Fritwell's church was dedicated in the 11th century. (fn. 239) In 1103 a grant was made of its tithes (see below). By 1166 Ralph Foliot, the tenant of the De Chesney manor in Fritwell, had given the church to St. Frideswide's Priory. (fn. 240) The gift was many times confirmed: by Pope Alexander III, by King John, and by Ralph Foliot, probably the donor's son, around 1200. (fn. 241) In 1219 a final concord was made between Henry Foliot and the priory whereby he quitclaimed all right to the advowson in return for his association in its prayers and almsgiving. (fn. 242)
Although the advowson was granted by Edward IV with the manor to James Hyett in 1462, (fn. 243) this was evidently a mistake: the Hyetts never claimed the church, and St. Frideswide's held the advowson until its dissolution in 1524. (fn. 244) Fritwell was then granted to Cardinal Wolsey, who gave it to his Oxford college. (fn. 245) On the Cardinal's disgrace, Henry VIII became patron and in 1532 granted the advowson to his own foundation at Oxford. (fn. 246) Nevertheless in 1552 it was bought from the Crown for 'ready money' by Thomas Cecil, gentleman, and Philip Bolde, cloth-worker of London, and in 1562 by George Yorke. (fn. 247) After Yorke's son Edward had purchased the manor, the descent of the advowson followed that of the manor until the late 17th century. (fn. 248) The Sandys family then sold the manor. The advowson was sold separately to Sir Samuel Jones, a rich London merchant. (fn. 249) He died in 1672 leaving as heir his sister's grandson Samuel Wake (d. 1713) of Waltham Abbey (Herts.). (fn. 250) His descendants continued to hold the advowson until it was sold with the manor in 1770 to John Freke Willes. (fn. 251) In the mid-18th century on account of the slender endowments of their vicarages the patrons of Fritwell and North Aston made an informal arrangement, lasting until 1833, to hold the vicarages together. They presented alternately. (fn. 252)
In 1862 the sale of the advowson gave rise to a legal problem which puzzled Bishop Wilberforce. It was bought by friends of the Revd. Samuel Yorke (fn. 253) with the purpose of presenting him to the vicarage. The law was that if an advowson were sold while a benefice was vacant, the former patron still had the right to present; if the patron had received an unusually high price for the sale and presented as the agent of the purchaser, the presentation would be simoniacal and therefore void. After legal consultation, it was decided that the presentation should stand, although the case was not 'free from doubt'. The advowson passed with the manor from the Yorkes to the Remingtons (fn. 254) and in 1911 to Lord Simon, who gave it in 1934 to the present patron, Wadham College. (fn. 255)
According to the ordination of the vicarage, St. Frideswide's as appropriator was entitled to most of the great tithes and the land belonging to the church. (fn. 256) In 1254 the rectory was worth £5 6s. 8d.; in 1291 £8 13s. 4d.; but by the 16th century its value had decreased to £4 13s. 4d. (fn. 257) By the inclosure award of 1808 the lay rector of Fritwell received 251 acres in exchange for the land formerly held by St. Frideswide's, and the tithes. (fn. 258) Later, probably in about 1860, when the lay rectory was separated from the advowson, most of this land, which carried with it the obligation to repair the chancel, was sold to Henry Crook of Souldern. In 1935 the owner of the property, which was sometimes known as the Great Tithe farm, (fn. 259) questioned his responsibility, and the case was heard in 1936. The Parochial Church Council was plaintiff and judgement was given for it. (fn. 260)
In the Middle Ages St. Frideswide's took part in a number of tithe disputes. The earliest was with Cogges Priory, founded in 1103 by Manasses Arsic, lord of one of the Fritwell manors. At its foundation he had granted it two-thirds of his demesne tithes. (fn. 261) In about 1166, after some controversy, the priory gave up its claim in return for a pension of 2s. (fn. 262) No later record has been found of this payment either to the priory or to Eton College, its successor at Cogges. Another controversy was with Walter Foliot, Rector of Noke, who in 1229 claimed a third of the tithes, both great and small, of the demesne of Roger Foliot in Fritwell. He was evidently a relative of the Foliots, but it is not clear on what he based his claim, and after the case was heard by papal commissioners he renounced it. (fn. 263) At about the same time there was a somewhat similar dispute with Elias, Rector of Ardley, who claimed certain tithes of sheaves (garbarum), and of hay in Fritwell meadow, from the lord of Ardley. The rector agreed after an inquiry by papal commissioners to pay a pension of 2s. a year for life to St. Frideswide's in return for these tithes. (fn. 264) A more protracted dispute occurred over the tithes on a hide of land in Fritwell called Sulthorn (i.e. Souldern), which was the glebe of Souldern church. (fn. 265) St. Frideswide's held at least 1½ virgates which had once belonged to Fritwell church: (fn. 266) a virgate had been given in about 1200, and the grant of another 10½ acres was confirmed in the mid-13th century by Fulk de Banville for the gift of a knife and a weekly mass from Ralph the priest. (fn. 267) In 1341 Fritwell glebe was valued at 26s. 8d. (fn. 268)
When the vicarage was first ordained by Bishop Hugh de Welles (1209–35), (fn. 269) it was arranged for the vicar to get the obventions from the altar, the small tithes, (fn. 270) and all tithes on 3 virgates of land. He was also to have a croft and messuage, the other church land going to St. Frideswide's Priory. His income was supposed to be £3 6s. 8d., a half of the church's value; in 1254 (fn. 271) the vicarage was valued at 13s. 4d. and in 1291 at less than £5. (fn. 272) In 1535 it was worth £7 9s. 4d. (fn. 273)
After the Reformation Fritwell was considered a poor living, worth no more than £40 in 1718, (fn. 274) and freed from paying tenths because of poverty. (fn. 275) The sources of its income, described in a terrier of 1584, (fn. 276) were an annual payment of £2 13s. 4d. from the rectory the small tithes from the whole parish and the tithes of corn and hay on 3 yardlands (i.e. the 3 virgates of the original ordination), and on all closes in Fritwell 'town'. At the inclosure award of 1808 the vicar's tithes were commuted for 85 acres of land (fn. 277) and the rent of this land, usually a little over £100, (fn. 278) formed almost the only income of the living. There were about 80 acres of glebe. (fn. 279)
The medieval vicars were undistinguished. The only university graduate connected with the church before the 16th century was Master Richard de Hunsingore, official of the Archdeacon of Oxford (fn. 280) and a benefactor of two Oxford colleges. (fn. 281) He was not vicar, but in 1317 the bishop licensed St. Frideswide's to farm the church to him on condition that the cure of souls was not neglected. (fn. 282)
During the 15th century the priory frequently served its appropriated churches with its own canons, but only two seem to have been vicars of Fritwell. It is doubtful, however, how far they performed their duties. One, Master Robert Brice (1520–4), was absent from the visitation of St. Frideswide's in 1520 on the grounds that he was serving Fritwell, (fn. 283) but a few years later he is known to have been paying a curate £6 out of his income of £7 9s. 4d. (fn. 284) Furthermore, at an episcopal visitation of this period, Fritwell was found to be in much the same state of neglect as other churches: the vicar was nonresident, the chancel and Vicarage were ruinous, the vestry had not been repaired, the seats in the choir and the windows of the chancel were broken, and the churchwardens were unjustly detaining an altar vestment lent them by the wardens of Ardley. (fn. 285)
An unusually long series of churchwardens' accounts, beginning in 1568, (fn. 286) throws light on church life (there was a library, for instance, of ten books) and shows the important part in church administration played by the wardens. They were chosen in turn from among the chief householders of the parish until John Palmer, vicar from 1711 to 1729, nominated one in spite of protests; they regularly attended the archdeacon's visitation, one held at Bicester or Oxford in May or June, the other at Islip in October. In 1659, during the troubled period of the Commonwealth, they had to appear in Oxford 'upon business concerning our minister', perhaps the Job Dashfield who appears as minister in 1654.
In the 17th and 18th centuries the parish had the advantage of having a number of well-educated and learned men as vicars. There was John Hunt (1608– 39), (fn. 287) a 'preacher', who seems to have resided for some years at Fritwell; Theophilus Tilden (1668– 90), principal of Magdalen Hall and a frequent preacher at St. Mary's; (fn. 288) and John Davies (1703–11), who was considered a good scholar and preacher by Hearne, and became Vice-Principal of Hart Hall. (fn. 289) But most was done for the parish by Davies's predecessor Robert Wake (1691–1703), a brother of the patron. He had the church repaired, increased the number of communion services from two to four, preached sermons (two of which were published), and kept the register and church accounts carefully. (fn. 290) William Vaughan (1729–40) (fn. 291) began the custom of holding North Aston and Fritwell together; he lived at Fritwell, had one service in each of his parishes on Sundays, and administered the sacrament five times a year. (fn. 292)
The union of the parishes ended in 1833, when Henry Linton (1799–1833), who had never lived on either of his Oxfordshire livings and had little interest in them, resigned Fritwell. (fn. 293) The neglect of the parish continued during the unfortunate ministry of William Rawlings (1836–62), (fn. 294) the 'great weakness' of whose intellect, according to Bishop Wilberforce, 'was one cause of his useless life and sins'. (fn. 295) After his suspension in 1852, it was reported that in spite of the thorough neglect of the parish the congregations, averaging about 200, were increasing; (fn. 296) that on the other hand there were many dissenters, 'who sometimes go to one place, sometimes to another'; 'that there was drunkenness among the farmers'; that there was a 'great want of eloquent preaching'; and that the church was too damp for most of the congregation to kneel if they wished. (fn. 297) The church and Vicarage were later put in order by Samuel Yorke (1863–74), who lived at the manorhouse and did much good work in the parish. (fn. 298)
The church of ST. OLAVE is a stone building comprising chancel, nave, north and south aisles, western tower, and south porch. The Romanesque chancel arch, now inserted in the north wall of the chancel, the nave arcades, and the north and south doorways are the oldest parts of the church. The north door has cable mouldings on the dripstone terminating in two grotesque animal heads, and the south door is surmounted by a tympanum with a carving representing two monsters on either side of a tree. (fn. 299) The chancel was rebuilt early in the 13th century, when the south aisle and tower were added. Some lancet windows remain in the chancel and south aisle. The north aisle was added early in the 14th century. In the 15th century a good deal of work was done to the building: the former clerestory with its square-headed windows was probably built then; some new windows were inserted in the aisles; and a battlemented top story was added to the tower.
Work costing £22 was done to the church in 1694, (fn. 300) and in 1718 Rawlinson described the building as 'very neat' and 'in good repair'. (fn. 301) Minor repairs were carried out in the second half of the 18th century and in the early 19th century. (fn. 302) But a period of neglect followed, and in 1852 and 1853 the roofs of the chancel and the nave were said to be in a bad condition. (fn. 303) In 1854 the curate thought the church 'in the most disgraceful possible condition and unsafe to minister in'. (fn. 304) The lay rector promised to repair the chancel. (fn. 305) In 1864, largely owing to the vicar, Samuel Yorke, a drastic restoration costing £2,000 was undertaken (architect G. E. Street). (fn. 306) As the medieval tower was cracked, it was rebuilt with a pyramidal roof covered with shingles; both chancel walls, the north wall of the nave, and the south porch were also rebuilt; the clerestory was removed and replaced by a new high-pitched roof; a new chancel arch was built, and the original one, being considered too narrow, was moved to its present position; a new east window was inserted and the former square-headed one was moved to the north aisle; the western gallery was taken down; new seating was put in, in imitation of the seats found during restoration work; and heating was installed. (fn. 307)
The font is octagonal, with carving in low relief. (fn. 308) There is a 13th-century holy-water stoup in the chancel and a medieval oak bench in the nave. The organ loft has Jacobean panels taken from an old pew. (fn. 309) The woodwork of a finely carved pew, erected by Edward Yorke, was taken to the manor-house during the restoration of 1864. (fn. 310) Part of the rood loft was still in position in 1823. (fn. 311)
There is a brass inscription to William Hickock (d. 1638). (fn. 312) Inscriptions to Richard Hickock (d. 1708/9), William Vaughan, vicar (d. 1740), James Hakewill, vicar (d. 1798), two daughters of Laurence Lord (early 18th cent.), and Mary Court (d. 1824), a descendant of the Hickocks, have disappeared.
In 1552 the plate consisted of a chalice, censer, and brass 'holywater stooke' and candlesticks. (fn. 313) By 1593 there were a communion cup, a pewter ewer and dish, and a brass pan. (fn. 314) In 1722 the plate was still pewter, except for a silver cup which had been given by Mary Barker. (fn. 315) This was probably the silver chalice, dated 1637, the only pre-19th-century plate which the church had in 1955. (fn. 316)
In 1955 there were four bells instead of the three bells of 1552. The second and tenor were made in 1612 and 1618, the third, recast in 1665, may be of 16th-century or earlier date, and the sanctus bell probably dates from the 16th century. (fn. 317)
In the churchyard in 1955 was the remains of a cross, restored in 1913. (fn. 318)
In the late 16th and early 17th century five recusant women were several times fined. (fn. 319) In 1644 Elizabeth Hatton was the only recusant assessed for the subsidy levied in that year, and in 1676 two others were listed. (fn. 320) Throughout the 18th century there was a moderately large community. In 1706 Samuel Cox and his wife, the daughter of Richard Kilby of Souldern, (fn. 321) were returned as papists, together with the yeoman family of Hore, a maltster, and a few others. (fn. 322) The Coxes were succeeded as tenants of the Fermor manor-house by Sir Edward Longueville (d. 1718), a prominent Roman Catholic. (fn. 323) The number of papists increased towards the end of the century: in 1738 there were said to be only 5, but by 1767 there were 21, including a maltster and a wheelwright with their families. (fn. 324) Some were tenants of the Fermors, and a priest from Tusmore visited the parish. (fn. 325) By 1808 a Roman Catholic school had been opened, and 37 Roman Catholics were reported to be living in the parish in 1817. (fn. 326) The community, however, declined rapidly in the next 40 years, and no Roman Catholics were recorded in 1854, or at later visitations. (fn. 327) At the end of the century there was a revival, when Thomas Garner, (fn. 328) who was converted in 1897, obtained permission to have mass said at the manor-house. (fn. 329) Peter Collingridge (1757–1829), Roman Catholic Bishop of Thespiae and a prominent Franciscan, was connected with Fritwell, (fn. 330) for his father lived there when an old man.
Two Protestant dissenters are recorded in the 1680's, (fn. 331) but in the 18th century there is no report of dissent. The early 19th century saw the growth of Methodism. In 1808 the two schoolmasters were nonconformists, (fn. 332) in 1823 six Methodists were returned, (fn. 333) and in 1829 a house was licensed as a Methodist meeting-place. (fn. 334) This may have been the first Methodist chapel, which was built about that time. (fn. 335) In 1853 it was described as a plain stone building; it was visited by local preachers and by a circuit preacher on the first Monday of each month; (fn. 336) its congregation was nearly a hundred. (fn. 337) In 1874 a new chapel was built at a cost of £281, (fn. 338) and this was still in use early in the 20th century. (fn. 339)
There was also a Reformed Methodist congregation, and in 1853 a 'neat' stone chapel, served by local preachers, was reported to be nearly finished. (fn. 340) By 1878 the nonconformists were said to form about a third of the population. (fn. 341) Their numbers later decreased, and by 1920 the two Methodist societies had amalgamated. (fn. 342) The Reformed chapel was still in use in 1955 and was a member of the Wesleyan Reform Union. (fn. 343)
About 1685 a few children were being taught in the church. (fn. 344) A school, opened about 1795, was held in the vicarage barn and was supported by the children's parents. (fn. 345) In 1808 there were two schools, both kept by dissenters, with 30 children, while four Roman Catholic children were taught by a co-religionist. (fn. 346) Only one school survived in 1815 (fn. 347) and that had closed by 1818. (fn. 348) In 1833 there was a school for 30 children; (fn. 349) in the 1850's it was held in the Vicarage and was supported by voluntary contributions and the children's pence. (fn. 350) There were 67 pupils in 1871. (fn. 351)
In 1872 a new school affiliated to the National Society and a mistress's house were completed at a cost of £700. Two teachers were appointed for 64 pupils. The school was supported by a voluntary rate of 4d. in the pound in 1878. (fn. 352) In 1928 £1,500 was raised by public subscription, and in 1930, when a new classroom was opened, children from Ardley, Fewcot, Somerton, Souldern, and Stoke Lyne were admitted. The average attendance, which had been 87 in 1893, (fn. 353) was 119 in 1937, and in 1939 77 evacuees were received. In 1948 the school was reorganized as a junior school and the older children were sent to Steeple Aston. The school was controlled in 1953. There were 77 pupils in 1954. (fn. 354)
William Hickock (d. 1638) (fn. 355) gave to the poor an annual rent charge of £2 on lands in the parish. (fn. 356) In the 18th century this was distributed at Easter and Christmas, and by 1824 at Christmas only, either in bread or coal. (fn. 357) Between 1935 and 1952 the charity was regularly applied to buy coal for ten widows at Christmas. (fn. 358)
An unknown donor gave a rent charge of £1 on South Field Farm before 1786. It was distributed with Hickock's Charity in 1824 (fn. 359) and appears to have still been paid in 1852, (fn. 360) but in 1935 it was said to have been in abeyance for many years. (fn. 361)
The Town Stock of £20 is mentioned from 1737 onwards. It was thought lost in 1750, but was recovered in 1755. Up to 1793 it was held by local landowners, and the interest at 10 per cent. was distributed to the poor each year. (fn. 362) In 1824 it was again reported lost (fn. 363)—but in 1872 £20 'town stock' was given to the school building fund. (fn. 364)
In 1859 an unknown donor paid £20 into Bicester Savings Bank for the poor of Fritwell. (fn. 365)