Parishes: East Ilsley

A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.

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, 'Parishes: East Ilsley', in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4, (London, 1924) pp. 24-31. British History Online [accessed 23 May 2024].

. "Parishes: East Ilsley", in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4, (London, 1924) 24-31. British History Online, accessed May 23, 2024,

. "Parishes: East Ilsley", A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4, (London, 1924). 24-31. British History Online. Web. 23 May 2024,

In this section


Hildeslei, Eldeslai (xi cent.); Hildele, Odesle, Hildeslegh, Estylstod, Estyldesle, Estchildesley, Esthildesle, Estillesley (xiii cent.); Ildesle, Hilderle, East Tillesley, Yildersley, Hillesley (xv cent.); Illyssley, Estillysley (xvi cent.); Estilsley, Estillsley, Illesley, East Hillesley, East Islesley, East Ilsley (xvii cent.).

The parish of East Ilsley covers an area of 3,017 acres, of which 1,082 acres are arable land, 1,328 permanent grass and 80 acres woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The soil is chalk and gravel with a subsoil of flint and chalk, and the chief crops are wheat, barley, oats, turnips and seed-hay. A large part of the parish is occupied by downs used for sheep walks. The parishioners have the right of cutting furze upon several of these downs and the use of 200 acres as a cow common, but Banager Scrubs, the old horse common, has now been ploughed up. As recently as 1852 there were still common fields, and the 50 acres constituting the vicar's glebe were scattered about in the open fields of the township. (fn. 2)

The chief slope of the land is from south-west to south-east, where the height varies between 600 ft. and 350 ft. above the ordnance datum. Windmill Down, the highest point, is probably the site of the East Ilsley mill mentioned in the beginning of the 14th century. (fn. 3) The name of Woolners, the smallest of the East Ilsley manors, is still retained in Woolners Borders, an open space surrounded by plantations, and in Woolners Barn and Woolners Road. The Icknield Way, entering the parish from the north-west at the north of the village, runs in a south-easterly direction towards Compton. A great number of old wagon tracks run across the downs to Ilsley, showing that the traffic to this place was always considerable.

A portion of Grimsdyke (fn. 4) is to be seen near the Icknield Way, and not far off, in the vicinity of the boundary mounds which mark the north-eastern limits of the parish, are some tumuli. Evidences of Romano-British occupation have been found at Stanmore Farm. (fn. 5) There are a few disused chalk and gravel-pits in the district.

The village, which is 2 miles from Compton station, is prettily situated in a hollow in undulating downland. The church stands on high ground overlooking the village from the south, and at the foot of the road leading up to it is a large pond. The Manor Farm, for many years occupied by the family of Hildesley, stands between the church and the rectory. The cattle market is on the east side of the Newbury road at the south-west of the village. The cottages and houses are generally built of brick with tile roofs and are mostly of 18th-century date or modern. On the south side of Broad Street is a fine 18th-century house, built of red brick with a tiled roof, and two stories in height with an attic lighted by gabled dormer windows. Over the doorway is a projecting hood and at the eaves a wooden modillion cornice. On the opposite side is a house of the same date with brick pilasters and a moulded brick cornice. At the west end of the road and on the same side is another fair-sized residence of the same period, though of a rather less ornate design. There is a small Baptist chapel in the village built in 1864.

Ilsley Hall, originally built by the Moores who owned the manor in the 17th century, is now the residence of Capt. E. E. West. It was formerly occupied by Stephen Hemsted, whose failure to induce the women of Ilsley to learn to spin is celebrated in the old rhyme,

'Ilsley remote amid the Berkshire Downs,
Claims three distinctions o'er her sister towns,
Far famed for sheep and wool, tho' not for spinners,
For sportsmen, doctors, publicans and sinners.' (fn. 6)

The village still maintains its reputation with regard to sportsmen and publicans.

Keats Gore, the mansion belonging to the family of Keate, which lay at the foot of Gore Hill, was rented by the Duke of Cumberland, the brother of George II, who built the famous racing stables there. At the beginning of the 19th century both the house and stables were pulled down, but the neighbouring down is still called The Park, and until about 1850 the racecourse, which has now been obliterated by the plough, could still be seen. Though the training of racehorses is still one of the principal occupations of the inhabitants, East Ilsley is chiefly noted for its sheep fair, which is one of the largest in England. Almeric de St. Amand, lord of the manor in the reigns of Henry III and Edward I, set up a market here on Tuesdays, which he claimed under a charter of Henry III. It was said to be injurious to the king's market at Wallingford. (fn. 7) Sir Francis Moore in his digest of his title to the manor, compiled in the reign of James I, states 'that the Tuesday market for corn was discontinued, but that a sheep market was held every Wednesday from Hocktide to St. James' tide, and a yearly fair at the Feast of the Assumption.' Sir Francis obtained a charter confirming his right to a market for corn and grain and all other merchandise, and 'to take such toll as the Borough of Reading doth,' also a grant of piccage and stallage and a court of pie-powder with all the fines, forfeitures and amerciaments thereof. Under the charter it was forbidden to have sales at Cuckhamsley, where they had previously been held, under pain of the king's displeasure, the new site for the market being an inclosed square which has since been planted and is now known as the Warren. The markets are held by arrangement once or twice a month on Wednesdays from January to September. They increased rapidly until the middle of the 18th century, no less than 80,000 sheep being penned in one day and 55,000 sold, the yearly average amounting to 400,000. (fn. 8) In addition to the markets there are numerous fairs, the two largest being on 1 August and 26 August, while those at Easter, Whitsuntide, in September, October and at Hallowtide (on Wednesday after 12 November) draw dealers and graziers from all parts of the county. There is also a hiring fare in October. The wool fair has increased in importance and has been much encouraged by the annual presentation of two silver cups given by the Marquess of Downshire and other landowners to be competed for by the wool staplers and farmers. At one of the agricultural meetings formerly held at Ilsley the chairman wore a coat made from fleeces shorn in the morning, made into cloth at Newbury, and fashioned into a coat before the evening. The wheat market, on the other hand, declined before the 17th century, and the making of the Avon and Kennet Canal in 1795 practically put an end to the trade. The manufacture of whiting, which existed in the middle of the 19th century, has since been given up. Petty sessions are held at East Ilsley.

The Windmill, East Ilsley

Ilsley, like other parishes in the neighbourhood, was involved in the disturbances of the Civil War, and the Parliamentary army encamped there one night when pursuing the king and his troops on their way to the relief of Donnington Castle.


In 1086 two holdings in Ilsley, consisting of 1 hide and 10 hides respectively, were in the possession of Geoffrey de Mandeville, with Saswall or Sewall as sub-tenant. (fn. 9) These together probably became the manor of EAST ILSLEY. By the beginning of the 13th century the overlordship had passed to the Earl of Hereford, (fn. 10) who married Maud, the Mandeville heiress, and whose heirs retained it until 1373, (fn. 11) when, on the death of Humphrey de Bohun without male heirs, it devolved upon his daughters and co-heirs. By the marriage of Mary, one of these co-heirs, to Henry Bolingbroke, afterwards Henry IV, it became parcel of the duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 12)

The manor was held from 1086 until the 13th century by Sewall and his descendants, (fn. 13) one of whom is said to have enfeoffed Ralph de St. Amand, in the reign of Henry III. (fn. 14) Almeric son of Ralph was holding in 1256 (fn. 15) and in 1276 claimed the return of all writs at Ilsley, and also gallows and assize of bread and ale. (fn. 16) He died seised of the manor in 1285, (fn. 17) and, his heir Guy being a minor, the custody of his lands was granted to William de Monterville. (fn. 18) Guy died in 1290, shortly after attaining his majority, leaving his brother Almeric as his heir and a widow Lucy. (fn. 19) Almeric died without issue in 1310, and was succeeded by a third brother John. (fn. 20) This John was sued in 1328 by the Bishop of Winchester for taking toll from the bishop's men, who were quit of toll throughout England. (fn. 21) His son Almeric de St. Amand settled the manor in 1330, (fn. 22) and on his death in 1381 was succeeded by his son, another Almeric, (fn. 23) the last of the family in the male line. The manor was granted by him in 1402 (the year of his death) to Robert Shottesbroke for a settlement of the reversion on Edmund Danvers and others. (fn. 24) In 1433, however, the manor was in the possession of Almeric's greatgranddaughter Elizabeth wife of Sir William Beauchamp. (fn. 25) She held it at her death in 1491, (fn. 26) and her son Richard Beauchamp Lord St. Amand, who had been attainted in 1483 but restored in 1485, died seised of the manor of East Ilsley (fn. 27) in 1508. He left no legitimate issue. In 1523 the manor was settled upon Walter Barton and Alice his wife (whose title has not been ascertained) with remainder to Sir Thomas Englefield, son of Thomas Englefield and Margaret, one of the daughters of Sir Richard Danvers. (fn. 28) On the death of Walter Barton in 1538 his widow held the manor for her life, and, as she left no issue, it went on her death to Sir Francis son of the above Sir Thomas Englefield. (fn. 29)

East Ilsley: The Village Pond

St. Amand. Or fretty sable and a chief sable with three bezants therein.

Sir Francis Englefield was an ardent Roman Catholic, much favoured by Queen Mary. A few months after the accession of Elizabeth he settled abroad, and conveyed his property, with use to himself for life, to his nephew Francis, subject to the condition that if he should tender to his nephew a gold ring the conveyance should be void. In 1585 Sir Francis forfeited his estates for alleged complicity in a Jesuit conspiracy at Namur, (fn. 30) but by an Act of Parliament of 1580 his nephew was allowed to claim his inheritance within two years, which he did, omitting, however, to report the proviso regarding the ring, whereupon the queen, hearing of this, ordered the ring to be tendered to him, which was done 'at the sign of the Black Mayle in Fleet Street,' and Sir Francis found himself disinherited. (fn. 31) In 1588–9 the manor, together with Ashridge Woods, was granted by the queen to Crompton, Wright and Meyrick, (fn. 32) who conveyed the property to Sir Thomas Shirley, treasurer of the wars in the Low Countries. Shirley, after apparently mortgaging it to Dade, Stile and Bold, citizens of London, surrendered it to Queen Elizabeth in 1602 in part payment of a debt to her. (fn. 33) Elizabeth then bestowed it in 1602 on Urie Babington, (fn. 34) whose son Urie sold it in 1618 to Sir Francis Moore, (fn. 35) being forced to sell by reason of his father's embezzlement of Treasury money. The sale was confirmed, and Sir Francis Moore's title established by the king two years later. (fn. 36) Sir Francis obtained a licence to hold the sheep market, which to-day is the second largest in England (see above). He also had a grant of free warren, with liberty to reinclose the hare warren, and a confirmation of all other liberties held by Sir Almeric de St. Amand, Sir Francis Englefield, and other predecessors. (fn. 37) At his death in 1621 he was succeeded by his son Henry, (fn. 38) created a baronet in 1627. Henry son of Sir Henry succeeded his father in 1634 (fn. 39) and in 1647 sold the manor to William Pococke. (fn. 40) In 1679 William also acquired from John Pococke and Joan his wife the site of the manor, (fn. 41) which he conveyed in 1683 to Anne Davall. (fn. 42) William was apparently succeeded by John Pococke, who sold the manor in 1693 to John Allen. (fn. 43) His son of the same name was holding it as late as 1785. (fn. 44) The manor came before 1798 to John Head (fn. 45) and was held in 1818 by Robert Southby, (fn. 46) nephew of John Head (who died in 1803). His widow Catherine Elizabeth Southby died in 1843, and left the manor in trust to Miss E. J. Vyvyan and her sister Mrs. Bolton, and after the death of one of these beneficiaries to the survivor. Miss Vyvyan married Mr. Woodley, and on 16 August 1889 Mrs. Woodley conveyed the manor to Lord Wantage, whose widow now holds it. (fn. 47)

Englefield. Barry gules and argent a chief or with a lion passant azure therein.

Moore, baronet. Argent a moorcock sable.

Allen of Streatley. Argent two bars azure with an anchor or over all.

A manor in East Ilsley, known in the 14th century as NORTHBURY, was in 1086 in the possession of William Fitz Ansculf, with Stephen as undertenant. (fn. 48) It was then assessed at 6½ hides. The overlordship passed to the Somerys by the marriage of Avice sister and heiress of Gervase de Paynell, descendant of Beatrice daughter of William Fitz Ansculf, to John de Somery, and remained in this family until the death of John, the last male heir, in 1321. (fn. 49) He left two sisters and co-heirs, of whom Margaret, the elder, wife of John de Sutton, inherited the overlordship of this and the other fees held by her brother. (fn. 50) In the 15th century the overlordship of this manor became merged in that of the main manor of East Ilsley (q.v.).

At the date of the Testa de Nevill John de Elsefeld held this fee, and his son Reginald a fourth part of it, (fn. 51) and in 1264 his successor, Gilbert de Elsefeld, forfeited it 'by reason of his trespasses at the time of the war in the realm.' (fn. 52) In 1288–9 Alan the son of Gilbert was holding tenements in East Ilsley granted to him by John de St. Helen's, (fn. 53) and in 1316 another Gilbert de Elsefeld held the 'vill' of East Ilsley. (fn. 54) This is presumably the property which he transferred in 1361 to Almeric de St. Amand, and which is then called Northbury. (fn. 55) Almeric de St. Amand was lord of the manor of East Ilsley, and from this date the two manors were apparently united under the name of East Ilsley. Only one record of them as separate estates has been found, a conveyance of 1433, in which they are called the manors of Northbury and Overbury. (fn. 56)

In 1086 Henry de Ferrers held 3½ hides in Ilsley with Roger as sub-tenant. (fn. 57) In the first half of the 13th century this fee was held with Frilsham in Faircross Hundred (q.v.) by Oliver d'Eincourt, husband of Maud Peche. (fn. 58) Subfeoffment of a whole or part was apparently made to the Ilsley or Hildesley family, of whom Reginald de East Ilsley was holding lands in the parish about the middle of the same century, (fn. 59) for which he owed suit of court at Maud Peche's court of Frilsham. (fn. 60) This holding, which continued in the Hildesley family, is called the manor of ILSLEY in the 18th century. In 1428 John Hildesley was holding a quarter of a knight's fee which another John Hildesley had formerly held, (fn. 61) and later in the century the property was held by William Hildesley. (fn. 62) The principal seat of the Hildesley family was Crowmarsh Gifford in Oxfordshire, and in the 17th century Little Stoke. The William Hildesley of the reign of Henry VII held land both at Ilsley and Beenham, and was succeeded by a son and heir Edward, who is described as of Crowmarsh Gifford, though the original seat of the family at Ilsley remained with him and his descendants. His younger brother John, yeoman of the longbows (fn. 63) to Henry VIII, took part at least of the family estate of Beenham. William Hildesley, the son and heir of Edward, married Margaret Stonor, daughter of John Stonor of North Stoke, and died in 1576. (fn. 64) On her mother's death in January 1606–7 the youngest daughter Katherine placed a brass to her parents' memory in Ilsley Church. (fn. 65) The Hildesleys adhered to the old religion, and Walter Hildesley, who had succeeded his father William in 1576, soon came under the operation of the penal laws. On the Recusant Roll (fn. 66) of 1592 his Berkshire estate, which included 'two-thirds of Illesley or Hildesley Farm' and other property, is returned as leased to Charles Pagett, a groom of the queen's chamber, as long as it should be in the queen's hands. Walter Hildesley was apparently succeeded by his younger brother William, (fn. 67) who died seised of Ilsley Farm in 1623, leaving a son William. (fn. 68) He as a recusant was forced to mortgage his lands, for which his mortgagees compounded in 1650. (fn. 69) William Hildesley (fn. 70) was succeeded by his son Francis of Ilsley and Little Stoke, who died in March 1665, leaving a son and heir William, eleven years old. He and his younger brother Martin (fn. 71) were present at the reopening of St. Amand's Chapel, East Hendred, in the autumn of 1687. William Hildesley was certainly dead by 1706, and his widow Mary (fn. 72) had married John Grimsditch. The last William Hildesley left no male issue, and his estate devolved on three co-heirs, Mary wife of Robert Eyston, third son of George Eyston of East Hendred, Agnes, who married Peter Webbe, and a third who died unmarried. This last was probably the Emerita (fn. 73) Letitia Hildesley who with Robert Vernon and his wife Frances and with Peter Webbe sold 'the manor of Ilsley alias Hildesley' to John Head in 1718. His successor John Head, who died in 1803, left this manor to his nephew, who apparently sold it to a Mr. Deare, whose brother Captain Deare was holding in 1844. (fn. 74)

General View Of East Ilsley

Hildesley. Or two gimel bars sable with three roundels sable in the chief.

A reputed manor of ASHRIDGE also belonged to John Head, who died in 1803. He left it by his will to John Wasey. (fn. 75)


The church of ST. MARY consists of a chancel about 31 ft. 9 in. by 15 ft. 2 in., with a small modern vestry on the south, a nave 36 ft. 8 in. by 15 ft., a modern north aisle, a south aisle 34 ft. 3 in. by 13 ft., a west tower 11 ft. 4 in. by 11 ft. and a modern north porch. These measurements are all internal.

The nave is the oldest part of the present building, and is probably of the 12th century, but no distinctive detail survives to indicate a definite date. The remains of a mid-12th-century font, however, suggest the existence of the church at that period, and additional evidence is afforded by the thickness of the nave walls. This 12th-century building must have consisted of chancel and nave only. A south aisle was added c. 1240, while late in the same century the chancel was rebuilt the same width as the nave and some feet longer than its predecessor. In the middle of the 14th century the tower was added, but the north aisle and porch were not built until 1845. An inscription (now almost entirely illegible) cut in the south respond of the tower arch states that it was rebuilt in 1625, but the work done in that year was evidently only a restoration. In 1881–2 the south aisle was restored, when its fine roof was disclosed and the piscina and the entrance to the rood stair were again revealed; a gallery in front of the west window was at the same time removed.

The walls throughout the church are all plastered and painted internally and (with the exception of the north aisle, which is of ashlar masonry, and the vestry, which is of flint) are covered externally with rough-cast, with the stone dressings showing.

In the east wall of the chancel is a single lancet with a cinquefoiled head, above which is a small circular light, while in the north wall are two trefoilheaded lancets. At the north-east is a small aumbry with a pointed head enriched with dog-tooth ornament. At the east end of the south wall is a single lancet under a moulded label, carved with dog-tooth ornament, while at the west end is a window similar to those in the north wall just described. Between them is a 13th-century priest's doorway, which now gives access to the vestry. The chancel arch is modern and the full width of the chancel; it springs from modern corbels, below which are carved 14th-century head stops.

Plan of East Ilsley Church

The modern north arcade of the nave is of three bays with four-centred arches of two double chamfered orders and piers of the same section. The south arcade is of three bays with pointed arches of a single chamfered order, carried on circular pillars, having moulded capitals and bases with responds of the same section as the arches. The abaci to the columns are square, with the underside chamfered off at the corners. The chamfers to both arches and responds are stopped. The responds have moulded abaci cut off flush on their north and south faces, while carved on the south side of the eastern one is the head of a monster devouring a man.

The north aisle is lighted by windows of three trefoiled lights, two in the north and one in each end wall. Between the two in the north wall is a pointed doorway. In the east wall of the south aisle are two lancets with a quatrefoiled circle over, all grouped together internally under a two-centred segmental rear arch. To the north of it is the opening to the now blocked rood stair. In the south wall are three windows, those at the east and west being single lancets with external chamfers and wide inner splays with twocentred segmental rear arches, while the centre one is of late 14th-century date and of two transomed and cinquefoiled lights under a square head. Below the transom the external jambs are not so fully moulded as above. High up in the west wall is a single trefoiled light with soffit cusping. To the east of the easternmost window of the south aisle is an original trefoiled piscina with a circular basin.

East Ilsley Church From The South-West

The tower stands on a moulded plinth, and is divided externally into two stages by a moulded string at the floor level of the bell-chamber and surmounted by an embattled parapet. At the western angles are two-stage diagonal buttresses which stop at the stringcourse, and at the east end of the south wall, built against the west wall of the south aisle, is another of the same height and number of offsets. At the north-east corner is a stair turret, which is now entered through a modern external doorway, though once from within the tower through a threecentred doorway. The tower arch is pointed; it is narrower than the chamfered responds off which it springs and of a peculiarly moulded section. The responds have moulded abaci, on the southern one of which is carved the date '1625' with the letters WAS BU . . . T below. The west window is original and of three trefoiled ogee-headed lights, with cusped spandrels under a square head. The floor of the ringing chamber has at some time been lowered (possibly in 1625). This stage of the tower is lighted from the north by a single trefoiled ogee light with a square head, and from the west by a small rectangular opening. The bell-chamber is lighted from the east by a 15thcentury window of two uncusped pointed lights under a square head, and from the north and west by 14thcentury square-headed windows (one in each wall), each ot two trefoiled ogee lights with pierced and cusped spandrels. In the south wall is a blocked cinquefoiled light. On the cornice immediately below the parapet are gargoyles.

The font is of the 12th century, but stands on a modern base. The bowl is nine-sided, and has running round it a small arcade carved in low relief with one arch to each side. The stem is of a convex section and of similar form to the bowl, the angles of which come over the centres of the sides of the stem. The pulpit is octagonal and of Jacobean workmanship.

All the roofs are tiled. That of the chancel is of the trussed rafter form, ceiled to the shape of a semioctagon and strengthened by two king-post trusses. Over the nave is a curved plaster ceiling. The roof, however, appears to be of late 14th-century date, as is shown by the two king-post trusses which project below the ceiling with struts springing from the king posts at about half their height. The roof over the south aisle is of 14th-century date. It is divided into three bays by trusses composed of principal rafters held together by tie-beams and collars; the common rafters are strutted, while the purlins are strengthened by wind braces.

On the face of the east respond of the south arcade is a brass inscribed:—

'A°. 1606 Jan 7°
Defuncti defuncta jaces Hildsleia conjux
Coniugis et vidvae corpora marmor habet
Tu decies trinos Guilielmi preteris annos
Octoque bis superans lustra peracta cadis
Altera ab undecimo soboles, cui parta parenti est
Tres nati natae quatvor inde manent
E queis virginea radians Katharina corolla
Nata minor matri marmore grata fuit.'

There is a ring of five bells. The treble is by Joseph Carter, and is inscribed in black letter 'Prayce ye the lorde 1589'; the second is uninscribed; the third is inscribed 'This bell was made 1012' (? 1612); the fourth has round the waist the letters WROCOR; while the tenor is inscribed 'Richard Wightick (fn. 76) gave this bell 1625.' There is also a sanctus; it has no inscription, but may be of the 15th century.

The plate consists of a silver cup of 1733 inscribed 'John Allen, Will Rudd. Church Wardens of East Ilsley Berks. 1733,' and a cover paten of the same date, a large unstamped silver flagon inscribed 'The Gift of the Revd. Thomas Loveday B.D. Rector of this Parish A.D. 1847,' a silver almsdish of 1846 with the same inscription as the flagon, and two whitemetal salvers.

The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1653 to 1742, burials and marriages 1653 to 1753; (ii) baptisms 1742 to 1765, burials 1753 to 1772; (iii) baptisms 1766 to 1803, burials 1773 to 1804; (iv) baptisms and burials 1804 to 1812; (v) marriages 1754 to 1801; (vi) marriages 1801 to 1812.


The advowson of the church of East Ilsley was confirmed in 1199 to the Knights Hospitallers, (fn. 77) to whom it had been granted by Sewall de Osevill, lord of the manor. (fn. 78) In 1313 John de St. Amand claimed the right of presentation on the ground that Sewall de Osevill had enfeoffed his ancestor Ralph de St. Amand in the reign of Henry III of both the manor and the advowson. (fn. 79) The Knights Hospitallers, however, continued to hold the advowson until the Dissolution. The living was a rectory assessed in 1291 at £6 13s. 4d., a portion of 6s. being payable to the sacristy at Abingdon, in lieu of a tithe of lamb's-wool and cheese granted to them by Sewall de Osevill, (fn. 80) but at the date of the Valor its value had increased to £22 13s. 4d. (fn. 81) After the Dissolution the advowson was granted in 1545 to William Gorfyn, (fn. 82) whose successor, John Gorfyn, conveyed it in 1550 to Alice Gorfyn. (fn. 83) She retained it for life with reversion to Chidiock Paulet, (fn. 84) who seems to have been in possession of it in 1552. (fn. 85) In 1582 William Paulet conveyed it to William Dunche, (fn. 86) who was presenting until 1597, (fn. 87) when he died, leaving the advowson to his wife Mary for her life, with remainder to Edmund, his son and heir, who died seised of it in 1623. (fn. 88) His grandson Edmund sold it before 1638 to Robert Barnes, (fn. 89) whose successor Joseph Barnes was the patron in 1704. (fn. 90) Robert Barnes was both patron and incumbent in 1754. (fn. 91) Brackley Kennett presented to the living in 1771. (fn. 92) After the death of his widow (who presented in 1795) (fn. 93) their son Brackley Charles Kennett, who was then the incumbent, became the patron (fn. 94) until 1829, when he sold the advowson to Magdalen College, Oxford. (fn. 95)

Robert Barnes, who purchased the advowson before 1638, presented himself to the living, (fn. 96) but was sequestered during the Commonwealth. Before leaving the parish he was attacked by a zealous Puritan, who broke his leg by a violent kick. The new incumbent signed the protestation ordered by the House of Commons in July 1641 'to defend the true Protestant Reformed Church,' (fn. 97) and refused to pay Barnes the fifths ordered by the commissioners, telling him that starvation was as near a road to heaven as any. However, Barnes was restored after 1660, at which date he signed a petition for securing the tithes of sequestered livings in the hands of churchwardens till the titles of the sequestered clergy should be established. (fn. 98)


It is stated in the Parliamentary Returns of 1786 that £50 was left to the poor, of which £25 was lost at that period.

On a board on the wall opposite the church door was inscribed 'Left by a person unknown the interest of £25 to the poor.'This sum was, it appears, lent to a Mr. Richard Adams, and the principal sum, or the amount which was recovered from that gentleman's estate, was eventually expended in the distribution of clothing.

The poor of this parish have from time immemorial exercised the right of gathering furze from the land on the Abingdon Lane Downs, called 'The Poor's Furze,' and from a wide extent of land on the east side of the road, of which land Lady Wantage is the present owner.

In 1883 Thomas Palmer, by his will proved at Bristol 9 August, directed that his executors should purchase £500 Government stock, the dividends to be distributed on 21 December among thirty poor inhabitants, regular attendants at the parish church, and that a tablet should be placed in the church, setting forth that the gift was of Thomas Palmer and Mary his wife. A sum of £500 consols is held by the official trustees in respect of this gift, and the annual dividends, amounting to £12 10s., are distributed in equal shares among thirty persons selected by the rector and churchwardens.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. Hone, The Manor and Manorial Rec. 110.
  • 3. Chan. Inq. p.m. 4 Edw. II, no. 42.
  • 4. V.C.H. Berks. i, 274.
  • 5. Ibid. 210.
  • 6. East Ilsley was celebrated for the quality of its ale (Topog. Dict. 1849).
  • 7. Assize R. 48, m. 39; Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 18. This charter has not been found among the existing enrolments.
  • 8. Hewett, op. cit. 47; see also Rep. of Royal Com. on Market Rts. and Tolls, i, 110, 137.
  • 9. V.C.H. Berks. i, 358. Then in the hundred of Kintbury.
  • 10. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), III, 122.
  • 11. See Chan. Inq. p.m. 14 Edw. I, no. 20; 4 Edw. II, no. 42.
  • 12. Chan. Inq. p.m. 5 Ric. II, no. 51(a); (Ser. 2), vii, 55; G.E.C. Complete Peerage, iv, 215.
  • 13. Chron. Abingdon (Rolls Ser.), ii, 32; Testa de Nevill, 111, 122, 126.
  • 14. Wrottesley, Pedigrees from Plea R. 540.
  • 15. Feet of F. Berks. 41 Hen. III, no. 6.
  • 16. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), 9, 14.
  • 17. Chan. Inq. p.m. 14 Edw. I, no. 20.
  • 18. Cal. Close, 1279–88, p. 498.
  • 19. Ibid. 1288–96, pp. 62, 68.
  • 20. Chan. Inq. p.m. 4 Edw. II, no. 42.
  • 21. De Banco R. Hil. 2 Edw. III, m. 126.
  • 22. Feet of F. Div. Co. 4 Edw. III, no. 68.
  • 23. Chan. Inq. p.m. 5 Ric. II, no. 51 (a).
  • 24. Feet of F. Div. Co. 3 Hen. IV, no. 38; Cal. Pat. 1429–36, p. 196. There seems to be no record of any marriage connecting the families of St. Amand and Danvers, yet both here and in Chilton there seems to have been some connexion.
  • 25. Feet of F. Div. Co. 11 Hen. VI, no. 35; see also ibid. 16 Hen. VI, no. 16.
  • 26. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), vii, 55; G.E.C. Complete Peerage, vii, 9.
  • 27. Berks. Arch. Soc. Trans. iii, 148. During his forfeiture the manor was granted to Ralph Lord Nevill (Cal. Pat. 1476–85, p. 427).
  • 28. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), lx, 84; McNamara, op. cit. 170. Richard Danvers was not, however, of the same branch of the family as Edmund Danvers, the reversionary grantee mentioned above (see McNamara, Memorials of Danvers Family, 103, 505), so that the property can scarcely have come through Margaret, who, moreover, was not her father's heir. Feet of F. Berks. 14 Hen. VIII is apparently part of the settlement of 1523, but again it is not clear what interest the deforciants (William Rede, father and son, and their wives Anne and Margaret) had in the manor.
  • 29. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), lix, 6.
  • 30. Dict. Nat. Biog.; see also Sir Francis Moore's Digest of Legal Title to his estates in Berkshire.
  • 31. MSS. of Sir Francis Moore.
  • 32. Pat. 30 Eliz. pt. xviii, m. 12; 31 Eliz. pt. xiii.
  • 33. Close, 44 Eliz. pt. xv; MSS. of Sir F. Moore. He appears to have made a grant of the site of the manor in 1600–1 to Giles Pocock (Pat. 43 Eliz. pt. i).
  • 34. Pat. 44 Eliz. pt. iv, m. 18.
  • 35. Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 16 Jas. I.
  • 36. Pat. 18 Jas. I, pt. iv, no. 9. Urie and Robert Bromley had been commissioned to provide apparel for the soldiers in Ireland, for which they had received a grant of £237,399 5s. 8d. They, however, spent only £133,178 4s. 1d., and with the remainder purchased lands for their own use.
  • 37. Sir Francis Moore's Digest. The enrolment of this charter has not been found.
  • 38. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccxcii, 1.
  • 39. Ibid. cccclxxiii, 7.
  • 40. Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 23 Chas. I.
  • 41. Ibid. Mich. 31 Chas. II.
  • 42. Ibid. East. 35 Chas. II. Richard Pococke made conveyances of the site in 1707 and 1712 to Reginald and John Fellowe (ibid. Trin. and Mich. 6 Anne; East. 11 Anne).
  • 43. Ibid. East. 5 Will. and Mary.
  • 44. Recov. R. Trin. 3 & 4 Geo. II, rot. 8; Feet of F. Berks. East. 3 Geo. II; East. 25 Geo. III; Recov. R. East. 25 Geo. III, rot. 124. A windmill on the manor of East Ilsley is mentioned in the 16th century (Feet of F. Berks. East. 14 Hen. VIII).
  • 45. a P.C.C. Will 12 Marriott.
  • 46. Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 58 Geo. III; cf. Hewett, op. cit. 39.
  • 47. From documents in the possession of Lady Wantage.
  • 48. V.C.H. Berks. i, 350, 351.
  • 49. Dugdale, Baronage, i, 612; Mon. v, 203, 204; Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 111, 122; Chan. Inq. p.m. 1 Edw. I, no. 15; 19 Edw. I, no. 14.
  • 50. See Feet of F. Div. Co. 14 Edw. III, no. 49.
  • 51. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 111, 127.
  • 52. Cal. Close, 1272–9, p. 270.
  • 53. Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 218.
  • 54. Feud. Aids, i. 52.
  • 55. Feet of F. Berks. 35 Edw. III, no. 1.
  • 56. Ibid. Div. Co. 11 Hen. VI, no. 35.
  • 57. V.C.H. Berks, i, 347a.
  • 58. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 109, 121.
  • 59. Feet of F. Berks. 45 Hen. III, no. 25; 53 Hen. III, no. 1.
  • 60. Ibid. 35 Hen. III, no. 9.
  • 61. Feud. Aids, i, 66.
  • 62. Early Chan. Proc. bdle. 56, no. 269.
  • 63. Genealogist (New Ser.), i, 11.
  • 64. cf. Visit. of Oxon. (Harl. Soc.), 182.
  • 65. See below.
  • 66. Recusant R. no. 1, 34 Eliz.
  • 67. A 'Hildesleius nobilis et theologiae studiosus' received the tonsure at Douai in 1579, but does not appear to have taken priest's orders. A comparison with references elsewhere suggests the possibility that he may have been this William Hildesley. cf. Knox, Douai Diaries, 155, 156, 159, and S. P. Dom. Eliz. clvii, 68.
  • 68. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccxcvii, 12.
  • 69. Cal. Com. for Comp. iv, 2521.
  • 70. Gen. (New Ser.), v, 272.
  • 71. Another brother Francis had an interesting connexion with the Titus Oates Plot. A student at the Jesuit College at Liège, he was examined to disprove Oates's evidence during the trial of the five Jesuits then executed. He was Jesuit superior in Oxfordshire in 1696 and died in 1719. Hon. Mrs. Brian Stapleton, Hist. Post-Ref. Cath. Missions in Oxfordshire, 304.
  • 72. Stonyhurst MS. cited by Stapleton loc. cit.; cf. Cherry, op. cit.
  • 73. Feet of F. Berks. Hil. 4 Geo. I.
  • 74. Hewett, op. cit. 39–40. Hewett's history of the different estates is confused, but apparently it was this which was sold to Deare.
  • 75. P.C.C. 112 Marriott.
  • 76. Richard Wightwick was rector of this parish and joint founder of Pembroke College.
  • 77. Cal. Rot. Chart. 1199–1216 (Rec. Com.),16.
  • 78. Ibid.
  • 79. Wrottesley, Pedigrees from Plea R. 540.
  • 80. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 188; Cal. of Papal Letters, v, 351.
  • 81. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 158.
  • 82. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xx(I), g. 465 (I).
  • 83. Feet of F. Div. Co. Mich. 4 Edw. VI; Berks. Mich. 4 Edw. VI.
  • 84. Ibid. Berks. Hil. 5 Edw. VI; Pat. 5 Edw. VI, pt. i, m. 27.
  • 85. Feet of F. Div. Co. Mich. 6 Edw. VI.
  • 86. Ibid. Berks. Mich. 23 Eliz.; Hil. 24 Eliz.
  • 87. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccxlix, 84.
  • 88. Ibid, ccccii, 150; W. and L. Inq. p.m. xxxvii, 42.
  • 89. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 90. Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 3 Anne.
  • 91. Bacon, Liber Regis, 908.
  • 92. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 93. Ibid.
  • 94. Ibid.
  • 95. Clerical Guide, 1829; Hewett, Hist. of Hund. of Compton, 47.
  • 96. Bacon, loc. cit.
  • 97. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. v, App. i, 120.
  • 98. Ibid. Rep. vii, 105 (a).