Stanton Harcourt: Nonconformity

Pages 293-294

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1990.

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In 1657 Anthony Wood wrote that most of Stanton Harcourt's inhabitants were Catholics long after the Reformation. (fn. 78) John Herle the younger, lord of Stanton Wyard, was imprisoned for plotting to free Mary, Queen of Scots; (fn. 79) Robert Harcourt (d. 1630) was an open papist and was temporarily outlawed. (fn. 80) In 1607 Frances Harcourt and Alice Buttle were fined for recusancy, and between 1625 and 1630 two women perhaps related to the Harcourts, two gentlemen, and three yeomen; in 1642 two other women refused the Protestation Oath. (fn. 81) There were no papists by 1706. (fn. 82)

In 1676 there were said to be five dissenters in the parish. (fn. 83) In 1658 the Quaker Ellis Hookes, visiting his mother in Stanton Harcourt, is said to have been beaten and thrown out of Sir William Waller's house for refusing Lady Waller 'hat honour'. (fn. 84) In 1677 Jane Ditton proposed to hold a Quaker meeting in her house, and in 1682 two more Quakers were reported. In 1738 the vicar said that there was only one lapsed Quaker. (fn. 85)

Ann Harcourt and her husband Sir William Waller were staunchly puritan, (fn. 86) and her son Sir Philip Harcourt had Presbyterian sympathies. From c. 1675 his chaplain was the ejected minister Thomas Clark, whose daughter married Harcourt's son, and he sheltered the ejected William Gilbert and Henry Cornish. (fn. 87)

Three Anabaptists were noted in 1682 and the same number in 1738; three other dissenters were Anabaptist or Presbyterian in 1738. (fn. 88) Single families of Anabaptists were reported in 1759, in 1768 when a husbandman and his children worshipped at Cote, in Bampton, and in 1805. (fn. 89) In 1738 the number of dissenters was said to be 'rather lessened', and in 1834 'much diminished'; there were then 20 in all, but many may have been Methodists. In 1835 a Baptist Sunday school taught 30 children; no later reference to Baptists has been found. (fn. 90)

The Wesleys, close friends of John Gambold, vicar 1735-43, visited the parish frequently; John Wesley preached there in 1738. (fn. 91) There is, however, no evidence of Methodism in the parish until the 19th century: a meeting house certificate of 1814 for Sutton probably relates to Methodists, and in 1817 the vicar reported that a few Methodists were meeting in a registered house. (fn. 92) Primitive Methodists held an unsuccessful mission in 1843, and in 1854 the vicar said there was no dissent at Stanton Harcourt. (fn. 93) By the 1880s there was a Wesleyan group in Sutton, at first associated with South Leigh but independent by 1884 with 13 members. At first it met in the house at Sutton Green later called Tudor Cottage; a Gothic chapel in red brick was built on New Road c. 1887 and had 25 members by 1891. The land was given by the Earlys of Witney. (fn. 94) Average membership was c. 20, but rose to 30 from c. 1913 to 1922; in 1987 there was one Sunday service. (fn. 95)

By 1866 there was a Catholic Apostolic (Irvingite) chapel in Sutton, south of Sutton Lane; initially the Irvingites also attended the parish church. (fn. 96) The chapel, associated with that at Eynsham, (fn. 97) had closed by c. 1918, when the building was rented by the parish vestry; it had been demolished by 1970. (fn. 98)


  • 78. Wood's Life, i (O.H.S. xix), 220. The monuments cited were wrongly dated, but cf. O.R.O., MSS. Wills Oxon. 178, f. 161; 181, f. 201v. which contain Catholic formulae.
  • 79. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1581-90, 250; cf. Cal. Pat. 1555-7, 130.
  • 80. D.N.B.; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1600-10, 557; ibid. 1619-23, 61; Stapleton, Cath. Miss. 177-8.
  • 81. Salter, 'Oxon. Recusants', 23, 40, 42, 53-4; Protestation Returns, 93
  • 82. Hist. MSS. Com. 13, 10th Rep. IV, Stonyhurst, p. 177.
  • 83. Compton Census, ed. Whiteman, 423.
  • 84. Besse, Sufferings, i. 564.
  • 85. Berks. R.O., Oxon. Quaker Quarterly min. bk. s.a. 1677; O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. d 708, ff. 116-17; Secker's Visit. 145.
  • 86. Fnl. Eccles. Hist. xxxix. 436.
  • 87. Wood's Life, ii (O.H.S. xxi), 519, 525; Calamy Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews, 120, 137, 222; Bp. Fell and Nonconf. 61, n. 211, 66, n. 277.
  • 88. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. d 708, ff. 116-17; Secker's Visit. 145.
  • 89. O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. d 557, f. 61v.; d 560, ff. 81v.-82; d 569, f. 105; cf. Bodl. MS. Top. Eccl. e. I, f. 91v.
  • 90. Secker's Visit. 145; O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. b 39, f. 314; below, Educ.
  • 91. Wesley's Fnl. ed. N. Curnock, i. 483; above, Church.
  • 92. O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. c 644, f. 154; d 577, f. 102v.; d 581, f. 96v.
  • 93. Ibid. Witney and Faringdon Methodist Circuit II/IA, s.a. 1843; Wilb. Visit. 135.
  • 94. Local inf.; Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1891 and later edns.); O.R.O., Witney and Faringdon Methodist Circuit I/1E; O.S. Map ½,500, Oxon. XXXII. 15 (1899 and later edns.); above, S. Leigh, Nonconf.
  • 95. O.R.O., Witney and Faringdon Methodist Circuit I/If-i; notice outside chapel.
  • 96. O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. c 332, f. 406; c 338, f. 383v.; Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1891 and later edns.); O.S. Map ½,500, Oxon. XXXII. 15 (1899 and later edns.); local inf.
  • 97. O.R.O., E.C.A.C. I/ii/I; I/i/1-4; where two deacons named were Stanton Harcourt men.
  • 98. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Stanton Harcourt c 4, f. 36v.; O.S. Map ½,500, SP 4006-4106 (1970 edn.).