Wolvercote: Manors and other estates

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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A P Baggs. W J Blair. Eleanor Chance. Christina Colvin. Janet Cooper. C J Day. Nesta Selwyn. S C Townley, 'Wolvercote: Manors and other estates', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock, (London, 1990), pp. 313-314. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol12/pp313-314 [accessed 18 June 2024].

A P Baggs. W J Blair. Eleanor Chance. Christina Colvin. Janet Cooper. C J Day. Nesta Selwyn. S C Townley. "Wolvercote: Manors and other estates", in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock, (London, 1990) 313-314. British History Online, accessed June 18, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol12/pp313-314.

Baggs, A P. Blair, W J. Chance, Eleanor. Colvin, Christina. Cooper, Janet. Day, C J. Selwyn, Nesta. Townley, S C. "Wolvercote: Manors and other estates", A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock, (London, 1990). 313-314. British History Online. Web. 18 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol12/pp313-314.

Manors and other estates

Roger d'Ivri held WOLVERCOTE in 1086, and Godfrey held of him. (fn. 61) There is no further record of the under-tenancy, and d'Ivri's successors probably held in demesne. The manor descended with the rest of Roger d'Ivri's lands in the county and in the early 12th century was held by Reynold of St. Valery and John of St. John. (fn. 62) About 1180 Reynold's son Bernard of St. Valery granted Wolvercote to Henry II who gave it to Godstow abbey. (fn. 63) The abbey held the manor until the Dissolution, and in 1541 it was sold to George Owen, Henry VIII's physician. (fn. 64) George Owen died in 1558 and was succeeded by his son Richard and by Richard's son George who in 1616 sold the manor to Sir John Walter of Sarsden, chief baron of the Exchequer. (fn. 65) Walter settled the manor on his second wife Anne and the children of that marriage, with remainder to his son David, who inherited when Anne died childless in 1636. (fn. 66) David was succeeded in 1679 by his nephew Sir William Walter (d. 1693), from whom the manor passed to his son Sir John. In 1710 Sir John Walter sold Wolvercote to John Churchill, duke of Marlborough. (fn. 67) A later duke of Marlborough sold most of his land in the parish in 1884, and although he apparently retained the lordship of the manor, by that date manorial rights had lapsed. (fn. 68)

About 1133 John of St. John granted Edith, the first abbess, the land called GODSTOW on which she had built her abbey, and soon afterwards he, Reynold of St. Valery, and the citizens of Oxford added other land on the edge of Port Meadow. (fn. 69) At the Dissolution the estate was bought by George Owen and, apart from land near Port Meadow sold by Richard Owen in 1611 and 1613, passed with Wolvercote to the Walters. In 1702 Sir John Walter sold Godstow, then described as a manor, to Montagu Bertie, earl of Abingdon, who in 1710 sold the manor, but not the site of the abbey, to John Churchill, duke of Marlborough. (fn. 70) The estate was sold with the duke's lands in Wolvercote in 1884. (fn. 71)

Two hides at CUTTESLOWE were confirmed to St. Frideswide's minster in Oxford in 1004, and in 1086 Siward held the estate of the canons. (fn. 72) The land passed to the Augustinian priory of St. Frideswide and, on the suppression of that house in 1525, to Cardinal College. (fn. 73) After Cardinal Wolsey's attainder Cutteslowe passed, with most of the rest of his college's endowments, to Henry VIII's College until its surrender in 1545. (fn. 74) Cutteslowe was then sold to Richard Andrews who sold it to Edward Glynton and Nicholas Todd, acting for the city of Oxford. In 1555 the city sold it to John Coxhead and John Clarke. (fn. 75) In 1574 Henry Coxhead and Henry Clarke, presumably the heirs of John Coxhead and John Clarke, sold Cutteslowe to John Chamberlain and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of George Owen of Godstow. (fn. 76) Chamberlain sold the estate in 1577 to Anthony Borne of Sarsden who c. 1588 sold it to William Lenthall, grandfather of William Lenthall, Speaker of the Long Parliament. (fn. 77) Between 1611 and 1625 Lenthall's grandson John sold Cutteslowe to Sir John Walter of Sarsden. (fn. 78)

The Walters held Cutteslowe, with Wolvercote and Godstow, until the beginning of the 18th century when Sir John Walter sold the estate piecemeal. The main portion was sold in 1703 to William Breach, who divided it into two parts, both of which were acquired by Christ Church, one part in 1729 under the will of Dr. William Stratford and the other in 1737 from John Lyon. (fn. 79) Two closes (c. 22 a.) were sold to Dr. Robert South of Islip for the endowment of his school there; they were sold to the city of Oxford by the dean and chapter of Westminster, trustees of the charity, in 1938. (fn. 80) Most of the remaining land in Cutteslowe was sold to the duke of Marlborough in 1710. (fn. 81) The dukes retained it until 1811 when it was sold to or exchanged with Francis Gregory (d. 1841), formerly of Hordley in Wootton. (fn. 82) It passed to Francis's son Thomas, and to Thomas's three daughters who sold it in 1918 to R.J. Soden, trustee for W.A.Soden. W.A.Soden's son, L. V.E. Soden, sold some land for development in 1931 and the remainder to the city of Oxford in 1936. (fn. 83)

Two small estates in Wolvercote derived from land sold by the younger George Owen. A farm bought by John Bell in 1611 was acquired in 1636 by St. John's College, which retained the land, exchanged for c. 46 a. at inclosure in 1834, until much of it was sold for building in the earlier 20th century. (fn. 84) Between 1693 and 1703 John Bishop or his executors acquired a total of more than 3 yardlands and 5 closes which had been sold in three parcels by George Owen in 1610 and 1611. In 1742 John Bishop's son, another John, sold the land to Worcester College, which still held it in 1984. (fn. 85)

The great tithes of Wolvercote passed to Merton College when the college appropriated the mother church of St. Peter-in-the-East in 1294. (fn. 86) The tithes were still owed in kind in 1795, and at inclosure in 1834 the college was allotted c. 73 a. for great tithes; (fn. 87) it retained most of the land in 1984. The tithes of Roger d'Ivri's demesne in Wolvercote were granted to St. George's in the Castle, Oxford, before c. 1130, and passed with the other possessions of that house to Oseney abbey, which took tithes from Wolvercote in 1239, (fn. 88) but there is no later record of Oseney's interest in Wolvercote.


  • 61. V.C.H. Oxon. i. 416.
  • 62. Ibid. v. 60; Godstow Eng. Reg. i, pp. 27-9.
  • 63. Godstow Eng. Reg. i, p. 30; ii, p. 661.
  • 64. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 191; Royal Letters Addressed to Oxford, ed. O. Ogle, 149-52; L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvi, p. 642.
  • 65. Blenheim Mun., box 150.
  • 66. Ibid.; P.R.O., C 142/500, no. 36.
  • 67. Blenheim Mun., box 150; Burke, Ext. & Dorm. Baronetcies(1844), 184, 549.
  • 68. Sale Cat. 1884: copy in Bodl. G.A. Oxon. b 92(71).
  • 69. Godstow Eng. Reg. i, pp. 27, 29, 380-1; V.C.H. Oxon ii. 71.
  • 70. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xv, p. 178; Blenheim Mun., box 149.
  • 71. Sale Cat. 1884.
  • 72. Cart. St. Frid. i, p. 3; V.C.H. Oxon. i. 409.
  • 73. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, pp. 655, 753, 888.
  • 74. Ibid. v, p. 587; V.C.H. Oxon. ii. 32.
  • 75. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xx (2), p. 220; W.H. Turner, Oxf. City Rec. 1509-1583, pp. 227-8, 232.
  • 76. Cal. Pat. 1572-5, p. 328; Oxon. Visit. (Harl. Soc. v), 127.
  • 77. Cal. Pat. 1575-8, p. 237; P.R.O., CP 25(2)/197/Mich. 33-4 Eliz., no. 21; ibid. C 66/1371; Sawyer papers (in possession of Mr. R. Sawyer, Water Eaton Manor, Kidlington); Oxon. Visit. 199-200, 318. The suggestion, in Stapleton, Three Oxon. Pars. 47, 107, that the Speaker's father held Cutteslowe, is incorrect; the Speaker was the son of Sir William's younger son, William: D.N.B.; Alum. Oxon. 1500-1714, iii. 902.
  • 78. O.R.O., Mor. XXIV/2; Bodl. MS. Dep. d 72, f. 179.
  • 79. Blenheim Mun., box 150; P.R.O., C 78/1787, no. 5; Ch. Ch. Arch., MS. Estates 69, ff. 1-2, 4, 13.
  • 80. Blenheim Mun., box 150; inf. from the Oxf. City Solicitor.
  • 81. Blenheim Mun., box 150.
  • 82. O.R.O., land tax assess.; V.C.H. Oxon. iv. 265.
  • 83. Inf. from the Oxf. City Solicitor.
  • 84. St. John's Coll. Mun., XXIX. 2-16.
  • 85. Worcester Coll. Mun., boxes 35, F.
  • 86. V.C.H. Oxon. iv. 398.
  • 87. O.R.O., unref. misc. pps. from Dioc. Registry, estimate of value of Islip char. school lands, 1795; ibid. incl. award.
  • 88. Oxf. Charters, ed. H.E. Salter, no. 58