A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 13, Bampton Hundred (Part One). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1996.
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Before 975 King Edgar granted SHIFFORD to Brihtnoth, the ealdorman killed at the battle of Maldon in 991. The estate later passed to Leofwine and to his kinsman Aethelmar, who granted it to Eynsham abbey at its refoundation in 1005. (fn. 1) After the Conquest the abbey's Oxfordshire lands passed temporarily to the bishops of Dorchester and later of Lincoln, but were restored probably before 1086, when Shifford was assessed at 3 hides, and thereafter the abbey retained the manor until the Dissolution. (fn. 2) During the 12th and 13th centuries land elsewhere became attached to the manor. Roger d'Oilly gave 2 yardlands in Aston before 1142, and his son Roger another yardland before 1180; (fn. 3) 6 yardlands in Aston and 4 in East Weald (later Claywell) in Ducklington, held probably by Theodoric the goldsmith in 1086, were given before 1190 by Ralph de Chesney, (fn. 4) and there were further small grants in Aston, Cote, and East Weald during the 13th century. (fn. 5) Meals owed by the abbey on St. Bartholomew's day (24 August) to neighbouring lords' tenants in Aston, apparently as quitrent for lands or meadows outside the township attached to Shifford manor, were commuted or compounded for in the mid 13th century. (fn. 6)
In 1539 the Crown granted the manor to Sir George Darcy, and it passed with other of Eynsham abbey's lands to Sir Edward North in 1543 and to Edward Stanley (d. 1572), earl of Derby, in 1545. (fn. 7) By 1586 all or part, including the demesne farm, was held for a term of years by the earl's grandson, Edward Stanley of Eynsham, in whose name courts were held in 1597 and 1599; (fn. 8) the freehold seems, however, to have descended to Edward's cousin Ferdinando Stanley (d. 1594), later earl of Derby, and to Ferdinando's brother William, earl of Derby, who in 1600 sold the manor to Joseph Mayne of Creslow (Bucks.). (fn. 9)
In 1610 Mayne sold the manor to the royal justice Sir David Williams (d. 1613) and to Edward Yate of Buckland (then Berks.), who in 1612 partitioned it, Williams receiving the lands in Shifford with the manorial rights, and Yate those in Ducklington, Aston, Cote, and Standlake, (fn. 10) which became attached to Buckland. Much of the land in Aston and Cote, 8½ or 9 yardlands in the mid 17th century, had been sold by 1748, and at inclosure in 1855 the lord of Buckland received only c. 1 a. for mowing rights. (fn. 11) Williams settled Shifford in 1613 on his second son Thomas, who mortgaged it and in 1623, with his brother Sir Henry, sold a long leasehold to Robert Veysey (d. 1635) of Taynton and later of Chimney; the same year Thomas and Henry sold the reversion to Veysey's nephews Robert Veysey (d. 1666) of Queen's College, Oxford, and his brother William. (fn. 12) In 1630 the elder Robert, who in 1625 had recovered the lease of the demesne farm, settled the manor on himself for life with reversion to the younger Robert and his wife Anne, and in 1634 he surrendered his interest. (fn. 13) By 1675 the manor was held by Robert and Anne Veysey's surviving son Sunnybank, who in 1697 sold it to Josiah Bacon, a London merchant, to discharge his debts. (fn. 14)
Bacon died in 1703 leaving the manor in trust for his uncle's great-grandson Josiah Bacon, a minor; he died before 1717 when it was settled on his sister Elizabeth (d. 1726) and her husband Thomas Slaughter, who took the name Bacon. (fn. 15) Thomas died in 1736, when under Elizabeth's will her lands passed to her half-brothers George, John, and Peter Standley; George died in 1737 leaving his share to Peter, who received Shifford in a partition of family estates in 1742, and sold it in 1755 to Simon Harcourt (d. 1777), Earl Harcourt. (fn. 16) Thereafter Shifford descended with Nuneham Courtenay, passing in 1891 to Aubrey Harcourt, who in 1898 sold it to H. L. Cripps. (fn. 17) A proposed sale in 1906 was abandoned, and following Cripps's death c. 1916 the land was sold to the tenants of Old and New Shifford farms and manorial rights lapsed. (fn. 18)
A freehold yardland in Shifford manor, sold in 1482, (fn. 19) became divided but was later reabsorbed. Thomas Williams bought a third in 1618, (fn. 20) and in 1686 Bishop Fell devised another third to Christ Church, Oxford, which in 1906 sold its land (19 a.) to H. L. Cripps. (fn. 21) The remaining third was presumably that sold to Earl Harcourt in 1757. (fn. 22)
Eynsham abbey maintained a home farm at Shifford throughout the Middle Ages and probably by 1086, when one ploughland was in demesne; (fn. 23) occasional visits by the abbot and other officers were recorded in the 14th and 15th centuries. (fn. 24) Some or all of the buildings seem to have been near the chapel: a wall next to the churchyard and a gate 'towards' it were mentioned in the 14th century, (fn. 25) and in the late 16th and early 17th remains of the demesne farm included a dovecot in Court close, reportedly the close in which the chapel stands. (fn. 26) About 1360 the 'court' with its buildings was valued at 6s. 8d. a year. (fn. 27) Repairs recorded in later bailiffs' accounts were mostly of agricultural buildings, though a cookhouse or kitchen (coquina) was repaired or rebuilt in 1363 and the hall and grange in 1397-8, when 5 cartloads of stone were brought for buttresses. The dovecot was mentioned from 1434. (fn. 28) The house was excluded from the farm of the manor in 1434 (fn. 29) and may have been derelict by 1470, when the site of the manor was leased with the adjacent close and dovecot for only 2s. a year; (fn. 30) a 'capital messuage' held with Court close and with former demesne land in the late 16th century and the 17th, (fn. 31) presumably the 'manor house' briefly occupied by Sunnybank Veysey in the 1680s, (fn. 32) was not necessarily on the same site, and may have been a predecessor of Old Shifford Farm, the only farmhouse in the former hamlet to survive inclosure in the 1750s. (fn. 33) That house's late 17th-century south range, built possibly for Veysey, retains a contemporary staircase with turned balusters and a moulded handrail; a parallel north range was added in the 19th century. Farm buildings to the east include a timber-framed granary.