Lew: Nonconformity

Pages 98-99

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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In the early 17th century two members of the Wise family were fined for recusancy. (fn. 1) In the later 17th century three or four inhabitants who attended a Quaker meeting at Alvescot included the prosperous farmer William Wise, and Joseph Briscoe (d. 1715) of Lew left land at Alvescot to benefit poor Quakers attending the Witney and Alvescot meetings. (fn. 2)

Two Lew inhabitants belonged to the Congregational church at Witney in 1835 and another 4 by 1840, (fn. 3) when a small stone chapel with reportedly 160 sittings, said to have been planned before Lew church was contemplated, was built near University Farm on the initiative of the Witney minister Robert Tozer. (fn. 4) The Witney church belonged to the Association of Baptist Congregational Churches, and there was evidently co-operation with the Baptist chapel at Cote: one of the Lew members was baptized there in 1839, and in 1856 trustees of Lew Congregational chapel included the minister of Cote. (fn. 5) Average attendance in 1850-1 was 33, but only 14 were present on Census Sunday, and during the 1860s and 1870s Dissent in Lew declined steadily. From 1856 to 1858 and again by 1875 the chapel was let to the parish on weekdays for use as a school, and in 1878 only one dissenter was reported. (fn. 6)


  • 1. H. E. Salter, 'Oxon. Recusants', O.A.S. Rep. (1924), 19-20, 40, 46, 53.
  • 2. Bp. Fell and Nonconf. 5, 50-1; O.R.O., BOQM 1/ii/3; ibid. MS. Wills Oxon. 8/4/34.
  • 3. O.R.O., WCC I/1, pp. 101, 117.
  • 4. Ch. and Chapel, 1851, no. 265; W. H. Summers, Hist. Berks., S. Bucks., and S. Oxon. Congregational Churches (1905), 273; Giles, Hist. Bampton, 87, stating that it was not completed until after Lew church was finished in 1841.
  • 5. O.R.O., WCC I/1, p. 117; Oxf. Chron. 8 Mar. 1856; Summers, Hist. Congregational Chs. 272.
  • 6. Ch. and Chapel, 1851, no. 265; O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. c 332, pp. 54-6; c 335, ff. 25-6; c 338, f. 29V.; c 341, ff. 48-9; c 344, ff. 33-4; below, educ.