Tetsworth Fees, Manor & Estates

Knight’s Fees
Tetsworth does not appear by name in the Domesday Survey, but its lands were included in the Bishop of Lincoln’s Thame Manor of 60 hides. It is probable that it was represented mainly by the 10 hides held by a certain Robert, one of the Bishop’s Knights, and that he is to be identified with the Robert who Held of the Bishop in Banbury, Cropredy, and Wickham.  He may very possibly have been the father of Aucher Chevauchesul, who flourished at Tetsworth in the 1st half of the 12th century,  and the grandfather of Robert Chevauchesul.  This last was in Possession of Tetsworth by c.1146, and Tetsworth must have been included in the 3 Fees he was holding of the Bishop of Lincoln in 1166.  The date of his death is uncertain, but he appears to have been alive in 1201.  At that date he was holding only 1 out of his 3 Oxfordshire Fees; the other 2 Fees had been for some time in the possession of possibly the son of Hugh Talemasch of Stoke Talmage, and himself Lord of Stoke.  Peter, however, had died by 1181,  and Maud must have died before 1198, for it was their son Richard who was then in possession of half the Tetsworth Fee.  In this year (1198–9) he and Robert Danvers, the heir to a Moiety of the Tetsworth and Epwell Fees, were engaged in an Assize of Mort d’Ancestor over 2 of their Oxfordshire Fees, a Suit which may have had some connection with Peter’s Debts to the Jews recorded in the same year.  Richard married Avice Taillard, a sister of Richard Taillard who frequently witnesses Charters with him,  and appears to have died in or before 1205 when his son and heir Peter is found in possession of a ½-Fee at Finstock in Charlbury, a part of his father’s Property.  In 1209–12 Peter Talemasch and Robert Danvers were returned as Joint Lords of Tetsworth; Talemasch was said to hold a ¾-Fee.  When a Survey of the Bishop’s Thame Manors was made c.1225 Peter Talemasch was still Holding.  Robert Danvers’s share had descended to him from William Danvers of Bourton and Chislehampton, who had acquired it by his marriage with Emma Chevauchesul.  William Danvers was one of Henry II’s Knights, and it has been plausibly suggested that he may have supported the King against Becket since he was omitted from Thame Abbey’s prayers for his Family.  Robert the son of William and Emma had succeeded by c.1197, and his younger brother Ralph was then Holding part of Tetsworth of him.  Robert was a man of some standing: he acted as King’s Assessor in Oxfordshire in 1200.  He was still Holding the Tetsworth Fee in 1209–12,  but on the marriage of his eldest son Geoffrey before 1222, he gave 1½ Fee, including his Tetsworth Fee, as Dowry for Geoffrey’s wife Sara.  Both Geoffrey and his father were dead by the time of the Lincoln Survey (c.1225), when William Danvers, Geoffrey’s brother and heir, was recorded as Holder of the Tetsworth Fee.  From a Final Concord made in May 1225, it appears that Geoffrey died before 1225, for by then Sara had already taken a 2nd husband.

William Danvers seems to have died before 1247.  He was followed by his eldest son Robert, who in 1279 held the Tetsworth and Epwell Fees including the land once held by the Talemasches.  In 1305 it was specifically stated that Robert Danvers was heir to Peter Talemasch’s Fee.  A 14th-century record shows that Robert’s son Simon held both the Danvers and Talemasch Fees and that each contained Property in both Tetsworth and Epwell.  Simon had subinfeudated his Tetsworth land which was mainly held by Thame Abbey.  In 1316 Simon Danvers and the Abbot of Thame were returned as joint Lords of Tetsworth and in that year Simon was summoned for Military Service as one of the Lords of Tetsworth, Epwell and Swalcliffe, Drayton, Stadhampton and other lands.  Simon lived until at least 1327  but before his death he disposed of some of his Tetsworth Property.  In 1321 he gave some 4½ Virgates and a 2/3-Fee there to Geoffrey de Stokes and his wife Alice, who may have been Simon’s daughter, with remainder to their son Geoffrey.  In 1336 John de Wheatfield acquired the 2/3-Fee from a Geoffrey de Waterbeck,  perhaps the same man as Geoffrey de Stokes.  He died about 1345  and in the following Year, his son John was returned as holding a -Fee in Tetsworth. His assessment on only a -Fee, John son of Simon Danvers and the Prebendary of Thame each holding another 3rd, may represent some internal arrangement concerning the Fee.  John de Wheatfield had died by 1361 and his heirs were Joan and Elizabeth.  They succeeded to the Tetsworth land, but in 1367 a Nicholas Tetsworth obtained half the Property from Reginald de Grey and his wife Elizabeth and in 1374 he obtained the other half from Hugh Streatley and his wife Joan.  The descent of the property is not clear after this. In 1428 Walter Cotton, at that time Lord of a Bletchingdon Manor and of Exning (Suff), held the Wheatfield and Danvers property in Tetsworth, but no later reference to the Cotton Tenure has been found.  It is probable that the land was entirely held by sub-Tenants and became merged in other Manors. The Prebendary’s -fee likewise has not been traced beyond 1428, but it appears to have followed the Descent of Thame Prebend.


From the time of its removal from Oddington to Thame, the Cistercian Abbey of Thame began to acquire land in Tetsworth through the Gifts of the Pious, and particularly from the Families of the various holders of Fees – Chevauchesul, Talemasch, & Danvers.  Its Property was later known as Tetsworth Manor.  The Abbey obtained a hide from Robert Chevauchesul before 1146;  in 1197 Ralph Danvers, with the consent of his Lord and brother Robert Danvers, gave 2¼ Virgates;  and in 1199 Alan, Clerk of Tetsworth, and his wife Clarissa gave 2 Virgates.  About the same time Robert Danvers, his brothers William and Roger, and their cousin Richard Talemasch each gave a Virgate.  Their mother Emma Danvers had already given 2 acres.  The Charters record in all the Gift of 15½ Virgates, but from a Survey made in about 1225 it appears that Thame Abbey held 8¼ virgates of the Danvers Fee and 8¾ of the Talemasch Fee, besides 3 Virgates at Farm and 12¼ acres in small Parcels.  Its total holding was thus over 20 virgates.  In 1279 the Jurors declared that the Abbot’s Holding was 9½ Virgates held of Robert Danvers’s Fee by Scutage and Suit of his Court, and 8½ Virgates held of Peter Talemasch’s Fee by Scutage.  Talemasch was by now dead, having given the Abbey his Stoke Talmage Manor as well as part of his Tetsworth Fee.  In 1316 the Abbot was therefore returned as Joint Lord of Tetsworth with Simon Danvers and he Held his share as 1 Knight’s Fee.  The Estate, usually known as the Grange, is 1st designated a Manor in 1365, when the Abbot was Granted Free Warren there and was retained by the Abbey until its Dissolution in 1539

In 1542 Thame Abbey’s Manor along with Stoke Talmage was Granted by the Crown to Robert King, the last Abbot of Thame and the 1st Bishop of Oxford.  He proceeded to lease it in 1547 for 99 years at £20 2s 10d to Sir John (later Lord) Williams of Thame.  The Manor was afterwards lost to the Bishopric, and the Lease to Lord Williams was Terminated.  In 1558 and 1560 Tetsworth Manor was listed among the large sales of Land to a number of London Citizens,  but it was in the hands of the Crown again in 1589, when it was Granted in Fee Simple for £44 5s. to Christopher Petty and his son Charnell, members of an old Tetsworth Family.  Christopher Petty was already in possession of an Estate in Tetsworth, which had been left to him by his father John Petty.  This John Petty had been Granted Arms in 1570; had built up a large Oxfordshire Estate; and on his death in 1578 had divided his Tetsworth lands between 2 younger sons, George and Christopher.  In 1589 George Petty died, leaving his share to Christopher.


In 1602 the Pettys were given permission to sell Tetsworth Manor to Walter Jones of Chastleton,  whose daughter Ellen married Ralph Holt of Stoke Lyne.  Since Thomas Holt, the son of Ralph and Ellen, later married Charnell Petty’s daughter Susan,  it is probable that the Manor was returned to the Pettys in some kind of Family Settlement. Christopher Petty died in 1614, and his son Charnell succeeded.  On the latter’s death in 1661 he left Tetsworth in Trust for his young grandson Christopher, the boy’s father Christopher being already dead.  Christopher Petty obtained possession in 1674;  he married Hester, the daughter of Robert Parsons, a Gentleman of Great Milton; but he was a man of ‘unthriftiness, folly, and extravagance‘,  and had soon dissipated his Estate. In 1680 and 1683 he sold a part of his land to Anthony Wood’s brother Christopher, and in 1683 he sold the Manor and other lands, said to be worth £2,000, to Thomas Phillips, a Lawyer of Ickford (Bucks).  Petty’s absorbing interest was Bell-ringing, and Hearne says that he ‘rang away … a good estate‘ and died ‘very reduced‘ at Thame, probably in 1739.

TetsworthOldKingsArmsThomas Phillips died in 1705, having left most of his property to his son-in-law Lenthall Trotman of Bucknell because his son Thomas had become a Roman Catholic; the Property was to revert to the Phillips Family in the event of the heir becoming a member of the Church of England.  Trotman died in 1710,  and in 1717 his 2 sons Samuel and Thomas were returned as owners of Tetsworth Manor.  However, by 1733 Thomas Phillips appears to have recovered possession, for in that year he augmented with Tetsworth land the Endowment of a Charity in Ickford, founded by his father.  Thomas Phillips the younger died in 1742 leaving 2 sons,  both Roman Catholics, and the younger one Henry Phillips sold Tetsworth Manor with land in Ickford to the Earl of Abingdon in 1756.  It then consisted of only about 100 acres of land and a few Quit-rents.  The Manor formed part of the Abingdon Estates until about 1810 and brought in an income of £120 odd.  It was apparently sold to the Rev Samuel Ryder Weston, a Canon of St Paul’s,  who was in possession of the Manor-House and land in Tetsworth in 1810.  He died in 1821: his heirs were Charlotte Weston, who was Lady of the Manor in the 1850’s, and Frances (neé Weston), the wife of A H Matthews (d.1854), Vicar of Weston-on-the-Green, who owned Manor Farm (116 acres). In 1859 the Property was in the hands of A M Matthews, the Rev A Matthews and the Rev H S Ryder Matthews, nephews of Charlotte Weston.  In about 1866 the Manor and Manor Farm were bought by Joseph Cornish, a Tetsworth Farmer, from the Matthews Family.

During the Reign of Edward III, a John Windbush built up an Estate in Tetsworth of some 9 Messuages and about 150 acres with appurtenances.  In 1471, when this Estate was acquired from a Richard Seymour and his wife Isabel by Richard Fowler, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it was called Windbush Manor and consisted of 8 Messuages and 260 acres of Land.  Fowler owned much other Oxfordshire Property, including the recently acquired Moreton Manor in Thame, and several Manors in Buckinghamshire.  He died in 1477, and in 1504 Windbush was in the possession of his Widow Joan, sister of Sir Thomas Danvers of Waterstock.  She died in 1505,  and Windbush was probably sold by her son and heir Richard Fowler (d.1528), who was a Spendthrift and certainly sold much of his other Property.

By 1507 the Manor seems to have been in the hands of Thomas Bradbury, a London Mercer and Alderman (d.1510); it is next recorded in 1540, when George Baldry of Hadley (Suff), the son of Sir Thomas Baldry, another Mercer and Mayor of London, died in possession of both Tetsworth and Moreton.  The custody of his infant heiress Elizabeth was Granted to Sir Richard (later Lord) Rich, Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations, and in about 1554 she married his son Robert, 2nd Lord Rich, who died in 1581.  As her 2nd Husband she married Robert Forth, and after her death in 1591 he held Tetsworth and Moreton for life.  They were inherited not by her eldest son Robert, who became Earl of Warwick, but by her 2nd son, Sir Edwin Rich, who in 1601 sold them to Henry Savile, Warden of Merton College and Provost of Eton.  At the end of the 16th century the Pettys of Tetsworth had an interest in Windbush and may have been leasing it, and in 1620 Savile seems to have Mortgaged it to Maximilian Petty, a Thame Lawyer.  After Savile’s death in 1622 Windbush and Moreton were held for life by his Widow Margaret and were then inherited by their daughter Elizabeth, the wife of Sir John Sedley, Bt (d.1638), of Aylesford (Kent).  In 1656 the Manors passed with the title to their youngest son Sir Charles Sedley,  who in 1669 sold Windbush to James Perrot of North Leigh, a member of an Old Oxfordshire Family.  The Property descended from the elder James Perrot (d.1687) to his son James (d.1725) and to his grandson Henry, who sold Windbush and Moreton in 1730 to Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough.  The Property brought in an annual revenue of about £450.  In 1762 it was settled on Lord Charles Spencer of Wheatfield, a younger son of the 3rd Duke of Marlborough.  He died in 1820; his son John in 1831, the same year in which his grandson Frederick Charles, Rector of Wheatfield, died, leaving an infant son. By this time the Spencer Estates were so burdened with Annuities that in 1835 an Act was passed to sell part of them in order to preserve the Wheatfield Estate.  Manorial Rights had probably long lapsed.

A part of the 37 hides which the Bishop of Lincoln held in Demesne in Thame in 1086 was in Tetsworth:  in 1279 8 Tenants held 8¼ Virgates from the Bishop direct (in capite) and in 1535 his Estate in Tetsworth and Moreton was valued at £6 1s 2d.  In 1547 the Bishop was licensed to Grant his Tetsworth Manor, along with other Manors, to Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset.  On his Execution in 1552 Seymour’s lands escheated to the Crown, and Tetsworth and Thame came into the possession of Lord Williams of Thame.  This Tetsworth Manor was inherited by his daughter Isabella and her husband Sir Richard Wenman and followed the Descent of Thame Park until the 2nd part of the 17th century, although some of the Land was sold to Charnell Petty in 1614.  The last time Tetsworth was mentioned among the Wenman lands was in 1678.  The land was evidently sold, for in 1842 the Owner of Thame Park held no land in Tetsworth.

Lesser Estates
Early in the 13th century Peter Talemasch Granted the Templars, in one of whose Churchyards he desired to be buried, in Free Alms a hide (or 4 Virgates) of his Tetsworth land, and added a Charter of Warranty.  One of the Virgates belonged to his Widowed mother Avice, and by 1210 she had successfully sued the Templars for it.  Consequently, they sued Peter for the Virgate, and in 1211 he agreed to let them have 31 acres in Stoke Talmage in its place during his mother’s life.  Later he added another 5 acres in Stoke.  On Avice’s death, the Virgate returned to the Templars, who before this litigation had already Leased their Tetsworth hide to William Coco and his heirs for 2s a year and 6s 8d relief on the death of a Tenant.

This hide formed part of the Sandford Preceptory’s Estate, and like its other Property passed in the 14th century from the Templars to the Hospitallers.  In 1513 it was being rented from the Hospitallers at 2s a year by the Fraternity of the Holy Cross in Abingdon.  After the Dissolution of the Hospitallers in about 1540 and of the Guild in 1547, the land probably came into the possession of the Pettys of Tetsworth.  A house that had belonged to the Abingdon Guild was held by John Petty of Stoke Talmage on his death in 1589.  He also held a house which had belonged to the Chantry founded in Rycote Chapel by Richard Fowler and Richard Quatremain.

In the course of 2 Centuries the Cozens Family, Yeomen of Thame and Tetsworth,  acquired an Estate in TetsworthThomas Cozens (d.1744), who seems for a time before 1731 to have lived at Dormer Leys in Attington, purchased in 1729 a Messuage and 2 Closes, called Harlots Ford and Ford Close.  His son Thomas (d.1789), who made further purchases, was known by 1772 as ‘of Harlesford‘.  Succeeding Generations continued to buy up land in Tetsworth, one of the largest purchases being made in 1838 by another Thomas Cozens (d.1857), who paid about £5,000 for land from the Spencers, which included Peesleys Ground and Bandage Way.  In 1870 his successor, his nephew John Cozens (d.1879), bought 2 Farms, the Royal Oak Inn, and the Manor-House.  By 1894 and 1904 when Cozens’s Executors tried to sell the Estate the Family owned 478 acres.  By the 1920’s Edward Walker was the Chief Landowner and by the 1930’s the former Cozens Estates had been divided up.

The Royal Oak Inn was probably at the Attington end of the Village adjacent the Stoke Talmage turn.

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