Thame Manor & Estates

In the Anglo-Saxon period Thame was among the Endowments of the Bishopric of Dorchester, and with the Bishop’s other Demesne Manors in Oxfordshire – Banbury, Cropredy, Dorchester & Great Milton – formed a great Episcopal Estate of immemorial Antiquity.  However, the earliest specific evidence for the connection between Thame and the Bishop is the death of Oscytel, Bishop of Dorchester and later Archbishop of York, at Thame in 971.  When in 1070 it was decided to move the See of Dorchester to Lincoln, its possessions were transferred to the Bishop of Lincoln, who in 1086 was holding Thame of the King.  The Manor then consisted of 60-Hides, of which the Bishop held 37 and his Knights 23-Hides.  The 37-Hides held by the Bishop represented not only Thame itself, but the Bishop’s Demesne lands in Moreton, North Weston & Tetsworth, while the 23-Hides held by his Knights represented Land in Attington & Moreton, North Weston, Tetsworth, and possibly Waterstock.


From 1126 onwards Honorius II and successive Popes confirmed to the Bishops their Lands at Thame with its Liberties and appurtenances and Henry II Granted to Bishop Robert de Chesney Free Warren there, as his Predecessors had had it in the time of Henry I.

The Demesne Manor, consisting of Old Thame and the Town of New Thame, with Lands in Moreton, North Weston, and Tetsworth,  was kept in the Bishop’s hands throughout the Middle Ages.  In 1279 he was returned as Holding the Hundred and the Manor (which included its subinfeudated parts) of the Barony of Banbury for the Service of 5-Fees and in 1316 he was described as Lord of Old & New Thame.  In the early Middle Ages, during a vacancy of the See, the Possessions of the Bishopric came into the King’s hands.  The long vacancy between 1166 & 1183 explains the fact that in 1182 the Episcopal Manors, including Thame, were held by the King.   Because Hugh de Welles, although Consecrated in 1209, did not receive the Temporalties of his See until 1213, Thame is again listed in about 1212 as in the King’s hands.   In the early 14thC the Policy changed, for the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln bought from Edward II for £1,000 the Right of having the custody of the Possessions of the See during a Vacancy and from that time Thame, like the other Episcopal Manors, was evidently Administered by the Chapter between the death of a Bishop and the Accession of his Successor.


In 1547 Henry Holbeach, soon after being translated to Lincoln, sold for ‘certain great sums of money‘ to Protector Somerset the greater part of the Possessions of his See, probably as the price of the Bishopric. Included in the Sale was the valuable Thame Manor, including the Bishop’s lands in Moreton, North Weston & Tetsworth, which had been assessed at £71-10s-d in 1535.  By 1550 Somerset had transferred it to Sir John Williams, who at about the same time acquired the Site & Lands of Thame Abbey.

Williams, a younger son of Sir John Williams of Burghfield (Berks), was from about 1530 a Royal Official who built up a large Estate from Monastic Lands.  In 1554 he was created Lord Williams of Thame by Queen Mary.  He lived at Rycote in the neighbouring Parish of Great Haseley and had many associations with Thame.  By his 1st wife Elizabeth, granddaughter of Thomas Bledlowe, a London Grocer and Alderman,  Lord Williams had 3-sons, who died in their father’s lifetime, and 2 daughters, Isabella, the wife of Richard Wenman, and Margaret, the wife of Henry Norreys (later Lord Norreys),  who became their father’s heirs on his death in 1559.  As far as the Property in Thame was concerned, the Land which had belonged to the Bishop descended to the Norreys Family, while that which had belonged to Thame Abbey went to the Wenmans.

The Bishop’s Manor after the Reformation was sometimes described as New & Old Thame Manor, and sometimes considered as 2 Minors, New Thame and Old Thame.  Norreys died in 1601 and the Manor passed to his descendants.  James Bertie, Lord Norreys, who inherited in 1666,  was created Earl of Abingdon in 1682 and was followed in 1699 by his son Montagu, who died childless in 1743.

In the 17thC, the Manor-House and Demesne lands of Old Thame Manor were leased to the Barry Family.  Vincent Barry, the son of Francis Barry of Thame and the nephew of Vincent Barry of Hampton Gay (nr Kidlington), who may have 1st acquired the Lease from the Wrays in 1626,  was a JP and a Prominent Thame Resident.  He died in 1666,  leaving a son Vincent (d.1680), who in 1657 had obtained the Lease for 99-yrs at £20 a year.  Vincent’s eldest son Vincent inherited Hampton Gay, but the Lease of Thame went to another son Robert, later Vicar of Northfleet (Kent), who in 1706 sold part of the Estate to pay his Debts.  Thereafter the Family disappears from Thame.

Montagu Bertie was followed as Lord of Old & New Thame by his nephew Willoughby Bertie (d.1780); by his son Willoughby Bertie, the 4th Earl (d.1799), and then by his grandson Montagu, the 5th Earl (d.1854). The latter in 1844 offered for sale his Property in Thame Parish, including the Manors of Old Thame, New Thame, Priestend & North Weston, with nearly 2,400-acres of Land.  Priestend was successfully sold, but not the Thame Manors, for the Earls of Abingdon continued to be Lords of the Manor and the Chief Landowners.  On the death of Montagu, the 6th Earl, in 1884, his Thame Property passed to his younger son, Francis Leveson Bertie, a distinguished Diplomat, who was created Viscount Bertie of Thame in 1918.   On his death in 1919 he was succeeded by his son Vere Frederick, the 2nd Viscount, who lived at Shirburn Lodge (Christmass Common) and died in 1954, when the Title became extinct.

Priestend, a separate part of Thame, had its own Field System, and there presumably lay the Property of the Prebendaries during the Middle Ages.  In the mid-16thC, other Property there passed to William, Lord Windsor, who held Courts for Priestend Manor, as it was then called.  The Manor was still held in 1573 by his son Edward, Lord Windsor, who had succeeded in 1558, but it appears to have been held by the Norreys Family by about 1600.  It descended to them and their heirs, the Earls of Abingdon, with the main Manor of Thame, but remained a separate Manor with its own Courts & Tenants.  In 1844 the Earl of Abingdon sold his Priestend Manor, with over 700-acres of Land, to William Keppel, Viscount Barrington & Joseph Henley of Waterperry.   No later record has been found of the Manor, but by the 1880’s the Earl of Abingdon was again the Chief Landowner in Priestend.

From at least 1577 the Wenmans also held an Estate in Priestend which is listed among their Lands as a Manor until the late 17thC.  After this, it disappears.

The 1st mention of Baldington’s or Baldington Manor in Thame occurs in 1419.  It was then held of the Bishop of Lincoln, and probably continued to be, although the Overlordship is not mentioned after the middle of the Century.  The Manor-House and probably much of the Land belonging to the Manor lay in Old Thame, but there were appurtenances in New Thame, Moreton & North Weston.  Land in other Parishes – Great Milton, Denton in Cuddesdon, Garsington & Toot Baldon —which were held by William Baldington in 1419 were said later in the Century to form part of the Manor, as was also land in Long Crendon & Ickford (Bucks). In the late 16thC the Manor still included appurtenances in New Thame, Moreton & Priestend, but not Land outside the Parish.

John Baldington of Thame, probably a member of the Family which had held Little Baldon in the 13thC, was an important man who often served on Commissions of the Peace.  He acquired Albury Manor, and may have been the 1st of his Family to own Thame Property.  His son William, who lived at Albury,  died in 1419 holding Baldington’s Manor.  His heir was his son Thomas.  He left a Widow Agnes, the daughter of John Danvers by his 1st wife and therefore a half-sister of Sir Thomas Danvers of Waterstock, and 3-young daughters, Agnes, Alice & Isabella.  Thomas’s Widow, who married as her 2nd husband Sir John Fray (d.1461), probably held the Manor until 1454, when she Granted it to her 2-elder daughters.  By that time Isabella was dead; Agnes, the wife of William Brome of Holton, received Albury as her Inheritance;  and Baldington was evidently Alice’s share of her father’s Lands. She was already the Widow of John Wakehurst and in 1473 she and her 2nd husband, Henry Tracy of Toddington (Glos), sold the Manor to Geoffrey Dormer for £313-13s-4d; he was, however, to pay them a yearly rent of £9-14s less 3s-4d for the Steward who held the Courts.

Dormer, a Merchant of the Calais Staple, was an important man in Thame.  He died in 1503, but in 1498 he had settled Baldington on his son Geoffrey, who also lived in Thame and was probably the Master Dormer who was buried there in 1537.  The younger Geoffrey left no children, so his heir was his younger brother Sir Michael Dormer, a London Bercer and in 1541 Lord Mayor of London.  The latter bought up much Property in Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire. Some of his Manors he left to his elder sons,  but Baldington, Attington & Dorton (Bucks) he settled on a younger son William and his wife Elizabeth.  William Dormer, Old Thame’s richest inhabitant, used Attington & Dorton to obtain ready money, and in 1560, in return for £450, he Granted Thomas Sackville (later Earl of Dorset) a yearly Annuity of £53-6s-8d out of Baldington.  Before his death in 1563 he settled the Manor for life on his wife Elizabeth and then on his son John.

Dormer’s Widow married as her 2nd husband Hugh Hollinshead of Thame and in 1566 they were able to reclaim from Sackville all his rights in Baldington.  She was probably dead by 1584 when her son John, who lived at Dorton and was to become a prominent Buckinghamshire Knight, was in possession of Baldington.  In 1586 he settled the Manor on his wife Jane, the daughter of John Giffard of Chillington (Staffs).  No mention has been found of the Manor after 1586 and it is probable that some of the Lands were sold. Sir John Dormer’s heirs, the Dormers of Ascott, and their successors, the Dormers of Rousham, held land in Thame until at least the early 18thC.

Robert Plot ‘s Map of Oxfordshire 1676

Natural History of Oxfordshire ~ Robert Plot

In the Middle Ages North Weston Fee or Manor as it became later, was held of the Bishop of Lincoln as of his Manor of Thame.  The Overlordship was last mentioned in 1625, when the Manor was held of Edward Wray and his wife,  the Lords of Thame Manor.

The Tenant of the Fee in 1086 was a certain William, one of the Bishop’s Knights.  His Fee consisted of 3 hides in Thame (i.e. North Weston) and 3¾-Hides in Great Milton (i.e. Ascott).  From at least 1166, when Herbert Quatremain held a Fee of the Bishop,  until the 15thC North Weston & Ascott formed the 2 halves of the Fee known in the 15thC as ‘Quatremains Manor‘.  Herbert Quatremain died before September 1200 and was followed by his son Herbert, who was listed as one of the Bishop’s Knights in 1201 and still held in about 1230.  His son & heir William Quatremain succeeded but had died by 1279 when his heir William was a Minor.  Thomas, the son of William II, was returned as Lord of (North) Weston & Ascott in 1316. He married Katharine, the daughter of Guy Breton, and both he and his wife died in 1342.  The Thomas Quatremain who was in possession in 1346 was their son.  He considerably increased the Family Estates, and numerous Properties in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire were recorded in the Inquisition on his death in 1398.  The Family was settled at North Weston.  Thomas Quatremain was followed successively by his 3-sons John (d.1403), Guy (d.1414) & Richard, a London Merchant, who succeeded at the age of 22.  Richard became a man of high standing in the County, being connected by marriage with many of the leading Families, representing the County in Parliament in 1432 & 1433, and acting as High Sheriff in 1436.  In the 1450’s the Family lost Ascott, but Richard Quatremain held North Weston until his death in 1477.  He also acquired another Property there, called Hall Place, which had once belonged to William Baldington of Thame.  Quatremains Manor, and probably also Hall Place (North Street) were held by Richard’s widow Sybil, the heiress of Rycote, until her death in 1483.  Since the Quatremains had no children, North Weston had been settled on Richard Fowler and his wife Joan Danvers, who was the granddaughter of Richard Quatremain’s sister Maud & John Bruley of Waterstock.  Richard Fowler had died in 1477, but Joan lived until 1505, holding at her death the Manor & Hall Place.  Her heir was her son Sir Richard Fowler, who sold most of his Property.

By 1519 John Clerke, to whom Fowler had sold Shabbington Manor (Bucks), was holding the North Weston Manorial Courts, and in 1520 or 1521 the Manor was conveyed to him.  Clerke, a younger son of William Clerke of Willoughby (Warks), had gained fame and money by taking Prisoner Louis, Duke of Longueville, at the Battle of the Spurs in 1513 for Ransom.  He died in 1539, leaving a Widow Agnes, formerly the wife of Nicholas Pynchon, Sheriff of London & a son Nicholas.  In 1542 Agnes & Nicholas, who was in debt to Sir John Williams, leased Shabbington & North Weston to him for 60-yrs.

In the 1550‘s, however, Sir John leased the Manor back to the Clerkes.  Nicholas Clerke died in 1551 and was succeeded by a son William, who held North Weston in 1572, probably the year in which he married Margaret, the daughter of Sir John Bourne, Secretary of State to Mary I.  On Sir William Clerke’s death in 1625 Weston was inherited by his son William, who died childless the next year,  and then by a younger son Francis on whom it had been settled.  Sir Francis only lived until 1632 and left a young son John, who was made a Baronet in 1660 and died in 1667.  North Weston was again left to a younger son Francis,  MP for the County, who died childless in 1715, having put the Manor in Trust for his nephew Francis Carr Clerke, the son of his brother Richard.  The Trustees were to choose for Francis a ‘sober and discreet‘ wife, by whose fortune he could clear the Estate, for in 1720 unpaid Debts & Legacies amounting to £6,000 were still owing.

Francis Carr Clerke married Katherine, the daughter of Henry Bertie of Chesterton, who brought him £2,000.  Their young son Francis also married a member of a prominent local family, Susannah Ashhurst of Waterstock, but her marriage portion of £1,000 was not large and in 1748 Francis, who had succeeded his father in 1730, began Mortgaging North Weston. By 1753, when the Mortgage amounted to £9,000, he was forced to sell the Estate, thus bringing to an end the Family’s long connection with Thame.  The Manor was sold in 1755 for £31,000 to the Duke of Marlborough,  who in 1762 settled it, together with other Oxfordshire Property, on his younger son Lord Charles Spencer.  It remained with the Spencers of Wheatfield until the Manor (about 585-acres) was sold in 1836 to the Earl of Abingdon, who already owned some Land in North Weston which had been bought by the 1st Earl in 1684.  From that time North Weston followed the descent of Thame Manor until 1913 when Sir Francis Bertie sold his Land there (about 685-acres) and the Estate was broken up.

A 2nd Estate in Weston, about 9-Virgates, was a part of the Bishop of Lincoln’s Demesne Manor of Thame in the Middle Ages.  In 1535 the Estate, valued at £6 13s-4d, was farmed to Sir John Clerke of North Weston, and in 1547 Bishop Longland Leased 4 Yardlands, Bishop’s Weir, and some Quit-rents for 99-yrs to Sir John Williams, who acquired the rest of the Bishop’s Demesne Manor of Thame in the same year.

Until the Reformation Attington & Moreton, whose Medieval History was closely connected, were members of the Bishop of Lincoln’s Manor of Thame.  Land in each Township formed the 2- halves of 1-Knight’s Fee, known in the 13thC as the ‘Fee of Attington & Moreton‘.

It is probable that the 6-Hides belonging to the Bishop’s Knights, Alured and his companion, at the time of Domesday Book lay in Attington & Moreton and represented this Fee.  In the 2nd Quarter of the 12thCFulk de Fontibus appears to have held it. He had a son and heir Hervey de Fontibus, but a part of his Land in Oxfordshire & Leicestershire was left to his 2-daughters Alice, the wife of Hugh, the Constable of the Bishop of Lincoln & Parnell, the wife of Hugh de Braimuster.  They divided it so that Alice had ‘Blaweston‘, i.e. Blaston (Leic),  and Parnell had ‘Attington‘ (i.e. Attington with part of Moreton).  That this Fee was so often described as Attington is probably to be accounted for by the fact that only part of Moreton belonged to the Fee; the rest was a part of the Bishop’s Demesne Manor.

The de Braimusters were a Norman Family, who took their name from Brémoy (Calvados) and held among other lands in England, Bledlow Manor (Bucks), not far distant from Attington. In 1158 Hugh de Braimuster Leased Attington to Hervey de Fontibus for 6-yrs in return for being made Hervey’s heir and for an annual Rent of 40s.  When Hugh de Braimuster went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem (c.1160–80), he divided his Norman and his English Lands between his sons Hugh and Odo.  Hugh, whose interests were probably entirely Norman, granted his share of Attington (and Moreton) to Odo in about 1192, and confirmed the arrangement whereby Odo had Granted the Estate to Thame Abbey  (see below).  In 1192 Odo wrote to Bishop Hugh of Lincoln saying that since he had to spend more time in Normandy than in England, the Abbey would perform the Military Service of his Fee.  He remained in Normandy after King John had lost the Duchy to the French, and his Oxfordshire Fee, described for the 1st time as Lands in ‘Attington & Moreton‘, was in the meantime returned to the Bishop by the King.  In 1207 the Sheriff was ordered to restore these Lands to Odo, who immediately subinfeudated them for £23-6s-8d to Henry de Coleville.  Henry was to pay 72s a year to Odo and perform the Knight’s Service.  Shortly after (1209–12) Henry was duly returned as one of the Bishop’s Knights and as the Holder of a Fee in Attington (i.e. in Attington & Moreton).  He is also recorded as holding the Attington Fee in a Survey of the Bishop’s Estates made in the 2nd Quarter of the 13thC.  There can be little doubt that he was the Henry de Coleville who was Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire in about 1250, and who died in or before 1256.  A Philip de Coleville, one of Edward I’s Knights, is later found holding Land in Cambridgeshire & Huntingdonshire and had Rights in Attington in 1262.  It is likely that he was Henry’s son.  There is no further record of the Family’s connection with Attington and the Fee must have been taken into the Bishop’s hands.  In the Inquest of 1276 it was reported that the Bishop had enfeoffed the Abbot of Thame with the Fee in Attington & in Moreton.  It was alleged that this had been done in prejudice of the King’s Rights, since the King thereby lost the Wardship of the Fee.  The Abbey nevertheless retained the Lordship until its Dissolution.  In 1279 it was said to hold it of the Bishop by Scutage, but by 1346 it was holding in Free Alms.

At the end of the 12thCThame Abbey was the Demesne Tenant of that part of Attington which was known as Attington Abbot in the 16thC.  In 1192 Odo de Braimuster Granted the Abbey for 40s a year, the half of Attington which his brother Hugh had held.  In 1207 the Abbey’s share was reckoned as ¼-Fee.  When Attington was Granted to Henry de Coleville the Abbey’s Rent of 40s and its Foreign Service were transferred to the new Lord.  When the De Coleville’s Mesne Tenancy ended in the 2nd half of the 13thC the Abbey held this ¼-Fee directly of the Bishop.  After the Dissolution of the Abbey in 1539 Attington Abbot was acquired by Lord Williams of Thame and like the Abbey’s other Lands was inherited by his daughter Isabella Wenman and followed the Descent of Thame Park.  Manorial Rights may have survived into the 19thC, for in about 1830 Miss Wykeham was known as Lady of the Manor, but they were not mentioned when the Estate was sold in 1917, and had presumably lapsed.

The Demesne Tenant of the other ¼-Fee in Attington, later known as Attington Manor, at the beginning of the 13thC was Richard de Turri, for several years under-Sheriff of Oxfordshire and a Bailiff of the Earl of Cornwall.  He paid a Rent of 33s-4d and performed the Foreign Service.  It is probable that the John de Turri who Granted a Rent in Attington to Thame Abbey in the 1180’s was his father and was already Tenant of the ¼-Fee. The De Turris’ Holding appears to have passed by marriage to the De Hampden Family, Lords of Great Hampden (Bucks), for in 1271 Alexander de Hampden had a Rent in Attington in the Right of his wife Marina.  In 1279 his Estate in Attington was the largest Freeholding, and his son Reginald was returned in 1316 as one of the Lords of Attington.

The De Hampdens’ Estate passed, perhaps by marriage, to the Branch of the De Lewknor Family which held Wormsley in Stokenchurch and Heythrop in the 1270’s.  In 1306 John De Lewknor paid the largest contribution to the 16th in Attington and was presumably already the De Hampdens’ Tenant there. Robert de Lewknor, his successor at Wormsley & Heythrop,  similarly paid the highest contribution in 1327, and John de Lewknor of Wormsley & Heythrop was Granted Free Warren in Attington and his other Oxfordshire Lands in 1337.

The Descent of this ¼-Fee is obscure until 1384, when Sir Reginald de Malyns of Henton died in possession of half ‘Attington Manor‘, as it was then called, which he held of the Abbot of Thame.  This half followed the Descent of Henton until the late 15thC.  On John Barantyne’s death in 1474  his Widow Elizabeth, who married as her 2nd husband Sir John Boteler, may have held it for life, but in 1481 it was being claimed by Geoffrey Dormer, Merchant of the Calais Staple (Port) and already Lord of Baldington’s Manor in Thame.  He probably acquired Attington at about this time and like Baldington’s it Descended to his grandson William Dormer of Ascott.  In 1552, when the latter sold Attington & Dorton (Bucks) to Henry Gray and his wife Anne, but leased them back at an annual Rent of 100 marks, a complicated series of Financial Transactions began.  In 1557 Dormer sold the Reversion of the Manors for £513-6s-8d to Henry Reynolds,  whose Widow, after Dormer’s death, sold them back to Dormer’s widow Elizabeth Hollingshead.  After a Chancery Suit over Attington Manor, the Dormers regained Possession, and William Dormer settled it on his son John in 1563.  In 1591 John Dormer sold it, together with some Pasture Land which had been Leased to John Petty (d.1578) of Tetsworth, for £1,150 to George Tipping (later Sir George) of Wheatfield, the eldest son of Thomas Tipping of Draycott and the grandson of William Tipping of Merton.

On Tipping’s death in 1627 Draycott & Attington were inherited by his 2nd son William, a Theological Writer of some repute, who lived at Draycott.  In 1639 Tipping sold part of the Manor for £301 10s to Richard Cornish, an Adwell Yeoman, but left the rest of the Estate to his son George, also of Draycott.  The last known record of the connection of the Tippings with Attington was in 1727, when Bartholomew Tipping of Draycott was party to a Fine levied on Attington.  No further reference to the Manor has been found.

The Demesne Tenants of the Moreton part of the Fee in the early 12thC were the De Moretons, a Family which took its name from the Village.  Osmund de Moreton had been succeeded before 1146 by his son Geoffrey, who had at least 2 sons, William & Walter.  William was still living in Moreton in about 1180.  Although his Family retained land in Moreton until the 13thC, the ½-Fee seems to have passed to the Bixtrops by about 1190, for Walter de Bixtrop, a nephew of Geoffrey de Moreton,  then Granted land to Thame Abbey, which was apparently identical with that once held by the Abbey of the De Moretons.  It is established beyond doubt that in 1207 Matthew de Bixtrop, the son of Walter,  had been holding for some years the ½-Fee in Moreton of Odo de Braimuster.  In 1207, when Henry de Colville became Braimuster’s Tenant for the whole Fee, it was agreed that Matthew de Bixtrop should Hold of Henry by the Service of a ½-Knight as before he had Held of Odo.  Matthew was to become prominent in early-13thC Oxfordshire.  He was still alive in the 1230’s.  He appears to have had no heirs and in 1279 the Jurors stated that the Abbot of Thame held ½-Knight’s Fee in Chief of the Bishop of Lincoln through the good offices (per medium) of Matthew de Bixtrop.

The Abbey, however, had long had an Estate in Moreton.  Before 1146 Geoffrey de Moreton gave it a hide in Free Alms on condition that during his life or until he became a Monk the Abbey should give him every year a certain amount of grain, 2s 2d for his hose & shoes, and allow him a cow & a calf.  Hugh the Constable gave ½-Hide, which he had received from Geoffrey as a relief, but insisted on receiving the Service due from Geoffrey’s hide.  When Robert de Chesney, Bishop of Lincoln (1148–66), later confirmed the Gift of this 1½-Hide to Thame, he freed the Abbey from all Service due to him.  In about 1180 Ralph, son of Roger and his wife Adeliza, gave another ½-hide;  there were also other smaller Grants; by 1279 the Abbey had rounded off its Estate by acquiring Matthew de Bixtrop’s ½-Fee.  It then Held by Military Service, but by 1346 it had been freed of this Burden and was Holding in Free Alms.  After the Dissolution of Thame Abbey in 1539 its Moreton Lands, which were valued in 1535 at £46 16and included the Manor known as Shepcotts (or Sibcotts), were granted with many of the Abbey’s other Possessions in 1542 to Sir John Williams, and passing to his heirs, the Wenmans, followed the Descent of Thame ParkSheepcot appears among the Wenman Lands until the late 17thC; it probably later became absorbed in Moreton Manor (see below), which comprised about 250 acres altogether. In 1823 Sophia Elizabeth Wykeham was called the Lady of Moreton Manor, but there is no later reference to Manorial Rights.


The largest Estate in Moreton was held of the Bishop in 1279 by Military Service by Sir Nicholas de Segrave.  Segrave was a member of an important Leicestershire Family which had some association with the De Colevilles, holders in the 13thC of the Knight’s Fee in Attington & Moreton.  Although no later reference has been found to any Segrave connection with Moreton, the Land evidently Descended in the Family to the Lord Segrave (d.1353) who married Margaret, daughter & heiress of Edward I’s brother Thomas of Brotherton, Duke of Norfolk.  Their daughter Elizabeth, Baroness Segrave, married John de Mowbray, Lord Mowbray, and among the Lands inherited from his mother by their 2nd son Thomas, who became Duke of Norfolk, were Lands in Moreton.  In 1397 he Leased these for life to Nicholas Hall.

Thomas de Mowbray died in exile in 1399 and his 2nd son John, Duke of Norfolk, in 1432, leaving a Widow Catherine Neville. Moreton evidently formed part of her Dower, for her and her 3rd husband John Viscount Beaumont held it in 1458 when it is 1st called a Manor.  Before Catherine’s death, however, Moreton had passed to her son John de Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, who held it at his death in 1461.  He had Granted it for life to Richard Southwell, a Norfolk man who was in his Service.  The next Duke may have Granted it permanently to Southwell, for in 1469 it was acquired from the latter by a group which included Richard QuatremainRichard Fowler.  Fowler held it at his death in 1477, and from this time it followed the descent of Windbush Manor in Tetsworth, passing in the 18thC to the Spencers of Wheatfield, who still held it in 1835.


A 3rd Estate in Moreton was the Bishop of Lincoln’s Demesne.  In 1279 he held 9 Virgates in Villein Tenure and in 1535 his Lands in Moreton with those in Tetsworth were valued at £6-14d.  They Passed with the Bishop’s Thame Manor to Lord Williams of Thame and his heirs, the Norreys, and after to the Bertie Family, who in 1682 became Earls of Abingdon.  A holding called Moreton Manor, which in the 16thC seems to have had its own Courts,  was listed among their Lands until the early 19thC.  In the 18thC, the Earls’ 4-Yardlands (about 140 acres) in Moreton formed part of their Manor of New & Old Thame.

Another Manor was formed, probably in 1139, when the Cistercian Abbey at Otley in Oddington was moved to Thame and Endowed by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, in Free Alms with 3 carucates of Land there.  After the Reformation, the Property was called Thame ParkRobert King, the last Abbot, surrendered the Abbey in 1539, and in March 1542 the Crown Granted many of the Monastic Lands in and around Thame, including the Demesne Farm, called Home Grange, to Sir John Williams at an annual Rent of £84-6s-8d.  Sir John, who was related by marriage to the King, had been acting as the Abbey’s Receiver & Leasing part of its Thame Property.  In September 1542 the Site of the Abbey, including no doubt its Buildings and the £84 Rent, was given to King, who had been made the 1st Bishop of Oxford, as part of the Endowment of the See.  They were later lost to the Bishopric, for in July 1547 Edward VI Granted them with some Abbey Lands to the Duke of Somerset, who immediately transferred them to Sir John Williams, who thus acquired all the Abbey’s Thame Property. On his death in 1559 his daughter Isabella and her husband Sir Richard Wenman inherited the Abbey Lands in Thame, Moreton, Priestend, Attington & Tetsworth.

The Wenman Family were Wool Merchants, settled at Caswell Manor near Witney.  Sir Richard Wenman’s grandfather Richard and his father Sir Thomas were Merchants of the Staple Port of Calais.  With the marriage of Richard Wenman to Lord Williams’s daughter, the Family acquired large new Estates and was henceforth to play an important part in Oxfordshire History.  They lived at Thame Park until the 20thC.

On Sir Richard Wenman’s death in 1572  Isabella, who married as her 2nd husband Richard Huddleston of Little Haseley, held the Thame Park Property until her own death in 1587, 10 years after her eldest son Thomas had died.  The Thame Property descended to Thomas’s son Richard, who in 1596 was Knighted for Gallantry at the taking of Cadiz.  He served as MP for the County, and in 1628 was created Viscount Wenman of Tuam in the in the County of Galway of Irish Peerage.  He died in 1640, having settled Thame Park on his son Thomas and his wife Margaret, daughter of Edmund Hampden and a coheiress of her uncle, Sir Alexander Hampden of Hartwell (Bucks.).

Thomas Wenman, the 2nd Viscount, was a moderate Parliamentarian who was reduced to Poverty by the Royalist seizure of his Estates.  He died in 1665, being succeeded in the Title by his younger brother Philip, who died without children in 1686.  Thomas Wenman, however, had left several daughters; one of them, Mary, married her distant cousin, Sir Francis Wenman, Bt, of Caswell (d.1680), and their son Sir Richard Wenman, created Viscount Wenman in 1686,  inherited the Thame Park Property. He died in about 1690, leaving an idiot son Richard, the 5th Viscount (d.1729). According to Thomas Delafield Richard’s son Philip, the 6th Viscount was ‘of a not much greater capacity‘.  He was succeeded in 1760 by his son Philip, also an MP who married a daughter of the 3rd Earl of Abingdon, and died without children in 1800, when the Title became extinct.  His heirs were the descendants of his sister Sophia, the wife of William Humphrey Wykeham of Swalcliffe (d.1783).  The Thame Park Estate descended to Sophia, the daughter of Sophia Wykeham’s eldest son, William Richard Wykeham (d.1800).

Sophia Wykeham, described by the Diarist Greville as ‘a half-crazy woman of large fortune‘, was a friend of the Duke of Clarence (later William IV), who in 1818 was planning to marry her.  The marriage was forbidden, but in 1834 he created her Baroness Wenman.   She lived at Thame Park and died unmarried in 1870.  Thame Park passed to her cousin, Philip Thomas Herbert Wykeham, the eldest son of Philip Thomas Wykeham. He was succeeded in 1879 by his nephews, the sons of his brother Aubrey Wenman Wykeham-Musgrave (d.1879), who married Georgiana, the daughter of Sir James Musgrave, Bt, of Barnsley (Glos.), and the heiress of her brother, Sir William Augustus Musgrave, Rector of Chinnor and Emmington.  Their elder son, Wenman Aubrey Wykeham-Musgrave, who inherited Thame Park, moved to Barnsley in 1914 and died in 1915.  His son, Herbert Wenman Wykeham-Musgrave, put up for sale in 1917 about 3,300-acres of the Thame Park Estate and Manorial Rights lapsed.

Lesser Estates
In the early 13thC a ½-Fee was Held of the Bishop by Mabel, a Widow.  By about 1225 she had been succeeded by William son of Osbert.  By 1279 this Fee was held by Sir Geoffrey de Lewknor, a Royal Justice and Lord of Great Harrowden (Northants.), for a rent of 9s, Scutage, and Suit at the Hundred Court.  He was succeeded at Thame in about 1300 by his son Ralph.  Both Ralph and his eldest son Geoffrey were dead by 1316.  The latter’s brother John held the 1/5th-Fee in Thame in 1346.  Although John de Lewknor had a son John and a grandson, Robert, by the end of the century the Family had lost Harrowden, and there is no later record of any connection with Thame.

Sir Adrian Fortescue

From the late 14thC the Stonors of Stonor Park had an Estate in Thame; Sir Ralph de Stonor (d.1394) held it by 1390,  and it descended in the Family to Sir William Stonor, who in 1479 was appointed hereditary Steward of several of the Bishop of Lincoln’s Manors, including Thame & Dorchester.  He died in 1494 and his eventual heir was his daughter Anne, the wife of Sir Adrian Fortescue. Part of the Stonor Lands, however, were claimed by Sir Walter Stonor, a nephew of Sir William’s.  By a Royal Award of 1536, the Property was divided between them.  The Thame Estate is not mentioned, but it probably went to Fortescue, who was holding it in 1536.  No later record of it has been found.  Fortescue, who was executed for Treason in 1539, left 2-daughters by Anne Stonor (Fortescue was later Beatified by the Pope in 1895).  One of them married Sir Thomas Wentworth, Lord Wentworth, and their daughter Margaret was the 2nd wife of Lord Williams.  It is possible that through her the Stonor Property in Thame became United to Lord Williams’s Thame Manor.

Click to Enlarge

Map of Oxford County 1797
Surveyed by a local man, Richard Davis of Lewknor and published in 1797. This large map consists of 16 sheets at an impressively detailed scale of 1:31,680 or 2in to 1-mile. No more than 200 copies were ever made, the evidence is based on all sets of the Map having manuscript serial numbers – this Image is part of No.34.  Very few complete copies survive.  In terms of what the Map shows, a clear break has been made from the Saxton-led traditional County Map, as here far more detail than previously is featured. Not only are County & Hundred Boundaries, Rivers & Streams, Towns & Villages, Parks & Woodland depicted, but here we have Roads, Tracks, Hedges, indeed every Field can be seen, and relief is beautifully represented by the use of hachuresDavis was also Topographer to His Majesty, George III.
OS Map 1881 – Albury, Crowell, Emmington, Kingston Stert, Moreton, North Weston, Stoke Talmage, Sydenham, Tetsworth, Thame, Towersey

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