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Chapter III.


Some time after the Conquest Jordan de Sai gave the Church of Sulethorne to the Abbey of Eynsham, or Ensham, in the following terms:―“I, Jordan de Sai, for the soul of my son William, on the day in which I have committed him to the tomb at Egnesham, have given up to to the said monastery the Church of Sulethorn.” The witnesses are “Ranulph my son” and others. (From a Chartulary of Ensham, Cotton MS., Claudius A. VIII. fol. 135, in the British Museum). This gift was confirmed by Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, who also confirmed a pension of two marks of silver† yearly from the Church of Sulethorn. In 1218 William de Warres, nephew of Robert, Abbot of Eynsham, was admitted to the vicarage, when the monks had got their pension up to 100 shillings. Somewhat later, Robert de Hay, rector of Sulthorn, claimed from Oseney Abbey a certain measure of corn for their demesne lands in Mixberie, and fourpence yearly of their demesne lands at Fulwell, by virtue of an old custom called “Church Scot.” However, by consent of the Abbot and Convent of Eynsham, patrons of the said Church of Sulthorne, the said rector agreed to an annual pension of five shillings in full satisfaction for the said corn and money. (MS. Osn. Reg., fol. 121.)

* For much of the following information the compilers are indebted to the kindness of F. Madan, Esq., late Fellow of Brasenose College, Sub-Librarian of the Bodleian, and a1so to the Rev. Dymock F1etcher.

† A mark of silver, 13s. 4d.

In 1233 there is the following notice:―“To all sons of our Holy Mother the Church, to whom the present writ shall come, the Priors of St. John and St. James send greeting,” and recite a mandate from Pope Gregory, wherein it is stated that the Prior and Convent of St. Frideswide, of Oxford, have by a plaint shown that Robert of Sulthorn, Nicholas of Beckell, a trusty knight, and divers others, do, in the matter of tithes and holdings, wrong the said Prior and Convent, and further that his Holiness has ordered the Dean of Northampton and the Priors of St. John and St. James, or any two of them, to summon the parties before them, and decide the question at issue without appeal. Further reciting that, upon parties being so summoned, Robert, rector of Sulthorn, confessed in court that the tithes of one hide of land, which is called the “Hide of Sulthorne,” is within the bounds of the parish of Frettewelle, and so by common right belonging to the Church thereof, and by the same right to the Canons of St. Frideswide. Whereupon it was adjudicated that the said tithes should belong to the said Prior of Frideswide, and be alienated from the said Robert and his Church of Sulthorn for ever. The priest of Sulthorn renewed this suit the following year, and the Pope appointed three more commissioners, other than those before mentioned. These confirmed the former sentence, but the priest appealed to Rome again, and ultimately won his cause, subject to a yearly payment of 10 shillings to the Priory.* “The rector of the Church of Sulthorne holds (by the same fee) one hide of land which was formerly given to the Church of Sulthorne in perpetual alms.”―(Testa de Nevill.)

In 1291 John de Bernewelle, parson of the Church of Sulthorn, had recovered his seisin against Thomas de Lewknore and Lucy, his wife, of his common of pasture in Sulthorn, belonging to his freehold.―(Abbreviatio Rotulomm originalium, Ed. I.) And in 1297 the same John de Bernewelle has a letter of protection against further taxation by patent dated 2nd March of that year.† Also in the Abbreviatio Rotulorum it is stated that the Rector, Adam de Kereseye, had recovered his seizsin in the King's Court at Oxford, against Lucy, who had been wife of Thomas de Lewknore, of 40s. rent in Sulthorn, and in the Testa de Nevill, temp. Henry III. and Ed. I. it is said that Lucia de Arderne holds the whole village as her free marriage dowry.

* A great portion of the glebe, now called “Inlands Farm,” is in the parish of Fritwell.

In Post mortem Inq.,22nd Ed. 1., “Joh'es do Bernewelle, Sulthorne Villa, de cursu aquae divertendo ibidem.”

In the 33rd of Ed. I. (1305) there are the following pleadings before Ralph de Hengham and his fellow justices of the bench of our Lord the King, in Trinity Term:―Thomas, Abbot of Egnesham, by his attorney, appeared against Lucia, wife of Thomas de Lewk­nore and against Peter of Schevyndon, to hear an assize of darrein presentment, of which the said Thomas did here in the court arraign the assize (that is, bring the cause into court) against them, about the advowson of the Church of Soulthorn, which is vacant. The report goes on to state that the said Lucia and Peter defended the suit against the said abbot, but not appearing, judgement was claimed by him upon their default. The jury find that the vacancy occurred upon the death of one John de BerneweIle, and those who have been consulted upon the rights of the abbot affirm that in the 20th Henry III. (1236) an agreement was made between Nicholas, then Abbot of Egnesham, and one Lucia de Arderne (grandmother of Lucia de Lewknore), by which she acknowledged that the advowson belonged to the aforesaid Abbey of Egnesham, and that when a vacancy in the office of abbot happened, the Bishop of Lincoln, as patron of the said office, did confer the Church on Geoffrey de Stokes, one of his clergy. And those who have been consulted about collusion between the parties as to the value of the Church, find there was no collusion―that the Church is of the value of 20 marks yearly, and that the period of six months for presentment has not elapsed. Therefore, it was allowed that the aforesaid Abbot Thomas should have a writ to the Bishop of Lincoln, and that upon its presentation he (the Bishop) should admit a fit person to the aforesaid Church, and the Abbot was allowed 10 marks from the defendant in compensation for his losses.*

We hear of no further lawsuits after this, only of the constant change of the clergy in the earlier centuries, as will be seen from the following list, and which may probably be accounted for by the alienation of the tithes to Eynsham Abbey.

* See White Kennett's Antiquities, &c., vol. I., p. 500.



William de Warres.―William, rector in 1207; Muniments of Magdalen College, Oxford, Brackley, 62.

1233 (about)―

Robert de Hay. One of the family of Nichola de Hay, widow of Gerard and mother of Richard de Camville, late Lord of Middleton.―(White Kennett, vol I, p. 262.)

Date uncertain.―

Geoffrey de Saye.

Date uncertain.―

Adam de Keresaye.


John de Bernewelle.


Geoffrey de Stokes.


William de Valderby.


Peter de Dalderby.


John Valderby, an acolyte.


Master Richard Selby, a priest


Thomas de Soliers, or Solers, clerk.


Simon de Lamborne.

Date uncertain.―

Sir Wm. Person.

1397, 8th January.―

Simon Hohe (?) priest.

1397, 21st January.―

Master Walter Bullock, clerk, on the resig­nation of Simon Hohe(?)

1397, 11th February.―

Simon Hohe(?) presented again by the Abbot and Convent on the resignation of Master Walter Bullock. And in 1400, 9th February, Simon Hohe(?) again changed livings with Thos. Preston, Rector of Smerdon.―(White Kennett, vol. II, p. 169.)


Thos. Bentley; who in


Exchanged with John Whyteby or Whitby.

1415, 21st April.―

Alan Kyrketon exchanged with John Whitby.

1415, 18th May.―

Will Robyn, on the resignation of Alan Kyrketon.

1416, 16th May.―

Thos. Wyssop, alias Chesterfield, on the resig­nation of Will. Robyn.


John Pagrave de Offord, priest.


William Carles, in exchange.

. . . . .      

Sir Thomas Nesshe.


Master Robert Darcy, on the death of Sir Thos. Nesshe.


Master Walter Bate.

Date uncertain.―

Master Thomas Gage.


Master Thomas Warne, presented by John Lyhynde, of Fifield, for this one turn by an alleged concession granted by the Abbot and Convent of Eynsham.


John Barrat, Fellow of New College, “from Sowthorne,” in 1506; Fellow of Winchester in 1513; died 14 May, 1524.―(University Register, 1885, pp. 71, 304.)


Edmund Gledhill. All the above, except where otherwise mentioned, were presented by the Abbot and Convent of Eynsham.


Edward Yonge, admitted by the Lord Archbishop, presented by Wm. Holte, Esq. (In the Register of Archbishop Parker.)


Lawrence Giles, on the presentation of Hugh Throgmorton, of Souldern, Knight. (Register of Archbishop Parker, page 12.)

The living afterwards became Crown property, and the only Rectors whose names we can find between this date 1571 and 1647 are Thos. Norbury, as appears from a petition in Chancery (elsewhere referred to) of the year 1613, and Thos. Hardinge. The Rev. J. W. Pieters, sometime Bursar of St. John's College, Cambridge, kindly sent us the following extracts from the College books. “The advowson of Soulderne, in Oxfordshire, together with three other benefices, was given to St. John's College, Cambridge, by Archbishop Williams, under letters patent, dated 30th December, 1623. The grant was ratified by the King, 1625.” (See also Hackett's Life of Archbishop Williams, and Baker's History of St. John's College, edited by Mayor.)

Thomas Hardinge 

was Rector between 1622–1648. [For further particulars see Monuments.]

Thomas Hodges

, B.D. Admitted Fellow on Mr. Ashton's Founda­tion, 19th June, 1644, by order of the Duke of Manchester, in place of Thomas Thornton, who refused the Covenant. Oct. 28th, 1647, presented to the living of Souldern, but afterwards ejected, and again presented in 1662. Else­where we find this notice―“Oct. 22, 1647. Application for an order for Dr. Aylett to institute and induct Thomas Hodges to the Rectory of Souldern, Oxon. Lords' Journals, IX., 490. Certificate annexed, from the Assembly of Divines that Hodges has been approved for the cure. 20 Oct.” (Calendar of House of Lords' MSS. in 6th Report of Royal Commission on Historical MSS., p. 203.)*

* In our possession (given by Mr. Beesley, of Banbury) is a pamphlet entitled “The Hoary Head Crowned; a Sermon preached at Brackley at the Funeral of Fran. Wallbank,a very aged and religious Matron; by Thomas Hodges, B.D., Rector of Souldern, and lately one of the Sen. Fellows of St. John's Coll., Cambridge.” 1654.

William Twyne

, B.A., Fellow on Lady Margaret's foundation, pre­sented 3rd March, 1663–4, in place of Thos. Hodges, resigned. (His monument is destroyed or concealed.)

Bryan Turner

, B.D., Fellow on Hibblethwaite's foundation, 4th April, 1665, presented on the death of Wm. Twyne. (See Monuments. )

Geoffrey Shaw

, B.A. 1679, M.A. 1683, B.D. 1691, admitted Fellow on Lady Margaret's foundation, 1698. (For further account see note at end of this history.)

Matthew Pearson

, B.A 1686, B.D. and D.D. 1688. :Fellow on Lady Margaret's foundation, presented 1706.

John Russell

, B.A. 1716, M.A. 1719, B.D. 1729. Fellow on Lady Margaret's foundation, presented Nov. 6th, 1735.


John Horseman, B.A. 1735, M.A. 1758, B.D. 1776. Fellow on Lady Margaret's foundation. This man, evidently in­tended by nature for a road surveyor, pulled down the original chancel and built the present barn-like substitute.


Robert Jones, B.A. 1791, M.A. 1794, B.D. 1802. Fellow on Dr. Gywne's foundation, presented 15th November, 1806. (A friend of the poet Wordsworth, who often stayed at the rectory.)


Lawrence Stephenson, B.A. 1823, M.A. 1826, B.D. 1838, D.D. 1844. Fellow on Lady Rokeby's foundation, pre­sented 11th July, 1835.

The Curates in Charge at different times within the present century, are as follows:―

Francis Clerke

, M.A., Fellow of All Souls', College, Oxford, Curate from September, 1822, to the end of July, 1826. On leaving Souldern he became Senior Proctor at Oxford, in 1832. A relative (we believe brother) of the late Archdeacon of Oxford.

J. A. Walpole

, B.A., also of All Souls' College. At Souldern from September, 1826, to the end of 1827 .

Wm. Cotton Risley

, Fellow of New College, Oxford; afterwards Vicar of Deddington. A man universally and deservedly esteemed. Curate in charge from March, 1828, to August, 1836.

John Edward Wharton Rotton

, D.D., LL.D., of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Late Senior Chaplain of the Bengal Ecclesi­astical Establishment, and Chaplain of the Forces at the siege of Delhi (1857); appointed May 21st, 1876, and is still (1887) in charge.