Samuel Rudder was a Gloucestershire topographer, printer and antiquarian who was born in Uley and baptised there in 1726. He ran a printing and bookselling business in Cirencester in the 1750’s and wrote and published several important works on the history of Gloucestershire. ‘A New History of Gloucestershire 1779’ includes historical accounts of various towns in Gloucestershire. It was compiled from printed questionnaires, which Rudder said made him very troublesome to his friends. He also used the research of other people including Sir Robert Atkyns who wrote ‘The Ancient and Present State of Glostershire’ in 1712. Samuel’s work was well received by critics and Horace Walpole described it as ‘the most sensible history of a county that we have yet’. It had taken 12 years to complete.
For the purposes of this website, we have extracted that section of Rudder’s document which relates to Thornbury and the surrounding villages and then divided the transcription into separate pages covering different aspects of the historical account. The following text is a transcription of part of Samuel’s document as it relates to Thornbury’s Tithings and Hamlets.
TITHINGS and HAMLETS
By an act passed in the reign of king Charles the Second, the tithings of Oldbury, Kington, Morton, and Falfield, all in the parish of Thornbury, were consolidated into one manor, called the manor of Thornbury. Of which tithings in their order:
Oldbury, sometimes written Aldbury, and Ealdbury, from the Saxon, Ealb-bery. We now call it Oldbury upon Severn, to distinguish it from Oldbury upon the Hill, in the hundred of Grumbald’s Ash. It stretches along the shore of the Severn, and is supposed to be the Roman station called the Trajectus, or ferry, mentioned in Antoninus’s fourteenth Iter, from Isca, now Caerleon in Monmouthshire, to Calleva, now Wallingford in Berkshire. It received its present name from the Saxons, on account of the ancient camps which they found there and of which some traces still remain. The smaller one, or Campus Minor, was on the east side of the hill near the church, where every thing passing upon the Severn hereabout might be seen, and many Roman coins have been found upon the spot. A little eastward of that, about a quarter of a mile on the plain, was the Campus Major; and part of the intrenchments with high banks, forming two sides of a square, still remain pretty perfect, tho’ the other parts are levelled. Just by these, in a piece of ground which still shews many tumps and unevennesses, a great many old foundations have been dug up in the memory of persons living in the place. These circumstances very much corroborate the opinion that here was the Roman Trajectus, and not at Aust, as some have fancied. The distance between the Abone, another Roman station, and the Trajectus, is set down to be nine miles by Antoninus, which not agreeing with real distance between the places where those stations are supposed to have been, has occasioned much difficulty in fixing the situation of the Abone; but as this subject has been fully discussed under Lidney, the reader is referred to that head for further satisfaction.
This part of the parish is very unhealthy, from stagnated water lying on some of the lands; and it is made more so from the great number of Elm trees standing so thick about the houses, that the air has not a free current.
Sir Robert Atkyns has misapplied the account of Edward the Elder passing over the Severn at this place, to meet Leoline prince of Wales; for according to Mapes, and others, it happened at Aust, and not here.
The Despencers are said to have been sometime seized of this manor, in the reign of king Edward the Second. Eubulo le Strange, and Aleria his wife, levied a fine of Oldbury to the use of Hugh le Despencer 18 E.2.
The knights templars were seized of Oldbury 2 E.3. and upon the dissolution of that order, the manor was granted to the Veals. John Veal died seized of the manor of Oldbury 36 H.6. as did Robert Veal, son of John, 13 E.4.
The Kemyses succeeded the Veals. Roger Kemys, who was found by inquisition to be a lunatick, died seized of Oldbury 21 E.4. Hugh Kemys and John Kemys levied a fine of the manor of Oldbury to William George, and William Overton, 4 E.6. Sir James Harrington was lord of this manor in the year 1608, but it is now consolidated with Thornbury.
John Newton and Joan his wife levied a fine of lands in Oldbury to the use of themselves in taille, 8 H.5. Lands in Oldbury and Holeham belonged to the abbey of Tewskesbury, and were granted to Daniel Pert and Alexander Pert, in trust, 7 E.6. A portion of tithes in Oldbury, and a meadow called Holeham, which belonged to the abbey of Tewkesbury, were granted to the lord Fenton 5 Jac.
There is a chapel in Oldbury, and the chapelry is annexed to Thornbury. It is called the Rectory of Oldbury in the presentation, and is worth 50l a year. The chapel stands on the top of a hill. The inhabitants say, that their ancestors attempted to build it on Shaw’s Green, near the middle of the village; but what they effected in the day was destroy’d by night, which made them desist. They were then advised to yoke two heifers that never had been milked, and wheresoever they should first stop, there to build the chapel. The poor beasts straggling along, at last halted on the top of the hill, and so the chapel was built there.
Cowhill, or Cowell, is a hamlet in this tithing. Henry Campneys was seized of Cowhull 15 E.4. Anthony Campneys died seized thereof 27 H.8. and livery was granted to Henry Campneys, brother and heir to Anthony, the next year. Livery of Cowell was also granted to John Campneys 13 Eliz. Cowell was lately purchased out of the family of Sir Thomas Campness, by Peter Holford, of Weston Birt in this county, esq.
Mr Thomas Adams has a good estate at Cowhill.
Kington. The church of Thornbury stands in this tithing. The lands anciently belonged to the family of the Staffords, and were granted to Dorothy Stafford, and to her sons, in taille, 26 Eliz. Aryld, a virgin, is said to have been murdered here by one Muncius, a tyrant, who cut off her head. She was afterwards canonized, and buried in St Peter’s abbey at Gloucester.
Marlewood is within this tithing, where was an ancient seat and a park belonging to the Staffords, which Edward Stafford sold, about the beginning of this century, and Mr Knight, whose ancestor purchased it, is the present owner of it.
Morton. Eastwood is a very large estate in this tithing, where was formerly a park. It is situated on a fine eminence, on the east side of the town, and has a large mansion house belonging to it, now converted to a farm house. This estate came to the crown by the attainder of Edward duke of Buckingham, and was granted to Thomas Tyndale 7 Eliz. Sir Richard Rogers, son of Robert Rogers of Bristol, died seized of Eastwood in 1635. It afterwards passed to Sir Richard Ashfield, in right of Mary his wife, eldest daughter, and one of the coheiresses of Sir Richard Rogers; and is present the estate of Sir Banks Jenkinson, of Oxfordshire, baronet, whose arms are given under Hawkesbury.
Hope is the name of a place in the parish of Thornbury. Sir William Compton died seized of ten messuages, five hundred acres of arable, and two hundred acres of pasture, and of other lands in Hope, near Thornbury, 20 H.8. Mr Thomas Morris has a good estate at Hope.
Buckover is the name of another place. Lands in Buckover in Thornbury, lately belonging to Edward duke of Buckingham, were granted to Elizabeth Harwell 15 H.8. Lands called the Barrys, late the duke of Buckingham’s, were granted to Thomas Henege, and Catherine his wife, for their lives, 23 H.8.
Falfield, so called from the Saxon Fald, an inclosure. It was reputed a manor and belonged to Sir John Berkeley, of Beverstone, 6 H.6. and to Sir Maurice Berkeley 14 E.4. William Berkeley was seized of it, and being outlawed for treason, it was granted to Thomas Brug, and his heirs male, 1 H.7. But William Berkeley was afterwards restored to his estates. Sir William Berkeley died seized of Falfield 5 E.6. and John Berkeley, son of Sir William, had livery of it granted to him 6 E.6. Livery of the manor of Falfield was also granted to Edward lord Stafford 9 Eliz. This manor, as before observed, is consolidated with that of Thornbury. Mr Thomas Skey has a good estate here, which has been in his family for many generations.
The town of Thornbury was fortified for the king in the great rebellion, by Sir William St Leger, to restrain the garrison at Gloucester.