R. H. (Richard Henry) Gretton.

The Burford records, a study in minor town government online

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(No second name recorded.

1716 Richard Whitehall
Matthew Underwood

1 7 1 7 John Castle
William Castle

1718 Dennis Cosens
Robert Taylor

1719 William Bowles
Paul Silvester

1720 Paul Silvester
Henry Taish

1721 George Hart
John Cooke

1722 Richard Whitehall
Matthew Underwood

1723 William Castle
Robert Taylor

1724 William Bowles
Paul Silvester

1725 Thomas Hunt
John Green


1726 Matthew Underwood


William Upston

Paul Silvester

Thomas Silvester

1727 Richard Whitehall


Paul Silvester

James Partridge

Thomas Silvester

1728 William Bowles


William Upston

Robert Taylor

Thomas Sylvester

1729 Matthew Underwood


Paul Sylvester

John Green

Edward Ansell

1730 Robert Taylor


Thomas Sylvester

Paul Silvester

Edward Ansell

1731 George Hart


Paul Sylvester

Richard Whitehall

William Upston

1732 Robert Taylor


William Upston

Matthew Underwood

Thomas Sylvester

*733 George Hart


Thomas Sylvester

John Green

Edward Ansell

1734 Richard Whitehall


William Upston

Matthew Underwood

Edward Ansell

*735 Paul Silvester


William Upston

John Green

Edward Ansell

1736 George Hart


William Upston

Matthew Underwood

Edward Ansell

1737 Paul Silvester


William Upston

Thomas Ansell

Edward Ansell

1738 Matthew Underwood


William Upston

George Hart

Edward Ansell

1748 Paul Silvester


William Upston

John Green

William Boulter

1749 William Chapman


William Boulter

John Collier

Absalom Monk

1750 Paul Silvester


William Chapman

John Green

William Boulter

1751 John Collier


William Chapman

John Castle

William Boulter

1752 Paul Silvester


William Chapman

John Green

William Chavasse

J 753 William Upston


William Chapman

John Collier

James Monk

1754 William Upston


William Chavasse

John Collier

John Kempster

1755 Paul Silvester


William Chapman

John Green

William Chavasse

1756 William Upston


William Chapman

Thomas Silvester

John Arkell

1757 Paul Silvester


William Chapman

William Chapman

William Chavasse



1781 William Chapman 1795 William Boulter
Edward Ansell Pye Chavasse

1782 William Chavasse 1796 William Turner
John Kempster Richard Tuckwell

1787 William Boulter 1797 William Turner
James Monk Pye Chavasse

1788 Thomas Silvester 1798 Pye Chavasse
William Chavasse William Turner

1789 William Boulter J 799 Pye Chavasse
John Arkell William Turner

1790 William Boulter 1800 Benjamin Waters
James Monk John Tuckwell

1791 William Boulter 1801 Benjamin Waters
William Chavasse Pye Chavasse

1792 Edward Ansell 1802 John Tuckwell
John Arkell Benjamin Waters

1793 William Chavasse 1840 William Ackerman
Pye Chavasse William Tuckwell

T 794 John Arkell 1841 William Ackerman

William Turner William Tuckwell

From the year 1846 William Ackerman held office alone as
Bailiff until the Corporation was dissolved.

No mention can be found of any member of the Corporation
described as ' Alderman ' before 1530. Yet it is difficult to
imagine that neither the Gild nor the Corporation had a Chief
Officer ; and therefore, as occasional references are found to
Burgesses described as ' Seniors ', it has been assumed that
they may be included in the following list of the Chief Officers.
No systematic list of the holders of the Aldermanship was
ever kept ; and the only possible list is a fragmentary one,
made up from various references in the Burford Records.



1367 Robert le Cotelir Thomas Spicer

1382 John Wenryche 1404 Thomas Spicer


1530 Peter Eynesdale 1540 Richard Manyngton

1537 Peter Annysdale 1553 Richard Monyngton



J 559 Simon Wisdom

1566 Simon Wisdom

1568 Simon Wisdom

1570 Simon Wisdom

1571 Simon Wisdom

1573 Simon Wisdom

1574 Simon Wisdom

1579 Simon Wisdom

1580 Simon Wisdom

1581 Simon Wisdom
1586 Richard Chadwell

1589 Richard Chadwell

1596 William Symonds

1598 Richard Merywether

1599 Richard Merywether
1605 Richard Merywether
1608 Richard Merywether
1620 Symon Symons
1725 Charles Perrott
1728 Charles Perrott
1792 Charles Fettiplace
1828 Thomas Cheatle

The earliest mention of an official with the title of Steward
is of the year 1537. But in the case of this office there is less
difficulty in recognizing it under earlier names. The ' Sene-
schal ' mentioned occasionally during the fifteenth century
was certainly the officer later called the Steward. It also
seems certain that occasional references both of early and of
late periods to a ' Chamberlain ' indicate the same officer.
Again, we have no systematic record of the holders of the
post, and can only compile a fragmentary list.





Henry Coteler, Seneschal
Sir Robert Harcourt,


Richard Hannys
Richard Hans
Simon Wisdom
Edmund Sylvester
John Hannes, senior
John Hannes
John Hans
John Hans
John Hans




John Hyll
William Bowdelare

John Hans
William Symons
William Symons
Symon Grene
Symon Symons
Symon Symons
Symon Symons
William Webbe
George Hart,


By the Rev. William C. Emeris, Vicar of Burford



By R. H. Gretton

A CHURCH must have existed in Burford from early times ;
but of an Anglo-Saxon or early Norman structure nothing
now remains, unless a fragment is to be seen in the doorway,
within the church, leading to the tower steps.

The outline of the history of the present building would
seem to be as fellows :

(i) A church, consisting of nave, tower, and short chancel,
was built towards the close of the twelfth century. Of this
building there remain the west wall and west door, and the
tower. One other small fragment may be seen, built into the
north wall of the Tanfield chapel ; and in the room over the
porch there are two stones, which have formed part of
a Norman doorway, perhaps the south door of the original

(ii) In the thirteenth century the chancel was lengthened,
arches were opened in the north and south walls of the tower,
and the transepts were built. A south aisle must also have
been erected.

(iii) A hundred years later the chapel of St. Thomas of
Canterbury was built west of the south transept, with a crypt
beneath. The font is of this period.

(iv) Towards the close of the fourteenth century a great
work of reconstruction began. It may be said that for
a hundred and twenty years work of building or decoration
was going on in the church ; and at the close of this period
the church had reached the size and shape which we now see.
A sacristy was built to the north of the sanctuary, in which


the original altar still remains, a new nave with north and
south aisles was erected, the tower was raised and a spire
added, 1 and the beautiful porch arose. Then, however, the
Norman tower showed signs of weakness under the additional
weight that had been put upon it. In order to save it,
reinforcing work had to be done, the nature of which is
perfectly evident to-day. The north and south arches opening
from the tower space into the transepts were partially filled
up, lower and narrower arches appearing under the original
ones ; the north transept was shortened and strengthened
with thrusts and buttresses, and the north wall of the chancel
was widened and so arranged as to form a support ; several of
the small arches within the tower above the main arches were
blocked up. The slightly distorted curve of these main arches,
and certain signs of old cracks in the walls above, remain
to show what danger the tower had been in. At about the
same time as this building was taking place, the north wall
of the north transept was prolonged eastwards to form
a chapel north of the chancel. Later a south chancel chapel
was built, and a new east window inserted in the chancel.

(v) There remains to mention one other feature of the
church, which was not from the first an integral part of the
structure. In the thirteenth century the Gild Merchant of
Burford built a chapel, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary,
in the churchyard, close to the south-west corner of the church,
but detached from it. The separate position of the chapel is
evident in one document of the Burford Records, a convey-
ance of property by one William More, of Henley-on-Thames,
to Thomas Spicer, with certain remainders to the church of
Burford. Remainder to the Gild chapel is also included, and
it is described as ' capella beate marie in eodem cimeterio que
est burgi '. This specific description of the chapel as ' in the
churchyard ' proves that it was not at that date (1422) a part
of the church. In the fifteenth century this chapel was
lengthened towards the east, so as to reach the great south
porch ; it was shortened at the west end, and was opened to

1 The will of John Cakebred of Burford helps to date this work ; he
bequeathed ' catnpanili nostro emendando xs '. See Part III, p. 420.


the south aisle by an arcade. On its enlargement, it was
re-dedicated as the great chapel of St. Mary and St. Anne.
As it stands the chapel bears signs of its two distinct stages
of existence. The south door, now blocked, with a defaced
crucifix above it, and the windows and door, also now blocked,
in the north wall, are relics of the original Gild chapel. It is
just possible that the remains of the window to be seen at the
junction of the north wall with the west wall of the main
building, at a lower level and of somewhat later date than the
other windows in the north wall, may mark for us, if it was
a kind of low side window, the position of the altar in the
original chapel.

The extension of the chapel into the church fabric coincides
interestingly with the period at which the Gild of Burford
was rising to importance, and was assuming authority over
various church funds.

It is interesting also in another way, because the detached
position of the first chapel has produced a curious irregularity
in the ground plan of the church. The two buildings were not
oriented on quite parallel axes, with the result that the Gild
chapel, when lengthened eastwards, entered the main building
at a distinct slant.

Of the original arrangements within the church and of the
decoration which adorned it some idea can be formed from
hints which the present building supplies, and from docu-
ments which have survived.

We see the blocked doorway which led out upon the rood
loft, and this marks the position of the great rood at the
western tower arch, and doubtless of some form of screen
beneath it. There are unmistakeable traces of another screen
under the eastern tower arch.

Probably the altar in St. Peter's chapel was connected with
the rood screen. The present dedication is modern. Of the
general structure of this chapel, which is such an unusual and
interesting feature of the church, it is impossible to speak
with certainty. The stone canopy must undoubtedly have
belonged to a mediaeval altar ; but the woodwork, according
to the accepted view, was erected by Sir Lawrence Tanfield




to form a priory pew, a use which the canopied enclosure
served for some two centuries. In support of this view it' is
pointed out that the woodwork does not fit on properly to the
stone canopy, and conceals some remains of decoration on the
upper face of the stonework. However, the most recent
authoritative opinion regards the wooden canopy as also part
of the original chapel, though of later date than the stone

The screens dividing the north and south chancel chapels
from the chancel are original ; but that dividing the Tanfield
chapel from the north transept is a medley of mediaeval and
Jacobean work ; it was placed there by Lady Tanfield. The
screen of St. Thomas's chapel is mainly original, and still
preserves much of its colouring. About the beginning of the
eighteenth century this chapel was reserved for the attendance
of members of the Corporation at divine service, and called
the Burgesses' Aisle ; portions of the screen have been cut
out, apparently for their convenience, and fresh pieces have
had to be inserted.

The pulpit also is original mediaeval work, but in this case
the colour has been revived.

Of the colour decoration of the walls traces are to be found
in the south transept and in St. Thomas's chapel, and in the
Tanfield chapel there is a very interesting recess in which the
decoration still lingers. Patches of colour on the stonework
in the nave suggest how much was lost through the disastrous
removal of the plaster in early stages of the nineteenth-century
restoration ; and it is on record that there was a figure of
St. Christopher on the wall near the pulpit. 1

Of other features of the mediaeval church, evidence is
provided by the will of Henry Bisshoppe, dated October 28,
1478, which is among the Burford Records. In this document
a chapel of St. Katherine is specially mentioned, perhaps the
chapel in which the Tanfield monument stands ; the matrix
of a brass which may have been Henry Bisshoppe's is in this
chapel. He bequeathed one pair of vestments for celebrating
Mass particularly at the altar of that chapel.

1 Stated by the Rev. John Fisher, in his History of Burford, p. 29.


But what we chiefly owe to his will is a knowledge of the
altar lights anciently in the church. He left bequests for the
maintenance of many of them, naming those of the Holy
Cross, the Holy Trinity, St. Katherine, St. Mary and St. Anne
in 'the chapel ', St. John, St. Stephen, St. Clement, St. Thomas,
the light called Sidelight, the light called Torchlight, and the
light of All Souls. The situation of some of these can, of
course, be identified.

Five years earlier John Pynnok, senior, had made bequests
to the high altar, and for the repair of that altar and every
other altar in the church ; but unfortunately he does not say
how many these were, nor give their dedications.

Of ancient glass such fragments as survive are to be seen
in the upper lights of the east and west windows, and in the
north window of the north transept. 1

Some few pieces in the west window are in situ. The figures
and angels would seem to have come from tracery lights.
Among the figures the following saints have been identified :
the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Barbara, St. Margaret, St. Mary
Magdalen, a female saint holding a book in her left hand,
perhaps St. Katherine, and St. George piercing the dragon
with a spear held in both hands, and wearing armour of circa
1480. It would appear that the angels belonged to a series
representing the Nine Orders ; they may have been in the
clerestory windows in the nave, and the female saints in the
windows of the Lady Chapel. Of a set of symbols of the
Evangelists, that of St. Luke is in the west window and that
of St. Matthew in the east. Some small letters of an inscription
in the west window read ' How a manne ma wedde ', and
suggest that there was also a series representing the Seven
Sacraments. Other fragments give interesting types of
canopies, and parts of a figure of an archbishop, fully vested,
with the pallium, perhaps St. Thomas of Canterbury.

In the east window there are rounds with the Jesus and the
Mary monograms, in situ. We see also St. Christopher, and

1 The account here given of the surviving fragments of ancient glass is
from notes compiled by Mr. G. McN. Rushworth, by whose kind permission
this use is made of them.


two angels of the Annunciation. At the top of one light is
a head of fourteenth-century character, but all the other
fragments are of fifteenth-century glass. However, in the
cusped head of one of the central lights there is the merchant's
mark of some donor (inverted), and it corresponds exactly
with the mark used by Simon Wisdom on his seal. As is
remarked elsewhere, there is no evidence of any one of this
name, or of the name of Wisdom at all, in any of the Burford
Records, before the well-known Simon Wisdom, who figures so
largely in the town's history. As he was living till about 1582
or 1583, he can hardly have been concerned in the erection of
fifteenth-century windows ; and this fragment must almost
certainly have come from some later window given by him.

The collection and placing of the fragments in the east and
west windows was done in I826. 1 When the lower lights of the
west window were filled with modern glass in 1874 one head
under a canopy was removed, and this is now in the north
window of the north transept ; it represents St. James of Com-
postella, with a cockle shell on his hat. Other fragments found
in the church have been placed in the centre of this window.
The piece bearing the arms of St. Edward the Confessor and
the glass in the tracery lights were given to the church in 1911.
Of the monuments in the church, the oldest, and the only
one which preserves the memory of a mediaeval citizen of
Burford, is the beautiful bracket brass beneath the rood, from
which John Spicer, with his wife Alys, still speaks to us. 2
He died in 1437, and the rood beneath which his body was
laid had been his gift to the church, together with one of the
windows :

The wiche rode soler in this chirche
Upon my cost I dede do wirche
Wt a lamp birnyng bright
To worschip god both day & nyght
And a gabul wyndow dede do make
In helth of soule and for Crist sake.

1 In the course of the changes made by the Rev. Alexander Dallas,
referred to later.

2 During the work on the church in 1826-7 this brass was discovered
a foot below the flooring of that time ; this, no doubt, accounts for its


This window we can perhaps identify by connecting it with the
question of the dedication of St. Thomas's chapel, which is of
particular interest, because St. Thomas of Canterbury is not
a saint usually commemorated in the churches of this part of
England. It would seem likely that the chapel was given by
some one who had a peculiar attachment to the saint. Now
the document concerning Thomas Spicer, which has already
been referred to in connexion with the Lady Chapel, makes
very special provision for the upkeep of ' the light which is
before the altar of the said Thomas Spycer in the parish
church ' ; that light is to take precedence of every other
purpose in the ultimate disposal of his money. In view of this
fact, and in view also of the curiously personal description of
the altar, it is evident that ' the altar of Thomas Spycer ' was
in some rather unusual way connected with his name. Thus it
is at least permissible to conjecture that he may have built
the chapel of St. Thomas of Canterbury as to his name-saint.
If so, perhaps John Spicer's gable window is the one in this
chapel, and is his contribution to his relative's work.

Another mediaeval citizen, and obviously a greater than
John Spicer, has left the fine decorated altar-tomb in the
south transept. The tomb originally bore another bracket
brass, of exactly the same type as John Spicer's, with the two
figures kneeling at the foot of an elevated bracket ; but every
scrap of metal has now disappeared, except one small fragment
of the inscription round the edge, bearing the name ' Willel-
mus '. We are not, however, without other clues. Sir Richard
Lee, the Herald, who visited and made notes in so many of
the churches of Oxfordshire in I574, 1 records ' a fair tomb of
marble ', which must almost certainly have been this one, since
we have knowledge of no other tomb in the church at that date
to which the description would apply. It was even then
' defaced ', but it had not been completely stripped, for Lee
records three coats of arms upon it. 2 From the fact that he

1 Printed in the Visitations of Oxfordshire (Harleian Socy. Pubns.,
vol. v).

2 The visitor in 1660 (see p. 116) appears to note this same monument :
' In another Chappell on the same ' (the south) ' side, a grey marble
monument. The arms on it not discernable.'


gives the tinctures, it would seem probable that these coats
were not in the now empty matrices of shields on the top of
the tomb (for arms in brass were seldom, if ever, tinctured),
but were on some of the shields held by angels round the body
of the tomb. The arms recorded were : (i) Gules a lion
rampant guardant or, impaling a merchant's mark ; (2) argent
three stumps of trees couped and eradicated sable, impaling
argent a maunch sable ; (3) quarterly first and fourth argent
three stumps of trees couped and eradicated sable, second and
third argent a maunch sable.

Unfortunately these clues, taken in conjunction with such
indication of date as the style of the tomb affords, do not
suffice to identify the person buried beneath. The character of
the brass, as seen from the matrices, together with the general
style of the tomb, would date it somewhere between 1370
and 1450. The first of the three coats of arms given above is
proof that the man commemorated was a Burford merchant.
The impaling and quartering of the Hastings device (the
maunch) shows that one of this family married one of the
Hastings family. But the link which the other device might
be expected to supply is missing. The tree stumps cannot
be connected with any Burford family. But for the shield
bearing the Burford lion and the merchant's mark we should,
indeed, hardly have looked among Burford men for the person
here commemorated. Not only is the stonework elaborate,
but the surviving fragment of metal is a piece of unusually
fine and delicate engraving.

The tomb has been popularly associated with the family
of John Leggare, because he ' decorated ' the window of this
transept as an inscription in an unaccustomed place, the
outside moulding of the window, informs us for the welfare
of the souls of his father and mother. Leggare was a Burford
man, who appears in the Records once as feoffee of the church
lands in 1487, and later as the founder of an obit. But there
is nothing to suggest that he would have been of such position
as to erect so elaborate a monument, and it is, moreover, un-
likely that, if he did, his petition for prayers for the souls of
his parents would have appeared on the outside of the window ;


he would have placed it upon the tomb, if the William buried
there were his father.

The following extracts from early Burford wills at Somerset
House, kindly taken by Mr. Michael W. Hughes, add several
interesting details to our knowledge of Burford church in the
Middle Ages, and afford one or two important identifications.
For instance, from the will of John Pynnok, 1486, the chapel
of the Holy Trinity can be placed. We know from the
notes of Sir Richard Lee in 1574 that the arms of Pynnok,
with the date 1485, were in the chapel containing the brass
of John Pynnok, senior, 1474, and that this was the south
chancel chapel. This, therefore, was the chapel of the Holy
Trinity, and it was rebuilt by Pynnok. Hence we may
perhaps further conclude that St. Katherine's chapel, which
evidently ranked equal in importance with that of the
Holy Trinity in the minds of Burford men, was the north
chancel chapel, in which the Tanfield tomb now stands.

Other points made clear are : (i) that there was in the
Lady Chapel a separate altar of St. Anne ; (ii) that there
was a cross or rood in the churchyard. We also have the very
interesting addition of St. Roch to the list of known lights
in the church.

Will of William Bery alias Glover of Burford (P. C. C. 40
Home). Dated 8 Nov. 1499.

. . . my bodie to be buried in the churchyarde of saynte
John Baptiste of Burford a foresaid, Moreover I bequethe to
the mother church of Lyncoln vid. Also I bequethe to the
high Aulter of Seynte John Baptiste of Burford a foresaid in
recompense for tithes forgotten vis. v'md. Also ... I bequethe

Online LibraryR. H. (Richard Henry) GrettonThe Burford records, a study in minor town government → online text (page 10 of 67)