The History of Oxfordshire, England
As related to the Bartholomew Family
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

In The Domesday Book, England's Heritage, Then and Now, edited by Thomas Hinde, it states that: "With the exception of the forested areas on the Chilterns and between Wychwood and Shotover, Oxfordshire seems to have been fairly evenly settled in 1086."

Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, and the Earl of Kent (1067-1082), had large holdings in Devonshire, as did Roger d'Ivry (these men were "sworn brothers" and had some joint holdings). Odo was half-brother to William I, "The Conqueror," son of Robert of Normandy and his mistress Arlette (Herleva). Odo was regent in William I's absence. "Besides the king and Odo, the Bishop of Lincoln (Oxfordshire was in the diocese of Lincoln until 1836) was the other big landholder. His holdings at Dorchester, Thane, and Banbury account for no less that 210 hides..." (213). A hide is an Old English measurement of land, usually 120 acres, this is considered adequate for one free family and its dependents.

Oxford is shown to have had 243 house that paid taxes. Another 478 homes were so derelict that they paid none. Wallingford was almost as prosperous as the city of Oxford. Walter Giffard, Rofer d'Ivry, Robert d'Oilly, and the Abbot of Abington had land in both Oxford and Wallingford.

The Bartholomews had a manor house (Westhill Manor) and were said to have connections with the Martyn family of Dorset County. A Warryn Martyn had a feudal coats of arms. Nicholas and Robert Martyn took up the cross in the last crusade in 1270 (Foster 138). Holy Trinity Church has the remains of the Cloptons, the Martyns, and other great families who long presided over the village of Melford, Suffolk, England. Edith Martin (d. 1662) married William Bartholomew (d. 1657)and they lived in Burford, Oxfordshire, England. George Martyn's home was burned at 4 p.m. on June, 1684 in Beaumister, a "much sought after area." Beaminster was a market town, and formed one of the county's hundreds, and was held by Dorset's richest ecclesiastical landowners, the Bishop of Salisburg. No one, to date, has been able to make the connection, in regards to the addition of "als Martyne" behind many Bartholomew's names.

"Al" is the abbreviation for "alias." Aliases were used in cases of illegitimacy, upon remarriage of a parent, upon inheriting property from a female relative, etc. It was not uncommon for a man to take an alias if he married a woman from a family with as illustrious name (and especially if no male heirs lived to continue the said name). Oliver Cromwell often used "alias Williams because one of his ancestors (surnamed Williams) had adopted the surname Cromwell in the 16th century from his uncle, Henry VIII's minister, Thomas Cromwell (The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History and Ancestral Trails). In some cases the alias form was inherited for several generations and thus similar to the hyphenated surname today.

The Bartholomews with the "alias Martin/Martyn" behind their names lived in Warborough and Benson, Oxfordshire, England.

    I found as heads of households in Benson:
  1. Owen Bartholomew, born June 10, 1627 with two sons and two daughters.
  2. Edward Bartholomew with 3 daughters and 4 sons. I
  3. Richard Bartholomew with 2 daughters and 3 sons.
  4. Edmund Bartholomew with two sons named "Edmund."
How they relate to my ancestors is still not totally clear. However, the names are consistent with those in my tree.

    In Warborough:
  1. Thomas Bartholomew with 3 sons and 1 daughter.
  2. Thomas Bartholomew with 1 son and 3 daughters.
  3. Richard Bartholomew with 4 sons and 1 daughter.

Oxfordshire was part of Lincoln Diocese, but got its own bishop in 1542. These were dangerous times.

The Protestant bishops Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley were tried and burned in Oxford in 1555 and 1556 for refusing to accept Catholicism. Catholic priests were also later executed in Oxford. Thereafter the clergy had a quieter time, but Oxford still produced Bishops such as John Fell ("I do not love thee, Dr Fell") and 'Soapy Sam' Wilberforce. The High Church Oxford Movement started here in the 1840s.

Burford, Oxfordshire, England:

The first Bartholomew, in my tree, to live in Burford (ancient name was Bureford) was William Bartholomew. Burford is situated in the county of Oxfordshire on the edge of the hill county called the Cotswolds. The Cotwolds are an area of sheep herders, who bred sheep with long wool, usually a range of hills in Southwestern England. The town of Burford is about 20 miles west of the city of Oxford and close to the border with Gloucestershire. Its parish church of Saint John the Baptist Church has been the center of Christian worship and activity for over 800 years. The earlier church was likely built in Saxon times. As Burford grew in the wool trade, the wealthy donated money for the church to be enlarged. The church was completed in the late 1400s. The South Chancel Chapel (of Holy Trinty) contains memorials to the Bartholomew family. Bartholomews were buried there for many generations.

In the Domesday Book a major landowner in Burford was the Bishop of Bayeaux. William Bartholomew was born there circa 1602. William's wife, Anna Lord was also born there.

Burford, Oxfordshire, England; may have been the location of a church assembly attended by the King of Mercia in 683. Mercia had a strong connection to this area. The long main street slopes down to the Windrush River and crosses the water over an old stone bridge with three arches.

The streets have numerous Tudor and Georgian houses today, and two ancient inns: the 15th century BEAR and the 16th century BULL. Near the bridge is a long four-gabled house that once belonged to Symeon Wysdom and was given to the local grammar school. It was here that John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, received his early education. He succeeded to the title in February 1658, at the age of ten, and in 1659, he went to Wadham College in Oxford County, England.


  • John Keats lodged at the Fox and Hounds Inn (now the Burford Bridge Hotel) in November and December in 1817.
  • Robert Lewis Stevenson stayed at four separate occasions at "the inn" at Burford Bridge.
  • H.G. Wells stayed at the Burford Hotel Bridge while researching The Research Magnificent. His character, Benham, has his lunch there on his walking tour.
  • Lord Nelson stayed at the Burford Bridge Hotel on his last night in England and said his farewell to Lady Hamilton there.

Burford has two mills, and was a wool center in the 16th century, by the 17th - 19th century, it was changed to a horse racing center.

Burford ... The Cotswold Connection ... Tour including Burford ... Burford, Oxfordshire, England

Wallingford, Oxfordshire, England:

In the 880's, King Alfred organized a network of fortifications. He reused old ones in many cases, but in Wallingford (Berkshire at that time), the ramparts were raised on ploughed soil, and thus the village was established in the 9th century. The town was destroyed by the Danish King Sweyn, son of Harold Bluetooth, in 1066. In 1066, Wallingford was one of the first places secured by William the Conqueror in his subjugation of England. Wallingford's castle was built in 1071 and is now in ruin, only the rapports remain. King Stephen of England, beseiged Wallingford Castle in 1152, when it was held by the supporters of Henry, duke of Normandy (later Henry II). Henry II held Parliament here and gave the town a charter in 1155.

Richard II of England's ten year old widow, Isabella, was kept at Wallingford from 1399 to 1401 by Henry IV before he allowed her to return to France. Life was disrupted by the plague in 1349, after which only 44 families remained. Known as the Black Death, the plague was an epidemic disease of high mortality.

    This disease had three forms:
  1. Bubonic - characterized by swelling of the lymphatic gland in the groin and armpit. This form was carried by rat fleas.
  2. Pneumonic - which settled in the lungs.
  3. Septicemic - characterized by the invasion of pathogenic bacteria in the blood.

The Black Death: Bubonic Plague

The Yorkist, Edward VI, held Margaret of Anjou (1429-1482), daughter of Rene de Anjou, and queen of Henry VI, in Wallingford after he captured her in 1471, until Louis XI, of France, ransomed her in 1475.

Wallingford's prosperity was diminished in the early 15th century by the building of two bridges across the Thames, further upriver at Aningdon, which took away much of the town's traffic, trade, and tolls. In the English Civil War, fighting raged through the town, and further disaster came from a fire in 1675, in which many medieval houses suffered. Warborough church, parish, and village had a population of 594 in 1697.


Warborough, Oxfordshire, England:

In The Domesday Book, Warborough is included in the records of Benson (Bensington in 1086) and had two mills and fisheries. The lock of the River Thames is where the Romans crossed the ford and where Offa of Mercia won a victory over the Saxons in 777. Offa was the greatest Anglo-Saxon rulers of the eighth century, and was treated as an equal by Charlesmagne. Theodoric, the King's Goldsmith, held much land in Benson.

Warborough was overshadowed by Dorchester and Benson, which were both of great importance in Anglo-Saxon times. Warborough is Anglo-Saxon for Watch Hill. Warborough became more important after the Norman Conquest in 1056. The first mention of Warborough Church was in 1140. However, Warborough did not become a separate parish until after the English Civil War (1642). Dorchester Abbey housed the inhabitants of Warborough until around 1538. Warborough's St Lawrence Church has always been connected to Dorchester Abbey. This Abbey Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is a mixture of Norman and Gothic architecture. The church dates back to the seventh century and it became an abbey from about 1072. The windows in north and south walls of the chancel (altar area) date from the 14th and 15th centuries.

Popish Recusants:

In Dorchester Peculiar Court records on May 14, 1626, a Walter Bartholomew alias Martyn, was listed as a "Popish Recusant." (I can not be sure if this is the same Walter that was born on August 24, 1577 in Warborough. If so, Walter was the son of Richard(Rihard) Bartholomew alias Martyne). With the introduction of The Church of England, this family underwent many hardships. A Popist Recusant is a Roman Catholic who refused to attend the services of The Church of England, or to acknowledge the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Crown. By the 1600's, England was dominated by the Anglican Church. Scotland was mostly Calvinism, while only Ireland remained Roman Catholic.

In the House of Commons in 1679, Lord Russell spoke for most of his countrymen when he said:

"I despise such a ridiculous and nonsensical religion. A piece of wafer, broken betwixt a priest's fingers, to be our Savior. And what becomes of it when eaten, and taken down? You know..." This attitude was not much differnet than what Catholics thought of the Protestants in Spain, Italy, and Bavaria. There was the Ridolfi Plot of 1571 to depose Elizabeth I and to assassinate Throckmorton and Babington in the 1580's. Then there was the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. These plots, and others like them, were thought up by the priesthood and the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

The English were afraid of Protestants being killed like they were during the reign of Mary I (1553-1581), when three hundred (300) Protestant men and women were killed. The Book of Martyrs was written by John Foxe in 1563, and was a best seller, second only to the Bible.

The law, in Elizabeth I's reign, was that you must attend an Anglican Church Service once a week, and take Communion three times a year. Those who refused, were "recusants" and were fined twenty (20) English pounds a month or two-thirds (2/3) of their income from their estates, whichever the government established.

Priests were not allowed to enter the country, as was enacted as law in 1585. If they did they were liable to be charged with a death penanlty, however, this only happened from 1605 to 1612 after the Gunpowder Plot and under Charles I from 1629-1637. During James I's reign twenty-five (25) Catholics were killed, and none died at the end of his reign (1618-1625).

In Warwickshire the recusant gentry were well-armed and had secret meetings. Some well-known Catholics were:

The Stonors in Oxfordshire. They gave a bell to the Watlington parish church and provided money for its grammar schools. Twenty-five percent (25%) of Yorkshire's landed gentry were Catholic. There were the Vauxes of Harrowden, the Brudenells, the Eyres of Hassopp, and the Constables of Everingham. Roland Eyre of Hassop buried his parents in Great Lonstone Parish Church under a brass p;aque which showed them kneeling before the crucifix with their roasary.

Warborough, in 1697, had a population of 594 residents and was located three miles north of Wallingford, an easy walk in those days.

Thames Valley Papists (a book) ... Photos of the Places Mentioned in this article


Kenyon, John. The Popish Plot. Phoenix Press, 1972.

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