Saturday, August 24, 2013

Portrait of the Week - William Stukeley (1687-1765)

British School

This fine gentleman whose portrait hangs in Lydiard House is antiquarian and natural philosopher William Stukeley.

William was born in Holbeach, Lincolnshire in 1687. He worked first as an apprentice clerk in his father's law firm before going on to Corpus Christi College (Bene't) Cambridge to study medicine. Following further study at St Thomas' Hospital, Southwark, William returned to Lincolnshire in 1710 where he practised as a physician in Boston.

By 1717 he was in London again where he gathered about him a circle of eminent friends including Sir Isaac Newton, William Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury and Robert Walpole.

In 1722 he founded a new antiquarian society called the Society of Roman Knights whose aim was 'to adorn & preserve the truly noble Monuments of the Romans in Britain, & the truley great & stupendous works of our British Ancestors'... His antiquarian interests saw him travel the length of Hadrian's Wall and he had a particular interest in Wiltshire's two principal stone circles, Avebury and Stonehenge.

Further details of Stukeley's incredible life can be found on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography website, but how did a portrait of this gentleman end up in Lydiard House? Records reveal that it was given as a gift in 1966 by Col Edward Richard Gordon St John - so what is the St John link.

William Stukeley married Frances Williamson in 1728 by whom he had three daughters, Frances, Anna and Mary. Eldest daughter Frances Stukeley married Dr Richard Fleming and their daughter Frances Fleming married John Francis Seymour St John in 1788. Her husband was the grandson of John 11th Baron St John of Bletsoe, from the senior branch of the St John family.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ody Family

to the
Memory of
Noah Ody
Who died Aug 22 1831
Aged 60 Years
Also of Ann
Daughter of the Above
Who died Oct 27 1820
Aged 3 Years
Also of
Jane daughter
who died Feb 24 1829
Aged 11 months
Also of Mary daughter
who died June 12 1837
Aged 23 Years

to the
Memory of Sarah Wife of
Noah Ody
Who died May 30 1872
aged 86 years

Until the western development of Swindon swallowed up part of the parish, Lydiard Tregoze was a small, agricultural community. Farms in the area, most of which were owned by the St John family at Lydiard House, had been occupied by members of the same families, generation after generation. They worshipped at St Mary's, married and had their children christened there and were eventually laid to rest in the small churchyard. One such family was the Ody family. This is the first in a series of blog posts about some of the people buried in the churchyard at St Mary's, Lydiard Tregoze.

The earliest reference to the Ody family in Lydiard Tregoze is recorded in the Churchwardens Accounts dated 1742 and by the turn of the 19th century the name regularly appears in the parish registers and rate books.

In 1811 Noah Ody married Sarah Clarke at St Michael's and All Angel's Church, Brinkworth - their sons and grandsons would eventually occupy many of the farms in Lydiard Tregoze, Lydiard Millicent and Purton at sometime or other.

At the beginning of the 20th century there were still plenty of Ody's farming in North Wiltshire. Trade directories list a George Ody at Herring Stream Farm, Purton in 1901 while George William Ody is at Wick Farm opposite the entrance to Lydiard Park; Nelson Ody is at Blagrove Farm and George Ody at Pry Farm, Purton in 1911. Another of Noah's great grandsons, Charles Victor, born at Church's Hills Farm in 1888 was the tenant at Lower Snodshill Farm. Owned by the Westminster Church Commissioners, Charles farmed there in 1912. The 75 acre dairy farm in the parish of Chiseldon was one of the casualties of the 1970s eastern expansion of Swindon and now lies beneath the Post House Motel at Coate.

Swindon's Hammerman poet Alfred Williams mentions Noah's grandson Charles Albert Ody in his book about South Marston - A Wiltshire Village published in 1912.

'Farmer Ody was alive then; to-day the farm is conducted by his widow. He was short, fat and corpulent. He would have been better and might have lived longer if he had worked harder...There was a big family of children. When any of these had got into mischief they were tied up to the posts in the yard with a loose cord all afternoon. They feared their papa very much; if he only looked at them severely when they were young they burst into tears.'

Noah and Sarah's gravestone is badly weathered but thanks to transcriptions collated by the Rev Brian Carne in the 1970s it is possible to read the details on this and many of the other gravestones in the churchyard at St Mary's. The list is published in The Friends of Lydiard Tregoz Report No 12 published May 19, 1979. Copies are held in the Local Studies Collection at Swindon Central Library, Regents Circus.

Wick Farm - home to George William Ody in 1901

Mary Ody pictured outside Pry Farm, Purton.

Lower Shaw Farm, home to George and Elizabeth Ody and their eight children in 1871.

Alfred Williams - for more information about his life and work visit the Alfred Williams Heritage Society website.