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- John Keble's Parishes - 5/32 -

Strange's at Mapledurham, where was a hollow place by the livery cupboard capable of containing two men.

Swithun Welles went later to London and took a house in Holborn, where Topcliffe the priest-catcher broke in on Father Genings saying mass, and both he and Mr. Welles were hanged together for what was adjudged in those days to be a treasonable offence, implying disaffection to the Queen. {36}

The modern house of Brambridge affords no priests' chambers. It is believed that an older one was burnt down, and there is a very dim report that a priest was drowned in a stone basin in a neighbouring wood.

The register of Twyford Church contains the record of a number of the Welles family buried in the churchyard clandestinely, by night. John Wells, mentioned in the Athenae Oxoniensis as an able man living at Deptford, retired to Brambridge, and died there in 1634. This accounts for there having been the Roman Catholic school at Twyford, whence Alexander Pope was expelled for some satirical verses on the master. The house is still known.

The vicars of Hursley at this period were John Hynton, presented by Bishop Gardiner, but deprived in on account of his tenets. Richard Fox was presented in his place by William Hobby. It must have been owing to the reforming zeal of this vicar of Hursley that the frescoes in Otterbourne Church were as far as possible effaced, white-washed over, and the Ten Commandments painted over them in old English lettering, part of which was still legible in 1839. Otterbourne was apparently still served by the vicar of Hursley or his assistant.

Parish Registers began at this date, and here are the remarkable occurrences recorded at Hursley:


1582. A great hail storm happened at Hursley, Baddesley, and in the neighbourhood, this year. The hail-stones measured nine inches in circumference.

1604. The plague made its appearance at Anfield. It broke out in November, and continued till the following February. Many persons died of it, and were not brought to the church, but buried in the waste near their residence.

1610. A person of the name of Wooll hanged himself at Gosport, in the parish of Hursley, about this time. He was buried at the corner of Newland's Coppice, and a stake was driven through his body. (The place still bears the name of Newland's Coppice.)

1621. A planked thrashing-floor first laid down in the parish this year, viz. at Merdon. Chalk-floors used before. It was reckoned a memorable improvement.

1629. A great fall of snow in October. It was nearly half a foot deep, and remained on the ground three or four days.

1635. A copyholder was hanged for murder this year. His copyhold was seized by the lord as forfeited, but afterwards recovered, viz. in 1664.


After his dispute with the haymakers, Sir Thomas Clarke sold Merdon to William Brock, a lawyer, from whom it passed to John Arundel, and then to Sir Nathanael Napier, whose son, Sir Gerald, parted with it again to Richard Maijor, the son of the mayor of Southampton. This was in 1638, and for some time the lodge at Hursley was lent to Mr. Kingswell, Mr. Maijor's father-in-law, who died there in 1639, after which time Mr. Maijor took up his abode there. He seems to have been a shrewd, active man, and a staunch Protestant, for when there was a desire to lease out Cranbury, he, as Lord of the Manor, stipulated that it should be let only to a Protestant of the Church of England, not to a Papist. The neighbourhood of the Welleses at Brambridge probably moved him to make this condition.

The person who applied for the lease was Dr. John Young, Dean of Winchester, who purchased the copyhold of Cranbury before 1643, and retired thither when he was expelled from his deanery and other preferments in the evil times of the Commonwealth, and there died, leaving his widow in possession.

Whether the lady was molested by Mr. Maijor we do not know. He was no favourite with Richard Morley, who rented the forge in Hursley, the farm of Ratlake and Anvyle, as Ampfield was then spelt, and thought him a severe lord to his copyholders. Morley was born at Hursley, and was sent to school at Baddesley in 1582, the year of the great hailstorm of the nine-inch stones. He kept valuable memoranda, which Mr. Marsh quotes, and died in 1672, when he is registered as:-

"Ricardus Morley Senex sepultus fuit, August 1672." (Senex indeed, for he must have been 97.)

Of Maijor, Morley records, "He was very witty and thrifty, and got more by oppressing his tenants than did all the lords in 60 years before him. He was a justice of the peace, and raised a troop in the cause of the Parliament." It must have been in the army that Oliver Cromwell made his acquaintance, and in 1647 began the first proposals of a "Marriage treaty," between Richard, Oliver's eldest surviving son, just twenty-one and educated for the Law, and the elder daughter of Mr. Maijor (which Carlyle always spells as Mayor). For the time, however, this passed off; but, apparently under the direction of Mr. Robertson, a minister of Southampton, and Mr. Stapylton, also a minister, the treaty was resumed; and three weeks after the King's execution, Oliver wrote to Mr. Maijor.

For my very worthy friend, Richard Mayor, Esq.: These.

LONDON, 12th February 1648.

SIR--I received some intimations formerly, and by the last return from Southampton a Letter from Mr. Robinson, concerning the reviving of the last year's motion, touching my Son and your Daughter. Mr. Robinson was also pleased to send enclosed in his, a Letter from you, bearing date the 5th of this instant, February, wherein I find your willingness to entertain any good means for the completing of that business.

From whence I take encouragement to send my Son to wait upon you; and by him to let you know, that my desires are, if Providence so dispose, very full and free to the thing,--if upon an interview, there prove also a freedom in the young persons thereunto. What liberty you will give herein, I wholly submit to you. I thought fit, in my Letter to Mr. Robinson, to mention somewhat of expedition because indeed I know not how soon I may be called into the field, or other occasions may remove me from hence; having for the present some liberty of stay in London. The Lord direct all to His glory.--I rest, Sir, your very humble servant,


Probably this was the time when the public-house of Hursley took the name of "The King's Head," which it has kept to the present day. But young Cromwell was inclined to loyalty, and when at Cambridge used to drink "to the health of our landlord," meaning the King! He was one- and-twenty when, with his father's friend Mr. Stapylton, he made a visit to Hursley, and was received by Mr. and Mrs. Maijor with many civilities, also seeing their two daughters, Dorothy and Anne. In a letter of 28th February, Cromwell thanks Mr. Maijor for "The reception of my son, in the liberty given him to wait on your worthy daughter, the report of whose virtues and godliness has so great a place in my heart that I think fit not to neglect anything on my part which may consummate a close of the business, if God please to dispose the young ones' hearts thereunto, and other suitable ordering of affairs towards mutual satisfaction appear in the dispensation of Providence."

Mr. Stapylton was commissioned to act for General Cromwell in the matter of settlements, over which there was considerable haggling, though Oliver writes that "the report of the young lady's godliness causeth him to deny himself in the matter of moneys." More correspondence ensued, as to the settlement of Hursley upon Dorothy and her heirs male, and the compensation to her younger sister Anne. Cromwell was anxious to hurry on the matter so as to have it concluded before his departure to take the command in Ireland.

The terms were finally settled, and Richard and Dorothy were married at Hursley on May Day, 1649, before Cromwell's departure to crush the ill-arranged risings in Ireland. Her sister Anne shortly after married John Dunch of Baddesley, with 1000 pounds as her portion. Morley of Baddesley chronicles the marriage in no friendly tone: "When" (says he) "King Charles was put to death, and Oliver Cromwell Protector of England, and Richard Maijor of his privy council, and Noll his eldest son Richard married to Mr. Maijor's daughter Doll, then Mr. Maijor did usurp authority over his tenants at Hursley." In another place he says that "he" (i.e. Mr. Maijor) "set forth horse and man for the Parliament, and was a captain and justice of peace. Lord Richard Cromwell was also a justice of peace, and John Dunch a captain and justice. These all lived at Lodge together in Oliver's reign; so we had justice right or wrong by power; for if we did offend, they had power to send us a thousand miles off, and that they have told us."

Richard, having no turn for politics or warfare, preferred to live a quiet life with his father-in-law, in the lodge. There were two walnut avenues planted about this time, leading to the lodge from the churchyard on one side, and on the other towards Baddesley; and the foundations of the house can still be traced on the lawn to which both lead.

Oliver writes in the summer after the marriage that he is glad the young people have leisure to make a journey to eat cherries. There is little doubt but that this must have been to the gardens in Ram- Alley near Chandler's Ford, originally Chaloner's Ford, where numerous trees, bearing quantities of little black cherries called merries, used to grow, and where parties used to go as a Sunday diversion, and eat, before the days of the station and the building.

The elder Mrs. Cromwell paid a visit to Hursley after parting with the Protector on his voyage to Ireland; but he never seems to have

John Keble's Parishes - 5/32

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