Thomas Collingwood

Thomas Collingwood was a yeoman farmer from Bampton, Oxfordshire, son of John Collingwood and Cicely Slaymaker, baptized on 26 May 1601 in St Mary the Virgin, Bampton. He left a will of 1668 that permits us to begin to uncover his family and position in the early industrial society of the small town, 9 miles west of Oxford. Both his father and mother left wills of 1630 and 1643 respectively. 

In the seventeenth century, Bampton became an important centre of the trade and manufacture of goods made from sheep’s hides. There was an important synergy with nearby Witney, which was becoming a centre of blanket and woollen cloth making. The hides were stripped in a process called fell mongering and gloves and breeches were made from the materials.

The plentiful supply of wool from the cotswold farms and the proximity to Oxford, with its rapidly improving transport links to London meant that the industry was ripe to become the centre of town activity in Bampton, with numerous fellmongering and gloving businesses.

In his will of 1668 Thomas mentions his three surviving children – Simon Collingwood (bap 20 Oct 1639), Elizabeth Grimshaw and Batholomew Collingwood (bap 10 Sep 1643). Bartholomew became a Glover and was the father-in-law of William Payne who spread the Glove making trade to Thame, the other side of Oxford. This provides a direct industrial link to John Warmington and the hide business that he was involved in right up to the 1840’s.

However the origin of the Collingwoods in Bampton was as small yeoman farmers. Thomas’s father John Collingwood seems to have been particularly successful and in fact moved from Bampton and leased a farm in nearby Brize Norton where he died in 1630. This was left to Thomas’s oldest brother William but the majority of the family continued to live in Bampton, where he held other extended leases.

Thomas married Elizabeth Pettipher on 4 Jun 1629. Elizabeth (bap 11 Sep 1602) was the daughter of Alexander Pettipher another yeoman farmer in Bampton. It is possible it was a second marriage for Thomas as there is record of a marriage of Thomas Collingwood to Mary Hill in 1627 and a burial of Mary Collingwood, “a wife” on 8 Feb 1628.

Thomas lived in Bampton throughout the Civil War. Oxford was a royalist strong hold but the commercial life of Bampton and Witney probably set them apart. A document from 1650 does mention Thomas. This is a “grant to trustees from the sale of church lands to Mrs Jane Hanks of a moiety of Bampton deanery”. It is evident that Thomas and Philip, his youngest brother, together with William occupied and farmed some or even most of these lands, as they are listed as tenants – Thomas being the most significant tenant of some 20 acres of farmland. This legal settlement seems to be basically passing of former church lands to the Hanks family rather than any issue of the tenure by the Collingwoods. A peculiarity of both the church and some of the land was that they were in origin part of the see of Exeter and not as would be expected of Oxford. For much of this time the parish had three vicars all based in the same church.

William Hanks (d1627), was a mercer, whose widow Jane extended the Hanks’s landed estate and the family went on to use this wealth with that of Robert Vaisey (d1635) to assist in the setting up of the first free school in Bampton in 1653. Significantly, one of the electors of the new schoolmaster William Jackson (MA), was Edward Carter probably Thomas’ brother-in-law. We know from the will of his mother Cicely Collingwood of 1643 that his sister Agnes Collingwood (bap 1598) was married to Leonard Carter of Bampton. Leonard Carter had a father, brother and son all called Edward Carter.

Thomas died in 1668 and was buried in Bampton Church on 19 Sep 1668. In his will he does not mention his wife Elizabeth, but it would appear that she died and was buried a fortnight before him on 6 Sep 1668. The will is significantly dated 12 Sep 1668 Thomas’s brother John Collingwood (bap 28 Nov 1592) and kinsman William Groome, are designated overseers of the will. His sons Simon and Bartholomew are the executors.

Thomas is clearly literate and signs his will but his brother John only appends his mark to the subsequent inventory. The inventory shows property to the value of £132 – including two leases valued at £40 and thirty eight sheep valued at over £6.

Selected Sources

  • Parish Registers of St Mary the Virgin, Bampton, OFHS transcription
  • Oxfordshire Wills, Findmypast
  • Rev J A Giles: History of Parish and Town of Bampton, Oxford 1847