History of Oxhill

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South Warwickshire, England.

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The Underhill Family

The Underhill family originally came from Staffordshire. The first Warwickshire Underhill was John (born about 1450) who took as his second wife Alice Porter, daughter of Thomas Porter of Ettington, widow of Miles Norwode of Broadway, Worcs, by whom she had one son, John. Thomas Porter held the lease of the manor of Nether Eatington from the Shirley family, who had held it since before the Conquest. Upon the death of Alice's father, John and Alice Underhill took up residence at Eatington (now called Ettington Park) and had a very large family. Their children and descendants eventually spread over most of Warwickshire, acquiring lands and properties. Later generations were knighted, and served the Sovereign in many capacities, bringing honour to the family name.

The first mention of the Underhills in Oxhill was in a Foot of Fine dated St. John the Baptist Day in the year 1500, when William Underhill, son of John and Alice, was a party, with his father, to the leasing of some land in Oxhill to his half-brother, John Norwoode.

Later, John's great-great-grandson, Francis Underhill, was apparently living at Oxhill, whether on the same piece of land or not is not known. He is however described as Francis Underhill of Oxhill. He died unmarried in 1613 and the Oxhill parish register records his burial. He left the Oxhill property to his younger brother, George, who was then living at Alderminster. George Underhill too came to live at Oxhill, and again died unmarried, in 1650. In his Will, he left the Oxhill property to his nephew, Thomas Underhill of Loxley. He also left a bequest to his cousin, Valentine, sister of Sir Hercules Underhill of Idlicote. She had been married to John Richardson of Oxhill, and both she and her husband were mentioned as Recusants in a Subsidy Roll of 1629, showing that they were adherents of the old religion, as was Francis Underhill. John Richardson died in 1631, and Valentine took as her second husband, John Bolt or Boult of Hanging Aston, Worcs. They lived at the Manor House, Idlicote, where John Bolt was, manager to Sir Hercules Underhill. Idlicote was at this time in the same living as Oxhill.

William Underhill of Loxley came to live in the Oxhill property with his wife, Elizabeth Daston (of Dumbleton, Gloucs.) and their three children, Thomas, John and Anne. It is possible that their family may have been larger, but only these three can be identified with any certainty. Elizabeth Underhill was buried in Oxhill in 1667, and Thomas two years later in 1669.

Little or nothing is known of what happened to John and Anne. There is a remote possibility that John and Thomas were twins, but no records have been discovered of burials or marriages for John and Anne Underhill of Oxhill.

Thomas Underhill the younger, however, was taken under the wing of his Uncle John, his father's brother. This John is worthy of a footnote in history in that he married Alice, widow of Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Albans. Their marriage took place in April, 1626 just eleven days after the death of Francis Bacon who, by Codicil, cut his wife out of his will for what were described as “good and just causes”. Both her marriages were childless and apparently unsuccessful, since she left her second husband after a very few years and spent the remainder of her life living with her Mother. John Underhill was knighted in July of 1626 just three months after their marriage.

Thomas Underhill of Oxhill, who later served as one of H. M. Life Guards, left Oxhill and lived with Sir John at St. Giles in the Fields. He too died unmarried, apparently, and the Oxhill branch of the Underhills of Warwickshire came to an end.

The Idlicote branch of the Underhills too came to an end in 1667, when Henry Underhill, eldest son of Captain Samuel Underhill (who died suddenly whilst serving with the Earl of Northampton's Regt. ) , was unfortunately drowned. King Charles II had recommended Henry for election to Westminster School as a King's Scholar in recognition of his father's loyal service during the late troubles. How the drowning accident occurred is not known, but Henry and his companion, Robert Richards, were drowned together and are buried together in Westminster Abbey.

Other branches of the Underhill family flourished however, and were eventually to spread far and wide. Another John Underhill became first Military Advisor to the first Governor of the State of Massachusetts, and his direct descendants today form the Underhill Society of America.

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Last modified: January 27, 2003