History of Oxhill

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South Warwickshire, England.

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The Ward Family

Oxhill House stands at the head of our village street. On a stone lintel above the back door where the water pump still remains, these words are clearly visible:-

BUILT BY JAMES WARD ye 6th day of June 1706

The Ward family appear constantly in parish records. It was a Thomas Ward who leased land from the monks of Bordesley in 1535. Christopher Ward, described as a yeoman, married Ann of Warmington, where he apparently owned some property. They would seem to have lived at Oxhill, however, and here they were buried. In his Will dated 1698, Christopher Ward leaves £20 a year to his “loving Wife Ann” to be paid quarterly in equal payments. His “best suit of apparel” to his brother John, and “the rest of my apparel” to his brother Richard. His son, John, was to inherit the property in Warmington, and he was also instructed to see that the children of “my daughter Ann” were put to apprentices or “put them in a capacity to earn a livelihood for themselves”.

“Five pairs of sheets and 11/2 doz. of flax, 1 doz. napkins and my coffer and all that is in it except my writings, my bedstead and bedding and all furniture of the said bed” were left to his beloved wife. He also requested that his “very good friend and worthy gentleman, Walwyn Meese” assist in the execution of His Will.

A later John Ward, also of Oxhill House, espoused the cause of John Wesley and Methodism. He apparently too had a large family although it is impossible to be very clear on this subject since there was more than one branch of the Ward family in Oxhill, and the Christian names follow a set pattern. Thus there are several John Wards, James Wards, Ann Wards and Sarah Wards, obviously named in honour of relatives, and very probably cousins. John Ward of Oxhill House certainly had a son named John and two daughters Sarah and Ann who wrote prolific letters to each other after the fashion of the time (1766). The letters were full of rather tedious piety, but Sarah does describe to Ann how she was attempting to run a Sunday School in her own house, and says that when she sees the “grey heads in my class, I feel they should be the teacher and I the taught.” Sarah also recounts some verbal skirmishes with the Rector at that time.

On one occasion, she says that he called at the house and asked to borrow a book about the adventures of itinerant Methodist preachers. She gave him the story of David Brainherd which was the only one she had at the time. David Brainherd did most zealous missionary work among the Indians in America and died from T. B. as a result of his privations. According to Sarah, the Rector of Oxhill was not much impressed by this story, and thought that it could be matched by clergymen of his own Church.

John Valton, one of Mr. Wesley's most noted itinerant preachers was a frequent visitor to Oxhill House, and wrote often to Sarah as “my dear sister” and to John as “my dear brother in the Lord”.

Ann Ward married and went to live at Honeybourne, eventually having a large and scattered family. She wrote to her father that she hoped the Enclosure of Oxhill fields would not mean that he would have to give up the old house, and build another. This we know he did not have to do.

Sarah too married, a Mr. James Nind, and left Oxhill. She later died in childbirth, and returned here to be buried in Oxhill Churchyard, together with her infant daughter.

A later John Ward, together with his wife Mary, were also devout Methodists. Mrs. Mary Ward was skilled in the use of herbs and simples, and was thus able to relieve much of the sickness of the poor people in the village. (Obit. Methodist Mag. 1832).

This Ward family gave the land to build the present Methodist chapel, and helped in its foundation.

In Kelly's Directory for 1872 there are three Wards still in the village - John Ward, farmer, John Ward Junior, farmers and James Gardner Ward. The name has now died out in Oxhill.

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Last modified: January 27, 2003