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The CROTON family are recorded in a number of  Oxfordshire parishes, in particular:-

Kirtlington 1609 – 1725 (16 references)
Eynsham 1657 – 1795


Bicester 1689 – 1819 (5)
Hanborough 1706 – 1731 (15)
Thame 1789 – 1834 (42)
and ten other parishes 1571 – 1767 (16)

Additionally in more recent times there are many references to parishes such as Great Haseley, Pyrton, Stoke Talmage and Clare in 19th century. These latter ancestors are all descendants of William, b.1752, Cuddington, Buckinghamshire.

There are also individual references to CROTON ancestors earlier than the fifteenth century, and as such the county played an important part in the lives of many family members.

Oxfordshire wills have been particularly useful in revealing family relationships and lifestyles. To date six Oxfordshire wills have been traced and transcribed:-

  1. Robert Crowton of Wootton, October 1587, labourer, will only.
  2. Symon Crowton of Kirtlington, May 1628, probably a husbandman as the appraisers were, nephew of Robert, will and inventory. 
  3. James Croton of Middleton Stoney, July 1641, husbandman, son of Symon, will, inventory, charge and discharge papers, list of costs.
  4. James Croton of Hanborough, March 1718, will and inventory.
  5. Richard Croton of Eynsham, January 1729, yeoman, will and assets left in trust.
  6. John, Mary and Sarah Croton (minors) of Eynsham, June 1732, details of curatorship of John Croton of Eynsham and Joseph Croton of Stanton Harcourt in favour of above minors.

In more recent times, my own family were resident in the city of Oxford for a number of years. My great great grandfather, John Croton (b. Cuddington, 1836) died in the Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford in 1897, his wife Elizabeth (nee Young) in 1907. My grandfather’s older sister, Elizabeth (b.1887) and brother, Reginald (b.1888) were born in the city immediately prior to the family’s move to Manchester, probably in 1889.

John Croton was for a time a coachman at the Wesley Training College in Westminster, London. At the time of the 1871 Census John and his second wife Elizabeth (nee Young) were residing with their three children Hannah (b.1861 to his first wife Jane, d.1863), Sophia Kate (b.1865) and Charles Wesley (b.1866) in London. John and Elizabeth later returned to Oxford where John was a caretaker at the main post office. Although little is known of Charles Wesley's early life, he married (Ann Preston of Cockermouth, Cumbria) there in 1886. Within three years he had moved to Manchester, eventually settling in Chorlton cum Hardy, where he developed a thriving hansom cab business, later having motor taxis.

The first direct link with the county of Oxfordshire came with William Crowton, who although he was buried at Salisbury Cathedral in 1477, was Principal of St. Mary's Hall, Oriel College, Oxford from 1436 - 1438. He also had links with other locations associated with the family such as London (Rector of St. Anthony's 1436 - 1451) and Buckinghamshire (Rector of Monk Risborough 1440 - 1441). As a Roman Catholic Churchman, giving his life to the Church, he had no direct descendants and although his 1477 will is of some length it does not mention any family members.

It is not until slightly later parish records beginning with such locations as the burial of John Crotton at Wootton in 1571 and the marriage of Symon Crowton at Kirtlington in 1608 that it becomes possible to construct a firm family tree and begin to build a picture of their lifestyles. The family spent the longest recorded period of time in Eynsham (1657 - 1795), whilst most individual records are to be found for Thame (1789 - 1834). The Kirtlington and Eynsham families are closely related and it would appear that the migrated from the former the latter.

Eynsham of the 17th & 18th centuries was a very different place from that of today. Contrast an agricultural village of some 700 people where life for some would have been hard, to an essentially affluent village of the 20th and 21st centuries. It seems hard to believe that as late as 1876, a churchman in the Oxford Times described the village as being '......... the most Godforsaken hole in England.' The village has however a long and rich history with there having been a settlement for over 1000 years. The Benedictine Abbey was located near the 14th century church and there is an old cross in the market square. It is said that a Saxon Parliament met at Eynsham in the days of Ethelred. (Arthur Mee, Oxfordshire, pub. by Hodder & Stoiughton, 1949)

The lifestyles and family connections can be most clearly seen through a number of Oxfordshire wills:-

(i) October 1587 : Robert Crowton of Wootton, labourer, will only

(ii) May 1628 : Symon Crowton of Kirtlington, husbandman, will and inventory

(iii) July 1642 : James Croton of Middleton Stoney, husbandman, will, inventory, charge and discharge papers

(iv) March 1718 : James Croton of Hanborough, will and inventory

(v) January 1729 : Richard Croton of Eynsham, yeoman, will (assets left intrust)

(vi) June 1732 : John, Mary & Sarah Croton (minors), details of curatorship of John Croton of Eynsham and Joseph Croton of Stanton Harcourt, in favour of the above minors.

In addition to the parish records and details obtained from the wills, two further references are to be found in 'The Matriculation Register of Oxford University', 1715 - 1886. Mention is made of Thomas Croton of North Leigh (1718), aged 38 years. The birth date of 1680 suggests that this is probably the Thomas listed in the Hanborough registers of the same date, the villages being less than two miles apart. Secondly reference is made to James Croton of Stanton Harcourt (1761). He is likely to be from Eynsham, only some three miles away. The full entries are as follows:-

(i) Croton, Thomas 'gardener of New College', son of Croton of North Leigh, Oxon., matriculated 19 July 1718, aged 38.

(ii) Croton, James 'Winchester and Southampton carrier', son of Croton of Stanton Harcourt, privilegiatus 8 June 1761.

It seems likely that James is the son of Joseph Croton, schoolmaster, named as a trustee in the 1732 will above. The term privilegiatus means that James was a privileged person. He was not studying at the University but involved in a trade very closely associated with it. Carriers who transported scholars and their goods were given this status as were college servants such as Thomas, who presumably helped to maintain the gardens at the college. Privileged status meant that the holder shared in the privileges of the University such as the use of the Chancellor's Court, the University's own court, and had the right to be taxed separately from the town's people. In order to engage in certain trades in Oxford an individual had to be a freeman of the city or a privileged person.

The document by which James Croton bound himself to the Vice-Chancellor shows that he undertook the to provide the services of a carrier to the University to Winchester and Southampton. James was licensed to keep one or more wagons to travel the following route on the days indicated:-

Monday : Oxford - Newbury

Tuesday : Newbury - Winchester

Wednesday : Winchester - Southampton and return to Winchester

Thursday : Winchester - Newbury

Friday : Newbury to Oxford

A tradesman of privileged status had to swear an oath of allegiance to the monarchy and to the Established Church . The practise of matriculating tradesmen did not come to an end until 1874.in March 1767 there is notification in Jackson's Oxford Journal (the local newspaper) of the sale of the property from where James ran his business. In December of that year there is an advertisement placed by Richard Giles stating that he had taken over the carrier business previously run by James. Although it is possible to speculate, it is not known why at present, that he left his business.

By the middle of the 18th century, although there was a relatively large number of family members in Thame well into the 19th century, there began a migration away from the county. This was initially to the adjoining county of Buckinghamshire and from there to the major urban centres of London, Birmingham and Manchester, followed by a wave of emigration to Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America. Each of the families who ventured overseas eventually settled well and had successful lives.