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Headington history: People

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Lords of the Manor 1 (1086–1613)


The early Lords of the Manor of Headington also held other manors, and most of them chose not to live in the medieval manor house in Headington: the Brome family, for instance, lived in their manor house in nearby Holton, and it was during their time that the original manor house in Headington fell into decay.

Most of the information about the early lords of Headington has been obtained from Christine Peters’s book, The Lord Lieutenants and High Sheriffs of Oxfordshire and from the pamphlet by Evangeline Evans, “The Manor of Headington”.


A Royal Manor (to 1179)
  • 1086: The Domesday Book states “Rex tenet Hedintone”, showing that the Manor of Headington was then held by the King, William the Conqueror
  • c.1142: Queen Matilda bestowed the Manor of Headington on one of her Breton followers, Hugh de Pluggenait, but only for his lifetime

The Basset/de Plessis family (Lords from 1179 to at least 1215)
  • Thomas Basset sr, the son of Gilbert Basset and Edith (daughter of Robert D’Oilli and Edith de Greystock) held office as Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1163-4. He given the Lordship of Headington in 1179 for military services rendered to Henry II, along with the Bullingdon hundred and the hundred without the North Gate of Oxford. He was also lord of the manors of Bicester, Wretchwick, and Stratton (all in the honour of Wallingford). He died by the end of 1182
  • Thomas Basset jr, son of Thomas sr, succeeded his father as Lord of the Manor of Headington in around 1182. He was also Lord of the Manor of Haseley and Governor of Oxford Castle, and held office as Sheriff of Oxfordshire. He held office as Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1199. He was a member of the royal council and supported King John at Runnymede on 15 June 1215, and died in 1231. His heir was his daughter Philippa
  • Philippa Basset was wife to the Earl of Warwick, but married Richard Suard, who brought disaster to Headington. In 1234 Henry III’s brother, Earl Richard (Lord of the Manor of Beckley) was granted full licence to carry off the Headington houses to Beckley in compensation for the houses there that Suard had burnt down. He was banished by the king in 1239, and divorced by Philippa, who died in 1265
  • Hugh de Plessis, married to the youngest of Philippa’s daughters, bought out the one-third share in the Manor of Headington inherited by each of the other two and became sole Lord of the Manor. In 1280 his wife died, and he agreed to sell Headington back to the King in exchange for the Manor of Compton and £200

A Royal Manor again (1280 to 1317)
  • Headington was administered by Royal bailiffs after 1299 on behalf of Queen Margaret, who had received the Manor as part of her dowry. These bailiffs included Richard de Bosco, Robert le Eyr, Geoffrey de Asphale, and James de Ispannia
  • In 1317 it was given to Richard d’Amory

d’Amory family (1317 to 1399)
  • Richard d’Amory, who received the Manor in 1317, was Constable of Oxford Castle and Sheriff of Oxford
  • Sir Richard d’Amory, his son, leased Headington to Matthew Clyvedon to raise money to equip himself for foreign wars. His debt to the King of £2000 (then a huge sum) was pardoned on condition that Sir Richard should grant all his estates in Oxfordshire (including Headington) to Sir John Chandos, receiving them back from him as a life tenant only. Sir Richard died in 1375, when Sir John was already dead
  • Headington was divided between Sir John Chandos’s sister Elizabeth Chandos; Roger Colynge, who had married another sister; and John de Annesley, who had married the daughter of another sister
  • In 1399 it was decided that the Manor had lapsed to the Crown through the non-payment of rent. Richard II immediately granted it to William Wilcote and his heirs

Wilcote family and their heirs (Lords from 1399 to 1482)
  • William Wilcote of Wilcote, North Leigh (d. 1412) held office as Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1399–1400. He received the Manor of Headington as well as the hundred of Bullingdon outside the Eastgate as a royal grant in 1399. He lived at Wilcote and frequently represented Oxford in Parliament from 1385 to 1410, becoming a member of the Court of Appeal in 1400, and held office as Sheriff of Oxfordshire. He died on 17 January 1412. It was around this time that the medieval manor house in Headington, known as Westcourte, was abandoned and began to fall into decay.
  • Sir Thomas Wilcote, William Wilcote’s son and heir, inherited the Manor of Headington from his father in 1412. He was killed at Agincourt in 1415.
  • John Wilcote succeeded his brother as Lord of the Manor of Headington, but he also was killed in the French wars.
  • Elizabeth Wilcote (née Trillowe) (d. 1445), the mother of Thomas and John Wilcote, had meanwhile married Sir John Blaket of Icomb, Gloucestershire. She held the manor on dower, outliving her secnd husband who died in 1430. (Robert James of Wallingford is said to have been Lord of the Manor of Headington in the year 1427, but this is unclear.) The manor then presumably passed to one of William Wilcote’s five daughters (possibly Elizabeth, who married Thomas Wykeham of Broughton).
  • William Catesby, the husband of Mrs Philippa Catesby who was a descendant of William Wilcote and joint heir to the manor, bought out the other share and became sole Lord. He sold the manor to John Brome, Lord of the Manor of nearby Holton, in 1482.

Thenceforth, from 1482 to 1801, the Manors of Headington
and Holton were under the same ownership


The Brome family (Lords from 1482 to 1613)
  • Robert Brome died seized of the Manor of Headington in 1486.
  • Sir John Brome, Robert’s son and heir, seems to have been the next Lord of the Manors of Headington and Holton from 1485. He was Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1553 and died in 1558.
  • Sir Christopher Brome, John’s son, succeeded his father to both Manors in 1558. He was Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1566–7 and his wife was Eleanor, daughter of Lord Windsor of Bradenham. He died in 1589.
  • George Brome, Christopher’s son, succeeded his father in 1589. He also held the position of Sheriff of Oxfordshire. George’s only son had died at the age of 10, so on his death in 1613 the two Manors of Holton and Headington passed to his daughter Ursula.
  • Ursula Brome, George’s daughter (born c.1590), was living at Mason’s Farm in Headington with her husband Sir Thomas Whorwood at the time of her father’s death, and the couple became the Lord and Lady in 1613.

The parish registers of St Bartholomew’s Church in Holton start too late to be of any assistance in tracing the Brome family: the only one recorded in them is the last member of the family with that name, Ursula’s widowed mother Elizabeth Brome, who was buried on 26 May 1634 at Holton church.

Later Lords of the Manor of Headington

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1613–1849

Whorwood Lords of the Manor

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1849–1921

The last Lords of the Manor

© Stephanie Jenkins

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