Frewen/in Petition to The Archbishop of Canterbury in 1597


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Posted by Lawrence Frewin on 01 August , 2000 at 22:34:57:

I have recently found a copy of a petition to the Archbishop of Canterbury made by a William Frewin (AKA Frewen on Baptism Records) and several other residents of the villages of Woodcote and Exlade in Oxfordshire in 1597 in the South Stoke Parish records.

The petition, a supporting letter from the local vicar (Hilary Fishwick) and the response from the Archbishop are all transcribed below.

The Woodcote Supplication 1597

The Woodcote Supplication of 1597 to The Archbishop of Canterbury.

"The copy of a supplication made to the Lord Archbishopp of Canterbury by the chief Inhabitants of Woodcote and Exlade which then were Resy(d)ants there, Mr. William Palmer, Lord of the Manor of Hyde then living and dwelling at Southstoke beneath the hill, Mr. Richard Knapp sojourning or dwelling at Henley which was then Fermor of Rawlines, Mr. Richard Wintershull Lord of Deane Ferme dwelling at Littlestoke, and John Wylder, heir of Pables in minoritie, remayning in the county of Berks, one Willm Coxe then beeing tenaunt to his twoe parts of the sayd Ferme of Pables Anno 1597."

"IN MOST humble wyse complayning show unto your Grace your pore and dayly orators Willm Frewin, Nicholas Wylder, Henry Cruchfield snr. Richard Buckridg, Henry Cruchfield junr., Edward Blackhall, Willm. Nicholls, Willm. Coxe, and Willm. Allnott, inhabitants of the Hamletts of Woodcote and Exlade, in the parish of Southstoke within her highness s county of Oxford:

That whereas your Lordshipps pore suppliantts, and dyverse other (of) the inhabitants of the sayd twooe hamletts, whose several habitations and dwellings are of some twooe miles and the greater part three miles distant from their parish church of Southstoke aforesayd, have always ( as also their predecessors ) for tyme out of mynd, at such times as unseasonable wether, by snow, sleete or rayn, or foulness of the wayes, sometyme in the short dayes, hath hindered them from going to their parish church every Sunday etc: And otherwise also at other times, when they have bene at their owne parish church at morning prayer, for lyke tyme out of mynd, without any vexation, usually frequented and resorted, for the hearing of Gods word and the divine prayers, unto the parish church of Checkendon within the same county, being but one quarter of a myle from the habitations or dwellings of most of them, and from the other half a myle; as lykewyse on the contrary the inhabitants of an Hamlett of the parish of Checkendon aforesaid, three myles or more distant from their own parish church, but within one half myle of Southstoke aforesayd, have and doe still without molestation and trouble resort to the church of Southstoke ( a thing generally tolerated thoughout the whole Realme, for anything that they heare to the contrary, where the occasions be lyke ).

NOW it may please your good Lordship to be advertised that one Mr. Owen Thomas (a man, while hee was vicar of Taunton (Taynton?) on the further side of this Shiere, but a few years since, by the verdict of a jury of twelve men at an Assisses in this county, convicted for a common barietter (barrator? a litigious person or one who fosters disputes ) and drunkard) having gotten the possession of the Parsonage or Rectory of Checkendon aforesayd, where hee is and remayneth now parson, hath for these twoe years past and more oftsoones prosecutes them and procured the Churchwardens of Checkendon, to present them unto the Archdeacons Court of this diocese of Oxford for comming in such sorts, as is abovesayd, to hear divine service at Checkendon, without disturbance of any there or mislyke of the parishioners.

INTO WHICH court your graces poor suppliants being presented have been as often called and cyted as presented to their great trouble and hindrance from theire work whereby they live and intollerable expences (in respect of their small habilities) by their journeys to Oxford and costs day and night there, with charges and fees of the courte: and so are still threatened by the said Owen Thomas parson of Checkendon, never to be left in quyett by him, till he hath compelled them altogether to refrayne his said church and only to frequent their own, contrary to his solemn and advised protestation and asyt weare a kynd of sacramentall oath, before many witnesses, that he would never trouble them agayn, so that they would surcease from a suit agaynst him (which he feared but they mentt not) of endyting him agayn for a common barretter, whether of delight he taketh to continue his former conditions, or of malice prehensed they will not say, but sure they are (by himself uttered) for this yere past, of desire of revenge against them all, for that by reason of twoe women parishioners of Southstoke of Woodcote and Exlade among others, his purpose was made frustrate when he unmercifully, unchristianly and unjustly (as it is thought) at the Assisses a yeare since, sought the lyfe and bloud of a poore boy of a dozen yeres of age: and also to putt them the said inhabitants of Woodcote and Exlade (without respect, whether able or notable to endure yt) to an endlease and intollerable toyle and travell of XII myles by the day, yf they should twyse a day be compelled to their owne parish church.

Whereupon will ensue as your grace can most wysley and honorably consider, that even the ablest of them often the lame, the impotentt, the aged and most women and children necessarily shall be enforced to break her highnesse most wholesome and godly laws in that behalfe provyded: and that their yonger children, whom they carefully desyre may be trayned upp to frequent Divine service and the hearing of Gods word somewhere, for wantt thereof shall lack that good education and instruction in some part, which they may wish unto them; and (which is to be feared) that many shall continue still in darkness and ignorance; and falling into neglect of the ordinary hearing of the Divine service and the word of God without regard of keeping the Lords Sabbath, shall run into recklessnes of their Christian duties to God and their Prince etc: and in the end to make no account of any Religion at all to the high displeasure of almighty God and their utter destruction in soule.

IN PITIFUL and tender consideration wherof, May it please your grace of your most Christian accustomed clemency, to vouchsafe unto your sayd poore suppliants (being not able to give allowance to one to serve at chappell that standeth neare unto them at Woodcote, where they have service by duety but only upon the day of the Nativitie of our Saviour Christ, upon Easter day and upon some working dayes, as yt falleth out for thanksgivings of women for marriages ( your Lordships favourable lycence or toleration, for frequenting of divine service at Checkendon, without disturbance of the parishioners there, in such sort, as is abovesayd that they and their predecessors have for tyme out of mynd used, being so neare and convenient for them.

Not of any dislike they have or contempt of their owne parish church or minister, but only of desyre and love, in duty towards God, to spend the whole Sabbath and other festivall dayes in hearing the word of God and resorting to the divine service: which they cannot so well accomplish at their own parish church so fare distant, without intollerable toyle and some daunger of their health at some tymes, but specially lame folk and impotentt with most part of the aged and of women and children .

Being all most willing and ready without any Rocusancie or any Recusant amongst them, as they have always done, still to be partakers and to communicate at the Lordes supper at their own parish church : and lykewyse at all other tymes thither to repayre, as often as with convenience they may.

AND ALL your Lordshipps sayd poore suppliants and all the sayd inhabitants shall, as they are most bounden, dayly pray to almighty God for your Graces long, prosperous and happy life.

Willm Frewin, at the tyme of exhibiting this supplication,
was lyving but deceased afore the lycense was made, and
so Leonard his sonne therein named succeeding him."


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The testimony of Hilary Fishwick in Latin is translated:

" These my PARISHIONERS William Frewin, Nicholas Wilder, Henry Cruchfield senior, Richard Buckridg, William Coxe, Henry Cruchfield junior, Edward Blackhall, William Nicholls and William Allnott, and other inhabitants of Woodcote and Exlade, I know as honest and candid men of quiet life and conversation. I know too full well that without any of them being refractory, all are eager and careful to hear the word of God and to share rightly and duly in the Divine public prayers and the Sacrament of the Supper of Christ. Wherefore, for them according to the Petition presented to them: and for me as regards the worship of God and the Cure of founding and educating them and theirs in the fear of God: for these reasons, and in the manner petitioned by them, I earnestly hope that it may please the most reverend the Archbishop (to grant) approval, tolerance and indulgence.

Hilary Fishwick. Vicar of the church which is (at) Southstoke in the Diocese of Oxford."


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The Licence of the Archbishop in Latin is translated:

"JOHN by the grace of God Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate and Metropolitan of all England, to whom all and every Spiritual and Ecclesiatical jurisdiction which pertains to the Bishopric of Oxford when the See is occupied, the same See now being vacant, is by law understood to pertain to our WELLBELOVED in Christ, Leonard Frewin, Nicholas Wilder, Henry Cruchfield, Richard Buckridge, Edward Blackhall, William Nicholls, William Allnott, George Fuller and William Etheridge, of the villages or hamlets of Woodcote and Exlade in the parish of South Stoke, in the diocese of Oxford and our Province of Canterbury, and to the other inhabitants of the said villages or hamlets of Woodcote and Exlade, Greeting in the Saviour of all man.

A PETITION lately laid before us on your behalf shows: That your aforesaid Parish Church of South Stoke is so far from the houses or dwellings of your said habitations aforesaid of Woodcote of Exlade, to wit a distance of three or at least two miles, that although otherwise bound to your said Parish Church, yet on account of the length of the journey from the aforesaid places and because of the weakness of your bodies and those of other inhabitants - certainly of children, women, old or sick folk - you cannot nor are able to attend it, though ready and willing, as often as can be done for hearing Divine worship and partaking of the sacrament.

And as moreover, the same petition sets forth that the parish church of Checkendon in the said Oxford Diocese and our Province of Canterbury being much nearer and more convenient to the houses or dwelling of your said inhabitants and of other inhabitants of the villages and hamlets of the aforesaid Woodcote and Exlade, since it is distant a quarter of a mile therabouts, so that you and they can go to and frequent it much more easily and with less effort and bodily risk to yourselves than to the said Parish Church of South Stoke to attend divine worship on Sundays and Feast Days, you, and they, have humbly petitioned that (according to these premises) we may think it worthy to grant a Licence and Faculty in the manner and form set forth below to you and the other inhabitants of the said villages or hamlets, for the future.

We therefore, being favourably inclined to your and their prayer and request as being by consideration of the difficulties set forth, just and reasonable, that you and all other inhabitants henseforth of the said villages or hamlets of the aforesaid Woodcote and Exlade, with freemen and all domestic servants and their families can, and may be able freely, lawfully and with impunity, go from time to time to the Parish Church of the aforesaid Checkendon and frequent it to hear divine worship and partake of the Sacrament: provided that no prejudice, harm, trouble be therefrom caused to your parish church of South Stoke and its Ministers or to the said Parish Church or the parishioners of Checkendon: for these and the other reasons we do by these presents give and impart our Licence and Faculty with goodwill to you and the others aforesaid with your and their families: as much as lies in us of right and we are able by the laws and statutes affecting this matter in this region of this Kingdom of England.

So that for the reasons stated above, provided always that it shall be lawful for us by not infringing the statutes and customs of this Kingdon of England, in this region; neither the minister of the aforesaid Checkendon or of South Stoke, nor also any temporary Ordinary may be able or may presume to molest or disquiet the said inhabitants nor their successors in any place whatever, in the matter occasioned by the premises.

Yet always provided that according to the requirement of the Statutes in force in that region, you, and any of your folk or inhabitants temporarily resident therein shall be bound to attend your Parish Church of South Stoke at least four times a year, and that at times most convenient therefor to attending Divine prayers and assemblies or for receiving the Sacrament: the foregoing (Licence and Faculty) not withstanding.

In testimony whereof we have caused the seal which we use in this region to be affixed to these presents; dated the fourth day of the month of June in the year of the Lord 1597 and in the fourteenth year of our translation.

Tho. Redman
Jo. Coston."


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