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South Marston, Wiltshire

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Contents

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Introduction

My interest in South Marston was generated by the discovery that my great great great great grandfather George Fisher was the village blacksmith there in the late 18th and well into the 19th century, while his wife Betty Bridges was born and lived all her life there.

Each picture on this page can be seen enlarged by clicking on it.


Photo (14,596 bytes) copyright Dr. R.E. Slade

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Origin of The Name

The main part of the name, Marston, is a common English village name meaning marsh farm. It is (at least in most cases) derived from the two Old English words mersc, meaning marsh, and tun, meaning farm or village. However, Alfred Williams, the poet and prose writer who lived there, declared that in this case the name had the very different Saxon origin of Merestane or Merestone, meaning Markstone - what evidence he had for this I do not know. Why it's called South Marston I'm not sure, since I know of no other Marston anywhere near it - maybe there was a North Marston long ago, now lost and forgotten, or perhaps it was the farm in the south of the marsh.

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Geography

South Marston is situated about 4 miles (by road) north east of Swindon, in the north east corner of Wiltshire. Its immediate neighbours are Stratton St. Margaret, which separates it from Swindon proper (though both villages have recently been incorporated into the town for administrative purposes), Stanton Fitzwarren to the north, Sevenhampton to the north east, Wanborough and Little Hinton to the south and what was until 1974 the Berkshire (now Oxfordshire) boundary to the east. The little River Cole defines the county boundary from here northwards to its junction with the River Thames at Lechlade, and also runs round the south side of the village.

Between the river and the village along its southern side run three types of transport of different ages, all parallel to and adjacent to each other. Closest to the village and on a high embankment is the main railway line from London to Bristol and south Wales. Next to that is the main road from Swindon to Oxford, and then the long disused Wilts & Berks canal.

The land here is almost flat, lying just over 300 feet above sea level, and about 3 miles or so from the steep escarpment of the chalk downs to the south and south east. The soil is heavy clay, quite fertile but prone to flooding in winter. Much of the area was deliberately used as flood meadows in winter, using water diverted from the River Cole to produce heavy crops of grass for pasture and hay, with wheat the main crop further from the river, which in this case provided the power to drive the many water mills in the area to grind the grain.

Until very recently, South Marston was a totally agricultural community, with most of the inhabitants working on the various farms which surrounded it and made up the bulk of the area of the parish. This has now all changed, most of the current inhabitants either commuting to nearby Swindon or finding employment in the village's own small industrial estate.

This map of the area (total 42,119 bytes) shows the general layout of the village, roads, river, canal and railway.

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History

The name is clearly of Saxon origin, so it must have existed as a place before the Normans arrived in 1066, but I understand it is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, the great survey of all the land and possessions throughout the country ordered by William I and compiled in 1086. The fact that fifty years or so later it had its own church shows that it must by then have had some little importance, so its omission from the Domesday Book is something of a mystery. A possible explanation is that lands held directly by the king were not required to be shown, and there is some evidence that this was the case here.

The village now has its own web site at http://southmarston.org.uk, with an excellent and growing history section (use the link on the left of the home page) maintained by South Marston History Society (which was formed early in 2007). The history material given is far more comprehensive and up to date than the small piece I had here, so I now recommend it instead of trying to compete.

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A book about South Marston and its people

In 1912 a life-long resident of South Marston, Alfred Williams, wrote a book, called "A Wiltshire Village", about his home village and its people. I have extracted the names of all the people mentioned in the book and listed them on a separate page. Let me know if you would like details of what he wrote about any particular individual.

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Church of St. Mary Magdalene

Church of St. Mary Magdalene, South Marston (Photo 56,689 bytes) This is how the church looks as approached from the road.

Tower of South Marston Church (Photo 138,503 bytes) Alfred Williams records that there are (or were when he wrote in 1912) three bells in the tower, the heaviest weighing nearly a ton. The tower was built in 1420AD.

Pinnacle at east end of South Marston Church (Photo 134,867 bytes) This is a closer view of the small pinnacle at the east end of the church.

Norman door from inside South Marston Church (Photo 99,506 bytes) The earliest part of the church is the nave, built about 1140AD. This Norman door, seen here from inside the church, is on the north side of the nave.

Church of St. Mary Magdalene, South Marston (Photo 272,744 bytes) The Lady Chapel, on the right of this picture, was added in 1885, but the porch (immediately left of the chapel) dates from 1420.

 

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Wesleyan Methodist Chapel

Wesleyan Methodist Chapel This photo shows the chapel in February 2004, totally overgrown with ivy (including the door) and clearly unused for many years. It is located in Chapel Lane, South Marston. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version (46,873 bytes).

 

 

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Surnames index

BOWLES, BLUNSDON, BLUNSDON, BRIDGES, BRIDGES, BRIDGES, BRUGES, BUNGATE
CHEESLEY, CONSTABLE, CRIPPS, CRIPPS, CUSSE
DANVERS, DEACON
FISHER
GARTHON
HARRIS, HAYDEN, HAYDEN, HAYWARD, HOWE, HUGHES, HUGHES, HUNGERFORD, HUNGERFORD
KING, KING, KINGHAM
LITTEN, LITTEN
MALL, MOMMENS
ODY
PINEGAR
TELLING, TELLINGS, TITCOMB(E), TOVEY, TUXFORD
WALLINGTON, WESTON, WHITE, WILLIAMS, WILLIAMS

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Other people researching family or local history in South Marston

I would be happy to include here details of anyone else who may be researching either their family history in, or the local history of, South Marston. This can include web site links, email addresses, possibly lists of surnames of interest in the village, and any resources in which you may be willing to do lookups for others (but no commercial advertising). If you would like a mention, please get in touch.

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Bob Tuxford writes:

Seeking all Tuxfords and connecting families, also any Garthons

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Barry Walsh writes:

My descendants are James BUNGATE & Catharine WESTON who were married at South Marston on 21/11/1841.

James' parents were Henry BUNGATE & Martha UNKNOWN from Stratton.

Catherine WESTON's parents were John WESTON (a soldier on the marriage certificate of Catharine) & wife unknown.

I would appreciate any help on the BUNGATEs & especially the WESTONs.

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Like me, my 7th cousin Bill Henley is researching the BRIDGES and KING families in South Marston. William Bridges (christened in Meyseyhampton, Gloucestershire) married Hannah King at Purton, 21 Oct 1733, but she was christened in South Marston 29 Dec 1712 and the couple christened their children and were buried in South Marston (1796).

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Paul Cheesley would like any information about the Cheesley family, who are known to have been in South Marston from around 1790s to 1883, then went to Highworth. Unfortunately the email address linked from here no longer appears to be valid. If Paul sees this, will he please contact me to make the necessary correction?

However, Phil Charsley (who let me know about the problem) writes:

I have some information on my website http://www.charsley.org.uk which is related to his search. My site covers a one-name study for Charsley, Cheasley and Cheesley, and variant spellings.

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Phyllis Rennells would like any information about the following families in either South Marston or Swindon:

TELLINGS
PINEGAR
HOWE
BOWLES
KINGHAM
DEACON

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Chris Ody writes:

I am interested in any info on my ODY ancestors, mainly from Lydiard Tregoze but also from Hook, Blunsdon, Purton, Ashton Keynes, South Marston, Swindon etc.

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Tony Wilkins writes:

I would be grateful for any references for my grandfather, Thomas Litten (b. 1866) and his wife, Kate Elizabeth Cripps (b.1870) who married in the village in 1895. Their first two children, Winnifred Nora Litten and Muriel Lottie Litten were born in the village in 1897 and 1899 respectively. I am also interested in Mark Titcomb(e), my grandmother's mother married into the Titcomb(e) family. My grandfather following his move to Swindon about the turn of the century was associated with a Victor Telling in the course of his work as a master carpenter.

Tony's email address that he provided no longer works. If he sees this will he please contact me. Also, please see the entry on his relatives from Nicolas Gray below.

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June Page is interested in the HAYWARDs who lived in South Marston around the 1900s or so. In particular those who lived in the thatched GORDON COTTAGE, THORNHILL ROAD.

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Barry Watson writes:

I am seeking any information on the Hungerford family of South Marston. Henry Hungerford, (and his wife Elizabeth Beke) who was the son of Sir John Hungerford of Down Ampney, died in 1580 at South Marston.

I believe that my ancestor, the Grandson of this Henry, was Colonel Anthony Hungerford, the Parliamentary Officer in the English Civil War (died 1657).

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Sally Morris writes:

I am the gtGrandaughter of Croft Henry Blunsdon who was born in South Marston in 1827 the son of John and Elizabeth. Croft Henry married Jane Constable (born Little Hinton in 1827) in The Chapel South Marston in 1850. Both were listed as living in South Marston. However I can find no trace of either Croft Henry or Jane in either the 1841 or 1851 census.

I am wondering if there is anyone who could throw light on their whereabouts. By 1861 they were living with a family in Gloucester.

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Nicolas Gray writes:

I see that Tony Wilkins would be interested to have information about his grandparents, Thomas Litten (b.1866) and Kate Elizabeth Cripps (b.1870). As it happens I do know something about one of their daughters. Muriel Lottie Litten (b.1899, d 1977) was my late stepfather's mother. Muriel married a Flemish engineer by the name of Mommens. The story has it that their courtship was initially conducted through the window of a GWR ticket office. They had two children: Norman, who was born in Antwerp in 1922; and Ruscha, born near Amsterdam in 1942. Norman took up with my mother in 1962 and eventually married her in 1994. If Kate Cripps was Tony Wilkins' grandma, it follows that my stepfather Norman Mommens was Tony's first cousin. I wonder whether they knew one another. (Norman spent some time in Swindon as a schoolboy, and I remember my mother talking about Wiltshire cousins.) Norman died here in Italy in 2000, and my mother in 2005, but Rusha (who was much younger than her brother) is still going strong and living in Devon. She, of course, is also Tony Wilkin's first cousin. Are they in touch? The other day, still trying to get to grips with my mother's literary remains (she was a writer), I came across a sketchy fragment of family tree in Norman's handwriting. He traced his ancestry back from his grandmother through several generations to the "Youngest son of the Earl of Landsdown". On the way, there was a Major Cripps, who had a large family apparently known as "the handsome Cripps", before unfortunately being killed falling off a hayload! And there was also a mention of a certain Thomas Titcombe, a vet who apparently married a gipsy. I wonder if any of this rings any bells with Tony Wilkins. I should also be very interested to know whether Tony has come across any link, however remote, between the Cripps of South Marston and the family of Sir Stafford Cripps, for my mother often talked about him almost as if he might've been family! Muriel, Tony's auntie, died here in Italy visiting her son in 1977. She is interred in the cemetery here at Salve (Province of Lecce, Puglia), along with Norman and my mother.

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Peter Bruges writes:

I have a number of interests derived from original sources (mainly wills) relating to the Burges family at South Marston and their possible 'Bridges' relatives at Highworth. My current interest is Edmund Bruges (d.1589), Yeoman who had children Hercules (the eldest), William, Elinor and Dorothy (married John Stevens and had issue).

Hercules Burges (d.1618), Yeoman and his family had strong links to the Cusse and Harris families, probably by inter-marriage. Hercules married Dorothy but had no issue. Hercules Burges is the godfather to Hercules Cusse (born aft 1584), son of John (d1603) and grandson of Edmund Cusse (d.1591) great grandson of Elizabeth (bef1591) who obviously marrried a Cusse but does not mention his name in her will.

I am interested any South Marston births, deaths marriages, particular those with the name, Burges, Cusse, Harris, [Edmund] Hungerford, [Giles] Danvers. The earlier the better.

Edmond Harris's will date 30 August 1603 (probated 1604) mentions his uncles, Giles Danvers and William Cusse. There were of course more than one William Cusse at that time. This Edmond held lands in Pirton and Stratton St Margaret. He gave Elizabeth "my wife 42 which was due by bill obligation on one Edmond Hungerford, Gent on condition that she make a lawful release...of the above lands....of Dower unto John Harris my son".

My interest is the connection to the Bruges (als Burges) family of Steeple Ashton and the connection to South Marston. My ancestor direct Henry Bruges (als. Burges) of West Ashton (d.1632) had a daughter Mary who married a Edmon Harris, probably son of edmon above but not proven yet) by who she had issue.

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Catherine Williams writes:

I am looking for any information on the Williams, Hughes or Hayden families in and around South Marston.

My great grandfather was Ernest Lloyd Williams born in South Marston 17th Dec 1870, the eldest son of Elias Lloyd and Elizabeth (nee Hughes). Elias Lloyd and Elizabeth Hughes married in the parish church in South Marston on the 26th March 1870. Elizabeth's parents were Joshua Hughes and Ann Hayden. Elias and Elizabeth had eight children Ernest Lloyd, Edgar, Elizabeth, Henry, Alfred (Owen), Charlotte, Ellen and Ada. Ernest Lloyd married Mary Caroline Foulkes on the 28th March 1895 at the English Wesleyan Chapel in Rhyl. Ernest Lloyd was a joiner at the time of his marriage to Mary and later census entries detail him as a building contractor.

[Jim Fisher note: The Alfred mentioned here is the author of the book mentioned higher up this page as well as several other publications.]

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Allen Williams would like anyone interested in the names Hayden, Hughes and Williams (who will all be related to him) in the village to contact him please.

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Brian Jeffrey writes:

Any details referring to the Blunsdons of South Marston would be welcome. Among others, my maternal grandfather, Albert Edward Blunsdon was born there in 1882. His father, Charles, was also born there in 1852. Their forebears were, in turn, William Stephen Blunsdon (born Stanton, Fitzwarren, Wiltshire in 1811), John Blunsdon (South Marston, 1776) and William Blunsdon (not sure of birthplace, in 1744). So you can see that, on that side of my family, I have a long connection with South Marston.

Incidentally, I saw Sally Morris' request on your website for information about Croft Henry Blunsdon. He was the granduncle of my maternal grandfather Albert Edward Blunsdon. He was thus my 2nd great granduncle. I have sent Sally an email to see if we can swap information.

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Cheryl White writes:

My ancestors are:

Thomas WHITE and Harriet TOVEY, married at South Marston on 20/01/1798

and Thomas' parents:

James WHITE and Elizabeth WALLINGTON, married at South Marston on 14/02/1754

I would appreciate any help with the WHITE family and would particularly like to make contact with any living descendants.

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My Surname Interests in South Marston

The following are the surnames of interest to me in this village:
BRIDGES
FISHER
KING
MALL

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