Thomas Bantins History

Bantins History

Thomas Bantin was a Blacksmith in Broadwell at the end of the 18th Century, I have in my possesion his diary which began in 1764, His grandson Thomas Bantin lived in Filkins with his father who was Butler for the Colston at Filkins Hall, Young Thomas wrote the history of his life in 1879, Below is a transcrip ot that history, It is fascinating inso much as not that many of his ilk could read and write let alone write his history, but what a hard life he had, as probable most labours did then, Good old times?, I don't think so.

Thomas Bantin’s Story Commenced 1846

I, Thomas Bantin, was born in the year 1814 on December 20th at six O’clock in the morning, at Filkins in he County of Oxford, just five days before the commencement of the great frost of sixteen weeks duration, when there was a fair on the Thames and the snow reached up to the window of he bedroom in which I was born.. My father was the second son of Thomas Bantin, my grandfather who died in 1812. Grandfather was a blacksmith by trade at Broadwell in Oxfordshire, where the family had resided for many generations. He was the father of sixteen children, but only seven were alive when I was born, my father being the only one that ever married, and I am the only issue of that marriage. My father was apprenticed to an Ironmonger named Kirby at Wantage in Berkshire in the year 1789, and was obliged to leave on account of the severity of the winter, which had liked to be the cause of his losing the use of his limbs. Not recovering immediately he was obliged to give up the work and go into gentleman’s service. He went to Filkins Hall about 1791 as coachman to E. F Colston Esq.. And lived as such up to about 1825. He rented a house in the Village as tenant from then until 1848 This history relating to my life may be said to begin early in 1812 over two years before I was born and a little before the death of my grandfather. A property came to him subject to a mortgage of £150, which required my grandfather to borrow money on an old family house and shop and land a Filkins, My father thinking to oblige him, contrived with the assistance of my mother who he had not yet married to advance the sum 0of £160 on this property. Then my father had to go to the Isle of Wight with the Colston family for a few months, and on his return he found his father too far gone to settle his affairs about this property. They had already got the money but my father was always slack in such matters and did not trouble t press the business at that time. He received the rent of the place as interest for twenty forty years, until the premises began falling down for want of repair. But in return to my mother, she was not thought good enough for my father by his brothers and sisters. She had seen a lot of gentleman’s service, eleven years with the late Doctor Warneford of Bradwell by Stow and in more families in the neighbourhood. My father’s family used every intrigue to annoy herm the first thing they did was to intimate to her that hey had got her money and so she must be under their thumb. They had taken a fancy to the daughter of a man who rented one of the cottages, and she was used to communicate anonymous messages to my mother, and drove her nearly mad. They tried all ion their power to set my father against her, they glot me to go and live there and pretended to learn me a trade, so mother resolved to have me away, and going to church one Sunday there was a regular scramble. Through their persuasion I was unwilling to go home, so I remained until the Colston family father was living in interfered. Then I came home and went regularly to school for some years I done errands for a lady, backwards and forwards from Alvescot Hall while I was still at school and at one time and another, I managed to save five pounds, I bought a sow in pig with this money and had good luck, she brought eight piglets. My father said he would buy them for eight pounds, but they was seized with fever and all died but one, so I never had a farthing. My father had taken eighteen acres of pasture land at the valuation of the great Mr Joseph Lays of Broadwell, who was an old school fellow of my mothers, and thought to do justice by him, but instead of that he valued it as just as much again as it w as valued a few years afterwards. About this time (that was in 1828) a gentleman named Vizard took the Hall., He was a lawyer to Queen Caroline. With Lord Broughham and Lord Denman they won the trial for her, of which I can just recollect the band coming round and playing a the houses where we lived. Lord Broughham cae to the Hall on a visit when he was Lord Chancellor, and gave my father council for nothing in a will case. This was a few years before the building of the union workhouses. I well remember an incident that happened then. An old man lay ill at a house not far from the Hall, called the Old Workhouse. His name was John Hamblin, a Langford man, a maltster by trade, Mr Vizaerd and his lordship went to visit him. They climbed pp the ladder to the room above and there lay the old man on a bed of straw. “This won’t do Vizard” said his lordship “ we must alter these things”, they were altered a short time afterwards Lord Brougham used to go to Cannes in France every winter and I remember he sent Mr Vizard a cow from there, and so we had the cow and kept I and the family had what milk they liked out of it. About this time the smallpox broke out in the village, and I and my uncles apprentice had it together. He had be vaccinated before the cow pox. I and never had the cow pox, and I had small pox very bad. He never had anything, but his arm swelled a little. I grew in height five inches from November we had it till the next November. He was never right well afterwards; he had a scorbutic humour come over him. Some said it was owing to the small pox not coming out. However he lived to get married but the complaint killed him at last. Somewhere about the time of my birth the Baptists came and introduced themselves into the village of Filkins. I believe a Mr Lawter was the first minister of the denomination here, but a family of the name of Purbrick had attended Cote Baptist chapel near Bampton for many years before that. I remember and incident which happened at a house which stood where the Lamb Inn stands now (Or did) At that time there was a cottage and garden with a hedge round, and a window facing the street, While a prayer meeting was being held a lot of lads got u in a row and throwed stones in at the window and struck several persons, A Mr Clark preached there at the time and he took out a warrant against two of them, although the magistrate was very reluctant to grant it, as the dissenters were in very bad odour. They were committed for trial at the following assizes where a young man named William Adams went as a witness for them. The counsel for the prosecution says to him ”I suppose you hallowed and flung the same as the rest”, “O yes , Sir “ he says “Just stand down there along with the other two” So he got tried on his own evidence, and they all had to pay a fine of £25 each or remain in prison until they could. The Primitive Methodists did not come here until fifteen or sixteen years afterwards. A man named of Alcock was the first; he came and preached out in the street. They met with great opposition from upr0ar and addled eggs being thrown at them. Now there is a chapel for each denomination. The church at Filkins is a very recent date – 1857. As late as the beginning of the present century, the people of Broadwell, Filkins and Holwell and Kelmscott were all buried at Broadwell. One Jane Kilby whose husband for many years was shepherd for Mr Large of Broadwell was the first person to be buried in Filkins churchyard I made a list of names of the family of Colston’s and of their servants at the time I was a boy, who then resided at the old hall, and who now mostly lie buried in Broadwell church and churchyard Edward Francis Colston Esq the father Mrs Colston the second wife of the above Rev Tom Colston Esq son of he above Alexander Colston son of the above Charles Colston son of the above Miss Areabella Colston daughter of the above Miss Sophia Colston daughter of the above Fanny Colston daughter of the above Miss Luisa Colston daughter of the above John Bullock Late huntsman to a Mrs Colston former owner of the hall Mr Phillip Hott Butler Thomas Bantin Coachman John Kirby Footman William Burdock Groom Mrs Kitty Wheeler Cook Elizabeth Musto Housemaid Mary Jonson Kitchen maid David Harris Gardener Sarah Crofts Ladies maid A curious thin g happened when the old Parish Clerk died, my uncles apprentice applied for the office. My uncles were Orthodox Church people, and as I used to go the Baptists sometimes they hated that, so he for the office. I called to him “So you are going to be the Clerk, John”, “Yes”, he says, “That will just suit you” I said “My conscience would not let me do that,” so he laughs, but in about three years he gave it up at once joined the Plymouth Brethren and was decidedly averse to the establishment Somewhere about this time (1828) the last bull was baited at Filkins. There had used to be one always baited on Feast Monday. I can just recollect the last man as was ever whipped in the stocks. His name was Thomas Radway better known as Old Fielding. He was whipped by the great miller named Purbrick at Filkins mill, a very strong man who stood over six foot. Once for a wager he undertook that he and his horse would carry round a market place half a load of wheat. He carried two sacks and his horse three sacks, and they did it, but just as it was accomplished a man patted the horse on the back, which caused him to shunt and he broke his back. The miller said he would have carried an extra sack himself if he had knowed this was going to happen. I think it was in November 1830 that the machine breaking and rioting was. Farmers drawed all their four horse power thrashing machines out into their grounds away from their homes for fear of having their farms set afire. Every night parties went out somewhere or other to break up the thrashing machines,, till at last they all agreed to a regular riot. All the men of several villages round about met together on Southrop Bridge by the hundreds, and I can just remember hearing the horn being blown before it was scarcely light in the morning. By night fall they were all dispersed in all directions. Some got clean away and never came back. Very many went to prison, but the ringleaders of that day was never caught. The head man came home many years afterwards and died. Times were very bad then. I know twenty six able bodied men at work on the roads at one shilling a day. They went to hop skip and jump the greatest parrt of their time to keep themselves warm in winter. There was aa plan common about then called ‘going on the yard land’. That meant you had to employ whoever the overseer sent you, whether man or woman girl or boy, and keep them as many days as you had acres of land. Then you paid them half and the other half they received on the book. That is you paid in proportion to your agreement. Large farmers got a great deal of work done for almost nothing, such as dung carting, spreading etcetera.. About 1832 my father took ten acres of arable land, and I began to lean to be a farmer, and I was thoroughly devoted to it. The first boy I ever had to drive the plough wore buckskin breeches, and he was the last boy I ever knew to wear them, because the old man as made them died soon after. Some years before that time all the labourers and boys never wore anything else. What a difference now. My boy wears a black jacket and a paper collar, although his father has got ten children. I worked early and late, I ploughed and sowed the land and milked the cows and Mother made the cheese, the greatest part of which we sent to London. I had my breakfast beside a cheese tub every summer for twenty six years. Mother and me did all the business, that is the working part. My father had been in service all his time and never take to business. We had a cow dealer living close to us, I used to go about with him and his son at times and help clip the heifers. I picked up a good deal in the judging of cattle and got to deal a little myself, and had a got me a little money. Then my companion, the cow dealer son went to America and I wanted to go with him. My father and mother were terrible afraid I should go, and talked me out of it. Another young man agreed to go with him, but on the morning they were to start his heart failed him, so my companion had to go by himself, he purchased a small farm over there, but before he held it a year another man claimed it. He had bought it of someone who was not the right owner, so he lost all he had. A gentleman took compassion on him and lent him some money to commence cow dealing again, and he got a wealthy man and returned to see me thirty years after, but he looked a deal older than myself although I was several year older I had another companion as went to America. A curious circumstance occurred while he was there. I was walking up to the fair held at Lechlade when I saw a young girl looking over a garden wall, and something seemed to say to me, if so and so (My companion in America) was to come back form America and marry that girl, Well, he did come home from America and married that very girl, and went back to America. As I said before, my mother and me did all the business, but she was frequently taken ill. She was subject to violent inflammations and she would sometimes go to bed in good health, but before daylight she had cost a sovereign in doctoring. Some years we paid twenty pounds for more for the doctor’s bills, and that kept us in the background. We lived hard, we had barley and wheat ground together for bread, bread being dear. But , however, I was always of saving turn by dealing in pigs an d one thing and another I managed to save as much as fifty pounds about 1843, and could have got a good living for myself my then. That troubled the old folks not a little, as I was their chief stay, so they thought how they could get my money, for fear I should leave them. In 1836 a gentleman pretended to purchase Filkins Hall and estate. He was a year or two about it, but died before the sale was completed. Then it was again offered for sale, this time in lots by auction at the Bull at Burford, but in consequence of not selling the house firs it was all quashed In about two years more another gentleman, named Archer purchased it and said he should be here in a fortnight, but again it was abandoned alto0gether. Then it remained as before for about two years, and then a solicitor named Herbert of Northleach bought it and actually he had the deeds and mortgaged them. It cost the family a good deal to get them back again, but he was never heard of afterwards. To return to the subject of the family property at Filkins which my father held under mortgage from his father. My father pressed them (His relations) for a settlement, and after a lot of trouble received the £160 back again and pujt it oujt to mortgage for a time. Then an opportunity occurred of buying a cottage and piece of land on which we built two more cottages. This was in 1844, the year of the great blight, with the wheat, and tremendous hailstorms which destroyed the crops round Banbury and other places in Oxfordshire and did a great amount of damage. It was either this year or in 1845 when the potato blight commenced. One man I knew burnt about twenty acres of standing wheat this year. Ever since the potato blight has been on more or less, nearly all over the world, but the wheat blight has not been so bad of late years. At that time even the straw was good for nothing. January 1845 will ever be memorable, as on the eighth day of January I saw a man mowing a large field of barley with his great coat on. This was the coldest day I ever knew. There were hundreds of acres of barley got in then, the government allowed farmers to dry barley at the malt houses before they could use it. Some done for seed and some for grinding, when mixed the foreign barley. Coal at this time was two and sixpence a hundredweight. In the year 1847 one Feargus O’Connor M.P. bought an estate at Minster Lovell for the Chartists and built a lot of houses and laid four acres of land to them. Hearing of this estate at Filkins for sale he came over and made a bargain for it, which was a very great sore to the local gentry, and he bantering them to hard. Then a neighbouring squire slipped in and bought it, very much to the mortification of Mr Feargus O’Connor M.P. but I understood he afterwards made them pay five hundred pounds for the disappointing him. The little allotments on his Minster Lovell answered well, thirty years after, several were let at three pounds and acre. If he had kept it he would have been a great blessing to the place. The gentleman as now bought Filkins Hall and estate began cutting down timber and making alterations. A new tenant was brought in who put his horses in he big stables. There was but one way to Park through our cow yard, and they came in and out at all times. We had six beautiful cows in calf, but one was run over and another cast her calf, another dwindled, and being hurt by a cart horse coming in and out, all the lot was spoiled. So in 1848/9 my father and I went and took a small farm of fifty three acres about three miles from here. He wanted us to leave the Park as bad as a child, and we obliged to take a meadow seven miles away to put our stock until Michaelmas came and we could take to the land. At this time we took this farm, things was lower than I ever knew. I bought a two year stirk for ten pounds which would fetch fourteen pounds now. Horses was never so cheap as they was then. The road wagon horses and stage coach horses was all on he market by the hundreds. Wheat was eight pounds per load. I went to a dairy sale of thirty cows, most money the best cow fetched was eight pounds. The first barley we sold made one pound a quarter, we never again growed so good a sample. I bought a capital mare at Charlbury Fair in May 1950 to breed from, and put her to the horse. The fellow there was drunk and I lost the mare. That was a bad beginning, but I had a good friend who gave me ten pounds to buy another, so I went to Lechlade Fair and bought a mare that turned out lucky one and bred a lot of colts. My father and mother were very feeble now and could do nothing, we was very bad off and suffered great privations. Many a time we could not get tea or coffee and was obliged to use bunt crusts for tea. That was hard times, and our old people had weared out their strength in other’s service that was rich as Dives. I had got to maintain them and should have been happy to do so, but I had not the means. I worked hard night an day at my business and for the last fifteen years I truly went through the fire , but it was no use and I must have given up but that my uncle (my mothers brother) died and left me and mother together nearly four hundred pounds, so we went on better. About the year 1851 there occurred a magnetic storm in July, we had just returned to work from dinner in the middle of the day. We had a man and woman hoeing Swedes just over the hedge, and I said to the man that I expected some thunder, but he said it did not look much like it, as the sky was clear nd the weather hot. Then there came such vivid flash of lightning, like a long white chain, which seemed to fall in a field beyond where we were. My father had been walking up there a few minutes before, and so I was alarmed about him, never having seen a flash of lightning without a cloud before in the daytime. It so happened that this flash struck down a man at Black Bourton about a mile beyond us, exactly the direction in which it appeared to us to fall. Hi name was Benjamin Clark, he survived, but twenty years later he told me had never been right since. A few years afterwards I noticed a phenomenon in natural history worth recording. We used to have several magpies nest every year, and as they became old ones the sparrow hawk’s took to them and built their nest in them. Once there was a hedge sparrows nest under the hawks nest, the young were big enough to fly in and out, but they and the old hawks never interfered with the pair of sparrows underneath, although the sparrow is their chief food. Then I noticed another nest very particular, and there was a sparrow’s nest under that just the same. I thought I would keep an eye on that dodge, so when afterwards some of our boys went to rob another hawk’s nest, I told them to see if here was a sparrow’s nest under the bottom, and there was one, with eggs in. This was the third time of it occurrence. We had not been at the farm more that four or five years when my poor mother died of aged eight two, the best friend of my life. She dropped down dead going up stairs to bed, then about two years later my father died, and I was left alone by myself struggling along and working hard and gradually losing money. On February 8th 1863 I was married at last, at Langford church to Ann Taylor. Nearly twenty years before this I red an account in the newspaper of the death of Mr John Campden Neild, Barrister at Law in Chelsea aged 72. He was possessed of an immense fortune, but of very eccentric habits. At the age of thirty, when his father died, he came into possession of £250,000, which sum had not been touched up to the time of his death. He never wore a great coat, and his blue coat with metal buttons he prohibited being brushed, as it would take off the nap and deteriorate its value. His appearance and manners led strangers to have pity and compassion on him. He held considerable landed property in Kent and Bucks, and was always happy to receive invitations from his tenantry to visit them, which he did often staying a month at a time, as he was thus enabled to add to h is savings. He made a will leaving all his property to her Majesty the Queen, not even leaving his old housekeeper anything who had served him for twenty eight years. Little did I think, when reading about him, that I should marry a relation of this man, but so it was, My wife’s father, John Taylor of Grafton died anbout 1862 aged ninety nine. He and Robert Taylor of Colebourne in Gloucestershire, who lived to be over ninety, and Mrs Castle of Stanton Hardcourt, who was also past ninety, were supposed to be nearest of kin, petitioned the Queen for some little acknowledgement, as their father waas married to a Campden Neild at St Mary’s church Oxford, andas he well knew they were related to him. They received an answer back that the Queen was going to lay it in charity. Nobody ever needed it more than these very old people. Robert Taylor and his wife were both bedridden together. It was said that the property was worth over half a million, but they never had a farthing. I had been renting my farm for twenty seven years from one Mr Price of Burford, and worked early and late for nothing at all. What little property I had got went yearly towards paying the rent. In 1876 Mr Price died, next year I gave up the farm after losing nearly £400 although I worked like a horse. By 1878 no end of farmer sere in the same case. Now it is 1879, and a wetter season than ever. For four seasons there has been no lad cleared, and prices of corn are so low that nearly all the farmers are giving up their farms. At the time of writing there is an inquiry in Parliament into the existing distress of the farmers, and before long there will be an inquiry into the distress of he landlords. There has been a Conservative government with a majority of one hundred, and never attempted to do one thing for the tenant farmers. They passed an act to do away with the turnpikes and put all the expense of the roads on the ratepayers, and one brewer I have heard save one thousand pounds a year in turnpikes alone.

Here at the age of sixty three Thomas Bantin ends his own life story. George Swinford, who was not born until 1887, says that Bantin lived to be quite and old man, and remembers him wearing a smock. He used to keep pigs and a few hens in a plot of land in Filkins near the Hadge. He died about 1900. The story of his life is followed in his original manuscript by an extraordinary ?????? about the number seven, the writer (Thomas Bantin) provided by introduction or explanation to the outburst which is backed on as though it was a continuation of his memoirs.


These sites cover the ox18 area of Oxfordshire England, including  the following villages, OX18, Alvescot, Bampton, Black Bourton, Burford, Broadwell, Carterton, Clanfield, Kelmscott, Kencot, Langford, Lechlade, RAF Broadwell, Shilton, Parish Pump, Oxfordshire Events,