The Oatridges of Butler's Court

The Oatridges of Butler's Court

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There was an OATRIDGE family that lived in North Wiltshire and SE Gloucester that were fairly wealthy, to the extent of owning property, farms and being styled as "Gent". Several wills of the family decreed that Butler's Court would remain in the family for "a 1000 years", but it didn't, read on....

For 150 years there existed a dynasty of OATRIDGEs who clearly were well-monied, who owned large swathes of land across North Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire, who were traders in many commodities, had business interests in London and who had a "country seat". They even created their own coat of arms as illustrated in the last edition.

Robert Oatridge (son of Simon of Garsdon) purchased Butler's Court from John Gearing in 1660. The Court was a 4-yardland estate (about 100 acres) that John de Bellow granted to John Butler in 1304. Gearing's grandfather, a London Grocer, bought the estate in 1614. (The full story of Butler's Court is on p113 of the "Brightwells Barrow Hundred" section of the Victoria County History of Gloucester).

Where Robert Oatridge had made his money is uncertain. The inventory of his grandfather Henrye WOTRIDGE of Grittleton, Wilts was worth just 73 at his death. His father Simon WOTRIDGE/ OATRIDGE had married into the JENNER family - his wife was the sister of Robert JENNER the MP for Cricklade at that time. The JENNER's had money and some of it seems to have transferred across through the wills of Simon's father and brother-in-law. However, Simon's Will was not extensive, being worth about 200 plus leases on 2 pieces of land.

We can also posit that, being related to Parliamentarians. they were on the "right" side in the 1650s. It is possible that Robert gained some spoils from the Civil War. So by 1660 he was wealthy enough to purchase a substantial estate.

The record below is a "Visitation of Gloucester" that shows the family tree of this early family. The College of Arms was formed in 1485, being responsible for granting, control and confirmation of Coats-of-Arms in England. From 1529 until 1686 they made visitations to parts of the country to establish if coats-of-arms were being used correctly. Their report on the "Oatridge of Butlers Court in Lechlade" is fairly self-explanatory - ob. means died, aet means "age at testament" normally death, but sometimes other events.

There are 2 generations that lived in Tetbury in the 18th Century who were wealthy enough to warrant plaques inside the church to commemorate their deaths, as shown here. Daniel came from Crudwell (the next village to Oaksey) and was a cheesemonger. He had three sons who married, Thomas, Daniel and Simon but of these only Daniel appears to have had any children, in London.

Then as we move to Oaksey (about 6 miles from Tetbury) there is a farm still called "Oatridge Farm" to this day. There is evidence of many generations of parallel families Living here from about 1700 onwards, and their forbears came from Crudwell, where many OATRIDGEs lived in the late 17th Century.

In prime place in the Churchyard in Oaksey, outside the altar end of the church, can be found the following gravestone. The full inscription on this reads:

In memory of RICHARD OATRIDGE who died Jan 5 1842 aged 47 years. Also of Elizabeth, his wife who died May 6 1845 aged 47 years. Likewise of Thomas their son who died Sep 25 1839 aged 14 years. And of three of their children who died in infancy.

Also of Richard their son who lies buried at Fort Levanworth North America Feb 11 1863 Aged 29 years.

The members of this family had a coat of arms, as described in the visitation, as follows:

"On a cross flory five mullets"

This means that the Arms contain a "cross flory", or flowery cross, and on that cross are "five mullets". Mullets were one of nine symbols used to designate the order of the son, in this case the third. The description of the Crest is:

"Out of a ducal coronet a stag's head"

And so, from this, a picture of the Coat of Arms can be constructed which is shown here:

Again, without laboriously going through the definitive history of this family, the line that continued to take inheritance of Butler's Court became an extremely inbred branch of the family. There were at least 6 marriages between second cousins, and more of them married late in life and had no children, or not at all. The result was that by 1800 the last OATRIDGE of that line passed away with no OATRIDGE descendants, despite the assertion in many of the Wills that the property must remain in the family for a thousand years! The diagram overleaf illustrates how a family with reducing heirs managed to keep passing it sideways.

The boxes indicate those on whom Butler's Court was settled, and the arrowed lines the paths of inheritance. They were so desperate to find inheritors that it passed to childless wives, sisters and even a great nephew. In the end the Manor had only one direction to go - out of the family. This is not to say that the family was entirely heirless - other sons of both Simon and Henry went to head up substantial branches of the family in Oaksey, Wilts; Coaley, Glos and London.

Butler's Court was sold back to the Gearing family in 1841, but they then sold it to New College, Oxford in 1876, who still own it, albeit it was much re-constructed after a fire in 1966.

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