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SULSTON homepage


This section is dedicated to my one-name study of the SULSTON (SELSTONE) family.

The origin of the surname is obscure and there are several variations in the spelling found in historical documents. These are perpetuated today as anyone who carries the name knows only too well.

The first record of a Sulston in Oxfordshire is that of William Selstone (died 1719) who married Anne Wakelynne in 1705 in Ambrosden church. William may have moved from South Hinksey in North Berkshire or from Eynsham in West Oxfordshire, where several Selstone families were living in the 17th century. William and Anne lived at Blackthorn, a hamlet close to Ambrosden and they had a family of four children of whom two survived to adulthood.

Their son William Selstone (1709-1770) married Sarah Hobcraft in 1730 and they had five children but two died young. We know from receipts kept in the Oxfordshire Archives that William was a cottager in Blackthorn and rented farmland from Mr Thomas Cooper. He paid an annual rent of £1 7s 7d on All Saints’ Day from 1744 to 1760. In 1752, his son John Sulstone (died 1776) was a churchwarden and overseer of the poor, so the family had reasonable standing in the hamlet. Blackthorn was an open village and had a high number of poor families who depended on support from the rest of the community.

In 1762, William and Sarah’s eldest son William Sulstone (1731-1810) married Mary Pavier in Bicester and they raised a family of three children to adulthood in Blackthorn. In 1776, this William was awarded rights to a plot of land of ‘one rood and fourteen perches’ which was enclosed from part of the common area of land on the green adjoining his homestead. [Enclosure Act for Blackthorn 1776.] William and Mary’s elder son, William Sulston (born 1764) married Hannah Ratford and moved to Crowell. Their descendants spread out into Buckinghamshire to Little Hampden, Princes Risborough and Aylesbury. There are at least two current Sulston families who are descended from him.

I can trace my direct line from William Selstone (died 1719) through John Sulston (1765-1857) who was William's great grandson. John lived at Cowleys Farm in Piddington, Oxfordshire from the late 1700's when his parents (William and Mary) moved from Blackthorn. His first wife was Rebecca Tomkins and they had a son John (1795-1860) who married Sarah Syms (about 1800-1866) in 1820. John and Sarah settled in Long Crendon in Buckinghamshire and had a family of seven children.

John of Cowleys second wife was Hannah Haynes. They married in 1804 and had nine children of whom eight lived to adulthood. Six of their children married and produced at least 42 grandchildren for John and Hannah. Two of his sons, Andrew and Richard, remained in Piddington into the beginning of this century. Another son was Thomas Sulston (1813-1873) who married Anne Hunt in 1850. Thomas and Anne moved to Boarstall in Buckinghamshire in 1853. Some of their descendants later emigrated to Canada, USA and South Africa.

John and Hannah are buried in the churchyard at Ambrosden, with two of their children. The gravestones are still intact and readable. When John died in 1857 he left a detailed will which has been used to reconstruct the family relationships, using additional information from his father’s will of 1810 and the parish registers of Ambrosden and Piddington.

From 1705 to 1942, members of the Sulston family were farmers in the South East corner of Oxfordshire. Go to Tale of Four Farms.



·          ‘The Sulston Saga’ booklet

·         Sulston gatherings in 2008 and in Boarstall 2002



If you can contribute to the study in any way, contact me at: [email protected] (please remove nospam before sending)


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