The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries in Upton and Blewbury

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The Martin family seem to have been based in a group of villages situated in the Vale of the White Horse. An agricultural region on the Berkshire Oxfordshire border. In particular the Martins may have originated in the tiny village of Upton in Berkshire. The Act for the enclosure of Upton was passed in 1759 making it a particularly early example. At about that date the Martins seem to have become more prominent in the neighbouring and slightly larger village of Blewbury of which the Act of Enclosure was not fully passed until 1805 though negotiations had begun in 1794. The population of Upton in 1801 was 217, Blewbury 966. By 1831 Upton had 254 inhabitants and Blewbury 1056. 1861 saw the population of Upton reaching 306 and Blewbury 1114.

There is mention of a John Marten in the Survey made of Blewbury in 1548. He is a "Copyholder", and given the small size of Blewbury at that date; only 24 copyholders and 10 freeholders; is probably an early ancestor of the Martins, possibly even the grandfather or great grandfather of that Sylvester Martin born about 1630 who is the first certain ancestor of this branch of the family. Copyhold tenure was a form of customary tenure by which the tenant held a copy of the entry in the rolls of the manorial court baron which recorded his or her holding on agreed terms. By the 16th century these terms, originally service, had been converted to a money payment. Certainly this was still the case for a possible direct descendent, Jonathan Martin in 1805 (see below). An inventory of the possessions exists which was made at the death of another John Martin of Blewbury on the 20th November 1637 possibly the father of Sylvester. In this document John Martin is described as a "husbandman" the value of who's chattels including standing crops and livestock amounted to £13. 8s. 10d. Another early document to have survived is an inventory of the possessions made of one "Agnes Martyne of Blewberie" made at her death on the 19th August 1593 to the value of £11.7s. 10d. At present it is impossible to say how she might have fitted into the history of the Martin family anciently established in the village. A further early reference is to one Elizabeth Martin ( the daughter of Robert Martin and Elizabeth Plotte, Married in Blewbury on the 14th October 1605) who was baptised at Blewbury on the 22nd December 1613. She married John Humfrey (baptised in Blewbury in 1608) at Blewbury on the 23rd January 1632. The Humfreys (variously spelled) were a prominent Blewbury/Upton family right into the modern era. Their family history states that the couple had 14 children !
 First page of the will of Agnes Martyne of Blewberie 1593

An early entry in the Blewbury Parish Register records the burial of one JOHN MARTIN on the 5th January 1597. At present it is impossible to say how, if at all, he relates to the persons described above, but, there exists obviously a very strong possibility of a link. He may well be the same person as the "copyholder" John Martin already referred to as listed in the Blewbury survey of 1548. It is tempting to surmise that he may have been the father of the John Martin below. Were this to be the case, the widow Agnes Martin buried at Blewbury on the 19th August 1593 (of whom the married name had been Wallis) may well have been his sister. The Parish Register of Blewbury also records the marriage of one Henrie Martin to Alice Skammel on the 12th October 1592. The date of this marriage would however make it unlikely that Henrie was the John below's father though he was likely to have been a close relative as indeed must have been the Elizabeth Martin who married one Thomas Glasse on the 29th August 1598.

As stated earlier one JOHN MARTIN was born around 1585 and buried at Blewbury on the 24th October 1636. He married MARIE PLOTTE at Blewbury on the 30th January 1610. He may also have married one KATHERINE GREENE as his second wife on the 10th January 1619. This John Martin was possibly nephew to the Robert Martin named above and is also quite possibly also the John Martin who drew up the will dated 1632 already referred to. The text of John Martin's will is as follows :

In the name of God Amen. The Eighteenth day of May in the year of our Lord according to the computation of the Church of England 1632. I John Martin of Blewbury in the County of Berks husbandman....... ........ in body but of good and perfect memory God be th ...... and praysed, doo make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner.......... following

Firste to commend my soul to Almighty God, hoping assuredly in His Sonne Jesus Christ my Saviour to be made........... of eternal Salvation and Everlating life and my bodye to be buryed in the Church Yoard of Blewbury aforesaid.

Item I give unto my sonne John Martine--------------------------------------------------------------.........

Item I give unto Elinor my daughter all the remainder of goods? from? and immediately? after my ............and my now married wife with all the right titles and intereste? which? I now hand on of right to hand in and unto the......... ................... wherein and whereat? I now dwell and inhabitte and lastly? I did heretofore? take by indenture of leasse? for the......of ........ ........ of one Edmund Marshall, Esquier deceased?, that is to say during the mutuall lifes (John Martin and Marie his wife ENTERED SUPERSCRIPT) of one Elizabeth Martin now wife of John Humfrey.

Item I give unto her Mone ...............

All my other goods unbequeathed..........more?...........old? any .......... ........ .......... ............. my funerall?............ ............... .......and my debts paid I give and bequeath unto my ............ ........wife Marie whom I make and ordain sole executrice? of this my last will and testament In witness whereof I have gone unto pott my hand and............in the presence of

John Samson X

Jacob Sadler The mark of John Martine

John Smith

John.........
 First part of the will of John Martine of Blewbury 1632

 It is evident from the will that John Martin could not write. His condition is described in the document as that of "husbandman". According to the Oxford Companion to Local and Family History this was the old word for a farmer below the rank of Yeoman. A husbandman usually held his land by copyhold or leasehold tenure and may be regarded as he average farmer in his locality. The term was replaced by the word "farmer" in the eighteenth century.

John, Marie and/or Katherine but more likely Marie had the following children :

1) Marie Christened on the 25th November 1619. She appears to have died in infancy and to have been buried at Blewbury on the 11th January 1620. This girl was probably the daughter of Marie Martin nee' Plotte

2) John Christened on the 18th December 1625. The name of this John's wife according to his father's will might have been Marie, the same as her possible step-mother-in-law; they went on to have at least the following children : ELINOR 1654-1659; MARIE Christened Blewbury the 28th January 1652 and Phylis Christened Blewbury the 8th August 1660

3) Ellinor Christened on the 1st February 1629.

Also, but not certainly:

4) William born around 1625 who married Katherine Hope at Blewbury on the 4th July 1659. The names of this couples children make a link with John and Katherine as being William's parents likely. They were : Martha, Thomas (probably buried" with sermon" on 23rd December 1746), Elizabeth, Henry (probably buried " with sermon" on the 4th December 1743), ELLINOR and MARIE all born between the years 1660 and 1673 and :

5) SYLVESTER MARTIN who was born around the year 1630 in either Blewbury or Upton. His wife's Christian name was FRANCES. The couple had at least five children as follows :

1) Marie, Christened on the 2nd October 1655.

2) William, Christened on the 16th December 1657.

3) Ann, Christened on the 12th August 1660.

4) Richard, Christened on the 9th January 1664.

5) Frances, Christened on the 24th February 1672.