Genealogy Notes for the Town of Burford, Oxfordshire
A miscellany of pictures and data arising out of research into the KIRBY's family trees (but not all linked to them). This is a work in progress so please treat the data with appropriate caution. For related information see List, Place Index and Wills Index

Burford high street contains many old and interesting buildings so it pays to lift your eyes above street level. The character of the street changes dramatically between the top and the bottom of the hill. The town has long been an important convergance of routes and crossing place for the Windrush, hence many of these are former inns. In 1809, it was commented that the local Cotswold stonebrash was broken for turn-pike roads and made exceedingly good ones (Board of Agriculture, 1809, 4).

From 1751 to 1813, Mr Thomas Huntley's Hillside Academy was claimed to be one of the most important Quaker schools in Southern England.

In 1758 the village was hit by a particularly severe outbreak of smallpox. Joan Moody, in her booklet on the outbreak, notes that the only account she had available to her was one published in 1897 (Moody 1998, 5). However, the following account comes from a letter to the editor of the New Monthly Magazine (dated 22 Aug 1817), from one Richard Moyle, a Member of the Royal Collage of Surgeons, London.
“About the year 1757, the small pox broke out in Burford, Oxfordshire, occasioned, as was generally supposed, by some infected clothes being sent thither from London. It raged with all the Fury of a plague from a short time after Michaelmas till near Midsummer following; during which interval it was computed to have carried off upwards of 900 of the inhabitants. In consequence of the disease the market was suspended, the country people not venturing to attend it. The provisions were left with the prices affixed at some distance from the town, whence the town’s people fetched them, leaving the money in their place, which was suffered to remain some time exposed to the air to prevent the extension of the disease. It carried off in many instance? whole families; so that, on a moderate calculation, considerably more than one half of the population of the town was swept away” (Moyle 1817, 189-90). Joan Moody’s analysis of the parish registers found only 247 deaths recorded in total for that year, though that was considerably up on the average for that century of about 39 a year (Moody 1998, 31). Further analysis would be needed to identify if there was evidence of non-reporting on the scale implied by the 1817 report. The aforesaid rags were probably destined for one of the local paper-mills at Widford or Upton.

In 1809, Burford, which is generally on a stone-brash soil, had been enclosed only 13 years earlier; but there was a large tract of heath-land, which was 'still of a more loose and hollow quality, and which demands a more attentive management. On this land, the layers are always pared and burnt ; but not on the brash, because too stony for the operation.'  (Board of Agriculture, 1809, 6).

The Lime trees that form such a prominant feature in Burford's upper high street were planted in 1874 (according to a display in Burford Museum).

Top of Burford High Street Bottom of Burford High Street


Sheep Street

The Lamb Inn and Sheep Street, BurfordThe Lamb Inn in Sheep Street gives a good idea of the importance that wool once held for Burford. The Thomas HATTON of Widford had property in Sheep Street and John Jordan left property in the town.


Burford Mill 

Burford MillThanks to its long association with the wool industry Burford used to have several fulling mills in the vicinity of the town. One of these was on Witney Street and is currently known as Burford Mill (and possibly previously known as Upton Mill, see notes on Upton Paper Mill). The mill now provides attractively situated self catering holiday accommodation. On one  Buildings by Burfod Millof the main buildings there are initials and a date.  

Guildenford Lane

Guildenford Lane runs down from the Witney Street to the bridge over the river that serves as an entrance to a modern car park. Associated with the MONK family.

 Mary MONK, is mentioned in the will of Elizabeth HATTON (nee JORDAN), she married William MONK who owned both a Blacksmithing and a Wheelwrights businesses. William MONK left property in the High Street together with seven cottages and garden land in Guildenford Lane in his Will (that probably amounts to almost half of Guildenford Lane!). The Tolsey Museum has a picture of a much later member of the MONK family at work in a forge in the High Street.
1 Guildenford Lane, Burford  The upper end of Guildenford Lane, Burford

The George Inn

The former George InnThe George Inn (no longer an Inn) was an attractive and long a established coaching inn that stands half way up the high street. It was owned at one point by a branch of the JORDAN family from Fulbrook, Oxon who based themselves in Witney, Oxon.

The Bull Inn

The Bull Inn, BurfordAnother major coaching Inn in Burford was the Bull Inn (still trading as the Old Bull Hotel. During my researches I have pieced together an assortment of information concerning the history of the Bull Inn.

When Event Source
1658 Leased by Edward HEMMING Gretton's 'The Burford Records'
1678 Leased by Elinor HEMING ditto
1692 Leased by Peter RICH ditto
14 Jul 1696 Mentioned as the current dwelling place of Robert ASTON Innholder of Burford. The Bull was to go to his Wife Sarah which implies he may already have leased it The Will of Robert ASTON dated 14 Jul 1696
1697 Leased by Robert ASTON Gretton's 'The Burford Records'
12 Jan 1698 Sale to Peter RICH of Upton (paper maker) ditto
Later in 1698 Death of Robert ASTON, under the terms of his Will the unexpired portion of the lease passed to his Wife Sarah (nee SOUDLEY, bur:1705) Parish Records for burial (1 Aug 1698) & probate (6 Sep 1698)
1701 Henry TASH brother of William TASH married one Ann ASTON (daughter of Robert & Sarah ASTON) Burford Parish Records
1705 Will of Sarah ASTON (relict of Robert ASTON) identifies that her daughter Mary was already married to William TASH Probate  (4 Apr 1706)
1706 Lease to William TASH  Gretton's 'The Burford Records'
1707 Lease to William TASH  ditto
10 Jan 1714 William TASH wrote a will bequeathing the lease of the Bull to his wife Mary (nee ASTON), or if she did not want to take it up then to his Brother Henry.  Probate copy of Will (see below)
9 Sep 1718 Probate for the Will of William TASH. 
1718 Lease to Henry TASH (it appears that Mary TASH was happy not to take on the lease upon which she had first refusal, six years later she married again to John JORDAN of Bourton-on-the-Water, c1667-1732).  Gretton's 'The Burford Records'
Burford parish records
1735 Lease to Henry TASH ditto
1791 John STEVENS was Innkeeper Universal British Directory, 1791
27 May 1794 John STEVENS was Innkeeper (when a meeting was held in connection with enclosure) Gretton's 'The Burford Records' Pg 702

The history of papermaking in the area and that of the Bull Inn seem to intertwine. A Quaker family by the name of MINCHIN operated the paper mill at Little Barrington from 1710, when William MINCHIN received the Hound Mill from his uncle HEMMING, until at least 1800. Later George WARD, papermaker at Little Barrington was married to Peter RICH's daughter Mary (Harley and Holmes, Pg 4). In 1748 John TASH of Burford (almost certainly the son of the Henry TASH who owned the Inn) married one Jane MINCHIN of Burford.  There is a mention in Quarter Sessions Records from 18th Oct 1824 (Oxfordshire Records Office: QSD/Pr/4) that one William WARD of Burford possessed a printing press. Like RICH, the names George and William WARD are feature in the history of Upton papermill

St John's Church

A splendid church, noted for its collections of KEMPSTER and SILVESTER family memorials amongst others.

The Great House

The Great House, BurfordThe Great House lies on the south side of Witney Street. At one time it was the home of one of the Mrs Sophia GAST, one of the sisters of Samuel CRISP (1707-1783) of Chessington, Surrey. Their correspondence is preserved in The Burford Letters.

Port Mills

Throughout the 18th C two mills, known as the 'port mills' operated just upstream of the town bridge and milling is indicated in that location even on the OS map of 1884-85. Throughout the history of Port Mills they were closely associated with the SILVESTER and LENTHALL families and then passed to the BEAZLEY family. Later in their history the Quaker family of PADBURY were involved in the mill along with members of the RICH and WARD families.



The BEESLEY family were millers at Port Mills. This entry serves to preserve variants of their surname that I have come across thus far. [Paragraph added 5 May 2008]

The HOWSE family

In 1908 the artist S. M. Hodgkins painted 'The Forge' depicting the Blacksmith Alex HOWSE at work in his forge. The picture is now on display in the Burford Museum.  According to notes displayed with the picture (attributed to 'A.N. 23') there were forges behind two of the towns properties (listed as 33 & 52 in the Museum's visual index of properties). The first appears to have been near the current site of Christmas Court and the second next to Providence Cottage and behind Quills Books.

The HUNT family

James Hunt memorial stoneJames HUNT was a prominant local medical man who was involved in the development of the newly discovered method of inoculation against Smallpox.


Grave of John JORDAN in Burford ChurchSeveral JORDANs were prominant within the town. These are gradually resolving into a limited number of families the most significant being the JORDANs of Witney, Oxon, and the JORDANs of Fulbrook, Oxon, and Bourton on the Water, Gloucs. The former is probably related to the latter but as yet there is only circumstantial evidence. The Fulbrook JORDANs use the arms of JORDAYNE of London and had relatives in Thames Ditton, Surrey, in Essex and in London. My current best guess at the interelationships between the various Jordan's in the Burford area may be found on the JORDAN Relationships Chart, which is based on data from wills, parish registers and transactions listed in Records Office catalogues. [Paragraph amended 21 Jun 2008]

One branch of the Jordan family of Burford had family links with Leafield during the 18thC. Edward ANSELL, a tanner in Leafield, later moved to Burford. He was first cousin to John ANSELL and Edward ANSELL, both of whom married JORDAN brides (daughters of John JORDAN, Son in Law of Mary JORDAN (former wife of TASH, maiden name ASTON), Mary TASH of Leafield was probably related as she married John GODFREY of Holwell, Oxon, and that GODFREY family married into the ASTON family of Burford. [Paragraph added 4 Jan 2009]

The KEMPSTER familyIsolated Christopher KEMPSTER memorial at St John's

The KEMPSTER family rose to fame through the activities of the stonemason Christopher KEMPSTER, in particular on St Paul's Cathederal. His monument is in St John's and one section of the church contains a collection of KEMPSTER memorials. However, one Christopher KEMPSTER memorial is isolated from the rest and located with the JORDAN and HUNT  memorials.

The MONK family

William Monk named churchwarden on list of benefactorsMary MONK, is mentioned in the will of Elizabeth HATTON (nee JORDAN), she married William MONK who owned both a Blacksmithing and a Wheelwrights businesses. William MONK left property in the High Street together with seven cottages and garden land in Guildenford Lane in his Will (that probably amounts to almost half of Guildenford Lane!). One William MONK was a churchwarden. The Tolsey Museum has a picture of a much later member of the MONK family at work in a forge in the High Street. Another MONK later to be linked with Burford was W. J. MONK who published The History of Burford in 1891.

Related links

A selection of links to other sites with information about this place


Any transcripts and images on this page are Copyright R I Kirby 2005 unless stated otherwise.