Port Mills, Burford, Oxfordshire

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Location and general description

Located in Burford, Oxon., just upstream of the town bridge, milling is indicated in that location even on the OS map of 1884-85. Also Known as Burford Mills (not to be confused with Burford Mill) or The Town Mills (Gretton, pg 156)


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History (between 1552 and 1813)

In the 16th Century there was a grant by the crown of  'two corn mills built under one roof  called Burford Mills'. Gretton considers these to be the forerunner of Port Mills. (Gretton pg 160)

In 1521, Burford's four mills were leased by the crown to Thomas WILDYNG, a Yeoman of the Ewery, through a Patent, dated 3 May, 13 Henry VIII (Gretton, pg 194, 655)

By 1538, the daughter and administrator of Thomas WILDYNG, deceased, had sold her remaining interest to John JOHNES of Burford. (Gretton, pg 655)

In Feb 1538, on the surrender of the Patent, dated 3 May, 13 Henry VIII,  John JOHNES of Burford, Oxon., leased for 21 years at 16 13s. 4d. rent and 4d. increase:These were part of the lands of the late Earl of Warwick (Gretton, pg 655)

July 1545 saw the purchase by grant in fee to Edmund HARMAN [sic Edward HARMAN] of
These, for which HARMAN paid 187 3s. 5d., were then in the tenure of John JONES. (Gretton, 657)

A survey of 1552 identifies the Burford Mills (i.e. Port Mills), a fulling mill in Burford, Oxon.(which Gretton takes to be the Witney Street mill due to a reference elsewhere to a close 'in Witneystret iuxta le Walkemylle') and a corn-mill in Upton, Oxon. (Gretton, pg 193-4)

In his will dated 8 March 1576/7, Edmond HARMAN devised "the mills called the Porte mills of Burforde withe all the com[m]odities thereunto belonginge or any waies appertaininge” [Dix 2007, 3] to his wife until her death, provided she did not re-marry, then to his Daughter Agnes BRAY. Harman also placed a perpetual charge of 4 on the port mills for the benefit of the poor of Burford. 

On 19 Dec 1679 Paul SILVESTER the elder of Burford, clothier, signed his Will (probate 1680, Public Records Office: Prob 11/363). He left 'all that my one moyty of the water Grist Mills with the hams Fhams Fth*gates Fishing and all other the Appurtennets thereunto belonging situate and being in Burford aforesaid on the West side of the bridge there and called by the Name of Port Mills' to his daughter Susanna SILVESTER for her life, then to her lawfully begotten heirs, or for default of such issue to his own heirs (on condition that annual payments were made to his wife). He also left to the same daughter 'the Lease which I hold from Sr John LENTHALL Knight of the other Moiety of the said Water Grist Mills in Burford aforesaid with the appurtennts she performing the Covenants in the said Lease contayned and paying the rent thereby Reserved', upon similar conditions. It appears that the port mills comprised two moieties, the second of which had been leased for the convenience of operating the missl as a single endeavour. Paul SILVESTER's Will mentions a Son in Law by the name of  John WINSMOR of Burford, of whom his daughter Mary SILVESTER was the now wife, to whom he left a  'Capitall Messuage or Tenement with the appurtenances in Burford aforesaid on the East Side of the high streete' that was in the tenure of Jane JORDAN widow and John PRICE. The same Will also mentions a 'kinsman', Paul SILVESTER of Burford, tanner. Paul SILVESTER left to his Son in Law William ROGERS and Alice his wife 'my Great Dyeing Furnace and my Grate with the vessels thereunto be ponysing And my Presse and all my Parchments All which goods now are in and about the mill and mill house in Upton' (Upton, Oxon being an adjoining parish). [Paragraph added 12 Apr 2008]

Sir John LENTHALL died in 1681, whence the moiety of the mill presumably passed to his son William LENTHALL until he died in 1686 and thence to his son John LENTHALL (who married Jane HILL the daughter of Sir William HILL of Teddington by Jane JORDAN of Burford, of the Fulbrook, Oxon. JORDANs, whose great uncle Robert JORDAN had married Abigail SILVESTER). [Paragraph added 13 Apr 2008]

On 14/Jun/1692 Isaac CLARKE of St.Andrew's, Holborn, Middx, vintner released a moiety (=half share) of a messuage and water grist mill on the west side of the bridge in Burford and referred to as 'the Port Mills' to John WINSMORE of Burford, mercer (Oxfordshire Records Office:SL33/1/D/1). The IGI gives a marriage licence on 8 Feb 1684 for one Isaac CLARKE of London and Hannah SILVESTER, then on the 11 Feb a marriage for an Isaac CLARKE of Burfotin [sic] Oxfordshire with no spouse given. [Paragraph updated 13 Apr 2008]

On 24/Apr/1706 a mortgage (recited as of 30 Dec 1694) on the moiety was assigned from 1) Patience BOND of Coleshill, Berks., widow and John WINSMORE of Burford, mercer, to 2) Paul SILVESTER of Burford, tanner (Oxfordshire Records Office:SL33/1/D/2)

Gretton describes an unexecuted lease dated 1709 between Peter RICH of Upton, papermaker and John LENTHALL of Burford, Esquire (Gretton, Pgs 465-476). It mentions a moiety of the fulling mills and paper mills at Burford and Upton, also that the lease for a year was 5 shillings. The moiety referred to is presumably that held by lease in 1679 by Paul SILVESTER. [Paragraph added 12 Apr 2008]

On the 10th February 1713 BOND and WINSMORE assigned the moiety to William APPLEGARTH of Burford, clothier in trust for Paul SILVESTER (Oxfordshire Records Office:SL33/1/D/3)  and On 11/Feb/1713  the moiety was released (with a covenant to levy a fine) from 1) the WINSMORE family, John, of London (late of Burford), mercer, Mary, his wife, and their eldest son Paul to 2) Paul SILVESTER of Burford, tanner (Oxfordshire Records Office: SL33/1/D/4). John WINSMORE had married Mary SILVESTER in 1678 and William APPLEGARTH had married Rebecca SILVESTER in 1682 (source IGI)

In 13-14/Jan/1716 the moiety was transferred between 1) Paul SILVESTER the elder of Burford, tanner, and his wife Anne and 2)  Jeremiah BEESLY of Burford, miller (Oxfordshire Records Office: SL33/1/D/5-6)

On 23/Jul/1722 probate was granted for the will of Jeremiah BEZLEY, who bequeathed the moiety of mill to his son Nathaniel BEZLEY (Oxfordshire Records Office: SL33/1/D/7)

In 1758 the mill could hardly have avoided some impact from the Burford Smallpox outbreak.

By 16/Aug/1763  Nathaniel, who had married Elizabeth and followed in his father's profession of milling, had died. On that date marriage articles were drawn up for the marriage of Thomas BUNN of Burford, carpenter and Mary BEEZLEY, spinster, daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth BEEZLEY, (Oxfordshire Records Office: SL33/1/D/8). Nathaniel's wife Elizabeth was the daughter of Mr John JORDAN another descendant of the Fulbrook JORDAN family) [Paragraph updated 26 May 2008]

On 5-6/Apr/1780 the moiety was transferred by Lease and Release from  
the BEZLEY family (Mary BUNN of Burford, daughter of Nathaniel BEZLEY, late of Burford, miller, deceased, and widow of Thomas BUNN, late of Burford, carpenter) to Thomas KIMBER of Burford, mealman (Oxfordshire Records Office: SL33/1/D/9-10).

On 1-2/Oct/1794 the lease of 5-6/Apr/1780 was supplemented to ensure the conveyance was effectual (Oxfordshire Records Office: SL33/1/D/12-13)

The Burford Enclosure Awards of 28 Feb 1795 mentions mills as follows
These may be interpreted respectively as Upton Mill, Witney Street Mill, and one of the Port Mill.
A lease and release of 25-26/Jun/1795 transferred a moiety of Port Mills in Burford to PADBURY in trust for Charles KIMBER of Burford, mealman (which may suggest a consolidation of the operations of the mill under PADBURY's control without divesting ownership of the second moiety) (Oxfordshire Records Office: SL33/1/D/14-15). Quaker records record that on 10 May 1774 a Matthias PADBURY, watchmaker of Burford married Sarah MINCHIN of Burford and on 19 October 1785 Matthias PADBURY of Burford, watchmaker married again, this time to Susannah BAKER of Burford (Bristol Records Office, 37652/1&2).  

In his Will, dated 8 Jul 1795, Charles KIMBER of Burford, mealman, bequeathing his premises in Burford to his son Charles KIMBER. (Oxfordshire Records Office: SL33/1/D/16)

On 26/Nov/1813 a final concord was reached between John GUY (plaintiff) and Thomas GIBBS, his wife Elizabeth, Charles KIMBER & Mary KIMBER (deforciants), concerning property including a moiety of a messuage, mill etc. in Chipping Norton and Burford.


To be completed

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