Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

August 2004


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Village History – Oxhill v The Reformation

The Reformation was slow to catch on in Oxhill, and landed the village in some trouble.  In 1535 instructions had been sent requiring all parishes to proclaim Henry VIII as Head of the Church weekly from the pulpit, and to remove the Pope’s name from the service books.   The Oxhill curate, Thomas Burley read the proclamation only once, and it was some time before the villagers, by asking around, found out that it should be done weekly.  Moreover Burley failed to erase the Pope’s name in the service books, even though the Rural Dean had shown him how it had to be done.

The story is to be found in G.R. Elton’s book “Policy and Police”, about the enforcement of the Reformation.  He continues: “Burley’s excuse was that his master the parson, after making the initial announcement, had taken the document away and would not suffer him to do his duty.  When the investigating justices asked for the parson he had made himself scarce.” 

So scarce indeed that it is unclear from our list of Rector s who was in charge in 1535, as there is a slight break in the entries at this point!  Oxhill was not alone in the area in clinging to the old religion, nor of being nervous of the act of scratching out the Pope’s name.  A contemporary Puritan survey lists several priests in Warwickshire deemed to be “a popish priest”.  Ignorance may also have played a part, since the Rural Dean had to take trouble showing Thomas Burley what to do.  The survey describes ministers who were “dumbe and unlearned”, and one could “neither preach nor read well, his chiefest trade is to cure hawks that are hurt or diseased.”

No wonder it was an uphill task!  Even at this early date Oxhill had only a curate, and a Rector who was probably non-resident, as was certainly common in later centuries.  Our list of Rector s does not always record those who did the work!

Ann Hale

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Last modified: August 03, 2004