Oxhill News

www.oxhill.com / www.oxhill.org.uk

South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

February 2006


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Village History - The Thackwell family

Some interesting information has come to me via the website about the Thackwell family, no longer around in the village but quite numerous here in the nineteenth century.

Daniel Thackwell, an agricultural labourer, settled in the village with his wife Patience in about 1820.  Among their children were three sons, Daniel, William and John.  William and John and their families were to suffer badly in the scarlet fever epidemic that swept the village in 1869-70.  They both lived in a complex of five cottages in Back Lane (no longer in existence but comprising Fellows House and its buildings along the lane), which were particularly badly hit by the infection.  William lost five of his children and John two.  After the epidemic two of the Thackwell brothers, Daniel and John both left Oxhill with their families in search of a new life.  Daniel went to Burton-on-Trent, and John to New Zealand.  William soldiered on in Oxhill, and he and his wife had several further children, some of whose descendants are still in the local area.

When John and his wife Elizabeth set sail for New Zealand in 1874, amongst their family was a four year old son, Joseph, who was to become the grandfather of my correspondent, Diana Brodie.  Diana tells me that John had an assisted passage, and that he was also given an advance of 5.10s.0d, a considerable sum at the time, probably for the necessary equipment and provisions for the voyage, which was to take three months.

On arrival, John worked as an agricultural labourer in the province of Canterbury in the South Island, but sadly only for a short time, as he died in early 1876.  However his family remained, and went from strength to strength, each generation building on the success of the last.  To complete the circle nearly a century later, in 1966 Diana herself moved back to the UK by sea, as John had, but taking only five weeks rather than three months.  She now lives in Cambridge.

Oxhill in the 1870s was a poor place for agricultural workers to be, as successive bad weather and poor harvests meant little work, and harsh poverty.  It was a bold move however to embark on a long and perilous voyage with a young family, with great uncertainty as to the conditions ahead.  It is sad that John himself did not live long to taste his reward, but nevertheless his family prospered, and Diana tells me that the name Thackwell is now more common in New Zealand than it is in England.

Ann Hale

This site is maintained by villagers of Oxhill for the benefit of the community and those interested in the history, news and activities that make the village such a pleasant place to live.

Send mail to the editor of the Oxhill News at news-editor @ oxhill.org.uk.

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Last modified: February 20, 2006