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Help and advice for Gloucestershire: Tobacco growing in the Cotswolds

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Tobacco Growing in the Vale of Evesham,
Winchcombe and District,
and John Stratford.
By Gerald H. Stratford.

CHAPTER 3.

The question has been asked, by all who have written about John Stratford, to whom he was ?

It is my belief that the answers they have all given, are all wrong, and therefore will attempt to prove who he was, and his relationship in the Family.

The Pedigree of Stratford of Farmcote and Hawling, is recorded at the College of Arms, with a Pedigree in Gloucestershire dating back too the year 1314, and is shown as such in the Visitations of Gloucestershire of 1543, 1569, 1583, 1623 and 1682, and also as a point of interest, up to this present day, with myself as direct line and descent, with the entitlement to Bear such Arms, as reclaimed on the 18th of February 1981.

The period that is most interesting regarding the Pedigree to find who John Stratford the tobacco grower was, must be about the year 1600. Doctor Joan Thirsk states in he ' Projects for Gentlemen, that he arrived in London in 1580, and also that he was apprenticed to a Salter in London, and also that in 1607, he set up business, buying rough flax, wheat, rye, and linen yarn from Eastland Merchants. Doctor Thirsk also states that he set up in partnership with his brother, which was extended in 1616.

If this be the case he may be born around the year 1566, if apprenticed at the age of fourteen. There is at present no record of his death, or should I say no positive identification of this John Stratford's death, and neither has a Will been found.

What is known is, that he was apprenticed to Peter Robinson of London, and that John Stratford's eventual wife was Joan Robinson the daughter of Peter Robinson, Soap Manufacturer. The Parish Registers for Cheshunt in Hertfordshire records that John Stratford married Joan Robynson on the 20th of April 1602, so this is most likely the man we are after. If the figures are correct, it appears that John Stratford was about 36 years of age at his marriage, which may seem a bit old under the circumstances.

Records also show, that he, along with other members of the Stratford Family, had property on Friday Street in London. Before the Great Fire of London in 1665, there were three Churches on Friday Street, St. Margaret Moses, St. John the Evangelist, and St. Matthew.

At St. Matthew, the following were baptised as children of John Stratford and Joan Robynson, Ann on the 7th of August 1603, Elizabeth on the 17th of February 1604, Edward on the 22nd of May 1606, William on the 13th of May 1610, Cybell on the 9th of February 1612 and Joan on the 16th of May 1613, and, according to Court Documents John Stratford was still alive in 1627, at which time he may have been about 61 years of age.

The question may be asked as to why he was married at Cheshunt, in Hertfordshire. This may well be due to the fact that the Stratford Branch that eventually moved to Hawling in the Cotswolds, were resident at this time, having an Estate at Enfield in Middlesex, the next Town to Cheshunt. Saint Andrew Parish Registers for Enfield show the following entries recorded. Joan Stratford, married William Garrett on the 3rd of February 1576, Jane Stratford married Robert Smyth on the 5th of October 1589, Anthony Stratford married Elizabeth Churchman on the 1st of August 1597, Anne Stratford married Robert Carter on the 29th of November 1597, Mary Stratford baptised the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth Stratford, baptised on the 23rd of October 1628. Henry Stratford baptised the son of Henry and Elizabeth Stratford, baptised the 18th of February 1629. From these entries, it can be related to the Herald's Visitations for Gloucestershire, insomuch as the afornamed Henry Stratford, a Captain in the Royal Navy, born in 1586, inherited the Manor of Hawling, from his father, Richard Stratford, who had married Margaret, the daughter of William Combe of Cheltenham, and of Farmcote and Hawling, as shown in the Visitations of the Heralds in 1543 and 1623, for Gloucestershire. At this time I have no Wills to further verify these facts. Richard Stratford's fourth son, was Anthony Stratford, shown as marrying at Enfield on the 1st of August 1597, to Elizabeth Churchman, and Anthony's Brother had married Alice Churchman.

Anthony Stratford's Will dated 1607, and also dying in that year, shows the relationship of the members of the Stratford Family to him, but does not mention our John Stratford, but, actually mentions his brother, another John Stratford. He married the daughter of Biddell of London, having issue of John Stratford who married Mary Bartlett, at Hawling, Gloucestershire on the 2nd of November 1612, and another son Anthony.

Anthony Stratford the elder, previously mentioned also had property on Friday Street, London, and was according to his Will a Member of the Salter's Company, The Registers of St. Margaret Mosses, on Friday Street, show the following entries. John Stratford, son of Anthony baptised on the 27th of April 1600, Henry Stratford, his Heir, baptised on the 2nd of May 1602, Richard Stratford son of Anthony baptised on the 16th of December 1604, and Alice baptised on the 19th of July 1598. Elizabeth another daughter is mentioned in Anthony's Will. So therefore if the presumed date of John Stratford the tobacco growers birth was correct, that is 1566, he could not be Anthony's son afor mentioned, but at this time maybe his cousin.

One of the Court Cases tells us of John Stratford's brother, Edward, who assisted with the tobacco growing at Winchcombe, so therefore, we have to look for an Edward in the Visitations at the same period. Another Document relates to Ralph his step brother, also involved in the business enterprises. This would mean that John Stratford's father had been married either before or after his marriage to his mother. Ralph Stratford is not shown anywhere in the Herald's Visitations, although a Ralph Stratford is shown having issue between 1621 and 1624, having children baptised at St. Dunstan in the East, London, which according to the dates is likely to make him younger than John, if it is his step brother.

I do not usually care to presume things, but it has shown to be a fact that Anthony Stratford and John Stratford both held property in Friday Street, London, and that the circumstances regarding baptisms and marriages is more than a coincidence, so in this case we must presume that they were certainly related.

Returning to the Herald's Visitations of Gloucestershire, we find that John Stratford, who assisted Richard Tracy with the Dissolution of Hailes Abbey Near Winchcombe, had amongst other issue, John Stratford who married Margaret the daughter of Sir Robert Tracy of Toddington, Gloucestershire. Not a lot is known about him, but his father who had married Christine the daughter of Richard Howell, was the progenitor of Richard Stratford of Hawling, previously mentioned, and of William Stratford of Farmcote. John Stratford senior's brother William appears to have remained at Farmcote, and his stone effigy along with his second wife Anne Walwyn, are the recumbent figures in St Faith's Chapel there, with the Stratford and Walwyn Arms depicted above. Other writers have taken notice of a plaque below which states ' Henry and Mary Stratford ' , but when the plaque was placed in the early 1900's it was addressed wrongly. Richard was at Hawling having been resident initially at Enfield, before inheriting the Hawling Estate.

John Stratford, the eldest son who married Margaret Tracy, had issue of Henry, who died without issue, Richard of Standish, George of Badsey, Edward a Salter in London, having land in Winchcombe and Stroud, Charles, Gyles, from whom was descended the eventual Earldom of the Stratford Family, namely Aldborough, and John.

Looking at the dates involved, we find that Anthony, an elder brother of the above named sons married at Bushley, in Worcestershire, Near Tewkesbury on the 26th of April 1577, and he was buried there in 1608. His wife Margaret Hayward, lived until 1621. Her Will is signed by her son John Stratford, who was baptised at Bushley on the 26th of April 1591, and he was buried there on the 2nd of September 1625. This would also suggest that this is not the John Stratford that we are looking for, although his brother Thomas Stratford, also of Bushley, and buried there in 1629, (eft a substantial amount of flax in his inventory in relation to his Will. Richard Stratford, of Standish had issue from 1580 until 1587, as did his elder brother George, between 1574 and 1580. As John Stratford was the next to the youngest of the eight sons of John Stratford and Margaret Tracy, and taking into account baptismal dates, it is suggested by these facts that he was born early or mid 1560's. Therefore, if we ignore Ralph Stratford, John Stratford's step brother, for which there is no further evidence except what is provided here, I must agree with Doctor Thirsk that he must have been born about 1566, had a brother Edward as shown, and ascertain that this is the John Stratford, tobacco grower that we may be looking for. There was some years ago an article in a local Gloucestershire Paper, giving a short history of Payne's Place at Bushley, the Stratford Manor House there, and it related that Sir William Tracy, the Gentleman who went to Virginia, was the nephew of Margaret Tracy, who married John Stratford, the mother of John Stratford the tobacco grower, and that he was raised by them at Bushley, before returning to Hailes as an adult, and his ultimate death in Virginia.

I have recently come across the Will of Edward Stratford of Winchcombe which was proved on the 8th of December 1590. He states that he is of Gulling West Coombe in the Parish of Winchcombe and relates to his family which includes his sons, John Stratford, Rafe, George and Edward. Edward Stratford was the son of John Stratford of Farmcote and Margaret Tracy. This implies then that because Rafe, and Edward, Junior are mentioned in connection with Deeds relating to the growing of the Tobacco Crops that the John so named must be the one I am searching for.

Further to that I have also found the Will of Joan Stratford, Nee Robynson which she made at Cheshunt on the 10th of August 1653, and she mentions most of the children in it who were baptised at Friday Street, and she is therein described as a widow. This implies again that she was a lot younger than John Stratford, her husband

 

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Data transcribed by Colin Hinson from:
A document written by
Gerald H. Stratford in 1988.
Reproduced here by permission
© Gerald H. Stratford.