WATER-STRATFORD, in the hundred and deanery of Buckingham, lies about three miles north-west of the county town. The manor belonged anciently to a family who took their name from this place: about the year 1350 it passed to the Giffords: it was afterwards successively in the families of Barton, Fowler, Frankys, and Egerly: by the latter it was sold about the year 1703 to Thomas Cookes Winford, eldest son of Sir Thomas Winford baronet, of whose representatives it was purchased by the family of the present proprietor, B. Hayes esq.
In the church are some memorials of the family of Frankys. The Marquis of Buckingham is patron of the rectory. The advowson belonged formerly to the priory of Luffield. Dr. Robert Sipthorpe, rector of this parish, was charged by the parliament with having been the cause of the fatal rupture between them and their monarch, by his having preached up the royal prerogative as being above the law.
John Mason who was presented to the rectory of Water-Stratford in 1674, became in the latter part of his life a visionary enthusiast: Granger calls him a man of unaffected piety and says that he was esteemed to be possessed of learning and abilities above the common level, till he became bewildered in the mysteries of Calvinism. He was himself firmly persuaded, and persuaded multitudes that he was Elias appointed to proclaim the second advent of our Saviour. Among other prophecies he foretold his own resurrection after three days. Great numbers of his deluded followers left their homes and filled all the houses and barns in the neighbourhood of Water-Stratford. Mr. Mason printed a set of rhapsodical hymns for the use of his disciples who sang them in the fields, and we are told that every vagabond and village fidler round the country bore a part in the rude concert; he died in full conviction of the reality of his mission. Although from the nature of his prophecies, and the failure of their accomplishment, it might have been expected that his sect would have been more short-lived, and not withstanding his successor, Mr. Rushworth, opened his grave some time after his interment, and exposed his corpse to view with the intention of convincing his parishioners of the falsity of his predecessor's prophecies and the wildness of his tenets, yet they continued for several years to assemble at a place they called Holy ground, where some of them affirmed that they had seen and spoken with Mr. Mason after his death. When they were prevented from assembling in this field, they met at a house in Water-Stratford. Three pamphlets on this subject were published in 1694, the year after Mr. Mason's death.