Village History

A frontier settlement of possibly Romano-British origin on the northern borders between the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia and the Viking Danelaw after Alfred's treaty of  886 A.D.  Austrey has an interesting history...

We have recently gained access to some wonderful historical research on Austrey thanks to local historian, Alan Roberts.
The series of articles below give an insight into life in the parish in the seventeenth century:

17th Century Austrey

October 21, 2016

The seventeenth century was a time of change and challenges to the established order, including the confrontation between King and Parliament and the growth of religious dissent after the Civil War.

Austrey in the great civil war

October 21, 2016

Increasing literacy was one of a number of factors which helped to promote political change in the parish. Besides giving access to ideas which challenged the established order, literacy provided individual villagers with opportunities to formulate their own opinions and thereby play a more active part in sectarian controversy. The process was accelerated by the political turmoil between 1640 and 1660 which led to the emergence of political and religious divisions.

Austrey in the great civil war

October 21, 2016

Compared to their cautious neighbours, the Austrey Kendalls were staunch in their allegiance to Parliament. They were undoubtedly aware of the strong support for parliament in north Warwickshire, as revealed during the puritan gentry's campaign for the Warwickshire county elections in 1640. The process of political polarization can also be observed in recruitments to the musters and militias.

Books and reading in the 17th century

October 21, 2016

There was a general improvement in popular literacy over the course of the seventeenth century, but the ability to read and write was closely tied to social status.  John Aubrey, looking back to the early Restoration period, had a ready explanation for this apparent increase in literacy:

Puritanism in the Parish

October 21, 2016

Among the factors that gave the sons of the gentry and clergy an advantage over their neighbours was their more widespread attendance and placement in grammar schools which gave access to the universities and thus initiated them into the ‘high culture’ of their Age. Of the two, the clergy were usually more educated than their gentry colleagues

Local schools in the seventeen century

October 21, 2016

The gentry were favoured with comparatively easy access to schooling and most appeared to have had a healthy regard for education. Usually their sons were packed off to school at a comparatively early age, at around six or seven years. William Lilly, the astrologer who started life as the son of a Leicestershire yeoman and later attended the grammar school at Ashby, recalls that be was 'put to learn at such schools and of such masters as the rudeness of the place and country afforded’.

Seventeenth century religion

October 21, 2016

The rising tide of religious dissent had a very noticeable impact in Austrey and the surrounding villages after the Civil War. Before 1650 religious sectarianism was largely contained within the church. After the outbreak of the Civil War the activities of the radical sects intensified, becoming more and more identified with demands for social and political change. Temporarily relaxed censorship after 1640 provided a unique forum for the airing of these millenarian ideas It is interesting to see how the Austrey clergy and their congregations coped with these religious challenges, and how it affected the villagers.

Seventeenth century tavern gossip

October 21, 2016

Comparative studies suggest that illiterate day-labourers and husbandmen had easy access to news in the village alehouse, which served as a general meeting place and information exchange. Margaret Spufford has found evidence to suggest that ballads and chapbooks were freely handed round, read aloud and discussed by alehouse patrons. Taverns and gossip were synonymous; as one contemporary writer observes, ‘every man hath his penny to spend at a pinte in the one, and every man his eare open to receive the sound of the other

Quartering - civil war losses

October 20, 2016

Lists of taxpayers are an invaluable source for genealogical investigation. The Account of the Inhabitants of Austrey …. to the Commissioners appointed for the taking of accounts for the county, dated March 1647, found among the State Papers of the Exchequer in the Public Record Office (SP 28/186), is particularly useful as a guide to the Civil war impositions placed on the parish of Austrey in north Warwickshire. It includes a very detailed list of the payments and claims made by the principal inhabitants of the parish, starting with a list of “subsidies” or taxes paid by the inhabitants on the eve of the Civil War from April, 1641 to June the following year.

Warwick Quarter Sessions Part 1

October 21, 2016

Austrey inhabitants regularly came into contact with the justices at quarter sessions courts in their dealing with issues such as settlements, the maintenance of roads and bridges and the raising of levies by the constables. These court records throw light upon the working of government at parish level. Among the pressing matters frequently dealt with by the Warwick Justices of the Peace in their quarter sessions were settlement cases. These proceedings, later summarised in the 1732 “Act of Settlement”, obliged poor unmarried women who had fallen pregnant to declare whether there was likely to be a charge upon the parish for the child, and to identify the father so that provisions could be made for the child’s upkeep. The fathers were often required to enter into a “Bond of Indemnification” to ensure their support and maintenance.

Warwick Quarter Sessions Part 2

October 21, 2016

The records of the Warwick Quarter sessions, examinations, certificates and bonds of indemnity, provide a treasure trove of useful information about the movements of farm labourers, servants and apprentices. Extracts from these records relating to the parish of Austrey in north Warwickshire reveal a complex pattern of hirings from towns and villages throughout the midlands, usually for one or two year stints with negotiated wages. The movements of this itinerant workforce were complicated by various Acts of Settlement, going back to the Tudor poor laws, giving the overseers of the poor legal rights to ensure that itinerant labourers and servants who fell destitute did not become a burden on the parish. The 1662 and 1697 Settlement Acts for example obliged a stranger hired as a farm labourer to bring a certificate from his home parish guaranteeing to take him back after his employment finished.

Devereux's Tenants

October 21, 2016

The 1650 Survey of Austrey Fee Farm Rents:
At the end of the Civil War with the start of Cromwell’s Commonwealth, a series of Parliamentary Acts were made to survey the possessions of the late King Charles Stuart prior to their sale to raise money for Parliament. An Act for the survey and sale of Fee Farm rents introduced into the Commons on 16th July, 1649 followed a series of earlier Acts and surveys for the disposal of royal estates. These surveys were likened to the Domesday Survey of 1086, in the extent of describing and estimating the value of taxable assets, land and rents. This is particularly relevant at local level to the parish of Austrey in north Warwickshire where an Exchequer survey of “Lands and Tenements in Alvestry als Austrey in late possession of Charles Stuart, late king of England”, lists all of the Austrey lands, enclosures, houses and cottages belonging to Charles Stuart “late King of England”.

Austrey women at the Warwick Quarter Sessions

October 21, 2016

Quarter Sessions Court examinations of witnesses hauled before the Warwick Justices of the Peace after the 1732 Act of Settlement, throw light on the daily life and treatment of the labouring poor, especially poor unmarried girls who fell pregnant while working outside their own parish. There was a dramatic increase in illegitimacy in England over the course of the 18th century, ascribed mainly to economic changes such as the rise of cottage industries and increased seasonal migration. The 1732 Act followed a series of settlement Acts attempting to deal with this alarming rise in the number of illegitimate children, and to provide guidelines for child support in the case of abandoned mothers, particularly servants and migratory workers who had left their home parish to find work.

The Austrey Tithe Award 1840

October 21, 2016

The Warwickshire Record Office contains an original copy of the Austrey Tithe Apportionment and Plan from 1840. The Award (drawn up in 1845) lists all of the landholders and their tenants, while the 1840 map attached defines the layout of the village and its surrounding fields, meadows and closes. The detailed list of owners and occupiers reveals a complex pattern of tenancies and sub-tenancies that provide a fascinating view of both the topography and social order of mid nineteenth-century parish

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