1741 John Launchbury
I am the direct descendant (g4 grandson) of John Launchbury. John was born the forth child of William Lainchbery (1711 – February 23, 1756) and Hester Gardiner (c 1710- January 14, 1779) born in 1741. He was born into the small village of Spelsbury, well to be exact, in a farm between that and the next village of Chadlington. They lie in that part of Oxfordshire where the Cotswolds begin, that first long sweep of rolling hills, in an area roughly triangular. The towns of Witney, Woodstock and Chipping Norton form its angles, enclosing villages, hamlets, isolated farms and what remains of the history haunted Forest of Wychwoode which once thickly covered the whole area. Chadlington in the early days of Norman history was part of the parish of Spelsbury. Modern Spelsbury is a small village dominated by the road between Chipping Norton and Charlbury (B4026). Back in the mid 1750’s, the roads were made of white stone and were very dusty.
My ancestors seem to pop up in both parish records, but this branch of the family used the church at Chaddlington - dedicated to All Saints. There has been a place of worship on this spot for about 900 years and there is evidence of Roman work in the pillars of the tower. Parts of the nave date from about 1300 but a great deal of rebuilding has been done over the years, particularly during this period - in the 18th century. One of the middle names that have survived in my family is Carey, and it may stem from the fact that we married into the Carey’s of Chaddlington at some time in our past. There are four almshouses, built in 1689 by the land agent of the Ditchley estate — John Carey of Wilcote. There are still charities settled on the almshouses with Wilcote connections. John Carey was buried in the churchyard — his tomb, a substantial affair, is on the south side of the church.
John, who was descended form the Yeomen farmers of Chaddlington is not as wealthy as his ancestors were. It may stem from the fact that John’s father William had been left some land at the tender age of 26 and it seems to have not passed on to him until 2 years before his death. Yeomen were not great landowners, but free farmers – independence meant they often had a small plot of land to feed the family and supplemented this by renting part of their lands from the gentry. Records indicate that my particular clan were also stockmen, as opposed to shepherds, but they were growing barley as well.
John Launchbury’s baptism took place on November 22, 1741, at Chadlington, Oxfordshire. He met Elizabeth Hitchman from Cumnor, some twenty miles to the south west of Chaddlington, and they married on July 27, 1777 in Chadlington, Oxfordshire. 20 miles was not too far for a stockman, who would drive his cattle to the fairs of Witney or Enysham. Elizabeth was the daughter of Semeuel Hitchman and Elizabrth Wayne. However, I suspect that they may have met because Elizabeth Waynes family were from Lyneham, near Shipton under Whywood, which is only a mile west of Chaddlington. Elizabeth was born in 1753.
A year after they were married (1778), with the birth of their eldest child, they are living in the village of Long Coombe, half way between Chadlington and Cumnor.
Children of JOHN LAUNCHBURY and ELIZABETH HITCHMAN are:
ANN LAUNCHBURY, b. 1778, Long Combe: d. October 30, 1857, Eynsham; m. RICHARD MERRY, September 02, 1795, Enysham,
THOMAS LAUNCHBURY, b. 1780, Long Combe d. 1843, North Hinksey, m. MARY BASON, Dec 27, 1802, Oxford (my G3 G/parents)
JAMES LAUNCHBURY, b. 1782;.
He may have had a forth son, William around 1780, as a William turns up on the 1851 census
LANCHBURY William 71 HO107/ 1730/ 317 Combe
He is with his wife Ann 62 ; sons James 38; Henry 30 ; John 28 ; William 25 ; Edward 18 & George 15
Coombe is shadowed by the huge estate of the Marlborough family, Bleiheim Palace. For some strange reason, infant mortality at Long Coombe was unusually high at this time, and this may account for the fact that Thomas has only three siblings. John Launchbury was a tenant farmer (numbered 96 on my Ahnentafel system) and on his death on September 18, 1804, his body was returned to be buried at Chaddington, but his wife Elizabeth Hitchman stayed on at Coomb (probably with her son William) for a while until her death on April 22, 1813.