1820 Henry Launchbury, Miller of Hinksey
I am the direct descendant (gg grandson) of Henry Launchbury. Henry was born the eighth child of Thomas Launchbury (1780 – 1843) and Mary Bason (c 1782 - February 06, 1872) in 1820. He was born in a small village just across the Thames from the city of Oxford called North Hinksey.
The Thames and its side streams have played an important part in the history of West Oxford. There was probably a mill on the Seacourt Stream at Botley by the twelfth century, and the monks of Osney Abbey are thought to have formed the present main stream of the Thames south of Medley as a stream to power their mill in the 13th century. Botley - which means ‘clearing in a wood’. It was first recorded in 1086, a very wet and watery place with its many streams. During the Civil War, the mill suffered much damage; it is claimed that unknown rebels came from Abingdon and set fire to the mill, destroying it, but tradition has it that Cromwell rebuilt the mill for the use of his men. A sword about a yard long and a cannon ball were fished from the stream years later.
Botley village stayed small and remote until a causeway with bridges over its seven streams was built early in the 16th century, bringing an important road into the hamlet for the first time. Along this stony pathway, villagers and travellers had shorter journeys into Oxford and the surrounding areas. It was not until much later that an improvement was made to this road and a tollgate was set up to help pay for repairs. Although this made travelling easier there were other dangers to contend with, as the roads around Oxford became infested with robbers and highwaymen and Botley Road was no exception: it is recorded that one February night in 1784 the Bath coach was held up at the foot of Cumnor Hill and eight passengers lost £28 between them!
Now Botley is a thriving suburb with a modern red brick church dedicated to St Peter and St Paul which links with its twin parish of North Hinksey, just a mile away. There the pretty little Norman church of St Lawrence, the thatched cottages, old stonewalls and village green remain. Thomas moved his family here in 1804 from Combe (10 miles), which had been dismissed c. 1800 as a 'small, dirty village' by a contemporary traveller to Blenheim palace. His chioce could have been swayed by the Napoleonic wars - pushing the price of grain up. However I suspect it is simply because his Thomas’s father had died, and His mother Mary Bason wanted to move back near her own family at Cumnor – where his wife Mary was also born.
His father Thomas Launchbury was a tenant farmer, but Henry (numbered 24 on my Ahnentafel system) went on to become the miller at Botley. He married Hannah Wickson (March 03, 1822- July 17, 1873), the youngest daughter of John Wickson & Charlotte Hudson (1781 - 1831) of Stanton Hardcourt, five miles West of Hinksey. They were married at St Lawrence on November 07, 1842. The family were a very close-knit cell in 1861, and the census shows that Henry and Hannah, and six of their seven children (Charles is missing somewhere) are at the mill house, including Henry’s mother, Mary Launchbury (nee Bason).
Henry and Hannah had seven children in total,
THOMAS LAUNCHBURY, b. 1843, North Hinksey, d. Bef. 1881.
ROBERT LAUNCHBURY, b. 1845, North Hinksey,; d. 1877.
CHARLES EDWIN LAUNCHBURY, b. 1847, Botley; d. September 1898, Oxford; m. MARIA.
MARY HANNAH LAUNCHBURY, b. 1850, North Hinksey.
SAMSON LAUNCHBURY, b. 1853, Botley; d. May 17, 1891, Hinksey; m. ELIZABETH, September 1874, Oxford;
FREDERICK LAUNCHBURY, b. 1856, North Hinksey; d. 1914, Caversham, ; m. HANNAH CARTER, (my g grandparents)
DAVID LAUNCHBURY, b. 1860, North Hinksey, Berkshire; d. Aft. 1898.
The other local mill (at South Hinksey) was the large paper mill belonging to the controversial politician John Towle (1796–1885). Towle was a paper maker at Weirs Mill in Grandpont, but he married the daughter of the Hinksey mill and became a partner. He went on to become a powerful non-conformist magistrate of the city of Oxford. By contrast, the little mill on the Seacourt Stream had been there for centuries. This was a one-man show; my gg grandfather ground the corn, set the dough, baked the bread and delivered it by horse around the local villages. Henry ran the mill until his sudden death in 1869. The business was sold to a Mr King in 1869
Henry died on May 17, 1869, and is buried at South Hinksey Churchyard with Memorial. Hannah died on July 17, 1873, and is buried in South Hinksey Churchyard beside her husband with memorial