Anabaptists at Longworth.


Reputedly the oldest Anabaptist place in the country.

That Anabaptists flourished in Longworth is without question, and there is proof that they had been in Longworth for centuries, indeed in medieval times. It is said that the Anabaptist settlement here at Longworth is the oldest in the country.

Two Welshmen, Richard Williams and his brother discovered the Longworth meeting before 1481. This is confirmed by the terrier of Bishop of Salisbury 1577.

It is probable that the Williams brothers were Welsh drovers. These Welsh were well to do often farmers, and worked in pairs. They were probably using the old Drove Road, from Brecon to Cirencester and Witney, [known as Welsh Way] and discovered that Anabaptists worshipped in the area.

Being tired of the religous persecution that they suffered in Wales, they needed to find a new location and finding that Longworth was a quiet 'hidden' place, they decided to settle there. It is thought that they arrived in Longworth ca 1450, but it is known that there were Anabaptists in Longworth from ca 1200.

The Anabaptists at that time would have had no meeting house. They usually met either in the pastors own home or in the large farm houses of the district. In some large farm houses, it is known that secret hiding places were used to conceal a preacher, such as especially adapted fireplaces etc. It is believed that the house, Lincoln Lodge in Longworth housed Anabaptists, so it is possible that at one time this house was the home of one of the Non-Conformist preachers. It is therefore likely that in the area of the meeting house, their burial place would be.

Where did these Non-Conformists bury their dead?

Their old burial ground is said to be on the land which was once used by Princes of Oxford Rose Gardens. The Princes had held the ground for a hundred years, up to possibly the 1920s. Being Non-Conformists themselves, they were well aware that this place was the old Baptist Burial Ground.

We were told of the memories of a very old member of Coate Chapel, a Thomas Brooks of Longworth who at the time was 90 yrs old, recalled that his father could remember Coate people bringing their dead across the ferry at Duxford and through the churchyard. Stones had been place each side of the wall to form a stile [Gerald Broughton said it was a wooden roller set into the wall] to ease the coffins over, to the piece of ground now occupied by the Princes of Oxford, which was then a 'Burying Ground'. Traditionally Non-Conformists where buried in unconsecrated ground in a Church-yard or over the church wall. This would have been the Northern part of the yard, always left for Non-Conformists, suicides,murderers  and other outcasts.  Non-Conformists are also know to have buried in orchards.

There are various suggestions re site of meeting house and hop garden in which it stood, one being a position north of the now Longworth village hall. Other memories tell that the chapel and it's accompanying grave yard, had stood opposite old Rectory in field which is O.S. 83. On examination, this plot stands just behind Lincoln House and the site of the now Village Hall.

When the old thatched meeting house was seen in ca. 1890/1900s it was then being used as a general stores and bakehouse. The Hop Garden shown on the accompanying tithe map as a long narrow field situated on the south side of The Square which is in the centre of the village and opposite Tuck's lane. Yew Tree Cottage has been built in the Hop Garden and a footpath to the Hinton road passes the western boundary of the field.  The Tithe Award of 1847 shows that a Thomas Dewe owned and occupied a piece of land where the Hop Garden was.

The Baptist Burial Register for Coate shows certain people buried with 'BR' against their names. It is said that this indicates that these people are 'Buried beneath the Roses', i.e. buried at Longworth, which partially a nursery rose garden. The Abingdon Baptists also, first used an orchard for burial purposes, until they obtained the piece of land in Ock Street, where their Baptist Chapel stands.

In 1669 the then Rector of Longworth in his returns to Sheldon Archbishop of Canterbury, entered 'One conventicle in this parish held in Thomas Jones his house. The said Thomas Jones Chief Abbettor. His Hop Garden, theire Burying Place. Anabaptist.'  In the unused part of garden Thomas grew his hops.

Could it be that Thomas Jones lived at Lincoln Lodge?

The first pastor of Longworth was John Pendarvis, B.A. He was born in Cornwall 1622, and graduated from Exeter College, Oxford in 1642. In 1644/45 a payment of £5 in Abingdon Borough accounts to Mr Pendarvis 'for his paines' is the first indication of the presence of one of the most extraordinary men ever to minister in the town.

In 1646 the payment of a £50 grant a year from committee 'to ye minister - of St Helen's' - shows Pendarvis was Vicar of St Helen's. Here he baptised his children, in 1647 son John, Thomas followed in 1648 and further children were born to John and his wife Thomasin in the 1650s.

An account of sale of Bishop's Lands under the Commonwealth, declared Nov 14 1659, referring to earlier events, has this: 'Wm Stanbridge to the use of John Pendarves, minister of St Helen's in Abingdon £127.10s.0d'

Pendarvis seems to have been unsettled in his religious beliefs and after changing his mind several times between the established church and non-conformity he settled his mind on Anabaptism. Anthony Wood says that 'he went up and down the county preaching and made numerous multitudes of disciples'. [Wood was a bitter enemy of Commonwealth preachers] From this we must infer that the young Pendarvis was a very popular preacher indeed. In 1652 John Pendarvis had settled down in Abingdon. Longworth had no pastor and so linked with Abingdon.

Research of Townsend's History of Abingdon; Abingon 1556-1702 Mieneke Cox's Peace and War, The Story of Abingon Pt 3 - .

Anabaptists Buried in Longworth

Names have been abstracted from the Longworth Parish Register

When Churchwardens presented their accounts mention of their parishioners' non-attendance at services was shown. Many of these could be non-conformist, and if they continued in their absences would have had to have paid a fine to the church. To be able to hold these religious opinions one had to be able to afford the fine and so Non-Conformists were mostly in Trade or of the upper classes.

1704 Jul 24 JONES a child born to Mary wife of Jos. JONES

1705 Nov 30 PEIRCE, Sarah dau of Thomas and Sarah was borne

These are named as Non-conformists in the Parish Register

Thomas Tuckwell and his wife [her tomb stone says she was Alice]

John Jones and his wife   Robert Hampton
Edward Painton and his wife   John Austen
Thomas Wiatt and his wife   Nicholas Mayow and his wife
Henry Wiatt and his wife   James Austens wid
Richard Leake and his wife   Anne Tuckwell wid
John Downe and his wife   Margery Goodall the wife of Richard Goodall
Richard Church and his wife   Ann Gouge the wife of John Gouge
Simon Leake    

The greatest part of them are Anabaptists And most part of theire Children are yet unbaptized Although some of them above Ten years of age.

Item we doe alsoe present THOMAS TUCKWELL above menc[i]ned for keepeing Conventicles in his house the two last Sundayes being the last of August and the Seaventh of September.

1712 Sep 14 JONES, Johsuah, Anabaptist was buried in a Hop yard in this parish

1739 Mar 30 JONES, Aaron [Anabaptist] was buried in a Hop yard in this parish

Item THOMAS HAYCRAFT hath not baptised one of his children neither JOHN LANGHAM.

If these people were Anabaptists, it is interesting that they paid a tax on land in the parish to keep the church in good repair.

Thomas Tuckwell 2 yd land £01.06.08

Wid. Anne Tuckwell 1 yrs land £00.13.04

Francis Tuckwell 3 yd land and a qne. £02.03.04

Alice Tuckwell yd land and a halfe £01.00.00

James Ferriman halfe a yd.land and John Tuckwell £00.06.00

John Jones halfe a qne. £00.03.04

Thomas Jones halfe a qne. £00.01.08

NB The Charney Bassett Registers also lists many Anabaptists.

1732 August : A barn was built by the Rector Mr Leyshon upon the Parsonage Glebe at Harrowdown Hill to which the Principles and Fellows of Jesus College, [Oxford] gave £10.00

Source:Longworth Parish Register.
[ See also Cote Chapel  on this site.]