Scope and Content


Studley and the Croke Family

Studley Priory is about 7 miles north-east of Oxford. Historically, the hamlet of Studley was partly in Oxfordshire and partly in Buckinghamshire, although it was always wholly within the parish of Beckley. In 1866 the part of Studley which had always been in Oxfordshire, together with the hamlet of Horton, which was also in the parish of Beckley, became a separate civil parish and in 1880 it became the separate ecclesiastical parish of Horton-cum-Studley. The Buckinghamshire part of Studley was transferred to Oxfordshire for parliamentary purposes in 1832 and for ecclesiastical purposes in 1844. It became the separate civil parish of Studley in 1866. This parish was abolished in 1932 and transferred entirely to the civil parish of Horton-cum-Studley. The Studley estate in its final form contained the hamlets of Studley, Horton, Ash, Marlake and White Cross Green.

The manor of Studley, which belonged to the priory of Benedictine nuns at Studley which was dissolved in 1539, was purchased from the Crown by John Croke, a Buckinghamshire lawyer, in 1540. In 1542 he also acquired Marlake, which had been part of the property of the Preceptory of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem at Sandford-on-Thames, from the Crown. John Croke also acquired grazing rights in various common lands by virtue of being Lord of the Manor of Studley.

In 1529 John Croke had purchased the manor of Chilton in Bucks, possibly because it included Easington, where his family had settled in the time of Henry IV, and Chilton seems to have been the family's main home until the later 16th or early 17th century; many members of the Croke family were buried in Chilton church. Sir John Croke (1553-1620), grandson of the purchaser of Studley, 'fitted [Studley] up as a dwelling house'. Sir George Croke (c.1560-1642), another eminent lawyer who defended John Hampden in the ship money trial, acquired Waterstock in 1610, purchased Studley from his nephew, another Sir John Croke (d.1640) in 1621 and founded the Studley almshouses in 1639. He died in 1642 and was buried at Waterstock. Studley then passed to his son Thomas (1618-1648). During the Civil War the Studley estate suffered, because it was on the border between Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and therefore subject to plunder and taxation from both sides; between 1642 and 1646 71% of the income from rents went on taxes. Thomas Croke was a royalist and the estate was sequestrated in 1644, although it was discharged two years later. His mother, Dame Mary Croke, corresponded with her nephew Edward Hethe in 1647 and 1650 about the difficulties of administering the estate. On Thomas' death, Dame Mary sold the estate to her nephew Alexander (c.1595-1673), son of Sir George's youngest brother William, and the estate descended through this branch of the family.

In 1777 the estate passed to Sir Alexander Croke (1758-1842), a distinguished lawyer and author of, among other works, a history of the Croke family. From 1789 the estate was mortaged and seems to have become heavily indebted. After his death, the estate passed to his eldest surviving son George, who died childless in 1861, although his will refers to his daughter, Elizabeth Alice Croke, who, as Elizabeth Alice Francis, then described as his adopted daughter, renounced any rights to the estate in 1875. After George Croke's death, the estate passed to his brother John, who sold it in 1877.

A detailed account of the Croke family was published by Sir Alexander Croke in 1834 (a copy is available in the Record Office's Davenport Library).

Marlake Manor

The Crokes seem to have managed the Studley and Marlake estates together, although they did preserve a distinction between the manor of Studley or Ash and the manor of Marlake until at least 1787. From a description of the boundaries between the manor in that year, it is clear that it was a small area in the north-eastern part of the estate. On the estate map of 1641 it consists of Bushy Close; John Coxhead junior's house and homestall; Black Roode; John Vaughan's field; Great Marlake; Marlakemead; Little mead; Great Marlake mead and Little Marlake Field, a total of 107a.2r.14p.

John Henderson

The Studley estate was purchased in 1877 by John Henderson, a Glasgow businessman. He was born in Scotland, probably in Cumbernauld, Dumbarton, near Glasgow, in 1827, and was the son of Robert Henderson, a banker from Coatbridge, and his wife Mary Hay. He had a brother Robert, of Coatbridge, & two sisters, Mary, married to Archy Smith of Glasgow, and an unnamed sister, probably Agnes Galloway Henderson, married to John Hendrie of Kirkwood. Their mother probably died in 1869. He may have married his first wife Ann Sinclair, who could have been the sister of his business partner Robert Sinclair; this marriage took place at Barony Church, Glasgow, in 1853.

In 1874, when he is described as a widower, he married Jessie Turner (c.1841-1920), of Dunroon, Argyle, daughter of John Campbell Turner and Margaret Scott Keir Murray, at the British Embassy in Paris. They had three children: Robert Ronald (c.1875-1932); Turner (born c.1877) and Hilda (c.1879-1961). Robert Ronald Henderson, who was an army officer and unionist M.P. for Henley, married Margaret Frances Dashwood (1885-1959), 3rd daughter of Sir George Dashwood, 6th Baronet, and his wife Mary Margaret Seymour, in 1909. They had several childern, including John Kenneth Henderson (b.1910), who later inherited Studley. He had sold the estate by 1957. Studley Priory is now an hotel.

By 1851 John Henderson was a merchant in Glasgow, trading in partnership with William Tillie as Tillie and Henderson. They traded as linen merchants as shirt manufacturers, with a factory in Londonderry, possibly acquired from, or run in partnership with, William Sinclair, and offices or branches at 39 Miller Street, Glasgow, and 19 Silver Strret, London. Henderson's business interests seem to have prospered. In the 1860s he was living in Carrick Arden Villa near Canniesburn and by 1876 he was living At Cleughearn or Cleuchearn Lodge, East Kilbride, Glasgow. By 1877 he also had a house at 16 Upper Wimpole Street in London. He retired from Tillie and Henderson on 31 December 1880.

Henderson also had other business interests, for example in c.1881 he became a partner in commandite, or sleeping partner, in the firm of Hardy & Co., Buenos Aires, in 1878 and 1882 he entered into agreements relating to the cultivation of a tea garden in Assam, India and for much of the 1880she was an underwriter for marine insurance. Besides the Studley estate and the Assam tea garden, Henderson also owned the Kensington Place estate, consisting of commercial and residential properties in and around Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, and an agricultural estate at Dundyvan, Coatbridge.

The Sauchiehall Street properties included what later became the famous Willow Tea Room (No. 217), designed for Miss Catherine Cranston by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1903. This closed in 1926 but was restored in 1980 and is now in use as a tea room again. The collection contains some correspondence about the transfer of Miss Cranston's tenancy to Smith (Glasgow) Ltd in 1919 and previous tenants of the site are recorded in a series of rent rolls and factor's accounts.

John Henderson may have stood as M.P. for Dudley 1879, but there is no evidence that he was successful. He died in April 1893 and was buried in a brick grave adjoining Studley Priory.

The Henderson Trustees

After John Henderson's death in 1893, the Studley Estate and other properties passed to the Henderson Trustees. By his will and codicil, Henderson appointed his wife, John Thomson of Woodperry, Herbert John Parsons of Elsfield and James Howard Gwyther, a director of the City Bank, London, as Trustees. In 1912 Gwyther retired and was replaced by Captain R.R. Henderson and Turner Henderson. The residue of Henderson's real and personal estate, including his property in Scotland and South America, was to be vested in the trustees to form a trust fund. An annuity of £1,500 was to be paid to Henderson's widow and income from the trust fund could be applied to the education and maintenance of any of his children under the age of 30. Any available money was to be invested in stocks, shares or securities which had paid a dividend of at least 5% for 10 years previously. The income from the fund was to be held in trust for all or any of Henderson's children who reached the age of 30; the proportion of the fund each child was to have depended on whether or not one of Henderson's sons purchased the Studley estate.

The records

Unfortunately, there is no original material relating to the Studley Estate before the dissolution of the priory. However, the collection contains a cartulary, compiled in the late 16th or early 17th centuries, which included copies if many of the Priory's deeds, made from an original that is now lost. Most of the documents surviving from the period when the Croke family owned the estate are deeds and other property documents, but they include a survey and map of the estate made in 1641 by George Sergeant and another survey and map made in 1786. There are extensive financial records for the Studley estate during the period when it belonged to the Henderson family, especially before John Henderson's death in 1893.

The collection also contains financial records and correspondence relating to John Henderson's business activities and his Scottish and other properties and some personal papers. The Henderson family's holdings of stocks and shares were also well documented

Sources, bibliography and related material

The information about the parish of Horton-cum-Studley is taken from the Victoria County History of Oxford, vol. V, Bullingdon Hundred, which contains a history of the Studley estate and the manors of Studley and Marlake, and Local Government Units of South-Eastern England. There are copies of documents relating to John Croke's acquisition of the Studley property in the present collection. A detailed account of the Croke family and Studley, which makes use of the cartulary, was published by Sir Alexander Croke in 1834 and there is a copy available the Oxfordshire Record Office's Davenport Library of secondary sources. Additional information about the Croke family was obtained from the Victoria County History and the documents in this collection.

The records of the Studley Almshouses are held at the Oxfordshire Record Office (collection O14); they include a copy of Sir George Croke's will (O14/W/1). The reference to 71% of Studley's rents being paid over in taxes during the Civil War is cited in Volume VII of The Agrarian history of England and Wales, p.123. Dame Mary Croke's letters to her nephew Edward Heath are also held in the Oxfordshire Record Office (reference Gen.XXX/i/1-3). Heath's wife Lucy was the daughter of Sir George Croke's younger brother Paul Ambrose Croke. During the Civil War, the Heaths lived in Oxford and Edward Heath compiled the list of soldiers and other billeted in Oxford in Oxford in January 1643/4 now in the Bodleian Library. This list has been edited and published by Margaret Toynbee and Peter Young as Strangers in Oxford; the introduction contains an account of Edward and Lucy Heath.

Most of the information about John Henderson, his family, and business activities, and the Henderson Trustees was obtained from this collection. I have also used the International Genealogical Index for Dumbarton and Lanark, the 1881 census return for Studley Priory, the Horton-cum-Studley parish register transcript and, for Ronald Henderson, Kelly's Handbook to the Titled and Landed Classes and Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage (1936).

Some of the documents in the Studley cartulary have been published in Dugdale's Monasticon, vol. IV, and Dunkin's History of Ploughley Hundred, both of which are available at the Oxfordshire Record Office. There are other extracts from the lost cartulary of Studley Priory MS Twyne 24, held at Bodleian Library.

The Oxfordshire Record Office also holds some other collections which contain material relating to the Studley estate. Among these are E160/D2/1-15, deeds relating to the manor of Studley and Horton, 1682-1772, which include a copy of the post-nuptial marriage settlement between John Croke and his wife Mary, daughter of Sir Francis Norreys, 1683, a copy of the settlement relating to the marriage of Charlotte Croke and William Ledwell, 1727 and a quit rent and custom book for the manor of Studley, 1729-1772, and P155/D/2-3, another copy of the 1727 marriage settlement.

The documents were received in the Record Office in four stages:

via the Bodleian Library

via the Somerset Record Office, as accession 1982

via the Somerset Record Office, as accession 5933

via a private purchase, accession 3137

Catalogued by Elizabeth Finn and Mark Priddey between 1995 and 2006, with additional work by Rachel Hancock and Hannah Jones. Additions made by Hannah Jones, October 2010 and mark Priddey, August 2016.

A concordance of old and new references is given at the end of the catalogue.

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