Otmoor Riots – 1830

Otmoor Riots – an account by Rev. Samuel Crawley

The following article, written by the Rector of Oddington, appeared in the June 1898 edition of the Islip Rural Deanery Magazine:-

From time immemorial up to 1805 Otmoor was a free common of 4000 acres, and the inhabitants of Beckley, Horton, Charlton, Fencot, Murcott ,Oddington , and Noke had the right of grazing cattle, sheep, and horses. Enormous flocks of geese and ducks were also reared. In 1805 an act for draining and allotment was obtained, and canals made across the swamp, and the Ray brook widened. In 1830, Otmoor was enclosed and the inhabitants of the various villages lost their rights of free pasturage. Hence the riots which broke out in that year. The 5th Dragoon Guards were quartered at Oxford to quell the riots, and there was a detachment of the 1st Life Guards at Oddington, and the officers lived at the Rectory. Mr Serle, son of Rector Serle, told me last year, when he called upon me, that he could distinctly remember, as a little child, seeing the swords and the helmets in the Rectory hall, and the officers at their dinner.

Trees were felled by the rioters, gates broken up, the canals cut in order to flood the enclosed lands, and much damage done. Many rioters were imprisoned, among whom I find the names of John Ward, of Noke, and George Savage and Richard Sergeant, of Charlton. Fortunately, there was little bloodshed. In this way, the inhabitants were unjustly deprived of their rights of free pasturage – a sad pity.