Thame Local History
The Early Stuart Period (1604 - 1641)

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was an attempt by a group of Roman Catholics to kill the Protestant King James I of England and VI of Scotland (1603 - 1625) and the members of his Parliament.

Sir Richard Wenman of Thame Park was suspected of complicity in the Gunpowder Plot. Nothing it seems came of this, as he became the first Viscount Wenman in 1628.

King James enforced a penalty for not attending Church, as an attempt to quell Roman Catholic opposition, and at Thame several Roman Catholics were fined for not attending St Mary's Church in the years following the Gunpowder Plot.

At Thame Church the churchwardens seem to have had amongst them some strong Puritan beliefs.

The Vicar of Thame at the start of the century was John Trinder, who began keeping parish records, most of which have survived to this day.

Thomas Hennant was appointed Vicar of Thame from 1631. He was related by marriage to the family of Oliver Cromwell and John Hampden, who were themselves cousins.

The churchwardens granted Thomas Hennant a house in Thame churchyard. In return he continued to keep the parish records.

The Grammar School at Thame was at this time prospering, educating amongst others the young John Hampden. The head of Thame Grammar School from 1631 to 1647 was William Burt, who was also related by marriage to the Cromwells and Hampdens.

With both the Vicar and Grammar School Principal known Puritans, we can perhaps conclude where the loyalties of the churchwardens lay.

The grandson of Sir Henry Norreys had inherited Rycote, but he committed suicide in 1623. His daughter Elizabeth married Edward Wray, Groom of the Bedchamber to King James I, in 1622.

In 1625 King Charles I (1625 - 1649) moved his court to Oxford, as there was plague in London, and broke his journey at Rycote Palace, to be entertained by the Wrays.

The Wrays were lords of the manor of Thame, but they leased the manor house and lands of Old Thame to Vincent Barry, possibly in 1626.

King Charles I was not to enjoy the support of every wealthy Oxfordshire family.

His attempts to raise Ship Money from 1635 were met with refusal by many local landowners and merchants.

John Hampden, by now a Member of Parliament, was asked to pay Ship Money on his lands in Stoke Mandeville. His refusal and the subsequent trial gained Hampden great popularity. When Parliament was recalled in 1640, Hampden became a national figure in a dispute with King Charles I that was to lead to the English Civil War.

The Wenmans of Thame Park

Thame Grammar School

John Hampden

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  Local History Research Group
  Thame, Oxfordshire, England