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Each county is treated apart, and in the Roll for Oxfordshire of the forty-third year of Queen Elizabeth, 1601, we find the name of "Richard Milton of Stanton St. John, yeoman." On the 13th of July 1601, this person was fined in the sum of £60 for not having resorted to his parish church for the three months following the 6th of December, 1600. This was ruinous work to a family of but slender fortunes: but he was not subdued by it, for a second fine of the same amount was imposed upon him soon after for not having attended church from the 13th of July, 1601, to the 4th of October following, nor having made his submission, nor promised to be conformable, pursuant to the statute of the 23rd of Elizabeth. Another inhabitant of the parish of Stanton St. John, named Thomas Stacey, was subjected to the same penalty.

Stanton St. John is one of the townships which form the Hundred of Bullington, one of the Hundreds of Oxfordshire. In this Hundred is Shotover, parcel of the forest of Bernwood, and Stowe-wood, the former being of the extent of 811 acres, and the latter of 485, according to a survey made in the 9th of Elizabeth. Shotover bounded on another wood called St. John's Wood, which belonged to Magdalene College, and a wood and lease of pasture belonging to Corpus Christi College, which wood and lease were known by the name of Pirial Plain, “and so continueth forth by the lordship of Horspath to the lordship of Whately in the east, and to the lordship of Forest-Hill and Stanton St. John north-east."* We have, therefore, found a Milton living on the borders of Shotover Forest, a man of a certain substance, and so zealously attached to the ancient form and order of

* Forest Documents in the Exchequer.

the English Church, that he ventured to incur the severe and extreme penalties that were imposed upon him: and since he lived at the close of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, which is the chronological period of the grandfather of the poet, it can hardly be doubted that in this Richard Milton of Stanton St. John we have found the poet's grandfather, by whom his father is said to have been disinherited. We may add that though in the Hundred of Bullington there were many other Roman Catholics, yet there is no trace to be found of any other Milton being of that profession there or in any other part of Oxfordshire. The most considerable of the Roman Catholic families of the Hundred of Bullington were the Powels of Sandford, who remained stedfast Catholics to the time of their extinction early in the last century.

The quality of Richard Milton is that designated by the term "yeoman:" and though the yeoman of those days may have been relatively superior to the yeoman of the present day, it seems as if it scarcely bone out the claim which the poet makes to be "genere honesto," in any of its higher senses. If it could be proved that he held an office under the Crown, even were it only as an Under-Ranger or Keeper of one of the Royal Forests, this might be considered by his descendant as conferring upon him the rank and position of a gentleman, or after all the "yeoman" of the Recusant Roll being written, we may suppose by no friendly hand, may not quite have come up to the quality which actually belonged to a man who sent his son to Christ Church. Much, however, as I have seen of documentary evidence relating to Shotover at that period, such as Presentments

and Accounts, which are the kind of documents in which we might expect to find the name, I have seen no mention of any Milton having held any office in the Forest, but only having transactions with those who did hold such offices; and the only other evidence concerning this Richard Milton of Stanton that has fallen under my notice, is that he, or at least a person of that name, was assessed to the Subsidy of the 19th of Elizabeth, 1577, amongst the inhabitants of Stanton. He is not charged on lands, but on goods only, as if he had no lands, and the goods were assessed on an annual value of Three Pounds. These sums in the Subsidy Rolls afford however only a criterion of the relative, not the actual importance, of the person against whose names they stand. There is in these Rolls of the 19th of Elizabeth a very long list of the assessed inhabitants within the County of Oxford, and the only Milton is this Richard of Stanton St. John. We have here, as in so many instances, to regret that the early Parish Registers of Stanton St. John are lost. The carelessness with which evidence of this kind has been treated is for ever depriving us of the means of obtaining exact information concerning even our most eminent men, and transactions most important in their consequences.

Contemporary with him, though a little later, were two other Miltons, whose residence was in the vicinity of Shotover. At Beckley lived a Rowland Milton, who is described as a "husbandman." He is not found holding any office in the Forest, but rather as a troublesome neighbour to those who did so; for in the 33rd of Elizabeth, 1591, he was subjected to a small fine for having cut down a cart-load of wood, without license, in the Queen's Wood called Lodge

*

Coppice. Five years before he had bought certain ash-trees of the Regarders of Stow-wood. This person was living in 1599.

Near to Stanton and Beckley, and close to Shotover Forest, is a place called Elfield, where, about the same time, lived one Robert Milton, to whom and his companions, the officers of the Forest, paid forty shillings for hedging Beckley Coppice, and for gates and iron-work. The document is without a date.

Such is the best, and indeed the only account that I am able to give of the Miltons, who, in the reign of Elizabeth, were living in the parts of Oxfordshire which border on the Shotover district, nor have I been able to trace them at all in that district before the time when Richard of Stanton must have lived. We must not, however, while looking to contemporary evidence, in questions of this kind the best of all, entirely overlook later testimonies, of which perhaps we may not be able to estimate the value truly. I add, therefore, that we find in a Manuscript in the Ashmolean Library, written after the time when the Poet could be spoken of as "the eminent writer," that he was a son of John Milton, of Halton, by Sarah Bradshaw his wife, and grandson of John Milton, of Halton, by a daughter of Jefferies. To what credit any part of this statement is entitled, I am unable to say. Halton it must be observed is a member of the Hundred of Bullington, and therefore near to Shotover; but we have no Milton in any known list of the inhabitants

This was an offence which was often committed. In a Presentment of 1591 we find the Church-Wardens of Headington charged with having cut down "custom-boughs at Whitsuntide for the Church." The ChurchWardens of Forest-Hill had done the same.

there; and that his mother was a Bradshaw is at variance with the testimony of his nephew Philips.

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The descendants of the family claimed to themselves that their ancestors had been "Milton of Milton," and that the family had been ruined in the wars of the two houses. This has an imposing sound, and true it is that there is a place called Milton, very near the borders of Shotover Forest, though separated from it by the river Tame, and it is a not unreasonable presumption, that the Miltons of whom we have spoken, may have derived their surname from that village. But that there was ever any race of persons who answer to the idea called up by the phrase," Milton of Milton," cannot, I conceive, be shewn with any evidence. We have nothing of them in any Inquisition, nor I believe has any proof ever been given of the existence of such a

race.

Yet that there were Miltons, persons of good repute in the counties of Oxford and Buckingham, though not described as of Milton, is proved by two pieces of evidence of the reign of King Henry the Sixth. In the 15th of that reign, a Roger Milton was the Collector of the Fifteenths and Tenths in the county of Oxford: and in an Inquisition taken at Stanwell, in Middlesex, before John May, the Escheator, on the 1st of July, in the 6th of that reign, after the death of Richard Wyndesore, Esquire, among persons holding lands of his manor of Stanwell, is John de Milton, who held the manor of Burnham in Buckinghamshire, by the service of half a knight's fee. This is the best proof existing of the original gentility of what may have been the Poet's family. And with this may be connected the wellascertained fact, that when the father of the poet had esta

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