Entitled The Husbandmen Of Over Norton, the book is a richly detailed and meticulously researched account of the families who once lived in the village, using such archival sources as wills and parish records. The book is a self-published work, but Jan received a grant from the Greening Lambourn Trust to help with her publication costs.
The main part of the book is broken down into subjects – for example, one chapter looks at what local residents would have worn; another at occupations; one more details household furnishings. These are no generalised chapters – each is specific to the Over Norton area and look at inventories of inhabitants’ belongings to build a picture of their material lives.
The last part of the book takes a couple of long-established Over Norton families and traces their family trees over the period of the book (roughly 1530 to 1730). A family tree for each surname is also included – a valuable addition for an exploration of families where the same first names were used again and again.
The book is a valuable addition to the local history genre, and the division of chapters into specific areas of ordinary rural life is well done. It shows the wealth of archival information that can be found even for rural parishes in Early Modern England, and how they can be written up in a way that gives us a good picture of what life would have been like for these Oxfordshire husbandmen and their families.
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