Mary Vane-Turner's book The Story of Deddington (1933) contains a lengthy account of the origin of the name and some of its local history in Chapter 5 -Deddington Folk Part III - The Stilgoe Family.The following are a few relevant extracts:

"The surname... is an early one of origin unknown, but names ending in 'oe' are said to be of Danish origin. Tracing back to the first mentions of it found obtainable, a John Stillego in the County of Worcester was one of the inquisitors at a post mortem on 11th April 1280. In Patent Roll 4 Edw.III (1330-1) Johanne Stilligo is termed Chamberlain to Queen Isabella (Queen of Edw. II.) and granted the custody of the Castle and gaol of Eye in Suffolk, and in the 6th year of Edward Ill's reign he receives a pardon for the escape of a prisoner, signed by the king at York.

"In 1332-6 there is an agreement concerning land in the neighbourhood of Brentford, Ealing and Isleworth in names of John Stillego and Agatha his wife. And six years later in the Patent Rolls, 12 Edw.III, Agatha Stilligo is granted '4 1/2d per day during the time the King is in foreign parts, she being too infirm to accompany him.

 "There is documentary evidence that the family—or a branch of it—has been resident at Deddington since the year 1531, and its members have been copy-holders under the Deddington Manors, also freeholders there since the 16th century and probably earlier.

"In the report of the Oxfordshire Archaeological Society for 1930, the Rev. H. Salter contributes an article on a Visitation recorded in a volume at Lincoln Cathedral dated 1540, two years before Deddington was removed from that diocese by Henry VIII's foundation of the bishopric of Oxford. He quotes various interesting extracts and the following headed 'Deddington deanery;in the church there,' is translated from the Latin. 'James Brooke has frequented and still frequents the company of the wife of Richard Perkins, in spite of many monitions from his neighbours. He denied the charge and on 11 October (1540) at Chipping Norton produced Thomas Brown and Richard Stilgo, with whom he took oath and purged himself. The judge warned him,' etc."

Three names stand out in the records:

Zachary Stilgoe (?? -1669)  "The Deddington Parish Registers not commencing until the year 1631, earlier information from that source is unobtainable. The burial of a Zachary Stilgoe is recorded there in 1669, and that of his wife Mary in 1651. He left property here to his son Hugh, and directly from that line the present family of Stilgoes are descended." (MV-T)

Perhaps sensing that he might one day be at the head of a family tree Zachary stamped his name on a date stone on his house, inscribed the family coat of arms on a brass tobacco box which he bequeathed "to him whose name is Zach. Stilgoe for ever". 70 years later the Coat of Arms was inscribed on parchment.(RS)

Click HERE for a link to his will.

Nathaniel Stilgoe (1793-1867) "Nathaniel lived in Deddington, during the latter part of his life in the house in Council Street now owned by Mr. W. J. French* He died there in 1867. A picture of him with his servant Thomas Hayward, photographed from a sepia drawing by Joseph Wilkins of Deddington, shows him on horseback, with Deddington Church tower in the distance. Nathaniel Stilgoe is depicted in the typical dress of the period, which would be blue coat with gilt buttons, chamois leather colour waistcoat, silk hat, etc." (MV-T)

 Editor: * Called The Orchards which is a little confusing because nowadays it is opposite another property called Orchard House formerly called School House which was also a Stilgoe property ! See more in the section on Property

Original of the b&w illustration in M V-T's book

This portrait of Nathaniel was painted in 1850 by an unknown artist. He was the Rev Cotton Risley's agent which was almost certainly helpful in getting some of his relations into local farms!

He first married Mary Denchfield in 1821 and they had 6 children.

  • Mary (b.1823) married a parson and lived at Tarrant Gunville
  • Nathaniel (b.1825) farmed Manor Farm,Twyford. His son Nathaniel was killed in 1894 driving a trap into Banbury.
    His granddaughter (Gwendolen) Betty (b.1921) married a distinguished scientist Henryk Elwertowski (pdf) b.1910 who made significant contributions to the UK Nuclear Submarine programme.
  • Zachariah Walden (b.1829) was Rev Risley's tenant at Adderbury Grounds Farm. He had 5 children.
  • Sarah (b.1827)m.John Astley. Children: John(1860), Tom ('61), Arthur ('63) & Leonard ('71)
  • Anne (b.1831) and Henry (b.1832) both married but had no children.
He second married Sarah Kinsey in 1837.

See his descendant tree HERE

Deddington descendants from Zachariah  include:

Henry Edward S (1867-1943) - or HES as he is known in the family -  was his second son and became a significant figure in the family story. His contributions to Mary Vane Turner's The Story of Deddington were the result of much research into family history.

His authority on local matters is evidenced by a letter written in 1943 to the Rev Maurice Frost explaining  the locations of the Swere and Bugbrook streams/rivers.

He was also notable as London's Water Engineer.

His grandson Sir Richard Stilgoe has written an account of his life which can be found HERE (pdf)

John Henry Tweedie (1907-87) was the middle child of HES' 3 children and Sir Richard's father. He firstly became an Engineer Officer in the Royal Navy but after being invalided out aged 26 became a water engineer like his father. More about HES and John Henry Tweedie can be read HERE (pdf)

He had two sisters: Vera (b.1896) lived in Folly Cottage in Hempton for many years until she had a disagreement with Dennis Washington, a local character, and moved to London. His other sister Elizabeth (b.1908) - always known as Betty - enlisted in the WRAC during WWII and lived in London until she retired to Hendon Cottage in the Market place.

John Anthonie (b.1935) who farms in Norfolk, and his younger brother Hugh Robert Nathaniel (b.1944), who is the present incumbent at Adderbury Grounds, are both Great Grandsons of Zachariah and have been my main sources for this article. I am most grateful to them both.

Newspaper articles

I am most grateful to Simon Griffin (Grandson of Ken Stilgoe) for supplying all of these extracts as the result of his time-consuming and very extensive research. They provide fascinating snapshots of the lives of the family.  

Deddington Stilgoes 1807 - 1933 (pdf)

Adderbury Stilgoes 1822 - 1954 (pdf)