Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mary Ody and Pry Farm

"There've been Odys farming in North Wilts for five hundred years," local resident Harold Ody proudly told Elspeth Huxley when she was writing her book Gallipot Eyes – a Wiltshire Diary, about Oaksey village in 1975.

With such well established roots, Swindon based Ody family historians have a head start with local parish registers available on microfiche at Swindon Central Library and the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham.

Early parish records for St Mary's Church at Lydiard Tregoze reveal Richard Ody confirming the appointment of the churchwardens in 1742.  It was his descendant Noah Ody, who with the help of his wife Sarah, populated many of the local farms.

Noah and his sons were tenants, at various times during the 19th century, at Hayes Knoll and Bagbury Farms in Purton, Haxmoor in Purton Stoke, Braydon, Marsh, Flaxlands and Glebe Farms in Lydiard Tregoze and Lower Shaw Farm in the parish of Lydiard Millicent.  It was the couple's eldest son Thomas who spent most of his adult life at the canal side farm of Pry in Purton.

Construction on the North Wilts Canal began in 1814 with the Purton route passing through the 17th century Pry Farm.  The North Wilts Canal was bought by the Wilts & Berks Canal Company soon after its completion in 1820, but trade was never very brisk and by the end of the 19th century a combination of low usage and mounting maintenance charges threatened the future of the canal.

Thomas Ody married Mary Freeth in early summer 1847 and set up home at Dill Farm, Close to Mary's parents Joseph and Anne Freeth at Liverpool's Farm in Purton.  But by the time of the 1861 census the couple was firmly established at the 104 acre Pry Farm with their seven children.

Thomas died at Pry on August 6, 1892 but the family connection with the farm did not end there.  In 1895 Thomas' youngest daughter Kate married local boy Job Simpkins.  Her brother George James Ody married Kate Eliza Hulbert in 1898 and when the census was taken in 1911 the two couples were still living at Pry.  George and his wife have Dorothy Maud Ody staying with them.   Job and Kate are also at Pry Farm and they too have a member of the family, niece Katie Ody, staying with them.   Neither couples had any children of their own.

The Wilts & Berks Canal was eventually abandoned by Act of Parliament in 1914, the North Wilts followed in 1927.  For over 30 years the energetic volunteers at the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust have been working on restoring the canal.  Perhaps before too long it will be possible to recreate this idyllic 19th century scene.

The photograph of Mary Ody in the front garden of her home at Pry was taken in about 1900.

Gallipot Eyes by Elspeth Huxley

You might also like to read

Brook House Farm 
Hunt's Copse Farm, South Marston 
Padbrook Farm
National Farm Survey
Lower Shaw Farm

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