Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Walter Ody

I'd love to see a photograph of Walter Ody - I feel I know him so well.

Born in 1833 at Hayes Knowle Farm in Purton, Walter was the third youngest of Noah and Sarah's nine surviving children. Noah was an expert at keeping the proverbial farming plates spinning and even when the boys were still quite young he managed to organise several leases.

Walter married Elizabeth Russell in the Spring of 1861 and the census of that year sees them living at Lord Bolingbroke's Flaxlands Farm with his widowed mother Sarah, his sister Leticia and Elizabeth's two year old son William James Russell.

So what else do I know about Walter Ody?

Well I know he served the community in various roles within the parish and in 1894 he was one of the first members to be elected onto the new parish council  He was also a trustee of the St John's Chancel Trust, charged with maintaining the magnificent St John memorials.

As a more mature man he proved he was ready to embrace new technology and is mentioned in Alec Robbins book Records of Purton and District that the 'first use of a horse-drawn mowing machine [was] demonstrated by Mr Walter Ody on a farm at Hook sometime between 1885-1890'.

He had a family of nine children, six boys - Noah, John, Francis, Richard, George and William and three girls -  Leticia, Elizabeth and Mary Jane - all good Ody names; and he farmed 200 acres at Flaxlands for more than 35 years.

He died at Flaxlands on July 22, 1897 and I have the details of his Will.

This is the last Will and Testament of me Walter Ody of Flaxlands Farm Lydiard Tregoze in the County of Wilts Farmer I hereby give devise and bequeath to my trustees and executors hereinafter named my enclosure of land situate at Stone Lane in the Parish of Lydiard Millicent Upon trust for my youngest daughter Mary Jane Ody all my personal estate and effects and the remainder of my real estate to be realised by my trustees and executors hereinafter named by public auction the proceeds to be distributed in equal shares within the lapse of one year after my decease between my four sons namely Francis Richard George and William I hereby appoint Alfred Hitchcock and Norman Hitchcock both of Hook Lydiard Tregoze in the County of Wilts Trustees and Executors of this my Will to whom I hereby give the sume of five pounds sterling each In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this twenty ninth day of March One thousand eight hundred and ninety seven - Walter Ody - Signed by the said Walter Ody in the presence of us present at the same time who in his presence and in the presence of each other attest and subscribe our names as witnesses hereto G.H. Rutter M,B. - W Walker.

On the 17th day of November 1897 Probate of this Will was granted to Alfred Hitchcock and Norman Hitchcock the Executors.

But to get back to the Hook Burial Ground saga ...

Walter's wife Elizabeth had died just seven months previously and when the vault at Hook was opened up to take Walter's body more than 200 gallons of water had to be removed before the burial could take place.

How distressing for the grieving family and what an ignominious conclusion to the life of someone who had given so much to his community.

But here is the headstone that still stands.


Guided churchyard walks take place at St Mary's Church, Lydiard Park on June 5, 19 and 26 between 2 - 4.30pm.

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