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Murder Most Foul

For such a small village Hornton has had a surprisingly colourful and varied crime history over the last millennium. From petty theft, assault and drunkenness to murder, we've seen it all over the centuries.

Further developments on the "Trooper" John Rush family history, The image to the left shows Barbara Greenhalgh with members of the Rush family who visited Hornton from the states. Barbara, who sadly died in 2019, was responsible for all the research on the Rush family. We have since had further communication from other branches of the family, including an email this week, 27th April 2021, from Charles Hart. He is a  descendant of John Hart who married Susannah Rush.  Assuming the accuracy of the marriage record; (, John and Susannah married in England in 1681 before emigrating to Pennsylvania. 

He added "Interestingly, the John Hart who married Susannah Rush had a grandson named Oliver Hart, later Rev. Oliver Hart (Baptist), from whom I descend.  That Oliver had a grandson named Oliver who also had a grandson named Oliver, who was eventually the Rt. Rev. Oliver Hart (Episcopal), whose son Oliver was my father.  Only after discovering the story of Trooper Rush did it occur to me that this long line of Oliver's in my family are likely all namesakes of Cromwell, although they may not all have realized it.  How I escaped being another Oliver is down to my mother."

Charles Hart

A ‘wilful and felonious murder’

A notorious incident in Hornton during the Victorian era was the murder of Hannah Treadwell in 1847.

Both born in Hornton, William Cave and Hannah (known as Martha) Treadwell had a long-term affair, though each was married to another. Hannah lived with husband Edward near Holloways Mill in Hornton (above West End) and they had 11 children, while William owned land in the area and married another Hornton girl, Catherine Baldwin, who was his second wife.

William was accused of the ‘wilful and felonious murder’ of Hannah who, by that time, was a widow and considered to be ‘not the best of characters’.

The prosecution told the packed Oxford courthouse:

“...They passed the house of Mrs Holloway who heard the deceased make use of very bad language towards Cave. The prisoner at that time had a gun with him: a short time after a report of a gun was heard and the deceased very shortly was found ... lying on a footpath with a large wound in her throat and a stream of blood flowing from it.”

It was claimed that Hannah had tried to hit William with a stone, found in her grasp when she died. The judge, in his summing up, told William that he felt the jury had ‘taken a very merciful consideration of the case’. William was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to be transported for life. He was transferred from Oxford gaol to Millbank prison to await transportation, but died there nine months later.


Laurie Stewart-Furneaux

Secretary, Hornton History Group


Thanks to Chris Woodcock for her original research and text.

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The Rush Family in Byberry

John Rush Research

Wrong resting place

In 1882 a sad and singular affair occurred in Hornton’s churchyard.

A stillborn infant from the Colman family was buried in the churchyard on a Saturday morning at about 10 o'clock. On Sunday morning it was discovered that the coffin had been disinterred and tied up in a nearby walnut tree.

Originally, it had been intended that the child should be buried at Horley. A dispute about fees meant that the infant's coffin was brought to Hornton instead, where it seems it was buried for a shilling by the notorious and much-disliked vicar, Charles Heaven. The fee at Horley was half-a-crown.

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Anglo Saxon


This beautiful Anglo Saxon broach that was found in Hornton is still on display in The Banbury Museum.

It's well worth a visit, the broach's existence in the British museum was discovered by Barbara Greenhalgh. Again Barbara's research uncovered the history of the original find at the end of the 19th Century. It was stored in a drawer at the time, in The British Museum and it took a lot of hard work and persuasion to get it on display in Banbury. Barbara in conjunction with The Banbury Museum managed to get the broach on permanent display in Banbury after many months of negotiation and form filling.

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