Friday, June 3, 2016

My Ody obsession

I really thought my Ody family obsession was a thing of the past; a guilty, not so private pleasure.

I'd written a school's project for Brookfield School with  a copy for Lower Shaw Farm, because yes, an Ody family once lived there too, along with numerous articles including one for the Friends of Lydiard Tregoz annual report.

I had stopped tracking down people online and I no longer trawled through local history books for any reference to the Odys.

I honestly thought I was over it all. Yes, occasionally I felt stirrings, the odd itch or twitch, but it would pass. Then earlier this week I made a reference to Walter Ody in a blogpost about the Hook Burial Ground, and I'm back in the grip.

Readers have contacted me in their dozens - well three actually, but so intense is my obsession that I'm experiencing a full blown Ody episode.

For me it all began with the weathered headstone in the churchyard at St Mary's Lydiard Tregoze and as the saying goes, the rest is history.

The Ody name appears in the registers at St Mary's as far back as the mid 18th century, before that it is a bit difficult to trace their movements. I once made the genealogical leap to neighbouring Elcombe and Wroughton, but had my wrist slapped by another Ody researcher who said it couldn't be so.

There are branches all over Wiltshire and as Harold Ody, farming at Clattinger Farm, Oaksey in 1974 told writer Elspeth Huxley:

"You'll always find Ody's living way out in the middle of a field," adding, "they've been Odys farming in North Wilts for five hundred years". And I for one believe him.

The three pages of Gallipot Eyes devoted to Harold tell the story of his father and were well worth the purchase price of the book. Walter Noah Ody was just 12 years old when he took on the responsibilities of running Idover Farm at Dauntsey with his mother after his father Noah was thrown from a pony trap and killed. This information enabled me to make the connection with the Lydiard Tregoze branch of the family as Noah was the son of the aforementioned Walter and died just over six months before his father.

Every branch of the Victorian Ody family named a son Noah in memory of Noah senior, the patriarch. Here is an extract from his will, written on August 13, 1851 less than 10 days before he died.

This is the last and only Will and Testament of me Noah Ody of Hays Knoll in the Parish of Purton in the County of Wilts Yeoman I give and bequeath all and singular my Farming Stock Household Furniture monies and other my personal Estate and Effects unto my Wife Sarah Ody for her use and benefit during her life and the maintenance of my Children who shall be living with her and managing the Farming business and from and after her decease I give and bequeath to my Daughter Hannah the wife of William Slade the Legacy or Sum of Twenty five pounds and to my Daughter Sarah Ody the Legacy or Sum of Fifty pounds and as to all the rest and residue of my said Stock monies and personal Estate and Effects I give and bequeath the same after my said Wifes' decease unto my Sons William, John Walter and Charles and Daughter Letitia to be equally divided between them share and share alike....

also that in case my Daughter Sarah shall happen to die before having received all her said Legacy then I give and bequeath such Legacy or so much thereof as shall happen to remain unpaid unto her two illegitimate children equally to be divided between them share and share alike ...

And it is my Will and I do hereby direct that my Sons Walter and Charles do take upon themselves the superintendence and management of my farming business and affairs in conjunction with my said Wife.

Noah's shaky signature on his Will.
Photo courtesy of Duncan and Mandy Ball


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

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