The surname Wildman was first found in Berkshire where they held a family seat from very ancient times and were Lords of the manor of Beaucot, before and after the Norman Conquest in 1066.
This mention of an origin stretching back to the Norman Conquest massively intrigued me: perhaps by looking into this further it would provide a more firm idea about the origins of the Wildman surname. So, I went in search of Beaucot manor in Berkshire.
The problem was this: there didn’t actually seem to be a Beaucot manor!
Internet searches for Beaucot manor provided elusive, with the only mention linked to various web pages outlining the Wildman surname: a seeming endless loop, feeding off itself, but not actually existing beyond this. Other searches for Beaucot manor returned zero results. I searched for Beaucot in Berkshire, but again nothing.
However, on scouring through these endless web pages I came across the term Becket manor, which was a possible alternative or substitution for Beaucot. So again, I returned to searching and ended up back in the same loop back on pages relating to the Wildman name. Furthermore, a search of Becket in Berkshire only took me to the Berkshire Becket in New England, USA. Definitely not the right place.
One of these web pages provided another possible link: it noted how a 17th century woman by the name Lucy Richmond married a John Wildman, and how on her death in 1692 she was buried at Becket, in Shrivenham, Berkshire. This suggested that Becket (Beaucot) was located in Shrivenham, which itself was located in the county of Berkshire. So, the plot thickened.
Or so I thought… For when I used Google maps to find Shrivenham in Berkshire I was again faced with no results!
So, I decided to make another cup of coffee and contemplate doing something else – anything else! – rather than continue with this pointless searching. But I returned for one last search: Shrivenham itself. And lo and behold, the Wikipedia page listed Becket manor. As it turns out, Shrivenham WAS once located in Berkshire, however, it was shifted to the county of Oxfordshire as part of a boundary change in the 1970s.
So, I had found the right manor in the right place in the right county. I was ready to trace the Wildman link back to the Norman Conquest. Unfortunately, there was no such line to trace back. The first time that a Wildman came into contact with the place was in the Restoration era in the 1666 – so, only six centuries out from what was suggested in the House of Names website!
This ancient manor was mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086, at which time it was held by William Count of Evreux. Later in the medieval age the manor was under the ownership of the de Becote family, and then later in the 17th century the manor was bought by John Wildman. But the manor was not in Wildman hands for long: John Wildman’s son, the adopted John Shute, later undertook the Barrington name in order to inherit larger estates. Under the Barringtons the manor was held until the 20th century.
Although the dream is gone in establishing the Wildman family with this ancient manor back to Norman times, I still have an ambition to link my own ancestral line with this John Wildman of the 1600s. Hopefully there will be some connection somewhere down the road of research.
Photo credit: Shrivenham Heritage Society