Thomas Banting’s notebook was given to William J. Monk, a local historian about 1895 and talks of Sworn Lains as it was about 1830, when he was about 16 years old. He wrote ‘it was a public House and two or three cottages and some Land the man as belongd to it used to carry on a roaring trade here as young women as were in trouble used to go there to be confined as about this time a man told me as on a find Sunday afternoon he had told as many as 28 walking up and down the Road, an as I had some reason to know as there was a case from our own village which I knew at this time of day the parishes was very particular as to where a child was born on account of making his parish there but at this place nobody could interfere so there came parties from all parts.’ W.J.
Monk acknowledged using this story in his ‘A Ramble in Oxfordshire’ (c. 1917) and added ‘Here, to this old house came those women, mostly of good class, who had been as the country people say, “unfortunate”, and here in the “laaing” house near, as it is still called, the lives of infants were taken and their bodies buries around.’An Idea is Borng part of me and selecting the options from the toolbar.
The record of baptisms/burials cease after 1836, by which time the new Poor Law had come into effect, and Workhouses had been built, which presumably put an end to these activities. Burials 1718 to 1730 were 4 at Burford, and 9 at Asthall. There was a gap until 1794/8 when 3 were recorded at Burford. From 1798 to 1819 there were 23 Baptisms and 3 Burials at Asthall: then from 1818 to1836 there 46 Baptisms and 15 Burials at Swinbrook. This hardly measures up to Banting’s narrative, but perhaps the village story of disposal of bodies in the grounds, had some substance.
In view of the above legend, the old name ‘Forsworn Lains can perhaps be translated as ‘Forsaken Births’ – ‘forsaken’ is an old meaning of ‘forsworn’ and ‘Lains’ or ‘laa-ing’s’ from ‘lay’ which cold formerly mean ‘bring to bed’ of a child.