Champion Ploughmen of Somerset

The Ogborne Champion Ploughmen of Somerset

(Note for north American visitors;  ploughing = plowing  )

We aren’t just talking of a few trophies won for ploughing here,  we are paying tribute to an extended family of Ogbornes who from the late 19th century up to the World War II  achieved a level of excellence in ploughing with horses at competitive matches which we is unlikely to have been surpassed by any family in the world.  What is also clear is that ploughing matches using horse draw  ploughs were regular events in the period mentioned above,  in Wrington and other Somerset locations, and Ogbornes were competing in such events as early as the 1880s and into the next century.  e.g. Mr Charles Ogborne won 1st Prize in the Championship class at a ploughing match at Wrington on 30th October 1890 and on 3rd November 1892 and Mr William Ogborne, aged 16 years was amongst the prize winners in the under 20 years Championship. Both hailed from Redhill in Somerset.

Keeping the tradition alive:
Peter Ogborne ploughing match judge- including at the 150th Mendip Ploughing Society Match WEDNESDAY 25th SEPTEMBER 2019 .  (Society Assistant Secretary : Judith Ogborne)


Mr Keith Ogborne,  grandson of the John Ogborne of Winsford mentioned below has provided the information on the Ogborne Somerset Ploughmen and can be contacted at

Newspaper accounts of the exploits of this remarkable family have been very numerous, but none better than the attached which has been published many times.

The Ogbourne Championship Ploughmen

It seems that John Ogborne of Winford, Somerset sired no less than six sons,  who became champion ploughmen, and their sons in turn sired sons who carried on the tradition.

King George V wrote a letter of congratulation to Mr John & Mrs Susan Ogborne in 1932 on the occasion of their 64th wedding anniversary, which included the good wishes of Queen Mary:

Letter from King George V to John Ogborne
Letter from King George V to John Ogborne

In summary the ploughing champions were:

John Ogbourne,  the head of the family,

John C Ogbourne,  the eldest son  won 32 first prizes for ploughing before he was 21 years of age and went on to become ploughing expert for Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies. One of Ransome’s principal products was ploughshares.  His son Leonard also excelled at ploughing,  and chose his wife from the Matthews family of veteran ploughmen.

William Ogbourne,  winner of 106 first prizes in ploughing competitions and beat the best for miles around. Two sons, Arthur and Charles also excelled as ploughmen.

Herbert Ogbourne living then at Corner Pool was the third son, and at the time of the report had taken 11 first prizes in succession for his ploughing. He too had a son called Leonard who also excelled in ploughing matches.  Leonard’s younger brother Berty was also proficient in ploughing.

Alfred who also lived at Winford did well in the same pursuit,  but later felt he should leave ploughing to his brothers and follow other things.

The youngest son was Walter,  who also took many prizes in ploughing matches.

Many thanks to descendants of this family who have contacted us with additional information, including this from a descendant of Lionel George Ogbourne (see picture above):

“My mother was an Ogbourne, daughter of Lionel George from Chew Stoke, she (the youngest) and her six sisters and two brothers were brought up to help with the ploughing horses and I remember her complaining about cleaning horse brasses in preparation for ploughing matches! My grandfather (Lionel George) died as a result of an accident with a horse and hay cart in 1945 when my mother was 16.”

We are in contact with a member of the family (Roger) who is in touch with other family members, and we understand that work is being done on a family history.
john Ogbourne ploughman Nottgm post 1940
westdaily press ploughmen 20 Jan 1949

ogborne ploughmen western daily press 13 Oct 1932

3 thoughts on “Champion Ploughmen of Somerset”

  1. Hi John. Can I please use your web site, to advertise , an Ogborne family get together I am organising at the North Somerset NVTEC Ploughing Match, on Sun 21st Sept. at Pagans Hill Farm. Chew Stoke, North Somerset. BS40 8UN.
    [see their web site] Group photo 2-30. near the stand. All are
    welcome. See you keith Ogborne.

    1. I am an OGBORN from Bristol and a relative via a mutual ancestor in Nempett Thrubwell ,
      I sometime work at the PONY & TRAP pub in Chew Magna. Are you organising any more OGBORNE meetings??? Thanks

  2. My 3rd great grandfather was Lee Ogburn (as the census spelled it) who was listed as the “Masters son”.

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Focusing on the history of the name of Ogbourne, Ogborn, Ogburn and other variants, including the early form of Ocheburne & Okebourne