While most of the large landowners were gentry and absentee landlords, John Christmas, father and son, were of yeoman stock. John Christmas the elder originally lived in Selborne – in a 1790 indenture, he is described as ‘of Blackmore in the parish of Selborne … aged about thirty nine years’ and as father of ‘John Christmas… an Infant aged about six years’. Subsequent indentures record that the Bishop of Winchester had allocated the ‘greater tithes’ for lands owned by the Diocese to John Christmas of Hillhampton. The sum of £7 was to be paid to the Bishop twice a year for the right to claim the rectorial tithes.
John Christmas the older died in 1805 but was not buried in East Meon. (There is a probate note, 17th December 1805, stating ‘that the Goods Chattels and Credits of the said deceased do not amount to the sum of Five Thousand pounds as they verily believe… ’ . John did not have quite as much money to bequeath as he thought, but he was prosperous by the standards of the time.)
The younger John is listed in the Tithe Apportionments of 1852 as ‘occupying’ both Hilhampton and Oxenbourne Farm; Thomas Bates Rowse, the heir of Edward Bentham, is listed as ‘owning’ Hilhampton (which was still ultimately owned by Magdalen College Oxford). Christmas expanded his estate between the censuses of 1851 and 1861, from 392 to 726 acres. His name appears in 1870 as churchwarden of All Saints in East Meon on a wall plaque commemorating the refurbishment of the church. In the 1871 census, Oxenbourne Farm was occupied by Eli Collins, Farm Bailiff, and his family, presumably managing the farm on behalf of the now-elderly John Christmas. When he died in 1876 John Christmas was designated a ‘gentleman’; he had, however, no family and his lands were acquired by John Bonham Carter.