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List of Biddenham Vicars

Christ in Majesty from the chancel east window March 2012
Christ in Majesty from the chancel east window March 2012

Advowson

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912. It noted that the first mention of the advowson of Biddenham church is in 1252 when it belonged to William Passelowe, Lord of the Manor of Biddenham. By 1278 it belonged to John de Kyrkeby, Bishop of Ely, who held it as part of the Honour of Gloucester. William Kyrkeby died in 1302 leaving four sisters as his heirs and Mabel Grimbaud inherited the advowson, relinquishing it in 1314 to Christina, William de Kyrkeby’s widow. The next year Christina alienated it to the Abbess of Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire . The nunnery removed to Denny in Cambridgeshire about 1349 and Denny Abbey continued to hold the advowson until it was dissolved by King Henry VIII (1509-1547) in 1536. In 1537 and 1538 Isabella Dyve of Bromham presented candidates and held the advowson. In 1539 the advowson was granted to Edward Elrington who sold them almost immediately to William Boteler and the advowson remained part of the Manor of Biddenham or Newnham into the 20th century. The current patron [2012] is, however, the Bishop of Saint Albans. Since 2005 the vicar has lived at the Vicarage of Church End, Kempston and holds both churches in plurality.

The pulpit March 2012
The pulpit March 2012

 

List of Vicars

The following list of Vicars of Biddenham is as complete as records will allow.

  • Gilbert Passelawe;
  • Richard de Sancta Cruce, subdeacon; on the resignation of Gilbert Passelawe: 1231;
  • William Triket, subdeacon: 1235;
  • Alexander de Elnestowe, chaplain; on the resignation of William Triket: 1247
  • Richard Neven, subdeacon; on the death of Alexander de Elnestowe: 24th February 1273;
  • Gilbert de Falmer, clerk; on the death of Richard Neven; other clerks had been presented but were held not to be entitled: 3rd March 1293;
  • John de Osevyle, priest; on the resignation of Gilbert de Falmer: 22nd June 1301;
  • Gilbert de Falmer, deacon; on the resignation of John de Oseny: 16th November 1301;
  • Jacobus de Bodekesham, priest; on the death of Gilbert de Fallmere: 17th December 1330;
  • William de Wykewane, priest; on the death of Jacobus de Bodekesham: 11th April 1349;
  • John Cope, priest; on the death of William Wikwane: 13th February 1384;
  • John Rudeby, Rector of Saint John the Baptist, Lewes [Sussex]; on exchange with John Cope: 17th April 1385;
  • Richard Kymeston of Covesgrave; on resignation of John Roddeby; exchanged to Covesgrave: 19th July 1398;
  • John Clench, clerk; on the death of Richard Kympston: 25th May 1412;
  • Thomas Moriell alias Lavenham: on the resignation of John Clench: 8th July 1412;
  • Robert Ayscogh: on the death of Thomas Lavenham: 16th September 1435;
  • John Sperhawke;
  • John Aycliff, priest; on the resignation of John Sperhawke; he was buried in chancel with a brass: 7th May 1453;
  • Nicholas Skypwith: his will was proved in 1493: 1470s;
  • Robert Halytreholm, priest; on the death of Robert Skypwyth: 21st May 1493;
  • John Lee: 7th May 1527;
  • William Stoddard, clerk; on the deprivation of John Ley: 3rd July 1537;
  • Richard Holden alias Wright, chaplain; on the resignation of William Stodard: 18th May 1538;
  • Henry Frankleyn: 1545;
  • Richard Horrden: 1547;
  • Richard Wright: 1550;
  • Henricus Atkinson: 21st October 1552;
  • Sir Thomas Neguse, clerk: 30th January 1555;
  • John Johnson: 1602;
  • (William Gower, curate: 1605);
  • Robert Marrit: 1607;
  • John Malcotte: 1617;
  • Robert Gifford: 1618;
  • Daniel Gardener: 1627;
  • William Lucas: 1629;
  • William Gwynne: 15th October 1636;
  • David Faldo , clerk; buried 8th April 1680: 1680;
  • Joseph Hanmer, minister;
  • John Nodes: 1692;
  • (John Towersey, curate);
  • Andrew Moore: 1708;
  • (John Teap(e): 1708-1720 curate);
  • Thomas Tipping: 1730; buried 12 Dec 1757.
  • William Fleming: 14th January 1758;
  • Thomas Richards, clerk: 11th May 1761;
  • John Jones MA; on the death of Thomas Richards: 23rd April 1799;
  • Thomas Grimshaw MA: on the cession of John Jones; he died on 17th February 1850 aged 73:22nd August 1808;
  • Henry Rice BA from Christ Church College, Oxford; brother to Lord Dynevor; on the death of Thomas Shuttleworth Grimshaw: 30th August 1850;
  • Boteler Chernocke Smith BA from Trinity College, Oxford; on the cession of Henry Rice; resigned on taking the family living of Hulcote and Salford: 7th July 1856;
  • Henry Wood MA from Trinity College, Cambridge; on the cession of Boteler Chernocke Smith; he died at Folkestone [Kent] on 24th Jul 1912, aged 83: 16th March 1865;
  • William Eglesfield Bathurst Norman MA: on the resignation of Henry Wood: November 1890;
  • Douglas Falkland Carey: September 1936;
  • Victor John French: December 1946;
  • Eric Arthur Gaskell: 1966;
  • Donald Clifford Flatt: 1975;
  • Neville Robertson Eynesford Jacobs: 1983;
  • John Martin Schofield: 1988;
  • Richard J. Sutton: 1995;
  • Stephen L. Huckle, priest in charge: 2005.

North aisle east window detail March 2012
North aisle east window detail

Visitations

Volume 81 published by the Bedfordshire Historical Records Society (2002) is devoted to returns made during episcopal visitations to the county by the Bishop of Lincoln in the early 18th century, edited by former County Archivist Patricia Bell. It throws some interesting light on non-residency and the general state of the church in the parish. At this date it was common for a rector or vicar to not live in the parish he nominally served, often because he had more than one, and so employed a curate to undertake their parochial duties for him. The returns for Biddenham are as follows:

  • 1706: "Mr. John Towersy, Curate. Mrs. Elizabeth Boteler, widow of William Boteler, Esquire, Patron. She has both the Rectory and Vicarege [sic], and is oblige d to allow a stipend of £8 per Annum to a Curate, which is all his certain Maintenance".
  • 1709: "Mr. Andrew Moor Curate [also curate of Bedford, Saint Mary] Licence of the Bishop of Lincoln 31 May 1708. Mr. John Teap of Clopham [sic], curate".
  • 1717: Teape stated "I have noe house in my parish. I live in a house a little distance from my parish where I have lived 7 or 8 years … Curate None … Services once every Lord's day. My salary is very small that I find it hard to subsist upon it … sacrament Three times in the yeare, viz. Easter, Whit-Sunday and Christmas. Att Easter about 16 came to the Sacrament".
  • 1720: Teape wrote: My residence is att Stagsden alias Stachden [i. e. Stagsden]. No [curate]. He doth not reside with us but we have one sermon every Lord's day … Services Every Lord's day once, one Sunday in the forenoon, and the other in the afternoon, Constantly … Sacrament Three times viz. Easter, Whit Sunday and Christmas. Sixteen Commicants att Easter".

The reading desk March 2012
The reading desk March 2012

Ecclesiastical Census

On Sunday 30th March 1851 a census of all churches, chapels and preaching-houses of every denomination was undertaken in England and Wales. The local results were published by Bedfordshire Historical Records Society in 1975 as Volume 54, edited by D.W.Bushby. The return for Biddenham church was made by churchwarden John Lavender, who noted the following pieces of information that the church had 140 free seats, 80 other seats and 86 for the Sunday School. The congregation in the morning had been 65 with 92 Sunday scholars and in the afternoon 150, again with 92 Sunday scholars. The average for the preceding six months had been 75 general congregation and 86 Sunday scholars in the morning with 160 and 86 in the afternoon.

Looking out of the south door March 2012
Looking out of the south door March 2012