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List of Bletsoe Rectors

The inscription above the lych gate October 2009
The inscription above the lych gate October 2009

The following list of Rectors of Bletsoe is as complete as records will allow. The advowson of the church in 1219 was held by Robert de Broy, Lord of Bletsoe and remained attached to Bletsoe Manor into the 20th century. From 1960 to 1979 Bletsoe was held by George Sidebottom in plurality with Felmersham. The parish has been joined with Riseley since 1979, though each church maintains separate parochial church councils, churchwardens and other parish officers, and the current [September 2009] patrons of the combined living are the Martyr's Memorial and Church of England Trust.

The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire notes a hermitage in Bletsoe in the 13th century in a wood called Overhey, endowed with a grant of meadow from Reginald Bugge as well as a house which he himself had built from Gilbert Clerk [feet of fines 3 Henry III no. 48]

Head on the north side of the upper west window October 2009
Head on the north side of the upper west window October 2009

List of Rectors

  • Peter - 1199 [parson];
  • Martin de Pateshull - 1209, 1224 [noted at these dates];
  • Nicholas de Eston - 1228 [chaplain];
  • Richard de Pateshull - 1251 [subdeacon];
  • Stephen de Grovile;
  • Florus de Chelwinton - April 1272 [subdeacon; on death of Stephen de Grovile];
  • Roger de Pateshull;
  • Thomas de Pateshull - 1st May 1310 [acolyte; on the resignation of Roger de Pateshull];
  • Roger de Pateshull - 17th September 1310 [subdeacon; on the resignation of Thomas de Pateshull];
  • William de Wasseburn - 8th May 1317 [priest; on the death of Roger de Pateshull];
  • Henry Huberd of Gayton - 16th May 1338 [priest; on the death of William de Wassheburn];
  • John de Braundeston - 23rd June 1349 [clerk; on the death of Henry Huberd - the Black Death was in England in early 1349];
  • William Lee - 6th October 1385 [son of John Boueton of Bletchley; priest; he was still rector in 1422 as shown in Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas];
  • John Baynard;
  • Robert Allene - 15th November 1443 [priest; on the resignation of John Baynard who exchanged to become Rector of Griswell in Norwich Diocese];
  • Simon Roo;
  • Simon Hotham - 1st December 1447 [priest; on the resignation of Simon Roo];
  • John Rodeley - 20th July 1472 [on the death of Simon Hotham];
  • John Bradshawe - 18th March 1496 [priest; on the death of John Rodely];
  • Edmund Percivall - 22nd May 1507 [chaplain; on the death of John Bradeshawe];
  • Jacobus Walker - 6th April 1538 [chaplain; on the resignation of Edmund Percivall];
  • Thomas Nixe;
  • Richard Dove - 20th October 1579 [admitted on 2nd September 1579; vacant by the death of Thomas Nixe];
  • John Orme - 24th January 1583 [parson; buried on 10th March 1617 in the chancel];
  • Richard Albon [minister; buried 18th April 1602];
  • John Anderson;
  • Thomas Drayton - 30th April 1618;
  • John Aylmer or Elmore - 27th September 1630 [on the resignation of Thomas Drayton];
  • Christopher Lory [buried 11th October 1658; intruded "by Committee of the House of Commons, minister to officiate in Bletsoe and to have possession of the parsonage house, tithes etc. John Elmore, late parson, prevents him. They are to take forcible possession and put Lawry in possession" - Lory/Lawry was obviously more to the taste of the PuritanCommonwealth than Aylmer/Elmore who was, presumably, more HighChurch];
  • Nicholas Mason - 1st March 1659 [on the death of Christopher Lawry; he matriculated at Christ's College Cambridge, 17th December 1614; getting his BA in 1618 and MA in 1621; instituted to Irchester Rectory 13th August 1623; buried 6th June 1671 aged 72; will 1st August 1670, proved 15th July 1671];
  • Thomas Becket AM - 30th November 1671 [of TrinityCollege, Cambridge, 1671; on the death of Mason];
  • Valentine Carlton MA- 29th April 1676 [Saint Peter's College, Cambridge 1671; on the cession of Thomas Becket; buried 11th November 1729, aged 90];
  • Thomas Walker AM - 6th November 1729 [Saint Peter's College, Cambridge; on the death of Valentine Carlton; he married Anne Newcome on 15th January 1730 at Wymington; died 25th September 1770; Anne, his wife died 25th February 1733, aged 32];
  • The Honourable Ambrose Saint John - 23rd September 1771 [clerk; on the death of Thomas Walker; died 18th July 1775, aged 29];
  • Henry Hinde MA - 1st November 1775 [of King's College, Cambridge; on the death of Ambrose Saint John];
  • William Fancourt BA - 26th September 1787 [Clare College, Cambridge, 1759; on the death of Henry Hinde; died 17th February 1818, aged 82 after being 30 years Rector and 42 years Vicar of Melchbourne; Mary, his wife, died 20 March 1833, aged 93];
  • (George Barker BA - 24th February 1793 [Pembroke Hall, Cambridge; ordained deacon and licensed next day as curate]);
  • John Leete BA - 13 March 1818 [Saint Catherine's College, Cambridge, 1798; died 27th May 1832, aged 36];
  • John Tomlinson Day BA - 5th September 1832 [Corpus ChristiCollege, Cambridge; on the death of John Leete];
  • Edmund Tudor Saint John - 1881;
  • Frederic Henry Bolingbroke - January 1885;
  • James Tate - October 1891;
  • Charles Edmund Waller Dalison - December 1897;
  • Reginald Heber Moss - July 1899;
  • PercyLeesUnderhill - April 1913 [Vicar of Condover];
  • Frederick William Carlton - October 1920;
  • Alfred Cheetham - March 1936;
  • William George Branch - 1945;
  • Joseph Wilson Jackson - 1954;
  • Albert Marchant - 1957;
  • George Sidebottom - 1960;
  • Peter Phillips - 1979;
  • David J Bourne - 1984
  • Martin T. Bailey - 2006

The Old Rectory September 2009
The Old Rectory September 2009

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. 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. This seems not to have been the case at Bletsoe where Valentine Carlton lived in the Rectory and had no curate. The visitations also give a glimpse of how the incumbent conducted the spiritual affairs of his parish, or cure of souls. The returns for Bletsoe are as follows:

  • 1709: "Several in this parish not Confirmed. Communicants about 50, of which about 20 received at Easter last. Several who are come to years of discretion seldom or never communicate at all".
  • 1712: "The Rector resides in his Parsonage House. None come to Church Unbaptized, some not confirmed. Divine Service Catechizing frequent [expounding simple doctine, usually to children]. Communion three times a year. Of 130 Communicants not above 30 received at Easter last".
  • 1717: "I reside upon my Cure, and in my Parsonage-House". "I have no Curate". "I know of none who come to church that are not Baptized. Some are not Confirmed, but will indeavour [sic] to perswade [sic] them to it, when there is a confirmation. I have Baptized no Adults since the last Visitation". "Public Service is duly performed every Lord's Day twice". "I Catechize in Lent. The Parishioners duly send their Children to be instructed out of the Church Catechism". "I Administer the Sacrament three times a year in my Church, Easter always one, at which time there were last about 12 or 13 Communicants".
  • 1720: "I do personally reside upon my Cure in my Parsonage House". "I have no Curate". "I do not know of any that come to Church unbaptized". "The Publick [sic] Service is read in this church twice every Lord's day". "I do Catechise in my Church during the time of Lent, and am ready at all times to Instruct them for the better understanding that of the Church by the Archbyshops [sic] Catechism". "The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is here administered thrice every year, and about twelve communicants there were last Easter, and I think as many at other times".

Head on the west side of the chancel north door October 2009
Head on the west side of the chancel north door October 2009

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 Bletsoe church was made by the Rector, J. T. Day, who noted the following pieces of information:

That morning there had been sixty in the congregation and sixty Sunday scholars. In the afternoon two hundred in the congregation and sixty scholars. There was no evening service. The Rector was not happy: "Consider the enquiry useless, not to say impertinent, but as I am neither lazy or opposed to any reasonable demands upon my time I have made the best return in my power".