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List of Colmworth Rectors

Chancel north wall window detail August 2009
Chancel north wall window detail August 2009

Advowson

The following list of Rectors of Colmworth is as complete as records will allow. The advowson of the church (also known as the patronage of the living) was held by the Braybroke family as long as they held the Manor of Colmworth ( about 1275 to 1442) and after that date was held by the successive Lords of the Manor until 1790 when it was sold to John Hele. The patron in 1804 was William Bruert and in 1810 Willmer Mackett Willett and others. The advowson was sold by auction in 1825 [WG880] and may have been bought by the new rector William Tanner, but there is no evidence for this.  The Rev. Robert Wade-Gery was patron by 1834 (he was Rector from 1830) and the Wade-Gery family retained the advowson until 1868 when it became the possession of Hunter Bird Allen, who was installed as Rector that year. His executors held the advowson into the 20th century.

Since 1975 the rector is also incumbent of Wilden and of Ravensden, though each church maintains its own parochial church council, churchwardens and services. Currently [2009], the advowson is split between the Bishop of Saint Albans, the Lord Chancellor and the Diocesan Board of Patronage, each of whom takes it in turns to present the incumbent.

The young Jesus preaching in the temple August 2009
The young Jesus preaching in the temple August 2009

List of Rectors

  • David de Sancto Edwardo - 1219 [clerk];
  • John [chaplain];
  • Alan de..... - 1249;
  • John de Compton - October 1271;
  • William Meynil;
  • John de Braybrok - instituted 23rd December 1290 [clerk; on the presentation of John de Cumpton to be Rector of Kibworth [Leicestershire]; custody had been committed to William Meynil until John was of full age which was, presumably, in 1290 when he was ordained sub-deacon and instituted];
  • William de Islip - 6th November 1326 [priest; on the death of John de Braybrok];
  • Simon de Northwode - 6th June 1340 [priest; on the resignation of William de Islep];
  • Nicholas de Wykewan - 25th October 1350 [Rector of Overton [Hampshire], by exchange with Simon de Northwode; he was instituted Rector of Great Hampden [Buckinghamshire] in 1357 and afterwards became Vicar of Plumstead in Kent];
  • William de Borstall - 17th August 1356 [priest; on the resignation of Nicholas];
  • Robert de Braybrok - 31st March 1367;
  • Reginald de Braybrok - 12th July 1373 [brother of Sir Gerard de Braybrok, Lord of the Manor; priest;];
  • John Bonner;
  • Walter Halybred - 16th July 1407 [priest; on exchange with John Bonner];
  • John atte Mylle - 18th August 1407 [Rector of Bolnhurst, on exchange with Walter Halybred];
  • Richard Valeryan - 31st Oct 1420 [priest];
  • John Weton;
  • Robert Walker - 21st April 1465 [priest; on the death of John Weton];
  • John Parquyn - 6 Feb 1493 [priest; on the death of Robert Walker];
  • William Huthwey - 14 Mar 1499 [priest; on the death of John; noted as Rector in 1526 and in 1534 as William Highway];
  • William Decons - at least 1539 [parson; witness to the will of John Dryver at this date];
  • William Sheparde - 18th March 1546 [clerk; on the death of the last incumbent];
  • John Broke - 4th May 1554 [clerk; on the deprivation of William Shepherd - Broke was, presumably, a Roman Catholic instituted under the new regime of Mary I];
  • Edward Moseley - 10th May 1580 [admitted 28th May 1580];
  • John Alwood BA - 24th November 1586;
  • Henry Lee MA - 19th September 1603;
  • Richard Hunter MA - 6th April 1605 [on the resignation of Henry Lee; his will, dated 1st December 1624, was proved on 20th January 1628; he married Elizabeth Carter, a spinster of 25, at Dry Drayton in Cambridgeshire];
  • John Blisse - 31st May 1628 [buried on 27th August 1651; his will, dated 23rd May, was proved in PCC on 5th November 1651];
  • Jeffrey Sharpe DD - 25th November 1651 [private Chaplain to William, Earl of Salisbury; his wife was Etheldred, daughter of John Whincup DD; he died on 6th October 1675, aged 63];
  • Thomas Cookeson - 13th Jan 1676 [clerk; on the death of Geoffrey Sharpe SSTP; ordained priest on 23rd February 1661 by Robert Sanderson, Bishop of Lincoln];
  • John Robinson AM - 24th January 1695 [on the death of Thomas Cookson];
  • Joseph Hobbs - 8th February 1707 [on the death of John Robinson; ordained on 21st December 1690; he was buried at Colmworth];
  • Thomas Aspin - 25th February 1718 [on the death of Joseph Hobbs];
  • Robert Watkins - 9th October 1735 [clerk; on the death of Thomas Aspin];
  • Henry Etough MA - 28th February 1736 [clerk; on the death of Robert Watkins; MA at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge in 1717; he died on 10th August 1757, aged 70 and was buried on 15th August in the chancel of Therfield church [Hertfordshire], of which he was Rector in 1734];
  • Walter Griffith - 10th June 1750 [curate];
  • Thomas Parslow AM - 1st September 1757 [on the death of Henry Etough];
  • Thomas Whitehurst MA - 6th April 1786 [on the death of Thomas Parslow];
  • Robert Hele Selby Hele MA - 27th January 1791 [on the resignation of Thomas Whitehurst];
  • William Otter MA - 30th June 1804 [on the death of Robert Hele Selby Hele];
  • Edmund Watts MA - 7th June 1810 [on the resignation of William Otter];
  • Samuel Hornbuckle - 17th August 1815 - curate
  • Timothy Richard Matthews - 27th September 1818 - curate - licence renewed on 14th March 1821 and 10th December 1825;
  • William Tanner MA - 15th April 1825 [on the death of Edmund Watts];
  • John Hodge - 29th May 1828 [clerk; on the resignation of William Tanner];
  • Robert Wade Gery MA - 14th August 1830 [on the resignation of John Hodge; he resigned on 9th October 1868 and died at West Malvern [Worcestershire] on 16th January 1892, aged 89];
  • Hunter Bird Allen - 6th November 1868 [on the resignation of the last Rector];
  • Edwin Johnson - July 1906;
  • John Richard Pullan - February 1927;
  • Henry Francis Devereux Wynne - February 1938 [he held Colmworth with Bolnhurst];
  • William Robinson Peverley - 1957;
  • Leonard Benn Impson - 1962
  • David Lewthwaite - 1975;
  • John Laurence Powell Griffith - 1980;
  • William John Gambrell Heffer - 1988
  • J. Robin Rogers - 1992;
  • Sheila Morton - 2000

The font August 2009
The font August 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 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 Colmworth are as follows:

  • 1709: "None unbaptized come to Church. Many, chiefly of the Oldest people, were not confirmed when young, and now will not be. Communicants about 20. At Easter 22. severall [sic] who are come to years of discretion scarce ever communicate at all".
  • 1712: "The Rector [Joseph Hobbs] resides in his Parsonage House. None unbaptized come to Church. Some not Confirmed. Divine Service twice every Lord's day…Communion 3 times a year [presumably at Christmas, Easter and Whitsun]. Between 20 and 30 receive".
  • 1717: Joseph Hobbs' last visitation as he died in late 1717 or early 1718. He still resided at the Rectory and had no curate and thus probably took his job as Rector seriously, rather than simply enjoying the stipend which went with the living. He was certainly devoted enough to the parish to be buried there.  Asked whether unbapized people came to church he replied: "I do not know of any of the first sort. But do fear there may be some of Age not confirmed. No Adults have been Baptiz'd". He still held services twice on Sundays and gave communion three times a year.
  • 1720: The new Rector, Thomas Aspin, also lived at the Rectory rather than renting it out and, again, had no curate, doing the pastoral work of the parish himself. He stated that he knew of none in the parish who were unbaptized. Of services he wrote, rather lamely: "The publick [sic] Service is read in the Church once every Lord's Day in the morning. I have endeavour'd to bring them to twice a day; but they will not come". He administered communion at Christmas, Easter and Whitsun and only had fourteen communicants the previous Easter.

Parish chest and north door August 2009
Parish chest and north door August 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 Colmworth church was made by the Rector, Robert Wade-Gery who noted the following pieces of information: There were 150 free pews in the church and 50 reserved for school children. The morning congregation was 71 adults and 30 Sunday scholars, with 85 and 39 in the afternoon - totals of 110 and 124.