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Wiggons Manor Cople

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire, published in 1912, gives the histories of each of the six manors in the parish. As noted in the entry for Cople Manor the wife of Wigan granted land to Chicksands Priory. In 1310 William Rufus, whose family had Woodend Manor, held 46 acres of land from Wigan in Cople. This seems to be the origin of Wiggons Manor.

The first reference to it by this name was in 1506 when held by the Launcelayn family, who also held Woodend, suggesting that the two manors may have been in the same ownership for two centuries or so. Anne Launcelayn was a nurse to King Henry VIII (1509-1547) and married Sir Walter Luke, Justice of the King's Bench. He died in 1544 and his son Nicholas, a Baron of the Exchequer, succeeded him.

The Luke family coat of arms
The Luke family coat of arms

The family were prominent in the area, with Sir Oliver Luke being member of Parliament for Bedfordshire from 1614 to 1648. His son, Sir Samuel Luke was Scoutmaster General to the Parliamentary armies during the First Civil War (1642-1646). Sir Samuel died in 1670 and was buried in Cople church.

The Gostwick family coat of arms
The Gostwick family coat of arms

In 1686 Wiggons Manor was sold to Sir William Gostwick of Willington, who was High Sheriff in 1679/80 and Member of Parliament for Bedfordshire from 1698 to 1713. His grandson William sold Wiggons Manor in 1731 to Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, widow of the great general, the victor of Blenheim, she died in 1744.

In 1779 the Duke of Bedford purchased Wiggons Manor from the Duke of Marlborough and it remained in the family's possession until 1902 when it was sold to George and James Keeble of Peterborough. The manorial estate was quickly broken up with Colonel Frank Shuttleworth of Old Warden being the principal landowner in Cople. A succession of Law of Property Acts in the 1920s abolished manorial fines and incidents as well as copyhold land tenure, thus abolishing manors in practically all but name.