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List of Eaton Bray Vicars

Parish vexillum March 2012
Parish vexillum March 2012

Advowson

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912. It states that the advowson for Eaton Bray was given to Merton Priory [Surrey] by Stephen (1135-1154) between 1126 and the date of his accession as king. When the priory was dissolved in 1538 the advowson was taken by the Crown. In 1547 Henry VIII (1509-1547) granted the advowson to Trinity College, Cambridge which held it into the 20th century. The current patron [2012] is the Diocesan Board of Patronage.

At the time of writing [2012] Eaton Bray is part of the North Chilterns Group Ministry along with Kensworth, Studham and Whipsnade and Totternhoe, Stanbridge and Tilsworth. The group was set up in 1982.

In 1975, Saint Mary's church in Edlesborough [Buckinghamshire] closed and was taken into the care of the Redundant Churches Fund, now called the Churches Conservation Trust. From that date Edlesborough, although in Buckinghamshire and so in the Diocese of Oxford, became part of the new ecclesiastical parish of Eaton Bray with Edlesborough and in the Diocese of Saint Albans. The vicar also has partial oversight of All Saints, Dagnall [Buckinghamshire], which is a church run in partnership with the Methodist Church of Great Britain.

Christ from the north aisle east window March 2012
Christ from the north aisle east window March 2012

List of Vicars

The following list of vicars is as complete as records will allow:

  • Nicholas;
  • William de Stansted: chaplain: 1235;
  • William de Mereton: chaplain: 9th September 1242;
  • Walter le Noble: priest; on death of William: 22nd January 1277;
  • Adam de Cruce: chaplain; on the resignation of Walter: 11th July 1297;
  • Hugh John de Eyton: priest, on the resignation of Hugh: 4th December 1330;
  • Ralph Faber of Burnham: priest; on the death of John: 22nd September 1341;
  • John de Middleton;
  • John de Newportpaynell: priest; on the resignation of John de Middleton: 7th September 1349;
  • John Russell: priest: 22nd March 1391;
  • John Blanchard;
  • John Coke: priest, on resignation of John Blanchard, who exchanged to Irthlingborough Vicarage [Northamptonshire]: 27th June 1440;
  • Thomas Leche: priest; on resignation of John Coke, exchanged to Esthuddon [East Haddon, Northamptonshire?] Vicarage: 22nd June 1441;
  • Thomas Turvyll: priest; on the resignation of Thomas Leche: 16th December 1444;
  • Richard Dokylby: priest; on the resignation of Thomas Turvyle: 20th February 1459;
  • Thomas Tomlynson: priest; on the resignation of Richard Dokelby, exchanged to Colsterworth Vicarage [Lincolnshire]: 29th July 1460;
  • Geoffrey Crosse: priest, on the resignation of Thomas Tomlynson: 17th January 1463;
  • Thomas Taylour;
  • Thomas Richeman: chaplain: on the resignation of Thomas Taylour; his pension was five marks (£3/6/8) per annum: 5th March 1509;
  • William Sampson: chaplain; on the death of Thomas Richemont; his pension was 10 marks (£6/13/4) per annum: 20th November 1517;
  • Thomas Thomlynson: priest; on the resignation of William Sampson; his pension was 10 marks per annum: 25th January 1522;
  • John Sympson: clerk; on the resignation of Thomas Thomlynson; his pension was 4 marks (£2/13/4) per annum: 1st October 1537;
  • John Peryn: chaplain; on the resignation of John Sympson; his pension was four marks per annum: 22nd February 1544;
  • Peter Rowell: clerk; vacancy: 1st October 1546;
  • John Kirkeby: clerk; on the cession of Peter Rowel: 9th June 1554;
  • George Kydd: priest, on the death of the last incumbent: 10th February 1558;
  • John Johnson: 1559;
  • Willielmus Rose: M. A., on death of John Johnson: 24th June 1583;
  • Jeremiah Radcliffe: 4th July 1583;
  • Radolphus Tyler: 8th August 1586;
  • Johannes Houghton: M. A., will proved 7th November 1626: 5th February 1589;
  • Georgias Henton: 19th March 1628;
  • Thomas Goldfinch: 29th August 1628;
  • (Andrew Whiskin, curate:1629)
  • (Eubulous Richardson, curate: 1630);
  • William Worleche: 1630;
  • Francis Osler: 28th February 1632;
    (Nehemiah Holmes, curate: 1633)
  • George Watts: 24th January 1637;
  • John West: vicar; buried 7th March 1648; 16th June 1640;
  • Roger Sanderson: buried 4th October 1664: 1648;
  • Stephen Warman: clerk, on the death of Roger Sanderson: 17th February 1665;
  • William Eldridge: M.A.; on the cession of Stephen Warman; ordained priest on 24th December 1676 by Henry, Bishop of London: 1st January 1677;
  • Ambrose Sawyer: M. A.: 4th October 1695;
  • (Charnock Avery, curate: 1696);
  • Henry Stonestreet: clerk; A. M.; on the cession of Ambrose Sawyer; married Elizabeth Cranfield on 5th November 1702: 23rd January 1697;
  • Edmund Stubbe : A. M.; on the death of Henry Stonestreet: 2nd August 1714;
  • (Lewis Pugh, curate: 1747)
  • Thomas Greet: M. A.; fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge: 21st January 1750;
  • Lewis Pugh: B. A.; on the cession of Thomas Greet: 19th May 1767;
  • Bertrand Russell: M. A.; on the death of Lewis Pugh: 12th October 1790;
  • (William Medd, curate: 1790)
  • Frogmere Cumming: M. A.; on the cession of Bertrand Russell: 23rd February 1792;
  • (John Smith, curate: 1795)
  • William Collins Cumming: M. A.; on the cession of Frogmere Cumming: 5th January 1797;
  • (Edward Ince, curate: 1804)
  • (John Donne, curate: 1824)
  • Gregory Edward Whyley: M. A.; on the death of W. E. Cumming: 15th July 1825;
  • John Hall Doe: M. A.; on the death of G. E. Whyley: 7th March 1871;
  • Edwin Sutton: December 1890;
  • Charles Edwin James Carter: November 1916;
  • Charles Birkett: February 1930;
  • Charles Johnston: June 1932;
  • David John Lawrence: July 1942;
  • Peter Bartlemy Graham: 1955;
  • George Bernard Austin: 1964;
  • Herbert Roger Davis: 1973;
  • Brian Philip Moore: 1981;
  • Mark Philip John Bonney: 1992;
  • Michael Reginald Abbott: 1997;
  • Malcolm Etheridge Grant: 2002;
  • Coralie C. McCluskey: 2011.

Worshipping boy on the north aisle window July 2012
Worshipping boy on the north aisle window July 2012

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 any non-residency by the vicar 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 Eaton Bray are as follows:

  • 1706: the vicar, Henry Stonestreet, was also Vicar of Totternhoe. There were a hundred families in the parish “Of these about 6 are Quakers, all poor people. No other Dissenters of any kind. No Meeting house. No Papists, or reputed Papists in this parish”.
  • 1709: of the one hundred families there were "some few Anabaptists, besides Quakers above mentioned". There were: "None Un-baptized. Many Not Confirmed. Communicants about 150. About 40 received at Easter last. Some who come constantly to the Church yet seldom, or ever, receive at all".
  • 1712: "3 or 4 Families of Quakers. The Vicar resides upon his Cure. Divine Service usually twice every Lord's day, as often as the Vicar officiates at Totternho in the Afternoon. Catechizing all Lent, besides other care taken for the Instruction of the younger sort. Communions thrice a year. About 40 received at Easter last".
  • 1717: "There are 90 familys 3 of which are Dissenters called Quaquers. No Mettinghouse within the Parish…I reside upon my Cure in the Vicaridge house … None that I know of come to Church that are not baptised, but some of competent age are not confirmed … Service is performed twice every Lord's day beginning at ten in the morning and between 2 and 3 in the afternoon unless I'm calld to the assistance of some neighbouring clergyman … There is notice of a Sacrament 3 times in the year. Thirty generally receive the Communion and I had the same Number last Easter".
  • 1720: "Families 93 and but one Dissenter (not one dissenting family) and that a Quaker…I have no licens'd or other Meeting House in my Parish…I Reside Personally upon my cure and in the Vicarage house…I have no Residing or non Residing Curate…I know not of any who come to my Church and are not Baptised…Services Twice every Lord's day in the morning between nine and ten and in the afternoon between two and three unless calld to the assistance of some Neighbouring Clergy Man…Sacrament Three times every year and at Easter last I had thirty Communicants and at other times between twenty and thirty".

Worshipping girl on the north aisle window July 2012
Worshipping girl on the north aisle window July 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 Eaton Bray church was made by the registrar, E. B. Wroth, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • The church had seats for 150;
  • The total congregation in the morning had been 100;
  • The total congregation in the afternoon had been 150

The vicar wrote: “This is only a general idea”. Nevertheless it shows that the church was nowhere near as popular as either of the chapels in the village, the Methodists had a total of 425 in the afternoon and 320 in the evening whilst the Baptists in Moor End had 374 in the morning, 441 in the afternoon and 420 in the evening.

View from the south door July 2012
View from the south door July 2012