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List of Eversholt Rectors

 Parish vexillum September 2016
The parish vexillum September 2016

Advowson

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912. It noted that the first mention of the advowson of Eversholt church is in 1247 when it belonged to the prior of the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem in England. However, they did not hold the advowson until the dissolution of religious houses by King Henry VIII (1509-1547). The prior’s last known presentation to the living was in 1290 when he seems to have had joint patrons of the living in Stephen de Weston (who later became Rector) and Cecilia de Eversholt.  

In 1293 those presenting the new rector were the Abbot of Woburn, Cecilia, daughter of John le Heyr of Eversholt and Peter Passelewe, clerk. The enxt mention of holders of the advowson is in 1374 when they were Nicholas Tetesworth and Richard Gregory junior “who recovered the advowson in the King’s court as against the Priory of Saint John of Jerusalem in England”. The Gregory family would still be prominent landholders in Eversholt in the 16th century. Tetesworth and Gregory are noted as patrons of the living again in 1376.

Victoria County History states that from the Reformation the advowson passed to the Lords of the Manor of Eversholt Rectory. Thus in 1540 Sir Richard Longe received the holdings of the former prior including the advowson of Eversholt. His son Henry devised the manor and advowson to his wife and daughter Elizabeth on his death in 1573. However, in 1557 the patron of the living is given as Thomas Johnson and Ralph Johnson in 1559. In 1563 the Crown was patron and in 1576 Saint John’s College, Cambridge. In 1579 the patron was Martin Williams and in 1603 Dorothy, Lady Morrison.

In 1698 the patron was John Russell and in 1721 Edward, Earl of Orford, Lord of the Manor of Eversholt Rectory. From this point on the lords of this manor seem to have held the advowson. On Edward’s death in 1727 the manor and advowson descended to his niece Anne, wife of Sir Thomas Tipping. She was succeeded by her eldest daughter, Letitia, wife of Samuel, 1st Baron Sandys. On the death of Samuel’s son in 1797 the manor was settled in his wife for the remainder of her life, then on the second son of the Marquess of Downshire.

In 1839 the manor and advowson was purchased by the Duke of Bedford. Since 1960 Eversholt has shared an incumbent with Milton Bryan, the two benefices being in union.  In 1979 the benefices of Eversholt with Milton Bryan, Woburn and Battlesden with Pottesgrove were united [P42/2/1/3]. At the time of writing [2016] the patron of the living remains the trustees of the Bedford Estates

The font September 2016
The font September 2016

List of Rectors

  • Ralph Pirot;
  • Robert de Cirencestr, subdeacon, on the renunciation of Ralph Pirot; 1227;
  • Ralph de Cirencestr, subdeacon, on the resignation of Robert, clerk, late Rector: 1236;
  • William de la Mare;
  • Robert de la Mare, subdeacon, on the resignation of William de la Mare: 19 February 1274;
  • Henry de Sewell, clerk: 26 October 1290;
  • Stephen de Weston;
  • Richard de Alta Ripa, on the presentment of Stephen de Weston to another church; “now ordained subdeacon and instituted”: 13 March 1294;
  • John de Staunfordham, clerk, on the resignation of Richard de Alta Ripa, “in minor orders but now ordained subdeacon and instituted”: 21 December 1297;
  • Roger de Saulesbury, priest, on the resignation of John de Stanfordham, exchanged to Luyton [Luton] Vicarage: 13 March 1332;
  • John de la Magdaleyne: 5 March 1337;
  • Thomas Croyser;
  • Robert de Usflete, clerk, on the resignation of Thomas Croyser: 19 July 1351;
  • Thomas Croyser, on the resignation of Robert de Usflet: 16 August 1366;
  • John de Buckyngham, priest, on the resignation of Thomas Croyser: 15 September 1366;
  • John Ingram, priest, vacant: 27 June 1374;
  • William Stanwys, Rector of Melchbourne, on exchange with John Ingram: 21 October 1374;
  • Robert Gerlesthorp, priest, vacant: 21 July 1375;
  • John Wade of Brantyngthorp [Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire], priest, vacant: 3 March 1376
  • John Mylicent, priest, by exchange with John Wade for Brampton juxta Dyngele [Church Brampton, Northamptonshire]: 14 May 1376;
  • John Burdet, clerk, vacant: 24 July 1404;
  • David Olton, clerk, on the resignation of John Burdet: 12 August 1408;
  • Richard Gamull, chaplain, of Wykyngeston [Wigston, Leicestershire], on the resignation of David Olton;
  • Thomas Vyncent, priest, on the resignation of Richard Wyggeston: 25 July 1440;
  • John Smyth, priest, on the resignation Thomas Vyncent: 7 February 1458;
  • Richard Pierpount, priest, on the resignation of John Smyth: 10 December 1463;
  • William Shepherd, priest, on the death of John Parpoynte: 7 March 1493;
  • Gregory Wareyn, priest, on the death of William Shepherd: 4 December 1493;
  • Richard Nicoll, chaplain, on the death of G Warren: 2 September 1506;
  • John Slow, chaplain, on the resignation on Richard Nicoll: 26 July 1507;
  • George Edwards, clerk, on the death of the last: 18 August 1557;
  • Edward Bune, clerk, formerly a monk of Woburn Abbey; vacant: 29 March 1559;
  • Christopher Dix, clerk, on departure of the last Rector: 18 October 1563;
  • Johannes Wickham: 13 October 1571;
  • Maurice Faulkner, clerk, vacant by lapse: 19 July 1576;
  • Martin Williams: 29 July 1578;
  • John Gybson, clerk, buried on 17 November 1602: 20 July 1579;
  • Thomas Dutton, clerk, on the death of last incumbent: 18 January 1603;
  • Theodore Dutton, buried 21 Oct 1680: by 1650;
  • Jacobus Dutton MA, on the death of Theodore Dutton; he was buried 1 March 1699, his will dated 19 March 1694, being proved 3 March 1699: 2 February 1681;
  • William Hide BA, on the death of Jacobus Dutton; he was buried 20 November 1721: 1 April 1699;
  • Pusey Hancocke AM, on the death of William Hyde; he was buried 29 September 1742: 9 March 1721;
  • Luke Morgan AM, on the death of Pusey Hancocke: 17 November 1742;
  • Robert Gascoyne BA, on the cession of Luke Morgan: 7 February 1753;
  • John Sandys BA, on the death of Robert Gascoyne: 5 June 1766;
  • (Micheal O'Clare, curate: 26 May 1770);
  • James Reed BD, on the death of John Sandys; he was buried 18 Jan 1843: 16 April 1810;
  • Henry Matthew MA, on the death of James Reed; he was buried at Brighton Cemetery on 24 June 1861: 2 May 1843;
  • William Samuel Baker MA, on the death of Henry Matthew: 1 August 1861;
  • William Scott Collins: November 1900;
  • William George Dean Pitt Mercer: May 1938;
  • Henry John Smith: 1969
  • Paul Richard Miller: 1979
  • James Alan Heslop: 1999
  • Stephen W. Nuth: 2008

The pulpit September 2016
The pulpit September 2016

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 Eversholt are as follows, written by that most cantankerous of clergymen, William Hide:

  • 1712: “The Rector lives in his Parsonage House. None coem to Church Unbaptized. Many not confirmed. Divine service twice every Lord’s day ... Communion thrice a year. About 16 receive”.
  • 1717: “I do reside personally and in my Parsonage house. No Curate. Unbaptized None but One a Quaker’s Son I think comes to Church that is not Baptized he is about 14 years old I think, but several unconfirmed. I have baptized no Adults. Services Twice a day publick service is performed. Sacrament Three times a Year sometimes about thirty usually fifteen to twenty receive at Easter last about twenty. Notice I give Open and timely Notice, but the Parishioners send not in their Names. I have refusd [sic] though we have A most Wicked Parish God Knows. Penance there has been no publick Penances Notwithstanding here is A Sorry Fellow that has married a Gentleman’s wife whose first husband is now Alive in London and I have Correspondency with him, Yet they are sufferd to live in Public Adultery and fornication. If you have met with any particular Difficulties in the Discharge of your Duty: Onely the rudeness and impudence of one fellow or two … If you have discover’d any Abuses or Corruptions in any Ecclesiastical Officers, or others concern’d in the Execution of the same: Corruptions remain … I desire you freely to communicate your Thoughts to me; and be assur’d that a proper Use shall be made of your Suggestions, in order to the Attainment of the Ends proposed by them: If I had that Freedom, I should think my self happy and things would not be, I verily think, as they are with Your Lordship’s most Obdeient Son and Servant”.
  • 1720: “I Reside personally in my Parsonage house. I have no Curate. Services Not twice every Lords Day Because sometimes I officiate for my Neighbouring Bretheren, and troubles in Law have Occasion’d my Absence, but they are all almost Conquerd and Over. Sacrament Three times a year. The Number sometimes near thirty. Last Easter about seventeen and too many Never Receive at all notwithstanding they are or seem near the Grave … We too seldome have the happiness of Publick Penances. Our Covetousness or necessity Conquer all commutation for we are either too Rich or too Poor for the Arch Deacon. I have no Difficulty in the Discharge of my duty, but some few Fopps whom Satan tickles to Laughter at what they Know not, for they are blinded with and stink of the smoke of their Chimney. But I have pounded them in the Exchequer and humbly Petition your Lordships Assitance by which the Glory of God and the Honour and Interest of this Church may be Recoverd and Promoted”.

 East window  detail September 2016
East window detail September 2016

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 forEversholt church was made by the minister, Henry Matthew who noted the following pieces of information:

  • there were 150 free seats and 82 others;
  • general congregation was 79 in the morning and 135 in the afternoon;
  • Sunday scholars were 55 in the morning and 46 in the afternoon;
  • average general congregation had been 100 in the morning and 160 in the afternoon over the preceding months;
  • average Sunday school attendance had been 60 in the morning and 50 in the afternoon over the preceding months;
  • “The weather on the 30th was very showery and as many of the attendants at Church were from a distance the congregation was smaller than usual”.

The south door September 2016
The south door September 2016