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List of Flitwick Vicars

The church from the north-east September 2017
The church from the north-east September 2017

Advowson

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912. It noted that the first mention of the advowson of Flitwick church is when it was given to Dunstable Priory by Philip de Sanvill, at the same time as he founded Ruxox Chapel (between 1148 and 1166). After Dunstable Priory was dissolved by Henry VIII (1509-1547) in 1540 and from 1552 the owner of the advowson was Lord of the second Manor of Flitwick. The holder of the advowson in the early 20th century was, thus, Catherine Brooks. The current patron [2017] is, however, the Diocesan Board of Patronage.

The Vicarage about 1905 [Z1130/50/57]
The Vicarage about 1905 [Z1130/50/57]

List of Vicars

  • Brother Richard de Caudewell, canon of Dunstable: 5th February 1264;
  • Brother William de Homeshend: 6th February 1267;
  • Brother Richard de Stratford, canon of Dunstable: 1269;
  • Brother Stephen: 1280
  • Brother Geoffrey de Merston, canon of Dunstable: 6th April 1291;
  • Brother John de Faldo, canon of Dunstable: 6th April 1302;
  • Brother John de Hocclive, canon of Dunstaple, on the resignation of John de Faldo: 3rd April 1313;
  • Brother Robert de Bryan, canon of Dunstable: 26th September 1320;
  • Brother Adam Rokel, canon of Dunstable, on the resignation of Robert Bryan: 26th June 1323;
  • Brother Adam de Aulton, canon of Dunstable: 22nd October 1327;
  • Brother Walter de Empyngham, canon of Dunstable, on the resignation of Adam de Aulton: 6th March 1329;
  • Brother William de Ratford, canon of Dunstable, on the resignation of Walter de Empyngham: 17th January 1332;
  • Brother Walter de Empyngham, canon of Dunstable, priest, on the death of William de Ratford: 9th November 1334;
  • Brother John de Chetyngdon, priest, canon of Dunstable: 25th September 1348;
  • Brother John de St. Albans: 28th April 1349;
  • Brother Thomas Maresshall, canon of Dunstaple, on the resignation of John de St. Albans: 22nd June 1350;
  • Brother John de Henlowe, canon of Dunstaple, on the election of Brother Thomas Maresshall to be Prior of Dunstaple: 19th October 1351;
  • Brother Thomas de Caddington, canon of Dunstable, priest, on the death of John Henlowe: 20th August 1375;
  • Brother John Astwyk, canon of Dunstable: 23rd December 1402;
  • Roger Stevenache;
  • Brother Thomas Burre, canon of Dunstable, priest, on the resignation of Roger Stevenache: 13th August 1420;
  • Brother John Eyton, canon of Dunstable, on the resignation of Thomas Burre: 18th April 1424;
  • William Barnard, priest, on the death of John Eyton: 29th March 1449;
  • Reginald Edward, on the death of William Bernard, last vicar: 10th November 1473;
  • John Gale, occurs on a subsidy roll: 1526;
  • Thomas Grene, chaplain, on the resignation of John Gale: 2nd April 1533;
  • Robertus Harvye: 15th August 1555;
  • Robert Hygbyd, clerk, on the death of the last incumbent: 20th July 1562;
  • Ralph Bate, clerk, on the resignation of Robert Higbred: 12th June 1577;
  • Thomas Bestowe, he married Ann Hopkins, at Maulden 18 May 1620: 20th October 1619;
  • John Hopkins, clerk, his will is dated 18th February 1644 and was proved 7th September 1645, he requested burial in the chancel of the church: 22nd March 1642;
  • Robert White: 22 May 1646;
  • Thomas Mole: 1670;
  • Henry Atkinson, 18th March 1674;
  • Henry Hunt MA: 16th February 1682;
  • William Pitcairne BA, on the death of Henry Hunt: 16th August 1710;
  • John Wilkinson, clerk, on the death of William Pitcairne: 25th September 1733;
  • William Aveling M.A., on the death of John Wilkinson: 24th February 1741;
  • John Hawkins MA, on the death of William Aveling: 2nd March 1774;
  • George Cardale MA, on the death of John Hawkins: 9th February 1820;
  • William Alfred Dawson, on the death of George Cardale: 2nd March 1843;
  • William Calcott Berkley Calcott BA, on the resignation of W A Dawson: 20th February 1850;
  • Thomas William Dell Brooks MA, on the resignation of the last;
  • Frederick Bell Lipscombe: June 1894;
  • James Ledger Ward: January 1900;
  • Ralph Granville Monckton: January 1927;
  • Selwyn Edward Sears: August 1930;
  • Walter Judkins Gallop: June 1937;
  • Richard Ball: July 1947;
  • Roy Oswald Hobbard: 20th September 1978;
  • Michael Frederick John Bradley: 13th September 1990.

The interior of the church looking east about 1900 [Z1130/50/51]
The interior of the church looking east about 1900 [Z1130/50/51]

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 Flitwick, where at least William Pitcairne was resident,are as follows:

  • 1706: Henry Hunt, curate answered the questionnaire, he was Vicar of Westoning.
  • 1709: William Pitcairne, curate, answered the questionnaire “It is contiguous to Westoning and supplied by the Vicar … One Adult baptized since my last Visitation. None come to church Unbaptized. Many not confirmed. Communicants about 50. The rest seldom, or never receive at all”. Pitcairne would be made Vicar of Flitwick the following year.
  • 1712: “The Vicar resides in his parish. Divine Service once a day here, and once at Sundon … Communion thrice a year. Communicants 56, of which but 19 received at Easter last”.
  • 1717: “I do reside personally upon by Cure, and in my Parsonage House. Curate I have none. Unbaptzed I know of none. I have Baptzed no Adults since the last Visitation. Services once a day, in regard I have two Churches to serve … Sacrament usually thrice a year. I have t the Number of five and twenty Communicants in my Parish. Usually the same Number Communicate, twenty at Easter last”.
  • 1720: the vicar continued to reside in the vicarage and had no curate. He know of one of his congregation who was unbaptized. Sacrament was still three times per year: “I have to the number of fyfty Communicants. Twenty usually receive. Twenty five at Easter last”.

The lych gate April 2017
The lych gate April 2017

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 Flitwick church was made by the vicar, William Berkley Calcott who noted the following pieces of information:

  • There were 150 free seats and 50 others.
  • There were 44 general congregation in the morning and 100 in the afternoon.
  • There were 91 Sunday scholars in the morning and 86 in the afternoon.
  • Average general congregations for the last twelve months had been 40 in the morning and 90 in the afternoon.

Average Sunday scholars for the preceding twelve months had been 100 both morning and afternoon.