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Gastlyns or Gastlynbury Manor

The Trailly family coat of arms
The Trailly family coat of arms

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire, published in 1912, details the various manors in the parish of Southill. Gastlyns or Gastlynbury originates in the largest of seven holdings in Southillrecorded by the Domesday Book of 1086. This was five hides and half a virgate held by William Speke, or Espec, and tenanted by "two Frenchmen". On the death of Walter Espec, perhaps the son of William, in 1153, his estates were divided between his two sisters with the younger, Albreda, wife of Geoffrey de Trailly getting Gastlyns. The overlordship of the Trailly family lasted until at least 1428.

The first known tenant of the manor under the Trailly overlordship was Walter de Godarvill who held the manor from 1229 until his death in 1250. He ws succeeded by his daughter Joan, wife of Sir Geoffrey Gastlyn. In 1301 her son Edmund alienated the manor to Hugh Doffevill. John Doffevill held the manor by 1316 and was still living in 1337 but by 1346 the manor was held by John Baret and Alice Gastlyn on behalf of her under age nephew Edmund Doffevill. By 1356 Alice was Lady of the Manor in her own right so presumably Edmund died without heirs. By 1363 the manor had been alienated to John Creuker for life, with a reversion to Alice's son Geoffrey Gastlyn. Six years later Gastlyn's trustees assigned the manor to Warden Abbey.

The arms of Warden Abbey
The arms of Warden Abbey

Warden Abbey was dissolved by King Henry VIII (1509-1547) in 1537 and in 1544 Gastlyns was in the possession of John Gardiner and was later granted to Francis Pigot of Stratton, whose son conveyed it to Hugh Cartwright in 1566. In 1587 William Cartwright alienated Gastlyns Manor to Nicholas Thurgood.

Thurgood's great-nephew, another Nicholas, in his will which was proved in 1648 left Gastlyns to his eldest son John and in 1667 John conveyed it to Sir John Keeling. The manor was probably sold around 1707 to Sir George Byng, created Baron Byng of Southill in 1721

The Byng family coat of arms
The Byng family coat of arms

Byng's grandson George, 4th Baron Torrington held Gastlyns in 1762 but sold it in 1795 to Samuel Whitbread. The Whitbread family owned the manor into the 20th century but 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. Gastlyns Manor probably had its seat in the site of the current house named Gastlings.