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The Manor of Hardwick

The Wenlock family arms
The Wenlock family arms

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912 and contains histories of each of the manors in Kempston. John Drayton, Lord of the Manor of Kempston Brucebury alias Draytons died in 1417 leaving two daughters as co-heirs and the manor was divided between them. The half given to his daughter Elizabeth, came to be known as the Manor of Hardwick. She married Christopher Preston and, after his death, John Wenlock of Luton, created Baron Wenlock in 1461. He was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 fighting against King Edward IV (1461-1470 and 1471-1483) during the Wars of the Roses. As a result Wenlock’s possessions were taken by the Crown and Kempston Hardwick Manor was given by Edward to Thomas Rotherham, Bishop of Lincoln (1472-1480) and afterwards Archbishop of York (1480-1500).

The Rotherham family arms
The Rotherham family arms

Rotherham left the manor to his brother John with a reversion to John’s brother Thomas. The manor then descended through the Rotherham family until 1559 when George Rotherham, still a minor, sold the manor to Thomas Hampton for £336 and in 1564 Hampton conveyed it to James Feke of London for £400. Then Rotherham, wishing to regain the manor, brought a case at law declaring that the sale had been illegal because he had been a minor. Feke was dissatisfied with the compensation offered and referred the case to the Court of Chancery. Nevertheless Rotherham regained possession and in 1577 again sold the manor, this time to Humphrey FitzWilliam, Feke and his son giving up their claims to it in 1580. FitzWilliam was already Lord of the Manor of Kempston Hastingsbury

In 1619 Sir John FitzWilliam sold the manor to Sir John Wild who, before 1624, sold it to William Cater of Kempston, High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1630 and 1631. On Cater’s death the manor, together with its Manor House, called The Place, was devised to his youngest son Edward. Edward’s son Samuel married Anne Kendall and was High Sheriff in 1689. He died in 1704 and the manor descended to his son John, who had married a Mary Middleton in 1690.

The Cater family arms
The Cater family arms

John Cater was Member of Parliament for Bedford from 1710 to 1715 and for Bedfordshire from 1715 to 1722. He died in 1734 and his son John two years later. The manor was then inherited by Robert Kendall, Alderman of Cheap Ward in London and John’s brother-in-law. On inheriting the estate he changed his name from Kendall to Cater. He was knighted in 1738 and died in the following year. The manor passed to Beckford Kendall Cater, perhaps Robert’s son. His son John married Margaret Beaumond in 1749 and the manor formed part of the settlement. John’s son John died without issue and the manor was inherited by his three sisters, May and twins Sophia and Frances. The twins married Robert Sherbourne and Rev. Oliph Leigh Spencer respectively in 1796. In 1801 the three sisters combined to sell the manor to brewer William Long, who was knighted and became Mayor of Bedford. By this point Hardwick manor was thoroughly merged with the more important Hastingsbury and was last named separately in 1802.