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The Manor of Kempston Brucebury

The Bruce family arms
The Bruce 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. In 1237 John le Scot, Lord of the Manor of Kempston died and, following the death of his widow and a spell in royal hands in 1254 whilst agreement on the division could be sought, the manor was divided between his three sisters.

The Manor of Brucebury, or Draytons, as it came to be known went to John le Scot’s second sister, Isobel, who married Robert Bruce. Bruce was succeeded by his son in 1245. Robert junior enfeoffed his son Richard of the manor but Richard died in 1287 and the manor reverted to his father, who died in 1295 leaving a widow, Christiana and another son, Robert, who died in 1304. This third Robert was succeeded by his son, a fourth Robert who is famous as the victor of Bannockburn and King of Scotland from 1306 to 1329.

Because he was crowned in defiance of Edward I of England (1272-1307), Robert’s lands in England were confiscated by the Crown and Brucebury Manor was given to Roger de Wellesworth for life in 1307. When he died the manor was given to James de Audele in 1316 at which point Eleanor, wife of Richard le Waleys disputed the king’s right to do so. She was the wife of Robert’s father, the Robert who had died in 1304. Her claim seems to have been unsuccessful.

James de Audele died around 1334 and Edward III (1327-1377) then gave the manor to William Trussel for life. However, in 1338 Trussel was allowed to both hold the manor himself and pass it to his heirs. He died before 1383 and was succeeded by his daughter Margaret, wife of Sir Fulk Pembridge whose husband granted it to Sir Hugh de Segrave, Treasurer and Chancellor of England. In Segrave’s death in 1387 his trustees enfeoffed the manor to Nicholas Drayton.

Drayton’s son died in 1417 leaving two daughters as co-heirs. One daughter, Joan, married Drew Barantyn who died in 1453 and this half of the manor passed down through that family until the end of the century when it was alienated to John Vavasour, who conveyed it in 1500 to John Fisher. During the century it was purchased by the Lords Saint John of Bletsoe and before 1593 was sold to Thomas Snagge, Speaker of the House of Commons and merged into the Manor of Kempston Daubeney, which he also held. The half of the manor given to Drayton’s other daughter, Elizabeth, came to be known as the Manor of Kempston Hardwick.