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The Manor of Kensworth Damsaries Damsers or Damesayers

The Inge family arms
The Inge family arms

The Manor of Kensworth Damsaries, Damsers or Damesayers was held by the Zouche family from the dean and chapter of Saint Paul’s and so, technically, was a sub-manor. The manor may have begun with a grant of free warren to Edmund Inge in 1311. The Zouche family also held a manor in Caddington, called the Manor of Zouches.

The Zouche family coat of arms
The Zouche family coat of arms

By 1395 William la Zouche was tenant of the Kensworth manor, having inherited the tenancy from his father of the same name and the suggestion is that the manor passed to the Zouches from the Inges by marriage. A third William conveyed his interest in the estate to a kinsman, Sir John Lovett, in 1396-97 though the Zouches continued as tenants in Kensworth until at least as late as 1535 so Lovett was probably acting as trustee in a family settlement.

In 1544 Sir John Zouche, Lord of Saint Maur and Cantelow, conveyed the manor to Reginald Conygrave and Joan, his wife who conveyed it, in the following year, to Robert Ameryke or Meryke of Dunstable. He seems to have died almost as soon as he bought it and was succeeded by his son, also Robert. In 1560 it was presented that Robert Meryke junior had sold the manor to a man named Tofton from Stony Stratford [Buckinghamshire]. Ten years later a Richard Trowghton sold the manor to Edward Wingate.

The Wingate family coat of arms
The Wingate family coat of arms

In 1578 John Alway died owning the manor. It is reckoned that he was probably the second husband of Mary, formerly the wife of Edmund, brother of Edward Wingate. Mary’s son was under-age but the manor seems to have passed to a younger son, Richard, who died in 1611.He devised the manor to a Mary Burrell for her life, remainder to the male heirs of Ralph Alway, his brother. In the event Mary married Thomas Sheafe and devised the manor to a relative, William Burrell or Burwell, to sold it to Robert Napier of Luton Hoo in 1642.

The Napier family coat of arms
The Napier family coat of arms

The Napiers are last recorded as holding the manor in 1677. By 1797 the manor was held by Thomas Cooke who conveyed it in that year to George Maddison who conveyed it to Henry Alington in 1809, who, the Victoria County History surmises, may have been a trustee for Mordaunt Lawson Chennell. This is the last mention of the manor to survive.