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List of Melchbourne Rectors and Vicars

The parish vexillum October 2015
The parish vexillum October 2015

Advowson

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912. The original advowson was held by the Knights of Saint John, who held the manor. The lord of the manor was always the patron into the 20th century.

Since 1930 Melchbourne and Yelden shared an incumbent, though remaining individual ecclesiastical parishes (albeit they became one civil parish). From 1958 Melchbourne shared an incumbent with Dean, Shelton and Yelden.

In 1980 the Stodden Churches group was created comprising the parishes of Melchbourne, Dean, Pertenhall, Shelton, Swineshead and Yelden [P73/0/3]. The individual parishes retain their parish officers and parochial church councils but share an incumbent. The Saint Albans Diocesan Patronage Board and the Martyrs Memorial Trust are now [2015] joint patrons of the group living.

The pulpit October 2015
The pulpit October 2015

List of Parsons

Rectors

  • Richard Arundel: 1237;
  • Richard Giffard, subdeacon: 1238;
  • William de Manneby, subdeacon, on the death of Richard: 24th September 1263;
  • Richard de Altarpa, chaplain, on the death of William de Manneby: 17th November 1299;
  • Thomas de Collum, priest, on the death of Richard de Altarpa: 7th March 1328;
  • John de Leybourn - 19 May 1328 [acolite, presented by Philip de Thame, Master of the Hospitallers, on the resignation of Thomas de Collum: 19th May 1328;
  • Ralph Barry;
  • Roger Grene de Isham, acolite, on the resignation of Ralph Barry: 2nd March 1350;
  • William Barker, priest, on the death of Roger Grene: 2nd April 1364;
  • William Stanwyg;
  • John Ingham, formerly Rector of Easholt, by exhange with William Stanwyg: 21st October 1374;
  • Hugh Astell;
  • Geoffrey Gyddynge, formerly Rector of Polebrook [Northamptonshire], priest, by exchange with Hugh Astell the last Rector, he was a canon of Lincoln: 16th September 1388;
  • Hugh Astell, formerly Rector of Polebrook: 22nd October 1388;
  • William Vesey, priest: 22nd November 1391;
  • Roger de Leycestr, priest, on the resignation of William Veysey: 30th June 1392;
  • John Bromore, on the death of Roger de Leycestr: 23rd June 1396;

Vicars

  • John Mot, priest, presented to the perpetual vicarage of Melchbourne, vacant by its recent foundation: 3rd December 1449;
  • Thomas Bolton, priest, on the death of John Motte: 20th July 1461;
  • Thomas Hullynage, priest, on the resignation of Thomas Bolton: 14th August 1462;
  • Robert Brambton, priest, on the death of the last incumbent: 16th October 1474;
  • Henry Weldon;
  • Robert Hamylton, on the resignation of Henry Weldon: 13th April 1488;
  • Thomas Jarcok, chaplain, on the death of Robert Hamylton: 15th June 1505;
  • Thomas Grene, on the death of Thomas Jarcok: 29th November 1510;
  • Richard Young, priest, on the death of Thomas Grene: 22nd September 1515;
  • Thomas Booker: 1585;
  • John Dodd: 26th April 1586;
  • Roger Warfielde: 24th August 1624;
  • Bartholomew Bowyer:  4th August 1627;
  • John Ailmer: 1st February 1631;
  • John Warren;
  • Valentine Calton MA, priest, ordained 2nd June 1672 at Lincoln, presented on the death of John Warren: 3rd June 1672;
  • Robert Beverley MA, on the cession of Valentine Calton: 26th October 1676;
  • Robert Beverley MA, on the resignation of Robert Beverley: 28th September 1680;
  • Edward Aspin, clerk: 4th November 1704;
  • Pawlet St John MA, on the cession of Edward Aspin: 6th July 1708;
  • John Walton BA, on the resignation of Pawlet St John: 27th April 1715;
  • Pawlet St John MA, on the death of John Walton: 2nd July 1742;
  • William Fancourt BA, clerk, on the death of Paulet St John: 26th April 1775;
  • William Henry Downes, clerk, on the death of William Fancourt: 16th April 1818;
  • John Webster Hawksley MA, clerk, on the cession of William Downes: 9th October 1821;
  • John Webster Hawksley junior BA, clerk, on the resignation of John Webster Hawkesley, senior: 10th December 1827;
  • Richard Young BA: 1841;
  • Haydon Aldersey Taylor MA:1858;
  • John Lynes: 1861
  • Robert Paul Bent: 1864;
  • J W Gamul Edwards: December 1884;
  • Edward Mountifort Beasley: February 1896;
  • Frederick Croxall Boultbee: May 1898;
  • Richard Davies: October 1901;
  • Maynard Whitworth Hay MA: April 1905;
  • Alfred Hastings Evered: 1907;
  • George Alfred Crawshay: March 1907;
  • George Alfred Ellaby: October 1921;
  • Reginald Paddick L.Th: 1930;
  • Thomas Francis William Wright: 1947;
  • David Haigh Leonard-Williams: 1957;
  • Arthur Frederick le Dieu: 1967;
  • Benjamin Brian Dobson Aylott: 1972;
  • Neil R. Weston: 1980;
  • Paul Charles Delight: 1992;
  • Richard D. Seymour-Whiteley: 1999;
  • Jan C Brookshaw: 2003.

The font October 2015
The font October 2015

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 Melchbourne are as follows:

  • 1709: "None un-baptized. Many not confirmed. Communicants about 30. Some seldome or never receive at all".
  • 1712: "The Vicar resides upon his Cure. He keeps a Curate, to whom he allows £40 per Annum. He lives at Yelden contiguous. None un-baptized. Several not Confirmed. Divine Service twice every Lord's day … Communion 4 times a year. 29 received at Easter last. Notice duly given. One refused the Communion, upon suspicion of Adultery, for which he is since prosecuted in the Spiritual Court". It may be relevant that on 18th February 1713 Stapleton, illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Bass was baptized at Melchbourne.
  • 1717: "I do not reside upon my Cure. I live six Miles from it. I have a residing Curate, who is duly qualified, lives in the Parsonage House, and has an Allowance of twenty pounds per annum. None come to Church in my Parish that are not baptized. Several unconfirmed. Publick service is performed twice every Lord's Day, and sometimes on Holidays … The sacrament is administered three times in the Year at least. I have about fifty Communicants of which twenty usually receive the sacrament. More than that number received it at Easter".
  • 1720: "I do not personally reside yet. I reside at Finedon in Northamptonshire, having not settled my Affairs there. I have a residing curate. His name is Mr Wilkinson. He hath been my Curate neat three Quarters of a Year. He is duly qualified; doth not live in my House. I allow him £24 Per Annum. Unbaptized No. Services Twice every Lord's Day … Sacrament Four times. There are about 94 Communicants and about 40 did Communicate last Easter".

The south aisle seen from the chancel arch October 2015
The south aisle seen from the chancel arch October 2015

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 Melchbourne church was made by the curate, Thomas M Lucas, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • The church had 450 free sittings, 30 others in the chancel [these in box pews which survive];
  • General congregation had been 62 in the morning, 91 in the afternoon.
  • Sunday scholars had been 40 in the morning, 39 in the afternoon.
  • Average general congregation was 60 in the morning, 150 in the afternoon. Average Sunday scholars were 40 each morning and afternoon.

The east window - detail October 2015
The east window - detail October 2015