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List of Meppershall Rectors

The parish chest September 2014
The parish chest September 2014

Advowson

Volume II of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1908. It noted that the first mention of the advowson of Meppershall church is in the 12th century when it was given to the priory of Lenton [Nottinghamshire] by Robert de Meppershall. In 1224 Robert's son, Gilbert contested the claim despite the fact that the charter had been confirmed at different times by three different people – King Henry II (1154-1189), King John (1199-1216) and Pope Innocent III (1198-1216). Not surprisingly, his claim was rejected.

Lenton still held the advowson at the Reformation, the priory being dissolved by Henry VIII (1509-1547) in 1538, when the advowson was worth £22. Its history for the next century is unknown but in 1631 it was held by John, Earl of Peterborough. The advowson remained in the Mordaunt family until 1686 when it passed to the Downes family who, presumably, granted it to saint John's College, Cambridge, which held it in 1765 and continues to hold it at the time of writing [2015].

In 1971 Meppershall was united with Upper Stondon [P29/2/1/1], Campton being added in 1982. Since 2004 Meppershall has, instead, shared a priest with Shefford. The parishes remain distinct, each with their own parochial church council and parish officers.

Timothy Archer September 2014
Timothy Archer's monument September 2014

List of Rectors

  •  Reginald de Haltsted, subdeacon: saving to Laurence de Elingt', who claimed to be Rector 5 marks per annum as long as he lived in the secular habit: 1232;
  •  Henry de Mersington;
  •  John de Bolyna, chaplain: on the death of Henry de Mersington: 24 July 1302;
  •  Roger de Clophille, acolyte: on death of John de Bolyna;
  •  Lancelot de Corroberto: 20 November 1329;
  •  Adam de Neubold: priest, on the death of Lancelot Corrolito: 15 August 1349;
  •  John de Tynewyk, Rector of Haverhill [Suffolk]: by exchange with Adam de Neubold, Rector of Meppershall: 9 December 1350;
  •  Michael de Ravendale, Rector of Lathyndon [Lavendon, Buckinghamshire?]: by exchange with John de Tyngewyk: 21 November 1353;
  •  Hugh Duraunt, priest, of Pulteneye [Putney, Surrey?]: on the resignation of Michael de Ravendale: 1 August 1359;
  •  Laurence de Radeford, priest: on the death of Hugh: 21 December 1361;
  •  William Canter: 1374
  •  Robert de Oxton: on the death of William Canter alias Canteram: 11 August 1401;
  •  Walter: Rector of Bonyngton [Bonnington, East Lothian], by exchange with M. Robert Oxton: 27 June 1404;
  •  William Caton;
  •  John Hale, Rector of St John Yarove, City of London: by exchange with William Caton: 7 October 1412;
  •  William Lepyngton, Rector of All Saints in Graschurchestrete, London: on exchange with John Hale: 19 August 1423;
  •  Thomas Botteler, prient: 22 May 1440 [exchanged to Halyngbury Magna, London in 1463];
  •  Thomas Rawlyn, priest: on the resignation of Thomas Boteler: 9 February 1471;
  •  John Fitzherbert, priest: on the death of Thomas Rawlyn: 1507;
  •  Sir William Hernynge, clerk: on the death of the last rector: 23 June 1556;
  •  Thomas Rayner;
  •  Richard Reyner, parson: 18 June 1574 [buried 21 September 1613];
  •  Thomas Archer: 1 December 1613;
  •  Robert Howgill: 1620;
  •  John LoiseauL 11 February 1631;
  •  Timothy Archer DD, parson: 27 May 1631;
  •  William Symes, who intruded: 5 July 1645;
  •  Thomas Salmon MA: ordained priest 22 December 1672 by Humphrey, Bishop of London; on the death of Timothy Archer. Patron Robert Norman and George Raynton. Licence to preach granted 17 September 1685: 28 December 1672;
  •  Geoffrey Aylmer, on death of the last rector: 1 October 1706;
  •  Richard Downes, vacancy: 15 October 1708;
  •  James Hanscombe AM: on the death of Richard Downes: 22 June 1712;
  •  Towers Ashcroft AM: on the death of James Handscombe: 10 November 1714;
  •  Christopher Wyvill, deacon: of Queen's College, Cambridge: 6 June 1762;
  •  William Weston BD: on the death of Towers Ashcroft: 12 June 1765;
  •  James Webster BD: on the death of William Weston: 21 September 1791;
  •  Henry Howarth BD: on the death of James Webster: 24 October 1833;
  •  J Henry Howlett BD: on the cession of Henry Howarth: 12 May 1845;
  •  John Smallpiece: August 1896;
  •  Richard Isherwood: August 1900;
  •  Selwyn Edward Sears: May 1937;
  •  Martin Pierce: February 1943
  •  Richard Frederick Morson: May 1949
  •  Henry Thomas Pimm: 1951
  •  Alfred Spartan Fricker: 1960
  •  Gordon Hamilton Waller: 1971
  •  William David Brynmore Williams: 1987
  •  John Henry Barrall: 1991
  •  David W Renshaw: 1999;
  •  John A Harper: 2004
  •  V M Goodman: 2012

The parish vexillum September 2014
The parish vexillum September 2014

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 Meppershall are as follows:

  • 1709: "Mr Richard Downes Rector and Patron [of the living]. Instituted 15 October 1708. He is very old and infirm. Mr Smith of Baldock [Hertfordshire] assists him in the afternoon … many not confirmed. Communicants about 30. 26 received at Easter last".
  • 1712: "The Rector resides in his parsonage House. One child, of about 3 years old, unbaptized. Divine Service twice every Lord's day, also on Holydays. Communions 4 times a year. Of 96 communicants about 23 usually receive".
  • 1717: The rector lived at the Rectory and had no curate: "None that come to Church that are not Baptized: many of a competent Age are not Confirmed. Publick Service is read twice every Lord's Day … Sacrament Four Times a Year. About three score and ten Communicants in my Parish: generally about forty at a Communion, and I believe there was about that number last Easter … I have refused the Sacrament to one man in Parish by reason of the Disagreement there had been betwixt him and his wife, and his familiarity with other women, upon which he promised amendment".
  • 1720: "I do Reside Personally upon my Cure and in my Parsonage House. Curate No. Unbaptized One child about 10 Years of Age. Publick Service is duly perform'd in my Church twice every Lord's Day. I administer the sacrament of the Lords Supper four Times every Year. I have about fourscore Communicants in my Parish, about 40 of which did communicate at Easter last".

 The pulpit September 2014
The pulpit September 2014

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 Meppershall church was made by the minister J H Howlett who noted the following pieces of information:

  • There were 120 free seats, 84 more in pews and 90 reserved for Sunday school children;
  • In the morning there had been 62 general congregation and 42 Sunday scholars, with 85 general and 50 scholars in the afternoon;
  • Average attendance before August 1850 had been 50 general congregation and 45 Sunday scholars in the mornings and 110 general and 70 scholars in the afternoons
  • "The attendance especially of children has of late been less than normal on account of the prevalence of typhus and scarletina".