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List of Stevington Vicars

The church east end from the footpath December 2008
The church east end from the footpath December 2008

Advowson

The advowson, or patronage of the living, of the church is first mentioned in the early 12th century, when it was granted to Harrold Priory by Baldwin, Count of Guînes, Lord of the Manor. The patronage remained with the priory until it was dissolved by King Henry VIII in 1536 when, valued at £12/13/4, it became Crown property. Thomas Adams obtained a lease of the rectory in 1575. The rectory, in this case, meant, not the incumbency of Stevington, nor the parsonage house, but the right to appoint the vicars and receive income. Thus the rectory included the advowson. Two years later the rectory was granted to Sir Lewis Dyve of Bromham.

In 1672 Francis and Theophila Dyve conveyed both rectory and advowson to Thomas Raymond and other trustees, presumably in trust for sale, as, in 1695, the owner of rectory and advowson is given as Henry Fleetwood. Between 1695 and 1700 he made a series of conveyances of rectory and advowson to Peter Floyer. Floyer, who sold both rectory and advowson to Sarah, dowager Duchess of Marlborough, widow of the great general, in 1738. She devised them in her will to her nephew John Spencer. At some point the advowson was alienated to the Dukes of Bedford as in 1776 Francis, the 5th Duke, presented Thomas Orlebar Marshe to the living.

The Russell family remained patrons of the living into the 20th century. In 1921 Arthur Oliver Villiers Russell, Lord Ampthill transferred the patronage of the living to the Bishop of Saint Albans [P71/2/1/12].

 Pulpit January 2010
Pulpit January 2010

List of Vicars

Stevington remains an independent parish at the time of writing [2009], though there has been a vacancy since 2007. The following list of Vicars of Stevington is as complete as records will allow.

  • Nicholas de Picheford - 1227, chaplain;
  • Nicholas de Bristowe;
  • John son of Roger de Wootton - 20th February 1282, chaplain, on the death of Nicholas de Bristowe;
  • Nicholas de Harewold - 10th February 1300, chaplain, on the death of John de Wotton;
  • Robert de Hattele - 7th October 1310, chaplain, on the death of Nicholas;
  • Simon de Kayso - 22nd September 1334, priest, on the death of Robert;
  • Nicholas Hayward - 15th January 1354, priest, on the death of Simon;
  • John Mody - 30th August 1405, of Welton, priest, on the death of Nicholas Hayward;
  • John Smart - 21st Mar 1453, chaplain, on exchanging the Rectory of Hareby [Lincolnshire];
  • William Skipwith - 30th January 1455, priest, on the resignation of John Smert, who exchanged to the Vicarage of Docking [Norfolk];
  • John Kyngden - 18th January 1458, chaplain, on the resignation of William Skypwyth;
  • Thomas Boghton - 3rd August 1459, priest on the resignation of John Kyngden;
  • Richard Greene - 1476;
  • Thomas Bothall - 30th April 1524, chaplain, on the resignation of Richard Grene; he had a pension of 9 marks; his will was dated 18th May 1539;
  • George Butman - 1540, chaplain, on the death of Thomas Buttall;
  • Richard Harres - 13th June 1561, clerk, on the death of last Vicar;
  • Robert Gryffin - 17th July 1573, clerk, presented on the deprivation of the last Vicar on the petition of Lady Cheyney;
  • Raphe Culchith - 9th February 1578, on the resignation of the last Vicar, a recusant [Roman Catholic];
  • Henry Kinge BA - 12th August 1588, buried on 8th August 1604;
  • Nicholas Barton - 30th October 1604, clerk; on the death of Henry Kinge; buried on 17th April 1608];
  • George Daniel MA - 31st August 1608, inducted on 28th October 1608;
  • Henry Gale - 17th December 1612;
  • Andrew Cater - 30th September 1663, clerk, on the death of George Daniell;
  • John Draper BA - 14th September 1677 - deprived 1712;
  • George Fern BA - 14th October 1712, clerk, of Saint John'sCollege, Cambridge, on the deprivation of John Draper;
  • Peter Barker AB - 10th November 1716, of CaiusCollege, Cambridge (graduated 1696), on the resignation of George Ferne;
  • Francis Reade - curate: 1717;
  • John Bonsor AB - 13th June 1722,  on the death of Peter Barker;
  • William Sanderson MA - 28th June 1751, on the death of last Vicar;
  • Thomas Orlebar Marsh - 19th March 1776, clerk, on the death of William Sanderson; he was born in 1749 and died on 25th December 1831 and was buried at Felmersham; his widow was Frances, daughter of Robert and Catherine Ellis of London, who had been married first to Edmund Edward Ludlow, lieutenant RN; she died on 4th January 1832;
  • John Wing BA - 27th January 1832, on the death of Thomas Orlebar Marsh;
  • William Henry Bond BA - 18th May 1849, Queen's College, Cambridge; on the resignation of John Wing; he was the author of A Concise View of Ancient Geography;
  • Edward Wilson Cook MA - 12th September 1862, of Saint John'sCollege, Cambridge; on the resignation of William Henry Bond; he was the author of Death and its Issues, a sermon on the death of Francis, 7th Duke of Bedford;
  • Thomas William Gibson MA - 1882;
  • John Robert Hare Duke MA - 1886;
  • Leonard Matson MA - 1903;
  • Arthur Henry Sproule BA - 1912;
  • Oscar Stephen Vickers - 1954;
  • Edward John Bennett MA - 13 Jan 1958;
  • Robert Donald Macrory MA BD - 1968;
  • Peter Noel Jeffery - 1979;
  • Lawrence R. McDonald - 1999 to 2007

Sedile and piscina about 1820 [Z1244]
Sedile and piscina about 1820 [Z1244]

 
Visitations

Volume 81 published by the Bedfordshire Historical Records Society (2002) is devoted to returns made during episcopal visitationsto 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 Stevington are as follows:

  • 1706: the vicar, John Draper, noted that there were 200 nonconformists in Stevington, "There are to balance these 300 Church people, and about 100 that go to no public place of Worship at all". He went on to state of the living that "There is a Sine-cure annexed to it in the parish of Paveingham, where is divine service used 4 times a year". In other words, the Vicar of Stevington was paid to deliver four sermons a year Ion neighbouring Pavenham, which only had a chapel of ease, rather than a parish church and a curate rather than a rector or vicar.
  • 1712: John Draper had been deprived of his living for incest earlier that year [ABCP97] and the new vicar, George Fern, carried out divine service once every Sunday, also giving a service at Stagsden. He administered communion three times a year (the usual practice then, the days being, usually, Christmas Day, Easter Sunday and Whitsun). About forty received communion each time.
  • 1717: another new vicar, Peter Barker, reported: "Unpabtized we know of none. We have baptized no Adults since the last Visitation". He reported that he gave services twice every Sunday and administered communion four time a year, the previous Easter only twelve had received.
  • 1720: in this year a curate reported: "The Vicarage is supply'd by a Curate, who does not personally reside, being resident on a Rectory in Bedford, viz. In the Parish of Saint Mary, where He is Curate". This rather tangled sentence seems to imply that Barker himself was non-resident and so was his curate, the went on: "His [i.e. the writer's] name is Francis Reade, and Has been Cruate of Steventon three Years, duely qualify'd according to the Canons, not living (as aforemention'd) in the Vicarage House, and is allowed £26 A year". Services were now given only once each Sunday "not being rwice perform'd because He has another Church; and then generally in the Afternoon". The sacrament was now only given three times a year again but the numbers were up twenty who received, out of a congregation of about 160.

 Kneeler at the altar rail January 2010
Kneeler at the altar rail January 2010

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 David W. Bushby. The return for Stevington church was made by the Vicar, William Bond who noted the following pieces of information: the church had two hundred free seats and eighty reserved. The general congregation in the afternoon had been 50, with 74 Sunday scholars, with 57 and 75 scholars in the evening service which was held in the schoolroom.