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List of Swineshead Rectors

Swineshead church from south east May 2008
Swineshead church from the south-east May 2008

The following list of rectors is as complete as surviving records allows. The advowson lay with the Lord of the Manor until 1918 when Rev.T.Rogers had it until at least 1941. Since 1950 the Bishop of St.Albans has been patron of the living.

Looking west from the chancel in 1981
Looking west from the chancel in 1981 [Z50/120/16]

From 1918 to 1926 the same incumbent held both Swineshead and Lower Dean, the benefices being united in 1927 for three years. In 1930 the benefice became united with Dean and Shelton and in 1935 with that of Pertenhall. Since 1980 Swineshead has been one of the parishes forming the Stodden Churches, along with Dean, Melchbourne, Pertenhall, Shelton and Yelden. Each parish remains separate, with its own parochial church council and churchwardens. Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service is fortunate in having the portrait photographs of eight successive rectors from 1845 to 1935 [P98/28/1 and copied as Z50/141/293-300]. To see a larger image simply click on the appropriate thumbnail

 Head of Christ in east window May 2008
Head of Christ in east window May 2008

  • before 1272: William de la Leye;
  • 1272: Luke de Baldington [subdeacon; on resignation of William de la Leye]
  • 1334: Hugo Atte Slo [priest; on death of Luke de Baldington];
  • 1349: Reginald Berners [clerk; on death of Hugo Atte Slo];
  • 1349: Nicholas de Apiltre [priest; on resignation of Reginald Berners];
  • 1361: John Carpenter [priest; of Steeple Gidding; on death of Nicholas de Apiltre];
  • 1405: William Stewole [priest; on death of John Carpenter];
  • 1407: John Harwood alias Whitby [clerk; on death of William Stewole];
  • 1408: Robert Marschall [priest; on death of John Whitby];
  • 1413: John Scot [priest; on death of Robert Marschall];
  • 1432: Thomas Gwettock [priest; on death of John Scot];
  • 1469: Robert Adam or Adamson [priest; on death of Thomas Gwettock];
  • 1477: John Hyne [chaplain; on death of Robert Adamson];
  • 1477: John Cleye;
  • 1482: John David [MA; on death of John Cleye];
  • 1490: William Chaunceler;
  • 1501: William Wyett [LL.D; priest; on death of William Chaunceler];
  • John Wyatt;
  • 1525: John Smythe [chaplain; on death of John Wyatt];
  • 1535: Roger Colborn [chaplain; on resignation of John Smythe];
  • 1548: Henry Marckham;
  • 1550: John Madewell [clerk; on death of Henry Marckham]
  • 1554: Christopher Yaksleye [on deprivation of John Madewell];
  • 1558: Robert Taylor [priest; on resignation of Christopher Yacksleye];
  • 1558: George Hunter [on death of Robert Taylor];
  • 1594: Thomas Dawson;
  • 1639: Thomas Whitehand; [a note on the flyleaf of the first parish register [P96/1/1] by John Gatley Bruster in 1898 reads: This book contains copy of the Protestation (at end) signed by Rector and parishioners. The said Rector was a "Vicar of Bray": he signed the covenant, found in chimney of old Rectory, now in Trinity College, Cambridge: and yet managed to conform when times changed"];
  • 1666: Joseph Hemingius or Hemings [clerk; on death of Thomas Whitehand];
  • 1671: Thomas Woolsey [clerk; STB; on death of Joseph Hemings]
  • 1708: John Autram [clerk; MA; on death of Thomas Woolsey];
  • 1716: Thomas Collins [also Vicar of Kimbolton; on death of John Autram];
  • 1717: Henry Parratt [clerk];
  • 1722: James Torkington [clerk; on cession of Henry Parratt];
  • 1737: Thomas Lydiatt [clerk; LL.B; on cession of James Torkington];
  • 1757: William Carr [clerk; on cession of Thomas Lydiatt];
  • 1760: John Owen [clerk; on death of William Carr];
  • Thomas Johnson [clerk];
  • 1792: Philip Castel Sherard [clerk; BA; on death of Thomas Johnson];
  • 1818: George Sherard [clerk; MA; on resignation of Philip Castel Sherard];
  • 1819: David Lewis [clerk; on death of George Sherard];
  • 1819: John Thomas Huntley [clerk; on death of David Lewis];
  • William Airey
    1845: William Airy [MA; on cession of John Thomas Huntley]; 
  • James Thomas Hayes
    1874: James Thomas Hayes [MA; on death of William Airy];
  • Henry Matthews
    1886: Henry Matthews [MA; on cession of James Thomas Hayes];
  • John Richards
    1898: John Richards [MA; on death of Henry Matthews];
  • James Robert Greenwood Lansdale
    1904: James Robert Greenwood Lansdale [MA; on cession of John Richards];
  • Robert Phillips
    1915: Robert Phillips;
  • Walter Copleston Furneaux
    1918: Walter Copleston Furneaux [also Vicar of Lower Dean];
  • Charles Russell Canham
    1927: Charles Russell Canham;
  • 1935: Norman Ashby [curate in charge];
  • 1937: Geoffrey Oakeshott;
  • 1939: Walter Gould;
  • 1941: Richard F.Morsom;
  • 1950: Alexander T.Down;
  • 1957: Alexander A.Symington;
  • 1971: Gerald R.Lane;
  • 1976: Daniel J.Wardrop [curate in charge];
  • 1980: Neil Weston [curate in charge];
  • 1992: Paul Delight;
  • 1996: Sheila Stevenson;
  • 2003: Jan C.Brookshaw

 Swineshead church from north-east May 2008
Swineshead church from the north-east May 2008

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. Swineshead has been included for 1706, 1709 and 1712 even thout it was then in Huntingdonshire (and the Archdeaconry of Huntingdon rather than Bedford). The visitation returns throw some interesting light on the general state of the church in the parish. The Rector in 1706 was Thomas Woolsey, who was also Archdeacon of Northampton. By 1712 the incumbent was John Autram, he reported: "The Rector, Non-resident, lives at Kimbolton, q.v. His Curate being Master of the Free-Schole [sic] lives there also. None Unbaptized come to Church. But few Un-Confirmed. Divine Service twice every Lord's day, upon all State days, and once upon all the greater Festivalls [sic]…Communion 4 times a year. Communicants about 60, of which only 18 or 20 receive".

Detail of statue niche in south aisle east wall September 2008 
Detail of statue niche in south aisle east wall September 2008

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 Swineshead, then in Huntingdonshire, was made by W.Airy, the Rector, who noted that the church had seating for 150. Attendance had been 85 in the morning, with 12 Sunday Scholars for a grand total of 97. The average was 60 and 12 in the morning, 80 and 15 in the afternoon. For some reason, perhaps due to the time of year, there was no afternoon service on that day. Airy remarked, somewhat caustically: "The numbers given above are as near as can be conjectured; the undersigned not being in the habit during the celebration of Divine Service of counting the congregation".

Heads in the external corner of the porch and south aisle September 2008
Heads in the external corner of the porch and south aisle September 2008