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The Manor of Biddenham or Newnham

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912. It traces the history of the Manor of Biddenham or Newnham back to four virgates of land held by Saint Paul’s church, Bedford in 1086. In 1166 Newnham Priory was founded by Simon de Beauchamp and all the endowments of the secular canons of Saint Paul’s were transferred to it. By 1291 the Augustinian friars at Newnham owned land worth £3 per annum in Biddenham.

The Gostwick family coat of arms
The Gostwick family coat of arms

When Newnham Priory was dissolved by King Henry VIII (1509-1547) in 1541 the holdings in Biddenham were valued at £9/8/8 per annum and were granted to John Gostwick of Willington. In the same year that he received them Gostwick sold the manor to William Boteler of Biddenham. The Boteler family then continued to hold the manor, now referred to simply as Biddenham Manor; their seat was at Ford End Manor House, acquired by marriage in the 15th century, well before they acquired the manor and previously unrelated to it. The family held the manor until 1671 when another William Boteler left three daughters as co-heirs: Anne, wife of Nicholas Carew of Beddington [Surrey]; Helen, wife of Sir Pynsent Chernocke, Bart., and Mary who married her cousin William Farrar and had two daughters and coheirs Margaret, wife of Robert Chester and Elizabeth, wife of William Hillersden of Elstow.

The coat of arms of the Boteler family
The Boteler family coat of arms

It is known that in 1735 Thomas Russell owned a third share in the manor and that in 1737 another share was held by William Townsend. By 1748 [TW732] the whole manor was in the hands of Robert, Lord Trevor, who held the larger Manor of Biddenham and the former Boteler manor was merged into this to form the Biddenham Estate.