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List of Clophill Rectors

Clophill old church March 2007
Clophill old church March 2007


Volume II of the Victoria County History for Bedfordshire, published in 1908, gives the history of the advowson of Clophill church. It begins with the advowson being given to Beaulieu, or Beadlow, Priory at some date between 1130 and 1146 by Lord of the Manor of Clophill and Cainhoe, Robert de Albini. The history notes the presence of a chapel in cainhoe, as well as the church at Clophill, and states that the chapel fell into decay in the 15th century. In 1428 Beadlow Priory was merged into its mother church of Saint Albans Abbey. On the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII (1509-1547) the advowson was presumably forfeited to the Crown.

King Edward VI (1547-1553) granted the advowson to Sir William Fitzwilliam in 1553. The advowson was then the property of the Lords of the Manor of Beadlow until 1656 when Saint John Charnock alienated it to  Robert, Lord Bruce, later 2nd Earl of Elgin who, in 1669, probably granted it to Anthony, Earl of Kent; the advowson was with Lord Lucas and Dingwall, heirs to the Earls of Kent, into the 20th century. Today [2010], the right of presentation lies with  the Bishop of Saint Albans.

At the time of writing Clophill forms a ministry with Campton and Haynes. Each church retains its own parochial church council, churchwardens and other officers as well as its own services, but shares a rector. Clophill and Haynes have shared a rector since 2000 and Campton was recently added to the ministry.

Clophill church east window March 2007
Clophill church east window March 2007

List of Vicars

  • Ralph de..... - 1235 [chaplain];
  • Geoffrey - 1245 [chaplain];
  • John de Kinebawton - 20th December 1274 [priest; on the resignation of Geoffrey];
  • John de Sancto Neoto - 20th October 1321 [priest; on the death of John de Kymbarton];
  • Hugh de Midleton Erneys - 6th July 1349 [priest; on the death of John];
  • Ralph atte Halle;
  • John Grene - 26th January 1370 [Vicar of Amwell [Hertfordshire], London Diocese; by exchange with Ralph atte Halle];
  • William Waleman - 15th January 1383 [priest; on the death of John Grene];
  • John Wyltonshurst - 18th November 1388 [priest; on the resignation of William Walman, exchanged to be Vicar of Astwood [Buckinghamshire] where Wyltonshurst had been since 12 Aug 1385];
  • Richard Maddeley - 6th October 1389 [of Choulsbury; exchanged with John Wyltonshurst];
  • Richard Taillour;
  • Ralph Geruays - 17th September 1395 [priest; on the resignation of Richard Taillour, exchanged to Rollesham Chantry];
  • Thomas Wryght - 7th June 1421 [priest; vacant];
  • Thomas Agley - 3rd November 1433 [priest; vacant];

List of Rectors

  • John Mylleward;
  • John Caller - 9th January 1456 [chaplain; on the death of John Mylleward, "late Rector"];
  • Alexander Robynson - 20th February 1506 [priest; on the death of John Caller];
  • Thomas Tavernar - 3rd April 1536 [chaplain; on the death of Alexander Robynson];
  • William Bolton - 10th May 1539 [clerk; on the death of Thomas Taverner;];
  • Cuthbert Wytham - 20th November 1551;
  • Edmund Harris - 31st October 1582 [clerk; vacant; by the death of Cuthbert Witham];
  • John Broune - 1st August 1570 [1590?] [clerk; on the cessation of the last Rector];
  • Edward Marbury AM - 24th November 1610 [clerk; Trinity College, Cambridge; presented on the death of the last Rector];
  • Bartholomew Andrews MA - 9th November 1610;
  • William Norman - 15th December 1619 [will dated 27th July, proved 2nd October 1650; to be buried in midst of the chancel];
  • Nathaniel Cole AM - 15th November 1651 - [Queen's College, Cambridge; died 26th June 1662; will dated 18th June, proved 3rd July 1662; to be buried in the chancel];
  • Edmund Bagshaw AM - 30th September 1660 [clerk; on the death of Nathaniel Cole];
  • William Berkley - 12th January 1665 [clerk; on the death of Edmund Bagshaw; a non-juror];
  • Henry Hill BA - 16th Feb 1685 [ordained priest] curate;
  • Charles Fletcher AM - 28th July 1690 [clerk; on the deprivation of William Berkley under an Act for abrogating the oath of Supremacy; died 13th, buried 18th December 1753, aged 87; Rector for 63 years];
  • Charles Smith BA - 24th December 1749 [Caius College, Cambridge; ordained deacon] curate;
  • Ezekiel Rouse MA - 24th April 1754 [on the death of Charles Fletcher; died 27th February 1792, aged 84; Rector for 57 years];
  • William Rouse MA - 24th July 1792 [on the death of Ezekiel Rouse; died 18th November 1792, aged 58];
  • Ezekiel Rouse MA - 30th March 1793 [on the death of William Rouse; died 13th April 1799, aged 60];
  • William Pierce Nethersole LL.B - 10th July 1799 [on the death of Ezekiel Rouse; died 6th December 1843, aged 87; married Sophia Hagar of Ampthill on 6th November 1800];
  • John Mendham MA - 14th March 1844 [on the death of William Pierce Nethersole];
  • Gustavus Bosanquet MA - 11th September 1869 [on the death of John Mendham];
  • Thomas James Christie - 8th February 1875 - curate;
  • Frederick Ernest Doubleday - 5th February 1887 - curate;
  • Horace Rollo Meyer - May 1900;
  • Cecil Lloyd Matthews - October 1911;
  • Henry Wilcox - July 1919;
  • James Killen Deane - March 1923;
  • William John Wallace - January 1926;
  • George Henry Pattison - April 1933;
  • Henry Gordon - July 1938;
  • Leslie Raymond Livingstone Bearman - July 1945;
  • Ernest John Jones - December 1951;
  • William Ainslie Macintosh Grant - 1956;
  • Lewis Edward Barker - 1962;
  • Herbert Ralph Cousins - 1971;
  • Philip John Swindells - 1978
  • Margaret J. Venables - 2000
  • Dean Henley - 2006

Clophill church east window detail Mar 2007
Clophill church east window detail


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. Clophill, however, seems to have been better served in this respect, at leats in the first part of the 18th century, though we know a curate was in place from 1749. The returns for Clophill are as follows:

  •  1709: "No Unpabtized Persons come to Church, and but few Un-confirmed. Communicants usually about 20. Great Numbers negligent of their duty in this Particular.
  • 1712: The Rector lives in his Parsonage House. Divine Service twice every Lord's day, once on Holydays when a congregation can be had. Communion 4 times a year. Out of 200 of age to Communcate, not above 13 do usually receive.
  • 1717: The rector still resided in his rectory and had no curate. He knew of none of his flock that were unbaptized and still held services twice on a Sunday. Communion was still administered on four occasions each year (the three times in which communion was administered were, traditionally, Easter, Whitsun, Christmas and some churches also administered at Michaelmas).
  • 1720: Things were the same as in 1717, with the exception that the rector noted that eleven people had received communion the previous Easter.

Clophill new church about 1900
Clophill new church about 1900

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 Clophillchurch was made by the rector, John Mendham, who noted the following pieces of information:

  •  the church (by now the new church in the village) had 520 free seats.
  • 180 adults and 194 Sunday scholars were present in the morning;
  • 250 adults and 191 scholars were present at the afternoon service.
  • the average in the morning was 200 adults and 195 children;
  • the average in the afternoon was 240 adults and 190 children.