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Rowlands Manor Cople

The Spencer family coat of arms
The Spencer family coat of arms

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire, published in 1912, gives the histories of each of the six manors in the parish. The volume states that the manor first appears in the historical record in the 16th century with Sir Thomas Snagge as overlord. We now know, thanks to the deposit of the Duke of Bedford's estate archive with Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service that the manor is of considerably greater antiquity. Court rolls survive from 1312 [R8/14/1/1a] when the Lords of the Manor were Hugh Swyn and Hugh le Boteler. They were still the lords in 1314 [R8/14/1/1b] but by 1316 Richard Ronland or Rodland was the lord [R8/14/1/2] and this family are given as lords until 1381 [R8/14/1/12].

In 1531 John Spencer settled the manor on his son Thomas and the manor remained in the family until the early 18th century, along with Hotofts Manor, when Sarah, Dowager Duchess of Marlborough purchased it. She was widow of the great general, the victor of Blenheim, she died in 1744. She also obtained Willington Manor, Cople Manor and Woodend Manor.

In 1779 the Duke of Bedford purchased Rowlands Manor from the Duke of Marlborough and it remained in the family's possession until 1902 when it was sold to George and James Keeble of Peterborough. The manorial estate was quickly broken up with Colonel Frank Shuttleworth of Old Warden being the principal landowner in  Cople. A succession of Law of Property Acts in the 1920s abolished manorial fines and incidents as well as copyhold land tenure, thus abolishing manors in practically all but name.