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List of Great Barford Vicars

The font May 2010
The font May 2010

The following list of Vicars of Great Barford is as complete as records will allow. The advowson of All Saints' lay with Simon de Beauchamp in the reign of King Henry II (1154-1189), when he granted it to the Prior of Newnham.

Newnham Priory was dissolved by King Henry VIII (1509-1547) in 1542. Four years later the advowson was granted to Trinity College Cambridge, which remains the patron of the living to the time of writing.

In 1736 the parishes of Great Barford and Roxton were united under the same incumbent and have shared the same vicar ever since. Since 1999 Blunham, Little Barford and Tempsford have had the same incumbent, in what has become known as the Riversmeet Benefice, part of the Ivel Group Ministry. As there are now four separate churches the holder of each advowson takes it in turn to nominate the next incumbent, Trinity College taking the second and fourth turns (as the college also holds the advowson of Roxton). Great Barford, Blunham, Roxton and Tempsford each retain their own parochial church council and parish officers as well as their own services.

The pulpit May 2010
The pulpit May 2010

A list of vicars of Great Barford is as follows:

  • Hugh de Northgivelle [Northill]: 1229 - subdeacon;
  • Walter: 1229 - chaplain, living vacated by Hugh de Northgivel, the last vicar, who took the monastic habit;
  • Geoffrey de Essewell: 1235 - chaplain;
  • Nicholas de Bicleswad [Biggleswade]: 1251 - chaplain;
  • Reginald;
  • Gervase de Lathebir: 18th January 1274 - chaplain, on the death of Reginald;
  • Geoffrey de Clyve: 1st March 1274 - priest, on the death of Gervase;
  • William Kyble: 28th September 1316 - on the death of Geoffrey de Clyve;
  • John de Stacheden [Stagsden]: 28th July 1340 - priest, on the resignation of William Kybbel;
  • John Henry: 20th December 1352 - of Houghton Regis, priest, on the resignation of John de Stageden;
  • John Cartere: 1st September 1369 - priest, on the death of John Carter, Master of St. Johns' Hospital, Newport Pagnell [Buckinghamshire];
  • John Deen: 18th October 1381 - priest, on the resignation of John Carter, exchanged to Hospital of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, near Newport Pagnell;
  • John de Waltondurhurst: 17th March 1384 - Vicar of Newnham, near Baldock [Hertfordshire], on exchange with John Deen;
  • John Taillour: 20th November 1385 - Vicar of Groweden, on exchange with John Walton;
  • Philip Tiler: 11th January 1392 - priest, on the resignation of John Taillour, exchanged to Chilwardesbury Rectory;
  • John Smyth: 3rd August 1383 - Vicar of Lyndesell, on exchange with Philip Tyler;
  • Thomas Cateby: 3rd April 1400 - priest, on the resignation of John Smyth, exchanged to the Chantry of Saint Giles de Caseby;
  • William Cook: 27th June 1402 - chaplain, vacant;
  • Richard Chorlee: 11th April 1409 - Vicar of Salford, on exchange with William Cook;
  • Thomas Drake: 31st March 1414 - priest, on the resignation of Richard Chorley;
  • John Baleywell;
  • John Wymslowe: 27th May 1421 - priest, on the death of John Baleywell]
  • John Basse;
  • John Loude - 29th November 1439 - priest, on the resignation of John Basse;
  • John Veysyn: 9th November 1446 - priest, on the resignation of John Loude;
  • William Peryn: 9th December 1448 - priest, on the resignation of John Veysyn]
  • Patrick Bright: 29th March 1457 - chaplain, on the death of William Peryn;
  • Thomas Hayme;
  • John Emond: 26th October 1468 - priest, on the resignation of Thomas Hayme;
  • William Frare: 20th December 1504 - priest, on the death of John Edmonde;
  • William Aschwell: 22nd August 1505 - priest, on the resignation of William Frare;
  • Richard Frankelyn: 10th April 1517 - chaplain, on the death of William Ashewell;
  • William White: 30th October 1519 - Bachelor of Laws (L.L.B.), on the death of Richard Frankelyn;
  • Robert Wynd: 29th July 1529 - priest, on the resignation of Robert White, his pension was £3/6/8 per annum;
  • John Bosell: 27th October 1554;
  • John Billinge: July 1559;
  • Henry Gower: 2nd August 1564;
  • Thomas Paget: 22 January 1572;
  • Thomas Wade: 2nd June 1573 - clerk, vacant by cessation;
  • William Wordwell: 19th December 1575 - B. A., vacant by the deprivation of Thomas Wade;
  • John Clerk: 28th February 1579 - B.A. vacant by the deprivation of William Wordwell;
  • William Walshe/Welche: 1st January 1595;
  • Oliver Smith: 26th June 1607 - M. A., vacant;
  • Daniel Goldsmith: 24th June 1635 - M. A.;
  • Roger Tuthill: 24th March 1645 - clerk;
  • Richard Hale: 27th October 1663 - clerk, on the cessation of Roger Tuthill;
  • Joseph Birkhead: 1684 - minister;
  • William Merriden: 11th May 1678 - M. A., on the death of Robert Guidott, ordained a priest on 19th December 1675 by the Bishop of Worcester;
  • Thomas Sayer: 2nd January 1691 - B. A., on the cessation of William Merriden;
  • Devereux Spencer: 1691;
  • Hugh Charles Hare: 1705-1706 - curate;
  • Thomas Rowell: 1709-1712 - curate;
  • Barwell Collins: 1713 - curate until at least 1720;
  • Geoffrey Favell: 1st April 1726 - clerk, vacant.

United to the Parish of Roxton: 1736

  • Newman Hughes: 1737;
  • Nathanael Crutchley: 1740;
  • William Morgan: 1744;
  • William North: 1747;
  • Charles Mason: 1748;
  • Marwood Place: 1761;
  • Richard Newbon: 1763;
  • Thomas Sharp: 1764;
  • William Cumming: 1765;
  • James Hassell: 1778;
  • William Ward: 1780;
  • Roger Buston: 1789;

Clarkson tomb in the churchyard March 2010
Clarkson tomb in the churchyard March 2010

  • John Clarkson: 1817;
  • Thomas Pierson Richardson: 1847;
  • Carleton Greene: 1875;
  • William Frederick Pym: January 1914;
  • Alexander John William Pym: July 1920;
  • John Stuart Must: 1961;
  • Frank William Warnes: 1968;
  • Norman Jeffery: 1978;
  • Geoffrey Norman Dobson: 1986;
  • Lawrence Blanchard: 1993;
  • Barbara Eveling: 1999;
  • Margaret E. Marshall: 2009.

Church vexillum May 2010
Church vexillum May 2010


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. The returns for Great Barford are as follows:

  • In 1709 the parish was ministered to by a curate, Thomas Rowell, who reported that "None unbaptized come to Church". He added: "Many not Confirmed". There were only twenty communicants, of whom eight had received communion the previous Easter. Such low figures for a comparatively large parish such as Great Barford suggest that the non-resident vicar, Devereux Spencer had neglected his parish.
  • The return for 1712 stated that the curate, still Thomas Rowell, lived at Cardington. This cannot have helped the spiritual health of the parish. Rowell held a service at Great Barford once every Sunday and administered communion four times per year. Twelve received communion the preceding Easter.
  • In 1717 the person completing the questionnaire is unnamed. It was, in fact, Barwell Collins who states, in his return for Cardington that he lived in Great Barford because he also served that parish. Collins had succeeded Thomas Rowell as Vicar of Cardington on the latter's death in 1713. Collin's daughter was baptized at Great Barford in 1718. He did not live in the vicarage "it being altogether unfitt [sic] for a Family to live in". He had no curate in either parish and seems, in fact, to have been curate  himself in Great Barford so, presumably, the absentee Devereux Spencer was still Vicar of the parish. He reported: "I do not know of any unbaptized Persons that come to Church, but I fear many of Competent age  do, who are not confirm'd". He conducted one service at Great Barford each Sunday - "Publick [sic] service is perform'd in the Church once every Lord's Day; my double Duty no tallowing of more, but that no part of the service may be wholly moitted in any Parish, I constantly perform it interchangeably Morning and afternoon in each Parish". He continued to administer communion four times per year - Easter, Whitsun, Christmas and the Sunday closest to Michaelmas (29th September). "The number of communicants is generally about Ten or twelve and for the most part the same persons".
  • In 1720 Collins, who signs himself as curate, was still not living in the vicarage "but in a House for which I pay rent, the Vicarage being insufficient to receive my Family". Services had not changed, nor the number of times communion was administered, he added "What Number of Communicants the Parish affords I know not, but, with Grief I speake [sic] it, seldome [sic] more than Twelve or fourteen receive".

Detail of Dorcas in the chancel south window May 2010
Detail of Dorcas in the chancel south window May 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 D. W. Bushby. The return for Great Barford church was made by the vicar, Thomas Pierson Richardson, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • The church contained 304 free seats and 131 reserved "Children extra 55";
  • The general congregation had been 200 in the morning and 310 in the afternoon, with 154 Sunday scholars at each service.
  • "Trinity College Cambridge allow £70 and a house on condition of keeping a curate for Roxton united to Great Barford".

Head on the east side of the south door March 2010
Head on the east side of the south door March 2010