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The Manor of Harlington

At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 the manor of Harlington was held by Nigel d’Aubigny (de Albini) as part of his barony of Cainhoe. According to the Victoria County History, by the early 13th century the tenants of the manor were the Pyrot family, who held it from the d’Aubigny’s as one knight’s fee. By 1276 the lord of the manor was Ralph Pyrot; in 1302 Ralph Pyrot still held Harlington, although part of the land was held by the Abbot of Woburn in frankalmoin (a type of feudal tenure in which a religious organisation could hold land in return for religious duties).  Ralph Pyrot died c.1315 and the manor passed to his son Reginald, who was twice summoned to answer a plea of debt, leading to the levy of a fine on his Harlington property in 1321. Reginald Pyrot died before 1330, leaving an underage heir. At this time the Pyrots’ overlord, John St. Amand held the manor of Harlington in wardship. After St. Amand’s death the land was seised on behalf of the king, but was restored when it was proved that St. Amand had not held it directly from the Crown.  

When he reached his majority Reginald’s son, another Ralph Pyrot, took possession of the manor, but in 1336 he alienated it to his overlord, Almaric (or Amaury) St. Amand, who held one knight’s fee in Harlington in 1346. When Almaric died in 1381 Harlington Manor, which was valued at £10 per annum, was passed to his son, another Almaric. On this Almaric’s death in 1402 his estates were shared between his grandson Gerard, son of his elder daughter Eleanor and Gerard  Braybrooke, and his second daughter Ida. After Ida’s death in 1416 the whole estate passed to Gerard, who took his grandfather’s name.  

Gerard St. Amand left Harlington to his daughters and co-heirs, Elizabeth, Maud and Eleanor, all minors, however only Elizabeth survived. She married Sir William Beauchamp in 1443, who was later summoned to parliament as Baron St. Amand by right of his wife. Their son Richard Beauchamp succeeded to the barony in 1457 but lost his title by attainder during the final stages of the Wars of the Roses in 1483. His barony was restored by King Henry VII, and on the death of his mother in 1491 Richard inherited Harlington and her other estates. Between 1491 and 1517 the manor of Harlington was split into two halves, one of which was passed to John Broughton, the lord of Toddington, and the other to Cecily, Marchioness of Dorset.  

In 1542 Cecily’s son and heir, Henry, held half the manor, but in 1543 he exchanged Harlington and another estate in Sussex with the king for the manor of Beaumanor (Leicestershire). Harlington was granted to Sir Thomas Palmer, but in 1553 he was attainted for supporting Lady Jane Grey and lost his lands. In 1554 the Harlington estate was granted by Queen Mary to Sir Thomas Cheyney, who already held the other half of the manor together with the manor of Toddington, as he had married one of the daughters and heirs of John Broughton. From this time onwards Harlington Manor was held with Toddington Manor and followed the same descent. Sir Thomas Cheyney’s son Henry died without leaving an heir, and the two manors eventually passed to his widow’s great-nephew, Thomas Wentworth, later the earl of Cleveland. Wentworth was an ardent royalist who by 1650 was in exile with King Charles II, at which time his debts were found to be over £100,000.  

After the earl of Cleveland’s death in 1667 his lands were inherited by his granddaughter Henrietta Maria Wentworth, who became the mistress of King Charles II’s illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth, who often visited her at Toddington. After her death in 1686 her lands passed to her great-aunt Anne, Lady Lovelace, the sister of the Thomas Wentworth, earl of Cleveland, then in 1697 to Anne’s granddaughter Martha, who became Lady Wentworth in her own right. From Martha Toddington and Harlington passed to her step-daughter Anne, whose marriage to Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford kept the property in the Wentworth family. In 1791 the Wentworth estates were divided between three heiresses, and Toddington and Harlington were in the share inherited by Lady Anne Conolly. Her son sold both manors to John Cooper in 1808, and the Cooper family held them throughout the 19th century.  

The National Archives’ manorial documents register lists various manorial records held by Bedfordshire Archives, the National Archives and the British Library. The two items held here in Bedfordshire are an estreat roll for 1587-1588 [L26/9], in which Harlington is included with other manors of the Honor of Ampthill), and a particular of 1675 [AD1025].  

Other documents held by Bedfordshire Archives include: 

  • AD370: Settlement after death of Philadelphia, Lady Wentworth, 1703 

  • AD371-372: Lease and release, 1704 

  • AD376: Schedule of deeds to Toddington Estate, 1692-1804 

  • AD377: Abstract of title, 1711-1804 

  • AD440: Abstract of deeds relating to manor of Harlington, with rectory, advowson and other property in Harlington, 1807 

  • AD461: Award of partition made by arbitrators, includes map of Manor of Harlington, 1794 

  • AD473-474: Marriage settlement, Thomas, earl of Strafford, and Anna, daughter of Sir Henry Johnson, 1711 

  • AD475: Bargain and sale, 1791 

  • AD506: Sale of 1/3 of manor of Harlington, with rectory, advowson and other property in Harlington, 1799 

  • AD508-509: Abstracts of title of Henry Vernon to Harlington estate 1791 & 1802 

  • AD512-513: Conveyance of estate to John Cooper, 1808 

  • HN1/8: Plan of manor of Harlington and two farms at Toddington, 1807 

  • HN1/12-14: Plans of Harlington and Toddington Manor estates, c.1905 

  • Z949/1: Copy of marriage settlement, William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Strafford, to Lady Anne Campbell, 1741