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List of Harrold vicars

Harrold church from the south east May 2008
Harrold church from the south-east May 2008


Below is a list of vicars of Harrold, as complete as historical sources allow. Harrold has had a number of different patrons of the living, the earliest known being the convent of Harrold, which was patron when Walter was vicar around 1200. The convent continued to own the advowson until the Reformation and the suppression of the establishment under Henry VIII. Interestingly it is known that in 1452 Thomasina Courtney, a nun, was acting as administratrix for her convent and granted the living to Thomas Ry. In 1530 the convent had granted the advowson to Robert Stukeley, presumably some relation of the vicar John Stukeley. Robert and John were patrons in 1551 though in 1554 John Cheyney is stated to be the patron. Thomas and Margery Swinton of London were patrons in 1567 and 1569 with Swinton and Francis Farrer in 1585 (the patronage had lapsed in 1579 when the Bishop is listed as patron, in other words, the advowson had been leased to Swinton for a period of years and he had not renewed it).

Thomas and Anne Boteler were patrons in 1624, the bishop in 1643 and William Boteler in 1662, sharing it with William Farrer in 1688, the latter being sole patron by 1710. By 1734 the de Grey family held the advowson, at that time in the person of the Duke of Kent. The advowson stayed in the family until at least 1910 when Lord Lucas of Dingwall was patron. At the time of writing [2008] the advowson is held by the Bishop of St.Albans.

Harrold church - font May 2008
Harrold church - font May 2008


Since 1964 Harrold has shared the same incumbent as Carlton with Chellington. The two parishes remain separate in all other ways, having their own parochial church councils and churchwardens.

  • Walter - c.1200 [witnessed a charter of Eustace le Mordaunt to Caldwell Priory at around this date];
  • Eudo - 1226 [chaplain];
  • William de Bukinghame - 1230 [chaplain];
  • Hugh de .....- 1244 [chaplain];
  • Robert;
  • Adam de Pirie - 12 Aug 1280 [chaplain; on death of Robert];
  • John de Eton - 19 Oct 1318 [priest; on death of Adam];
  • Symon de Kaysho - 13 Sep 1327 [on death of John];
  • Nicholas Feebern - 25 Oct 1334 [priest; on resignation of Simon];
  • Robert Godard - 1338;
  • Richard;
  • Nicholas Harewold - 19 Jul 1349 [priest; on death of Richard];
  • Henry Janyn - 23 Jan 1354 [priest; on institution of Nicholas Hayward to Stevington];
  • Robert Godard - 12 Apr 1377 [priest; vacant];
  • Thomas Studlee - 26 Mar 1408 [chaplain; on resignation of Robert Godard];
  • Thomas Tayllour - 21 Dec 1409 [priest; on resignation of Thomas Stodle];
  • Thomas White;
  • John Fretton - 11 Apr 1415 [chaplain; on death of Thomas White];
  • Thomas Beseby - 16 Oct 1415 [priest; on resignation of John Fretton];
  • John Kempe - 7 Jan 1415/6 [chaplain; on resignation of Thomas Beseby];
  • Augustine Luce - 5 Feb 1416/7 [chaplain; on resignation of John Kempe];
  • Thomas Harwode;
  • John Plank - 5 Aug 1434 [priest; on resignation of Thomas Harwode];
  • Thomas Ry - 15 Dec 1452 [priest; on resignation of John Plank];
  • Robert Hulle - 3 Nov 1454 [chaplain; on death of Thomas Rye];
  • Robert Barbour;;
  • Richard Buctrowe - 20 May 1461 [priest; on death of Robert Barbour];
  • Richard Twycrosse - 21 Nov 1465 [priest; on death of Richard Bugtrowte];
  • Thomas Dague - Jan 1471 [priest; on resignation of Richard Twicrosse];
  • Thomas Botiller - 1478 [on resignation of Thomas Dagore, last Vicar];
  • Thomas Watkyn - 28 Nov 1480 [priest; on resignation of Thomas Boteler];
  • Thomas Nevil - 6 Aug 1483 [priest; on resignation of Thomas Watkyns];
  • Robert Person - 1510 [on death of Thomas Nevill];
  • John Stukeley - 16 Jul 1530 [chaplain; on death of last incumbent];
  • Thomas Ashe - 3 May 1551 [clerk; vacant by resignation of John Stukeley];
  • Thomas Banke - 17 Feb 1554 [; on surrender of Thomas Ashe, clerk];
  • Anthony Stewcley - 7 Oct 1557 [priest; on death of last incumbent];
  • Oliver Houghton - 1 Jul 1561 [vacant];
  • William Kerewoode - 12 Feb 1567 [clerk; on resignation of last incumbent];
  • Henry Allen - 1569 [clerk; on resignation of William Kirwood];
  • Marmaduke Pullen - 11 Apr 1579 [Catholic; admitted 17 Jun 1579];
  • Robert Paulus alias Haunchbie MA - 29 Aug 1585 [on death of Marmaduke Pullen];
  • John Robinson - 23 Nov 1610 [buried 17 Feb 1624];
  • John Threlcote MA [buried 12 Nov 1618; will dated 25 Sep 1618, proved 1 Mar 1619; was curate of Biddenham];
  • Robert Gifford MA - 23 Feb 1624;
  • Thomas Fawcett BD;
  • William Waters - 5 Mar 1643 [clerk];
  • John Hatch - 13 Mar 1662 [died 19 Apr 1666];
  • Thomas Faldo BA - 25 Jul 1666 [clerk; on death of John Hatch;
  • Alexander Leith MA - 12 Nov 1688 [on resignation of Thomas Faldo];
  • Abraham Faldo BA - 30 Dec 1689 [degree from Jesus College, Cambridge, 1678; on surrender of Alexander Leith; died 4 Dec 1696; will dated 12 Dec [1695?], proved Dec 1696];
  • John King BA - 28 Dec 1696 [on death of Abraham Faldo; degree from St.Peter's College, Cambridge, 1692; licensed to office of Deacon with benefice; buried 1 Mar 1709];
  • John Bolton BA - 27 Jul 1710 [on death of John King];
  • Ezekiel Rouse BA - 18 Feb 1734 [MA from St.John's College, Cambridge, 1742; on surrender of John Bolton; dispensation, dated 20 Jul 1742, to hold Pulloxhill with Harrold];
  • (John Smith BA - 22 Sep 1746 [of St.John's College, Cambridge; ordained priest 21 Sep 1746; curate]);
  • Charles la Porte MA - 27 Jun 1754 [clerk; received MA from Clare College, Cambridge, 1754; on surrender of Ezekiel Rouse];
  • Ezekiel Rouse BA - 12 Feb 1765 [received MA from St.John's College, Cambridge, 1769; on death of Charles la Porte; patron Philip, Earl of Hardwicke and Jemima, his wife];
  • Thomas Baseley BA - 13 Sep 1792 [MA from St.John's College, Cambridge, 1796]; on surrender of Ezekiel Rouse; patron Jemima, Marchioness Grey; published a volume of sermons and a work called "The Glory of the Heavens"];
  • Robert Woodward - 18 Feb 1799 [clerk; on resignation of Thomas Baseley; author of "The Errors of the Dissenters, Illustrative of the Erroneous Pretences for Separation from the Ancient Established Church", Smith, printers, Bedford, c.1802; imprisoned for conspiracy in 1818];
  • Henry Dixon - 4 Jun 1817 [clerk; on resignation of Robert Woodward];
  • John Balfour Magenis BA - 28 Sep 1822 [on surrender of Henry Dixon];
  • Montague James Taylor BA - 11 Nov 1831 [on resignation of John Balfour Magenis; resigned 19 Jun 1845; died at 43 Beaufort Gardens, London, 29 Jun 1896; married Louisa Ann, 5th daughter of Sir W.Curtis, bart of Portland Place, London, at Trinity Church, Marylebone on 29 Aug 1832];
  • Richard Garde BA - 1845 [of Trinity College, Dublin; on resignation of last Vicar; collated to be Vicar of Catterick [Yorkshire] in 1869 by his brother-in-law Dr.Robert Bickersteth, Bishop of Ripon, who was married to Elizabeth, daughter of Joseph Garde, gentleman on 21 Jul 1846];
  • John Steel MA - 7 May 1869 [of Balliol College, Oxford; on resignation of Richard Garde];
  • John Mills Walker - Jun 1895;
  • Herbert Lilley - Feb 1901;
  • Percy Llewellyn Leakey - Jul 1915;
  • Priaulx Clare Ingrouille - Dec 1926;
  • John Alexander MacWilliam - Jul 1952;
  • Thomas Hooton Michael Dix - 1959
  • Peter Eugene Blagdon-Gamlen - 1964;
  • Ronald Gavin Henderson Cooper - 1968;
  • Charles Alfred Billington - 1972;
  • David Richard Thurburn-Huelin - 1981;
  • Jonathan P.Smith - 1988;
  • Geoff Gillard - 1997; 
  • Jean Burrows - 1999;
  • Jane Fox - 2008;
  • Jacqueline Curtis and Peter Turnbull - 2016.

medieval gravestone in Harrold church porch May 2008
Medieval gravestone in Harrold church porch May 2008


It should not be assumed that all of the above necessarily lived and worked in the parish; before the 20th century it was common for incumbents to hold more than one living at a time and employ a curate to carry out the functions of the parish priest. Bedfordshire Historical Records Society Volume 81 (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. In 1712 the vicar reported: "The Vicar resides at his other Parish, distant 2 miles [Sharnbrook]. None come to church Un-baptized, many not confirmed. Divine Service once every Lords day…Communion 4 times a year. 35 received at Easter last".

In 1717 the vicar wrote: "I am at the Vicaridge [sic] house generally two days in each week where I have two rooms furnished a ground room and a lodging room, but my family where I keep house is at Sharnbrook my other vicaridge two miles distant from Harrold…I do not know of any that come to Church who are not baptized but of many who are of competent age and are not Confirmed. No Adult person baptized since the last Visitation…Services: It is duly performed once every Lord's day, the morning service one Lord's day, the evening service the next, and so alternatively throughout the year…four times in the year the Sacrament of the Lord's supper is here administered. Last Easter there were nine and twenty Communicants…Open and timely notice of the Sacrament is allways [sic] here given before it is administered. The parishioners do not send their names. I have not refused the Sacrament to any one of them".

This non-residency is graphically illustrated for Harrold in the year 1779. The estate correspondence of Philip Yorke, 2nd Earl Hardwicke, who held the advowson of Harrold [CRT100/27/4], contains a letter from Joseph Pawsey written on 28th April 1779 in which he states: "I returned from Harrold on Saturday…They have no resident curate but comes from Bedford (ten miles) on a Sunday. Several of the principal inhabitants expressed a wish to have a curate reside among them, that the sick might be visited and the duty regularly done. I beg leave to remark that the houses at Harrold are in general very bad and that Mr.Rouse does not let the curate (whoever he may be) live in the parsonage house, nor will the person who lives in the parsonage house let them have any part of the house to live in, so that the curates are always obliged to board wherever they can be taken in and however bad and disagreeable the accommodations; this will always deter men of character and reputation in the profession from serving the curacy of Harrold. Your Lordship may depend on this being a true state of facts, but I should be glad not to have it known from what quarter it came".

Mr.Rouse was Ezekiel Rouse. He was Vicar of Harrold from 1765 to 1792 and also Rector of Clophill from 1754 to 1792 and Vicar of Pulloxhill from 1742 to 1792. He died in 1792 aged 84. He had two sons William, who died in 1793 aged 58 and Ezekiel who died in 1799 aged 60.  One of these, from the letter below, seems to have been serving as curate of Harrold until he became ill. Rouse's reply to the Earl was written at Clophill on 2 May 1779. "I am extremely sorry to find that your Lordship has been given trouble with complaints from Harrold. I can assure your Lordship that the curates always have been and will be permitted to have a lodging in the vicarage house whenever disposed to accept the offer. But curates, my Lord, seem to expect more and greater conveniences than small inconsiderable country villages or towns can afford them. Since I began [in] the world the times are much changed; and the clergy in general may with the old poet say of themselves et nos mentamus in illus whether for the better or for the worse it is not for me to determine; only I would crave leave to say that such accommodation as would content the desires of a humble clergyman will hardly please the fancy of a fine gentleman. The present curate who is a young man of fair reputation, a scholar and fellow of Christ Church College, Oxford, my son has no intention of employing any longer than until he can procure a proper person, who will be content to reside on the spot; being desirous to give all the satisfaction in his power (as every clergyman who thinks aright will do) to his parishioners, although I am sorry to say of the good people of Harrold that I know them well enough to believe that the most unexceptionable person would find that a very difficult task. My son, to my great affliction is in so bad a state of health as to be wholly incapacitated for the performance of any part of the duties of his function, occasioned by a long continued cough, a shortness of breath and an inability to lay down in his bed; being obliged every night to be propped up in it. Upon the advice of his physician he came down hither to try the country air, in hopes that he might find some benefit by it. But I ought not to trouble your Lordship with accounts of this nature".

Harrold church stained glass in north aisle window May 2008
Harrold church stained glass in north aisle window May 2008

Ecclesisatical Census of 1851

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 Harrold  church, made by the Vicar, Richard Garde recorded seating accommodation for 350. He recorded that attendance was 108, with 106 Sunday Scholars in the morning and 189, with 128 Sunday Scholars in the afternoon - grand totals of 214 and 317 - figures somewhat smaller than those of the Congregationalist chapel.

Welcome Home!

It must be unusual for a clergyman to be welcomed back from his holidays by ringing the church bells, but this happened in 1881 as the Bedfordshire Mercury of 22nd October relates: “The bells were merrily rung last Friday evening, to welcome home the vicar, the Rev.J.Steel, after an absence of about five weeks, most of which time he has spent in Cornwall. The services at the church during his holiday have been taken by the Rev.E.Popham, of Bedford”. Perhaps Rev.Popham gave very long and very tedious sermons.