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List of Houghton Conquest Rectors

The church from the south-east January 2016
The church from the south-east January 2016


Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912. Houghton Conquest is unique in Bedfordshire as a parish which was divided into two advowsons – Houghton Franchise and Houghton Gildable. There was only one church, served by two parsons, who each had a separate parsonage.

The advowson of Houghton Franchise was, by 1383, in the hands of the Conquest family, Lords of the Manor of Houghton Conquest. The advowson of Houghton Gildable was in the hands of the Barony of Bedford. After the death of John de Beauchamp at the Battle of Evesham in 1265 the barony was divided between his sisters and it was Ela who received the advowson of Houghton Gildable. To further complicate the picture in Houghton Conquest this advowson was divided into three on Ela’s death, one third going to each of her daughters. Eventually one of the thirds lapsed and the other two were amalgamated in the Pigot family until 1430 when Baldwin Pigot alienated the advowson to John Cornwall. By 1539 it had come into the possession of Sir Edward Bedingfield and he alienated in that year to Sir John Gostwick of Willington. Eventually the advowson came into the hands of the Conquest family, uniting the two advowsons in one ownership. Accordingly, in 1637, Sir Richard Conquest petitioned to amalgamate the two advowsons. This was granted and came about in 1641.

The new advowson of Houghton Conquest soon left the Conquest family, the last time they presented a rector being in 1662. Eventually, in 1725 Zachery Grey sold the advowson to his old college – Saint John’s, Cambridge, which held it into the 20th century.

Since 1978 the Rector of Houghton Conquest has also been the Vicar of Wilshamstead. The two ecclesiastical parishes remain separate with their own parochial church councils and church officers, they simply share a priest. The advowson of the two parishes is held alternately by the Bishop of Saint Albans and Saint John’s College, Cambridge.

Rectory of Houghton Franchise

  • Peter de Sudhamtone: c. 1214-1219
  • Geoffrey Conquest, having previously been presented as a minor, now having reached his majority: 22 December 1285;
  • John de la Bourn, acolite, on the death of Geoffrey: 13th February 1313;
  • Simon de Northwode;
  • William Conquest, clerk, to a moiety on the resignation of Simon de Northwode: 3 October 1337;
  • John Conquest, on the death of William Conquest; he died on the Friday before Feast of Saint Margaret last [either 5th or 19th July 1409, depending on which Margaret was meant]: 26 July 1369
  • John Mason, Vicar of Ampthill, to a moiety on the death of John Conquest patron: 27 July 1409;
  • Ralph Conquest;
  • William Gunwardby, Bishop of Dunkeld, on the resignation of ralph Conquest: 26 March 1452;
  • John Dey, chaplain, to a moiety on the resignation of William, Bishop of Dunkeld: 2 June 1457;
  • Thomas Yerburgh, on the death of John Dey: 6th March 1484;
  • John Underhill, on the resignation of Thomas Yerburgh: 15 July 1491;
  • Thomas Hume, on the resignation of John Underhill: 17 April 1509;
  • Humphrey Gascoigne LLB, on the death of Thomas Hume: 28 July 1510;
  • William Frankelyn, priest; to moiety on the resignation of Humphrey Gascoigne: 3 December 1515;
  • Thomas Birde, on the resignation of William Franklyn: 25 February 1537;
  • John Oldestocke, chaplain, on the resignation of Thomas Burde: 29 September 1542;
  • Thomas Collens, clerk; instituted both to Houghton Gildable and Houghton on the death of John Holdstocke, he married Joan Worsley at Wootton on 5 December 1575 and resigned 20 October 1576, afterwards Rector of Milton Bryan: 30 October 1568;
  • Thomas Page, on the resignation of Thomas Collyns, his widow Martha was buried 2 February 1615 at Saint Nicholas, Deptford [Kent]: 23 October 1576;
  • Thomas Archer MA (Trinity, Cambridge), chaplain to James I, born at Bury Saint Edmunds [Suffolk] on 12 August 1554, he was buried 20 January 1632, his will dated 1 November 1630 was proved on 2 March 1632, he asked to be buried in chancel: 9 May 1589;
  • Robert Grigge, buried 16 December 1636: 19 January 1631;
  • Cheyney Rowe DD: 30 December 1636

Rectory of Houghton Gildable

  • John de Bello Campo c. 1214-1219;
  • Peter de Sudhamtone, on tehd eprivation of John de Beauchamp c. 1214-1219;
  • John de Dunstaple: by 1269;
  • William de Lubho, on the death of John de Dunstaple: 3 May 1273;
  • Robert de Suddebrok, clerk, to a moiety of the living on death of William de Lubenham: 16 May 1304;
  • Robert de Morcote, chaplain, to a moiety of the living on death of Robert de Sudbrok: 31 January 1308;
  • John Speling, of Cardington, clerk; on the death of Robert de Morecot: 8 April 1323;
  • William de Gayton, clerk; to a moiety of the living on the death of John Speling: 12 December 1331;
  • Henry Balle, of Aldwinkle [Northamptonshire], priest, to a moiety on the death of William de Gayton: 1 July 1349;
  • Geoffrey Burgh, priest, on the death of Henry Balle: 1 June 1366;
  • John Drugge, of Beddington [Surrey], to a moiety on the death of Geoffrey Burgh: 9 April 1399;
  • John Janyun, chaplain, on the death of John Drug: 18 February 1404;
  • William Stewenys;
  • William Hoveden, to a moiety on death of William Stewenys: 7 October 1451;
  • John Freman, priest, to a moiety, on the resignation of William Hovenden, exchanged to moiety of Rectory of Woodford: 16 May 1453;
  • John Cras, priest, to a moiety on the resignation of John Freman who exchanged to Cheshull Parva [diocese of London]: 3 November 1456;
  • John Tapett, priest, to moiety on the death of John Crace: 2 January 1462;
  • John Bowland;
  • Henry Abraham, to a moiety on the resignation of John Bowland: 20 November 1464;
  • William Stanford, priest, to a moiety on the resignation of Henry Abraham: 19 December 1465;
  • Richard Wright, chaplain, to a moiety on the resignation of William Stanford: 9 April 1489;
  • Ralph Cocke, chaplain, to a moiety on the resignation of Richard Wright: 11 February 1525;
  • William Coven, chaplain, on the resignation of Ralph Cooke; he was buried on 8 October 1549: 1 June 1531;
  • William Tatehame, clerk, on the death of William Coven, clerk: 30 January 1550;
  • William Walker: 19 December 1551;
  • John Holdstocke, on the resignation of William Walker; he was buried 18 May 1568, his will is dated 17 May 1568 and he wished to be buried in the chancel: 3 November 1557;
  • Thomas Collens, on the death of John Holdstocke: 30 October 1568;
  • Thomas Page, on the resignation of Thomas Collins: 3 December 1578;
  • Thomas Archer: 9 May 1589;
  • Robert Grigge: 21 January 1631;
  • Josiah Alsop MA: 5 January 1637

Rectories of Houghton Conquest and Houghton Gildable united 1641

  • Edward Martin, sequestered 1643: 26 February 1638;
  • Nicholas East: occurs 1646;
  • George Bayly, he died 24 October 1654, his will is dated 23 September 1654: 1649;
  • John Poynter: 13 October 1654;
  • Samuel Fairclough, married Frances Folter of Ketton [Suffolk] at Saint Peter's Cornhill, London on 25 October 1655, being then Minister of Houghton Conquest; ejected 1660: 6 April 1655
  • Edward Martyn DD, died 1662: restored 1660
  • Samuel Lee AM, clerk, on the death of Edward Martin STP; he was buried on 4 August 1674 and had a dispensation dated 8 August 1662 to hold in plurality with Vicarage of Chaddesley Corbett [Worcestershire]: 20 May 1662;
  • Robert Beverley, on the death of Samuel Lee: 5 June 1674;
  • Thomas Poynter MA, clerk married Mrs Mary Chapman 1696, he was buried 8 October 1700: 3 December 1675 (Houghton Gildable) and 4 April 1676 (Houghton Conquest);
  • George Elcock MA, ordained priest 13 Apr 1669 by Robert Skinner, Bishop of Worcester, his institution must have been overturned as Thomas Poynter continued as rector until his death in 1700: 20 October 1676;
  • John Stone MA: 9 August 1703;
  • John Birch AM, on the death of John Stone; he was buried on 22 Jan 1725: 29 October 1706;
  • Zachary Grey LLB, on the death of John Burch; born at Burniston [North Yorkshire] 6 May 1688; editor of "Hudibras"; he died at Ampthill on 25 November 1766 aged 78; he was also Vicar of Saints Peter and Giles, his wife, Susanna, died 13 February 1771, aged 82: 17 March 1725;
  • Joseph Cardale BD, on the death of Zacchary Grey: 11 May 1767;
  • William Pearce BD, on the death of Joseph Cardale: 13 November 1786;
  • Thomas Barber BD, on the death of William Pearce: 11 May 1821;
  • Henry John Rose BD, on the death of Thomas Barber: 16 March 1837;
  • Edward Woodley Bowling MA, on the death of Henry John Rose: 19 June 1873;
  • Herbert Walter Macklin: September 1897;
  • Robert Kater Vintner: December 1914;
  • Francis Aidan Hibbert, prebend: April 1924;
  • Geoffrey Arthur Hopkins: September 1926;
  • George Preston Kelsall Winlaw: July 1931;
  • Reginald Henry Goode: April 1946;
  • William Henry Moore: 1952;
  • Frank Burgess Williams: 1957;
  • Martin John Banister: 1978;
  • Roderick Palmer: 1990;
  • Stephen J Toze: 2002


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 Houghton Conquest are as follows:

  • 1709: the rector, John Birch had a curate, Ezekiel Rouse, who was paid £30 per annum. He was also the schoolmaster. “One Un-baptized comes now and then to Church. He is newly brought off from Quakerism. Severall of the same kind, though long baptized, are not yet Confirmed. Communicants more than 50. Almost as many have received, but at Easter last not above 30. Many of Age never come at all”.
  • 1712: “The Rector most part of the year in the Parish, not in the Parsonage house, which is not yet quite rebuilt. His Curate resides, and is to have £30 per Annum and surplesse fees. None Un-baptized come to Church. Some not Confirmed. Divine service twice every Lord’s day, once on Litanie and Holy-days. Communions 3 times a year. Many receive, the number uncertain”.
  • 1717: “I do Reside personally upon my Cure and in my Parsonage House. I have a Residing Curate, duly qualifyd according to the Canons in that Behalf. I do allow him thirty pounds per annum and the Surplice Fees. Unbaptized We have none that I know of, that come to Church who are unbaptized, but severall of a Competent Age, as yet not confirmed will, I question not, embrace the first opportunity. William Lock, an Adult, was baptized since the last Visitation of Your Lordship’s Predecessor. The publick Service is duly performed in our church upon Sundays and Holy days; twice every Lord’s Day, as the Act of Uniformity and Canons of the Church require … The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is every year thrice administered. We have about four score communicants, of which fifty usually receive, particularly last Easter”.
  • 1720: He rector still resided in the parish, but: “Robert Clarke has been my Curate about nine years. He is duly qualified according to the Canons in that behalf. I allow him thirty pounds a year and surplice fees. The Publick Service is read every Wednesday, Friday and Holiday; and it is duly perform’d twice every Lord’s Day … The Sacrament is administered four time a year. We have about eighty Communicants in our parish; Near sixty of them usually receive, particularly at Easter last”.

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 Houghton Conquest church was made by the rector, Henry John Rose, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • There were 100 free seats, 100 others, 140 for the school and room for at least 100 more;
  • General congregation had been 94 in the morning and 119 in the afternoon
  • Sunday scholars had been 134 both during the morning and the afternoon
  • “The Congregation smaller than usual this Sunday”.