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A List of Husborne Crawley Vicars

The parish vexillum January 2011
The parish vexillum January 2011


The advowson of the church of Husborne Crawley was granted to Dunstable Priory about 1170 and passed to the Crown when the priory was dissolved by King Henry VIII (1509-1547) in 1540 but was in the hands of John Thompson by the time of his death in 1597 and thereafter was held until 1721 by the Lord of the Manor (in fact three manors as Crawley, Husborne Crawley and Brays had been united in the ownership of the Thompson family in the late 16th century). In 1721 the three manors were sold to the Duke of Bedford but the advowson and Crawley Manor house were exempted from the sale as both had been bought by Edmund Williamson in 1710. His grandson sold the advowson to the duke in 1794 and he continued to hold it into the 20th century.

In 1720 it was noted: "This Parish is being consolidated with Ridgmont".In fact they had shared the same vicar since 1715 and the same curate before that. The two parishes may have continued to share the same incumbent from 1720 to 1790.Aspley Guise and Husborne Crawley were united, briefly, in 1795 under Rev. Thomas Tipping Aveling but this ended in 1813. From 1849 to 1865 Husborne Crawley shared a Vicar with Ridgmont. Since 1961 Husborne Crawley has shared a Vicar with Ridgmont and since 1980 with Aspley Guise and Ridgmont (in fact the new incumbent of Aspley Guise, Robert Hardy, later Bishop of Lincoln was in charge of all three parishes from his appointment in 1975 but was not officially Rector of Aspley Guise and Vicar of Husborne Crawley and Ridgmont until 1980 ). The parishes remain independent, with their own parochial church councils, churchwardens and services.

Bedford Estates is still one of the patrons of the living of the three churches and has one turn in four in nominating the vicar. The other patrons are the Bishop of Saint Albans (who has two turns in four) and the Lord Chancellor.

The pulpit January 2011
The pulpit January 2011

List of Vicars

The following list of vicars of Husborne Crawley is as complete as records will allow; there are some gaps and uncertainties, mostly in the 17th and 18th centuries:

  • Geoffrey: chaplain: 1219;
  • Simon de Wengrave: 1230;
  • Thomas;
  • William de Ely: chaplain; on the death of Thomas: 1273;
  • Henry Wolf: on the death of William: 8th February 1323;
  • John Surman: priest; on the resignation of Henry: 9th August 1349;
  • John Archer of Millbrook: vacant: 26th May 1377;
  • John Jurdon: priest; on the death of John Archer: 1st April 1414;
  • Henry Crapples: priest; on death of John Jordon: 15th January 1462;
  • Thomas Whitacre: priest; on death of Henry Cracples: 23rd October 1465;
  • Roger Wodward: on the resignation of Thomas Whitakres: 30th April 1475;
  • William Pedder: chaplain; on the death of Roger Wodward: 19th December 1506;
  • Richard Byrch: noted as Vicar in this year: 1534;
  • John Stalworthe: priest; on the death of last incumbent: 13th March 1545;
  • Thomas Brigg or Birde or Birdge: clerk; on the resignation of John Stalworthe; buried 20th May 1579: 3rd August 1546;
  • Robert Tomson: on the death of Thomas: 1579;
  • Richard Harvie: on the death of the previous incumbent; buried 19th June 1623; his will was dated 2nd September 1622 and proved 25th June 1623: 7th August 1579;
  • Edmund Fountaine: 6th October 1623;
  • Francis Fletcher: buried 30th Jun 1628: 6th October 1625;
  • Nathaniel Hill: minister: 1628
  • Hezekiah Slingsby: minister: 1639;
  • James Dutton: clerk: 27th May 1643;
  • Robert Stackhouse: 1664;
  • John Carter: clerk; buried 20th September 1701: 1675;
  • William Barnwell: 1683;
  • William Slingsby: buried 15th January 1697; his will was dated 11 January and proved on 22nd January 1697:
  • (Joseph Pulford, curate: 1708);
  • (Horne, curate 1712);
  • Thomas Wilkinson: minister: 1715;

"This Parish is being consolidated with Ridgmont" 1720

  • (Edward Staunton, curate: 1720);
  • Francis Richardson A. B.: vacant; died 1760;  13th August 1725:
  • Thomas Tipping Aveling - 20 Jan 1795 [clerk; on the death of the last incumbent: 20th January 1795;

Union of Husborne Crawley with Aspley Guise 1795-1813

  • William Charles Cavendish Bentinck M. A.: vacant: 3rd November 1849;
  • (Samuel Wright: stipendiary curate: 1822);
  • Villiers Shallet Chernocke Smith M. A.: on the death of William Charles Cavendish Bentinck; stipendiary curate from 1850: 26th October 1865;
  • Richard Shepherd M. A.: on the death of Villiers Shallet Chernocke Smith: 12th April 1871;
  • Charles Falkland Bickmore: December 1891;
  • Albert Rust: May 1900;
  • Alfred Edmund Sasse: May 1914;
  • Albert Rust: July 1926;
  • Wilfrid Joseph Charlton: November 1946;
  • Edward Cyril Forbes Bache: 1957;

Husborne Crawley held with Ridgmont 1961-1980

  • John Wesley Naylor: 1972;

Husborne Crawley held with Aspley Guise and Ridgmont from 1980

  • Robert Maynard Hardy: later Bishop of Lincoln: 1980;
  • Richard William Huband: 1981;
  • John Edmund Ingham: 1992;
  • Graham Bradshaw: 2000.

The font January 2011
The font January 2011


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. This evidently happened at Crawley, which, by 1712, had to share a curate with Ridgmont. It is, perhaps, not surprising that in 1706 it was stated: "[it] has in it 93 families. Of these one halfe [sic] are Dissenters, and call themselves Anabaptists". The returns for Husborne Crawley are as follows:

  • In 1709 Husborne Crawley was served by a curate called Joseph Pulford who had been licensed the previous year.
  • In 1712 the curate, by name of Horne, did not even reside in the parish. He reported: "None come to Church un-baptized. Divine Service once every Lord's say, often upon Holy-days. The other part of this day at Ridgmont. Communions 3 or 4 times a year. About 15 receive.
  • In 1717 Rev. Thomas Wilkinson wrote: I do not Personally reside upon my Cure, there being no Parsonage House nor a convenient place to board at in the Parish, but I reside at a Neighbouring Parish where I am ready to attend at my Parish as often as Necessary, and my Duty to perform mine Office in any kind. None that I know of come to Church who are not Baptized. Those of a Competent Age not confirmed intend to be confirmed the first Opportunity. No Adults Baptized. Services Once Every Lord's Day, either beginning at ten a Clock in the Morning, or at Two or soon after in the Afternoon at Ridgemont [sic] and here alternately in the Morning and Afternoon as the Usual custom has been. The Reason of Service not being performed twice every Lord's day is by reason the Cure of This Parish and Ridgmont are joyned [sic]. Sacrament Thrice at least every Year.
  • By 1720 Husborne Crawley once more had a curate, Edward Staunton, who wrote: the Annual Rents appertaining to the Cure (which I supply by the Order of Mr. Archdeacon Frank) are fourteen pounds and five shillings; and for a suitable Conveniency I sojourn at a small Distance. This Parish is being consolidated with Ridgemont [sic], Divine Service is duly Perform'd but once every Lord's Day. Sacrament Thrice in the Year. About thirty Communicants. Seventeen or eighteen of 'em usually receive. Eighteen did communicate at Easter last.

The view from the south door January 2011
The view from the south door January 2011

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 Husborne Crawley church was made by the curate and famous cricketer Villiers Shallet Charnock Smith who noted the following pieces of information:

  • 210 free sittings and 80 reserved;
  • General congregation 43 in the morning and 90 in the afternoon;
  • Sunday scholars 62 in the morning and 57 in the afternoon;

"The weather being unfavourable, the attendance was rather below average".