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List of Keysoe Vicars

 The parish vexillum February 2016
The parish vexillum February 2016


Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912. It noted that the first mention of the advowson of Keysoe church is in the reign of King John (1199-1216) when Simon de Beauchamp, Baron of Bedford, gave it to Chicksands Priory.

The priory was dissolved in 1538 by King Henry VIII (1509-1547) and the advowson was then granted to Trinity College, Cambridge (though in 1543 William Ardren of Haynes presented, due to a grant from the late priory). The college still held the advowson in 1912.

In 1949 the Vicar of Keysoe also became Rector of Little Staughton. In 1957 the living of Bolnhurst was united with those of Keysoe and Little Staughton, and this arrangement remains at the time of writing [2016]. The patronage is divided into three turns, the Bishop of Saint Albans taking two turns and Corpus Christi College, Oxford one turn. Each of the three parishes retains its own parish officers and separate parochial church councils whilst sharing an incumbent.

The Crucifixion from the east window February 2016
The Crucifixion from the east window February 2016

List of Vicars

  • William, chaplain: 1154-1189;
  • Henry de Bidehame, chaplain: 1228;
  • Symon, chaplain: 1248;
  • John;
  • John de Hargrave, priest, on the death of John: 10 April 1279;
  • Nicholas de Caldewell, chaplain, on the death of John: 4 March 1325;
  • Henry de Maldon, chaplain, on the death of Nicholas: 3 May 1329;
  • William de Ipre, priest, on the death of Henry de Maldon: 21 May 1329;
  • Henry Botheby;
  • Laurence Warewyk, priest, on the resignation of Henry Botheby, exchanged to Farthington Rectory: 5 July 1367;
  • William Hasulbeck;
  • Nicholas Hadham, Rector of Melton Magna [Great Melton, Norfolk], Diocese of Norwich, by exchange with William Hasulbeck: 24 August 1382;
  • John Titchmerssh, Vicar of Hormade [Hormead, Hertfordshire], Diocese of London, on exchange with Nicholas Hadham: 22 February 1385;
  • Thomas Gifford, priest, on the resignation of John Tychemersh: 9 April 1389;
  • John Spaldewyk, priest: 10 November 1390;
  • John Gray, on the resignation of John, exchanged to Saint Benedict’s Rectory, Huntyngdon [Huntingdon]: 15 July 1404;
  • Robert Picheford;
  • Reginald Syneker, Vicar of Witlisford [Whittlesford, Cambridgeshire], Diocese of Ely, on exchange with Robert Picheford: 16 April 1411;
  • Walter Columre;
  • Thomas Good, priest, on the resignation of Walter Columre: 28 February 1434;
  • William Polow, priest, on death of Thomas Goode: 16 January 1458;
  • John Ledys, priest, on the death of William Pollo: 11 March 1466;
  • Brother William Middlesburgh, Canon of Chixsond [Chicksands], on the resignation of John Ledys: 21 April 1469;
  • Thomas Maclousche, priest, on the death of William Middlesborth: 14 February 1493;
  • Thomas Clerke;
  • Robert Worthyngton, chaplain, on the death of Thomas Clerke: 5 February 1518;
  • William Boydon, chaplain, on the death of Robert Worthington: 18 September 1518;
  • Thomas Nixe, chaplain, on the death of William Boden: 22 November 1543;
  • John Monckton, clerk: 4 July 1554;
  • Geoffrey Horne, clerk, on the death of John Moncton, clerk: 23 October 1560;
  • Francis Farwhatt, clerk, on the death of Geoffrey Holmes: 10 July 1562;
  • Thomas Mason, clerk, on the resignation of Francis Farfraite: 4 January 1574;
  • John Gleasonn M.A.: 25 February 1591;
  • George Watts M.A., on the resignation of the last incumbent: 5 December 1597;
  • Robert Elinge: 8 May 1599;
  • William Barton M.A., on the death of Robert Ealinge, M.A.: 14 January 1605;
  • Richard Wattes B.A., on the resignation of William Barton: 6 May 1606;
  • Christopher Rudston M.A.: 15 January 1624;
  • Anthony Aikerod: 1631;
  • Gervase Falconer: 1639;
  • Nathaniel Laurence: 1656;
  • John Dodd;
  • Thomas Briscoe, clerk, on the cession of John Dodd; (buried 18 April 1697): 8 February 1666;
  • George Tooley A.B., on the death of Thomas Briscoe, he was also curate of Little Staughton: 21 December 1697;
  • Thomas Lufton A.B., on the death of George Tooley: 8 March 1720;
  • John Pemberton B.A., on the death of George Lufton: 8 March 1745;
  • Robert Willan M.A., on the death of John Pemberton: 9 July 1776;
  • Frogmere Cumming M.A., on the death of Robert Willan: 26 July 1796;
  • William Balfour Winning M.A., on the death of F Cumming: 22 March 1827;
  • William Airy M.A., on the resignation of William Balfour Winning: 25 February 1836;
  • John Hill Banham M.A., on the death of William Airy: 9 January 1875;
  • George Chapman: November 1927;
  • Victor John French: May 1942;
  • Samuel George Bush Western: February 1947;
  • John Haywood Boyd Roberts: 1957
  • John Charles Laird: 1969;
  • No priest between 2001 and time of writing [2016]

 The font February 2016
The font February 2016


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 Keysoe are as follows:

  • 1709: “None un-baptized who come to Church. Many not Confirmed. Communicants, constant 8 or 9. The Generality seldom, or never receive at all”.
  • 1712: “The Vicar resides upon his Vicarege. None Unbaptized come to Church. Divine Service here once a day, the other time at Little Staughton, contiguous to it, the same Congregation at Both … Communion 3 times a year. About 16 usually receive”.
  • 1717: “I Reside in my Vicarage House. I keep no Curate. I know not of any who come to Church that are unbaptized. Several Persons of Competent age have not yet received Confirmation, but are desirous to offer themselves to it. No Adults have been Baptized since my last Visitation. The service is performed in the Church every Lord’s Day either in the morning or afternoon. Every fortnight the service is here in the morning of that day. The part of the day when I am not here, I officiate (as Curate) att Little Staughton, and my Parishioners do usually resort thither, being but a very short mile distant … the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is administered thrice in the year, viz. on Christmas-day, Easter-day and WhitSunday, or on the Sundays Immediately following them. There are about 20 who do usually receive, and about 16 or 17 of them did communicate at Easter last”.
  • 1720: The vicar still resided in his vicarage and had no curate. Services were held every Sunday, one week in the morning the next in the afternoon “the reason is the insufficiency of the vicaridge to maintain a Clergyman which makes him seek something more to make it sufficient” meaning, presumably, that he was still acting as curate at Little Staughton as well as Vicar of Keysoe. Sacrament was still given three times a year, with thirteen having received the previous Easter.

 The south doorway February 2016
The south doorway February 2016

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 Keysoe church was made by the vicar, William Airy, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • The church had 200 free seats and 50 others;
  • Morning congregation had been 80, with 100 in the evening;
  • Sunday scholars had been 41 at the morning service.
  • Averages for the preceding twelve months had been 100 in the morning, 150 in the afternoon and 100 in the evening, with 50 Sunday scholars morning and afternoon: “The undersigned has estimated the above particulars to the best of his ability but it is not his habit to count his congregation while celebrating Divine Worship”.