The Black Boy Inn Leighton Buzzard
26 High Street about 1905 - a possible site of the Black Boy
The Black Boy Inn: south side of the High Street, Leighton Buzzard.
The Manor of Leighton Buzzard alias Grovebury was the principal landowner in the town before the 19th century. Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service has a full run of court rolls from 1393 to 1727 [KK619-715] and another full run from 1704 to 1867 [X288/1-23]. The service also has court rolls for other manor to own land in the town, the Prebendal Manor, from 1448 to 1459, 1588 to 1591, 1611 to 1622, 1627 and 1631 [KK792-798]. Detailed study of these would be bound to produce quite full histories for most licensed premises in the town. Unfortunately such study would take a very long time. Thus the histories of licensed premises in these web pages are quite summary and not necessarily the full story.
The first mention of the Black Boy in documents held by Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service comes in 1584 when Windsor [Berkshire] tallow chandler John Tudman leased the inn to Christopher Hoddesdon. It is described simply as having properties of Edmund Carvylle east and Edmund Tudman west [CRT110/109 page 15]. A book of quitrents notes George Foster paying eight pence for the Black Boy in 1656 [KK780]. In 1679 Alicia Leigh paid eight pence quitrent for "Foster's house being the signe [sic] of the Black Boy" [KK782].
In 1717 the following entry was made in "a particular of the Prebend of Leighton Buzzard as the same is now demised, letten and held by the Honourable Elizabeth Leigh and her tenants". The entry reads: "The tythe [sic] of and belonging to the Towne [sic] of Leighton now in lease to Arthur Tarsey together with a messuage or inn called the Black Boy and the malthouse, barns, stable, yard &co. thereto belonging being freehold and now part of the Prebend £147/10/- per annum" [KK801].
In 1738 a barn was conveyed by John Capon and Mary, his wife, to the Honourable Charles Leigh. It was described as "abutting south on the Black Boy yard" [KK228/10 and KK334]. It also noted that as part of the conveyance permission had been given for a building to be erected against the wall of the Black Boy yard which separated it from the Kings Arms yard. This suggests that the Black Boy stood somewhere near the Kings Arms - which abutted the Red Lion on the north side of the High Street.
The last mention of the Black Boy is in 1753 [BC99-100]. This mention undermines the suppositions made above as to the location of the Black Boy. The document is a conveyance of a "capital messuage" [i.e. a big house!] described as on the south side of the Great Street, obviously the High Street. The former Black Boy adjoined the property to the west. This tells us two things - firstly that the Black Boy ceased to be an inn between 1738 and 1753. Secondly it tells us that the assumption that the Black Boy was on the north side of the High Street is wrong. That assumption was due to the proximity of the respective yards. The explanation, perhaps, is that both the yards did, indeed, stand next to one another but that the inn of one of the two stood on the opposite side of the road to the inn. This, though unusual, would certainly not be unknown. If the Black Boy did stand nearly facing the Kings Arms this would put the site somewhere in the region of 24 to 28 High Street. It is possible that the "capital messuage" was Leighton House, 28 High Street, demolished in 1958 to make way for the Co-operative department store. This would mean that the Black Boy stood on the site of Number 26, the butcher Percy Wright Oates' shop in the photograph at the head of the page, but this is highly speculative!
- CRT110/109 p.15: lease from of the Black Boy: 1584;
- KK780: Manor of Leighton Buzzard quit rental: 1656;
- KK782: Manor of Leighton Buzzard quit rental: 1679;
- KK801: tithe held with the Black Boy: 1717;
- KK957 and KK228/10: conveyance of barn abutting the Black Boy yard: 1738;
- KK333-334: conveyance of a barn abutting on the Black Boy yard: 1738;
- BC99-100: conveyance of premises adjoining the former Black Boy: 1753.