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List of Little Staughton Rectors

This article was partly written by Jeannette Atkinson and Brenda Foster


The church from the south January 2017
The church from the south January 2017 (Copyright Brenda Foster)


The right to choose a rector originally belonged to The Knights Templar and then after they were disbanded by Pope Clement V (1312) to the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem (The Hospitallers). Patronage of All Saints, Little Staughton follows the same descent as the manor until the dissolution in 1544 (Victoria County History, Bedfordshire V3, p168).

In 1291, the church was valued at £5 and at the Dissolution in 1544 at £13 18s. 6d. At this time the King granted the advowson to Sir Oliver Leader and Frances his wife.  Lady Leader survived her husband, and on her death in 1557 the advowson passed to her uncle, Francis Baldwin. By 1616 the advowson had been sold to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, who are the patrons to this day.

The interior looking east - copyright All Saints Little Staughton
The interior looking east (Copyright All Saints Little Staughton)

List of Rectors

  • Henry de Etton: 1245;
  • Luke de Stratton;
  • Philip, subdeacon, on the death of Luke de Stratton: 1268;
  • William de la River, chaplain, on the death of Phillip: 28th April 1282;
  • William de Strode;
  • Richard de la More, acolite, on the death of William de Strod: 4th June 1300;
  • William de Mundham, subdeacon; on institution of Richard de la More to another cure of souls: 2nd March 1302;
  • John de Borham, Rector of Deal [Kent], by exchange with William de Mondham: 18th October 1330;
  • John Ludeseye: 10th December 1379;
  • William Osgodby, Rector of Stretham [Cambridgeshire], on exchange with John Ludeseye: 23rd October 1383;
  • Henry Bokelond, Rector of Whitstable [Kent], by exchange with William Osgodby: 7th July 1387;
  • Richard Eland, clerk from Durham diocese, vacant: 28th November 1388;
  • William Wylughton, Rector of Doddinghurst [Essex], by exchange with Richard Eland: 13th July 1389;
  • John Hanerbergh, priest, vacant: 9th December 1390;
  • William de Pychthorn, priest, on the resignation of John; he was son of William Couper de Clyve alias John de Hanerbergh who exchanged to the Rectory of Walton iuxta Ramsey: 18th April 1398;
  • M. S. Halles;
  • Walter Trengof, chaplain, on the resignation of M. S. Halles: 28th August 1418
  • Thomas Broke of Dingley [Northamptonshire], priest, vacant: 3rd September 1419;
  • Edward Lityll, priest, vacant: 28th February 1444;
  • John Benet, priest, on the death of Edward Lityll: 29th October 1445;
  • Robert Passelewe BA, on the resignation of John Benet: 26th May 1453;
  • William Corker, priest, on the resignation of Robert Passelewe: 3rd December 1462;;
  • Robert Wadyluf, chaplain, on the resignation of William Corker, he had a pension of 6/8 per annum: 18th March 1507;
  • John Smyth BA, on the death of Robert Wadylowe: 21st April 1531;
  • Robert Wakerley, clerk, on the death of the last incumbent: 4th January 1555;
  • Anthony Hopkyn, clerk, on the resignation of the last incumbent: 28th July 1556;
  • Thomas Wilsonne: 1st August 1559;
  • Thomas Noke, on death of Anthony Hopkyn: 6th August 1572;
  • Robert Condall BD, on death of Thomas Noke: 4th January 1574;
  • Michael Hewes, vicar, he was buried 9 Oct 1612: 1606;
  • Henry Gale, minister, he married Katherine Gray on 20th February 1615 and he was buried 16th August 1639: 17th November 1612;
  • Henry Gering: 13th September 1639;
  • Noel Sparke, clerk, of Corpus Christi College, Oxford: 5th June 1644;
  • William Lake BD, he was sequestered 1644 and re-installed 5th July 1647; he was buried 15th April 1679 and his will is dated 16th March, proved 20th June 1682: 18th October 1644;
  • - Mason, intruded: 19th July 1644;
  • John Wickes STB, on the death of William Lake STB: 17th September 1679;
  • William Hughes MA, on the cession of John Wicks STB: 14th June 1684;
  • Richard Allyn STB, on the death of William Hughes, clerk; the value of the living was 13/8/4 per annum, he married Dorothy Cheyne at Ampthill on 15th April 1701: 19th December 1699;
  • (W Oldys "licensed curate": 12th August 1706);
  • (George Tooley, known to be curate: 1709-1717);
  • James Muscut MA, on the death of Richard Allen BD: 14th February 1734;
  • (John Jones, clerk; admitted curate: 5th April 1746)
  • (Edward Marshall BA of Clare Hall, Cambridge, ordained deacon as curate; ordained priest 2nd June 1751 as curate: 10th June 1750);
  • Edward Towersey BA :13th October 1753;
  • John Keble MA, on the death of Edward Towersey: 11th September 1776;
  • Humphrey Smythies MA, on the cession of John Keble: 26th February 1782;
  • John Emeris BD, on the death of Humphrey Smithies: 23rd October 1806;
  • John Emeris BD, on the cession of John Emeris: 24th February 1820;;
  • Francis Robinson MA, on the death of John Emeris: 9th August 1831;
  • Francis Robinson MA, on the cession of Francis Robinson: 17th September 1834;
  • (Alexander G Hildgard known to be curate: 1851);
  • Henry Gordon Cranmer BA: 1881;
  • Alfred Arthur Hancock MA, on death of Henry Gordon Cranmer: 1899;
  • Edward Fisher: June 1939;
  • Robert George Lancelot Spurgin: August 1944;
  • James Odiarne Robertson-Luxford : December 1945;
  • Samuel George Bush Western: April 1949;
  • John Haywood Boyd Roberts: 1957;
  • John Charles Laird, who retired on 12th May 2001: 1969;
  • Judi Clarke, who led her first service as priest in charge of Little Staughton on 2nd February 2014 and retired on 21st August 2016: 2014.

On 1st June 2015 ‘The Benefice of The Staughtons with Hail Weston’
was created in the Diocese of Ely, thus removing Lower Stondon from the Diocese of saint Albans and Archdeaconry of Bedford  

  • Nicki Bland -  September 2017


South aisle window March 2017
South aisle window March 2017

Visitations / Terriers

Detailed accounts of church holdings exist from 1712 [ABE ii I p32] to 1852 (BHRC Bedfordshire Churches Part II V79 ed. Pickford). After the split from the Roman Catholic Church and following the Toleration Act of 1689 it was important for the Established Church to document activity within each Parish as there were rival institutions (non-conformists). The accounts detail ongoing conservation work for property, the cost to parishioners of the established church services and the number of parishioners attending services.

In 1712 the Bishop was paid 2s 8d for his biennial visitation/proclamations and the archdeacon visited annually and was paid 4s 6d [ABE ii I p32]. By 1822 the ‘churching of women’ after recovery from childbirth cost 6d, proclaiming wedding banns 1s, wedding licence 2s 6d, tolling the bell for a funeral 1s and grave digging 6d.

It was noted at the visitation of 1839 that ‘The cracked Bell to be recast when the Parish has recovered from the heavy charges incurred from the damage of the Spire by lightening – and the stealing of the lead from the Church’.

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 Little Staughton are as follows: 

  • 1706: The parish "is of large Extent, yet has but 33 families in it. Of these, 1 is of Quakers, and 5 of independents who go off wholly from the Church. All the rest go to Church. There is no Meeting house in this parish ... No Papist, or reputed papist, lives in it".
  • 1709: the rector lived at Maulden. Mr. George Tooley is Curate with stipend of £24 per Annum and Surplice fees. He lives at Keyso which joyns to this. Licensed Curate W Oldys 12 August 1706. Families 45 ... of these 6 families of Independents, 2 of Quakers ... None unbaptized; few, if any, not Confirmed. Communicants about 10. The Generality seldom, or never receive at all".
  • 1712: "Families 45, of which 3 are Independents, 1 of Quakers ... The Rector resides at Maulden, his otherCure. Mr Tooley of Keyso, contiguous to this parish, is Curate. His Salary £24 a year, and perquisites. The Rector often here himselfe. Nobe Unbaptized come to Church. Several not Confirmed. Divine Service once here and the other time at Keyso. The same Congregation goes to Both. Once also on Holydays etc ... Communion 3 times a year. About 20 usually receive".
  • 1717: "We have 46 Families in the Parish; and of these, 4 only are Dissenters, viz. Three Independents and the fourth Quakers. There is no meeting-house in the Parish. The Reverend Master Rector often times in the year resides in his Parsonage House, but his more constant Residence is at Maulden for keeping of which Benefice, together with this, he is Licensed and Dispiensed with according to the Canon of the Church and Statute of the Land. I [George Tooley] am Curate to the Rev Mr Allyn, and Licensed according to the Canon in that Behalf. I reside more constantly upon my own Vicarage, but that being an incompetent maintenance and distant but one small mile from me. I supply it by Turns every Lord's day, for which He allows me £24 per Annum together with all surplice Fees and never makes any deduction of those times when He attends the Cure himself. I know not of any who come to Church that are unbaptized. Several persons of a Competent Age have not yet received confirmation, but are desirous to offer themselves to it. One Adult have been Baptised since the last visitation. Service is performed in the Church every Lords day either in the Morning or Afternoon, and every fortnight the service is here on the morning of that day. That part of the day when I am not at L Staughton, I officiate in my own church, and the parishioners do usually resort thither ... The Sacrament of the Lord's supper is administered thrice in the year, viz. Christmasday, Easter-day and Whit Sunday, or on the Sundays immediately following them. There are about 30 who usually receive, and about 20 of them did communicate at Easter last. Open and timely warning of the sacrament is given as the Rubrick directs. Several of the parishioners have not yet been prevailed on to send in their names as required ... Public Penance hath been performed in the Church since the Last Visitation by one Samuell Wyman and Sarah Tell for begetting a Bastard Child".

The south door interior - copyright Brenda Foster
South door interior (Copyright Brenda Foster)

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 Record Society in 1975 as Volume 54, edited by D.W.Bushby. The return for Little Staughton church was made by the curate Alexander G Hildgard, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • 70 free seats and 70 others;
  • general congregation in the morning was 41 and in the afternoon 73;
  • 28 Sunday scholars in the morning and 26 in the afternoon.