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List of Milton Bryan Rectors

Head on the west side of the nave north window August 2007
Head on the west side of the nave north window August 2007


Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912. It states that during the reign of King Henry II (1154-1189) the advowson was given by the Lord of the Manor, Robert son of Bryan to Merton Priory [Surrey]. The priory continued to hold the living until it was dissolved by King Henry VIII (1509-1547) in 1538. The advowson then remained with the Crown.

From 1928 to 1960 Milton Bryan shared an incumbent with Battlesden with Potsgrove. Since 1960 Milton Bryan has shared an incumbent with Eversholt and, since 1979 with Woburn and Battlesden with Pottesgrove; the parishes remain independent with their own parochial church councils, churchwardens and services. The advowson for the churches, being led by Woburn, is now [2013] in the hands of the trustees of Bedford Estates.

A detail from the north transept window August 2007
A detail from the north transept window August 2007

List of Rectors

  • William de la Merke, clerk: 1222;
  • Peter de Gauth;
  • John le Bretoun, chaplain, on the resignation of Peter de Gauth: 1294;
  • Richard de Cudington;
  • ·Elyas de Eyton, acolite, on the resignation of Richard de Cudington: 31st October 1307;
  • Peter de Hasfold, chaplain, on the resignation of Elyas de Eyton: 24th March 1309;
  • Roger;
  • Thomas de Yevele, clerk, on death of Roger: 11th April 1340;
  • Robert Coleman of Wobourne, acolite, on the resignation of Thomas de Yevele who was beneficed in the Diocese of Wighorn: 13th March 1350;
  • Richard de Carlton, priest, on the resignation of Robert de Wobourne: 4th April 1350;
  • Roger Alayn, priest, on the resignation of Richard de Carlton: 16th February 1356;
  • John Smyth, on the death of John: 13th March 1362;
  • Robert Spaldyng, priest, on the resignation of John Smyth, exchanged to Graveley Rectory [Hertfordshire or Cambridgeshire]: 4th April 1379;
  • Thomas Bryan, priest, on the resignation of Robert Spaldyng, exchanged to Watelington Vicarage: 6th June 1384;
  • John Salford, Rector of Heylesdon, diocese of Norwich, on exchange with Thomas Paige: 7th March 1391;
  • Philip Montgomery, Rector of Northshobury. Diocese of London, on exchange with John Salford: 19th November 1393;
  • William Curteys, Vicar of Sutton atte Hone, on exchange with Philip Montgomere: 29th January 1395;
  • John Walrond, priest, on the resignation of William Courteys: 17th March 1406;
  • William Julian, priest, on the resignation of John Walron, exchanged to Weston Chantry: 28th May 1444;
  • John Amys, priest, on the death of William Jelyon: 5th November 1449;
  • Thomas Lee, M. A., on the death of John Amys: 16th March 1481;
  • Edward Almere, L. L. B., priest, on the death of Thomas Lee: 10th April 1502;
  • William Fossey, M. A., on the resignation of Edward Almere: 3rd October 1528;
  • Richard Hayward: 12th June 1554;
  • John Ramridge: 1556;
  • George Edwardes, clerk, buried 2nd May 1561: 10th March 1559;
  • Christopher Holmes, clerk, on the death of the last incumbent: 30th January 1562;
  • Vincent Juke, clerk: 28th October 1572;
  • Edmund Bicknolde: 8th May 1573;
  • Thomas Collyns, M. A., clerk, presented on the resignation of Edmund Bicknolde on petition of Mr. Nudigate: 9th April 1577;
  • William Ballow, M. A., on the death of last incumbent: 24th September 1604;
  • William Lewes: 12th March 1619;
  • Charles Wynne, M. A., 3rd July 1622;
  • Robert Lambe, clerk: 8th May 1661;
  • Theophilus Judd, A. M., on the death of the last incumbent: 6th July 1702;
  • William Capell, M. A.: 23rd November 1710;
  • Richard Reddal, clerk, on the death of WIlliam Capell: 18th January 1764;
  • John Morris, B. D., on the death of Richard Reddall: 21st April 1766;
  • John Sandys junior, clerk, on the death of the last incumbent: 10th July 1798;
  • William Mansfield, clerk, on the death of last incumbent: 20th February 1811;
  • George Stewart Whitlock, B. A., on the death of the last incumbent: 31st March 1854;
  • William James Havart, M. A., on the cession of G. S. Whitlock: 29th November 1865;
  • Henry Cobbe, M. A., on the death of W. J. Stewart: 3rd November 1866;
  • William Wing Carew Baker: October 1886;
  • John Parr: November 1896;
  • William Nevitt Westmore, with Potsgrove; May 1928;
  • Arthur Arnold Carter, with Potsgrove: September 1930;
  • Garnet George Stapylton Kenyon, with Potsgrove: October 1946;
  • William George Dean Pitt Mercer: 1960;
  • Henry John Smith: 1969;
  • Raul Richard Miller: 1979;
  • James Alan Heslop: 1999;
  • Stephen W. Nuth: 2004

It is interesting to note that one of these men, John Smyth, was a felon. He was outlawed a full three times. The first occasion was when he, along with a number of other men, was outlawed in 1379, as noted in volume XLI of the Bedfordshire Historical Records Society series as translated by R.F.Hunnisett. This was because of "divers contempts and trespasses against the form of the statute of which they were indicted". He was pardoned later that year when he surrendered and entered Bedford Gaol. He was again outlawed at some point and pardoned in 1381, again about a trespass. His final outlawry was in 1380 for non payment of a debt of £20 (a very large sum indeed) and he was pardoned in 1382 having surrendered himself and entered the Fleet Prison in London.

The parish chest August 2007
The parish chest August 2007


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 Milton Bryan are as follows:

  • 1709: “One Adult, a Quaker, baptized since the last Visitation. Severall not Confirmed. Communicants from 20 to 40. Some few there are who have never yet received the Holy Sacrament”.
  • 1712: “The Rector personally resides in his parsonage House. None of age come to church un-Confirmed. Divine Service in the Church twice every Lord’s day, once at least upon many of the Stated Fasts and festivalls, and upon all occasionall ones … Communion 4 times in the year. Communicants of age 104; of these seldome more than 19 receive”.
  • 1717: “I reside Personally in my Parsonage House … No Curate … I know none that come to Church unbaptized. I have baptized no Adults since the last Visitation … Public Service is read and performed duly every Lord’s Day, unless I am hindered by sickness, or absent for any allowable reason … sacrament is administered four times in year. About 97 Communicants, of which about 12 or 14 usually receive, and never more than 20. At Easter last I think about 16 did communicate”.
  • 1720: “I reside personally upon my Cure, in my Parsonage House … No Curate … Unpabtized No … Publick Service twice every Lord’s Day, unless when I preach for a neighbouring Clergy-man, or am hinder’d by Indispositions, or the Badness of Weather. And upon the Fast Days, but not on the Festivals, because I can have no company. Nay, on Good Friday and Ash Wednesday my Congregation is very small, there being a Market in one neighbouring Town and a Fair in another on those days, to the great Scandal and Detriment of Religion … Sacrament Four times in a year, at Christmas, Easter, Whitsuntide, Michaelmass. About 126 Communicants. About 18 or 20 usually receive. Fifteen receiv’d at Easter”.

The lectern August 2007
The lectern August 2007

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 Milton Bryan church was made by the rector, William Mansfield, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • The church had 120 free seats and 36 others;
  • The average attendance for the preceding months had been 40 with 50 Sunday scholars in the morning and 130 with 50 Sunday scholars in the afternoon.
  • “The Sunday Scholars sit in the Aisle and Chancel of the Church”.

Lectern detail August 2007
Lectern detail August 2007