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List of Oakley Vicars

Oakley church from the south-east March 2011
Oakley Church from the south-east March 2011


The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire, published in 1912 gives a brief history of the advowson of the church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Oakley which also included the Chapel of Ease at Clapham, was held by Cauldwell Priory by the end of the 12th century. In 1229 the Lord of the Manor of Clapham Greenacres disputed the priory’s right to the advowson but was unsuccessful in his case. The priory still held the advowson when it was dissolved by King Henry VIII (1509-1547) in 1536.

Following the dissolution Clapham chapel was separated from Oakley church and the Oakley advowson was granted to Eton College by King Edward VI (1547-1553) and remained with the college until at least 1912. At the present time [2011] Oakley is held with Clapham and Bromham and the Bishop of Saint Albans is patron of the living.

The font March 2011
The font March 2011

List of Vicars

The following list of vicars of Oakley is as complete as records will allow:

  • Stephen de Castell: subdeacon: 1230;
  • Richard de Bruham: priest: 4th December 1296;
  • Robert Papilion: chaplain; on the death of Richard of Bromham: 15th February 1313;
  • Walter;
  • John Maresshall of Oxford: priest; on the death of Walter: 8th September 1349;
  • Robert Fox of Steventon: priest; on the resignation of John: 1st December 1349;
  • Adam Ace: priest (the violent vicar of Oakley); on the resignation of William Fox: 14th November 1351;
  • William Cotyngham: priest; on the resignation of Adam Ace, who exchanged to Tykencote [Rutland]: 28th January 1390;
  • Robert Jakkesonne of Cotyngham [Cottingham, Northamptonshire?]: on the resignation of William of Cotyngham: 12th October 1406
  • John Brotherton: Vicar of Grange Mounteney, London, on exchange with Robert Jakesson: 25th July 1410;
  • Richard Walker of Belton: Vicar of Ravensden; on exchange with John Brotherton: 9th August 1415;
  • John Foster: Rector of Bolnhurst, on exchange with Richard Belton: 20th October 1417;
  • John Throbber: priest; on the resignation of John Forster, who exchanged to Houghton Parva [Little Houghton, Northamptonshire]: 30th July 1422;
  • William Bayouse;
  • William Stanford: chaplain; on the death of William Bayouse: 6th May 1450;
  • William Gylbyott: priest; on the resignation of William Stanford: 11th March 1466;
  • Thomas Husse: on the death of William Gulleat: 6th March 1490;
  • Robert Halome: on the death of Thomas Hussh: 4th June 1505;
  • John Wyan: chaplain; on the resignation of Robert Halam; pension of 20 shillings per annum: 10th February 1507;
  • John Meigote M. A.: on the death of the last incumbent: 9th December 1546;
  • Richard Palfreyman: 19th June 1554
  • Johannes Smyth: 11th December 1554
  • Robert Duckett;
  • John Hanmer: clerk: on the death of Robert Duckett: 13th October 1560;
  • Francis Farthwath: clerk: vacancy: 1st March 1561;
  • Edward Kynge: on the resignation of Francis Farthwatt: 18th December 1562;
  • Henry Kinge: 20th January 1572;
  • Thomas Chamberlain: buried 19th April 1616: 4th September 1588;
  • Robert Foulks: inducted to the Vicarage of Oakley, with Clapham: 20th August 1617;
  • Osbert Faldoe: buried 22 Jul 1687: 4th January 1649;
  • Simon Gale M. A.: on the death of Osbert Faldoe: 18th January 1688;
  • (Robert Richards: licenced curate: 10th December 1712);
  • Robert Stoakes;
  • William Fleming: clerk, on the death of the last incumbent: 24th November 1770;
  • Charles Abbott: clerk, on the death of William Fleming: 4th August 1794;

1818 Deed of Union with Bromham

  • James Joseph Goodall: 1844 (“the most disagreeable person in the County” according to the Duke of Bedford’s steward [R3/5066]);
  • Alfred James Coleridge B. A.: of MagdalenCollege, Oxford; on the resignation of J. J. Goodhall: 17th May 1866;
  • Charles James Elises Smith M. A.; of Saint John'sCollege, Cambridge]: 1880;
  • Charles William Browning: July 1901;
  • Henry Bernard Codrington Collins: 1909;
  • Alfred Elvis Burne: 1925;
  • Ernest Denby Gilbert: 1937;
  • Daniel Trevor Evans: 1953;
  • Dennis Charles King: 1977;
  • Derek Vincent Draper: 1984;
  • Linda Bond: 2009.

Head on the east side of the west window of the south aisle south wall March 2011
Head on the east side of the west window of the south aisle south wall March 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. Oakley seems to have shared a parson with Bromham without employing a curate. The returns for Oakley are as follows:

  • 1709: Mr. Gale was Vicar, but by taking of Brumham [sic], Oakley is really become vacant. He lives in the parish, but not in the Vicarage house. One Adult baptized since the last Visitation. Severall [sic] in the parish not Confirmed. Communicants about 30, who come frequently to the Holy Table. Many of ripe years seldom or never receive at all.
  • 1712: The Vicar resides in his Vicarage House. None come to Church Unbaptized. Severall [sic] not Confirmed. Divine Service Once a day. The other part of it he is at Brumham [sic]. Communion 3 times a year. Communicants about 30.
  • 1717: The Vicarage-house is inhabited by a tenant, and I board at another house in the town, where I meet with better conveniences. I supply the Cure myself. Some unbaptized persons do come to the Church, but there are more, who being baptized, and of a competent age, are not confirmed. No Adults baptized since the last triennial Visitation. Services Once every Lord’s-day. One Sunday, morning service is performed, the following Sunday, evening Service. The reason is because I officiate at two Churches. Sacrament Three times a year. We have usually twenty Communicants, and at Easter they exceed that number. A Commutation of penance was made by Mary the wife of Edward Smith, and for five pounds as I am informed.
  • 1720: I do Board at my Parsonage house at present; but intend, as soon as I can, to live at Bromham. I do personally supply my Cure. Publick [sic] service is performed once every Lord’s day; one Sunday in the morning, the other in the Afternoon, and the contrary part of the day at Bromham. That Sacrament is administered four times in the year. There are 32 Communicants; of them about 20 usually receive. 28 Communicated at Easter last.

The pulpit March 2011
The pulpit March 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 Oakley church was made by the curate, B. Chernocke Smith, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • The church had 120 free seats and 90 reserved;
  • The general congregation had been 50 in the morning and 80 in the afternoon;
  • The Sunday scholars had been 44 in the morning and 46 in the afternoon;

“Sunday School average for preceding – months – morning 60 – afternoon 66. Sunday School smaller than usual thro’ presence of Typhus Fever in the Parish”.