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Vicars of Ravensden



Volume III of the Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912. It states that the advowson of Ravensden church was granted to Newnham Priory by Simon de Beauchamp, baron of Bedford, in the priory’s foundation charter c.1166. Along with Goldington Church it remained in the possession of Newnham Priory until the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. In about 1218 a vicarage was instituted by the Bishop of Lincoln, Hugh of Wells. This consisted of all the altar offerings, tithes from the lands of Alan de Orewell and William Engayne in Ravensden, and ten shillings from the land holdings of the church. It was expected that this would produce an annual income for the vicar of 5 marks (£3 6s 4d), and if the amount was less the archdeacon was to make up the difference from the goods of the church.

After the dissolution of Newnham Priory the rectory and advowson were granted by the King to John Gostwick and his wife Joan, along with the manor of Ravensden. These were held by the Gostwick family until 1731 when they were alienated to Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, who sold them to the Duke of Bedford in 1774. In 1854 the Duke of Bedford still held the advowson, but not long after this it was purchased by the then incumbent of the parish, Rev. Thomas Syer. At some time after 1877 Rev. Syer’s heirs transferred the advowson to the Bishop of Ely.

List of Vicars of Ravensden

  • Abel c.1229 [patron Prior & Convent of Newnham];
  • Simon de Suyvelesho - Sep 1235 [capellanus];
  • Richard - 3 Mar 1264 [priest; on death of Simon];
  • Simon de Hanington - 24 May 1303 [capellanus; on death of Richard];
  • Simon de Edelesbourgh;
  • John Rolt - 1 Jun 1317 [capellanus; patron prior & Convent of Newnham; on resignation of Simon de Edelesbourgh];
  • John de Merdon;
  • John de Estwyk - 18 Dec 1333 [priest; on death of John de Merdon];
  • Thomas de Kaysso - 16 Aug 1349 [priest; on death of John];
  • Thomas Hayward;
  • Richard Gayne - 9 Feb 1371 [of Ravensden; priest; exchanged with Thomas Hayward for Vicarage of Stotfold];
  • John de Somerby - 4 Jul 1374 [Rector of Lee [Kent]; by exchange with Richard Engayne];
  • William Bilton - 22 Mar 1388 [priest; on resignation of John de Somerby; exchanged to Rectory of Hannington [Wiltshire]];
  • Robert Fage - 1389 [priest; Rector of Aspley Guise, on exchange with William Bilton];
  • Ralph Hayward - 25 Jan 1391 [Rector of Eccleshall on exchange with Robert Fage];
  • Alan Gardyner - 28 Apr 1392 [Vicar of Kingsdown [Kent] on exchange with Ralph Hayward];
  • Walter Olau or Olaver - 24 Jul 1393 [Vicar of Farleigh [Wallop [Hampshire]?] on exchange with Alan Gardiner];
  • William Birton - 26 Jul 1400 [priest; on resignation of Walter Clauere];
  • Richard, son of Walter de Belton - 24 May 1401 [on resignation of William Byrton, exchanged to Newbold Pacey [Warwickshire]];
  • John Brotherton - 9 Aug 1415 [Vicar of Oakley, on exchange with Richard, son of Roger Walker of Belton];
  • John Wryght;
  • John Brotherton - 20 Jun 1421 [Vicar of Goldington, on exchange with John Wryght];
  • Robert Sausmer;
  • John Trouer - 23 Dec 1432 [Vicar of Great Wendover [Buckinghamshire] by exchange with D.Robert Sausmer];
  • John Throbbing;
  • Richard Pavenham - 4 Aug 1434 [Vicar of Stotfold; on resignation of John Throbbing];
  • William Wynwyke;
  • William Payn - 19 Dec 1439 [priest; in succession to William Wynwyke];
  • John Sandeacre - 31 Mar 1466 [priest; on resignation of William Payn];
  • William Priste - 21 Oct 1466 [priest; on resignation of William Payn];
  • Richard Hyngley - 12 Jun 1497 [priest; on death of William Preest];
  • John Fynymore - 23 Feb 1499 [priest; on death of Richard Hyngley];
  • Adam Nyk or Nix - 12 Oct 1516 [capellanus; on death of John Fynymor];
  • Richard Owen - 4 Jul 1554 [clerk; patron Francis Russelle and Margaret, his wife; on death of Adam Nix];
  • John Lambert - 17 Apr 1561 [clerk; on death of Richard Owen; patron Francis, Earl of Bedford and Lady Margaret, his wife];
  • Edmund Legge - 6 Dec 1570 [clerk; patron John Petre of Ingatestone [Essex], esquire; buried 28 Mar 1602];
  • [John Kinge - 19 Jun 1575 - curate?];
  • Daniel Gyst MA - 23 Jul 1603 [on death of last Vicar; patron William Gostwicke, esquire; will dated 20 Jan 1625, proved 10 Oct 1626];
  • Robert Horrgyll MA - 12 Jan 1626 [patron Edward Gostwicke; "hecnon Serenissimi Domini Regis Capellanus ut una cum Vicaria perpetua Willington (quam jam obtinet) Vicariam perpetuam de Ravensden (modo no distata priori altra sexdecim Milliari) recepere possit et quoad vixerit retinere" Confirmatio Teste Rege apud West. 21 Nov];
  • Nicholas Coney MA - 9 May 1632 [through death of previous Vicar];
  • Richard Pearce [will dated 1 Feb 1635, proved 4 Jan 1636; to be buried in chancel of parish church];
  • Francis Abbott [curate];
  • Edward Tennant - 18 Dec 1643 [clerk; patron Thomas Bainbridge STP, George Kenisham of Tempsford, William Ashwell and Francis Reade; buried 19 Jan 1684; will 10 Oct 1681, proved 17 Feb 1684];
  • M.Shepard;
  • Nicholas Trench - 24 Dec 1666 [clerk; on cession of M.Shepard; patron Charles II];
  • Robert Hawkins [minister];
  • Simon Gale MA - 29 Sep 1685 [vacant; patron the Bishop by lapse];
  • Paul Faldo BA - 18 Jul 1688 [on cession of Simon Gale; patron Sir William Gostwick bart; Rector of Bedford, St.John in 1713];
  • Thomas Baker MA - 6 Jul 1716 [on cession. of Paul Faldo; patron George I; also Rector of Bolnhurst];
  • Thomas Shepherd - 23 Aug 1749 [clerk; on death of Thomas Baker; patron Charles Spencer. 3rd Duke of Marlborough];
  • John Smith BA - 20 Sep 1751 [clerk; on death of Thomas Shepherd; patron Duke of MArlborough];
  • Richard Leech - 25 Sep 1786 [clerk; on death of John Smith; patrons gertrude, Duchess of Bedford and Robert Palmer, esquire];
  • Philip Hunt LLD - 5 May 1810 [on death of Richard Leech; patron John, Duke of Bedford];
  • Abraham John Crespin BA - 22 Nov 1817 [on cession of Philip Hunt];
  • Thomas Sier MA - 6 Mar 1851 [on death of Abraham John Crespin; patron Francis, Duke of Bedford];
  • William Price Turton BA - 7 Mar 1864 [on resignation of Thomas Sier; patron Thomas Sier of 35 St.James Place, London];
  • Thomas Syer DCL - 30 Nov 1871 [on death of William Price Turton; patron himself];
  • Lionel St.Clair Waldy - Jun 1898;
  • Herbert Edward Copinger - Nov 1900;
  • Alfred James Perrott Field - Dec 1904;
  • W.Browne - Aug 1909;
  • John Richard Pullan - Oct 1913 [with Wilden and Colmworth];
  • Reginald Paddick - Apr 1927 [with Wilden and Colmworth];
  • Albert Louis Panchaud - Apr 1931 [with Wilden and Colmworth];
  • Richard Cradocke Chalk - Jan 1941 [with Wilden and Colmworth; died in Japanese prisoner-of-war camp at Singapore, 1942];
  • Sidney William Golding - Apr 1946 [with Wilden and Colmworth];
  • William Robinson Peverley - 1954 [with Wilden and Colmworth];
  • Leonard Benn Impson - 1962 [with Wilden and Colmworth];
  • David Lewthwaite - 1975 [with Wilden and Colmworth];
  • John Laurence Powell Griffith - 1980 [with Wilden and Colmworth];
  • William John Gambrell Heffer - 1988 [with Wilden and Colmworth];
  • J.Robin Rogers - 1992 [with Wilden and Colmworth];
  • Sheila Morton - 2000 [with Wilden and Colmworth], retired 2014;
  • Madeleine Albert - February 2016 [with Wilden and Colmworth], left July 2017;
  • Canon Timoth Charles Wilson - January 2019 [with Wilden and Colmworth]


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 to employ a curate to undertake their parochial duties for him. The returns for Ravensden are as follows:

  • 1706: the Vicar was Mr. Paul Faldo and the Patron and Impropriator Sir William Gostwick. The parish consisted of about 40 families, of which four were Presbyterians, who all baptised, married and buried according to the Church of England. They had no licensed meeting house. There were no Papists or reputed Papists in the parish. The value of the vicarage was about £26 a year.
  • 1709: The Vicar had been priested by the bishop of Lincoln on 10 June 1688 and inducted to the parish on 25 July of the same year. There were 30 families and 90 souls, with families of Presbyterians and two of Independents. None were unbaptized an all over the age of 14 were confirmed. At the previous Easter there had been 18 communicants. “Too many neglect to receive at all”.
  • 1712: The Vicar was constantly resident in the parish. Divine Service was held twice every Sunday, and there was catechizing every Sunday from Easter to Michaelmas. Communion was given at least three times a year, with 18 receiving last Easter. There had been no Pennance or Commutations since the last Visitation.
  • 1717:  The parish consisted of about 30 families, of which about three or four masters of families were Dissenters, called Independents. There were no meeting houses in the parish. The Vicar, Thomas Baker, resided in the parsonage house at Bolnhurst where he was also Rector and officiated at Ravensden once every Sunday, alternating between morning and evening services (the other part of the day he officiated at Bolnhurst). He had no curate. He had not baptised any adults, and believed all who came to Church were baptised. He catechised all the previous Lent; the children had not as yet learnt any catechism but that of the Church. The Sacrament was administered three times a year. Usually there were fifteen or sixteen communicants, with seventeen the last Easter. He always gave “open and timely warning” of the Sacrament, parishioners did not send in their names and he had not refused the sacrament to anyone. No public penances had been imposed or commuted.
  • 1720: The vicar was still Thomas Baker. There were about 30 families of whom about 4 or 5 were Anabaptists or Presbyterians. There were no meeting houses. He still resided at the neighbouring parish of Bolnhurst and had no curate. He knew of no unbaptised persons. He served part of the day at Bolnhurst, and part at Ravensden. Every year he exhorted the parishioners to send their children and servants to be catechised, and catechised them as often as any were sent. They had not yet learnt any other catechism but that of the Church. The Sacrament was administered at Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide, with usually [9 or 10?] communicants. He always gave warning of the Sacrament on the Sunday before it was to be administered. No public penances had been performed and he did not know of any commutations.

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 Ravensden church was made by the churchwarden, George Castleman, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • There were 140 free sittings and 80 others.
  • The general afternoon congregation was 120 with 24 Sunday scholars.
  • There were also Wesleyan Methodist and Matthuite Baptist chapels.