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List of Riseley Vicars

The church from the south-east April 2015
The church from the south-east April 2015


Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912. It noted that the advowson of Riseley church was given to the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem, remaining with them until the dissolution of religious houses under Henry VIII (1509-1547). In 1586 Elizabeth I (1558-1603) granted it to one of her favourites, Sir Christopher Hatton but by 1618 it had become the property of the Saint John family who held it into the 20th century.

In 1979 the parish of Bletsoe came to be held in plurality with that of Riseley and has remained that way to the time of writing [2015]. The patron of the living is the Martyrs Memorial and Church of England Trust. Each parish retains its own churchwardens and parish officers as well as its separate parochial church councils, they simply share a priest.

List of Vicars

  • Fulco de Monte Acuto, clerk: 1224;
  • Geoffrey de Dockinges, chaplain: 1249;
  • Martin;
  • Saloman, priest, on the death of Martin: 30th November 1266;
  • Philip de Faversham, chaplain, on the death of Saloman, Adam de Wodehull, previously presented, renouncing the office: 17th February 1287;
  • William de Luda, chaplain: on the institution of Philip to Overton Lungevile [Orton Longueville, Huntingdonshire]: 25th September 1294;
  • Walter de Wahull, chaplain: on the resignation of William de Luda: 31st October 1298;
  • Stephen de Brokkesburn, priest, on the death of Walter de Wahull: 24th September 1331;
  • Robert de Stanbrugge of Sharnbrook, vacant: 30th April 1336;
  • Edmund;
  • William Gant, priest, on the death of Edmund: 19th July 1349;
  • Adam Lobenham, priest, on the resignation of William Gaunt, exchanged to the Vicarage of Swaneton [Swanton, Kent?]: 10th August 1372;
  • Henry Reynald, priest, on exchange with Adam Swane of Lubenham, for Preston Rectory: 28th June 1384;
  • John Wodeford;
  • Walter de Relye, priest, on the resignation of John Wodeford: 6th October 1391;
  • William Boydsale, priest, on the death of last the last vicar: 19th December 1413;
  • William Frounte;
  • John Dobson, on the resignation of William Frounte: 24th July 1488;
  • Henry Quene, noted as vicar in 1526 and 1534;
  • Anthony Redshawe, chaplain, on the resignation of Henry Quene: 17th October 1539;
  • Thomas Dematt: 22nd June 1554;
  • Thomas Bowker, clerk: 22nd January 1560;
  • William Kyrwoode, clerk, presented on the resignation of the last incumbent: 30th March 1571;
  • John Thompson, clerk, presented on the resignation of the last incumbent (buried December 1619, will dated 15th July, proved 24th December 1619 to be buried in little chancel under a blue stone); 29th August 1578;
  • Henry Legg, minister (buried 28th March 1602);
  • Robert Poole AM of Balliol College, Oxford, vacant by lapse: 26th August 1606;
  • (John Hughes, licenced curate: 1617);
  • Paul Dod, clerk: 27th January 1620;
  • Michael Selby, clerk: 29th December 1645;
  • Francis Selby, on the cession of M. Selby: 29th November 1672;
  • Robert Beverley MA, on the death of Francis Selby: 30th March 1680;
  • John Binfield BA, ordained priest 24th May 1630, on the cession of Robert Beverley (buried 16 Mar 1689): 30th May 1681;
  • John Harding MA, on the death of John Binfield: 9th September 1690;
  • Wilson Wells AB, on the death of John Harding: 29th June 1742;
  • William Fancourt BA, on the death of Wilson Wells: 2nd December 1780;
  • William Braithwaite MA, on the cession of William Fancourt: 15th October 1787;
  • Joshua Morton, clerk, on the death of William Braithwaite: 12th April 1800;
  • John Cheap MA, on the death of Joshua Morton: 11th March 1825;
  • John Tomlinson Day BA, on the death of John Cheap: 18th October 1831;
  • Richard Young MA, on the cession of John Tomlinson Day: 17th September 1832;
  • Joseph Johnson Blick, clerk, on the cession of Richard Young: 25th May 1871;
  • Richard Barber: 1876;
  • Henry Trimmer Osborne: 1880;
  • Edwin Giles MA: February 1887;
  • Henry Longueville Graham MA: April 1888;
  • John Ellis Turner: March 1889;
  • William Burroughs Gregg: Jun 1904;
  • Arthur Jones: March 1915;
  • Arthur Starmer Dodds: November 1916;
  • Reginald William Edward Robinson: October 1928;
  • James Charles Hodson Paulson: August 1933;
  • Frederick James Charles Davis: 1955;
  • Peter Phillips: 1973;
  • David J Bourne: 1984;
  • Martin T Bailey: 2006.


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 Riseley are as follows:

  • 1709: "A few unbaptized come to Church. Many not confirmed. Communicants at Easter last about 30. Many never receive at all".
  • 1712: The Vicar resides in his Vicarege House. None Come to church Un-baptized. Divine Service twice every Lord's day from Easter to Martinmas [11th November]; afterwards once a day. Sermon … Communion three times a year. Thirty received at Easter last".
  • 1717: "Reside Personally upon my Cure, and in my Vicaridge House. No Curate. Unbaptized not any. Publick Service read twice every Lord's Day. Sacrament Administred three times in the year. Never above 25 Communicants".
  • 1720: Resident in the Vicaridge House. No Curate. Unbaptized Several Persons. Services twice every Lord's Day. Sacrament Thrice every year (videlicet) at Easter, Whitsuntide and Christmas. The Number of Communicants sometimes more sometimes less. 25 communicated last Easter".

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 Riseley church was made by the vicar, Richard Young who noted the following pieces of information:

  • The church had 570 free seats and 30 others in the chancel;
  • Congregation in the morning had been 86 with 61 Sunday scholars;
  • Congregation in the afternoon had been 191 with 59 Sunday scholars;
  • Averages for the preceding year had been 100 and 65 scholars and 300-500 with 65 scholars;
  • "The Church being at some distance from the village the numbers of the congregation vary excessively as the weather may be wet or dry. March 30th being wet and stormy there were very few".