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List Of Shelton Rectors

Crucifix above the chancel arch May 2011
Crucifix above the chancel arch May 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, Shelton which was divided into three parts in the early Middle Ages with one part held by the Lord of the Manor of Shelton and the other two parts by the lord of the smaller Shelton Manor. One third of the advowson remained with the Lord of the Manor of Shelton until the 18th century but was sold by Francis Malory between 1705 and 1714 – Thomas Wyatt presenting the rector in 1732 and Charles Simon Oakden in 1781. By 1801 this third was in the hands of a man named Freeman. The remaining two thirds continued in the hands of the Lords of the smaller Shelton Manor, who were the Lords Saint John in 1912.

At the present time [2011] Shelton is held as part of the Stodden Churches and the patronage of the living is shared between the Diocesan Board of Patronage and the Martyrs’ Memorial and Church of England Trust who present by turns.

Slab denoting the Crofts vault in the chancel May 2011
Slab denoting the Crofts vault in the chancel May 2011

List of Rectors

In 1967 Shelton was united with Dean, Yelden and Melchbourne [P94/2/1/2]. In 1980 it became part of the Stodden Churches with Dean, Melchbourne, Yelden, Swineshead and Pertenhall. The six churches share one parson but have their own churchwardens and parochial church councils. The following list of Rectors of Shelton is as complete as records will allow.

  • Gervase de Newenton: subdeacon; patron Richard Beauchamp: 1232;
  • Roger de Suleby: subdeacon:1243
  • Hugh de Windlesor': subdeacon; patron John de  Croxton]: 1249
  • Senwallus Le Foun: clerk: 27th March 1273;
  • Thomas called le Engleys: clerk in minor orders; because several who had held the church solemnised carnal matrimony in the face of the Church Letters; testimonial from official of Bishop of Carlisle in whose diocese Thomas originated as to his life, morals etc.: 1284;
  • Richard Malure: clerk: 19th May 1296;
  • Richard le Archer: acolyte; on the resignation of Richard Malore: 15th December 1314;
  • Michael le Engleyes: acolyte; on the institution of Richard Le Archer, priest, to Spens in Salisbury Diocese; William de Cantebrigg had presented Richard de la More but was held not to be entitled to present: 22nd February 1322;
  • William de Bayous: priest; on the death of Michael Engleys: 1342;
  • William Beauchamp: priest; on the resignation of William Bayous: 11th May 1367;
  • Stephen Bocles: vacant: 19th May 1380;
  • Thomas Gotyde: priest; on the death of Stephen: 12th November 1386;
  • Henry Northam: chaplain; on the death of Thomas Goutyd: 25th February 1391;
  • John, son of William, son of Simon: on the resignation of Henry Northam; exchanged to Lowesby [Leicestershire]: 19th June 1408;
  • John de Smithton': priest; on the resignation of John, son of William, son of Simon; exchanged to Billesdon [Leicestershire]: 11th June 1409;
  • Robert Hetersete: Vicar of All Saints, Fulbourn [Cambridgeshire]; exchanged with John Smeton: 30th April 1412;
  • John Russell: priest; on the death of Robert Etyosete; 21st February 1413;
  • John Rawsson: priest; on the death of John Russell: 20th November 1441;
  • William Gaddesby;
  • John Ham: priest; on the death of William Gaddesby: 9th March 1464;
  • John Philipe;
  • Robert Coren': priest; on the death of John Philipe: 14th February 1502;
  • Anthony Skevington LL. B: on the death of Robert Coran: 20th March 1525;
  • Humfrey Davisonne: clerk; on the death of Anthony Skevington: 2nd May 1554;
  • Thomas Marres: 23rd September 1559;
  • William Berridge: 17 June 1564;
  • John Berridge M. A.: on the death of the last Vicar: 17th July 1601;
  • (William Berridge M. A.: curate: 23rd January 1604);
  • Thomas Manning M. A. - 26 May 1632 [parson; on the death of William Bendish [Berridge?]: 26th May 1632;
  • Griffin Spencer B. A.: on the death of last Vicar: 4th August 1632;
  • Thomas Boundy: clerk; from Worcestershire; buried at Dean, 25th August 1691; his will was dated 22nd December 1690, proved 11th March 1692: 23rd November 1661;
  • Thomas Negus B. A. - 20 Mar 1691 [clerk; ordained priest 22nd September 1689 by Thomas Barlow, Bishop of Lincoln; on the death of Thomas Boundy; buried 10th February 1715]: 20th March 1691;
  • Pawlet Saint John M. A.: on the death of Thomas Negus; died 27th December 1732: 14th April 1715;
  • Samuel Hiccock: clerk; on the death of Pawlet Saint John: 16th April 1733;
  • William Bedford M. A.: on the death of Samuel Hiccock: 15th March 1734;
  • Oliver St.John Cooper M. A.: on the cession of William Bedford: 16th April 1747;
  • George Freeman LL. D: on the death of Oliver Cooper: 12th December 1781;
  • George Barker B. A.: 24th April 1801;
  • William Elstob LL. B.: on the death of George Barker: 28th November 1808;
  • Daniel Crofts B. A.: on the resignation of William Elstob: 14th June 1813;
  • William Gurden Lee B. A.: on the death of Daniel Crofts: 23rd May 1866;
  • J. Richards: January 1904;
  • Samuel Frost: March 1906;
  • William Henry McCleery: June 1914;

Shelton held with Dean from 1927

  • Charles Russell Canham: August 1927;
  • John Rufus Walters: 1944;
  • Owen Cadwallader Llewellyn Jones: 1948;
  • George Heathcote: 1950;
  • Kenneth Ashworth: 1955;
  • David Haigh Leonard-Williams: 1958;
  • Arthur Frederick le Dieu: 1967;
  • Benjamin Brian Dobson Aylott: 1972;

Held as part of the Stodden Churches from 1980

  • Neil R. Weston: 1980;
  • Paul Charles Delight: 1992;
  • Richard D. Seymour-Whiteley: 1999;
  • January C. Brookshaw: 2003.

The font May 2011
The font May 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, as was the case at Shelton in 1717. The returns for Shelton are as follows:

  • 1709: None unbaptized come to Church. Severall [sic] not confirmed. Communicants 17, of which only 8 received at Easter last. Many aho are come to Age, seldom or never communicate at all.
  • 1712: The Rector lives in his Parsonage House. None Un-baptized come to Church. Some not Confirmed. Divine Service twice every Lord’s day.Communion commonly 4 times in the year. Out of 40 Communicants, 12 usually receive.
  • 1717: Residence in the Parsonage House at Yelden. A resident curate, qualifyd [sic] according to Canons, Lives at Mr. Malory’s. Allowed thirty pounds per Annum and Surplice Fees. Service Twice every Lord’s day. Sacrament 4 times a year. About 10 or 12 communicants. Last Easter about 8 as I remember.
  • 1720: I reside upon my Cure at Yelden. Curate Thomas Sharpe hath been my residing Curate for above this four years who is duly qualified according to the Canons, and I allow him 30 li. A year. No unbaptiz’d Person comes to Church as I know off [sic]. Publick Service is perform’d twice every Lord’s day. Sacrament Four times a year about ten Communicants.

The pulpit May 2011
The pulpit May 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 Shelton church was made by the rector, Daniel Crofts, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • The general congregation in the morning was 17 and in the afternoon 55;
  • The Sunday scholars were 18 in the morning and 22 in the afternoon.