Skip Navigation

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community Histories > Silsoe > Vicars of Silsoe

Vicars of Silsoe

The parish vexillum March 2011
The parish vexillum March 2011


The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire, published in 1908 states that the advowson of the Saint James', Silsoe lay with Lord Lucas of Crudwell at that date. It had, in fact, been given to his predecessor the 2nd Earl de Grey in 1846 in exchange for giving a property to be the vicarage [L27/62]. Since 1967 Silsoe has been held in plurality with Flitton and also with Pulloxhill and the right to present the vicar is shared between the Bishop of Saint Albans and Balliol College, Oxford. Each parish retains its onw parochial church council, churchwardens and service times but they share a priest.

The Pulpit September 2011
The pulpit September 2011

List of Vicars

The following list of Vicars of Silsoe is as complete as records will allow.

  • Stephen Hastings Atkins M. A.: licensed to the parish church; vacant on the separation from the parish of Flitton: 13th May 1846;
  • William Pennefather M. A.: on the resignation of Stephen Hastings Atkins; resigned 30th October 1847: 6th August 1847;
  • Thomas Pattinson Ferguson MA - 7 Dec 1847 [on resignation of William Pennefather; presented to Rectory of Shenfield [Essex] 1863; died 28 Jan 1892 at Shenfield, aged 76]
  • George Renaud [resigned 4 May 1870];
  • Richard James Mooyaart M. A.: on the resignation of George Reynaud: 30th May 1870;
  • Robert Lang M. A.: on the cession of James Mooyaart; 8th January 1873;
  • Charles Henry Farmer: November 1887;
  • Thomas Francis Ford Williams: July 1905;
  • Allured Elliot Black: October 1916;
  • Sydney Meade: March 1931;
  • John Humphrey Burn: February 1947;
  • James Adams: September 1950;
  • Geoffrey Morris Oakeshott: 1953;
  • John Anthony Benton: 1956;
  • Robert Leslie d'Esterre Archdale Byrn: 1962;
  • Bernard Lawrence Nixon: 1967;

Silsoe held with Flitton and Pulloxhill from 1982

  • Stephen C. Holroyd: 1997

The font March 2011
The font March 2011

List of Curates

The following is a list of curates and their stipends taken from service registers [P54/0/1]

  • 1849: William Alfred Hamilton as stipendiary curate - £100 per annum;
  • 1854: Alexander Taylor as stipendiary curate - £50 per annum;
  • 1857: Hammond Robertson Bailey as stipendiary curate - £50 per annum [Rector of Great Warley, Hertfordshire from 1866];
  • 1860: Arthur Henry Sanxay Barwell as stipendiary curate - £60 per annum [Rector of Clapham, Sussex from 1873];
  • 1864: William Henry Lambert as assistant stipendiary curate - £90 per annum;
  • 1867: George Edward William Norman as stipendiary curate in place of William Henry Lambert - £110 per annum [Vicar of Marston with Whitgreave in Staffordshire from 1875];
  • 1867: John Storr as assistant stipendiary curate in place of George Edward William Norman - £100 per annum [Rector of Great Horkesley in Hertfordshire from 1876];
  • 1869: William Hey Sharp as assistant stipendiary curate in place of John Storr – £105 per annum [Warden of Saint Paul's College, University of Sydney from 1878].

Silsoe chapel elevation 1828 [L33/248]
Silsoe chapel elevation 1828 [L33/248]


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. At this time Silsoe had a chapel of ease rather than a church as it was not an ecclesiastical parish in its own right but fell in the ancient parish of Flitton, thus the answers apply to both Flitton and Silsoe. The returns for Flitton are as follows:

  • 1706: The Value of the Vicarege [sic] is about £40: Flitton £17 per Annum and Silso [sic] £23, where the Vicar preaches every Sunday in the Afternoon.
  • 1709: None who come to Church Unbaptized. Few of years to be confirmed want Confirmation. Communicants 200, of which 70 received at Easter last. There are many if Age, who seldom or never Communicate at all.
  • 1712: The Vicar resides, and has part of the Vicarege [sic] House in his hands, but for want of conveniences in it, lives in another. One not baptized comes to Church. Severall [sic] not Confirmed. Divine Service twice every Lord's day, once upon Litany and Holy-days. Communion 8 times a year. Of 300 communicants about 80 received at Easter. The Communion refused to One, a very Ill Woman".
  • I do reside personally upon my Cure, but not in my Vicarage House. I have no Curate. I know of but one who comes to Church that has not been baptized. I have baptized no adults since the last Episcopal Visitation. The publick [sic] service is duly performed twice every Lord's Day; once in the Parish Church of Flitton and once in the Chappell [sic] at Silso [sic]. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is administered four times a year at Flitton and as often at Silso. We have about two hundred and fifty Communicants in the Parish; about seventy usually receive, at Easter last about Eighty.
  • 1720: I reside upon my Cure but not in my Vicarage House, it being not convenient for my Family. I have no Curate. Unbaptized I know of none. The publick [sic] service is perform'd every Lords Day in our Parish church and twice a month in Silso [sic] chapel which is in the same Parish. Sacrament Four times a year. We have about two hundred Communicants. About sixty received at Easter and about fifty usually receive.

Detail from the reredos March 2011
Detail from the reredos 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 Silsoe church was made by the curate T. P. Ferguson, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • "an ancient Chapelry now formed into a distinct parish";
  • 280 free seats and 171 reserved;
  • 150 general congregation in the morning and 200 in the afternoon;
  • 107 Sunday scholars in the morning and 108 in the afternoon.

Leaving the church March 2011
Leaving the church March 2011