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List of Souldrop Rectors

 The church from the north April 2015
The church from the north April 2015


Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire was published in 1912. In the Middle Ages the advowson was held by the Melchbourne preceptory of the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem. Armed conflict resulted from a local man, Hugh Bossard, Lord of the Manor of Knotting,claiming to hold the advowson to Souldrop in 1270.

When the Hospitallers’ properties in England were seized by the Crown during the Reformation the advowson passed to the Lord of the Manor of Souldrop until the late 18th century when Henry Pye alienated it to William Vollans, who immediately sold it to Rev J W Hawksley, the Rector, in 1792. In 1801 the Duke of Bedford purchased it from Rev Hawksley. The duke sold it with the manor to Charles Magniac of Sharnbrook in 1884. The Magniac family were still patrons of the living in 1912.

Since 1953 Knotting and Souldrop have shared a parson with Sharnbrook and, more recently, with Felmersham. Each parish remains separate, with its own parochial church council and church officers. The current [2016] patron for the living is the Bishop of Saint Albans.

List of Rectors

  • Matthew, chaplain, late Vicar of Kempston: 1248;
  • William: 1258;
  • John de Chauncy, on the death of William: 22 December 1275;
  • (Adam de Esseby: 1280);
  • Adam Hook, clerk, presented in minor orders and now ordained subdeacon, on the death of John Chaunay: 23 December 1290;
  • Walter Launeslyn or Jauncelyn, subdeacon, on the death of Adam Hok: 27 May 1307;
  • Robert Petye;
  • John de Radewell, priest, on the death of Robert Petye: 10 May 1333;
  • John de Bontele, Rector of Lindeyerd, on the resignation of John de Radewell: 6 April 1348;
  • William Barker;
  • Reymund Barker of Melchbourne, on the resignation of William Barker, exchanged to a moiety of the Rectory of Isham [Northamptonshire]: 7 May 1365;
  • William atte Townesende, priest, on the resignation of Reymund Barker, exchanged to Rectory of Wistow [Leicestershire]: 18 July 1367;
  • William Bryd;
  • William Smyth, Rector of Hungry Hatley, exchanged with William Bryd: 11 February 1403;
  • John Wodeham, Vicar of Saint Andrew's, Whittlesey [Cambridgeshire], on exchange with William Smyth: 14 September 1403;
  • Thomas Kyrkebryd [Hyrkebryd], Rector of Milton [Cambridgeshire], by exchange with John Wadham: 4 November 1406;
  • Richard Botyll, clerk: 29 August 1440;
  • John Bonet, priest, on the resignation of Richard Botyll: 21 September 1441;
  • Thomas Bole: 1 March 1445;
  • John Challey, on the resignation of Thomas Bole, exchanged to the Rectory of Odell: 6 February 1455;
  • John Couper, priest, on the resignation of John Challey: 9 June 1457;
  • Richard Symson, priest; on the resignation of John Couper: 14 August 1465;
  • William Bramley, on the death of the last incumbent: 1 July 1473 (1578 on the board in the church);
  • Robert Wadyluff, priest, on the death of William Brumley: 26 May 1506;
  • Robert Shawe, chaplain, on the resignation of Robert Wadyluff: 11 April 1508;
  • William Grene, chaplain, on the resignation of Robert Shawe: 7 January 1510;
  • Richard Hanger, clerk, on the death of the last incumbent: 10 July 1550;
  • Oliver Barley(e), clerk, on the death of Richard Hanger: 22 August 1560;
  • John Hemyngton, on the resignation of the last incumbent: 18 July 1565;
  • Thomas Mason BA, witness to the will of Margaret Cobbe of Sharnbrook, widow in 1591: 30 October 1590;
  • William Tapp: 15 March 1615;
  • Francis Duncombe, buried 24 October 1630: 13 July 1626;
  • George Winstanley, deacon: 15 March 1630;
  • Thomas Scriven: 20 May 1657;
  • John Dod MA of Riseley and King's College, Cambridge, on the resignation of the last incumbent; he married Mary Phillips at Knotting on 21 January 1667: 18 August 1665;
  • John Tiffin, clerk, priested 23 December 1666, he was buried 13 September 1720: 26 December 1666;
  • Alexander King AB, on the death of John Tiffin: 19 November 1720;

Unification of the parishes of Knotting and Souldrop

  • John Sharpe MA: 30 June 1735;
  • Robert Pye LLD, clerk, on the resignation of John Sharp: 30 May 1743;
  • John Bradley MA, on the cession of Robert Pye: 24 October 1770;
  • Isaiah Jones BA, on the resignation of John Bradley: 24 August 1771;
  • John Webster Hawksley BA, on the death of I Jones;
  • George Digby Newbolt BA, Brasenose College, Oxford: 9 May 1856;
  • Francis Edward Millard Girling: February 1896;
  • James William Weldon Davies: April 1930;
  • Goger Lewis Roberts: 1953;
  • Harry Legg Clothier: 1955;
  • Stanley Peart Hutton: 1969;
  • Harold Desmond Jones: 1980;
  • Roy Oswald Hubbard: 1990;
  • Ian W. Arthur: 1996;
  • Robert A Evens: 2005


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 Souldrop are as follows:

  • 1709: the return was made by a deacon, John Steward, who had been licensed on 31st May 1708: “Several not confirmed. Communicants at Easter last, 8. Many above 16 years of Age have never yet received this Holy Sacrament”
  • 1712: “the Rector resides on his Cure in his Parsonage House [in Knotting]. None come to Church Un-baptized. Severall not Confirmed. Divine Service twice every Lord’s day. Communion 3 times a year”
  • 1717: the Rector still resided in the parish and services were still twice each Sunday with sacraments three times per year. There had been about ten communicants the previous 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 David Bushby. The return for Souldrop church was made by the curate, Adolphus Hamilton who noted the following pieces of information:

  • “Rebuilt at the expense of the Duke of Bedford and other sources in the year 1800”;
  • 50 free seats and 55 others;
  • General congregation that morning had been 35 with 66 Sunday scholars.