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Southill Manors


The largest landowner in the village of Southill in 1086 was William Speke who held 5 hides and ½ a virgate. This land was tenanted by "2 Frenchmen". The holding included 8 villagers, 8 smallholders and 6 slaves as well as woodland for 200 pigs. In 1066 16 freemen had owned the land which had been worth £3. Usually in Bedfordshire land decreased in value after 1066 due, historians, consider, to the depredations of William I's armies as they moved north top crush rebellion; this holding, however, had gained value and was worth £4 by the time Speke acquired it and £4/10/- in 1086.

Hugh de Beauchamp, who would be created Baron of Bedford within a few years of Domesday, held 2 hides, 1 virgate in Southill, including woodland for 100 pigs. Eight freemen had owned this land in 1066 when it had been worth 50 shillings, a value reduced in 1086 to 40 shillings. Eudo, son of Herbert held half a virgate in Southill, with William de Cairon as tenant. This land had been held by Alric in 1066 and had been worth 4/-, which had fallen to 3/- by 1086.

Walter of Flanders held a half hide of woodland in Southill in 1086 "which his predecessor held before 1066" He also held a further virgate in the village, tenanted by a native called Alric. This land had been held in 1066 by Leofwin, a thegn of King Edward the Confessor, when it had been worth 10 shillings. The value had dropped to 3 shillings by the time Walter acquired it but had risen to 5 shillings by 1086. Of Leofwin the Book notes he held the land in pledge "but after King William came to England, the man who pledged it redeemed this land, and Sihere appropriated it in the King's despite as the men of the Hundred testify"

Further land in Southill was owned in 1086 by Richard Poynant - he had half a hide of woodland which had been held in 1066 by Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, whom William I deposed in 1070 and imprisoned until his death in 1072. The final landowner in Southill was Countess Judith who had a hide tenanted by one Hugh. The holding included 3 villagers, 3 smallholders and a slave as well as woodland for 60 pigs. In 1066 this land had been held by Tuffa, a thegn of Earl Waltheof of Northumbria, (the earl rebelled against William I and was beheaded for it in 1076); the land had then been worth 60 shillings, falling to 40 when Judith acquired it and falling still further to 30 shillings in 1086.

Southill Manor

The land that Hugh de Beauchamp held in 1086 became the Manor of Southill. It seems as if the de Beauchamps granted this manor to Warden Abbey some time in the 12th century as, in a charter of 1198, King Richard I confirms it as part of the Abbey's holdings. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII the Crown retained the manor for some time as it is next recorded as being owned by Oliver St.John, Earl of Bolingbroke, by 1641. At some point the manor was sold to the Ongley family as Robert, Second Baron Ongley, was recorded as holding it in 1797. His son Robert, the Third Baron, sold the manor to Joseph Shuttleworth of Old Warden in the 1870s and it remained in this family into the 20th century (all manorial incidents, courts and tenure of land being abolished under the Law of Property Act 1922.).