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The Manor of Thurleigh alias Blackborne Hall

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire, published in 1912, has detailed histories for all the manors known in the county. This manor is thought to be part of the 3½ hides held by Walter the Fleming in 1086 and recorded in the Domesday Book. It is thought that the Fleming’s major tenant, Hugh, was his brother. The de la Leyes who held this manor are thought to be this Hugh the Fleming’s descendants.

The Fitz Geffrey coat of arms
The Fitz Geffery coat of arms

The de la Leyes held this manor from the Barons de Wahull, who were overlords, until at least 1346. In 1428 John Fitz Geffrey held the manor which thus must have passed to that family at some time between 1346 and 1428. In 1536 William Fitz Geffrey died owning the manor which is here called Blackborne Hall for the first time, its manor house, presumably, being at or near Blackburn Hall Farm. William left no heirs and so the manor passed to his step-brother Edward. The family held the manor until 1651 when George Fitz Jeffrey mortgaged it for £1,000 to John Drury of London [WG566]. The mortgage was later assigned a number of times. It was then sold in 1707 to Sir Nathan Wright of Cranham Hall [Essex] [WG585-587].

The manor remained in the Wright family until 1733 when Sir Nathan’s son, of the same name, sold it to Robert Bell and Richard, his son for £3,771 [WG594-595]. Robert Bell was maternal grandfather of William Wade Gery, to whom the manor eventually descended and whose family held it into the 20th century. A succession of Law of Property Acts in the 1920s effectively abolished manors in all but name.