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List of Totternhoe Vicars

The church from the north-east February 2010
The church from the north-east February 2010


The advowson of the church was granted to Dunstable Priory by Walter de Wahull, Lord of the Manor between 1160 and 1190 and held it until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII in the 1530s. The Crown granted the advowson to Robert Paschall in 1540 but it was acquired from him by John Mitchell and John Saunders. The advowson remained with the Mitchell family until at least 1663 but the patron in 1690 was The Crown.

By 1705 John Lambe had become patron, whose son sold the advowson to William Mead in 1718. Mead's daughter married John Wilkes and his daughter succeeded him but died in 1802, the bishop presenting the vicar in 1803 due to the lapse of the advowson. The Earl of Bridgewater had acquired the advowson by the time the next vicar was presented in 1813. In 1849 the Bridgewater estates, including the advowson had passed to Earl Brownlow.

The Earls continued as patrons into the 20th century. In 1926 the advowson was transferred from Arthur Day to the Bishop of Saint Albans [P58/2/1/3] and the current patron of the living [2010] is the Bishop.

Since 1978 the same incumbent has served Stanbridge, Tilsworth and Totternhoe. Each parish retains its own parochial church council, parish officers and services. Since 1982 the three parishes have been part of the North Chilterns Group Ministry which also includes Eaton Bray with Edlesborough and Kensworth, Studham and Whipsnade.

Glebe House December 2008
Glebe House December 2008

List of Vicars

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

  • John - 1220 - chaplain;
  • John de Dunestapl - 1242 - vacant by resignation of John;
  • William de Den - 1243 - chaplain;
  • Walter;
  • Peter - 12th December 1269 - chaplain; on the death of Walter;
  • William de Tyssenton - 29th May 1276 - priest; on death of Peter;
  • William de Schortewood - 2nd August 1288 - on death of William;
  • Robert son of John Thorne - 7th October 1315; of Totternhoe; chaplain; on the death of William;
  • Adam de Sewell - 3rd July 1323 - priest; on the resignation of Robert;
  • Robert de Morton;
  • William de Eyton - 27th June 1337 - priest; on the resignation of Robert de Morton;
  • William le Rous - 8th August 1337 - of Eyton [Eaton Bray?]; priest; on the resignation of William de Eyton];
  • Thomas de Woburn;
  • Robert ad Crucem - 14th February 1348 - priest; on the resignation of Thomas de Woburn;
  • John Lamberd;
  • Simon de Lamleye - 13th March 1350 - priest; on the resignation of John Lamberd;
  • Bartholomew de Southsex - 20th November 1351 - priest; on the resignation of Simon de Lamleye;
  • Walter Miches - 25th June 1367 - of Wavendon [Buckinghamshire]; priest; on the resignation of Bartholomew;
  • Nicholas Asshewell;
  • Walter Dalkun - 15th October 1381 - priest; on the resignation of Nicholas Asshewell, exchanged to the Rectory of Cholesbury [Buckinghamshire];
  • John Veysy - 13th February 1390 - of Berkhamsted [Hertfordshire]; priest; on the institution of Walter Dalkon to the Rectory of Horsted Keynes [Sussex];
  • John Feversham - 4th April 1434 - priest; on the resignation of John Vesy;
  • Simon Roberdes;

The brass of John Warewyckehill about 1820 [Z1244]
The brass of John Warewyckehill about 1820 [Z1244]

  • John Warewyckehill - 8th March 1498 - priest; on the resignation of Simon Roberdes; he had a pension of four marks; died 20th October 1524; he has a brass in the church;
  • Thomas Bottisford MA - 24th October 1524 - on the death of John Warwykhill;
  • Hugh Smert LLB - 13th August 1533 - on the death of Thomas Bottisford; registered as a brother of Luton Gild of Holy Trinity in 1534;
  • Thomas Lovell MA - 7th January 1538 - on death of Hugh Smerte;
  • John Collope - 14th February 1559 - buried 5th May 1560; priest; on the death of the last Vicar;
  • John Warde BA - 27th June 1562 - on the death of the last Vicar;
  • John Dillworth BA - 6th March 1610;
  • Lawrence Farrington - 12th June 1613;
  • Daniel Clitheroe - 1631 - buried 13th August 1657;
  • John Hatch;
  • Edmund Brown BA - 8th May 1663 - on the resignation of John Hatch;
  • Bishop Lyster - 12th January 1664 - clerk; on the resignation of Edmund Brown;
  • John Gardiner - 28th November 1666 - clerk; on the resignation of Bishop Lyster;
  • William Bedford - 1668 - minister;
  • Phillip Atlesey;
  • William Barnwell MA - 7th November 1679 - on the death of Phillip Atlesey;
  • Valentine Cressey BA - 9th Feb 1691 - vacant;
  • Lewis Pugh - 1702;
  • Christopher Eaton - 26th June 1705;
  • Henry Stonestreet AM - 25th October 1706 - on the resignation of Christopher Eaton;
  • Thomas Dyche - 13th July 1714 - clerk; on the death of Henry Stonestreet;
  • William Colemare - 1720 - curate, of Edlesborough [Buckinghamshire];
  • John Dickenson AB - 27th March 1728 - on the death of Thomas Dyche; buried at Dunstable 12th November 1733];
  • Samuel Fyler BA - 1st February 1734 - on the death of last Vicar;
  • William Pugh BA - 26th February 1762 - on the death of Samuel Fyle;
  • Hugh Pugh MA - 14th June 1774 - on the death of last Vicar;
  • John Dell - 1st February 1782 - clerk; on the resignation of Hugh Pugh;
  • John Oakeley - 16th December 1803 - clerk; on the resignation of John Dell;
  • Richard Boodle MA - 19th November 1813 - on the death of John Oakley;
  • Anthony William Eyre - 29th July 1814 - clerk; on the resignation of Richard Boodle;
  • William Bruton Wroth MA - 7th January 1819; on the resignation of Anthony William Eyre;
  • Thomas Lister Sunderland - 1840-1841 - curate;
  • John Peake BA - 12th August 1863; on the death of William Bruton Wroth;
  • Arthur Linzee Chatterton Heigham - 17th September 1864; on the resignation of John Peake;
  • William Brickwood - 31st July 1866 - clerk, on the resignation of Arthur Linzee Chatterton Heigham;
  • Spencer Alfred Woolward - May 1888;
  • Herbert Maclean Cooper - June 1899;
  • George Nelson Emmet - October 1906;
  • William Charles Griffith - March 1910;
  • James Cecil Williams - June 1921;
  • Howarth William Jones - October 1925;
  • Arthur Llewellyn Jones - November 1950;
  • William Owen Sunman - 1955
  • Harold Handley - 1965
  • Derek Edward Cook - 1978
  • Peter Christie Holland - 1989;
  • D. Janet R. Spicer - 2002.

 The interior of the church about 1910 [Z1130/127]
The interior of the church about 1910 [Z1130/127]


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 the non-residence of the clergyman, number of services 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 Vicar of Totternhoe seems to have lived at Eaton Bray at this period because the income for the parson was not sufficient to allow a vicarage in the parish. Interestingly there was a service every day of the week in 1712 but by 1717 (and a new vicar) it had gone down to one each Sunday. The returns for Totternhoe are as follows:

  • 1709: None Un-batoized come to Church. Many not Confirmed. Communicants about 60. But 7 received at Easter. Many but seldom, or never, communicate at all".
  • 1712: "The Vicar lives at Eyton [Eaton Bray], a little mile off. None come to Church un-baptized. Severall Un-Confirmed. Divine Service once a day. Communions thrice a year [traditionally at Christmas, Easter and Whitsun]. Six only receive".
  • 1717: "No Residence [Vicarage] being dispensed with by reason of the smalness of the Living, and its convenience of being supplyed by reason of its nearness to other Churches. No residing Curate. Unbaptized None that I know of come to church that are not baptized. There are few not confirmed. Service is performed every Lord's day Morning or Evening by Turns. There is notice of a sacrament 3 times in the year, very few ever come, and at Easter last particularly there were not above 4 persons that received".
  • 1720: "No residence. William Colemare the present Curate who has been lately Licens'd by your Lordship resides at Edlesborough aboyte a mile distant. His Allowance is £13 Per Annum. Unbaptized None. The [sic] is Publick service duly performed once Every Lords day. The sacrament is Administer'd thrice in a year. The Number of Communicants seldon Exceeds Six, there were seven last Easter".

Totternhoe church sign February 2010
Totternhoe church sign February 2010

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 W. Bushby. The return for Totternhoe church noted the following pieces of information: there were 80 general congregation and 73 Sunday Scholars at morning service for a total of 153.