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List of Yelden Rectors

The church from the south-east March 2014
The church from the south-east March 2014


The earliest mention of the advowson is in the early 12th century when Lord of the Manor Geoffrey de Trailly gave it to Thorney Abbey in Huntingdonshire. This grant was confirmed by Pope Alexander III (1159-1181) in 1162. By 1273 the advowson was again held by the Lord of the Manor and remained with them until sold in 1745 to Robert Clavering, Bishop of Peterborough whose son sold it to the Bunting family. By the early 20th century the rector held the advowson.

Since 1930 Melchbourne and Yelden shared an incumbent, though remaining individual ecclesiastical parishes (albeit they became one civil parish). From 1958 Melchbourne shared an incumbent with Dean, Shelton and Yelden.

In 1980 the Stodden Churches group was created comprising the parishes of Melchbourne, Dean, Pertenhall, Shelton, Swineshead and Yelden [P73/0/3]. The individual parishes retain their parish officers and parochial church councils but share an incumbent. The Saint Albans Diocesan Patronage Board and the Martyrs Memorial Trust are now [2015] joint patrons of the group living.

 The pulpit March 2014
The pulpit March 2014

List of Rectors

  •  Peter de Clare, subdeacon: 1227;
  •  Robert de Sancto Albano, subdeacon: 1232;
  •  Robert de S. Agatha, subdeacon: 1239;
  •  William de Burnton;
  •  William de Albington, chaplain, on the death of William de Burnton: 8th September 1303;
  •  Thomas de Trailly, acolite, on the death of William: 13th February 1313;
  •  Robert Gifford, clerk, on the resignation of Thomas: 6th October 1326;
  •  Richard Ledbury, priest, on the death of Robert Gifford: 16th August 1372;
  •  Richard Markeley;
  •  John Bordeles, priest, on the death of Richard Markeley: 13th December 1375;
  •  John Warde, priest, on the death of John Burdeleys: 27th January 1381;
  •  John Bodycote, priest: 7th December 1389;
  •  John Turvey, priest on exchange with John Bodycote for Clifton Rectory: 18th November 1396;
  •  Reginald Braybrok, chaplain, on the resignation of John Turvey, exchanged to Belgrave Rectory [Cheshire]: 15th May 1401;
  •  Roger Wellesspryg, priest, on the death of the last incumbent: 21st October 1406;
  •  John Warde, priest; on the resignation of Roger Welyspryng: 31st October 1408;
  •  John Heyne, priest, on the resignation of John Warde (he died on 25th June 1433 and has a brass in the chancel): 24th August 1417;
  •  Robert Peper, priest, vacancy: 25th July 1433;
  •  Adam Ramsey, priest, on the death of Robert Pepyr; 1st May 1467;
  •  Thomas Proctour MA, on the death of Adam Ramsey: February 1472;
  •  Alexander Hampden, on the death of Thomas Proctor: 6th March 1476;
  •  Henry Weldon, on the death of Alexander Hampeden: 14th July 1587;
  •  William Felle;
  •  Robert Toteade, on the death of William Felle: 4th July 1524;
  •  Nicholas Gladman: 12th May 1547;
  •  William Smith: 1st July 1551;
  •  George Ridley, clerk, on the death of William Smyth: 7th July 1564;
  •  Thomas Barker MA, on the death of the last incumbent: 3rd October 1603;
  •  John Pocklington, chaplain to Charles I, deprived 1641: 17th April 1618;
  •  William Dell, clerk, chaplain to the Parliamentary armies and sympathiser of John Bunyan, ejected 1661: 20th February 1641;
  •  Josiah Lamplough, clerk: 4th January 1661;
  •  Thomas Becket MA, on the death of Lamplough: 6th November 1675;
  •  John Saint John LLD, on death of Thomas Beckett: 1st April 1698;
  •  Christopher Anstey MA: 30th July 1705;
  •  (John Stone curate: 1705);
  •  Pawlet Saint John AM, on the resignation of Christopher Anstey: 11th January 1707;
  •  William Bedford AM, on the death of Powlett St John: 26th January 1733;
  •  Coote Leicester MA, on the death of William Bedford: 17th June 1754;
  •  Christopher Atkinson, clerk, on the death of Coote Leicester: 12th July 1770;
  •  Christopher Munnings, clerk, on the death of Christopher Atkinson: 28th October 1777;
  •  Edward Bunting BA, on the cession of Christopher Munnings: 21st September 1778;
  •  David Lewis, clerk, on the death of Edward Bunting: 28th March 1809;
  •  Samuel Arnott MA, on the cession of David Lewis: 24th March 1819;
  •  John Bunting MA, on the death of Samuel Arnott: 9th December 1823;
  •  Edward Stranton Bunting BD, on the resignation of John Bunting: 25th March 1830;
  •  John Fernie MA, on the death of E S Bunting: 15th July 1849;
  •  Charles Howes Smith BA: 31st July 1888;
  •  James William Weldon Davies: March 1926;
  •  Reginald Paddick: December 1930
  •  Thomas Francis William Wright: February 1947;
  •  David Haigh Leonard-Williams: 1958;
  •  Arthur Frederick le Dieu: 1967;
  •  Benjamin Brian Dobson Aylott: 1972;
  •  Neil R. Weston: 1980;
  •  Paul Charles Delight: 1992;
  •  Richard D. Seymour Whiteley: 1999;
  •  Jan C Brookshaw: 2003.

The sower - south chancel window March 2014
The sower - south chancel window March 2014


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 Yelden are as follows:

  • 1709: "None come to church Un-baptized. Many not confirmed. Communicants about 30. As many more never receive at all";
  • 1712: "The Rector resides Here, as does his Curate, to whom he allows £40 per Annum. Divine Service twice every Lord's day, once every Holy-day … Communion 4 times a year. About 25 generally receive";
  • 1717: "Reside personally in the Parsonage House … None Unbaptized. Severall uncomfirmed … The public Service read constantly on Wednesdays, Fridays, Holidays, and twice on Sundays … Sacrament Administred four times a year. 29 Communicants last Easter Day. Above thirty who usually receive".

 The view from the south door March 2014
The view from the south door March 2014

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 Yelden church was made by the rector, John Fernie, who noted the following pieces of information:

  • 200 free seats, 100 others;
  • 60 general congregation in the morning, 150 in the afternoon;
  • 60 Sunday scholars both in the morning and the afternoon.