The many and various rectors of Eversholt are a subject of endless fascination. More have recently been unearthed by the increasingly well-informed Clergy of the Church of England Database. That records official events noted by the church – appointments, deaths, dismissal and the like. Some event records are missing, so a rector’s death may be noted without a record of appointment.

Appointing a rector is complicated. First the candidate has to be presented, meaning that the owner of the advowson has to recommend the candidate for the post. The advowson is just the right to propose the candidate. The advowson would initially have been owned by whoever paid for the building of the church. Later, the advowson could change hands, being inherited or sold like other property. The owner of the advowson would present the candidate to the bishop.

The candidate rector would pass various hurdles (qualifications, references, etc) and be approved by the bishop. Before the dissolution, candidates had to gain the approval of the pope. Newly appointed rectors had to pay the first year’s income from the parish to the church. Only when all this had been agreed could the candidate be instituted as rector.

Some candidates never actually became rector.

This table of rectors is compiled from a mixture of:

  • the CCED, which collates official church documents. If dates conflict in the sources, the CCED “institution” date is shown in the table
  • a poster in the church, of unknown origin, shown below
  • a list made by the Bedforshire Records office mostly in the 1950s and updated since. This list is not very intelligible. If anyone would care to explain it, please do.
Appointed Patron Departed
Before 1179 The unnamed priest transferred from the Hospitallers to Dunstable Priory Knights Hospitaller
Before 1227 Ralph Pirot Renounced (Fired?)
 1227  Robert de Cirencester Knights Hospitaller Resigned
 1237  Ralph de Cirencester
 William de la Mare Resigned
 1273-02-19  Robert de la Mare
 1290-10-26  Henry de Sewell Brother Peter de Hagham Viaregent of the Priory of Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in England, Stephen de Weston, and Cecilia de Eversholt
 Stephen de Weston resigned, moved to diocese of Rochester
 1293-03-13 (Julian)  Richard de Alba Ripa or Richard de Hauterive opposed by the abbot and congregation of Woburn and by Cecily daughter of John le Heyr of Eversholt, who presented Peter Passelewe instead, but they later consented. Much about Passelewe online; he was rector of Battlesden. Resigned
 1297-12-21  John de Staunfordham [or John de Stamfordham or John de Stanfordham] Moved to Luton Church, exchanging with Roger de Salesbury
 1331-03-13 (Julian)  M. Roger de Salesbury  Leonard de Tybertis, prior of Hospitallers.
 1336-03-05  John de la Magdalene
 Thomas Croyser Resigned
 1351-07-19  Robert de Usflete Resigned
 1366-08-16  Thomas Croyser Resigned
 1366-09-15  John de Buckingham Vacancy (Just missing?)
 1374-07-27  John Ingram Nicholas de Tettesworth and Richard Gregory junior Moved to Melchbourne church in exchange with William Stanwys
1374-10-21 William Stanwys Nicholas Tetesworth and Richard Gregory junior, who recovered advowson in court against the Priory of St John of Jerusalem in England Vacancy
 1375-07-21  Robert Gerlethorp [or Robert Gerlesethorp or Robert de Garlethorp] Vacancy
1375-03-03 (Julian) John Wade Nicholas de Tettesworth, and Richard Gregory of Bekenesfeld Moved to Brampton juxta Dyngele in exchange with John Mylicent
 1375-03-03  John Mylicent

How is this the same date as John Wade?

Johannes Barkeby
 1404-07-24  John Burdet  Resigned
 1408-08-12   David Olton  Resigned
 1411  D. Richard Gamull [of Wykyngetson, or Wyggeston]  Resigned
 1440-07-25  Thomas Vyncent  Resigned
 1457-02-07  John Smyth  Resigned
 1463-12-10  Richard Pierpount
John Parpoynte [Is this actually the same person as Richard Pierpount?] Died
 1492-03-07  M. Sheparde [or Shepherd]  Died
 1493-12-04  Gregory Wareyn  Died
 1506-09-02  Richard Nicoll  Resigned
 1507-07-26  John Slow [or John Slowe or John Flow or John Flowe]
1557-08-18 George Edwardes [or George Edwards] Thomas Johnson, by reason of an assignment made to him by Robert Rowley, William Aprice, William Smythe and Thomas Warde by virtue of the advowson made to them by the prior and convent of St. John of Jeruslaem and the ‘confrater’ of the same. ?
 1558-08-03  John Ramrydge  Fulk Merton, gentleman, by reason of an advowson made to him by John, Earl of Bath and Margaret, his wife.
 1559-03-29  Edward Bune  Ralph Johnson, citizen and grocer of London  Deprivation
 1563-10-18  Christopher Disc [or Christopherus Dix or Dicks]  Queen Elizabeth I
 1571-10-13  Joh’nes Wickham [or Johannes]  Vacancy by lapse
 1576-07-19, presentation 1575-07-15  Maurice Haukner [or Faulkner or Fawkener]  St John’s College Cambridge?
 1578-07-29  Martinus Williams [or Martin]  Resigned
 1579-07-20 Sir John Gybson [or Gibson]  Queen Elizabeth I  Died
1602-01-18 Johannes Dutton Lady Dorotheam Morison
 1603-01-18  Thomas Dutton M.A.  Dorothy, Lady Morrison, widow [or Morison]
 1642-01-26 Theodore Dutton [or Teodorus]  Johannes Russell Esq. Died. “Natural death”!
 1681-02-02  Jacobus Dutton M.A.  John Russell Esq. [or Johannes]  Died
 1699-04-01  William Hyde B.A. [or Gulielmus Hide]  Edward, Earl of Orford
William Lloyd [or Gulielmus Royde] Died
 1721-03-09  Pusey Hancocke A.M. [or Hancock]   Edward, Earl of Orford  Died
 1742-11-7  Luke Morgan A.M. [or Margan]  the Right Honourable Samuel Sandys, Esq, Chancellor of H.M. Exchequer and Letithea, his wife Appointed elsewhere
 1753-02-07  Robert Gascoyne B.A.  Samuel Lord Sandys & Letithea, his wife  Died
 1766-06-05  John Sandys B.A.  Died
 1810-04-16  James Reed B.D.  Mary Hill, Marchioness of Downshire  Died
 1843-05-02  Henry Matthew M.A.  Francis, Duke of Bedford  Died
 1861-08-01  William Samuel Baker M.A.  William, Duke of Bedford  Died
 1900-11  William Escott Collins M.A.
[or Scott]
 1938-05  William George Dean-Pitt Mercer B.A.
 1969  Henry John Smith
 1976  Michael Saunders A.K.C. (priest in charge)
 1979  Paul Richard Miller B.Sc. A.K.C. (priest in charge)
 1999  James Alan Heslop (priest in charge)
 2004  Stephen W Nuth


Here’s a picture of the poster from the church (click for a bigger version) but I have no idea what the copyright status of a poster displayed in a church is, so this image had better remain copyright, please.

Eversholt Church Rectors Poster

Some recent appointments have been as a “priest in charge” rather than as a rector. According to wikipedia, a priest in charge doesn’t have responsibility for maintaining the church, and doesn’t get the money due to the rector. Presumably, they’re paid by the diocese. The current person, Steve Nuth, has returned to being rector.

Henry de Pewell, shown int he poster as rector in 1290, seems to be a misprint. Everyone else has him as Henry de Sewell.

Michael O’Clare, shown in the poster as rector in 1770, wasn’t actually a rector, but was a curate. That’s a sort of apprentice vicar. There were lots of curates in Eversholt over time, most of whom are not recorded. John Littlejohn in 1702 was a curate. One may have been E H Whinfield who gave a guinea to support a Sunday school society in 1785.

The poster is incomplete – Thomas Dutton seems to have held the post for 78 years. It’s remarkable to discover that, quite a long way down the list, M. Sheparde was appointed in the same year that Columbus sailed to the West Indies. There must have been quite a few upsets during all the religious upheavals of the 1500s, changing the national religion from Roman Catholic to CofE and back again and back again, but that’s not obvious from this list.

There is a list of some rector records.
There’s a mention of one Gilbert de Eversholt as a rector earlier than this. The evidence so far seems slight; however, it’s quite interesting!

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