Barton in the Clay

Bertona (xi. cent.); Bertuna (xii. cent.); Barthon (xiii. cent.)


The overlordship of BARTON was vested in the crown at the date of Domesday Survey and so remained until the Dissolution when the manor itself was taken into the hand of the king and annexed to the manor of Ampthill in 1542, (fn. 8) being afterwards leased for short periods only; the rights of overlordship must have lapsed after 1628 (fn. 9) as there is no further mention of them.

The manor, which belonged to the abbey of Ramsey at the time of the great Survey, had been in the possession of the abbots for some time previous to that date. It was given to the abbey in 1044 by Eadnoth, bishop of Dorchester; (fn. 10) and the grant was confirmed by Edward the Confessor in 1066, (fn. 11) by William the Conqueror in 1078, (fn. 12) and by Edward III in 1334. (fn. 13) The manor was of considerable extent at the time of the Domesday Survey for it was assessed at 11 hides and was worth £10; the abbot claimed 12 acres more, held at that time by Nigel de Albini and Walter the Fleming, of which the abbot had been unjustly dispossessed by John des Roches. (fn. 14)

The annual value of the manor, which was again confirmed to the abbey of Ramsey in 1178 by the Pope Alexander III, (fn. 15) was £26 at the beginning of the thirteenth century. (fn. 16) The abbey, in 1201, received a grant of free warren in its demesne lands of Barton, (fn. 17) and was called upon to account for the exercise of this right in 1286 and also in 1330 (fn. 18) and each time justified its claim by the production of the charter of Henry III. The value of the manor varied but little during the thirteenth century as towards the close it was worth £26 8s. 1¼d. (fn. 19) In 1336 it was leased out at a yearly rent of £50, (fn. 20) and at the time of the Dissolution the rents and farms within it amounted to £60 6s. 6d. (fn. 21) The manor was enlarged by several grants and purchases; in the middle of the thirteenth century Abbot Hugh of Sulgrave granted to it, for the upkeep of the shrine of St. Ives, the whole tenement purchased from Robert Peveril (fn. 22) and about the same date John de Baxter released to the abbey fields in Barton called Bakeworthe and le Hacche. (fn. 23) In 1278 82/3 acres of land were purchased by the abbey from Walter de la Haye and his wife Matilda (fn. 24) and the same amount was bought the next year from Richard de Caddington and his wife Sibyl. (fn. 25) The latter also granted to the abbey one-third of a messuage and a croft in Barton (fn. 26) and 3 messuages; 50 acres of land were given to the abbey by Thomas Turford, a mason, in 1354. (fn. 27)

In 1301 permission was obtained to let the manor for ten years, for the discharge of the abbey’s debts (fn. 28) and in 1336 it was leased out to Sir William de Hale, Robert de Caddington and Master Robert de Bergh, rector of Houghton. (fn. 29) The abbey continued to hold the manor until the dissolution of the religious houses, when (fn. 30) it became crown property and was leased for short terms to various persons. In 1550, the Princess Elizabeth was lady of the manor (fn. 31) and apparently kept it in her hands until 1578, when she granted it to William Worthington for twenty one years. (fn. 32) In 1601 the manor reverted to the crown. (fn. 33) In 1612 Thomas, Viscount Fenton, surrendered the office of steward of the manor, (fn. 34) which was then conferred by James I upon Lord Bruce. (fn. 35) In 1628 a grant of the manor was made to Edward Ditchfield and others (fn. 36) as trustees for the city of London, who probably sold it to Richard Norton, who was lord of the manor in 1634. (fn. 37)

There was a mill attached to Barton manor which at the time of the great Survey was worth 2s. (fn. 51) Barton seems to have been well provided with mills, no doubt on account of the numerous streams which rise in the hills here. From time to time grants of mills or interest in mills in Barton were made to the abbey. The first grant on record took place between 1254 and 1267, when Abbot Hugh of Sulgrave gave to the abbey, to be annexed to its manor, half a mill bought of Robert Peveril. (fn. 52) About 1255 the abbey owned three water-mills in Barton, of which two were leased out at an annual rent of 2 marks, and the third, retained in the custody of the abbey, was worth 20s. (fn. 53) In 1278 Walter de la Haye and his wife Matilda alienated one-sixth of a mill to the abbey, (fn. 54) while in 1285 they conveyed a similar interest in a mill to Robert son of John. (fn. 55) The grant of the third part of a mill was confirmed to the almoner of the abbey by the abbot, William of Gloucester, between 1278 and 1285, when it was stated to have been the gift of Walter and Matilda de la Haye and Richard and Sibyl of Caddington. (fn. 56) In the reign of Edward III the abbey still held three water-mills, (fn. 57) but in 1340 only one is mentioned, rented at £1 16s. 8d. (fn. 58) In 1611 Felix Wilson was granted a mill in Barton, which had formerly been two ‘under one roof,’ belonging to Ramsey Abbey. (fn. 59) There is now a small water-mill in Barton situated near the village, and a windmill used to stand near Jeremiah’s Tree on Barton Hill, but it was burnt about forty or fifty years ago. (fn. 60)


Barton church is not mentioned in Domesday, and the first reference to it occurs in 1178, when Pope Alexander III confirmed the manor with the church to the abbey of Ramsey. (fn. 61) Probably, therefore, the advowson had been in the gift of the abbey for some time before that date. The right of presentation continued vested in the abbey until the Dissolution, (fn. 62) when it was transferred to the crown. It had been previously exercised by the crown in 1349, but this was merely temporary, and occasioned by the voidance of Ramsey Abbey. (fn. 63) In 1291 the value of the church was £12, (fn. 64) which by 1535 had increased to £26 9s. 6d. (fn. 65) The abbot of Ramsey received a pension of 20s. from the church, which was confirmed by Hugh, bishop of Lincoln, at the end of the twelfth century, and afterwards by Richard, bishop of Lincoln, in 1262, and by Walter, archbishop of Canterbury, in 1319. (fn. 66) The pension continued to be paid till the Dissolution, (fn. 67) and even for a short time afterwards when the advowson belonged to the crown. (fn. 68) From the reign of Henry VIII to the present day the right of presentation to the church and rectory has belonged to the crown, which has always presented with one exception, in 1660, when the bishop of Ely collated. (fn. 69)