Hemingford Abbots

In the 13th century the village of Emmingford Abbatus, it then being part of the estate of Ramsey Abbey, as distinguished from its near neighbour which belonged to the Grey family.

According to the chronicle of Ramsey Abbey, St Aethelwold, Bishop of Winchester (963-84) exchanged with Earl Ailwyn 30 hides of fertile land at Hemingford for 40 hides of less fertile land at Hatfield (Essex). Ailwyn bestowed the Hemingford hides on Ramsey Abbey. This gift, which did not include, Hemingford Grey, was confirmed by King Edgar in 974. Hardecnut gave East Hemingford or Hemingford Grey to the Abbey, and the two Hemingfords were confirmed by the William the Conqueror in 1077. In spite of this, however, William disseised the monks of Hardecnut’s gift of East Hemingford, which he granted to Aubrey de Vere.

Ramsey Abbey was entered in the Domesday Survey (1086) as holding 18 hides in Hemingford (Abbots), which had diminished from the pre conquest value of £11 to £10. There was then a priest and a church and a mill. Another hide ‘in the same place’ which had fallen in value from 10s. to 3s., had been previously by the abbot off Godric, but Ralf, son of Osmund (the tenant of Aubrey de Vere in Hemingford Grey), held it in 1086. This hide, we are told, had been given by the abbot for 200-? of the King to Sawin the Hawker, from whom, Osmund, the father of Ralf, had seized it during the abbots absence in Denmark. The hide which Ralf held in chief in Hemingford, described as waste, had belonged to the demense of the abbey on the time of the Confessor, but Ralf afterwards held it against the abbot’s will.

A hide granted to Abbot Reginald (1114-30), by Hugh, son of Alwold, was probably the hide that Godric had held, which would thus become merged in the abbey lands with £6 yearly for the stipend of the curate there, then leased, at £26-13s-4d. The priory of St Ives was then returned as receiving a pension of 20s.

The value of Ramsey Abbey’s estate here in 1066 was £11, by 1095 it was £8-6s, 1140 it rose to £15 and by 1201 it was £22-14s.

The men of Hemingford received a grant in feefarm of manor of the abbot for £40 yearly in 1280, evidently a renewal of a grant made apparently every seven years. The revenue of the manor of Hemingford specially belonged to the ‘abbots chamber’. In 1300 Abbot John de Sawtry assigned £40 yearly from them and from Ellington for the payment of debts, but certainly yearly sums were claimed by the office of cellarer, and in 1310 £25-6s-8d annually was assigned by John de Sawtry to the convent for vestments and ornaments for the church.

At the Dissolution the Abbey was returned as receiving £45-5s-4½d in rents from their manor of Hemingford Abbots.

Advowson. Ailwyn, when he founded Ramsey Abbey, granted a church with the manor, and a church and a priest are entered in the Domesday Survey (1086). The church was confirmed to the Abbey by Pope Innocent in 1131. It was granted later to the priory of St Ives (a cell of the abbey) by Abbot Robert, whose gift was confirmed by Bishop Hugh of Lincoln between 1186-1200. Between 1209 it again formed part of the possessions of the abbey, and a pension of 40s was assigned to the priory, saving the perpetual vicarage of Master Aristotle and his successors; 20s of this pension was to be allotted to hospitality and 20s to the sacristan. In 1291 the church was valued at £16-13s-4d. with the pension of £2 to the priory of St Ives deducted. The gift of a pension from the church with tithes from the demesne to the abbey was confirmed by Thomas Beck, Bishop of Lincoln, in 1344.

The avowson was the subject of legal proceedings in the Court of Common pleas and at Rome in 1343 and 1379 during voidance of the abbey.

In 1428 the church was taxed at 25 marks. The profits of the rectory were returned at the dissolution. (Ref 25)