Manor of Kimbolton

Historical notes about Kimbolton Manor in Huntingdonshire, UK

 

KIMBOLTON with the lands of its soke formed the only estate of Harold in Huntingdonshire in 1066. By 1086 it had passed to William de Warenne, when the sokeland attached to it extended into Swineshead, Great and Little Catworth in Huntingdonshire and Keysoe and 'Hanefeld' in Bedfordshire. Before the middle of the 13th century Kimbolton had become an honour and comprised lands in Tilbrook, Dean, Pertenhall and Little Staughton. Harold had 10 hides in Kimbolton assessed to the geld in 1066, then worth £7, and in 1086 William de Warenne held them and they had increased in value to £16 4s. There were a priest and a church and a mill. Two knights held a hide of land there.

Domesday Kimbolton - Land of William de Warenne

In KIMBOLTON Earl Harold had 10 hides to the geld. [There is] land for 20 ploughs. William de Warenne holds it now, and has in demesne there 5 ploughs, on 5 hides; and 84 villans and 36 bordars with 25 ploughs. There is a priest and a church, and 70 acres of meadow, and woodland pasture 1 league long and 1 league broad. There is 1 mill [rendering] 5s. TRE worth £7, now £16 4s. 2 knights have 1 hides of this land, and have 1 plough and 5 oxens there. It is worth 20s.

(Note: Demesne - Land retained by the Lord of the Manor for his own use and TRE - Tempora Regis Eduardis - In the time of King Edward the Confessor.)

William de Warenne died in 1088, shortly after being created Earl of Surrey. His eldest son, William, joined Duke Robert of Normandy against Henry I and forfeited his estates. Kimbolton seems to have been forfeited again later and was in the hands of William Fitz Ranulph in 1130–1. The Earl, however, was restored and died 1138, leaving three sons: William, 3rd Earl of Surrey, Reginald, ancestor of the baronial house of Mortimer, and Ralph. William was killed in 1148 while on the Crusade, leaving an only daughter Isabel, married first in 1153 to William, Count of Mortain, second son of King Stephen. By agreement made in the same year between Stephen and Henry, later King Henry II, most of the Warenne lands were given to William, Count of Mortain, who became Earl of Warenne and Surrey in right of his wife. William died childless in 1159 and Kimbolton and its soke were granted to William de Say, who was in possession in 1160-1.

Mandeville Arms

The Armorial Bearings of the Mandeville family.

The Armorial Bearings of the Mandeville family.

Quarterly or and gules.

The new owner was the son of William de Say and Beatrice, sister of Geoffrey de Mandeville, first Earl of Essex. He died in 1177; his two daughters and co-heirs, Beatrice and Maud, being under age, the custody of Kimbolton and its co-heirs was given to Richard Russell. In 1185 Geoffrey Fitz Piers married Beatrice, and William de Bokeland of Buckland (Berks) married Maud. Beatrice received Kimbolton, and in 1191 and 1198 Richard I confirmed the division of the inheritance made in the time of his father. Beatrice died in 1197, two years before her husband was created Earl of Essex in her right. He was succeeded in 1213 by their son Geoffrey, Earl of Essex and Gloucester, who assumed the surname of Mandeville and died childless in 1216. His brother, William de Mandeville, succeeded, but had forfeited his own lands by joining the baronial party in 1215. He was restored in 1217, and had livery of his brother Geoffrey's lands, including Kimbolton. On his death childless in 1227, his wife Christine received it in dower with reversion to Maud, his sister. Maud's first husband was Henry de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, ancestor of the new line of lords of Kimbolton.

Bohun of Hereford Arms

The Armorial Bearings of the Bohun family of Hereford.

The Armorial Bearings of the Bohun family of Hereford.

Azure a bend argent cotised or between six lions Or.

On his death in 1220 she married Roger de Dauntsey of Dauntsey, Wiltshire, from whom she was granted a divorce, which was revoked by the Pope. Roger had livery of Kimbolton Castle in July and the Countess died in August 1236.

In 1237 Ralph de Mortimer claimed 4 carucates of land here against her son Humphrey, Earl of Hereford,  probably as descendant of William de Warenne. Humphrey became Earl of Essex after his mother's death. He forfeited Kimbolton by supporting Simon de Montfort, but recovered it in 1265, and settled it on the marriage of his son, Humphrey, to Joan, daughter of Robert de Quincy, youngest son of the Earl of Winchester. Humphrey died in his father's lifetime, leaving a son Humphrey, who succeeded his grandfather in 1275. His mother held the castle, manor and advowson of the church until her death in 1283. He was lord in 1285, but died in 1298, apparently still without having recovered Kimbolton, which had been seized owing to his defiance of the king at Salisbury two years previously. His son and heir Humphrey married Elizabeth, Countess of Holland, daughter of Edward I, in 1302, when Kimbolton and other manors and the constableship of England were settled on them and their heirs, with reversion to the Crown. This Earl was slain at Boroughbridge in 1322. His elder son John died childless in 1336 and his younger son Humphrey succeeded, dying unmarried in 1361. His heir was Humphrey, son of his brother William, Earl of Northampton, who united the three earldoms of Northampton, Hereford and Essex. He died seised in 1373, leaving two daughters, Eleanor and Mary, aged 7 and 3 respectively, and a widow, Joan (d. 1419), to whom Kimbolton was assigned in dower. In 1377 Joan claimed that Kimbolton belonged to the constableship of England and so was quit of all custom and particularly from assessment for the repair of Huntingdon Bridge. The claim was probably not allowed, as we hear no more of it. Eleanor, the elder daughter of Humphrey, Earl of Northampton, married the king's youngest son, Thomas de Woodstock, who was made Constable of England, Earl of Buckingham, and in 1385 Duke of Gloucester. He was murdered at Calais in 1397, and his lands were a few days afterwards forfeited to the Crown. His son Humphrey died in 1399, before the reversal of the forfeiture, leaving his sister Anne, wife of Edmund, Earl of Stafford, as heir to his mother's moiety of the Bohun estates, his aunt Mary, wife of Henry IV, being heir to the other moiety.

Bohun of Northampton Arms

The Armorial Bearings of the Bohun family of Northampton.

The Armorial Bearings of the Bohun family of Northampton.

Azure a bend argent cotised or between six lions or with the difference of three molets gules on the bend.

Stafford Arms

The Armorial Bearings of the Stafford family.

The Armorial Bearings of the Stafford family.

Or a cheveron gules.

Under an agreement for a partition of the lands of Humphrey de Bohun between Anne and Henry V, son of Mary, made in 1421, Kimbolton fell to Anne. She died in 1438, her husband having predeceased her in 1403. Her son Humphrey, Earl of Buckingham, Hereford, Stafford, and Northampton, was created Duke of Buckingham in 1444, and in 1447 he had a grant of special precedence. He settled the castle and manor on himself and his wife Anne in 1442. He died in 1460, when his heir was Henry, aged 4, son of his deceased son Humphrey. Henry was acknowledged as Lord High Constable in 1483, but on joining the plot of the Earl of Richmond was beheaded and attainted in the same year. For their good services to the king, Kimbolton formed part of the grant to the Stanleys in 1484, but was apparently resumed, as in 1485 the castle, manor, lordship and soke were granted in dower to Katharine, formerly wife of the attainted duke and then Duchess of Bedford. In the same year their son Edward, the most famous Duke of Buckingham, was restored to all his honours, afterwards becoming the greatest personage at the court of Henry VIII. He was accused of high treason and executed in 1521, when all his honours were forfeited. In 1522 the manor, castle, market and fair of Kimbolton were granted in tail male and at a rent of £40 to Sir Richard Wingfield, who had married, as her third husband, Katharine Wydville, widow of Henry, Duke of Buckingham.

Wingfield Arms

The Armorial Bearings of the Wingfield family.

The Armorial Bearings of the Wingfield family.

Argent a bend gules cotised sable with three pairs of wings argent on the bend.

In 1523 the rent was released, the whole to be held as a knight's fee. Wingfield was a man of considerable power. 'Who has more influence with the king than Wingfield?' Latimer asked. He died at Toledo in 1525, leaving a son and heir, Charles, aged 12 years, by his second wife Bridget, daughter and heir of Sir John Wilshire. Charles married Jane, daughter of Robert and sister of the famous Sir Francis Knollys, and died seised in 1540 leaving a son Thomas, aged one year, whose wardship and marriage the king granted to Sir Richard Cromwell. Thomas seems to have led rather a wild life, and in 1580 his uncle Sir Francis asked for letters from the Council to repress his nephew's unruly doings. His 'simplicitie' is spoken of, and the custody of the lands and woods despoiled by himself and his prodigal son, Edward, was given to his uncle and Sir Walter Mildmay. He died seised in 1592 and was succeeded by his son Edward, called 'the great warriour,' who had been knighted by 1588. He died in 1603, leaving a son and heir Sir James, who, with his mother Mary and his wife Elizabeth, conveyed the manor in 1606 to Sir Charles Montagu, kt., and others, apparently as a marriage settlement for Elizabeth. The property was heavily encumbered and in 1610 the king granted it for assurance of title to Sir James in tail male. In 1615 Sir James sold the reversion to Sir Henry Montagu, serjeant-at-law, and in the same year conveyed the estate to the king, who regranted it to Sir Henry Montagu, younger brother of Edward, first Baron Montagu of Boughton. Sir Henry was created in 1620 Baron Montagu of Kimbolton and Viscount Mandeville. In 1626 he was created Earl of Manchester and died in 1642. His son Edward, the well-known Parliamentary general, died in 1671. From this date the manor has passed with the Earldom and Dukedom of Manchester, and William Angus Drogo, the ninth Duke, is the present owner.

Montagu Arms

The Armorial Bearings of the Montagu family.

The Armorial Bearings of the Montagu family.

Quarterly: 1 and 4, Argent a fesse indented of three fusils gules in a border sable; 2 and 3, Or an eagle vert.

A long list of villeins and free tenants of Kimbolton and its soke exists for 1279. At that time the lord had gallows, view of frankpledge, pillory, tumbril, and assize of bread and ale. In 1285–6 the Earl of Hereford's claim to view of frankpledge without the king's officer being present was rejected. The view of frankpledge was held twice a year in 1523. The annual court leet is still held. The lord's free chace in the forest of Swineshead is mentioned in 1279, his warren in 1373, and a mill and several fisheries descended with the manor.

STONELY PRIORY, to the east of Kimbolton Park, it is stated by Leland, was founded by William de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, in 1180, and again, that it was founded by the Bigrames. Leland was probably mistaken in the identification of the founder, as the William de Mandeville, Earl of Essex, who was living in 1180 did not hold Kimbolton. It is more likely the founder was William, Earl of Essex, who succeeded his brother Geoffrey in 1216 and died in 1227. The earliest reference to the priory is in 1279, when the prior was a free tenant in Kimbolton, holding 3 virgates with the appurtenances by gift of Master Gilbert de Helpested, for celebrating mass for his soul for ever; and Gilbert held of Peter de Hardwick (chaplain) and he of Sir Humphrey de Bohun, lord of Kimbolton. The prior was also a burgess (burgensis) of Kimbolton holding a cottage and 3 acres by burgage tenure. The additional fact that the advowson of the priory belonged to the lords of Kimbolton makes it likely that their ancestor, the later William, Earl of Essex, was the founder. Of the Bigrames we know nothing. The name survives in Bigrams Farm and Bigrams Lane.

About 1272 Thomas de Bekering died seised, in right of his wife, of 4 virgates of land in Werkwell in Kimbolton, and in 1279 Peter and Alice de Bekering, brother and sister, each held 100 acres in Werkwell of Sir Thomas de Bekering by their mother's grant and Sir Thomas held of the lord of Kimbolton by the service of half a knight's fee. From this it would seem that Werkwell was a sub-manor of Kimbolton held by the Bekerings. Thomas, son of Thomas de Bekering, died seised of the field of Wornditch and of 2 carucates of land at Werkwell about 1285. n 1361 the Earl of Hereford granted to the priory all the lands of Sir Thomas de Bekering, knt., at Werkwell in the parish of Kimbolton. After the dissolution of Stonely Priory, its lands were at first leased to Oliver Leder, of Great Staughton (q.v.) in 1538, and the site and appurtenances were granted to him and his wife Frances, in fee, in 1544. hey sold the estate in 1552 to Thomas Mary Wingfield, a younger son of Sir Richard Wingfield and Margaret his wife. Thomas Mary Wingfield died seised of the house and site in 1557, leaving a son and heir, Edward Mary Wingfield, aged 7, who was born at Stonely. He was one of the patentees of Virginia in 1606 and 1607 and accompanied the first colonists to Jamestown, but returned in 1608. His diary has been amplified and published as A Discourse of Virginia. He was in possession of Stonely in 1612, and died unmarried about 1614. He had a brother Thomas Mary Wingfield, but Stonely was about this time acquired by the Montagus, and by 1655 the site of the priory had been united to the Kimbolton estate, with which it has since descended.