The Manor of Hemingford Abbots

The Manor of Hemingford Abbots in Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire, UK


According to the chronicle of Ramsey Abbey, St. Aethelwold, Bishop of Winchester (963–84) exchanged with Earl Ailwin 30 hides of fertile land at Hemingford for 40 hides of land of less fertility at Hatfield (co. Essex). Ailwin bestowed the Hemingford hides on Ramsey Abbey. This gift, which did not include Hemingford Grey, was confirmed by King Edgar in 974.

Ramsey Abbey Arms

The Armorial Bearings of Ramsey Abbey.

The Armorial Bearings of Ramsey Abbey.

Or a bend azure with three rams' heads argent thereon.


Hardecnut gave East Hemingford or Hemingford Grey to the abbey, and the two Hemingfords were confirmed by 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.

Domesday - Land of the Abbots of Ramsey

In HEMINGFORD ABBOTS the Abbot of Ramsey had 18 hides to the geld. [There is] land for 16 ploughs. There are now 2 ploughs in demesne; and 26 villans and 5 bordars with 8 ploughs. There is a church and a priest, and 1 mill [rendering] 10s 8d, and 80 acres of meadow. TRE worth £11, now £10.

In THE SAME PLACE Godric had 1 hides to the geld. He held of the Abbot. [He had] land for 1 plough. Now Ralph fitzOsmund has it, but men of the hundred not know through whom. TRE worth 10s, now 3s.

Domesday - Land of Ralph fitzOsmund

In HEMINGFORD [ABBOTS?] Alwine Black had 1 hide to the geld. [There is] land for 1 plough. It is waste Ralph fitzOsmund has it.

(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.)

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 were 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 held of the abbot by 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 love of the king to Sawin the Hawker, from whom Osmund, father of Ralf, had seized it during the abbot's absence in Denmark. The other hide which Ralf held in chief in Hemingford, described as waste, had belonged to the demesne of the abbey in 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, 'propter penuriam,' (fn. 7) was probably the hide that Godric had held, which would thus become merged in the abbey lands.

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

At the Dissolution the abbey was returned as receiving £45 5s. 4.5d. in rents from their manor of Hemingford Abbots, whose stewardship was granted in 1545 with that of Brampton to the king's servant, Oliver Leader. In the same year the manor, with the advowson, fishery, and all appurtenances, was sold to Fotheringhay College (co. Northampton), soon to be suppressed and to pass into the hands of the Duke of Northumberland. Hemingford Abbots was then first granted to Sir Thomas Seymour, Lord Seymour of Sudeley (attainted in 1549), and afterwards in 1562 to Helen, Marchioness of Northampton. It was granted in 1625 to Edward and Robert Ramsey at the same time as Hemingford Grey, at a rent for Hemingford Abbots of £45 15s. 3.5d. payable on the death of Helen, Marchioness of Northampton.

From the Ramseys the manor and advowson passed to the Page family, and in 1632 the presentation was made by Robert Page, of Leighton Bromswold, and Robert Page, of Greys Inn, and then later in the same year Robert Page, senior, and Robert Page junior, of Leighton Bromswold, presented Symon Page. Robert Page, of Leighton Bromswold, died in or about 1639. The Pages, who were apparently Royalists, were in 1641 having disputes with their tenants. In 1643 a petition was presented by divers inhabitants of Hemingford Abbots, against Robert Page, lord of the manor, and Symon Page, the rector, a counter petition being presented in the same month by other inhabitants that Mr. Page, their rector, whose removal had been demanded, was a sober, godly, and peaceable man, unblamable in life and conversation, and faithful in the discharge of his duties.

Symon Page appeared again as a petitioner in 1660; but before this date Robert Page probably died, and we find the manor descending in moieties, the one held by Robert Bernard, serjeant-at-law, in 1654 and probably earlier, and the other in 1647, by Mrs. Newman, possibly the same person as Joan Newman, referred to below. In 1649 Richard Newman, of Hemingford Abbots, compounded for delinquency. It is not clear what his relationship was to Joan Newman, widow of Christopher Newman, of Hemingford Abbots, yeoman, who was in 1650 engaged in Chancery proceedings. She claimed dower from lands and tenements in Hemingford Abbots, the property of the late Christopher (settled upon her by deed to which her Martyn kindred were parties), against John Newman, of Hemingford Abbots, gentleman, and Christopher Newman, his son. Christopher Newman was lord of the moiety not acquired from Robert Page by Sir Robert Bernard. His only daughter, Martha, married Miles Bevys, of Peterborough, who with William Chapman and Susan his wife, conveyed a moiety of the manor in 1727 to James Mitchell. This moiety henceforward descended with Hemingford Grey (q.v.).

Bernard Arms

The Armorial Bearings of Bernard of Huntingdon, Baronet.

The Armorial Bearings of Bernard of Huntingdon, Baronet.

Argent a bear rampant sable with a muzzle or.


The other moiety and the advowson had descended in the Bernard family, and were dealt with in 1685 and 1692 by Sir Robert Bernard, bart. (grandson of its purchaser, and son of Sir John Bernard), who died c. 1703. In 1706 Sir Thomas Trevor, kt., Chief Justice, and Anne his wife, widow of Sir Robert Bernard, conveyed their interest to Cornelius Denne, merchant. Denne's property was seized by the crown for debt, and his interest in the manor was granted in 1721 to James Mitchell, of Fowlmire, co. Cambridge. The Bernard moiety returned to the Bernard family, and was dealt with in 1785 by Sir John Bernard, bart. (only son and heir of Sir Robert) who died unmarried in 1789. It then passed with Brampton (q.v.) until the middle of the 19th century, when it was acquired by the Mitchells and descended with Hemingford Grey (q.v.).

The hide in Hemingford which Aluuin Black had held in 1066, was held by Ralf son of Osmund in 1086, and descended with Hemingford Grey (q.v.) to Ralf's descendants. It was held by the serjeanty of supplying a spindle of thread (unius fusillace fili lanei) for repairing the king's tent when the king went with his army into Ireland or Wales. It passed to William de Hemingford, and from him to his daughter Nichola (1210–12), who married William Ruffus. Before 1250 it had been alienated to John Cheney (Chenhey, Chine, Chinhey), who paid one mark a year, and did the service of a quarter of a knight's fee. John Cheney witnessed an undated grant of land in Hemingford Abbots; and in 1256 exemption was granted to John Cheney, of Hemingford, clerk in holy orders, from being made a knight. John Cheney or Chine was dead before 1276, when Geoffrey Merck held two parts of the property, and John Merck the other part.

In 1279 Geoffrey Merck, Ralf de Stanton, and Nicholas de Hemington, were holding by the same serjeanty, as co-heirs of John Cheney. About 1281 Reginald de Grey purchased from these co-heirs the 4 virgates held by this serjeanty, which it is said in 1286 he had held for the last 5 years. In the same year he was dealing with lands in Hemingford. The 4 virgates then descended with the Greys' manor of Hemingford Grey, but the serjeanty was commuted to a yearly rent of one mark. Land held by William Cheney or Chyne was bought from him by Abbot Simon Eye, of Ramsey (1317–42).

In 1279 the abbot of Woburn held 1.5 virgates in free alms of Reginald de Grey, and Reginald of the abbey of Ramsey. (fn. 46) The abbot in 1291 had £1 10s. 10d. yearly in Hemingford in lands and tithes. After its suppression divers lands and tenements belonging to the abbey were returned in 1539 as in the hands of the king. In 1542 a messuage with a close, and 40 acres adjoining in the common fields of Hemingford Grey, which belonged to the late abbey of Woburn, was leased for 21 years to Thomas Maryott.

Certain pastures in Hemingford Abbots, with the issues called customary work silver, which were in lease to William Lawrence, were granted to William Sewster and his son John in 1544. The Sewsters in their turn granted them to William Lawrence and his wife Frances. Messuages and lands here were held with the manor of Slepe (q.v.), and disposed of with that manor by Robert Lawrence at his death in 1597.

Lands in Hemingford Abbots held in chief as of the Honour of Huntingdon by Henry de Grey were settled by him with his manor of Toseland on his son Reginald and Maud his wife in 1328, and Reginald Grey of Wilton, at his death in 1370, held in chief rents in Hemingford Abbots. These lands and rents, which continued to be held by the Greys, were probably represented by the manor in Hemingford Abbots held with the manor of Toseland by Sir George Throckmorton, kt., in 1528–9, and by land in Hemingford Abbots which was held by Sir Walter Luke at his death in 1534. Other lands were conveyed by Sir Richard Williams alias Cromwell to Sir Walter Luke, kt., in 1541.

Members of the family of Hemingford were tenants of the Greys in the land they held of the Abbey of Ramsey in Hemingford Abbots. Richard de Hemingford, called le Messager, was dealing with these lands between 1254–67; and Margery, daughter of William de Hemingford, released certain lands to Walter, son of her brother Robert the Heir of Hemingford, then in the wardship of the abbot of Ramsey, and Maud, widow of Robert, c. 1255–65; John the Heir, bailiff of the abbot, held under the abbot and Reginald de Grey in 1279. Grants of rents or lands were made to the Abbot of Ramsey by John, son of Robert, in 1240–1, Hugh Brun in 1285, Walter, called the 'Hot,' and his wife Beatrice in 1297–8,William de Corton and John Baroun in 1328, and others.

In 1298, Jordan de Lisle, of Haluton, co. York, and Alice his wife, grand-daughter and one of the heirs of Master John de Clarel, late rector, released to Robert, rector of Hemingford Abbots, all their right in a messuage and land in Hemingford Abbots, (fn. 66) evidently acquired by the late John de Clarel for the purpose of a rectory house.

In 1467 a covenant was made between the Abbey of Ramsey and the bailiffs and commonalty of Godmanchester concerning water mills upon two side streams of the River Ouse in the parishes of Houghton, Witton, and Hemingford Abbots, which interfered with the passage of boats to St. Ives. This covenant recited proceedings in the court of the Duchy of Lancaster decided in favour of the abbey. Another agreement with respect to the same mills was confirmed in 1470.

Victoria County History - Huntingdonshire Printed in 1932