The Manor of Upwood

History of the Manor of Upwood in Huntingdonshire, UK


Upwood appears in the chronicles of Ramsey Abbey as the home of its founder Earl Ailwine. It had been given to Ailwine with the fisheries of the neighbouring streams by King Edgar. Here Ailwine had a hall and a court of style suitable to a man of so great nobility. He often stayed there to indulge in hunting and hawking and died there in 992. His gift to Ramsey Abbey of Upwood and Raveley its hamlet, presumably at the foundation of the monastery in 969, was confirmed by King Edgar in 974, by Edward the Confessor, by William the Conqueror in 1077 and by Edward III in 1334, and also by many Popes. 1086 the abbot of Ramsey had at Upwood 10 hides which paid geld, a church and a priest and a considerable amount of woodland. The same number of hides, each of 4 virgates and each virgate of 30 acres, was returned in an extent of about 1150.

The chief manor of Upwood continued in the hands of the abbot and much information is obtained concerning it in the surveys recorded in the cartulary. The customary tenants of Upwood and both Raveleys owed suit with those of Wistow at the windmill in Wistow. The connexion between Upwood and Wistow is further emphasised by the direction that at the time of the fairs at St. Ives the Upwood virgate holders should perform the same duties as those of Wistow in regard to making 'cleys' and walls and keeping watch.

Henry III in 1251 granted free warren in this and other manors provided they were not within the bounds of the royal forest. This grant was confirmed by Edward III in 1334. After the Dissolution the manors of Upwood, Great Raveley, Moynes, and Walton were granted in 1542 to Sir Richard Williams alias Cromwell, knt., in exchange for the manors of Brampton, Hemingford Grey and other lands. Upwood followed the descent of Ramsey manor (q.v.) but was subject to marriage and other settlements. In 1578 part of the manor was settled on Henry Williams alias Cromwell son of Sir Henry Williams alias Cromwell who was generally described as of Upwood. In 1649 Sir Oliver Cromwell, Henry his brother and various members of the family joined in selling the manors of Upwood, Clairvaux and Denes to Stephen Pheasant of Gray's Inn son of Peter Pheasant, justice of the Common Pleas.

Pheasant Arms

The Arms of the Pheasant family of Upwood.

The Arms of the Pheasant family of Upwood.

Party fessewise or and azure a fesse parted fessewise dancetty and counter coloured.

Stephen was buried at Upwood in 1657 and was succeeded by his son Walter, who about 1665 married Ann Hadley while both were minors. At his death in 1668 he left an infant son Peter who died three months later before reaching the age of two. Stephen Pheasant's younger son Peter was dealing with the manors in 1673, and in the following year his son Peter married Mary, the eldest daughter of Sir William Leman, bart, of Warboys and Northaw (co. Herts) by his wife Mary Mansel. Peter Pheasant the elder was buried at Upwood in 1682, and was succeeded by his son Peter who was holding the manors in 1701. Peter Pheasant was buried at Upwood in 1703, and in 1707 William Pheasant and Mansel Pheasant (William having apparently succeeded as eldest son and heir, and his own heir being Mansel his younger brother) conveyed the manors of Upwood, Clairvaux and Denes, the rectory of Upwood cum Raveley, windmill, etc., for £1,000 to Sir Joseph Woolfe, kt., with warranty against the heirs of William and Mansel, possibly for the purpose of a mortgage. Captain Mansel Pheasant was buried at Northaw in 1723, and probably both brothers died childless, as the manors next appear in the hands of Leman Hutchins, son of Sir William Leman's daughter Sarah and of her husband Sir George Hutchins, and therefore cousin of William and Mansel, from the former of whom he is said to have inherited.

In 1733 Leman Hutchins settled the manors. He married Mary Williams, and at his death in 1738 left his estate to her. She, with her second husband, Vere Warner of Chelsea, a solicitor, was dealing with the manors in 1749. Vere Warner died at Chelsea in 1756, his wife surviving him. She bequeathed the manors to her niece, Mary Anne, sister and heir to Lieut. Gen. Vere Warner Hussey of Wood Walton, and eldest daughter of Thomas Hussey of Wrexham (co. Denbigh). She married Capt. Richard Bickerton, R.N., and they settled the manors in 1778. He was knighted and created a baronet in 1778, and died in 1792. At the date of his death Sir Richard was Port Admiral at Plymouth, and M.P. for Rochester. His widow died in 1811. Their son Sir Richard Bickerton, bart., who had a distinguished career, was second in command under Nelson, 1804–5. He succeeded his mother in the manor and by royal licence on 16 May 1823 took the name of Hussey before Bickerton.

Bickerton Arms, Baronet

The Arms of the Bickerton family of Upwood.

The Arms of the Bickerton family of Upwood.

Sable a cheveron or with three pheons sable thereon with an augmentation of a quarter gules a molet with an increscent in a battled border Or.

In 1830 he was made General of Marines in succession to William IV, and died without issue at Bath in 1832, being buried in Bath Abbey. He married in 1792, in Antigua, Anne daughter of James Athill of Antigua, and his widow survived until 1850. He was succeeded by his sister Maria Bickerton, at whose death in 1845 the manors passed to Richard Hussey Hussey, son of ViceAdmiral Sir Richard Hussey, K.C.B., who took the name of Hussey in place of that of Moubray, his mother being Arabella, daughter of Thomas Hussey of Wrexham, sister of Lady Bickerton and of Lieut.-Gen. Vere Warner Hussey of Woodwalton. Richard Hussey Hussey held the manors until his death in 1899. They then passed to the son of his cousin, William Moubray, of Cockairnie, Lieut.-Col. Arthur Moubray, J.P., who lived at Upwood House. The property was sold in lots in 1919–20 to a syndicate. The manor house was purchased in 1923 by Sir Ernest Shepperson, who now resides there.

Moubray Arms

The Arms of Moubray of Cockairnie.

The Arms of Moubray of Cockairnie.

Gules a lion argent crowned Or.

An alleged descent of the manor of UPHALL is given in a plea of 1276 by William son of Albert of Ramsey against the abbot of Ramsey, tracing it back to Aylwine in the time of Cnut (1016–35). The descent does not fit in with what we know of Earl Aylwin's pedigree, but some of the names correspond with those of the family of Upwood. William was amerced for a false claim as the abbot said that the manor was within his banlieu, in which no tenant of his nor he himself could pleaded or be impleaded before the justices of the king. From the pleadings it appears that Aylwin ancestor of the said William had held the manor in the time of King Cnut and died childless. His right in the same descended to his sister and heir Parnell; from Parnell to Aylwin her son and heir; from Aylwin to Roger his son and heir; from Roger to Alan his son and heir; from Alan to Viel his son and heir; from Viel to John his son and heir; from John, who died without issue, to Hugh his brother and heir; from Hugh, who died childless, to John (sic) his brother and heir; from John, who died childless, to Baldwyn his brother and heir; from Baldwin, who died childless, to Alice and Avice his sisters and heirs; from Alice, who died childless, to the said Avice her sister and heir; from Avice, who died childless, to Richard her uncle and heir; from Richard to Albert his son and heir, whose son and heir was William the claimant.

Dene's Manor

The manor of Uphall was in the 14th century in the possession of the Dene family, but it is not known when they obtained it. Possibly it was the one and a half hides which Roger de Upwood held of the abbot of Ramsey in the reign of Henry I. Henry de Den performed military service in the place of William le Moigne in 1245. Sir John de Den was engaged in litigation in 1325 and 1332. At his death in 1349 he held the manor of Uphall, the chief messuage of which was in ruins. The wardship of his son John, then aged nine years, was given to Nicholas de Stukeley and Richard de Wassingley. John the younger died, however, in 1355 leaving as his heirs his father's sister Ada, aged 50 years, John Neville, son of Margaret, another sister of his father, and Sir Henry Green, who had obtained the interest of Arnold, son of Eleanor, a third sister of his father. About this time the property became known as DENES MANOR. The co-heirs joined together and sold the manor to Nicholas de Stukeley in 1355, and from this date it followed the descent of the manor of Nokes in Great Stukeley until 1490, when Gerard Stukeley and Joan his wife granted the manors of Clarivaux and Denes to John Taylard the younger, Thomas Wauton, gent., William Taylard, clerk, Thomas Taylard and Giles Taylard. Gerard Stukeley confirmed the grant in 1499 to William Taylard his father-in-law. The manor passed to John Taylard, a younger son of William, who died seised of it in 1528. According to his will there had been contention between Master William Seewell and Master Rowle of Holywell as to the manors of Upwood, 'Clarywuax' and 'Devnis': he therefore desired that his feoffees should hold these manors for the use of Alice, his wife, for four years, to be disposed in prayers for the souls of William Taylard and Gerard Stukeley. After the four years the manors were to go to William Stukeley and his heirs for ever. The terms of the will do not seem to have been carried out. It is said that he left as his heir his nephew Lawrence, son of his elder brother Walter. The manor was settled in 1529. In 1531 the manor of Dene, together with a fishing place called Hall Mere, was leased for life to Alice, widow of John Taylard. Alice married George Bedyll, and in 1545 they leased the manor to Gabriel Throgmorton, and in the same year it was settled as jointure on the marriage of William Taylard, second son of Sir Lawrence, with Mary daughter of Robert Drewell of Little Gidding.

Dene Arms

The Arms of the Dene family of Upwood.

The Arms of the Dene family of Upwood.

Argent two bars gules with three crosses paty Or on each bar.

About 1557 Chancery proceedings were instituted by Lawrence Torkington, son of Katherine Torkington, daughter of Gerard Stukeley, and Henry Torkington, her husband. Lawrence claimed as kinsman and heir of Matthew, son and heir of Gerard's son William. This William was aged a year and a half at the death of his father, who had been 'maimed in the wars.' He had been brought up in the belief that he was to inherit by his uncle John Taylard, who was then childless, and who, on hearing that honest inhabitants of Upwood had said he would go to the devil for keeping out of the property the rightful heirs, had declared that it was his intention the property should go to the right heirs of Gerard. Deponents also stated that John Taylard had bequeathed the manors as above. The matter seems to have been settled, and in 1600 Lawrence Taylard of Upwood (son of William Taylard previously mentioned and his wife Mary Drewell) died seised of both manors, leaving a son and heir William, aged fifteen, who in 1605, with Lawrence Torkington and Thomas Gowler and Alice his wife, sold them to Henry Williams alias Cromwell of Upwood,  and all the other lands of the said William Taylard in the county of Huntingdon. From this date the manor merged into the chief manor (q.v.).

The manor of CLAIRV AUX (Clervaux, Clerevaux, Clarivaux, de Claris Vallibus, de Clara Villa) took its name from a family of Clairvaux. Robert, father of William Clairvaux, held land freely in Upwood in the time of Henry I, and was succeeded by his son Hugh. There seems to have been a succession of holders of the name of John de Clairvaux, whose relationship is not apparent. The expansion of the property by additions made without warrant by John Clairvaux, who held 1.5 hides in Upwood, was described in an inquisition of 1252. John de Clairvaux was a witness regarding a dispute as to the leet at Upwood in 1297. In 1320 John Clairvaux of Upwood, and Isabel his wife, and John Clairvaux, chaplain, were dealing with lands in Wistow and Ramsey. William Clairvaux of Upwood witnessed a grant of land at Upwood in 1333. The Clairvaux property was occupied in 1342 by Nicholas Stukeley and Juliana, his wife, apparently under the terms of a bond by William Clairvaux. n 1360 the manor was finally surrendered by William, son of William Clairvaux, and in 1364 it was conveyed to Nicholas de Stukeley, as it was said in exchange for lands in Bedford and Biddenham. In the same year Nicholas de Stukeley settled this manor and the manor of Denes. From this date the manor followed the descent of Denes Manor in Upwood.

Victoria County History - Bedfordshire Published in 1932