Sequence of Lordship (with tithes) of the Manor of Swanbourne

Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Woburn Abbey ownerships and the transfer of power at the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

By Clive Rodgers

1066 Harold Godwinson owned part of Swanbourne as one of four manors, but may have held its overlordship. CLICK HERE to link to Anglo-Saxon Swanbourne, AD600-1066

1066 After the conquest, William initially took over the Overlordship of Swanbourne that used to belong to Harold.

Before 1087:-  Count (Earl) Mortain, half brother of William the Conqueror was granted part of the land to the South East of Swanbourne.  (NOTE:- this was corrupted to Mearton End and finally Nearton End today).  Geoffrey de Mandeville had been granted land previously belonging to Suen; Land gifted to Walter Giffard formed the largest manor in Swanbourne; King William held the manor previously belonging to King Harold.  Subsequently the manors were united and were held as one by William, tenant of overlord Walter Giffard.

1202–3 A charter was confirmed which gifted most of Swanbourne except one virgate to Woburn Abbey.

The remaining land was gifted Woburn in the late 13th century. Most of Swanbourne remained among the Abbey’s possessions until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  The Adams Farm (now Athawes Farm) site became a Nunnery.

1536-1541  Dissolution of the Monasteries.  Large numbers of tenants are granted their lands as a gift from the crown.  The crown grants part of Swanbourne in 1544 to Ambrose Gilbert and Grace his wife.  The Gilbert Manor House was thought to be Barrack Row, at Duck End.  Manorial tithes to the main manors introduced to fund the cost of maintaining churches and paying the clergy.

1577 George Gilbert, son and heir of Ambrose Gilbert, was lord of Swanbourne.  The manor was afterwards sold by him to Philip Bassett, who after some years, sold it in his turn to Sir James Dyer, kt., at whose death Richard Dyer, his great nephew and heir, inherited.

1599 Most of Swanbourne (except Smithfield End belonging to the Gilberts)  had come in to the possession of Sir John Fortescue (Cousin of Queen Elizabeth 1st, personal adviser to the Queen and Chancellor of the Exchequer); the grandson of whom sold Swanbourne’s two main manor houses that had been built for the Fortescues to the Adams brothers in 1624.  The grandson was also called John, and the family lived in the mansion at Salden, Mursley.

CLICK HERE to link to Swanbourne in British History Online.

Order of Lords of the Manor (with tithes) of Swanbourne from 1600

1599-1624 FORTESCUE FAMILY   – Sir John Fortescue is cousin of Queen Elizabeth 1.  His grandson sells in 1624 to the Adams brothers.

1624- 1775 ADAMS FAMILY – Already living in Swanbourne at Adams Farm, John & Thomas purchase joint overlordship, the Manor House, Swanbourne House (the Old House) and extensive lands in 1624.

c.1650-1750 ASKEW FAMILY – New evidence suggests that after the murder of Thomas Adams (1626), his wife Elizabeth  marries an Askew, and their grandson Josias acquires half of the overlordship (the Manor House moiety) derived from Thomas.

1750- 1814 DEVERELL FAMILY – Half of the overlordship and the Manor House is left to John Deverell in Josias Askew’s will, in 1750.  This half passes down to William Deverell. The Manor House stays with the Deverell name until 1814, when sold to Thomas Downey. 

1814-1818 THOMAS DOWNEY – Half overlordship purchased from William Deverell.  Owns the Manor House moiety for four years until his death.  His executors selling to Rev. Richard Lowndes in 1818.

1818-1828 LOWNDES – Rev. Richard Lowndes purchases the moiety with the Manor House in 1818, selling it at auction to the Fremantle family in 1828.

1775- 1787 WILLIAMSON FAMILY  – James Adams, the last of the male Adams line dies in 1775 and leaves the Old House moiety ( half of the overlordship)  in the hands of trustees for two nieces and the greater share to James Adams Williamson, the great nephew (via James Adam’s wife).

1787-1798 FARBOROUGH – Joseph Farborough, London investor, buys the Old House moiety from Williamsons in 1787.

(1798) 1820+1828 onwards FREMANTLE FAMILY – Purchase of the Old House and 5 acres from Joseph Farborough in 1798.  At first, Farborough retained the tithes with the Above Mead Lands, but they were purchased by about 1820 by the Fremantles.  However, there is evidence to suggest that some elements of vicarial tithes remained with the Williamsons until 1820. The purchase of the second moiety by Sir Thomas Fremantle from Richard Lowndes in 1828 reunites the Overlordship of Swanbourne for the first time since 1624.

RETURN to Lords of the Manor Category