The Manor of Wistow

History of the Manor of Wistow in Huntingdonshire, UK


It would appear from the Ramsey Cartulary that KINGSTON, later known as WISTOW was a recognised area before Ramsey Abbey was founded about 969. It comprised the districts covered by the later manors of Wistow, Bury, and Little Raveley. As its name indicates, it was royal demesne and belonged to King Edgar. We are told that Oswald, Archbishop of York, the friend of Aylwin, founder of Ramsey Abbey, bought Needingworth from King Edgar with the intention of giving it to Ramsey Abbey, but realising the inconvenience of its distance from the abbey, exchanged it with the king for Kingston, which he bestowed on the abbey. In 974 King Edgar confirmed Oswald's gift, under the description, according to the Ramsey Chronicler, of Kingston, with Bury and Raveley its berewicks or outlying hamlets. The confirmations by Edward the Confessor and again by William the Conqueror in 1078, are in the same terms.

Domesday Wistow - Land of St Benedict of Ramsey

In WISTOW the Abbot of Ramsey had 9 hides to the geld. [There is] land for 16 ploughs and [he had] land for 3 ploughs in demesne, apart from these hides. There are now 2 ploughs in demesne; and 32 villans having 11 ploughs. There is a priest and a church , and 1 mill [rendering] 2s, and 24 acres of meadow, [and] woodland pasture 1 league long and a half broad. TRE worth £9, now £8.

(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.)

The return in the Domesday Survey (1086) is entered under the name of Wistow which was there assessed at 9 hides and had a priest and church and a mill, pointing to its being a place of importance. Early in the 12th century, a church was apparently built at Bury, which from this time seems to have taken the place of Wistow as the chief centre of the area covered by the grant of Kingston. Hereafter we find that Wistow took a subordinate position and is described as a berewick and chapelry of Bury. The revenues from the manor of Wistow were assigned to the support of the office of cellarer of Ramsey monastery and the manor was usually let to farm and for some time to the Clairvaux family of Upwood. The abbot had the right to gallows, tumbrel, and view of frankpledge.

The manor remained in the possession of the abbey until the Dissolution of that house in 1539. It was granted on 4 March 1539–40 with Ramsey and other manors to Richard Williams alias Cromwell and passed with Ramsey (q.v.) until 1648, when it was sold by Sir Oliver Williams alias Cromwell, the Protector's uncle, to Sir Nicholas Pedley, serjeant at law. On the death of Sir Nicholas in 1685, the manor descended to his son Robert who died in 1687 and was succeeded by John his brother. John married Essex Foley and died in 1722. His widow held the manor for ten years and was succeeded by her son John Pedley in 1733. The widow of this John, Judith (Stanhope), was holding the manor from 1748 until 1778 and was succeeded by her son Stanhope Pedley, who in 1802 left Wistow to Mary Pedley his sister. Mary died in 1827 and by her will dated 1803 bequeathed it to her second cousin Lieut. Richard Harry Foley. Lieut. Foley, who attained the rank of major-general, had predeceased her in 1825, and the manor went to Henry Foley, his son. Henry Foley died in 1880, leaving the manor to his wife Elizabeth Augusta for life, subject to the payment of £320 per annum to his eldest daughter, Lizzie Augusta Foley. On her death, the manor was left to his son-in-law, the Rev. Charles Thornton Forster, rector of Hinxton (Cambs.), with remainder to his three sons in succession—Arthur Evelyn Thornton Forster, Charles H. Inglis Forster, and Leopold Henry Vivian Forster, and their heirs successively. In 1922 it was sold by Arthur E. T. Forster to his brother, Mr. Charles H. I. Forster, the present lord of the manor.

In 1336 Richard de Claxtone granted to the abbot of Ramsey the reversion in fee of a messuage and carucate of land with 10 acres of meadow in Wistow held of the Abbot, of which John de Claxton had a lease for life. Among the benefits conferred on the abbey by Abbot Simon de Eye, who died in 1342, was said to be the purchase from John de Claxton of his manor in Wistow. This holding, whether a manor or not, seems to have been merged in the abbot's larger manor of Wistow.

Victoria County History: Huntingdonshire ~ Printed 1932