Bernard OíConnor 2000
What became known as Mosbury Manor, was situated on the flat, poorly drained Oxford Clay, close to the River Ivel in Tempsford (TL 176542). No records of its early history have come to light but, once the woodland was cleared for farming, it was probably owned by a Saxon family. Itís possible the Danes occupied the site when they settled at Cannockís Castle. Who owned the land before the Norman occupation after 1066 is uncertain. According to the Domesday Book of 1086, it was seven hides, enough land for seven households. It consisted of five messuages (houses and gardens) worth 5s. (£0.25) yearly, 240 acres of arable land worth 3d. an acre, seven acres of meadow worth 7d., meadow and heath worth 18s. and rents of 19s.2d. Its history was detailed in the Victoria County Histories of Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire. William the Conqueror rewarded his cousin, Gilbert de Clare, the Earl of Pembroke, with this manor as well as Everton Manor. This gave him a rectangular strip of land from the river, eastwards across the wooded clay vale and up the Greensand Ridge to the† well drained sandy soils near Gamlingay. He allowed peasants to farm the land in return for a portion of their livestock, cereals, vegetable, timber etc.
The Earls of Pembroke were generous in their donations to monastic houses. Gilbert granted the advowson of the church, the right to appoint its vicar, together with land in Everton, to the Priory of St. Neots.† This meant the rents went to support the monks. Some time before 1284, land belonging to this manor was also granted to Stratford Landthorne Abbey in Essex. (Feud. Aids, vol.i, p.3; Ibid. vol.i, p.19; Chan. Inq. p.m. 5 Edw. III (2nd Nos.), No. 24)
The overlordship passed from the Pembrokes to the Talbots in the 14th century. Their first mention is in 1322 when Mosbury was held by Richard Talbot. (Chan. Inq. p.m. 5 Edw. III (2nd Nos.), No. 24) The abbot of Stratford Landthorne conveyed a lease that year to John Morice and his wife Agnes. Eleven years later he received a grant of free rabbit warren in his demesne, manor house land he held in Everton. In 1346 John was holding it as two parts of a fee. (Feud. Aids, i. pp. 19,23) Sixteen years later, now a knight, Sir John Morice allowed William de Weston, master of St. Leonardís Church in Bedford, to use the manor in return for a fee paid to John Colyn, the vicar of St Maryís church in Everton. Ten years later, William transferred it in fee simple to Thomas de Dale or Fulthorpe. In return, he promised to pay St Leonardís Church £20 per year. (Chan. Inq. p.m. 46 Edw. III No. 38; Wrottesley, Pedigrees from the Plea R.. p.465)
Between 1418 Ė 19 Manorial courts were held by John Martyn, Hugh Lotrell and others as trustees for one of the Fulthorpes. (Harl. Chart. E. 16; Chan. Inq. p.m. 8 Hen. V, No. 127) In 1428, Thomas Fulthorpe had to provide military† service to the King for two parts of a half-fee in Everton Ďformerly held by John Morice.í (Feud. Aids, †vol.i. p.37) From this time, until the death of William Dale in 1537, it followed the same descent as Little Barford (FIND!!).
After 1537 it was still held by the Talbots, who were then the earls of Shrewsbury. (Feud. Aids, vol.i, pp.23,37; Chan. Inq. p.m. 8 Hen. V, No. 127; Ibid. (Ser. 2), lvii, No. 48) William Dale left Everton Mosbury to his daughter, Joan, who married William Wollascot. This is the first time that it was called Mosbury Manor and the authors of Victoria County History suggest that it might have been previously named after Morice, hence Moricebury. (Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), lviii, No. 48; VCH. ĎBedsí, ii, p.227; Place Names of Beds. And Hunts. (Place Names Soc.) p.111)
Joan and Williamís son, also called William, died seised (in possession) of Everton Mosbury in 1618. It passed into the hands of his son, also called William. When he died in 1640, it was inherited by yet another William, William Wallascott. (Ibid. ccclxxii, No. 154; Feet of F. Div. Cos. Hil. 3 Chas. I; Chan. Inq. p.m.† cccclxxxviii, No. 79; Feet of F. Div. Cos. Mich. 22 Chas. I) He was in possession in 1653, but between that date and 1689, it passed to William Carey. (Ibid. East. 1653; Recov. R. East. 1653) Carey owned it until 1714 when he sold it to William Astell, one of the directors of the East India Company, who lived in Everton House. (Recov. R. Hil. 1 Will. and Mary; Ibid. East. 2 Will. and Mary; Ibid. Trin. 12 Anne; Feet of F. Div. Cos; Ibid. Hil. 13 Anne) At this time, its extent was given as four messuages, eight gardens, 400 acres of land, 90 acres of meadow, 150 acres of pasture, 10 acres of woodland, 100 acres of furze and heath with 20s. from rents and the right of free warren.
Williamís son, Richard Astell, held the manor in 1738 when the manor had more than doubled in size. It included 20 messuages, 1,000 acres of land, 100 acres of meadow, 500 acres of pasture, 20 acres of woodland 200 acres of furze and heath with pasture as a common. (Recov. East. 11 Geo. II) He was a director of the East India Company making his fortune from the import of tea. Dying without an heir in 1777, it was inherited by Richardís nephew, William Thornton. This William assumed the name of Astell. Over the forty years it had been further expanded with 30 messuages, 30 gardens, 800 acres of land, 500 acres of pasture, 500 acres of furze and heath, a pasture common and turbary (peat) common. (Ibid. East. 17 Geo. III)
William Thornton died in 1847 and of his two sons, the eldest, William, died unmarried in 1864 and so John, the younger, inherited the property. He died in 1887 leaving a son, William Harvey Astell to inherit. When William died in 1896, the estate was taken over by his six-year old son, Richard Astell. (Burke, Landed Gentry, 1906) Mosbury Farm remains on the site of the early manor.