Lowdham St Mary

List of Incumbents

The lists of clergy in the church

History of some of the Clergy

About 1200 the vicar was Gilbert de Ludham. There is about thus time a record of a “Grant by Gilbert of Lowdham, clerk, ... five acre of an assart in Lowdham ... for a lamp burning before the altar of St. Mary. This was repeated by his son in the mid thirteenth century - “Grant by John, son of Gilbert, to Richard of Lowdham and his wife Agatha of five acres of an assart ... for a rent of 3 shillings pa paid to Thurgarton and for one lamp burning before the altar of St. Mary in Lowdham.”

About 1215 Gilbert was followed by Eustachius of whom our only evidence is of his witnessing documents in the 1240's.

By 1260 a rector, Roger, had been instituted who, on 2 September that year, was party to a not guilty verdict in a trial for murder near Oxford.

John Clarel the next rector, from 1283, was a Canon of Southwell in the Prebendary of Norwell, a Papal Chaplain and clerk to kings Henry II and Edward I. John Clarel granted to the Brothers Heremite of St Augustine the ‘manor of Tickhull for souls of self, family and Sir John Mauncel, formerly Treasurer of York, 6 brothers at least always to reside there’. In 1294 Clarel held 15 rectories, including Babworth, East Bridgford, Edingley, Harworth, Lowdham, East Markham, West Markham and North Wheatley in Nottinghamshire, all of which had been given by John to Rouen. He was also rector of Babworth until his death on 11th May 1295.

On the death of John Clarel his churches were taken over by Boniface de Saluzzo, as chaplain of Tickhill. However on 3rd March 1296 Archbishop Romeyn directed his archdeacon to warn the parishioners not to obey de Saluzzo who seems to have retained possession, though not without difficulty. Bishop Henry of Newark treated him and his vicars as intruders. Subsequently on 11th April 1299 de Saluzzo was summoned to answer at York for intruding into these Nottinghamshire churches.

On 6 March 1313 Robert Emsden became the last rector, his patron being Edward II. The next year the Archbishop of York claimed “ordinary jurisdiction and institution [over them] as parochials and not annexed to the king’s chapel at Tikhill”. During Clarel’s rectorship, and de Saluzzo assumption, Augustineus de Lenne was vicar from 1292 to 1315. He was succeeded by William de Barton whose patron was, by lapse, the chapter of York. But in 1342 there is further mention of Tickhill:

‘a jury finds that Sir Wm de Kidesbury holds the chapelry of Tickhill now called the free chapelry of Blyth with all its appurtenances in Notts. except E Bridgford church and portions of the vicarages of Hareswortt Wheatley the Markhams Walesby and Ludham’.

William de Kildesby, king’s clerk, going on pilgrimage abroad in May 1343 has letters of protection for one year for himself and for his prebends including the free chapel of Tickhill with its members and chapels of Lowdham. On 10 July 1344 the king issued a prohibition to all ecclesiastical persons from action in derogation of rights of free chapel of Tickhill and its churches and chapels, including Lowdham, and of its immunity from ordinary jurisdiction and from the Court of Rome or from the possession of the same by Wm de Kildersley, king’s clerk.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the next patron is the Warden of the free chapel of Tickhill when on 10th July 1346 William Tanner de Barton becomes the vicar. He was followed in 1353 by Peter Honygg. It must have been about this time that the some of the improvements to the church were made.

It is not known when Richard de Staunton succeeded Peter Honygg, though he is mentioned in a grant of 1349. He was followed by Robert de Conington in 1372 who resigned to go to the Hospital of Treforth Cor. Dioc. During his tenure in April 1391 the manor and advowson of Bilsthorpe was granted to Dame Margaret the widow of Sir John de Lowdham by six knights and the parson of Bilsthorpe.

Of the following vicars - Will Couper, John Squyer, John Thrusby and Robert Brigg - little is known except that the patronage remained with Tickhill. Robert Walton was assessed to pay 32 shillings to the Aid of 1428, and the vicar 9s 4d. Then followed Fra Henry Burden alias Louthburgh, a canon of Felley, William Gunredsthrop, Robert Aunderness and Robert Tewe.

Nicholas Leverson alias Bishop was instituted on 7th June 1497. The Register of Archbishop Rotheram records the

‘Institution of Mr. Nicholas Leveson, MA, to the vicarage of Lowdam, vacant by the resignation of Robert Thewe; presented by King Henry, patron in respect of the free chapel of Tikhill; reserving to Thewe a life pension of 4 marks P.A. Cawood, 7 June 1497'

It was around this time that the aisles and clerestory were built. The alabaster slab in the church also dates from this era, and so may perhaps commemorate Nicholas Leverson.

The patrons of Rad. Shae, who was instituted on 12 August 1506, were the Abbot and Convent of Westminster to whom Henry VIII had given the holdings of Tickhill. At sometime before the Chantry Certificate Rolls were returned he was succeeded by Robert Parotte. The Rolls show that there was a ‘Free Chapell of lowdham’ but the incumbent did not know why it had been founded. Neither was its site known, probably part of the manor property. Perhaps more important to the function of the Rolls was that the yearly value according to the Valor Ecclesiasticus was 39/8 while the value ‘as they be nowe surveyed’ was 40/8. The free chapel was ‘letten by the incumbent to Edmonde Wydowson, which is employed to the lyvinge of Roberte parotte, Chapleyn there’. A.H.Thompson believes that Parott was also the chantry priest to Willoughby-on-the-Wolds.

In 1553 on 10 June Edward VI granted the rectory to Francis Earl of Shrewsbury having taken it from the Abbot of Westminster. Thence it passed on to the Earl of Pembroke, the Marquis of Dorchester, and finally to the Earl Manvers

‘Robert Bagley, vicar of adenborowe’ (Attenborough), was one of those absent from the Royal Visitation of 1559. it seems possible that he was also the Robert Baguley the vicar of Lowdham. However on the 2nd August a ‘Joannes Drurye clericus’ was admitted to the parish church of Lowdham.

John Derry does not appear on the list of Incumbents at Lowdham. It is recorded that Robert Bagley died and was buried in the chancel on the 18 November 1609. There had been an upset in 1583 when

‘RB vicar of Lowdham, v James Colley, of the same parish, for defamation. The libel to be brought in at the next court. The parties are agreed. Then the judge forbad the defendant to carry out the duties of Schoolmaster thereafter’

The next two vicars were disasters. Both were recorded as drunkards. The first, Thomas Goode MA is mentioned in Copnall when on 10th January 1619 he ‘was committed to jail for using certain perilous words against the king’. Worse was to follow on 26th January 1626 when the

‘sentence of Archbishop Abbot and others. Commissioners authorised under the Great Seal. In the cause of Samuel Widdowson and Thos. Goode, vicar of Lowdham, Gunthorpe and Caythorpe in co. Nottingham. The decree the deprivation and deposition of Thos. Goode for the offence of habitual drunkenness.’

It was recorded more tersely in the State Papers Domestic: ‘Thos Goode deprived for habitual drunkenness’.

Despite the problems with the vicars the first two bells are dated 1614, and the south door appears to date from the same time.

John Stock came to Lowdham on 6th August 1625. He was present for the Protestation returns for Lowdham, Gunthorpe and Caythorpe of 1641-2, but on 25th August 1646 he was sequestered as a common drunkard and swearer.

Henry Howe came in 1662. It is recorded in Thoroton that the Rectory held by the Marquis of Dorchester in 1675 was worth £4.18.4 (having been £8 when the Abbot of Westmimster was patron.) Howe was the incumbent through most of the reigns of Charles II and James II.

From 1684 there is another series of vicars - Zacharia Hussey, Charles Freeman, Charles Hacker, Sampson (or Samuel) Gilbert of whom no local records seem to remain. But in Freeman’s last year on 29th September 1707 a return of those churches with the cure of souls with an annual clear improved value of less than fifty pounds was made. This would acquit them from the payment of the first fruits and the tenths, for ever:

‘We fed the clear improved yearly value of the vicaridge of Lowdharn to be fforty one pounds nine shillings and sixpence and no more by the testimony of William Martin and William Galland upon Oath examined and sworn by us’.

There are records of the ‘Ordination as deacon of Joseph Bruen BA of Emanuel College Cambridge at Eccleshale Church (St.) 20 Sept 1724' and later ‘as priest... at St. Margarets Westminster 26 Feb 1726/7.’ On the Archbishop’s Paper of Queries prior to his visitation of 1764 the reponses show a parish of 142 families with no dissenters. Of the 350 communicants in the parish 60 attended Easter communion in 1763.

Although there was a vicarage house, Bruen, being a bachelor, chose to board with his brother in Gunthorpe. This must have had the added convenience of being between Lowdham and his other parish, for he also performed divine service in the church at Screveton ‘by turns’ on Sunday mornings and afternoons. Remarkably, though living in Gunthorpe, he answers a question about chapels with ‘There is a chapel within our parish about one mile from the parish Church, but not endow’d, and the Vicar has nothing to do with it. It is called Gunthorpe Chapel’. Bruen was, however, active in guarding the interests of the church in the Inclosure Award of 1765:

Lowdham January 12th 1765
May it please your Grace,
I beg leave to acquaint your Grace that I attended the meeting of the steward of his Grace the Duke of Kingston and the rest of the gentleman landowners in the parish of Lowdham for the inclosure of the Lordship which was then agreed upon by all the parties concerned. The lands to be set apart for the church will be of much greater value than the Dues at present amount to, and therefore I humbly desire your Grace’s approbation & consent herein, wch will very oblige your most obedt humble Serve
Joseph Bruen Vicar of Lowdham

When George Wilkins MA was inducted in 1815 he was presented by Earl Manvers. How active he was at Lowdham is not clear, for he was also vicar of Laxton and, from 1817 until 1843, of St Mary’s Nottingham. This last was his main occupation. During the time of the 1821 restoration he was in the Rectory House at Hadleigh, Suffolk ‘with the Archbishop’s sanction ... for the benefit of change of air for my Children’. He was involved also with the Nottingham National Schools, and is referred to as Prebendary of Normanton and, later, as Archdeacon George Wilkins of Residence House, Southwell.

In 1839 the current incumbent, William Bury, who had been presented only in the previous September, was effectively evicted by the Venerable Archdeacon Browne, an Archdeacon of Ely but previously for thirteen years the vicar of Cotgrave. He wanted Lowdham for his second son, (his first son having refused it). The legal difficulty that William Bury had a licence for life was overcome.

John Henry Browne became vicar of Lowdham on 7th January 1842 and remained, greatly admired and, undoubtedly a resident vicar, for the next 50 years, despite offers of preferment. Browne’s influence on the combined parish was considerable. He took services on Sundays at Lowdham twice and then at Gunthorpe, as well as administering early Communion. It was during his time that the major renovation of the church took place.

In 1891, after 50 years as vicar, John Henry Browne died and his place was taken on 8th January 1892 by Claude Chas Courthope Bosanquet. The last of the Victorian restorations of the church took place during his time as vicar.