Lordship Title of Ampthill ID1001

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In the time of Edward the Confessor Ampthill was held by seven sokemen, who could assign and sell their land to whom they wished. William I granted the manor to Nigel Albini, of whom it was held in 1086 by Nigel de Wast. It was then assessed at 5 hides and valued at £4. The estates of Nigel de Wast subsequently escheated to the lords of the fief, but before the year 1219 Nicholas Poinz and Joan his wife had been enfeoffed of it. They held a weekly market there for which they paid 5 marks to the king. Soon afterwards the manor appears to have again escheated, and Joan Albini, the daughter and co-heir of Robert Albini, was granted a yearly fair there in 1242. The manor, together with property in Millbrook, was held by service of one and a-half knights' fees. Joan Albini died without issue, and her property was divided between her two sisters Isabel and Asseline. The bulk of the Ampthill property went to Asseline, but one-fourth of the manor, rather more than a carucate of land, fell to Isabel's share, and will be treated of first. Isabel was married to William de Hocton, but at the time of her death she was known as Isabel Albini, and her son William, who succeeded her, appears to have taken his mother's maiden name. He died in 1263, leaving as his heirs three daughters: Isabel, Christine and Joan. Though the heirs of all three claimed to have manorial rights in Ampthill in 1330, the descendants of the eldest daughter Isabel alone appear to have exercised them. The latter was twice married, first to Hugh de St. Croix and later to William de Hotot, with whom she held the property in 1302–3. Her husband survived her until 1310, when the property passed to Peter de St. Croix, Isabel's son by her first husband. He held until his death in 1349. His son and heir Robert died the same year, leaving an heir Thomas, a child under age. The king granted the wardship to Roger Beauchamp, who received the profits of the property until Thomas de St. Croix reached his majority in 1362. The latter made a life grant of this portion of the manor to Sir John Cheyne the next year, while his successor John de St. Croix alienated it in 1366 to Almaric de St. Amand, the holder of the remainder of the manor. To return to the division of the manor on the death of Joan Albini, Asseline the wife of Ralph St. Amand received the greater portion. She was succeeded by her son Almaric St. Amand, and he by his son John, who was holding in 1316. The latter's son Almaric, together with Peter de St. Croix, claimed a view of frankpledge in Ampthill, rights of free warren and weekly market, and a yearly three days' fair in 1330. Soon afterwards Ampthill market was suppressed by proclamation, but on the representations of Eleanor de Keynes, who farmed the vill during the minority of Almaric's heir John St. Amand, it was restored, as the profits of the vill were insufficient without the market dues. John St. Amand was succeeded by his son Almaric, who, as seen above, became seised of the outstanding quarter share of the manor in 1366. He was re-enfeoffed of the manor in conjunction with his wife Eleanor in 1402 and died in 1403. His wife, who survived him, made over the manor to Walter Pygeon, John Goldington and others, who later enfeoffed Sir John Cornwall Lord Faunhope of the same. Sir John Cornwall previous to his death placed the manor, then valued at £30, in the hands of Nicholas Assheton and other trustees. After his death, which occurred in 1443, the manor was claimed by two persons, Ralph Lord Cromwell, who sued Nicholas Assheton for not selling the manor to him in accordance with Sir John Cornwall's will, and Henry Duke of Exeter, whose stepmother had married Sir John Cornwall. Nicholas Assheton placed the manor in the hands of William Bishop of Lincoln and others, and the case between the claimants was submitted to the arbitration of Thomas Bouchier. In whose favour judgement was given is uncertain, but it seems probable that the Duke of Exeter obtained the manor. He was a zealous Lancastrian and forfeited his property in 1461. Edward IV, after the battle of Northampton, granted Ampthill Manor to Sir Edmund Grey, later created Earl of Kent. The latter's grandson Richard de Grey, owing the king large sums of money, sold him the manor in 1508. This appears, however, to have been but a temporary arrangement, and after he had dissipated his estate and died his half-brother Sir Henry Grey had seisin of the manor, and alienated it to three courtiers, Richard Wingfield, Henry Wyat and Richard Weston, in 1523–4; from these it passed into the hands of the king, and became the principal manor in his new honour of Ampthill created in 1542. It remained royal property until 1677, when Charles II leased it to Robert Earl of Ailesbury for ninety-nine years, and until 1800 it followed the same descent as the honour of Ampthill (q.v.). Charles II had previously (1661) granted a portion of the demesne lands later known as Ampthill Park to John Ashburnham. These lands remained in the hands of the Ashburnham family until 1720, when they were bought from them by Lord Fitz William, who sold them to Lady Gowran in 1736. The latter was succeeded by her son, who was created Earl of Upper Ossory in 1751, and he by his son the second earl, who was lord lieutenant of the county from 1771 to 1818. In 1800 the latter exchanged his manor of Lidlington for the manor of Ampthill, to which latter these lands became again attached. On his death in 1818 the manor passed to his nephew Lord Holland, from whose widow it was purchased in 1842 by the Duke of Bedford. It has remained in the hands of the Dukes of Bedford down to the present day.
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