Lordship Title of Eaton Bray ID13305

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At the time of the Domesday Survey the manor of EATON, later known as EATON BRAY, consisted of 12 hides 1 virgate, and belonged to the Bishop of Bayeux. It afterwards escheated like other of his estates to the Crown. During the reign of Henry II it was granted out to farm, at a rental of £20, to Osbert Martel, whose name appears on the Pipe Rolls from 1166 to 1173, at which date it was transferred to Aldulf de Braci. He held it at the same farm until 1179, and possibly later. It next appears in the possession of Eleanor widow of Henry II, who in an undated charter granted the whole of her vill of 'Eaton by Dunstable' to Engelram her butler, and in 1196 confirmed his grant of half the vill to Fontévrault Abbey. Queen Eleanor, whose interest was for life only, died in 1204, and the following year the manor was granted by the king to William de Cantlowe, in exchange for 300 marks and his manor of Cockeswall. It is interesting to note that William de Cantlowe married firstly Mascelin daughter of Aldulf de Braci, who held Eaton at farm from 1173 onwards (q.v.), and secondly Millicent daughter of Hugh de Gurnay (ut infra), but that these marriages do not appear to have led directly to his acquisition of the vill, for he obtained the manor by grant of the king and the 7 hides comprising the remainder of the vill by subinfeudation from his wife Millicent's family. William, who is returned as tenant in chief of Eaton in 1211, took the side of the king in his war with the barons, and in 1225 among the sums of money allocated to him in repayment of his financial support was the first scutage due from his fee in Eaton. The manor was confirmed to him by a fresh charter in 1227, in which year he appears to have found difficulty in exacting the full amount of works and aids due from his tenants. William de Cantlowe held Eaton till his death in 1254, when he was succeeded by an heir, described as 'a boy named George, not quite three.' He was son of William de Cantlowe, and during his minority the Crown held the custody of his lands. The bailiffs appointed in the manors of Eaton and Houghton are described in the Annals of Dunstable as being 'very wicked and cruel. They vexed the Abbots of St. Albans and of Woburn very much, and especially us, who were unjustly amerced at 6 marks.' George de Cantlowe attained his majority in 1273, but died the same year, leaving as co-heirs his sisters Millicent wife of Eudo la Zouche and Joan widow of Henry de Hastings. Eaton Manor was assigned to the former, who held it for one knight's fee in 1276 and 1284. On her death in 1298 it passed to her son William la Zouche, then aged twenty-two years. He and his tenants held Eaton for the services of one knight's fee in 1302, and in 1316 he was head of the four manors of Eaton, Houghton Regis, Whipsnade and Totternhoe. In 1324 he settled the reversion of Eaton Manor upon his second son William, who in 1333 released his claim to the manor, and in the following year the elder William made a fresh settlement of the property in favour of William son of his eldest son Eudo, who had died in Paris 1325–6. William succeeded his grandfather in 1352, and during his lifetime was summoned to Parliament as Lord Zouche of Haringworth. On his death in 1382 Eaton passed to his son William, one of the 'evil councillors' banished in 1389 from the court of Richard II, who died in 1396. His son and heir William la Zouche took part in the French wars, and in 1413 was Lieutenant of Calais. He was followed at his death in 1415 by his son, grandson and great-grandson in succession, all of whom bore the name William. John la Zouche son and heir of the last was a minor at the time of his father's death in 1468. His mother, who married a second husband, Gilbert Debenham, held the site or capital messuage of Eaton Manor and 50 acres in Eaton Park as dower until her death in 1470. John la Zouche, lord of the manor, was summoned to the Parliament of 1483, and was with Richard III at the battle of Bosworth. He was attainted by the Parliament of 1485 and his estates were confiscated. In 1490 Eaton Manor was granted by Henry VII to Sir Reginald Bray, who received a confirmatory grant in 1492, but who on the reversal of the attainder of the former owner John la Zouche, and the restoration of his lands, paid 1,010 marks for the Bedfordshire property. Sir Reginald Bray was a statesman who rose to considerable importance in the reign of Henry VII, and was made High Treasurer and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. As an architect he attained great distinction, St. George's chapel and Henry the Seventh's chapel in Westminster Abbey having been built by him. On his death without issue in 1509 Edmund Bray son of his brother John succeeded to Eaton Bray. Edmund, afterwards created Lord Bray, left the manor, by a settlement made shortly before his death in 1539, to his son John with a remainder settlement to his brother Edward. John died without issue in 1557, and Edward, who only survived him one year, left as heir a son Edward, who settled Eaton Bray upon his issue by Elizabeth his wife in 1560. In 1566, however, he alienated the estate for 2,000 marks to Edmund Bray, from whom it was purchased in 1574 by Walter Sandys. In the following year Walter obtained the interests of the other reversionary heirs of the first Lord Edmund Bray, an annual rent of £120 chargeable on the manor of Eaton Bray being reserved to Sir William Sandys, who was descended from Margery cousin of Lord Bray. In 1577 Sir William Sandys released his rent-charge on the property to trustees, who had acquired the whole title to the manor on behalf of Miles Sandys. Ten years later Miles settled the manor on his son Edwin. The latter, afterwards Sir Edwin Sandys, kt., had married Elizabeth daughter of Sir William Sandys, and she held the mansion-house and Eaton Park for life. Sir Edwin, who died seised of Eaton Bray Manor in 1608, left a son William, then a minor aged seventeen, to inherit the property. In 1622 he settled it on trustees for himself and his heirs, but the following year he and his two brothers Miles and Henry quitclaimed their whole right to John Huxley. John Huxley, son and heir of the latter, was created a knight at the Restoration, and at his death in 1675 Eaton Bray passed to John Huxley, probably his son, who was lord of the manor in 1686. Thomas Huxley, a descendant, by his will dated 1742 left the manor to his brother-in-law Isaac Hughes, in trust to sell the same to raise legacies for his daughters. Eaton Bray was purchased by John Potter, Archbishop of Canterbury, who left the manor by his will of 1745 to his son Thomas Potter. It passed from him by a settlement of 1761 to his son and heir Thomas, who sold it in 1763 to William Beckford, Lord Mayor of London. By 1781 Eaton Bray Manor had passed to a son William Beckford, who was still seised in the early part of the 19th century. In 1854 the manor was in the hands of Anne widow of Arthur Macnamara, and remained so until her death in 1875. Her son Arthur held it until 1906, when it passed to his twin brother Mr. John Macnamara, the present owner.
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