Lordship Title of Houghton Conquest or Conquest Bury ID1142

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At the time of the Domesday Survey the Countess Judith held half a hide in Houghton. She held 10 hides in the neighbouring parish of Kempston, and it would appear from the subsequent history of the property that a considerable portion of her land which in 1086 was adjudged to be in Kempston was later considered to be part of the vill of Houghton. The origin of HOUGHTON CONQUEST MANOR alias CONQUEST BURY must be looked for in this property. The fief of the Countess Judith afterwards became known as the honour of Huntingdon, and the overlordship of this manor follows the same descent as that honour (q.v.), the last mention of it in connexion with this parish occurring in 1571. The Conquest family, whose long tenure in the parish was to give it so distinctive a name, are first mentioned in a document of 1223–4, when Geoffrey Conquest was concerned in a suit about land in Houghton with Isabel de Hotot, his mother-in-law, who had made waste and sale in a wood in the parish contrary to the interest of Geoffrey. This same Geoffrey, or more probably a son of the same name, is recorded in the Testa de Nevill c. 1240 as holding the manor by service of a knight's fee, and is mentioned again in 1247. John Conquest, possibly a son of the latter, died seised of the property in 1297–8. His son and heir John succeeded him. This John Conquest appears to have been a man of considerable importance in the county; in 1306 he was one of those appointed to collect in Bedfordshire the subsidies granted by Parliament to the king, while in 1314 he with two others was appointed conservator of the peace in the county during the king's absence with the army in Scotland. He also filled the office of coroner, but in 1319, having been smitten with paralysis, was obliged to resign. Three years before he had settled the manor on himself and his wife Alice. After his death his wife married Thomas Morris, and with him claimed rights of free warren, a view of frankpledge and other manorial rights in Houghton in 1330–1. Thomas Conquest, presumably a son of John and Alice, died seised of the manor thirty years later, and was succeeded by his son Roger, who in turn was followed by John Conquest. In 1384 Henry Conquest died seised; previous to his death he had enfeoffed John Conquest, rector of the parish, and others as trustees for John his infant son. In 1400 the king granted William Wetaway custody of the Houghton lands during the minority of the heir. John Conquest, on attaining his majority, took seisin of the property in 1402. He was succeeded by his son John, and he by his son Richard, who in his turn was followed by a son Richard, who died seised of the manor in 1503. His son and heir Richard died without issue in 1541, and the manor passed to his brother Edmund. The latter died in 1549 and was succeeded by his son Edmund, and he dying without issue in 1570, the manor passed to his brother Richard. Sir Richard died in 1607; his son and successor Sir Edmund Conquest died in 1634, having settled the manor eight years before his death on his son Richard on the occasion of his marriage with Elizabeth Thimelby. In the Civil War Sir Richard Conquest fought on the king's side, taking rank as colonel in the Royalist army. In 1644 his estate was sequestered. Four years later composition was made and the estate discharged. In 1650, however, the minister of Houghton Conquest with others petitioned against him as a dangerous malignant and Papist, stating that his property was worth over £800 a year and that he had a great sum of money concealed. On the plea that his estate on composition had been undervalued it was once more sequestered, but he pleaded that it had so suffered during the previous sequestration that there was not subsistence for 'himself, wife, eight sons and five servants,' and for the maintenance of two brothers and two sisters to which he was bound. The next year the case was heard at Haberdashers' Hall and the Houghton property was released. Richard Conquest, however, was himself arrested as he left the court on a charge of having beaten and wounded an officer and his men sent to take him into custody some eighteen months before. He was soon released, and the next year (1652) is found petitioning against Francis Theobald, his son-in-law, who had taken possession of the Houghton estate. He was successful in his suit, and was in enjoyment of the property in 1654 and continued to hold it till his death, which took place shortly afterwards, though the exact date is uncertain. His son John Thimelby Conquest succeeded him, and was in turn succeeded before 1703 by his son Benedict Conquest. The latter was the last of the family to hold the lordship of Conquest Bury, and in 1741 he sold the manor to Lord Gowran, afterwards Earl of Upper Ossory, who sat as member for Bedfordshire from December 1753 to 1758. His son and successor the second earl sat for the county from 1767 until he became an English peer in 1794. On his death in 1818 his Houghton property passed to his nephew Lord Holland, from whose heirs the Duke of Bedford purchased it in 1849. It has remained the property of the Dukes of Bedford down to the present day.
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