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Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, an ancient Sherwood Forest Village recorded in Domesday



Buckland’s 1896 Book - The History of Woodborough etc.


Buckland ~ CHAPTER XII

THE VICARS OF WOODBOROUGH


Authorities:  Woodborough and Calverton Registers.  Blidworth Registers.

Southwell Registers.  MSS. in possession of  Mrs. Oldacres.


It would be out of place here to follow out the course of Church matters in England after the Restoration. If the Reformation had abolished the tyranny of the Pope, the tyranny of the New Puritanism had been equally oppressive. The country was sick of the long struggle and strife which had swept over it between 1540 and 1660 and dropped into a state of religious lethargy and indifference. The Church was dormant, but not dead. Nor is this to be wondered at when we remember how few of the Clergy returned to their parishes and how many of the Puritan preachers accepted orders in a Church they did not love and consented to use a prayer book which they had tried to destroy. Francis Leake, that sturdy Churchman, did indeed do something for Woodborough, obtaining new communion plate, communion rails, altar and pulpit. But the Puritan mind was content with whitewash and deal. The church walls were daubed with whitewash and mortar; the church roofs were ceiled with lath and plaster; enormous deal pews cumbered the Chancels and Naves, in which the great man secluded himself from the view of his humbler neighbour who was condemned to a back seat by the door; and the pulpit gave forth abstrusive arguments on the deepest questions of theology. Moreover every Puritan preacher who had refused to conform gathered round him his little congregation of Nonconformists. All idea of Church discipline has been lost and every man bowed to the decision of his private judgment. So while the parson prosed in the pulpit, and the rich man snored before the fire of his green baized pew, and the poor man went off to the preaching and praying of the little Bethel, there gradually grew up that state of ever increasing schism which degrades the Christianity of England. In England the Unity of Christians is represented by nearly 300 sects.

The non-residence of the Southwell Prebends went on as of old, though the decree-book of the Chapter shows that the evil was admitted. Robert Ayde, Robert Sherard, and Edward Marsh were all pluralists and perhaps never even saw Woodborough Church. Their duties were performed by Vicars-Parochial or Curates. There is no record who were the immediate successors of John Allott, but the Rev. Joshua Mons, who became Vicar of Blidworth in 1705, also held the Curacies of Calverton and Woodborough and John Anyon signs the Register as Curate in 1736, and in the same year Thomas Allen, as Minister, was made Trustee of Wood's Endowed School. He was also Vicar of Blidworth, and in his day Blidworth Church fell and was rebuilt. He was buried at Blidworth, January 30th, 1740, leaving £200 for the augmentation of the Blidworth living, which was met by £200 from Queen Ann's Bounty Fund. He must have been a friend of our benefactor, Mountague Wood, who endowed our school with 60 acres of land in Blidworth. The Curacy had, in 1721, been increased in value by the action of Rev. Mountague Wood, who obtained Queen Ann's Bounty, with which and money of his own he bought 38 acres of land called Jericho in Lambley Parish, which brought in £27 a year. In 1740 the Curacy was vacant and the Chapter of Southwell passed a decree that Calverton and Woodborough should be served by one Curate. The Curacies of Calverton and Woodborough being then in the patronage of the Prebends of Oxton Secunda Pars and Woodborough respectively, it was further arranged that the patronage should be vested in the Oxton Prebend and that the Oxton Prebendal Estate, as a set off, should pay £12 a year to the Curate of Woodborough. This charge still exists and is payable by Sir Charles Seely on the Lambley House Estate. All having been arranged on January 22nd, 1740, "Maurice Pugh Clerk by virtue of the presentation of Samuel Berdmore, Clerk, M.A., prebendary of the prebend of the second part of Oxton . . . was instituted and invested in and to the Vicarage of Calverton," and as Mr. Pugh lived in a house of his own at Calverton the Chapter excused his not living in the Vicarage House there. [Southwell Decree Book. 7. p. 40.]

1. I am not certain about this.


But in 1756 another claimant arose. Mr. Henson, Schoolmaster, of Nottingham, appeared before the Chapter and produced "a presentation under the Broad Seal of Great Britain to Woodborough within the jurisdiction of Southwell, which by the said presentation is called a Vicarage, and being directed to his grace the Archbishop of York, and expressed to be within his Grace's Diocese. With all due reverence to the said Broad Seal the Chapter has taken time within twenty-eight days to consider whether they are obliged and empowered by virtue of the said presentation so directed to grant Institution. The form of which presentation is as followeth (to wit): [Decree Book. 7. p. 38-40.] 'George the second by the Grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland King, Defender of the faith and so forth To the most Reverend father in God Lancelot by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of York, primate of England and Metropolitan or in his absence to his Vicar General in spirituals or to any other person or persons having or that may have in this behalf sufficient authority Greeting. We present unto you by these presents our beloved in Christ John Henson, Clerk, to the Vicarage of Woodburgh in the County of Nottingham and in your Grace's Diocese now legally void by the death, cession or otherwise of the last Incumbent thereof and come to the Crown by reason of Lapse and to our presentation for this turn belonging, Comanding and requiring you to admitt the said John Henson to the Vicarage of Woodburgh aforesaid and him thereto Institute Induct and Invest with all and every Rights, Members and Appurtenances thereof and to do all and singular other matters and things in any wise touching or concerning the Admission, Institution and Induction aforesaid, which to your Grace's Pastoral Office as aforesaid belongeth or appertaineth. In witness whereof these our G'res we cause to be made patents witness ourself at Westminster the seventeenth day of March in the thirteenth year of our reign.

          Greaves

                                                    By the Chancellor of Great Britain.'"


The Chapter "read and accepted" the presentation "with all due regard provided it appeared that Woodborow was a Vicarage, but a Caveat being entered by Mr. Pugh who is admitted to Woodborow as a Curacy as it always has been so far as appears to us: The Chapter acquainted Mr. Henson with it," and Mr. Pugh gave "a bond to the Chapter to indemnifye them and all other their officers against all costs and charges that may happen to them by means of their admitting him Curate of Woodborow aforesaid in the sum of one thousand pounds."

The result is not recorded but Henson probably withdrew his claim perceiving that the Crown had confused the office of Vicar-Parochial or Curate to a Prebend with an ordinary Vicarage, or else had not been informed that Pugh had been formally appointed no less than seventeen years before.

Maurice Pugh must have been a hard working man for he also had charge of Eastwood, but he found the work heavy and encouraged Mr. Richard Oldacres, the Schoolmaster of Woodborough, to read for Holy Orders so as to become his Stipendiary Curate. His handwriting is very clear and in 1759 he wrote the following: "Terrier of the Land and other profits belonging to the Church of Woodborough at this time. No House, not ye Churchyard, a pension from the Prebend of Oxton first part of Six pounds a year clear of land tax paid at two equal payments in the Year, Christmas and Pentecost. The same from the Prebend of Oxton Second Part, given about the year 16—.  Land in Lambley containing about 37 acres bought by the Revd. Mountague Wood and Queen Ann’s Augmentation Bounty about the year 1724. Mortuary l0s. Easter dues as Communicant 2d;  house and yard 2d.; cow new calved 2d.; Barren l½d.; Bees a swarm ld.; Lambs under five 2d. a piece, all above pay to the Impropriator, for Sheep pelts (dead sheep skyns) ½d. a piece, Churching 1d., Burials 6d., Banns of Marriage publishing ls. 6d., Marriage 2s. 6d., by Licence 5s." Then follows a list of the Registers and Church goods.

He died in 1766 and the Chapter of Southwell then issued an order to the Churchwardens in the usual form to sequestrate all the profits of the Curacy and to provide for the cure of souls and to render account thereof. On April 23rd, 1767, the Chapter passed the following decree: "Whereas this Chapter on the twenty seventh day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventeen decreed that the Curacy of Woodborough should never for the future be separated from Calverton, for which decree at that time we are willing to suppose they had some good reason, but it not appearing to us that any such reason does now subsist, and some of the present Vicars-Choral of this Church are but meanly provided for and have applied for the said Curacy of Woodborough, of which the Chapter are undoubted Patrons. It is therefore decreed that the present Chapter may dispose of the said Curacy of Woodborough to any of the said Vicars-Choral or any other worthy Clergyman, the aforesaid decree of the 27th June, 1717, notwithstanding. Decreed that Mr. William Leybourne have the Curacy of Woodborough, void by the death of Maurice Pugh, Clerk, and that the licence to the same be now sealed."  At the same time William Becher was appointed Curate of Calverton.

Mr. Leybourne resigned Morton to take Woodborough, but he afterwards became Vicar of Upton, North Wheatley and Edingly without resigning Woodborough. He thought he could serve Woodborough by means of a Stipendiary Curate and clear something for himself, but he signally failed. Mr. William Edge, who had succeeded to the property of the Rev. Mountague Wood and was Churchwarden, was not the man to allow the benefaction of his ancestor to be so misused, and March 21st, 1771, he wrote a letter to the Archbishop of York, following up a presentment against Mr. Leybourne when the Archbishop visited Southwell in person in 1770.

"May it please your grace,
I should not have given your Grace nor myself this trouble had not the circumstances relating to the Title of Mr. Richard Oldacres of Woodborough in the County of Nottingham, Your Grace's answer to it and my own concern for the good of the Town absolutely required it. I succeeded to the estate, etc., at Woodborough aforesaid of the Rev. Mr. Mountague Wood, formerly Rector of St. Michael's Royal, London, who not only built and endowed the School but likewise at his own expense in the year 1721 got Queen Ann's bounty to the Church with which together with his own money he bought an estate and gave it to the Church, which is now let for twenty seven pounds a year over and above what belonged to it before. And methinks I should ill deserve to be the successor of so good a man if I did not do all I could to have the parish well served according to Mr. Wood's desire and indeed we were very well served until the decease of the Rev. Mr. Pugh in the year 1766.

But being in the jurisdiction of the Chapter of Southwell the aforesaid augmentation rendered the living worth the acceptance of the Gentlemen of that Court and it was accordingly given to the Revd. Mr. Leybourne, since which time we have been very badly served, not indeed through any real fault in him for he could not serve it himself nor in the gentleman who has been so kind as to assist him, but because there was no Minister to be got but what was obliged to do duty twice a day at the regular hours in other places, so that we have been generally forced to have service at some inconvenient hour and very often without any service at all to the great discontent of all well wishers of our holy religion. The truth of which I have made appear to the satisfaction of the Court at Southwell at their Visitation, who promised we should be better served and Mr. Leybourne being desirous that there should be no more room for complaint has at our request been pleased to nominate the aforesaid Mr. Richard Oldacres to serve us as Curate. He is a middle-aged man not forty-four years old, of a healthful constitution, good voice, and of an unexceptional good character in every respect; and it is well known to all those worthy gentlemen who have signed his testimonial that he has for many years taken extraordinary pains to qualify himself for his office and I hope your Grace will consider what a pity it is that so good a design or such laudible pains should be in any ways disappointed or that Mr. Leybourne should be put to any inconveniences against his will merely for want of your Grace's consent and good offices. This is therefore humbly to desire that your Grace will be pleased to admit him to examination at the next Ordination and that will fulfil the desires of all concerned and especially

Your Grace's most dutiful and obedient humble servant,

WILLIAM EDGE, Esqre.

N.B.—I hope your grace will be pleased to send me an answer as soon as possible. Direct to me at Woodborough, near. Nottingham. We whose names are under written being principal inhabitants of Woodborough aforesaid, not only join with Mr. Edge in his request but are witness that this account is true. Joseph Andrews, Thomas Deabill, Thomas Hucknall, Francis Glover, John Smith, Thomas Tomlinson, Thomas Donnelly, Willm. Wheeler, Willm. Alvey, Lawrence Baguley, Nicholas Lee, Samuel Morley, Samuel Thorpe."


In consequence of this Mr. Richard Oldacres, Master of the endowed School was ordained Deacon at Brodsworth, Yorks., on June 9, 1771 and Priest on October 20, 1771, as "a literate person," and received a salary of £16 a year from Mr. Leybourne, who thereby cleared £23 a year for doing nothing out of a Curacy worth £39.

The following extract from a letter shows how Richard Oldacres qualified himself to be the first resident Priest of Woodborough. "For several years last past I have laboured very hard to qualify myself for holy orders if any of the Trustees or neighbouring Clergyman should have occasion to give me a nomination. I was in hopes of being curate to Mr. Pugh if please God he had lived. I have gone through a considerable part of the Greek Testament, etc., and am now engaged in writing Latin Themes on the Articles of Religion. I have had great helps from Mr. Hoggartt (Curate of Arnold) who is a very good Classick."

He had three children, Thomas, Samuel and Sarah, who married the Rev. James Hewes. The two sons were sent to Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Thomas took his B.A. degree in 1779 and died the same year.

SAMUEL OLDACRES succeeded his Father as Curate and Schoolmaster in 1785. He was 3rd Junior Optime and took his B.A. degree in 1784, and M.A. 1787. He married a Miss Lealand, whose father bought the next presentation to the living of Gonalstone for £1,700 and presented him in 1811. During his time Woodborough was enclosed by the Award of 1798. He received a salary of £20 a year from Rev. C. Fowler, the Vicar Parochial, which was afterwards raised to £30. Living amid the excitement of the French Revolution and the wars of Napoleon he became a militant priest for he was appointed captain of a Company of the Trent Vale Volunteer Infantry by the Duke of Portland in 1806.

JAMES HEWES succeeded his brother-in-law as Curate and Schoolmaster in 1811, receiving a salary of £30 a year from Rev. C. Fowler which was afterwards raised to £40. He was a lame man and so could not take up Volunteer work but he sent his eldest son, Thomas Oldacres Hewes, into the Royal Navy, of which he became a Captain, being present at the taking of the Cape of Good Hope. Captain Hewes lived to the age of 90 years and was for some years the oldest Captain in the Navy. He is buried in Woodborough Churchyard.

During the Curacy of James Hewes the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were appointed in 1831 to enquire into the Revenues and patronage of the Church. They recommended that the Episcopal incomes should be equalized and the Dioceses re-arranged. The population had vastly increased, especially in the towns of the North, where more Bishops were urgently required. A new diocese was created for South Yorkshire in 1836, with the Bishop's seat at Ripon, one of the four Minster Churches of the enormous and unwieldy diocese of York.

SAMUEL LEALAND OLDACRES, B.A. of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, ordained deacon in 1832 and priest in 1833, succeeded his Uncle as Curate at a salary of £40, and Schoolmaster in 1837. In 1840 the Rev. Charles Fowler died, and on 23 April, 1840, the Chapter of Southwell decreed "That the Reverend Samuel Oldacres be admitted to the Curacy of Woodborough and that his license for the same he now sealed." Thus the scandal of a non-resident Vicar-Parochial, paying a pittance to a Stipendiary Curate and pocketing the balance, was got rid of, and S. L. Oldacres became Vicar-Parochial and received all the income, which rose from £96 to £124 19s. in 23 years. But the scandal of the non-resident Prebend still remained. In the very next year however, 1841, this scandal of centuries came to an end, for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners altered the whole constitution of Southwell and suppressed the Prebends. Each prebend was allowed to hold his prebend for life, and at his death the estates of the prebend were sold, though even then in many cases there was further delay till lives inserted in the leases had fallen in. This was the case with Woodborough, for not only did the Rev. E. G. Marsh live till 1867, but lives inserted in the lease of the Prebendal Estate did not fall in, so that it was not till 1875 that the Commissioners, having sold the Estates, increased the Vicarage by an annual grant of £170. True that in the London Gazette of September 9, 1856, there is an order of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners dated 21st August, 1856, giving an annual grant of £4 to the Perpetual Curate of Woodborough, but "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick" as S. L. Oldacres said when he wrote on March 25, 1863, a long letter to Bishop Jackson, of Lincoln, in which he set out a full statement of the services done for Woodborough by his family, ending "It appears a very hard case that after my ancestors and myself have done the duty here for above ¾ of a century for stipends varying from £16 to £40, and I have been the Incumbent for 23 years with an income rising from £96 to £124 19s., without a house, it does, I say, appear very hard that the E. Commissioners can only spare £4 per ann. from the great sum at their disposal to satisfy the Local claims under the Act. I think it would be difficult to find, among the Clergy of England, a similar case of so long-continued services for such inadequate remuneration as I and my ancestors have hitherto received in this place. The. E.C. is in possession of £5,000 or £6,000 for which they enfranchised the land before mentioned. The £4 grant commenced in 1856, and when sometime afterwards I applied again the reply was that they had bought the rights of the Prebend with the funds of the Commission and an annuity and they could give no information when I might expect a further augmentation. Can you suggest how I ought to proceed? 'Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.'" To this piteous appeal the Bishop replied that nothing could be done to hasten the augmentation of the living. For twelve years more he worked on, harrassed in mind by the condemnation of the buildings of the Endowed School under the Education Act of 1870, and hardly had the long-for augmentation come when he was called to his rest and laid besides his ancestors who had gone before on May 29, 1876.

Some account of his Church Restoration work has been already given, and of his school work some account will be given later on. His memory is fresh in the minds of the people of Woodborough, who were members of his congregation and pupils in his school. All speak of him with affection and with respect.

While he was Vicar the unwieldy see of Lincoln was reduced in size. The counties of Bedford and Huntington were transferred to Ely and Buckinghamshire to Oxford. Lincoln, thus relieved, was able to take the County of Nottingham, which in 1848 became part of the diocese of Lincoln and of the southern province of Canterbury. In the same year the Diocese of Manchester was formed, and in order that the Bishop of Ripon and Manchester might have some patronage, the patronage of the Prebendal Churches of Southwell was taken from the Archbishop of York and divided between the Bishops of Ripon and Manchester. The Vicarage of Woodborough was assigned to the Bishop of Manchester, who in 1876 gave it to the Rev. F. G. Slight, senior Curate of the Parish Church of Bury.

In 1884 Derbyshire was taken away from the overburdened see of Litchfield and Nottinghamshire from the still unwieldy see of Lincoln, and the Diocese of Southwell was formed, the first Bishop, George Ridding, formerly head master of Winchester College, being consecrated on the feast of SS. Philip and James. The actual augmentation of the Vicarage was made by an order of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners dated May 13, 1875, and published in the London Gazette of May 21, 1875, whereby "one yearly sum or stipend of £170" was granted to the Incumbent of the Vicarage of Woodborough, and "one capital sum of £l,500" for defraying the cost of providing a parsonage for the Vicarage  "S. L. Oldacres only lived one year to enjoy the increase as he died in May, 1876, still running in the double harness of Church and School. One of the last acts of his life was to present 30 candidates from Woodborough at a confirmation held in Woodborough Church on March 16, 1875, by Bishop Mackenzie, the Bishop Suffragan. This was the first Confirmation held at Woodborough within the memory of man.

The Rev. F. G. SLIGHT who succeeded applied the grant of £1,500 for a Vicarage to the purchase of the Endowed School House and grounds, which were purchased of the Governors and Mr. J. B. Taylor for £925 13s., the balance being paid to Mr. Richard Ward and others for alterations and improvements. In addition to this the Ecclesiastical Commissioners gave a further grant of £100 towards defraying the cost of new Stabling, and the sum of £146 17s. was received on mortgage from Queen Ann’s Bounty and expended on improvements to the Vicarage. In our opinion this was a grievous mistake, as the living thereby became possessed of an ill-arranged and badly-built house which is situated in a damp position right on the village dyke or sewer, a mistake which was made worse by building stables right in front of the entrance, shutting out a view of the Church. Mr. Slight need have had no scruples in building a new house on a better site. But the mistake has been made and it remains for some future Vicar having private means to sell or pull down the Vicarage and build another. Some account of Mr. Slight and of his successor has been given elsewhere. Thus the income of the Vicarage is now as follows:


From which there are many deductions including Lambley Tithe, Mortgage Interest, Rates and Taxes, Repairs and Income Tax, which leave a net income of about £230.

Our narrative has been chiefly a tale of woe. The scandalous neglect of the Parish by non-resident Prebends and non-resident Vicars, not to mention the agony of the Reformation and the Intrusion of Parliamentary Preachers, has been a sore trial to Church life. If it had not been for Maurice Pugh and the Oldacres family Church life must have become extinct. As it is the Church survives, but competes with Baptists, Primitive Methodists, and Wesleyans, and Sunday by Sunday we see the un-Christian sight of the people of a village numbering less than 800 souls attending no less than four different places of worship. It cannot be said of Woodborough "See how these Christians love one another." It is a long lane that has no turning, and we trust the turning has been reached at last. With a restored Church and hearty worship there is now no excuse for schism, and we can only pray that in God's own time those who in wilfulness or ignorance or in disgust at the Church's failings have erred from her fold may he brought back, so that there may be One Fold and One Shepherd.


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