A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
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In 1086 the vill was divided into three holdings, the earl's, the abbot's, and the sheriff's. The last was fragmented by 1300 and its descent obscure thereafter. Much of its land had probably been incorporated, perhaps by the 1220s, into the earl's fee. About 1250 Oakington was said to be divided into the earl's and the abbot's parts. (fn. 1)
About 1100 the monks of Crowland abbey believed that their Oakington estate, along with that at Cottenham, was among the six ancestral estates with which their supposed refounder, the clerk Thurcytel, of an Anglo-Danish noble family, had endowed them, probably by 970. (fn. 2) In 1066 and 1086 the abbey possessed 71/2 hides at Oakington, (fn. 3) which it mostly retained as a demesne manor until its dissolution. (fn. 4) About 1206 it was in dispute with Ellis son of Ginant, perhaps a long-standing manorial lessee, over 4 carucates. (fn. 5) From the late 13th century it had c. 220 a. of demesne and c. 350 a. of tenanted land. (fn. 6) Following the Dissolution the Crown in 1544 sold CROWLANDS manor in Oakington and the impropriate rectory to a syndicate of 13 Londoners, including the brewer John Pope, (fn. 7) who early in 1549 made over his share, increased to a fifth, to his kinsman Anthony Pope, (fn. 8) later that year probably the sole owner. (fn. 9) Having soon fallen out both with the villagers (fn. 10) and with his lessee, (fn. 11) Anthony Pope sold the manor c. 1560 to Queens' College, Cambridge, which retained the manorial estate into the 20th century. (fn. 12)
About 1538 the last abbot at Thomas Cromwell's request made a head lease of the manor to Serjeant John Hinde. (fn. 13) From Anthony Pope's lessee John Halfhead (fn. 14) (d. 1558), its occupation was inherited by his son Thomas (d. by 1592). (fn. 15) It was later acquired by Justice Robert Shute (d. 1590). (fn. 16) By the 1620s the manor was held under a beneficial lease by Torrell Joscelyn (d. 1656). (fn. 17) His only daughter Theodora married in 1643 the Londoner Samuel Fortrey, an adventurer in the fen drainage. (fn. 18) Fortrey succeeded to the lease and occupied the manor house in the 1660s and 1670s. (fn. 19) Dying in 1680 he was succeeded in turn by his sons Samuel (fn. 20) (d. s.p. 1688) and William. (fn. 21) William sold his lease to Guy Sindrey, whose father Guy (d. 1694) had been settled at Oakington by 1670, and who by his death in 1709 had bought another 200–a. farm there. The younger Guy's son and namesake, aged eight in 1709, later a Cambridge alderman, retained the lease until his death in 1761. (fn. 22) After his widow Grace died in 1772 the college reclaimed the estate from their heirs at law. (fn. 23) The Sindreys' remaining 180–a. farm probably passed after 1800 to the Lintons of Oakington. (fn. 24)
The Queens' College manorial estate, beneficial leases of which ceased to be granted by 1830, (fn. 25)was reckoned at inclosure to comprise c. 300 a. of arable, (fn. 26) for which only 145 a. were allotted in 1834, (fn. 27) the college receiving, however, another 312 a., mostly as impropriator. (fn. 28) Of its 485 a. of farmland, (fn. 29) the southern part, Slate Hall farm, 238 a., was sold in 1924 to Chivers Ltd., which sold it in 1959 to W. J. Cowell. The college sold the northern part in 1940, the Manor farmhouse with 37 a. to the Papworths, a local farming family, and the rest to the Air Ministry. (fn. 30) That land still mostly belonged to the Ministry of Defence c. 1985. (fn. 31)
The abbey's walled manorial farmstead probably occupied the site of the modern Manor Farm, facing the church across Church Lane. (fn. 32) Two large adjoining closes were c. 1830 called High and Low Bury. (fn. 33) In the 14th century the farmstead included a hall, chamber, and kitchen. (fn. 34) In 1412–13 the reeve repaired and tiled the hall and chamber. (fn. 35) The manor farmhouse, which had nine hearths in the 1660s, (fn. 36) was rebuilt in the 19th century in brick.
The second largest estate in 1086 was that occupied under Picot the sheriff by three knights, including Picot's brother Roger, which comprised c. 4 hides, of which ½ hide had belonged to Picot's predecessor as sheriff Blacwine, 1¾ hides to two other king's men, and 1½ hides to Siward, a man of Ely abbey. Soke over Siward's land, including also 1½ hides which Bishop Odo of Bayeux had assigned on his own initiative to Boselin de Dive, as also over 1/2 yardland still held independently in 1086 by a priest, had belonged in 1066 to the abbey. (fn. 37) Lordship over all that land passed to Picot's successors, the Peverels and their coheirs in the barony of Bourn. In 1166 Hugh of Dover (d. s.p. 1172), husband of one coheir, Maud, reckoned William of Oakington (fl. from 1130) as his vassal. (fn. 38) About 1212 most of that fee at Oakington was said to be held of Robert de Ros, grandson of Maud's sister Rose. (fn. 39) In 1242 2/3 knight's fee there was held of Gilbert Pecche, the chief lord of Bourn, (fn. 40) but by 1279 lordship over the thoroughly fragmented fee was ascribed to Sir Philip de Colville of Histon. (fn. 41) Its overlordship has not been traced later.
About 1240, and perhaps c. 1260, the sheriff's fee was partly possessed in demesne by John of Grantchester. (fn. 42) In 1279 he or a namesake (? d. after 1286) had only 30 a. of demesne, although 90 a. were held of him. (fn. 43) About 1302 the fee was said to be held by John of Grantchester and his parceners. (fn. 44) A man of that name was said to be aged 90 in 1315. (fn. 45) By 1338 John had been succeeded by his son Richard of Grantchester, (fn. 46) probably lord in 1346. (fn. 47) The family's male line was probably extinct by 1376, when Agnes, daughter of another son John, sued a widow for demolishing the hall, chamber, and kitchen of Agnes's ancestral dwelling, held as dower. (fn. 48) Probably by 1380 Agnes sold her land there and in Cottenham, c. 85 a., to Thomas Morant of London. (fn. 49)
Morant had married by 1365 Ellen, sister and heir of John Rushton (d. 1349), whose ancestor and namesake had in 1279 held c. 85 a. of Crowland abbey, Barnwell priory, and other lords. (fn. 50) That estate, called by 1500 at latest RUSHTONS AND MOREYNS manor, (fn. 51) and including the Grantchester fee, was probably shared in the 15th century between the Oakington and Wighton families. Simon Oakington, named in 1428 as tenant of the former Grantchester fee, (fn. 52) died after 1434. (fn. 53) John Oakington (d. 1500) (fn. 54) shared the Grantchester fee c. 1480 with William Wighton, (fn. 55) of a family prominent in the parish since the 1390s. (fn. 56) In 1506 Elizabeth, perhaps widow of John Wighton (d. 1501), settled Rushtons and Moreyns on her daughter and heir Elizabeth Wighton. (fn. 57) It was acquired in 1515 by feoffees, (fn. 58) presumably for Robert Freville of Little Shelford, who died holding it in 1521, when it was said to be held of Crowland abbey. He devised it, after his widow Rose's death, equally between his younger sons George, later a baron of the Exchequer (d. 1579), and Nicholas. (fn. 59) That estate, not traced later, was possibly incorporated in the later Hatton estate: Robert's daughter Thomasine married Christopher Burgoyne. (fn. 60)
A third medieval manor was derived from an estate, reckoned as only 1½ hides, held in 1066 by Earl Waltheof's man Godwine and in 1086 by Roger, probably an ancestor of the Olifards, under the earl's widow Judith. (fn. 61) The overlordship descended with the honor of Huntingdon, the manor being by 1200 divided into two fees, whose tenancy in chief was assigned upon the partition of the honor after 1237 respectively to the Bruces and the Balliols. (fn. 62)
By the early 13th century the later BRUCE fee was shared between the Burdeleys and Giffard families. In the early 1220s a carucate at Oakington, c. 95 a., was claimed against Roger Giffard and his son Roger by William Burdeleys, (fn. 63) whose title possibly derived from the Picot estate at Madingley. (fn. 64) About 1235 ¼ fee at Oakington was held by William's brother Hugh and Roger Giffard. (fn. 65) About 1270 the same or another Roger Giffard was heavily fined for adhering to the Montfortians in the 1260s: (fn. 66) his share of the Bruce fee was broken up by 1279, with the Giffard family retaining only 3 a. in demesne, although still having lordship over c. 50 a. Of that land c. 33 a. were included in the 45 a. held by Hugh le Rous. (fn. 67) In 1318 Hugh held 1/8 fee of the Bruce honor, by then forfeited. (fn. 68) It was perhaps that estate, 46 a. held of the honor of Huntingdon, which descended from Simon of Bourn to his kinsman John Henry in 1337. (fn. 69) John le Rous held 60 a. in 1348. (fn. 70) The estate has not been traced later.
The Burdeleys half of the Bruce fee had been given, perhaps by Hugh Burdeleys's brother and successor Geoffrey, or by Geoffrey's son John, in marriage with Geoffrey's daughter Margery to John du Lay of Great Paxton (Hunts.), (fn. 71) who held 80 a. in demesne in 1279. (fn. 72) He died holding 50 a. as ¼ fee of Geoffrey Burdeleys in 1311. His son John (fn. 73) was tenant in 1316. (fn. 74) John's son Sir John du Lay (fl. 1338) (fn. 75) apparently ceded his lands, including Oakington, to William Lengleys, a royal officer in the north from the 1320s (fn. 76) (d. 1344). In 1342 Lengleys settled the Lays' 1/8 fee at Oakington upon his son William in tail male, with remainder to his daughter Gillian, wife of Ralph Restwold of Berkshire. (fn. 77) Since Sir William Lengleys the younger, lord at Oakington in 1346, (fn. 78) left at his death in 1369 only a daughter, his 80 a. of the Bruce fee passed to Gillian's son William Restwold (fn. 79) (d. v.p. 1374). William's minor son Richard (fn. 80) came of age in 1386 (fn. 81) and died in 1423. (fn. 82) His son Richard, resident in Berkshire, (fn. 83) held the Oakington fee in 1428 (fn. 84) and lived until 1475. Thomas, his eldest son and heir, (fn. 85) died in 1479, (fn. 86) probably without issue. In 1501 Richard's brothers William and John and nephew Richard sold that land, c. 120 a., to Archdeacon Thomas Hutton. (fn. 87) At his death in 1506 Hutton supposedly held the land of Barnwell priory and another 65 a. in Oakington of Denny abbey. (fn. 88) The archdeacon's nephew and heir Thomas Hutton had no land at Oakington when he died in 1552. (fn. 89)
Perhaps by 1524, (fn. 90) the Restwold estate had come to Christopher Burgoyne of Long Stanton, who had a manor at Oakington in the 1560s. (fn. 91) His eldest son George (d. 1588) was thought to possess it in the 1560s. (fn. 92) Christopher's daughter Thomasine married the lawyer Robert Shute, of an Oakington family, settled there from the 1560s, (fn. 93) who was a baron of the Exchequer from 1579 and a justice of Queen's Bench from 1586 to his death in 1590. (fn. 94) His second son John apparently sold 100 a. there in 1598. (fn. 95) Most of Shute's Oakington land was assigned by his eldest son Francis to his daughter Joan, wife of John Hatton (d. 1587). She brought an interest in it to her second husband, Henry Holford, in the 1610s. It passed eventually to her second son Robert Hatton (fn. 96) (kt. 1617). (fn. 97) He probably resided at Oakington from c. 1610 to the 1640s, (fn. 98) when he was a Royalist M.P. (fn. 99) After 1646 he fled overseas to escape his creditors, and probably died between 1649 and 1654. His Oakington estate, under sequestration for ten years, and apparently not compounded for, although his wife Elizabeth retained an interest in it, was sold in 1652 to Maj.-Gen. Lewis Audley. (fn. 100) In 1662 William Audley still occupied the house attached to the estate, but by 1664 it had been recovered by Sir Anthony Aucher, (fn. 101) a Kentish royalist (cr. Bt. 1666, d. 1692), husband of Sir Robert Hatton's daughter Elizabeth. All Aucher's male issue predeceased him. (fn. 102)
The descent of the estate during the 18th century has not been traced. 'Hatton's great farm', which covered 579 a. until 1834, (fn. 103) belonged by the 1820s to Henry John Adeane of Babraham Hall. (fn. 104) At inclosure, when he claimed no manorial rights, he emerged with 301 a., later Meadow farm. (fn. 105) The farm descended with the Adeanes' Babraham estate until his grandson, C. R. W. Adeane, (fn. 106) sold his Oakington land, by then divided into Meadow farm, 153 a., and Poplar farm, 144 a., to S. A. Taylor, who in 1920 sold Meadow farm to the county council, (fn. 107) which converted it into smallholdings, (fn. 108) and still owned it in 1985. (fn. 109)
John du Lay had a manor house at Oakington in 1299. (fn. 110) The manorial farmhouse, which had 15 hearths in 1662, (fn. 111) was possibly represented by an early 18th-century farmhouse east of the church, surrounded in 1833 by 28 a. of closes. (fn. 112) The farmhouse was demolished c. 1970 to make way for bungalows. (fn. 113)
The overlordship of the other, BALLIOL, fee on Earl Waltheof's estate, also held of the honor of Huntingdon, (fn. 114) was assigned in 1244 to the Balliols. (fn. 115) It had been held in demesne since the early 12th century by the Olifards of Lilford (Northants.), (fn. 116) including probably Hugh Olifard by 1130, (fn. 117) William Olifard, a vassal of the king of Scots, c. 1155–70, (fn. 118) and John Olifard, c. 1175– 80. (fn. 119) It then passed to descendants of William's brother David (d. c. 1170), settled in Scotland, and was considered a dependency of Lilford. David's son Walter, lord before 1216, (fn. 120) was succeeded by his son and namesake, who c. 1235 held 2½ hides at Oakington as 1 knight's fee, (fn. 121) and died in 1242. His son and heir David, lord by 1244, (fn. 122) died without issue, probably before 1250. Oakington remained for her life with his widow Dervorguilla, who occupied it until the 1290s. In 1279 the whole Olifard demesne, 1½ hides, was held under 'the lady of Lilford' in fee farm. (fn. 123) The heir was Walter of Moray (d. 1284), son of David's sister, (fn. 124) whose son William (d. s.p. 1300) conveyed his right in Oakington with Lilford between 1296 and 1299 to Anthony Bek, bishop of Durham, (fn. 125) lord there c. 1302. (fn. 126)
Shortly before the bishop died in 1311, he granted those estates to his brother John's grandson Sir Robert Willoughby (fn. 127) (d. 1317). (fn. 128) The Oakington manor remained with Robert's descendants in the male line, later Lords Willoughby de Eresby, until the 1450s, (fn. 129) being held in successive generations by John (d. 1349), (fn. 130) John (d. 1376), (fn. 131) Robert (d. 1396), (fn. 132) and William (d. 1409). (fn. 133) From 1409 to her death in 1434 it was possessed by William's widow Joan (née Holland), dowager duchess of York, (fn. 134) and her successive husbands; the fourth, Henry Bromflete, was lord in 1428. (fn. 135) William's son and heir Robert, Lord Willoughby (d. s.p.m. 1452), left only a daughter Joan, wife of Sir Richard Wells, (fn. 136) later Lord Wells and Willoughby. (fn. 137) When he and his eldest son Robert were executed in 1470 for rebellion, Richard's daughter Joan and her husband, the Yorkist Sir Richard Hastings, were allowed to succeed to their lands. (fn. 138)
In 1472 they sold Oakington with Lilford to William Brown, (fn. 139) a merchant stapler of Stamford (Lincs.), (fn. 140) who died in 1489. He had entailed Oakington upon his daughter Elizabeth and her husband John Elmes (fn. 141) (d. 1491) of Henley-onThames (Oxon.). The manor descended, still with Lilford, successively to John's son William (fn. 142) (d. 1505), William's son John (of age c. 1520, (fn. 143) d. 1541), and John's son Edmund, of age c. 1547. (fn. 144) He died holding Oakington in 1602, along with Gunnell's farm, held of Queens' College. Of Edmund's two elderly sons and successive heirs, John died without issue in 1624 and Thomas (fn. 145) in 1632. In 1630 Thomas had settled his Oakington land on his youngest son John (fn. 146) (d. 1652). In 1663 John's widow Anne and son and heir Richard sold their Oakington estate, still one of the largest in the parish, to Samuel Reche. (fn. 147)
Its later descent is uncertain. It may possibly be identified with the estate, later the third largest in Oakington, although no manorial status was claimed for it, which Mrs. Elizabeth March of Fulbourn (d. 1722) gave by her will to endow five schools at Fulbourn, Histon, and elsewhere. The Free School estate, vested in trustees, covered c. 200 a. in Oakington until reduced at inclosure in 1834 to c. 140 a. (fn. 148) It remained with the charity until the county council acquired c. 130 a. of it between 1909 and 1912. The remainder, including the farmhouse, standing east of the high street and south of the church, was shortly sold by auction. (fn. 149) From the 1920s therefore the council owned c. 256 a. in Oakington, of which 38 a. were sold to the Air Ministry in 1938. The council bought another 14 a. and sold c. 45 a. at various times up to 1984. (fn. 150)