A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 5, the Hundred of Cleley. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The ancient parish of Furtho occupied 693 acres towards the south-eastern corner of Cleley hundred, forming a strip of land running south from a northern boundary represented by a short length of the river Tove (which is here also the county boundary) for a distance of about two miles to Watling Street, which for just under a mile separated Furtho from Passenham. On the west, the parish was bounded by Potterspury and Yardley Gobion, on the east by Cosgrove. (fn. 1) Until 1883, when the area was added to Cosgrove, (fn. 2) a small part of the village of Old Stratford formed a detached outlier of Furtho, which was said in the 1720s to contain four houses (fn. 3) and in the 1830s two. (fn. 4) According to Bridges, there were also three houses in Cosgrove which lay within Furtho parish, (fn. 5) although there was no boundary alteration in the 19th century to correct such an anomaly. In 1875 the rector of Furtho complained that there was a scheme on foot to add part of the village of Old Stratford to his parish, (fn. 6) which he claimed contained only four houses, including the two in Old Stratford. (fn. 7) In 1914 the duke of Grafton's agent proposed a general reorganisation of parish boundaries around Potterspury and Cosgrove, (fn. 8) including the addition of Old Stratford to Furtho, which was strongly opposed by the main landowner in the parish (fn. 9) and did not proceed. (fn. 10) The ecclesiastical parish of Furtho was united with Potterspury in 1921, (fn. 11) but the civil parish survived until 1951, when part of Furtho was added to a new a civil parish of Old Stratford and the remainder divided between Potterspury and Cosgrove. (fn. 12)
There is evidence to suggest that in the early Middle Ages Cosgrove and Furtho formed a single estate, and that possibly such an estate had once also included the later parish of Potterspury. (fn. 13)
The land of the parish of Furtho, which is covered almost entirely by Boulder Clay, rises from about 220 ft. above sea level in the south to about 280 ft. in the north and just over 300 ft. on its eastern boundary.
Domesday Book records 15 households in Furtho in 1086. (fn. 14) The manor was assessed as part of the township of Cosgrove in medieval lay subsidies and in 1524, when it made a separate return, there were only three taxpayers in Furtho. (fn. 15) The population of the parish was returned as nine in 1801 and about 16 between 1811 and 1861; at least in 1841-61 (and probably in earlier years) the figure simply comprised the occupiers of Manor Farm and three houses in Old Stratford. (fn. 16) A return of 46 in 1871 included six houses in Old Stratford, one of them occupied by 10 boarders from Trinity School. (fn. 17) In 1881 four houses besides Manor Farm were counted in Furtho, giving a population of 20; (fn. 18) in 1891 six houses (two unoccupied) were reckoned to be in the parish, occupied by 29 people. (fn. 19) Thereafter the population was returned at between 15 and 29 up to 1931, the last census taken before the civil parish was abolished.
Landscape And settlement.
The southern half of Furtho parish is drained by a stream, called Cuttle brook in the 13th century and later (fn. 20) but known in modern times as Dogsmouth brook, (fn. 21) which flows east from Potterspury and then turns south and south-east to enter the Ouse between Cosgrove and Old Stratford. The main settlement in the medieval parish grew up to the south and west of this brook near the boundary with Potterspury, on the spur of high ground from which the parish derives its name (fn. 22) and where stand the parish church, Manor Farm and earthworks indicating the site of a deserted village. The earthworks have been too badly damaged by modern ploughing to reconstruct the layout of the medieval village, which must have clustered around the church at the junction of the lanes approaching the site from each direction. Towards the northern edge of the village, immediately downstream from the point at which Cuttle brook is joined by a small stream from the north, were two rectangular ponds, separated by a low bank and bounded at the eastern end by a dam. These have been interpreted as fishponds; (fn. 23) alternatively one of them may have stored water for the mill which is mentioned in 1535 but was out of use by 1605. (fn. 24)
The manor house and adjoining farm buildings stood to the south-west of the church at the junction of the main north-south and east-west lanes. (fn. 25)
Bridges attributed the depopulation of Furtho to inclosures carried out by Edward Furtho in the reign of James I. (fn. 26) In fact, the process appears to have been well under way by the early 16th century (fn. 27) and completed by Thomas Furtho in the 1570s. (fn. 28)
Bridges also claimed that as part of the process of inclosure Edward Furtho moved the line of the Northampton road, which previously ran through the village of Furtho, some distance to the east. (fn. 29) In modern times, two footpaths left Watling Street to the north of Old Stratford, united about half a mile from Manor Farm, and ran up to the site of the village, from where a path continued northward to join the main road to Northampton about a mile from Yardley Gobion. (fn. 30) The paths near Watling Street are presumably the 'two highways leading towards Kettering' between which in 1610 lay five closes which had once belonged to the hermitage of Old Stratford, (fn. 31) but they seem unlikely to have been part of the main road from London to Northampton. Bridges may be recording inaccurate folk memory of an agreement made in 1572 between Thomas Furtho and the same freeholders to whom he gave 20 acres in the common fields in exchange for their plots in the village when he inclosed the demesnes, by which the villagers released their right of passage over an ancient way leading from Cosgrove through the manor of Furtho to Watling Street. (fn. 32) This road can only be the bridleway running from the Northampton road to Manor Farm, together with the path which runs south from the farm to Watling Street. (fn. 33) After the road was stopped up, the lords of the manor of Furtho made an annual payment of 5s. to the inhabitants of Cosgrove as compensation for the loss of this right of way. (fn. 34)
The modern road from Old Stratford to Northampton formed in two places the boundary of Furtho parish, where it is described as either 'Northampton way' or the 'highway' in 1593. (fn. 35) Similarly, 'the Queen's highway that leads to Northampton' appears as an abuttal in the same part of the parish in 1578. (fn. 36) John Ogilby's map of the road from London to Northampton in 1675 shows the modern route from Old Stratford to Yardley Gobion, with no hint that the road once passed through Furtho, (fn. 37) and it was this alignment that was turnpiked in 1768. (fn. 38) In the 1980s the southern end of the road, together with a corresponding portion of the Buckingham road on the other side of Old Stratford, was realigned to bypass the village and make a junction with Watling Street at a roundabout to the north-west of the built-up area, from where a new trunk road also diverged (superseding Watling Street) to bypass both Old Stratford and Stony Stratford. (fn. 39)
The road given up by the freeholders of Furtho in 1572 is essentially part of an eastwest route from Cosgrove to Potterspury which continues past Manor Farm to leave the parish at what was known in both 1593 (fn. 40) and 1835 (fn. 41) as Potterspury Field Gate. Another path branches from the bridleway to run past the entrance to the parish church, through the site of the medieval village and, following the line of Cuttle brook, ends near Potterspury church. (fn. 42)
Part of the south-eastern boundary of Furtho parish was represented in the 19th century by a footpath running parallel with the Northampton road from near Dogsmouth bridge (where the road to Cosgrove also branches off from the main road), past Rectory Farm to Yardley Road, from where a motor road continues northward to Castlethorpe. This path was called 'Hanslope Way' in 1593, (fn. 43) indicating its ultimate destination beyond Castlethorpe. It presumably went out of use as part of a through route because it lay so close to, and parallel with, the main Northampton road.
Most of the land of the parish outside the village was cultivated as part of a field system shared with Cosgrove which was inclosed under an Act of 1767. (fn. 44) Inclosure did not lead to major changes in Furtho, which remained divided between only three or four farms throughout the 19th century. A pair of cottages was built at Manor Farm in the 1880s and the farmhouse itself replaced in 1908, but, except at Old Stratford, there was no other new building. The position remained the same in the 20th century, except for the rebuilding of Knotwood farmhouse on a new site in 1969, (fn. 45) the replacement of the cottages with a modern bungalow at Manor Farm, and the conversion of redundant buildings there to offices in the 1990s. (fn. 46)
MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES
The Manor Of Furtho.
There were five landholders in Furtho in 1066: Godeman and Godeva had a joint holding of two hides, Alwin and Osulf a joint holding of nine-tenths of one hide, and Godwin another nine-tenths of one hide. All three estates were held by Robert count of Mortain in 1086. (fn. 47)
After the capture of Count Robert's son at Tinchebray in 1106, the Mortain fee was dismembered and divided between the honors of Berkhamsted, Leicester and Aquila. The Furtho portions of the estate thereafter appear to have descended with the former Mortain manor of Cosgrove. (fn. 48) In Henry I's reign the two-hide estate at Furtho was part of the fee of Richard son of William, one of the smaller estates was held of the fee of Berkhamstead, and the other was held of the honor of Leicester. (fn. 49) In 1235-6 William de Montagu held one fee in Furtho belonging to the honor of Aquila (fn. 50) and about the same time was in dispute with Michael son of Ralph and his wife Catherine concerning the estate. (fn. 51) Furtho was returned under the honor of Aquila in 1242. (fn. 52) Thomas de Aldeham died in 1275 holding, of the inheritance of Isabel his wife, two carucates in Furtho of the honor of Aquila for half a knight's fee, paying 40d. yearly towards the keeping of Pevensey castle. (fn. 53) In the same year both Edmund earl of Cornwall, as tenant of the honor of Berkhamsted, and Edmund earl of Leicester claimed various privileges in Furtho. (fn. 54) When the latter, created earl of Lancaster in 1267, died in 1296 he held five fees of the little fee of Mortain in Furtho, Cosgrove, Puxley and elsewhere, held of him by Thomas de Lewknor. (fn. 55) When Cornwall died four years later he was found to have view of frankpledge in Furtho and Cosgrove as part of the barony of Chenduit, itself parcel of the honor of Berkhamsted. (fn. 56)
A moiety of a knight's fee in Furtho was among the possessions of Edward Prince of Wales, as tenant of the honor of Berkhamsted, at his death in 1376. (fn. 57) In 1428 another half-fee in Furtho was held of the honor of Aquila. (fn. 58) By the end of the 15th century, however, the whole of the manor was regarded as being held of the Duchy of Lancaster, which remained the position until 1622. (fn. 59) In the late 17th century a quit rent was payable by the manor to the Duchy court at Helmdon (fn. 60) and in the early 19th century it owed suit to the court at Blakesley. (fn. 61) The Act of 1541 establishing the honor of Grafton annexed to it all the Crown's lands in Furtho, (fn. 62) and in the later 16th century officials considered that the Furtho family's estate there was held of the honor, (fn. 63) although the Act specifically reserved the rights of the Duchy of Lancaster, (fn. 64) of which the manor had previously been regarded as parcel.
In the early 1630s, when the honor was mortgaged to Sir Francis Crane, his Potterspury rental was charged with a quit rent of 6s. 9d. due from Sir Robert Banastre for Furtho, and in the 1660s Queen Catherine's officials noted that both Thomas Furtho and his son Edward (d. 1620), as well as Sir Robert, had paid quit rents to the manor of Moor End. (fn. 65) A payment of 'about 2s.' was demanded in the same period by the steward of Grafton manor court, although no such payment had been sought or made in the past. (fn. 66) In 1668 Lord Maynard's son made an agreement with Edmund Arnold concerning the quit rent of 6s. 9d. due to the Crown; (fn. 67) two years later Arnold was resisting a demand from the queen's officials for the rent, pointing out that he paid the money to Maynard. (fn. 68)
The Furtho Family Estate.
The two smaller estates mentioned in Domesday Book and the Northamptonshire Survey appear to have no later history as separate manors. The two-hide estate, held of Count Robert by Ralph in 1086, had passed to Walter by Henry I's reign, (fn. 69) and in 1219 William son of Walter was in dispute with Alan son of John concerning William's tenement in Furtho. (fn. 70) In the 1240s Walter de Furtho, perhaps the next generation of the same family, held a fee in Furtho. (fn. 71) Either the same Walter or a namesake witnesses local deeds down to the early 1280s, (fn. 72) when he was succeeded by his son Adam, (fn. 73) who died in or shortly before 1320, when his widow Hawise de la Mare leased her dower in the estate to their son and heir William. (fn. 74) He died in 1323, (fn. 75) when he was succeeded by his brother Henry, (fn. 76) who in 1338 settled the manor on feoffees to the use of himself, his wife Sarah, and their son William and his wife Margaret, (fn. 77) shortly after making provision for two other daughters, Dionisia and Isabel. (fn. 78) Both Henry and his son William evidently died in May 1349, when William's widow Margaret settled the manor on feoffees only a forthnight after her father-in-law had acted as a witness of an unrelated deed. (fn. 79)
The manor was still in the hands of one of Margaret's feoffees, her brother-in-law John, in 1357, (fn. 80) and in 1358 Sir Walter de Paveley was granted the wardship of William, son and heir of William Furtho. (fn. 81) The younger William was of age by 1364 (fn. 82) and was still alive in 1376, when his feoffees made provision for his younger son John. (fn. 83) William must have died in 1383 or shortly before, for in July that year Queen Anne granted the wardship and marriage of his son and heir, also named William, to John Woodville. (fn. 84) The younger William, who had come of age by 1389, (fn. 85) died between 1411 and 1413 and was succeeded by a son of the same name, (fn. 86) who in 1428 held half a fee in Furtho. (fn. 87) In 1453 William Furtho conveyed his estates in Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire to feoffees to hold to the uses of his will, (fn. 88) in which they were instructed to settle the Northamptonshire estate on his son William and his heirs male, with successive remainders to his younger son Thomas Furtho of Stony Stratford, John Furtho, citizen and draper of London, and John son of William Furtho of Stony Stratford. (fn. 89) William died in London in 1457 (fn. 90) and in the event Furtho passed to Thomas in 1472. (fn. 91) The manor was leased out by new feoffees in 1484. (fn. 92)
Thomas Furtho's widow Margaret Fleming died in 1499, leaving their son William as her heir. (fn. 93) He died only four years later, leaving a widow Catherine, the daughter of William Hartwell, and a son and heir Anthony, aged 9. (fn. 94) Catherine later married Thomas Brookesby, who paid almost the whole of Furtho's assessment to the lay subsidy of 1524 (fn. 95) and presented to the living between 1507 and 1526; she herself, widowed again, presented in 1548 and 1552. (fn. 96) Anthony died in 1558, (fn. 97) leaving a son and heir Thomas, who in 1562 married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Watson of Rockingham. (fn. 98) Two years later he was in dispute with his mother Elizabeth, who claimed that Anthony had promised her a life interest in his estate. (fn. 99) Thomas, who was dead by 1600, (fn. 100) was succeeded by his son Edward, who died in 1620, leaving an heir of the same name, then aged 23. (fn. 101)
The younger Edward Furtho died without issue only a year later, leaving two sisters as his coheirs: Anne, the wife of Anthony Staunton of Great Brickhill (Bucks.), and Nightingale, the wife of Samuel Mansel of Haversham (Bucks.). (fn. 102) In 1623 the estate was partitioned between them, when Anne and Anthony took the manor of Furtho as part of their share, (fn. 103) although there was a dispute the following year when the Mansels accused the Stauntons of carrying away plate and other goods from Edward's house in Cosgrove. (fn. 104) Samuel Mansel had already been in dispute with Edward concerning his father's will, (fn. 105) while Staunton had tried to prevent the younger Edward's executors paying a legacy to a woman who claimed to have been engaged to be married to him when he died. (fn. 106)
In 1625 the Stauntons sold Furtho to Sir Robert Banastre, a Crown official who had then recently purchased Passenham from the Duchy of Lancaster, which he made his home. (fn. 107) Sir Robert settled Furtho on his son and heir apparent (by his first wife) Lawrence at the time of his marriage to Margaret, the daughter of Sir John Dynham of Boarstall (Oxon.), in 1632. Lawrence died in 1637, leaving Furtho to trustees to sell to pay his debts. (fn. 108) The will, however, was judged invalid, since part of his estate was held in chief. Two years later his son and heir, Dynham Banastre, died aged five, whereupon Lawrence's two infant daughters, Margaret and Elizabeth, became coheirs to their father's estate, which was already in the hands of the Court of Wards. In 1640 an agreement was reached whereby Sir Robert Banastre purchased the family's Northamptonshire estate from Dynham's heirs for a sufficient sum to raise portions for his two granddaughters. (fn. 109) Sir Robert died in December 1649, two months after his daughter (by his third wife) Dorothy, the wife of William, 2nd Lord Maynard.
By his will Sir Robert left his Northamptonshire estate to Dorothy and William's son Banastre Maynard, (fn. 110) who in 1666 sold Furtho to Edmund Arnold, a successful civil lawyer originally from Nether Heyford. (fn. 111) Maynard also sold at least one small parcel of freehold land separately at the same date. (fn. 112) Arnold died without issue in 1676, leaving Furtho to his widow Mary for her life. After her death it was to pass to trustees to hold to various charitable uses, including the payment of sums to the poor and for apprenticing boys from Nether and Upper Heyford, Stowe-NineChurches, Weedon Beck, Stony Stratford and St. Giles, Northampton; £20 yearly towards the maintenance of poor scholars at Merton College, Oxford; a similar sum towards the maintenance of a minister to preach at Stony Stratford; and £10 yearly to the incumbent of Potterspury. (fn. 113)
After his death, Edmund Arnold's heir-atlaw, Thomas Arnold of Heyford, the son and heir of Thomas Arnold, who was the son of Edmund Arnold's eldest brother Thomas, challenged the will, without success. (fn. 114) After Edmund's widow, who married Sir George Etheridge, died in 1692, (fn. 115) the Attorney-General began an action against his surviving trustees and Thomas Arnold, alleging that they had frustrated the testator's wishes and failed to establish the charities set out in his will. In 1694 the court of Chancery barred the heir from any of the surplus income from the estate, over and above the amount given to charity in the will, ruling that Arnold intended to leave the whole of his estate to charity, and instructed his trustees to make payments as directed. (fn. 116) The following year new trustees were appointed, who began to make such payments. (fn. 117) Thomas Arnold made a further appeal to the court in 1697, which was turned down, (fn. 118) and failed in an appeal to the House of Lords in 1698. (fn. 119)
The manor of Furtho, consisting of the manor house and a farm of about 290 acres, continued to be conveyed from time to time to new trustees and remained the property of the Arnold Charity at the time of writing.
The manorial buildings.
Of the medieval manorial buildings only a 15th-century dovecote survives near the church, in what was once the front garden of the manor house. The structure was restored in 1917 (fn. 120) and 1939-40, (fn. 121) and taken into the care of the county council in 1949, after it was scheduled as an ancient monument. (fn. 122) The dovecote is circular, built of local limestone, and roofed with red tiles and a cupola. There were originally two doorways, one of which has been blocked, over which there is a large window. Inside there appear to have been some 330 nests, although many of these were closed in 1917, when part of the main walls were rebuilt and a plaque commemorating the restoration inserted into the east side of the building. (fn. 123)
The manor house itself appears to have been rebuilt at the beginning of the 17th century, since Edward Furtho's accounts for 1604-7 contain headings for various building trades and materials, although few items of expenditure are noted against them, suggesting that the work was almost complete by this date. In addition to using local limestone, Furtho was bringing stone from Weldon, near Corby, for dressing the doors, windows and chimneys. (fn. 124) In about 1670, (fn. 125) when the house appears to have been extensively repaired, (fn. 126) there were three main rooms on the ground floor, with a small central room (perhaps no more than a rather wide screens passage) flanked by a hall and kitchen, behind which was a brewhouse. A range containing a stable and barn stood at right-angles to the house at its western end.
Repairs to the house were carried out in 1724-5, (fn. 127) in 1753, when a new ceiling was installed in the 'great parlour' and covered with 'stucco mortar', (fn. 128) and in 1771, when a new brewhouse was added at the east end of the house. (fn. 129) In 1814-20 the farmhouse and outbuildings were extensively repaired and partly rebuilt, and several of the fields on the farn subdivided and improved, at a cost of about £2,000. (fn. 130) By 1839 both the house and all the adjoining buildings were stone built, mostly with slate roofs, although one of the barns and some sheds were thatched, as were three timberbuilt cowhouses out in one of the fields. (fn. 131)
In 1849 the buildings were described as capable of some improvement; in 1857 a survey recommended fairly substantial rebuilding (fn. 132) and some repairs were carried out as a result. (fn. 133) In the 1870s the owners considered for several years the erection of either two or four labourers' cottages at Manor Farm; (fn. 134) eventually one pair was built in 1886 a short distance west of the farmyard. (fn. 135)
During the same period, consideration was given to rebuilding the farmhouse, which in 1880 was declared unfit for habitation. As part of these plans, the Northampton architect Matthew Holding was asked to report on the existing building. (fn. 136) He also made drawings of the old house, which show a substantially rebuilt and somewhat enlarged, but still recognisable, descendant of the house surveyed in 1670. The building was of two storeys plus a cellar, double-fronted, with bay windows on the ground floor on either side of an off-centre main doorway, which led to a sitting room and parlour on either side of the entrance, with a kitchen to the rear. Further back were additional service rooms, including a beer cellar, brewhouse and back kitchen. At the west end of the house, adjoining the farm buildings arranged round an open yard, were a dairy, a churn room and a room containing a horse-gin to work the churn. Upstairs the main range contained four bedrooms along the front of the house, with a passage running the length of the house at the back, at one of end of which a small fifth bedroom had been created. There were two servants' bedrooms over the service rooms in the rear wing. (fn. 137)
During the agricultural depression of the late 19th century, the farmhouse was left unoccupied for over twenty years and deteriorated badly. In 1907, when the tenancy changed hands, despite efforts to rehabilitate it, the buiding was beyond repair. (fn. 138) W.D. Gibbins of Northampton designed a new two-storey, fivebedroom house, in brick with stone dressings and slate roofs, (fn. 139) which was erected to the south of the farmyard in 1908 at a cost of about £2,100. (fn. 140) The old house was demolished but the farm buildings remained in use.
In 1670 there was an elaborate formal garden in four sections in front of the house, (fn. 141) whose layout had been simplified by 1835, (fn. 142) although there were still terraced lawns on three levels in 1907. (fn. 143) In the 19th century remains were also still visible, to the north of the church, of what appear to be early 17th-century pleasure grounds laid out on part of the site of the former village. (fn. 144) These included a rectangular garden next to the churchyard, to the north of which there was an osier bed in 1835, and beyond a large pond described as a 'Moat'. (fn. 145)
In 1835 there was an extensive range of farm buildings to the south-west of the house, arranged around two open courtyards, whose layout had hardly changed by the end of the century. (fn. 146) In the 1920s and early 1930s a number of improvements were made to the farm, including re-roofing the existing buildings, modernising the cowhouses and erecting two Dutch barns, at a total cost of about £1,200. (fn. 147) One of the Dutch barns and some other buildings were destroyed by fire in 1997, (fn. 148) after which the buildings no longer required for farm use were converted into offices for small businesses. At about the same time, the church and dovecote were renovated, and the overall setting of both buildings improved by landscaping.
In 1329 the Hospitallers claimed view of frankpledge twice a year in Furtho for their tenants there and in Cosgrove, Shutlanger and Stoke Bruerne (fn. 149) and at the beginning of the 15th century, when the Hospitallers had a rent charge of 31s. 6d. issuing out a messuage and four virgates of land in Furtho, their tenants owed suit to a court held at Stony Stratford. (fn. 150) Part of this estate may have been the two closes near Temple Lane, late of the Hospitallers' preceptory of Dingley, granted to Sir Ralph Sadler in 1550. (fn. 151)
In 1086 the largest of the three estates in Furtho had land for six ploughs; there was one ploughland in demesne and two villeins and three bordars had another. The other two estates had land for 3½ and two ploughs respectively. The larger of the two had one plough in demesne with half a ploughland assigned to two bordars; the smaller had one villein and three bordars with one plough. The three estates together had 22 acres of meadow. (fn. 152)
Some woodland was brought into cultivation in the 12th and 13th centuries, and the manor of Furtho had three assarts in Cosgrove, Potterspury and Passenham, as well as in Furtho itself. (fn. 153) In 1505 the demesne of the manor had 300 a. of arable and 100 a. of pasture, some of which lay in Old Stratford. (fn. 154) The manor also had 30 a. of meadow and 12 a. of wood, shared between Furtho and Cosgrove. (fn. 155)
There were a number of freeholders in both Furtho and Cosgrove in the Middle Ages, (fn. 156) and the muniments of the Furtho family show successive lords of the manor making occasional purchases in both parishes from the late 13th century. (fn. 157) In the early 15th century William Furtho (d. 1457) appears to have been the first of the family to make larger additions to the estate, notably the lands of Henry Wikemill in 1435-9, which included the manor of Yardley Gobion, (fn. 158) and an estate in Cosgrove bought from John Knight in 1446-8. (fn. 159)
Furtho did not have a field system of its own in the Middle Ages but cultivated its arable, which appears to have included most of the land of the parish outside the village itself and the houses in Old Stratford, jointly with Cosgrove. (fn. 160) Although in 1767 the inclosure Act for the joint township declared that it contained one 'large and open and common field' known as Cosgrove Field, (fn. 161) earlier sources name three separate fields and three areas of common meadow. (fn. 162) Quarry Field appears to have been situated to the south-west of Cosgrove village, north of Cuttle brook, including the area described as 'The Quarries' on the modern map. (fn. 163) The nearby bridge carrying Hanslope Way over Cuttle brook is called 'Quarry Bridge' in 1593 (fn. 164) and 1844. (fn. 165) Glebe terriers of 1686 and later also refer to Middle Field and Moors Field, (fn. 166) of which the latter evidently occupied the southern extremity of the township, between Cuttle brook on the north and Watling Street on the south, where 'The Moors' and 'Moors Furlong' survived as field names in 1844. (fn. 167) Middle Field must have lain to the north of Quarry Field, between Furtho Manor Farm and Cosgrove village, with the common meadow of the township further north again, alongside the Tove, occupying land (in Cosgrove rather than Furtho) described as 'liable to floods' in the late 19th century. (fn. 168) The modern Isworth Farm, which stands just above the flood plain in this part of the parish, presumably indicates the position of Hisworth Hook meadow.
The common land of the township (other than the detached portions of Cosgrove at Kenson Field and Brownswood Green, west of Watling Street) was divided into three 'tithings', known as Cosgrove, Furtho and Potterspury tithings, which paid tithe to the three churches in question. (fn. 169) Each tithing appears to have had land in at least two of the common fields and in more than one piece of common meadow; they were not three discrete areas corresponding to the three open fields, nor did Furtho and Cosgrove tithings lie exclusively within those parishes. In 1504 Potterspury tithing had land in Quarry Field and Middle Field (but not Moors Field), and in South Mead and Bidwell (or Marford) Meadow. The Quarry Field land lay partly in Furtho and partly in Cosgrove; the rest was entirely in Cosgrove. (fn. 170)
Farming in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The creation of a consolidated demesne and the demolition of the houses in the village seems to have been largely complete by 1524, when the tenant of the manor was responsible for all but 8d. of the township's lay subsidy assessment of 40s. 8d. (fn. 171) The process was probably completed by Thomas Furtho, who in 1571-2, as well as stopping up a highway through the village, acquired small parcels of land from about a dozen freeholders, who received in exchange 20 acres in the common fields of Cosgrove and Furtho. (fn. 172) He made at least one further exchange a few years later, in 1578, (fn. 173) and also persuaded the rector of Cosgrove, Christopher Emerson, to part with some of his glebe which lay in Furtho parish. This arrangement was confirmed by his successor William Bradshaw in 1600 (fn. 174) but regarded as damaging to the living by the next rector in 1633. (fn. 175) Thomas further enlarged his family's estate in both Furtho and neighbouring parishes by piecemeal purchases, including the former hermitage and chapel in Old Stratford; the former Snelshall priory estate at Brownswood Green in Passenham and Cosgrove; the adjoining woodland called Brownswood; and a capital messuage in Cosgrove bought from Robert Lee. His son Edward made yet more purchases, including what appears to have been the remainder of the hermitage estate; land in Yardley and Potterspury, where the family already owned the manor of Yardley; another capital messuage and other premises in Cosgrove; and a parcel of coppice wood alongside Watling Street called Knotwood. (fn. 176)
One consequence of the depopulation and consolidation was the abandonment of the water-mill on Cuttle brook, to which there appear to be no medieval references. In 1535 Anthony Furtho and Elizabeth his wife bought from Thomas Elliott of Wolverton (Bucks.) the unexpired term of 29 years in his lease of Cuttle mill in Furtho, agreeing that their tenant John Ames of Stony Stratford, cooper, would pay the rent of 26s. 8d. The mill was described as a 'Brest myln', (fn. 177) presumably meaning that it had a breast-shot wheel. A watercourse extending from Pury Clack (i.e. Potterspury mill) to Furtho mill, a distance of a quarter of a mile, is mentioned in 1605-6, (fn. 178) although the mill itself was then ruinous (fn. 179) and is not heard of again.
By the early 17th century the Furtho family had created a consolidated demesne estate forming a broad strip of land running from Watling Street north to the site of the village, and continuing beyond Cuttle brook as far as the main road to Northampton. (fn. 180) There appears to have been little, if any, change in the extent of this estate between the death of the elder Edward Furtho in 1620 and that of Edmund Arnold in 1676; (fn. 181) similarly, his trustees made no acquisitions or disposals, (fn. 182) with the result that at the time of writing Furtho Manor Farm remained essentially the same size as it had been almost four hundred years earlier.
The consolidation of the demesne and depopulation of the village were accompanied by the conversion of arable to pasture, since throughout the 18th and 19th centuries no more than a third of Manor Farm was ploughed and for much of that period rather less. (fn. 183) As well as permanent pasture with some arable, Manor Farm also retained a certain amount of coppice and timber after the changes of the 16th century. In 1620 the estate included 23 a. of coppice, underwood and woodland at Knotwood, (fn. 184) and in 1666 woodland there was assessed separately from the arable, meadow and demesne lands of the parish when poor rate was levied. (fn. 185) There were 10 a. of timber worth £600 on the estate in the late 17th century, when some was cut down to pay the expenses of the protracted Chancery suit over Edmund Arnold's will, (fn. 186) and in 1720 a survey noted 542 oaks, 512 ashes and 30 elms on the property. (fn. 187) In 1821 26 of the 41 parcels into which the estate was then divided had some timber on them, worth in all £1,100. (fn. 188) Hare Stocking Spinney, near the Northampton road north of Manor Farm, was later cleared, but the smaller spinnies south-west of the farm survived at the time of writing, and Ash Pole Spinney, also in the south of the parish, covered a larger area then than it did in 1835. (fn. 189)
In the early 17th century Edward Furtho's estate in Furtho itself (presumably meaning the lands belonging to the manor), was worth about £200 a year, including the site of the manor with its orchards, gardens and closes, which was generally kept in hand. Most of the income came from about a dozen parcels of inclosed pasture and meadow, together with small sums from tithes paid to Furtho due from Hardley Field (in Potterspury), a 30 a. farm with land in the common fields of Cosgrove and Furtho, a cottage in the village of Cosgrove which lay in Furtho parish, and the former hermitage at Old Stratford. A further £100 a year came from what was described as an estate in 'Cosgrove with Furtho and Old Stratford' (most of which seems to have been in Cosgrove), and smaller sums from Yardley, Potterspury and Passenham, as well as Stony Stratford, and Calverton (Bucks.), and Eaton Socon (Beds.). Rents of assize from free tenants in Cosgrove (again 'with Furtho and Old Stratford') yielded 23s. and six capons a year; those for Potterspury with Yardley, Stony Stratford and Eaton Socon smaller amounts. Several tenants paid rents in kind, including hens, geese, straw and deer as well as capons; some also owed labour services for carting, reaping and haymaking. Charges on the Northamptonshire estate included a long list of quit rents due to the lords of Moor End, Potterspury and Cosgrove, as well as the Duchy of Lancaster, and also sart silver payable to Lord Buckhurst. Apart from rates, taxes and the usual household expenses, the main outgoing from the estate during Edward Furtho's time was the cost of labour and materials for rebuilding his house at Furtho. (fn. 190)
At the time Edmund Arnold bought the Furtho estate the rental was stated as £256 15s. 10d., to which £2 for profits of court and £1 11s. 10d. in quit rents was added. The estate was said to extend to 285 a. Arnold's nephew and steward John Buncher claimed that the vendors raised the rents by £30 immediately before the sale, to secure an extra £400 or £500 from Arnold (who paid 20 years' purchase on the rental), but they later had to be lowered after protests from the tenants. The main outgoings were a payment of £20 a year to the rector of Furtho and 5s. to the inhabitants of Cosgrove for loss of their highway through Furtho grounds. (fn. 191)
Farming On The Arnold Charity Estate.
After the trustees appointed by Edmund Arnold's will took over the Furtho estate following the death of Lady Etheridge in January 1692, (fn. 192) they initially retained the services of John Buncher, who occupied the farmhouse and some of the land himself, collected rents from other tenants, and paid rates, taxes, quit rents and other disbursements before remitting the balance to the trustees. (fn. 193) In 1702 Buncher left and was replaced by William How, (fn. 194) who in 1703 was granted a lease of the entire manor for seven years at £176, (fn. 195) although he actually paid £206, which represented the trustees' gross income. (fn. 196) How was succeeded by Samuel Mason in 1713, still at a rent of £206. (fn. 197) Mason was followed by Thomas French, who was granted a 21-year lease from 1725 at £226. (fn. 198) By 1740 the trustees were trying to remove French, who was said to be 'cutting and mangling the estate in a most vile & scandalous way'. (fn. 199) In 1742 he assigned the remainder of his lease to William Church, a Potterspury butcher, and John Alexander, (fn. 200) who lived at the farmhouse and was given a deputation as gamekeeper. (fn. 201) Church and Alexander were granted a new seven-year lease in 1746, still at £226, (fn. 202) which was renewed on the same terms in 1753, 1759 and 1767. (fn. 203) All the early 18th-century leases included covenants limiting the acreage that could be ploughed: those of 1759 and 1767 allowed the lessees to plough up to 100 a., arranged so that no more than 56 a. was in tillage at any one time. (fn. 204) There were 54 a. of arable in 1748. (fn. 205)
In 1774 the trustees leased the estate (described as comprising the manor house and lands, not the manor itself, as on previous occasions) to John Pittam, again for seven years and without any increase in rent. (fn. 206) He was followed by his son Thomas, who was still paying £226 in 1801, (fn. 207) although when the younger Pittam was given a new lease in 1808 the rent was sharply increased to £410. (fn. 208) Robert Pittam was paying £390 a year at Furtho in the 1830s. (fn. 209)
When Pittam died in 1849 he was succeeded by William Warr, who was granted an eightyear lease from 1850 at £460, after about £300 had been spent putting the farmhouse into tenantable repair. (fn. 210) When Warr's lease came up for renewal the trustees' surveyor praised his management of the meadow and pasture on the farm (190 a.) but claimed that he had failed to comply with a covenant requiring a fourcourse arable rotation, sowing a quarter of the 100 a. of arable each year with wheat, barley, clover or beans, and fallow or turnips. Instead of using half the arable for white straw crops and the other half for pulses and fallow, Warr had planted 60 per cent with corn. Apart from this, the arable was in a very fair state, a large proportion having been drained during Warr's time, the trustees finding the pipes and the tenant the labour. Both the house and buildings, however, were in poor condition and more accommodation was needed for stock in the yards.
After Warr died in 1866, (fn. 211) John Bird took the farm for eight years from Lady Day 1867 at £566 for what was now reckoned to be 292 a., of which 120 a. were arable. (fn. 212) During that period the trustees spent at least £750 on repairs. (fn. 213) He was given a new 16-year lease at the same rent from Michaelmas 1876, (fn. 214) but in April 1879 sought and obtained a 10 per cent abatement. (fn. 215) In October 1880 Bird asked for the allowance to be continued, given the great losses he had suffered, especially on his sheep flock. (fn. 216) In 1881-2 the trustees abated his rent by 20 per cent and in 1883 made the reduction permanent, reducing the rent to £452 16s. (fn. 217) Despite the depression, these years saw the construction of a new access road from the Northampton road and a pair of cottages at the farm. (fn. 218) In 1886 Bird secured letters from neighbouring farmers pointing out that he was paying 31s. an acre, whereas adjoining land was let for no more than 18s.-20s. (fn. 219) Landlord and tenant eventually agreed on a reduction of 40 per cent (to £339 12s.) for the remainder of the lease. (fn. 220) When that expired in 1892, the farm was valued at £293 5s., excluding rates and taxes, and the tenancy advertised. In the event, Bird stayed on as a yearly tenant, jointly with his son Edward, at £340. He considered £300 or £320 a full rent (fn. 221) and when he was granted a 10 per cent abatement in 1893 he effectively secured his figure. (fn. 222) The rent was further reduced to £300 in 1895, (fn. 223) bringing it down to virtually £1 an acre.
After John Bird died early in 1907 Matthew Hobbs agreed to pay a rent of £350 if the trustees would make the house tenantable. In fact, a completely new house was built within a year. (fn. 224) Hobbs died in 1912 but the farm was kept on at the same rent by his son. (fn. 225) During the First World War the trustees felled some of the small remaining amount of timber on the farm, (fn. 226) and complied with a request from the War Agricultural Committee to plough up 25 a. of pasture, so that the farm was once again about one-third arable. (fn. 227) When Hobbs quit in 1918 the new tenant, J.P. Barr, who took a seven-year lease from Lady Day 1919 at £368, was given a £50 rebate for the first three years because of the poor condition of the arable. (fn. 228) In 1922 the farm was said to be much improved (fn. 229) and four years later Barr readily agreed to stay on as an annual tenant at £368. (fn. 230) By 1931, however, he was only prepared to remain in return for a large reduction. The trustees agreed to £295 (a return to £1 an acre) but even this proved too much and in 1933 he quit, the trustees claiming that he had left the farm in 'a foul and dilapidated state'. (fn. 231) After rejecting several lower offers, the trustees managed to re-let the farm on an annual tenancy from Michaelmas 1933 to William John Jones at £290. (fn. 232)
More timber was felled and new drains laid during the Second World War. (fn. 233) After the war, the trustees sought a revision of the rent: Jones offered £435 from Michaelmas 1951, which the trustees' advisers regarded as a very good figure. (fn. 234) There was a further review in 1958, when the trustees' valuer described the house as modern but the buildings as inadequate; the land which had not been drained remained wet. He suggested £840 (57s. an acre) and the trustees eventually accepted 55s. from Michaelmas 1960, since Jones was an old tenant. (fn. 235) He agreed to an increase to 75s. from 1965, after further draining had been completed. (fn. 236)
After Jones left Furtho at Michaelmas 1969, (fn. 237) the trustees let the farm to David Sansome, (fn. 238) who remained the tenant at the time of writing. The trustees and their tenant continued a programme of improvements to the property during that period, including further draining, the replacement of the cottages with a modern bungalow, and, following the fire of 1997, the conversion of redundant buildings into offices for small businesses. (fn. 239)
Farming elsewhere in the parish.
Outside the consolidated demesne, and the small part of Furtho within the built-up area of Old Stratford, the rest of the parish continued to be farmed as either open-field arable or common meadow until the land was inclosed under an Act of 1767, together with that of Cosgrove (excluding Kenson Field and Brownswood Green, a detached outlier of about 280 a. to the west of Watling Street which was inclosed with Potterspury and Yardley Gobion in 1776). (fn. 240) The remainder of the joint township was found to contain some 1,626 a. of common arable and meadow in 1767, (fn. 241) of which about 400 a. (i.e. the total area of the parish (693 a.) less the 292 a. consolidated demesne forming Manor Farm) lay within Furtho.
The complicated division of the open fields into tithings was swept away by the award of 1767, (fn. 242) when the rectors of Furtho and Cosgrove and the impropriator of Potterspury tithing (who was not identical with the impropriator of the tithes of Potterspury parish) (fn. 243) each received one allotment of land in lieu of glebe and another in lieu of tithe. Furtho Manor Farm, being entirely old inclosure, did not receive any allotment. The main outcome of the award in Furtho was to create a consolidated farm of about 100 a. in the south of the parish (but also extending into Potterspury and Cosgrove) belonging to the rector, (fn. 244) with a house on Watling Street at the western end of Old Stratford village, (fn. 245) and another on the land to the north of the Northampton road, where a farmstead named Badger's Farm was built. (fn. 246) In the centre of the parish, the house and buildings of Rectory Farm, established on the land allotted to the rector of Cosgrove, lay just inside Furtho parish, as did some of the land of the farm. (fn. 247)
There appears to have been little change in the organisation of farming in Furtho during the 19th century, and (outside Old Stratford) no economic activity unconnected with agriculture, apart from the continuation of small-scale gravel extraction from quarries on either side of the Northampton road north of Old Stratford, which had gone on since at least the 17th century. (fn. 248) There was eqully little change in the 20th century, except for the rebuilding of Manor Farm and the creation of office units there in the 1990s, (fn. 249) and the building of a new farmstead for Knotwood Farm, where the old house on Watling Street became a private residence. (fn. 250)
Since Furtho did not have a field system of its own, the work of the manor court, certainly by the early 17th century, was largely confined to the collection of quit rents due from free tenements and recording changes in the ownership of the freeholds. Rentals extending from 1623 (fn. 251) to the early 19th century (fn. 252) list about 30 free tenements belonging to Furtho manor, divided between Cosgrove, Old Stratford, Potterspury, Yardley Gobion and Stony Stratford, from which a total of 31s. 10d. and three capons was due annually, although the money appears to have been collected at irregular intervals when courts were held. For the period prior to Edmund Arnold's acquisition of the manor, there are records of courts in 1623, (fn. 253) 1633, (fn. 254) 1650-1, (fn. 255) and 1653, (fn. 256) where on each occasion the free tenants were several years in arrears with their quit rents, suggesting that courts were not held annually. In 1633 a rental was drawn up to cover the previous ten years, implying that this was the period since the court had last sat, not that a series of court rolls or rentals has been lost for the intervening years. During Arnold's short period of ownership, two courts were held in the spring and autumn of 1667, (fn. 257) which may indicate that he intended to establish a more regular regime, but there is no evidence that this practice was maintained after his death. Each of the 17th-century courts received the homage and fealty of free tenants who had acquired their holdings since the previous court but the only leet business concerned the obstruction of highways or the scouring of ditches; (fn. 258) no orders were made for the management of the common fields, which was the responsibility of the Cosgrove manor court. (fn. 259)
After the manor was acquired by Edmund Arnold's trustees courts appear to have been held at fairly widely spaced intervals. There was one in 1711 (fn. 260) and another in 1725, (fn. 261) but no evidence for any in between. In 1727 the trustees had to appoint a new steward and felt that it would better to choose a local man; since the courts were held so infrequently, the office would be of no use to someone who lived at a distance. (fn. 262) The next court was held in 1732, (fn. 263) with another in 1742, (fn. 264) but in 1757 the steward was trying to collect quit rents which had not been paid for 25 years, (fn. 265) i.e. since the court of 1732. There was another change of steward in 1766, when the new appointee observed that the last two courts had been held in 1757 and 1742. (fn. 266) Two years later the steward noted that, since the trustees' tenant did not want a court that year, he would hold one in 1769, (fn. 267) when he had difficulty compiling an up-to-date list of quit rents. (fn. 268)
The court of 1769 was the first to be held after the inclosure award and thus for the first time a separate constable and thirdborough were nominated for Furtho, (fn. 269) whereas previously the constable of Cosgrove had acted for the entire township. (fn. 270) There were also arrears of quit rent back to 1757 to collect. (fn. 271) After 1769 the trustees held courts in 1784, (fn. 272) 1792, (fn. 273) 1811, (fn. 274) 1818, (fn. 275) and 1834. (fn. 276) There was no leet business throughout this period, apart from the nomination of the constable and thirdborough, of which the former office was filled by the trustees' tenant at Manor Farm. (fn. 277) Apart from noting changes of ownership in the free tenements, the main business was the collection of the quit rents, either since the last court or over a longer period. In 1811 the steward drew up lists of arrears due from 1792, when the previous court had been held, and other amounts owing since 1769 and 1757. (fn. 278)
In August 1838 the trustees instructed their clerk to hold a court the following October. (fn. 279) This he duly summoned but secured the attendance of only five suitors, so that he was unable to swear a jury or transact any business, although a list of quit rents owing since 1834 was drawn up. (fn. 280) No further courts were held and thereafter the estate was simply administered by the trustees through their regular meetings, with a Northampton solicitor acting as clerk. (fn. 281) The collection of quit rents presumably lapsed during the 19th century, although the payment due from the manor of Cosgrove (and a quit rent payable by the trustees to the lord of Cosgrove) survived to be extinguished in December 1935. (fn. 282)
In 1787, 1821, 1838 and 1848 Cosgrove manor court nominated the same individuals for appointment as constable and thirdborough of Furtho as were also named in the Furtho court proceedings. (fn. 283)
In the mid 17th century the parishioners of Furtho paid a periodical levy for the relief of the poor and the repair of the church assessed at varying rates for different types of land. The manorial demesnes and meadows were rated at 3d. an acre, the arable and leys at 1½d. an acre; Knotwood, the main area of woodland in the parish, was rated at ½d. for each 'haigh'. Houses with no land paid 4½d. each. A levy on this basis in 1666, collected by the overseer and signed by the rector and three others, produced £5 19s. 11½d., of which Banastre Maynard paid over half (£3 5s.) for the demesnes, which were reckoned to extend to 260 a. Altogether the assessment listed 359 a. of demesnes and meadow (a heading which also included Knotwood) and 218 a. of arable and leys, a total of 577 a., about 83 per cent of the statute acreage of the parish. Either some land was exempt or (as seems more likely) the acreages were notional, used only as a basis for rates and taxes and not intended to be an accurate measure of the actual size of each holding. In addition to the parishioners of Furtho, the assessment also listed four holdings in Potterspury (totalling 9 a.), ten in Yardley Gobion (36 a., including 4 a. for Moor End) and four in Old Stratford (two houses with half an acre each and two other houses with no land). (fn. 284)
Furtho also maintained its own highways, principally (until it was turnpiked under an Act of 1707) (fn. 285) the half mile or so of Watling Street which formed the southern boundary of the parish. Edmund Arnold's steward's accounts include regular payments for highway rate in the 1660s, (fn. 286) which were quite distinct from the 5s. a year that Arnold paid to the inhabitants of Cosgrove in compensation for the stopping up of the highway between Cosgrove and Furtho by Thomas Furtho in the 1570s. (fn. 287)
For parliamentary taxation Furtho was assessed jointly with Cosgrove in the Middle Ages (fn. 288) and later, (fn. 289) which, certainly in the mid 17th century and probably at other times, led to conflict between the two parishes. In the 1660s Cosgrove, whose view on that occasion prevailed, claimed that Furtho should pay one third of the total due from the township as it had done for at least the previous forty years. Furtho strongly denied this, claiming that for the past twenty years they had been assessed 'by a pound rent', which is perhaps the formula already described for parochial rates and which presumably amounted to less, (fn. 290) although since Furtho contained almost exactly one third of the area of the two parishes forming the township (693 a. out of 2,137 a.) an apportionment on this basis appears to be equitable.
Shortly after he bought the manor, Edmund Arnold's servants warned him that the inhabitants of Cosgrove were much given to stirring up trouble both among themselves and between the two parishes, not only in oppressing the parishioners of Furtho with unreasonable assessments but also in trying to remove their poor into Furtho. (fn. 291) Arnold's steward also complained in the 1670s that, because of Cosgrove's claims concerning Furtho, he had been told that he would have to find accommodation for 100 soldiers out of the 300 to be quartered on the township. (fn. 292) The jurisdiction of the Cosgrove constable over Furtho is further illustrated by Arnold's payments of a tax on the manor of Furtho for the militia to the constable in the 1660s and 1670s. (fn. 293)
A rudimentary system of parish administration presumably continued in Furtho into the 18th and 19th centuries, although no papers have survived to illustrate its working, and in this period the repair of the church depended on appeals from the rector to the Arnold Trustees and other local landowners, rather than a rate. (fn. 294) Under the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act Furtho became part of Potterspury poor law union and thus from 1894 of Potterspury rural district. It was transferred to an enlarged Towcester rural district in 1935 and became part of South Northamptonshire district in 1974. (fn. 295) No evidence has been found to show that a parish meeting was ever convened under the 1894 Local Government Act and on several occasions Potterspury guardians had to appoint the tenant of Manor Farm as overseer, since the parish had failed to do so. (fn. 296)
In the 1190s the abbey of St. Pierre-sur-Dives was in dispute with Peter de Chamnet (or 'de Kainneto') and William Furtho concerning the advowson of the church (or chapel) of Furtho. (fn. 297) The local landholders were evidently successful for in 1226 William Furtho and Ralf 'de Chedneto' presented Aubrey de Pury to the living. (fn. 298) In 1277 Walter de Furtho presented his son Henry, a subdeacon, although he was removed five years later since he had failed to be ordained minister within a year of his presentation. (fn. 299) From the 13th century the advowson passed with the manor, first through successive generations of the Furtho family until the death of the last Edward Furtho in 1621, (fn. 300) and then to Anthony Staunton, Sir Robert Banastre, the Maynards and Edmund Arnold, who devised the living to Jesus College, Oxford. (fn. 301) In 1921 the rectory of Furtho was united with the vicarage of Potterspury with Yardley Gobion to become the united benefice of Potterspury with Furtho with Yardley Gobion. Potterspury was the parish church and the place of residence of the incumbent; Furtho joined Yardley Gobion as a chapel of ease. The patronage thereafter alternated between the dukes of Grafton (who later presented the advowson of Potterspury to the dean and chapter of Peterborough) and Jesus until 1984, (fn. 302) when the benefice was united with Cosgrove rectory, another dean and chapter living, leaving the college with only one turn in three. (fn. 303)
Income and property.
Furtho rectory does not appear in the taxation of 1254 or 1291. The living was worth £7 3s. in 1535, of which the 3s. was due to the archdeacon for synodals and procurations. (fn. 304) It was said to be worth £40 a year in 1655. (fn. 305) By 1849 the figure had risen to about £150, (fn. 306) at which it remained until the turn of the century. (fn. 307) A slightly lower figure (£110) was quoted immediately prior to the union with Potterspury. (fn. 308)
In 1686 the glebe included a house, barn, stable and gardens said to adjoin the king's highway on the west. (fn. 309) This must refer to the house on the Furtho side of Watling Street at the northern end of Old Stratford village, which appears always to have been a farmhouse, rather than a parsonage. The premises seem to have stood close to, if not on the site of, the former hermitage of Old Stratford, whose buildings were added after the Dissolution to the Furtho family's estate. (fn. 310) There is no evidence for a medieval parsonage near the church and, although the rector conveyed some land to the Furtho estate when the demesne was inclosed in 1571-2, there is no indication that a house was lost at the same time. (fn. 311)
Until the remainder of Cosgrove and Furtho was inclosed under the Act of 1767 the glebe included land in Moors Field, Middle Field and Quarry Field, as well as common meadows and leys. At inclosure the incumbent of Furtho received a consolidated allotment of 96 a. in Furtho in lieu of the former glebe and of all the tithes of Furtho tithing within the common fields of the joint township; the Arnold estate paid a modus of £20 7s. 6d. in lieu of tithes on the consolidated demesne. (fn. 312) In 1850 the Tithe Commission awarded a rent charge of £31 to the living in place of the modus, apparently to take account of some arreas that had accumulated. (fn. 313) Including a small area of old inclosure, the glebe totalled 99 a. in the later 19th century. (fn. 314) The tithe rent charge had fallen to £23 by 1894. (fn. 315)
In 1876 the vicar of Potterspury (as rector of Furtho) asked the Arnold Trustees if they would provide a site for a parsonage near the church, together with some money towards the cost of building, in return for his giving up the tithe rent charge, then worth £34 a year. However, even at 30 years' purchase (£940), and after deducting the cost of the site (4 a. at £65 a acre), the sale of the tithes would raise only £700, insufficient to build a house. Alternatively, he suggested that the trustees buy the advowson (which Jesus were said to be willing to sell) and erect a parsonage themselves. (fn. 316) Neither idea came to fruition. In 1881 the new rector, John Chalmers, who lived at Old Stratford, asked the trustees to improve the track up to the church. (fn. 317)
Almost all the glebe (now reckoned to amount to 100 a.) was sold in 1921 for £2,100 to the sitting tenant, Walter William Dickens, when the farm buildings were said to be in a most deplorable condition and those adjoining Watling Street a danger to the public. About half an acre on the main road was retained as a possible site for a district church to serve Old Stratford. When it became clear that a church would not be built this land was sold in 1933. (fn. 318)
Incumbents and church life.
From at least the mid 16th century, when the village was depopulated, the incumbency of Furtho can have been little more than a sinecure and was generally held in plurality with either an adjoining parish or another Jesus living. Edward Bune, instituted in 1552, was also rector of Grafton Regis; his two immediate successors were vicars of Potterspury; and two later rectors, Cuthbert Emerson and John Mansel, were also incumbents of Cosgrove. (fn. 319) In 1675 the inhabitants of Potterspury petitioned the patron (unsuccessfully) for their minister to be instituted to Furtho: not only was he wellregarded but his stipend from the vicarage of Potterspury was so small that he needed the additional income from Furtho. (fn. 320) In 1789 Nicholas Peter Dobree was presented by Jesus to what were described as the consolidated rectories of Furtho and Wigginton (Oxon.) as well as a benefice on Guernsey. (fn. 321) James Payne, rector between 1890 and 1906, who appears not to have held the living in plurality, complained that with virtually no parishioners he could barely afford to run the church: he had a collection at every service but half the congregation were members of his own family. (fn. 322) Payne, like his predecessor, lived at Old Stratford, but the last rector before the union with Potterspury, R.S. Mylne, lived in London and only visited to hold services. (fn. 323)
In 1851 the church had 130 free and 20 other sittings. On Census Sunday there was a congregation of 50 in the afternoon and 90 in the evening, apparently because Furtho was being used by the parishioners of Potterspury. The curate of Potterspury in charge of Furtho (which seems to have been regarded in that period as a chapel of ease to Potterspury) claimed that a congregation of 150 was not uncommon in the summer, when Furtho was apparently used in preference to the parish church. (fn. 324) This practice had clearly been abandoned by Payne's time, when the congregation was presumably drawn only from the handful of residents of Old Stratford whose houses lay in Furtho, since in that period the farmhouse on the Arnold estate was unoccupied. (fn. 325) The church continued to be used for afternoon services until about 1917, when the churchwarden, organist and other members of the congregation walked across the fields from Yardley Gobion. (fn. 326) After the union the vicar of Potterspury held an annual harvest service at Furtho until the Second World War. (fn. 327) Occasional services continue to be held there in the summer months.
The Parish Church.
The church of St. Batholomew comprises a chancel, nave and west tower. The church was extensively rebuilt, especially the nave and the tower, by Edward Furtho in 1620, as an inscription on the exterior of the south side of the nave records. The basically medieval chancel has 13th- and 14thcentury windows, and internally a piscina, tomb-recess and image-brackets of similar date; its oldest feature, a plain round-headed south doorway with a double-chamfered hoodmould on crude head-stops, may be re-set. The positioning of the 1620 tower, partly within the western bay of the remodelled nave, created a curious pair of 'lobbies' to the west of the new tower arch. The nave and tower windows, the chancel and tower arches, and the nave roof are of 1620, in a simple 'Perpendicular survival' style. There is a false roof with a steeper pitch, moulded tie beams, purlins and ridge. (fn. 328)
A new rector, John Williams Mason, was instituted in 1843, where he remained until 1880, and interest in restoring the church appears to date from the time of his arrival. (fn. 329) In 1848 the archdeacon unsuccessfully applied to the Arnold Trustees seeking help to repair the pews, floors, roof and bell. He noted that all were in a very bad state, but with a little expense Furtho might be made 'one of the nicest little churches in the archdeaconry'. The trustees declined, taking the view that they could not use their income for such a purpose. (fn. 330) They did, however, find about a third of the total cost of £100 to carry out fairly extensive repairs in 1870, (fn. 331) when the church was reseated and a Bath stone pulpit installed, together with a lectern and desk. John Bird, the trust's tenant and churchwarden, under whose auspices the restoration was carried out, provided a harmonium. (fn. 332)
After the union with Potterspury the incumbent raised the question of demolishing the church at Furtho, which the bishop advised against and suggested simply ceasing to hold regular services there, removing the fittings to use at Potterspury and Yardley Gobion, and keeping the churchyard fenced and tidy. In 1937 the vicar was asked by the Arnold Trustees to repair the churchyard wall to safeguard their tenant's stock; on this occasion the diocesan registrar emphasised that both church and churchyard remained open and that the P.C.C. was responsible for their upkeep, however few services were held there. (fn. 333) Furtho came closest to demolition in 1956, when the county surveyor agreed to a request from the diocese to take down the building at no cost in return for the use of the materials. (fn. 334) The proposal was not carried out and in 1972 the Friends of Friendless Churches, in collaboration with the Arnold Trust, restored the church and improved public access to the site. (fn. 335) Restoration was completed in 1975 and the first public services for over forty years held in 1977. (fn. 336) The setting of the church was improved as part of a wider landscaping scheme involving the dovecote and farm buildings, carried out by the Arnold trustees in the late 1990s.
On the north side of the chancel there is a marble monument, which once contained brass figures of a man and his two wives and probably commemorated Anthony Furtho (d. 1558), who was twice married. On the opposite side of the chancel is a monument to Edmund Arnold (d. 1676), (fn. 337) which was renewed in 1758 (fn. 338) and possibly at other times.
No school has ever existed in Furtho itself; in the 19th century children from the parish presumably attended those in Potterspury, Cosgrove or Old Stratford. After 1870 the parish was formally placed in Potterspury school district. (fn. 339)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
Edmund Arnold's will of 1675 included a bequest of 50s. to the poor of Furtho, who, as he observed, were few in number. (fn. 340) The parish did not benefit from the endowed charity he established by his will. (fn. 341)