Parishes: Milton Bryant or Bryan

Pages 417-421

A History of the County of Bedford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.

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Mydelton (xii cent.). (fn. 1)

The parish, which includes a small portion of Woburn Park, covers 1,551⅓ acres, of which 863 are pasture, 180 woods and plantations and 259 arable land. (fn. 2) The soil is loam and gravel, with a subsoil of clay. The ground rises gradually from 400 ft. on the borders of the parish to a ridge 530 ft. high in the centre, on which the village is placed.

The main road from Leighton Buzzard to Woburn crosses the parish and is connected with the village by two branches. These three roads, with a private road for the Duke of Bedford and Mr. Inglis, leading from the main road to the old inclosures of Hugh Inglis in Milton Bryant and a footway to the church, were appointed by the Act of Parliament of 1794, by which the parish was inclosed. (fn. 3)

The village stands in the highest part of the parish to the south of Woburn Park. It consists of two parts, the uppermost, Church End, containing the church, rectory and the Manor Farm, a modern building, the property of the Duke of Bedford.

The schools and Leys Farm stand midway between Church End and the main portion of the village, where is the manor-house, dating from the last half of the 17th century, surrounded by a small park. Miss Henrietta Synnot, the sole surviving representative of the Inglis family, still resides there, but the manor has been acquired by the Duke o Bedford.

A Wesleyan chapel was erected about thirty years ago over part of the village pond. There are a few half-timber thatched cottages in the village.

A small copse in the parish, Palmer's Shrubs, is mentioned under the form Palmer's Scrobs in 16th-century documents. Other place-names that are found are:—Le Hadlond (xvi cent.); Malkinwick (xvii cent.); Magway Furlong, Parson's Piece (xviii cent.).

No trace now exists in the parish of the windmill which is found mentioned in 17th-century documents. (fn. 4)


The manor of MILTON—later known as MILTON BRYAN or MILTON BRYAN—was held by Anti, a house carl of Earl Algar before the Conquest, and in 1086 consisted of 6 hides, forming part of the fief of Hugh de Beauchamp. (fn. 5) It was afterwards held of the barony of Bedford for the services due from one knight's fee, (fn. 6) and on the division of the Beauchamp lands the overlordship passed to the Mowbrays, Dukes of Norfolk. (fn. 7) The last mention of their rights in Milton Bryant occurs in 1470. (fn. 8)

No trace is to be found of the heirs of William Froissart, who was tenant in fee of the manor in 1086. (fn. 9) In the latter half of the 12th century it was in the possession of the Bryan family, whose name was adopted as an identification of their estate here. (fn. 10) The Bryans continued to hold during the next century, for in 1276 and 1284 Roger Le Strange the overlord held Milton Bryant in his capacity of guardian of the heir of Robert Bryan, (fn. 11) and in 1302–3 it was in the hands of Peter Bryan, (fn. 12) who was returned as part lord of the vill in 1316. (fn. 13) In 1315 he settled the manor upon his son and heir John, (fn. 14) who in 1344 alienated it in mortmain to the Abbot and convent of Woburn, Adam de Queldryck, vicar of Swanbourne, arranging the transaction probably as trustee. (fn. 15) The abbey, as will be seen below, had previously received grants of land in Milton Bryant, (fn. 16) and further increased its possession there later in the 14th century. (fn. 17)

Milton Bryant Manor, in which these other grants became absorbed, remained in the possession of Woburn Abbey until the Dissolution, when the estate was valued at £24 6s. 3¼d. per annum. (fn. 18) In 1542 this property was annexed by the Crown to the honour of Ampthill, (fn. 19) and in 1599 the manor was granted by Queen Elizabeth to Michael and Edward Stanhope and their heirs. (fn. 20) In 1601 Michael Stanhope sold it to Christopher Estwick, (fn. 21) who in 1606 settled the whole estate on his wife Anne and her issue, (fn. 22) and, dying in 1611, he was succeeded by his son, another Christopher, who was then a minor, (fn. 23) but who obtained a release of his father's lands in 1623. (fn. 24)

Three years later, however, he conveyed the manor of Milton Bryant to Sir Francis Staunton, kt., (fn. 25) whose younger son William obtained it by settlement from his father in 1632, and died seised of it in 1636. (fn. 26) His son and heir, another Francis, was then under age, but he apparently sold the manor circa 1655 (fn. 27) to William Johnson, who in 1657 was engaged in a suit with one of the tenants as to the metes and bounds, the latter declaring that Milton Bryant was a reputed manor only, and refused to attend the court baron until shown evidence to the contrary. (fn. 28)

Johnson. Argent a pile azure with three leopards' heads argent thereon.

Thomas Johnson succeeded to Milton Bryant on the death of his father William, and dealt with the property by fine in 1680. (fn. 29) He was High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1702–3, (fn. 30) and died in 1707, leaving the manor to his only son and heir Joseph. He was also sheriff of the county in 1726, (fn. 31) but died in 1742, when this branch of the family became extinct. By his will Milton Bryant passed to his third cousin Henry, descended from his great-grandfather's brother, William Johnson of Olney. He remained lord of the manor until his death in 1771, when he left the estate by will to his only surviving daughter Catherine, by his second wife Catherine, to the exclusion of his two daughters by a former wife. (fn. 32)

Catherine married Sir Hugh Inglis in 1784, and in the following year settled the manor upon her husband and herself and her issue. (fn. 33) After her death in 1792 it became the property of Sir Hugh, who was a director of the East India Company and was created a baronet in 1801. A monument by Chantrey was erected to his memory in Milton Bryant Church on his death in 1820.

His son and heir Robert Harry Inglis, for some time M.P. for the University of Oxford, inherited the estates of his mother, but died without issue in 1855. By his will he left Milton Bryant Manor to his widow Lady Inglis, (fn. 34) who resided at the manor-house in 1864. (fn. 35) Lady Inglis bequeathed the property to Miss Thornton, who was in possession in 1885, and in 1898 Miss Henrietta L. Synnot was lady of the manor. (fn. 36) In 1906 it was purchased from her by the Duke of Bedford, who is present lord of the manor, and whose whole property in Milton Bryant covers approximately 839 acres. (fn. 37)

Inglis. Azure a lion in a border argent and a chief or with three stars azure therein.

Four hides of land in Milton Bryant were held of the Bishop of Bayeux by Ansgot of Rochester at the time of the Domesday Survey, having been held formerly by seven sokemen. (fn. 38) The bishop's lands shortly afterwards escheated to the Crown, (fn. 39) and many of his fees were then held of the royal barony of Rochester. In the Testa de Nevill the overlordship of this estate is assigned to William de Aubervill, as part of his honour of Aubervill. (fn. 40) This is evidently a clerical error, for though William did hold the overlordship at this date it was as governor of Rochester Castle, (fn. 41) and at the close of the 13th century it was still parcel of the barony of Rochester. (fn. 42)

It has been found impossible to connect Ansgot, the Domesday tenant of the Bishop, or his heirs with the subsequent owners in fee. In the middle of the 13th century it was held in three portions by William de Upton, Richard de Eversholt and Dionisia daughter of Ralph. (fn. 43) William de Upton's (fn. 44) share, comprising 2 hides, was granted by him to the Abbot of Woburn, and may be represented by the 7 virgates of land which the abbot held in the reign of Henry III. (fn. 45) Certain service was rendered to William by the abbot for these 2 hides in 1276 (fn. 46) and 1284, (fn. 47) but before 1302 Woburn held them in frankalmoigne. (fn. 48) The portion held by Richard de Eversholt was probably united by him to his property in Eversholt, held of the same barony, and also appears to have been subsequently granted to Woburn Abbey. (fn. 49) These two portions represent the lands and meadows, rents and courts held by the abbey in 1291 and valued at £4 15s. In fruits of flocks and beasts the abbey had to the value of 66s. 8d. The abbey also received a grant of free warren in these lands in 1299. (fn. 50)

Dionisia daughter of Ralph, to whom is assigned the third part of this fee in Testa de Nevill, evidently married Walter de Harlington, for in 1236 Walter and Dionisia his wife quitclaimed certain lands in Milton Bryant, held in right of the latter, to Woburn Abbey. (fn. 51) The residue of their holding, comprising a hide of land, was held by Robert de Harlington in 1276, (fn. 52) 1284 and 1302–3. (fn. 53) His heir John de Harlington was in possession in 1346, (fn. 54) but before 1428 it was granted in mortmain to the monks of Woburn, (fn. 55) who thus acquired the whole of the lands held by Ansgot at Domesday, and their history is henceforward identical with that of Milton Bryant Manor (q.v.).

A so-called manor of MILTON BRYANT, which is first mentioned in 1592, possibly originated in lands and tenements called Auncells, parcel of the chief manor of Milton Bryant, which were leased for twenty-one years to George Bredyman in 1554, and in 1556 granted in fee to him and his wife Edith Brocas, one of the women of the Queen's Chamber. Edmund Bredyman, son of George and Edith, succeeded to the property on the death of his father in 1581, (fn. 56) and in 1585 conveyed it under the title of a 'manor' in Milton Bryan to Thomas Southwell as trustee. (fn. 57) It is later, however, mentioned as rents there, and as such was apparently annexed to the manor of Podington held by Edmund, and shares its subsequent history (q.v.).

The grant of Robert son of Bryan to Merton Priory in the reign of Henry II included, besides the church, 1 hide of land, which was evidently the nucleus of the property known later as MILTON GRANGE. The Abbot of Woburn obtained a licence from the bishop to acquire 3 virgates of this 1 hide at an annual rent of 20s. from the Prior of Merton before 1247, when William de Upton the rector endeavoured to claim for himself as right of his church the rent paid by Woburn. (fn. 58) The grange of Milton in 1291 yielded an annual rent of 21s. to the prior, (fn. 59) and in 1535 the abbey of Woburn was still its tenant, paying the same rent of 20s. to Merton Priory. (fn. 60) After the Dissolution the grange was annexed to the honour of Ampthill, (fn. 61) and before 1584 had been granted to Christopher Estwick, (fn. 62) who in 1596 settled it upon his wife Marion and his son Christopher on his marriage with Anne daughter of Arthur Brooke of Great Oakley (co. Northants). The elder Christopher died in 1598, (fn. 63) and the younger, his successor, purchased the manor of Milton Bryant in 1601. From this date the grange shares the history of the manor (q.v.) until its owner, Miss Henrietta Synnot, sold it in 1892 to the Duke of Bedford, whose successor acquired the manor in 1906. The grange farm property was then 126¼ acres in extent. (fn. 64)

The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem at Shingay had a view of frankpledge belonging to their manor in Eversholt, which extended into this parish. (fn. 65)


The church of ST. PETER consists of a chancel 24 ft. 10 in. by 15 ft. 9 in. and nave 42 ft. by 21 ft., both of early 12th-century date, to which have been added in modern times a north transept 12 ft. by 13 ft. 9 in., south transept 16 ft. 11 in. by 14 ft. 11 in., and a north-west tower 15 ft. square; between the tower and north transept is a modern porch.

The walls of the church are entirely covered with plaster.

The east window, inserted in the 15th century, has been restored; it consists of three cinquefoiled lights with perpendicular tracery beneath a four-centred head. In the north wall of the chancel is a small round-headed 12th-century window, and there is another, renewed externally, in the south wall, over a late 15th-century doorway; further to the west in this wall is a square-headed window of two lights in two chamfered orders. The eastern part of the south wall is thicker than the rest, and has an early 12th-century engaged shaft in the projecting angle, and it seems probable that the eastern part of the chancel was originally covered with a stone vault.

Milton Bryant Church from the South-west

The chancel arch is 12th-century work, but has been very largely restored; it has an edge roll, above which is a label of slight projection decorated with billet ornament; in the angles of the responds towards the nave are shafts with rude scalloped capitals and cushion bases.

To the north of the nave is a transept with several 18th and 19th-century memorial slabs of the Inglis family and a fine marble effigy of Sir Hugh Inglis, bart., 1820. The transept is lighted at the north end by a square-headed window of three cinquefoiled lights, and over it a single pointed light. On the opposite side of the nave is a south transept lighted from the south end by a square-headed window of three cinquefoiled lights. These transepts were built in the last century, and are shown in a drawing of 1835.

The north doorway is of late 15th-century work in two moulded orders, the inner of which is pointed, and the outer has a square head with a label over; in the spandrels are quatrefoiled panels with plain shields. There is a modern porch over this doorway taking up the space between the transept and the tower, which is also modern. In the south wall of the nave are two small round-headed 12th-century windows, with deeply splayed jambs on the inside. The west window is modern, of four cinquefoiled lights, with a square head. Over it is a round-headed 12th-century window.

The tower is to the north of the west end of the nave, and dates from c. 1840. It is built in three stages, with square buttresses at the angles of slight projection; in each side of the two lowest stages, except the lowest where it adjoins the church, is a single pointed light in two chamfered orders. The belfry windows consist of two pointed lights side by side. The tower is crowned by an embattled parapet.

The nave roof is steep pitched, of 14th-century date, in four bays. There are brackets to the principal rafters, carved with the heads of men on the north side and of women on the south. There are two purlins on each side, and the panels thus formed are plastered.

There are three 14th-century trusses to the chancel, but the rest of this roof is modern; both transepts have plaster ceilings. The roofs of the church are tiled.

The font is circular, dating from the 12th century, with four rough pilasters on a modern pedestal.

In the porch are two old chests with wrought-iron strapwork. In the tower is a 17th-century table and in the chancel a 17th-century chair.

Near the entrance to the south transept is an interesting and early coffin-lid, probably of the 10th or 11th century, discovered when excavating for the tower foundations.

There are three bells: the treble by I. K. (James Keene), 1641, with a stamp a fleur de lis; the second by Richard Chandler, 1636; the tenor by Taylor of Loughborough, 1883.

The plate consists of a communion cup and paten cover, the former having delicate embossed bands of ornament to the stand, date letter 1611; a modern electro-plated foot-paten and flagon; also a set given by the Duke of Bedford in 1874, consisting of a communion cup, glass flagon, paten, almsdish and spoon, all silver gilt. There is also a pewter flagon, with C B on four shields on the lid and the letters W L on the thumb-piece.

The registers previous to 1813 are in nine books: (1) all entries 1559 to 1653; (2) 1653 to 1684; (3) baptisms 1678 to 1706; (4) marriages and burials 1687 to 1705; (5) all entries 1702 to 1745; (6) all (marriages to 1754) 1745 to 1788; (7) marriages 1754 to 1787; (8) the same (printed) 1789 to 1812; (9) baptisms and burials (printed) 1789 to 1812.


The church of Milton Bryant was granted by Robert son of Bryan to Merton Priory shortly after its foundation, in the reign of Henry II, (fn. 66) and that monastery continued to hold the patronage of the rectory until the Dissolution, when it lapsed to the Crown, with which it has since remained. (fn. 67)

In 1291 the church was valued at £6 13s. 4d., (fn. 68) and in 1535 this sum had increased to £11 16s. 2d., after deducting the annual pension of 6s. 8d. paid to the prior from the rectory. (fn. 69)

The farm of one tenement, 24 acres of land, a close and half an acre of meadow in tenure of Henry Field formed the endowment for an obit in Milton Bryant Church annually, at the feasts of the Annunciation and St. Michael the Archangel, and the farm of 2 acres of land in the tenure of the churchwardens was given for the support of a light in the church. At the time of the dissolution of the chantries by Edward VI these lands, after payment of 5s. to the poor of the parish, yielded clear by year 9s. (fn. 70)


The Charity Estate consists of eleven cottages and a farm of 33 acres, net rental about £72 a year, applicable for the benefit of the town generally, and a sum of £63 19s. 10d. consols, accumulating with the official trustees until required. In 1907 a grant of £10 was made to the wardens for lighting and heating and a sum of £34 4s. in augmenting subscriptions to a coal club. Considerable expense is entailed in keeping the cottages in repair. A disused gravel pit, 1 acre in extent, is let in allotments, producing about £2 a year, which is carried to the general expenses.

In 1853 Miss Mary Louisa Inglis, by will proved at London 17 November, left £100 for providing a church clock and £100 for winding and keeping the same in repair. Trust fund, £120 0s. 1d. consols, with the official trustees, producing £3 a year.

The Inglis School Endowment, founded by Sir Robert Harry Inglis, bart., and Dame Mary Inglis, comprised in deeds of 26 November 1853 and 30 March 1867. (fn. 71) The annuity of £80 was redeemed in 1906 by the transfer to the official trustees of £2,666 13s. 4d. India 3 per cent. stock, who also hold a further sum of £63 11s. 8d. like stock arising from sale of a school site. The charity is regulated by a scheme of 10 June 1907. The annual income, amounting to £81 18s., is subject to the repair and preservation of two transepts in the parish church and of the monuments to the memory of the Inglis and Johnson families. Applicable for the benefit of the elementary schools.

A certified Industrial School for boys, founded by the Inglis family, formerly carried on at Clapham, London, also exists in this parish.


  • 1. This parish derives its distinctive name from the family of Bryan, large landowners here from the 12th to the 14th century. The t which appears at the end of Bryan from the end of the 18th century is an error which custom has hitherto sanctioned.
  • 2. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 3. King's Bench Plea Rolls, Mich. 36 Geo. III, m. 1859.
  • 4. Recov. R. Trin. 2 Chas. I, rot. 54; Feet of F. Beds. Mich. 32 Chas. II.
  • 5. V.C.H. Beds. i, 239a.
  • 6. Feud. Aids, i, 1.
  • 7. Ibid. i, 24, 43; Chan. Inq. p.m. 1 Edw. IV, no. 46.
  • 8. Cal. Pat. 1467–77, p. 191.
  • 9. V.C.H. Beds. i, 239a. He held the manor of Lower Gravenhurst also, and it descended to the Bryan family (ibid. ii, 236).
  • 10. Robert son of Bryan, probably the founder of the family, granted the church of Milton to Merton Priory in the reign of Henry II.
  • 11. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 4; Feud. Aids, i, 1.
  • 12. Feud. Aids, i, 8.
  • 13. Ibid. 21.
  • 14. Feet of F. Beds. 9 Edw. II.
  • 15. Ibid. 17 Edw. III; Cal. Pat. 1343–5, p. 212.
  • 16. Ibid. 1281–92, p. 427; Chan. Inq. p.m. temp. Hen. III, no. 214.
  • 17. Cal. Pat. 1391–6, p. 702.
  • 18. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 212.
  • 19. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvii, 28 (21).
  • 20. Pat. 41 Eliz. pt. xvii, m. 16.
  • 21. Close, 43 Eliz. pt. xxii.
  • 22. Feet of F. Beds. Mich. 4 Jas. I.
  • 23. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccxxvii, 94.
  • 24. Fine R. 21 Jas. I, pt. iii, no. 11.
  • 25. Recov. R. Trin. 2 Chas. I, rot. 54. A windmill is here included in the extent of the manor.
  • 26. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccclxxxi, 85.
  • 27. He had held a court about eighteen months after the purchase of the manor, and after a further eighteen months it was the subject of the suit of 1657.
  • 28. Exch. Dep. East. 1657, no. 6.
  • 29. Feet of F. Beds. Mich. 32 Chas. II.
  • 30. P.R.O. Lists and Indexes, ix.
  • 31. Ibid.
  • 32. Misc. Gen. et Her. (new ser.), ii, 122.
  • 33. Feet of F. Beds. Mich. 26 Geo. III.
  • 34. Misc. Gen. et Her. (new ser.), ii, 122.
  • 35. Bedford Dir. for 1864.
  • 36. Old Directories for Bedfordshire.
  • 37. Information supplied by Mr. Prothero, agent to the Duke of Bedford.
  • 38. V.C.H. Beds. i, 223b.
  • 39. Ibid. 196.
  • 40. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 243.
  • 41. Dugdale, Baronage.
  • 42. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 4; Feud. ids, i, 1.
  • 43. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 243.
  • 44. He was at this time rector of Milton Bryant Church, which, with 1 hide of land as endowment, belonged to Merton Priory (Assize R. 4, m. 1 d.).
  • 45. Chan. Inq. p.m. temp. Hen. III, no. 214.
  • 46. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 4.
  • 47. Feud. Aids, i, 1.
  • 48. Ibid. 8. The services were possibly due only until the death of William.
  • 49. See Eversholt.
  • 50. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 49a; Chart. R. 27 Edw. I, no. 92.
  • 51. Feet of F. Beds. Mich. 20 Hen. III.
  • 52. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 4.
  • 53. Feud. Aids, i, 1, 8.
  • 54. Ibid. 24.
  • 55. Ibid. 43.
  • 56. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccciv, 49.
  • 57. Feet of F. Beds. Trin. 34 Eliz.
  • 58. Cott. MS. Cleop. C vii.
  • 59. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 49. The extra shilling here may represent the rent of the remainder of the 1 hide which in 1247 was held by John de Ekenden and Richard de Upton.
  • 60. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 213.
  • 61. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cclxiii, 97.
  • 62. Beds. N. and Q. ii, 135. In this year he obtained leave to build a pew in the church, an act which embroiled him in a quarrel with one of the churchwardens (Cott. MS. Cleop. F ii, fol. 226b).
  • 63. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cclxiii, 97.
  • 64. Information supplied by Mr. Prethero, agent to the Duke of Bedford.
  • 65. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 6, 19; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xv, 613 (1).
  • 66. Assize R. 4, m. 1 d.; Dugdale, Mon. vi, 247.
  • 67. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 68. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 35, 41.
  • 69. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 210.
  • 70. Brown, Beds. Chant. Cert. 55.
  • 71. See article on 'Schools,' V.C.H. Beds. ii, 183 n.