A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The compact parish of Eltisley, which extends to 1,970 a., (fn. 1) lies on the borders of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire about 5 miles east of St. Neots and 12 miles west of Cambridge. Its boundaries with Great Gransden on the south and Yelling on the north-west are also the county boundaries. Land in Kingsfield, regarded as being in Caxton in 1279, seems to have been transferred to Eltisley by the 16th century, (fn. 2) and in 1841 land called Great Kingsfield and Little Kingsfield lay in the northeast part of the parish near Caxton and Papworth Everard. (fn. 3) The boundaries of Eltisley do not in general follow marked geographical features and in many places seem to be marked by isolated trees. (fn. 4)
The parish is predominantly flat, being in effect on a plateau about 200 ft. above sea level. The depression at Papley Hollow in the north, though shallow by most standards, provides a marked contrast to the general nature of the terrain. The soil is throughout a heavy clay upon gault which, together with the flatness of the land, renders drainage difficult. Eastern brook, flowing eastwards into Caxton, and a stream running through Papley Hollow into Yelling are the principal drainage channels. (fn. 5) Apart from a few closes of grass mainly south of the village, the farm-land is predominantly under arable cultivation. The parish was inclosed in 1868. (fn. 6)
The names of both Eltisley and Papley suggest Anglo-Saxon settlement in a wooded area. (fn. 7) There is evidence that assarting from the wood was still in progress from the late 12th century. (fn. 8) In 1279 the owners of the three manors of the parish had 58 a. of wood between them. (fn. 9) There was evidently a substantial demesne wood c. 1605 when Thomas Leeds, lessee of two-thirds of Stowe and Musters manors, was alleged to have cut down about 32 a. of underwood worth £130 and some 'standards' also to the great prejudice of the inhabitants of Eltisley and the neighbouring towns. (fn. 10) By the early 19th century Eltisley wood (69 a.) had emerged in its modern form. It was then owned by Samuel Newton and geographically formed part of Manor farm, though it was not leased with it. (fn. 11) The small wood at Papley Grove is presumably the remains of the wood at Papley which belonged to the prioress of Hinchingbrooke (Hunts.). (fn. 12) There is also a softfruit orchard south of Papley Grove.
The village of Eltisley is in the southern half of the parish and is centred mainly upon a large green at the junction of two ancient roads, the main road from Cambridge to St. Neots and the secondary road from St. Ives to Potton. The church stands just west of the green which is fronted by several buildings dating from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. (fn. 13) It is probable, therefore, that the green has long been the site of the main settlement. There was, however, another green at Caxton End, formerly East End: its remains, which were divided into allotments for the villagers in 1868, (fn. 14) stand north of the lane which leads from the south-east corner of the village green to Caxton. A document of 1456 distinguishes between villagers dwelling in 'le Estende' and 'le Upende'. (fn. 15) There is a medieval moated site at each of the greens and there are similar sites at Manor Farm, midway between the two, and at the northern edge of Eltisley wood. (fn. 16) It appears, therefore, that since medieval times the village has had at least two centres. Jesus College Farm, a 17th-century building, stands by Caxton End green (fn. 17) which, however, has few other noteworthy buildings and has probably long been secondary in importance to the other, which was known apparently as 'Great Green' in 1851 (fn. 18) and later simply as the Green. In 1868 the Green was set aside for the exercise and recreation of the parish and its neighbourhood, (fn. 19) though the parish council was accustomed later to let it annually by auction for sheep pasture. (fn. 20) Cricket is played on the Green in summer and a pavilion for the purpose stands on its east side.
There is a small cluster of buildings a short way south of the Green at Potton End where the Potton road makes an S bend. West Farm, midway between Potton End and the Green, includes a barn probably dating from the 16th century. (fn. 21) In the north part of the parish Papley contains the same place-name element as Papworth Everard, which adjoins Eltisley on the north. (fn. 22) At Papley Grove there is a medieval moated site, and also a farm-house with service cottages on the St. Ives road. (fn. 23) Pembroke Farm, an isolated homestead in the north-east part of the parish, was also built after 1868. (fn. 24) Modern building in Eltisley consists almost entirely of a housing estate built in the angle between the Green and the lane leading to Caxton End.
Ease of communications may have contributed to the doubling of the population between 1801 and 1871 (fn. 25) in what was agriculturally a poor parish. The road from Potton to St. Ives was turnpiked in 1755 (fn. 26) and that from Cambridge to St. Neots, perhaps the road known as Potter Street c. 1230 (fn. 27) and in 1408, (fn. 28) was turnpiked under an Act of 1772. (fn. 29) A toll-house stood north of the Green in the angle of the Cambridge and St. Ives roads. (fn. 30) There was still a toll-gate keeper in 1851. (fn. 31) In 1968 the site was occupied by an electricity sub-station. The lane leading to Caxton, in 1968 known as Caxton Drift and metalled only as far as Caxton End, may have been formerly an important thoroughfare. In the 15th century it seems to have been referred to as the king's highway from St. Neots to Caxton. (fn. 32) By the mid 18th century, however, it was called simply the common way to Caxton. (fn. 33) Before inclosure the parish was traversed by a complex system of tracks giving access to the open-field strips and used also as sheep-walks. Many have since disappeared but some remain as bridle-ways. One left the St. Neots road opposite the church and led to Yelling. A port way may have run northeastwards towards Cambridge. (fn. 34) A recent development in the road system has been the cutting of a new road from Potton End to the St. Neots road near the boundary with Croxton, which has enabled some through traffic to avoid the village completely and has concentrated almost all the remainder on the road along the north side of the Green, leaving its other two sides relatively free from traffic.
Twenty-seven peasants were recorded at Eltisley in 1086. (fn. 35) Forty villagers paid tax in 1327 (fn. 36) and 136 adults paid poll tax in 1377. (fn. 37) The last figure, the third highest in the hundred, was still considerably lower than that of the large villages of Bourn and Gamlingay. (fn. 38) In 1525 36 persons paid the subsidy, (fn. 39) and there were 20 families in 1563. (fn. 40) There seem to have been at least 20 'poor' households in the parish in 1599. (fn. 41) The hearth-tax returns suggest that Eltisley had lost ground to other villages in terms of population. In 1666 35 tenements in the parish were either taxed or exempt, a total exceeded by six other places in the hundred. (fn. 42) In 1676 the parish contained 90 adults. (fn. 43) The population was estimated as 36 families and 130 people in 1728, figures which seem to agree closely with the hearth-tax returns. (fn. 44) About 1793 there were said to be 330 inhabitants, (fn. 45) but in 1801 only 250. The population increased each census year until 1871 when it stood at 504. Equally consistent decline then began and continued until 1961 when there were only 253 inhabitants in the parish. (fn. 46)
Most of the noteworthy buildings in Eltisley are farm-houses and three of these, Manor Farm, Jesus College Farm, and Green Farm, are described below. (fn. 47) Pond Farm, standing on a moated site on the east side of the Green, is an early Tudor framed building with modern alterations and additions. (fn. 48) A building known as the Old House stands at the west end of the Green near the church. It appears to have been built in 1612 for James Disbrowe. (fn. 49) The Disbrowes owned the rectory in that period (fn. 50) and the building's proximity to the church may suggest that it occupies the site of the former Rectory. Traces of a water-garden probably belonging to the house extend to the churchyard. (fn. 51) When offered for sale in 1963 the house was said to have been recently used as 'a high-class tea café'. (fn. 52) In 1968 it was a private house. On the north side of the Green is a two-storeyed framed and plastered house built in the late 15th or early 16th century. There is also a number of cottages in the village dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 53)
The Leeds Arms standing at the northern apex of the Green is a brick building of the late 18th century. (fn. 54) It was kept as an inn in 1851 (fn. 55) and was probably the public house in Eltisley paying land-tax in 1829. (fn. 56) It was still open in 1968. The Beehive public house at Potton End was probably the establishment kept by Peter Chandler in 1851. (fn. 57) It was still in use in 1937 (fn. 58) but in 1968 was undergoing conversion.
Among notable residents of Eltisley should be mentioned John Disbrowe (or Desborough) (1608– 80), son of James Disbrowe of Eltisley. In 1636 he married Oliver Cromwell's sister Jane in Eltisley church. He became major-general for the west and was prominent in the revolutions that followed Cromwell's death. (fn. 59) In 1657 he purchased the manor of Eltisley (fn. 60) but is not known to have lived there. His brother Samuel (1619–90), also born at Eltisley, was keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland during the Interregnum. (fn. 61)
Manors and Other Estates.
Before 1066 Eltisley had formed part of the estates of Earl Alfgar (d. c. 1062). By 1086 it had come into the possession of the canons of the cathedral church of St. Mary, Bayeux (Calvados). It was then assessed at 3 hides (fn. 62) and was the only manor which the canons held in chief in England, although they also held Mitcham (Surr.) mediately from the bishop of Bayeux. It is not known when the canons lost their English possessions, though it may have been shortly after the bishop's forfeiture and exile in 1088. (fn. 63)
Between c. 1160 and 1169 Niel, bishop of Ely, confirmed grants of land in Eltisley made by Roger de Mowbray and his son Niel. (fn. 64) It is not known when the Mowbrays obtained Eltisley and no connexion has been found between it and any other member of their extensive fee. In 1232–3 and 1242–3 the manor was held for ¾ knight's fee of the barony of Mowbray, (fn. 65) and in 1279 for 2/3 knight's fee of the heir of Roger de Mowbray (d. 1266). (fn. 66) It continued to be held of the Mowbrays, later earls of Nottingham and dukes of Norfolk, although no reference to it has been found in inquisitions relating to the property of that family. (fn. 67) In 1468 Eltisley was held of John Mowbray, duke of Norfolk. (fn. 68) The male line of the Mowbrays ended in 1476 (fn. 69) and in that year the manor was said to be held of the king. (fn. 70) In 1590 and 1634, however, it was stated to be held of the manor of Caxton: (fn. 71) the reason is not clear, although it may be significant that in 1361 Thomas of Eltisley was said to hold his estate in Eltisley of John de Freville, lord of Caxton. (fn. 72)
It is probable that in the mid 12th century the manor was held of the Mowbrays by Roger de Condet (fn. 73) who appears to have been Roger de Mowbray's sewer (dapifer). (fn. 74) It seems to have passed to the Argentine family of Upleatham (Yorks. N.R.). In 1202 it was held by Roger son of Peter of Upleatham who had married Agnes, a daughter and heir of William de Argentine (d. by 1185). (fn. 75) Roger de Argentine, son of Roger and Agnes, held Eltisley (fn. 76) and died without issue after 1217. His heirs were his sisters, Christine, wife of Albert de Craster, and Agnes, (fn. 77) who before 1225 married Philip FitzErnis. (fn. 78) Eltisley seems to have formed part of Agnes's inheritance. (fn. 79) About 1236 and in 1242–3, however, it was held by Henry de Longchamp, the origin and nature of whose interest in it are unknown. (fn. 80) Agnes de Argentine was still living in 1254 when she made Philip FitzErnis her attorney in a fine. (fn. 81)
The name Philip FitzErnis occurs at Eltisley between 1225 and 1310 but it is not known how many individuals are represented. In 1274–5 the heir of Philip FitzErnis was said to hold 1 carucate in Barford St. Martin (Wilts.) of the heir of Roger de Mowbray (fn. 82) but in 1279 Philip FitzErnis was stated to be lord of Eltisley. (fn. 83) Sir Philip FitzErnis of Eltisley was living in 1310 (fn. 84) but was dead in 1316 when his widow Sarah and her husband Walter le Bret claimed dower in Eltisley and Barford St. Martin. The manor was then held by Baldwin of Stowe and his wife Agnes, (fn. 85) perhaps a daughter of Philip FitzErnis. Baldwin had been succeeded by Philip of Stowe, perhaps his son, by 1327. (fn. 86) Philip was dead by 1346 (fn. 87) and in the same year John le Ward of Trumpington held Eltisley. (fn. 88) John, however, had only a life-interest in the manor, which descended in moieties, one owned by John Goldingham of Chigwell (Essex) and Eleanor, his wife, and the other by Sir Alan Buxhull. It is probable that the wives of John and Alan were the heirs of Philip of Stowe. In 1349 Sir Alan Buxhull granted the reversion of his moiety, after the death of John le Ward, to Thomas of Eltisley, rector of Lambeth (Surr.), and others, apparently acting as feoffees. (fn. 89) In the same year John and Eleanor Goldingham granted their moiety to Thomas of Eltisley and others. (fn. 90) Those feoffees seem to have settled the whole manor, which became known as STOWE or GOLDINGHAMS, on Sir Alexander Goldingham, son of John and Eleanor. (fn. 91)
Alexander died in 1408, devising to his widow, Isabel, a life-interest in Eltisley (fn. 92) which afterwards passed to his son, Sir Walter Goldingham. (fn. 93) Walter died before 1435 (fn. 94) and after the death of his widow, Elizabeth, the manor descended in two moieties to their daughters, Eleanor and Cecily. Cecily married William Chilton, or Chitterne, whose son, also William, died in 1458 when his moiety reverted to his aunt, Eleanor Goldingham, who had married John Mannock of Stoke by Nayland (Suff.). (fn. 95) Eleanor died in 1468 seised of the whole manor which remained with her husband until his death in 1471. (fn. 96) John Mannock was succeeded by his son John (d. 1476), whose son and heir, George Mannock, was a minor at his father's death. (fn. 97) George Mannock died in 1541 and was followed by his son William (d. 1558). (fn. 98) William's son Francis (d. 1590) devised to his wife Anne a life-interest in the estate, (fn. 99) but she was a recusant and in 1591 two-thirds of the manor was sequestrated by the Crown and leased to William Twittye. (fn. 100) In 1599 Thomas Leeds of Croxton was granted the lease of the two-thirds of the estate. (fn. 101) After Anne's death the manor descended to her son William Mannock (d. 1616), (fn. 102) although in 1611 two-thirds was still under sequestration because of his recusancy. (fn. 103) William's son, Sir Francis Mannock (cr. bt. 1627) died seised of the manor in 1634. (fn. 104) Sir Francis's son Sir Francis was a recusant and Eltisley was again under sequestration in 1650 when it was leased to Isaac Disbrowe. (fn. 105)
In 1653 the Committee for Compounding allowed the petition of the creditors of Sir Francis for the release to them of the manor. (fn. 106) In 1657 Mannock sold it to Major-General John Disbrowe (or Desborough) (d. 1680) (fn. 107) who devised it to his eldest surviving son, Valentine. (fn. 108) Valentine Disbrowe held the manor in 1706 but had been succeeded by John Disbrowe by 1710. (fn. 109) The manor is said to have been devised by John Disbrowe, by will dated 1741, to the two sons of his nephew, William Walford of Bocking (Essex). (fn. 110) In 1789 the Revd. William Walford, Mary Walford, widow, and Thomas Walford sold it to Edward Leeds of Croxton Park. (fn. 111) Thereafter the manor has descended with Croxton. (fn. 112)
There are several medieval moated sites in Eltisley most of which were owned by Samuel Newton of Croxton Park in 1841. (fn. 113) None has been certainly identified as the site of the original manor-house. In 1807, however, the manor-house, described as 'of the old sort', was moated and used as a farmhouse. Manorial courts were still held there. (fn. 114) It is possible that that building may have been the Manor Farm marked on the tithe map of 1841, which stands on a moated site and dates from the late Middle Ages. It was remodelled in the 17th century and has later additions and alterations. (fn. 115)
The manor of MUSTERS can be traced back to 1202 when Roger son of Peter granted to Lisiard de Musters (de Monasteriis) a third of the vill of Eltisley in exchange for the advowson of the church. (fn. 116) It was then stated that Lisiard's father, Robert de Musters (d. before 1189), had held that portion of the vill. (fn. 117) Lisiard himself confirmed Hinchingbrooke Priory in part of his estate there which they had held in 1189. (fn. 118) The Musters family had been lords of Kirklington (Yorks. N.R.) since 1086 and owned other properties, mostly in the north of England. (fn. 119) Lisiard de Musters was dead by 1228 (fn. 120) and in 1231 Gerbert de Plaiz and his wife, Basile (de Musters), granted 8 bovates of land in Eltisley to Lisiard's son, Robert de Musters, in exchange for land at Kirklington and Sinderby (Yorks. N.R.). (fn. 121) Robert was succeeded by John de Musters who appears to have held the manor in 1251. (fn. 122) John's son Robert held it of Philip FitzErnis in 1279. (fn. 123) He died c. 1300 and Kirklington passed to his son, William. (fn. 124)
The descent of Musters manor in Eltisley is uncertain. In 1327 a Robert de Musters contributed 7s. 3d. to the tax presumably in respect of that manor. (fn. 125) In 1334 Robert de Musters, parson of Lolworth, quitclaimed a manor in Eltisley to Philip of Stowe and his wife Maud. (fn. 126) Before 1330 Philip had married Maud, widow of Robert de Musters of Kirklington. (fn. 127) Maud outlived Philip, and in 1347 had rights in an estate in Eltisley said to have been granted formerly to Sir William Basset and Henry, son of John de Musters, and his wife, Alice, by Sir John de Musters. (fn. 128) It seems that Musters manor was absorbed into the principal manor of Eltisley during the 14th century, probably as a result of the marriage of Philip of Stowe and Maud. The manors of Stowe and Musters were certainly united by 1452 and remained so. (fn. 129) Wood and demesne land known as Musters were referred to in the 15th and 16th centuries, (fn. 130) but the site of the manor-house is unknown.
The manor of PAPLEY originated in a series of grants of land in Eltisley and Caxton made to Hinchingbrooke Priory (Hunts.) between the mid 12th century and early 14th. (fn. 131) In 1279 the priory held a messuage called Papley, 16 a. of arable, and 12 a. of wood in demesne in Eltisley. (fn. 132) Its lands in Kingsfield, originally part of Caxton, (fn. 133) seem to have been regarded as being in Eltisley by the 16th century. (fn. 134) At the Dissolution Papley was granted to Richard Williams alias Cromwell (fn. 135) who sold it to William Marshall of Eltisley in 1540. It then consisted of 130 a., about 10 a. of which lay in Papworth Everard. (fn. 136) The estate was sometimes called the manor of Papworth Everard. (fn. 137)
In 1544 William Marshall purchased a further messuage and 44 a. in Eltisley called Mitchell's from Thomas Smith of Bedford. Smith had purchased the estate in 1522 from the executors of Robert Mounford. (fn. 138) In 1549 Marshall also bought a pightle and 4 a. of land which had been given for an anniversary in Eltisley church. (fn. 139) Those two properties appear to have been merged with the Papley estate. (fn. 140) William Marshall died in 1551 and his lands passed to his brother John. (fn. 141) By will proved in 1591 John Marshall devised most of his estates, including those mentioned above, to his elder son William, (fn. 142) who sold Papley manor to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 1593. (fn. 143) The estate remained with the college until 1899 when it was sold to Ernest Hooley of Papworth Hall. (fn. 144) In 1911 and 1916 it was offered for sale under the title of Papley Grove manor as part of the Papworth Hall estate. (fn. 145)
There is a medieval moated site at Papley Grove which presumably marks the location of the manorhouse. (fn. 146) In 1541, however, the 'mansion' belonging to the estate appears to have stood in the village by Cambridge Way. (fn. 147) In 1770 the farm-house was described as a rough-cast and tiled building, but its location was not stated. (fn. 148) The homestead belonging to the estate stood at Papley Grove in 1841. (fn. 149) The modern farm-house and buildings at Papley Grove, however, appear to have been built by Emmanuel College after the inclosure of 1868. (fn. 150)
The nucleus of what later became JESUS COLLEGE FARM appears to have been the copyhold land (20 a.) formerly held by John Canon and then by Richard Mitchell, to which Joan Stowe, widow of Richard, and her son David Mitchell were admitted tenants in 1494. (fn. 151) Gerard Mitchell succeeded his father David in 1550 and was followed by John Mitchell the elder in 1571, when the addition of other copyhold land had enlarged the tenement to over 40 a. John Mitchell the elder died in or before 1573 and his widow Elizabeth held the estate for life. (fn. 152) After her death it passed to John Mitchell who sold it in 1633 to John Jeanes, (fn. 153) who in 1639 conveyed the Mitchell property to Thomas Knight, vicar of Swavesey. (fn. 154) In 1653 Knight purchased from John Peaseley a further 15 a. of copyhold land. (fn. 155) The copyhold of Knight's estate, amounting to some 90 a., was enfranchised in 1658. (fn. 156)
By will dated that year Knight devised his estate to his wife Mary, who subsequently married Thomas Docwra. (fn. 157) In 1702 Mary Docwra of Soham conveyed it to Ursula Cockayne, also of Soham, who by will dated 1706 devised it to Mary Cockayne, her niece, (fn. 158) who in 1724 married John Edwards and brought him the estate. (fn. 159) Three years later Edwards obtained a further 24 a. in Eltisley. (fn. 160) He was dead by 1749 by which time his widow had remarried. In 1756 she, as Mary Forster, and her son John Edwards sold the estate, which consisted of c. 160 a., to Jesus College, Cambridge, (fn. 161) which had it as part of the Rustat Trust property. (fn. 162) The farm remained in the possession of the college until 1921 when it was sold to the tenant, a Mr. Topham. (fn. 163) The farmhouse which belonged to the estate in 1756 appears to have stood on the site of David Mitchell's mes- suage. (fn. 164) It was described as an old inferior house in 1814. (fn. 165) The farm-house was still standing in 1968 in Caxton End, south of the way to Caxton, and dates from the early 17th century. (fn. 166)
PEMBROKE FARM appears to have had its origin in small parcels of freehold land acquired by Richard and Henry Jordan between 1346 and 1399 and by Henry Dicon between 1404 and 1408. (fn. 167) In 1488 Thomas, son of John Dicon of Eltisley, conveyed 6 a. to Gerard Skipwith, rector of Eltisley, and Gerard Hammond. (fn. 168) In 1501 Skipwith acquired another 14 a. from Robert, son of John Woodward. (fn. 169) By will dated 1503 Skipwith devised a life-interest in his tenements in Eltisley to his relative, Anne. After her death they were to pass to Pembroke College, Cambridge, of which he was a fellow. (fn. 170) In 1504 Isabel Hammond, his sister, conveyed 20 a. to Pembroke College in trust. (fn. 171) In 1540 William Weldysh and his wife Anne, apparently the beneficiary under Skipwith's will, conveyed a messuage and 84 a. of land in Eltisley to William Cook who in the same year enfeoffed the college with that estate. (fn. 172) In 1599 it was still known as Dicon's and was extended at 58 a. (fn. 173)
The farm-house may have been the messuage which had once belonged to the hospital of Burton Lazars (Leics.). (fn. 174) In 1599 it stood north of the Green and was apparently on the same site in 1841. (fn. 175) At inclosure, however, the college was allotted 78 a. in the north-east part of the parish and a new farmhouse and buildings were erected north of the Cambridge road, near the boundary with Papworth Everard. (fn. 176) The college sold the farm to Ernest Hooley of Papworth Hall in 1899, and it was offered for sale as part of the Papworth Hall estate in 1911. (fn. 177)
By will proved 1716 Dr. Daniel Williams, the nonconformist divine, devised the reversion of an estate in Eltisley jointly to St. Thomas's Hospital and the London workhouse in Bishopsgate Street. The estate, which was part copyhold and part freehold, was then worth £55 a year and was occupied by a widow named Mason, (fn. 178) perhaps Rebecca, widow of Simon Mason, who was involved in litigation over an estate in Eltisley in 1691. (fn. 179) The estate was held jointly by the hospital and the workhouse and managed by the former. (fn. 180) In 1781 it consisted of 250 a., all but 20 a. being dispersed arable. (fn. 181) In 1829 the property of the workhouse was vested in the corporation of London for the establishment of a corporation school. The school, known as the Freemen's Orphan School, was opened in 1854. (fn. 182) The land was farmed in three units in 1837, (fn. 183) but after the inclosure of 1868 it was consolidated as one farm, known as HOSPITAL FARM. (fn. 184) The estate was sold to George Douglas Newton of Croxton Park in 1902. (fn. 185) The farm-house was described as a little rough-cast and tiled house in 1781 when it was let as two tenements. (fn. 186) In 1841 the main house stood at the north end of the Green on the road to Cambridge, (fn. 187) where the modern farm-house, known as East Farm, stood in 1968.
In 1568 John Marshall purchased an estate in Eltisley from John Smith of Needingworth (Hunts.). (fn. 188) By his will proved 1591 Marshall devised the land to his younger son Matthew, (fn. 189) who in 1630 conveyed his lands in Eltisley to John Marshall. In 1646 John Marshall granted the reversion of it to John Gilman. (fn. 190) The name Gilman or Gilmyn appears at Eltisley from the early 15th century (fn. 191) and the family seems to have been relatively prosperous. (fn. 192) Thomas Gilmyn of St. Neots and Eltisley had been c. 1487 escheator in Cambridgeshire. (fn. 193) The combined Marshall and Gilman lands, consisting of c. 120 a., passed successively to John Gilman's son Joseph and granddaughter Mary. (fn. 194) Mary Gilman married James Chidley of Rotherhithe (Surr.). The Chidleys later removed to Papworth Everard and raised various mortgages on the Eltisley estate. (fn. 195) In 1679, after Mary's death, James Chidley sold it to William Heylock (d. 1688) of Abbotsley (Hunts.) whose lands passed to his nephew, Henry Kingsley. (fn. 196) By will proved 1666 Isaac Disbrowe of Elsworth devised 20 a. and 24 a. in Eltisley to his grandsons, John and Isaac Disbrowe. (fn. 197) John sold his estate to Edward Cosyn of Croxton in 1669 and ten years later Isaac sold his land to Cosyn's widow, Jane. (fn. 198) In 1683 Jane Cosyn mortgaged both tenements to Henry Kingsley. (fn. 199) John Disbrowe seems, however, to have retained some interest in the properties and finally released them to Henry Kingsley in 1704. (fn. 200) The Chidley and Disbrowe lands thus united passed from Henry Kingsley (d. 1712) to his son Heylock (d. 1749) of Hasell Hall, Sandy (Beds.). Heylock Kingsley's daughter and heir, Elizabeth, married William Pym (d. 1788). (fn. 201) The Eltisley estate (c. 260 a.) seems to have come into the possession of William's second son, Woolaston Pym (d. 1846), rector of Radwell (Herts.). (fn. 202) On his death it passed to his nephew Francis Pym (d. 1860) who in 1850 sold it to Samuel Newton of Croxton Park. (fn. 203) In 1841 the farmstead stood on the south side of the Green near the road from St. Ives to Potton. (fn. 204) It became known as Green Farm and the building was still standing in 1968. It dates from the mid 17th century with 18th-century and later alterations and additions. (fn. 205)
In 1279 Geoffrey Bernard was said to hold a messuage and 40 a. in Eltisley of the prioress of 'St. Augustine's, Stamford'. (fn. 206) There is no known religous house of that name, which was probably an error for the priory of St. Michael, Stamford (Northants.), whose temporalities in Eltisley were taxed at £1 1s. in 1291. (fn. 207) The land may originally have been granted by one of the Mowbrays who are known to have made several benefactions to St. Michael's. The priory was owed £4 4s. 8d. arrears of rent from Eltisley in 1378–9, and still seems in 1397–8 to have owned the property, (fn. 208) of which the subsequent history is unknown.
In 1279 Mabel daughter of Philip was said to hold a messuage and 8 a. of 'the master of St. Lazarus of Acres'. (fn. 209) In 1291 the hospital of Burton Lazars (Leics.) had temporalities in Eltisley taxed at 5s. (fn. 210) The Mowbrays were closely connected with foundation of the house, (fn. 211) and may have given it the land. No record of such a gift, however, has been found in the cartulary of the hospital. (fn. 212) In 1369 Henry Shipton of Eltisley conveyed to John Woolwright a messuage there formerly held of Burton Lazars by Oliver Bereford. (fn. 213) The messuage may later have come into the possession of Pembroke College, Cambridge, (fn. 214) but otherwise nothing more is known of the estate.
In 1086 Eltisley appears to have been held as a single manor. Although rated as only 3 hides, it had land for 9 ploughs, all of which were being used, in spite of the statement that there was meadow enough to support only 3 teams. In demesne there was 1½ hide worked by 3 ploughs. Six villani and 10 bordars had a further 6 ploughs and there were also 5 cottars and 6 servi, the last presumably working the demesne. The wood furnished pannage for 20 pigs. The value of the manor, £13, had remained unchanged since before the Conquest and in 1086 it was one of the most valuable in the hundred. (fn. 215)
Assarting of the woodland is represented in the 12th century by the confirmation before 1169 by Niel, bishop of Ely, of a grant of all Roger de Condet's wood in Papley, 5 a. of assart, and 10 a. lucrabiles, and by the grant shortly before 1189 by Lisiard de Musters to Hinchingbrooke Priory (Hunts.) of all his land in Papley both wood and assart. (fn. 216)
In 1279 there were two principal manors in the parish. Philip FitzErnis was said to hold little demesne; only 30 a. of wood and 8 a. of several pasture were recorded. He had, however, ten villeins, each of whom held 16 a. for which he owed 3 works a fortnight from Michaelmas to Lammas and 3 a week during harvest. One customer held 8 a. for a money rent. The existence of those obligations upon the villeins suggests either that the full account of Philip's demesne arable had been omitted from the record or that the customary works were de facto commuted. In contrast Robert de Musters was said to have a demesne farm consisting of 120 a. of arable, 16 a. of wood, and 12 a. of several pasture. Only one of his tenants, however, owed any works, and it is not clear whether any of them held their land in villeinage. Most of the tenements were multiples or fractions of 16 a., suggesting a close relationship, in origin at least, with the 16-acre villein tenements of Philip's estate. Holding from Philip and Robert were several substantial freeholders who in many cases had tenants of their own. William Banastre the younger held 80 a., apparently of Robert de Musters, and had six tenants holding about 50 a. (fn. 217) The Banastre family had been prominent at Eltisley since the early 13th century (fn. 218) and one member, William (fl. 1234), seems to have been a royal cook. (fn. 219) The family was still prominent in the 14th century (fn. 220) when it probably produced three notable ecclesiastics bearing the name Banastre or Eltisley. (fn. 221) It had disappeared however, by the end of that century. (fn. 222) Other prominent landowners in 1279 were Master Bartholomew Larder (de Lardario) with 107 a. and six tenants and Richard de Gynes with 44 a. and about eight tenants, one of whom paid rent for a customary holding. (fn. 223) The prioress of Hinchingbrooke's estate of Papley lay mostly in Caxton at the time, although the manorhouse was in Eltisley. (fn. 224) Four cottars held of William Canon, a tenant of the prioress. (fn. 225)
The tax of 1327, to which 40 inhabitants contributed, suggests that the parish was one of the more prosperous in the hundred. (fn. 226) In 1341, however, 200 a. were said to lie fallow because of the inpotencia tenencium. (fn. 227) The contraction of the cultivated arable may have been only temporary. Surviving evidence suggests that cereal farming predominated. In 1334 the lessee of Papley paid Hinchingbrooke Priory 27 quarters of corn a year, half being barley and the remainder oats. In 1384–5 the render had been reduced to 20 quarters of grain, mostly wheat and dredge. (fn. 228)
Eltisley was apparently divided into two fields in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. (fn. 229) In 1342 one of them was called East field, and East and North fields occur in 1383. (fn. 230) The 'three fields of Eltisley' were mentioned in 1488 but only two were named: 'Mylnehylfeld' and West field, which had a subdivison called Up End field. (fn. 231) The first of them appears as 'Middilhilfeld' in 1501 (fn. 232) and therafter most records speak of Middle, or sometimes Mill, field. (fn. 233) In 1520 there were three fields called Papley, Middle, and East. (fn. 234) Terriers of the Papley estate introduce a fourth field called Kingsfield, which, however, seems to have consisted almost entirely of quite large blocks of land belonging to that manor. (fn. 235) It may have been formerly part of Caxton and seems to have been regarded as part of Middle field in 1841. (fn. 236) Up End field, although appearing as a fourth field in 1599, was then probably a subdivision of Papley field, (fn. 237) as it had been of West field in 1488. Although surviving terriers are apparently confused and sometimes contradictory in the names given to the fields, there can be little doubt that from the 16th century the open fields were arranged basically on a three-field plan: Papley, Middle, and Easton (East End) fields. (fn. 238) The open fields were divided into furlongs some of the names of which, as recorded in the tithe award of 1841, were of considerable antiquity. Crows Nest furlong in Middle field appears as 'Crowenestes' in 1346 and 'Crownests' in 1518. (fn. 239) Other furlong names appeared both in 16th-century terriers and in 1841. (fn. 240)
There was apparently no large-scale livestockfarming, although trespass by steers and sheep was presented in court in the period 1402–20. (fn. 241) The wet clay soil and the general scarcity of inclosed pasture in later periods (fn. 242) tend to the same conclusion.
The manorial demesne was mentioned incidentally between 1344 and 1520. (fn. 243) From the later 14th century the lords of the manor were presumably absentees (fn. 244) who leased out their demesne. Considerable inclosure and consolidation had probably taken place by the early 19th century (fn. 245) around Eltisley wood which appears to have been always part of the manorial demesne. (fn. 246)
The fragmentary evidence concerning copyhold tenants suggests the usual transition from workrendering villeins to rent-paying copyholders. In 1347 there was reference to land held 'in bondage' (fn. 247) but commutation of works seems to have been well advanced by 1418, when two copyholds were taken up at a rent of 10s., a capon, two harvest works, and one work for hay-making. At the same time fines of 2d. were paid for withholding works. Other copyhold tenements were already entirely rent-paying. (fn. 248) Although providing a man for a harvest work remained part of the rent due from one copyhold in 1571, (fn. 249) no similar obligations are known at that period. By the late 16th century there existed a class of yeoman farmers at Eltisley. Among them may be mentioned the Marshall family which purchased the Papley estate and other properties in the 16th century, (fn. 250) Adam Thorogood (d. 1599) who left legacies totalling over £400, (fn. 251) and William Sweatman who bequeathed over £230 in 1591. (fn. 252) Families long established at Eltisley like the Gilmans and Mitchells also built up moderate estates. (fn. 253) The Disbrowes first appeared at Eltisley in the later 16th century (fn. 254) and became a prominent yeoman family, owning the rectory and advowson as well as other lands, and building a substantial house in the village. (fn. 255)
From the 17th century, however, a marked change in the pattern of land ownership is discernible. Emmanuel College, Cambridge, had acquired the Papley estate from the Marshalls in 1593 (fn. 256) and in the next century and a half Jesus College, Cambridge, St. Thomas's Hospital, London, and the Kingsleys of Hertfordshire all obtained substantial estates in the parish. (fn. 257) The senior branch of the Disbrowes seems to have migrated to Elsworth about the middle of the 17th century (fn. 258) and their Eltisley estate became fragmented. (fn. 259) From the late 18th century the Leeds family of Croxton was extending its estate into Eltisley. (fn. 260) By 1841 Samuel Newton of Croxton Park owned nearly 650 a. in Eltisley and three other proprietors owned a further 700 a. (fn. 261) The Newtons later purchased the Pym and St. Thomas's Hospital estates and the smaller Peppercorn holding. (fn. 262) The effect was that tenantfarmers replaced owner-occupiers. Not one substantial owner-occupier remained in the parish in 1829. (fn. 263) In 1851 there were twelve farms in the parish varying in size between 270 and 50 a. Five of them consisted of between 160 and 170 a. (fn. 264)
The small Pembroke College estate was first leased for 16 years from 1552 for 33s. 4d. a year. Thereafter leases were made for 21 years but renewed more often, usually every 7 years. From 1576 the rent was taken instead in wheat and malt, and after 1606 a small cash element was added. The rent then fixed was not altered until at least 1828, (fn. 265) but was presumably augmented by fines paid upon renewal. The total amount paid by the lessee to the college, however, remained low enough to enable him profitably to sub-let the farm in his turn. (fn. 266) The Emmanuel College property was similarly leased for 21-year terms at £32 a year between 1687 and 1778. (fn. 267) By 1830, however, the rent was the more realistic sum of £60. (fn. 268) The rent of the Pyms' farm was £55 in 1763, £60 in 1769, and £70 in 1775, but fell slightly to £60 in 1785. (fn. 269) Jesus College rack-rented its estate at £40 in 1756, increased later to £52 10s. It too showed a decline in the 1780s, falling to £46 in 1781. (fn. 270)
The seemingly rather low rentals of some of the estates, even allowing for conservative college leasing policies, may reflect a primitive state of agriculture in Eltisley, and particularly the slow progress of inclosure and consolidation of the land. Some several pasture was mentioned in 1279 (fn. 271) and many closes evidently existed by the later Middle Ages. (fn. 272) Evidence is lacking, however, for largescale inclosure. By the 16th century the Papley estate included a small amount of inclosed pasture around Papley Grove and had some large blocks of arable, one as large as 30 a., particularly in Kingsfield in the north-east part of the parish, (fn. 273) which may have been partly the result of the assarting on the priory's estate referred to above. (fn. 274) By 1841 much inclosure had taken place south of the village, but was confined almost entirely to the property of Samuel Newton, the lord of the manor. Manor farm comprised 62 a. of inclosed pasture, 80 a. of inclosed arable, and only 26 a. of open-field arable. Newton's other three farms also included 60 a. of inclosed land, both arable and pasture. (fn. 275)
The contrast between Manor farm and the estates of other landowners is considerable. In 1599 Pembroke College owned only one close in an estate of over 50 a. (fn. 276) and still had only c. 3 a. of inclosed land in 1849. (fn. 277) The Jesus College farm contained c. 12 a. of inclosed meadow and pasture in 1814 (fn. 278) and in 1781 St. Thomas's Hospital had only 20 a. of inclosures out of a total holding of 250 a. (fn. 279) Otherwise the farmers had to use the common pasture, 113 a., on which Jesus College could turn out five score and five sheep at 14 to the score in 1814, and Pembroke 2 cows and 40 sheep in 1849. (fn. 280) In addition the arable was dispersed in small strips. In 1841 Jesus College, for example, owned c. 150 a. of open-field arable scattered in 188 pieces in the three fields. (fn. 281) Little change or consolidation had evidently taken place since the later 16th century. (fn. 282)
All reports made on estates in the parish in the 18th and 19th centuries agree in emphasizing the unproductive nature of the land and all advance the same reasons for it: the top soil was far from rich, the land was difficult to drain, and its dispersed state hindered improvement. In 1781 the St. Thomas's farm was well managed but the land was poor and dispersed. (fn. 283) About 1793 the soil was said to be poor and wet and most of the inclosures produced only a 'course, sharp, sour grass, applicable to the feeding of milch cows and store cattle only.' Twelve hundred sheep had been kept but 700 had recently perished from disease. Inclosure was 'much wished for.' (fn. 284) In 1801 the parish grew 236 a. of wheat yielding 2½ loads an acre, 231 a. of barley and 296 a. of oats yielding 2 quarters an acre, and 143 a. of peas and beans producing 1½ load an acre. In an average year, however, the parish was said to produce less. (fn. 285) In 1814 each field was still farmed 'by invariable custom' on a three-course rotation. The first year as much wheat was sown as could be folded for and the rest of the field was dunged for barley; in the second year oats, beans, or peas were sown; and in the third the field lay fallow and was ploughed two or three times. The crops were 'very scanty'. (fn. 286) In 1837 the land was said to be of very bad quality, flat, and not capable of being drained. (fn. 287) In 1841 Eltisley was described as much below the average in corn production. The common pasture was a 'wet sheepwalk' and 'very unproductive.' Much land was wasted because of difficult access to the small, high-backed strips. (fn. 288)
The parish was eventually inclosed under the general Act of 1864 (fn. 289) by an award of 1868. (fn. 290) It was the last but one inclosure in Cambridgeshire. Why the process was so long delayed is uncertain: perhaps the farms were so unremunerative that their owners were unwilling to incur the high costs of inclosure. Emmanuel College spent nearly £1,900 upon new buildings, fencing, drainage, and road-making, representing more than 25 years' gross income at the old rent or 10 years' at the new.
The inclosure was followed by a sharp rise in rents. Emmanuel increased the rent of their estate from £70 to £180, (fn. 291) Jesus from £55 to £200, (fn. 292) and St. Thomas's from £85 from three separate tenancies to £170 for one consolidated farm. (fn. 293) The problem of drainage remained largely unsolved and the 'high-backs' of the old open fields made the provision of adequate sub-drains difficult. (fn. 294) Nor did the landowners long enjoy the full fruits of higher rents, because of the effect of the depression in cereal farming on a parish where there was little alternative. Thus Jesus College had granted a new lease upon inclosure for £200 a year, specifying a five-course rotation system for the first 12 years and a four-course rotation for the remaining two. In 1880 the tenants made a heavy loss, (fn. 295) and the rent was reduced to £100 to keep the farm in cultivation. In 1883 the farm fell in hand and the college had difficulty in re-letting. The farm suffered especially from poor drainage and in 1909–10 portions of it were said to have been standing under water. By then, however, the tenants had decreased the acreage under cereals and grew increased quantities of beans, sainfoin, old mixed seed layer, and a few acres of potatoes. (fn. 296) The Cambridge colleges and St. Thomas's Hospital all sold their farms in Eltisley between 1899 and 1921. In three instances the buyers were owners of large local estates. The other farm was bought by the tenant. (fn. 297)
After the decline of villeinage most of the inhabitants of Eltisley presumably became almost landless labourers. In 1599 Adam Thorogood left a bushel of barley to each of '20 of the poor householders of Eltisley', (fn. 298) who were presumably labourers or at best very small landholders. Of 33 tenements paying hearth tax in 1662 22 had only one or two hearths. (fn. 299) In the early 19th century poor-rates fluctuated considerably between £198 in 1819 and £112 in 1823. (fn. 300) By 1829–30 they had risen to £211, a high figure in relation to population compared with most other places in the hundred. Although no labourers were said to be generally unemployed, there were sometimes 12 or 14 without work. (fn. 301) In the following year 57 of the 75 families in the parish were employed chiefly in agriculture and 50 of the 76 adult males were agricultural labourers. (fn. 302) While most adult males remained labourers in 1851, many of their wives and daughters were employed in lace-making. (fn. 303) Nothing more, however, is known about that occupation at Eltisley. The farms in the parish then employed 41 labourers and 15 boys. (fn. 304) In 1897 the condition of the labourers was said to be 'very bad'. (fn. 305) The village also supported in 1851 two tailors, two shoemakers, two grocers, a carpenter, a cordwainer, a plumber, a wheelwright, and a smith. (fn. 306) In 1900 about 13 of the inhabitants were still engaged in trades of that type. (fn. 307)
There was a windmill in Eltisley owned by Philip FitzErnis in 1279. (fn. 308) A mill was mentioned in 1599 and 1601, (fn. 309) apparently on a site south of the Cambridge road called Mill Hill in 1841, giving its name to Mill Way and Mill Hadon furlong. The windmill had disappeared by 1841. (fn. 310)
A corn-mill stood opposite the church in 1887, (fn. 311) and appears to have been the steam mill recorded in Eltisley in 1900. (fn. 312) It had been converted to oilburning by 1908 and was still in existence in 1937. (fn. 313) In 1968 the building was used not as a mill but as a feed-store.
In 1279 the vill of Eltisley paid ½ mark to the sheriff for view of frankpledge. (fn. 314) It evidently remained part of the sheriff's tourn until at least 1403 when it was found that if the king granted Sir Alexander Goldingham the right to hold view of frankpledge for his tenants in Eltisley the sheriff's farm would be reduced by 7s. a year. (fn. 315) That right seems to have been granted, and records survive for manorial courts from 1404 to 1420. They were concerned mainly with routine manorial business. (fn. 316) Evidence from land dealings of the 16th and 17th centuries suggests that, though not held regularly, courts often met about Whitsuntide. (fn. 317) In 1807 courts were still conducted in the manor-house at Eltisley (fn. 318) and in 1809 court books and papers were said to survive from 1650 onwards. (fn. 319) The manor court still dealt with copyhold business in the mid 19th century. (fn. 320)
The parish spent £82 on poor-relief in 1776, and an average of £156 between 1783 and 1785, but the cost had fallen to £142 in 1803. Fourteen people were then on permanent, and nine on occasional, relief. (fn. 321) The parish became part of the Caxton and Arrington poor law union in 1835, (fn. 322) and in 1934 was transferred from the Caxton and Arrington R.D. to the Chesterton R.D. (fn. 323)
In the 16th century there was a tradition of a nunnery at Eltisley in the 10th century which was transferred to Hinchingbrooke (Hunts.) after the Norman Conquest. (fn. 324) A deed of the mid 12th century refers to the nuns of Papley, (fn. 325) and between c. 1160 and 1169 the bishop of Ely confirmed the site of the chapel of Papley to the nuns of an unnamed house, presumably Hinchingbrooke. (fn. 326) By c. 1230 the parish church was dedicated to St. Pandionia (fn. 327) (Pandwyna), said to have been a nun at Eltisley in the 10th century whose body was translated into the church in 1344. (fn. 328)
The first reference to the parish church occurs when, before 1173, Roger de Condet granted the advowson to St. Leonard's Hospital, York. (fn. 329) The hospital did not long retain the advowson, which in 1202 was granted by Lisiard de Musters to Roger son of Peter (fn. 330) and thereafter descended with the manor until 1351 when Thomas of Eltisley granted it to Mary de St. Pol, countess of Pembroke. (fn. 331) In 1362 the Crown licensed the appropriation of the rectory to Denny Abbey, but the licence was rescinded because of a faulty statement of title; in 1366 it again licensed the appropriation and also the grant of the advowson by the countess to the abbey. (fn. 332) The abbey held the advowson of the rectory, but notwithstanding the second licence and a papal licence of 1402 (fn. 333) the appropriation was not effected until 1518, when a vicarage was endowed. (fn. 334) In 1539 the rectory and advowson formerly belonging to Denny Abbey were granted to Edward Elrington, (fn. 335) and thereafter remained in the same ownership. Elrington sold them in 1542 to Sir William Bowyer, lord mayor of London (d. 1544), (fn. 336) whose devisee Alice, wife of Henry Searle, (fn. 337) sold them to Francis Mannock in 1557. (fn. 338) The Mannocks sold them in 1600 to John Disbrowe (fn. 339) and they descended in the senior branch of the Disbrowe family (fn. 340) until 1713 when Robert Shipsea and his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of the Revd. John Disbrowe, conveyed them in trust to John Disbrowe of Willingham (fn. 341) who is said to have sold them to Hester Baron of Little Eversden. She devised them to members of the Day family. (fn. 342) In 1789 Samuel, son of John Day, sold the advowson and rectory to Edward Leeds of Croxton (fn. 343) and thenceforward they descended with the manor.
Throughout the 13th century Eltisley was one of the richest benefices in the deanery. The value, 21 marks c. 1217 and in 1254, had increased to 35 marks by 1291, (fn. 344) and in 1364 was said to be 35½ marks. (fn. 345) In 1279 the rector had 13 a. of land, though it is not certain that it was glebe. (fn. 346) Only ½ a. was conveyed with the advowson in 1351. (fn. 347) Land in Eltisley belonging to the rectory was often mentioned in late medieval terriers. (fn. 348) The rectory estate was slightly more than 100 a. in 1557. (fn. 349) It was said to be of virtually the same extent in 1789. (fn. 350) After appropriation the whole of the tithes belonged to the impropriator. They were commuted for a rentcharge of £216 in 1841, (fn. 351) the tithes due from the lands of the impropriator, Samuel Newton, being merged with the freehold of his estates. (fn. 352) It is possible that the house built by James Disbrowe and mentioned above occupies the site of the rectory house. (fn. 353)
The original endowment of the vicarage in 1518 was £8 a year paid by the impropriator. (fn. 354) In 1639 there was also vicarial glebe consisting of two closes containing 1½ a. (fn. 355) In 1650 the gross value of the living was said to be £12 (fn. 356) and a proposal of 1657 to augment it by £50 a year (fn. 357) was not carried out. In 1785 the gross income was still only £13, of which £8 was paid as the original endowment and the remainder was derived from the rent of the vicarage house and the glebe. In 1771 and 1784 the benefice received grants of £200 from Queen Anne's Bounty, which was used in 1801 to buy 27 a. in Elsworth. The total income of the incumbent was £35 in 1810. Further augmentations of £200 were made in 1810 and 1828, used partly to redeem a mortgage on the Elsworth land, and a further £200 was provided out of the Parliamentary Grant Fund. The gross income of the vicarage rose to £48 in 1830 and £52 in 1922. In 1892 one of the glebe closes became a new burial ground. (fn. 358)
One of the conditions for the appropriation of Eltisley was that the rector should provide a suitable house for the vicar. (fn. 359) In 1615 there was a vicarage house near the church. (fn. 360) It is not known to have been used as the residence of the incumbent after the early 17th century. It was uninhabited and in a very bad condition in 1783 (fn. 361) and was said to be in ruins in 1790 when it was ordered to be pulled down. (fn. 362) No other house was built and since the early 19th century the incumbent has usually resided at Croxton Rectory, which is closer to Eltisley church than to that of Croxton. (fn. 363)
There was evidently a medieval guild at Eltisley for in 1569 the Crown sold a tenement formerly called the guildhall and then the town house in Eltisley together with 19 a. of land. (fn. 364) About 1230 William le Juvene, son of Roger of Eltisley, granted 3 a. in Eltisley to William, chaplain of Papworth Everard, who was to render ½ gallon of oil to maintain William's lamp before the cross in Eltisley church. (fn. 365) The land was later transferred to St. John's Hospital, Cambridge, and the oil was still being paid in the 14th century. (fn. 366) A pightle and 4 a. in Eltisley, given for an anniversary there, were sold by the Crown in 1548. (fn. 367)
In 1284 Archbishop Peckham complained of the immorality of Oliver FitzErnis, rector of Eltisley. (fn. 368) Oliver was presumably a member of the family which owned the manor and advowson. (fn. 369) In the 14th century several rectors were members of the Banastre or Eltisley family. (fn. 370) Thomas of Eltisley the elder (d. 1375), perhaps brother of Edward Banastre of Eltisley, (fn. 371) presented to the rectory in 1349, 1350, and 1351. The first and third of his presentees were named Thomas of Eltisley and the second John of Eltisley, (fn. 372) and it has been suggested that Thomas presented himself to the living. He became the first master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. (fn. 373) His nephew, Thomas Banastre of Eltisley the younger, rector 1376–85, held many benefices at various times and combined Eltisley with a canonry of Llandaff. (fn. 374) In 1377 he was licensed to farm Eltisley during three years' absence. (fn. 375)
Several other medieval rectors were graduates and pluralists. William Spaldewyk, rector 1394–9, was granted leave of absence for three years. From 1397 he was master of St. Nicholas's Hospital, Salisbury. (fn. 376) Roger Radcliff, rector 1457–62, was a doctor of canon law and held several benefices in addition to Eltisley, including the mastership of Manchester College. (fn. 377) Gerard Skipwith, a fellow of Pembroke College, to which he bequeathed a number of books, may have resided at Eltisley where he built up an estate. (fn. 378)
The vicarage was a less attractive benefice. It apparently became difficult even to fill it, for it was vacant in 1564, 1570, and 1596, (fn. 379) and in 1572, 1599, and 1604 was under sequestration. (fn. 380) Although vicars were occasionally instituted, it was usual in the 17th and 18th centuries for the vicarage to be held by a sequestrator who either served the parish himself as curate or employed another to do the duty. (fn. 381)
Robert Palmer, instituted in 1575, broke down a well in the churchyard, presumably that called St. Pandionia's well; he was perhaps trying to put down what he believed to be superstitious practices. In 1576 he was accused of taking up pavements in the church for his own use, allowing the vicarage to be used as an ale-house, and playing cards at time of divine service. (fn. 382) The Disbrowe family, which owned the advowson in the 17th century, may have had leanings towards extreme protestantism, perhaps explaining why in 1645 they presented to the vicarage Henry Denne, a Baptist who had already suffered imprisonment for his unorthodox opinions. Over a century later a writer claimed that during Denne's incumbency Eltisley was 'as much noted for the devout exercises practised there as any other canting place in the kingdom.' Denne continued to come into conflict with the authorities and was forced to leave his benefice in 1646, subsequently joining the parliamentary army. (fn. 383)
In 1728, when the parish was served from Papworth Everard, one service was held each Sunday and communion was celebrated thrice a year, at which 16 or 17 persons communicated. (fn. 384) In 1790 there was one service a fortnight for which a curate was paid 10s. 6d. by the sequestrator. (fn. 385) In 1807 the vicar, who lived at Papworth Everard but had no benefice besides Eltisley, said that before he came to the parish services had been held fortnightly and sometimes once in three weeks only; he held services every Sunday and administered communion monthly to 50 communicants, whose number had greatly increased. (fn. 386) In 1825 one curate served both Eltisley and Croxton. Services were still held weekly but communion was celebrated only four times a year and the number of communicants had fallen to about twelve. (fn. 387)
Thomas Kidd, vicar 1814–c. 1831 and 1835–50, took up residence at Croxton in 1835 (fn. 388) and seems to have tried to improve matters at Eltisley where nonconformity was gaining ground. (fn. 389) In 1836 he was holding a service each Sunday and on Good Friday and Christmas Day, but had failed to assemble a congregation for Ash Wednesday. There were only five communicants and he reported stubborn opposition to communion. His churchwarden was also hampered in his duties by fear of giving offence. (fn. 390)
The pattern of services had changed little by 1881, when some evening services were also conducted. Communion was then held monthly but only 12 people communicated. (fn. 391) The Methodists were still very active and in 1897 only ten out of the ninety families were said to be churchgoers. (fn. 392)
The parish church of ST. PANDIONIA AND ST. JOHN BAPTIST bore the dedication to the former by c. 1230. (fn. 393) It has a chancel, aisled and clerestoried nave with north transeptal chapel and south porch, and west tower with spire. Although the church was mentioned, as stated above, before 1173, the earliest surviving part is the aisled nave of c. 1200. The rebuilding of the chancel arch in the 13th century suggests that the chancel was older than the nave. The north chapel is contemporary with the chancel arch and contains the effigies of a mid-13th-century knight and his lady. (fn. 394) A pair of canopied tomb recesses was cut into the lower part of the north wall of the chapel in the late 14th century. The tower and spire are probably 15thcentury (fn. 395) and at about the same time the south aisle was refenestrated. Robert Palmer, who destroyed the well in the churchyard and removed some pavings as mentioned above, may have been responsible for defacing the monumental effigies. William Dowsing in 1644 destroyed a St. Christopher. (fn. 396) Other losses were from natural causes like the violent wind which blew out the north window of the chapel in the early 17th century (fn. 397) and may have started the decay which caused the whole north-west corner to be rebuilt, probably in the late 18th century. In 1678 a hive was ordered to be removed from the church. (fn. 398) In 1836 the tower was said to be in a wretched state and the pavement needed repair. The seating was arranged in a way that made it difficult for the congregation to kneel during prayers. (fn. 399) The chancel was rebuilt in brick in 1840 and other repairs were made 'in a most handsome and comely manner'. In 1878 the whole church was restored at a cost of over £1,000. The improvements included a new roof, oak pulpit, and pitch-pine seating. (fn. 400) The restoration was said to be judicious but the north chapel was dilapidated and used as a lumber room. (fn. 401)
In 1552 Eltisley possessed two gilt chalices with silver patens, a silver gilt cross, and a cope and seven other vestments. One chalice, the cope, and a vestment were then set aside for use in the church. (fn. 402) In 1571 it was found that the churchwardens illegally retained some furniture and vestments. (fn. 403) In 1840 some of the plate and books belonging to the church were stolen and a collection was made to replace them. In 1922 the plate, otherwise modern, included a silver gilt chalice of the 16th century. (fn. 404) The clock in the tower was placed there in 1893, having been formerly in the tower of Chertsey parish church (Surr.). (fn. 405) There were four bells in 1552 (fn. 406) and in 1968: (i) 1766, Joseph Eayre of St. Neots; (ii) variously attributed to Hugh Watts of Leicester, c. 1600, (fn. 407) and to the Brayser family, 16th century; (fn. 408) (iii) 1608, Newcombe of Leicester; (iv) c. 1480, attributed to Kebyll of London. (fn. 409) The registers date from 1653, with many gaps before 1763; bishops' transcripts survive from 1599 among the diocesan records. (fn. 410)
Notwithstanding the extreme protestantism that is said to have been practised at Eltisley during the incumbency of Henry Denne (1645–6), (fn. 411) there were only three dissenters there in 1676. (fn. 412) In 1728 there were said to be a Presbyterian and an Independent, (fn. 413) and in 1755 two families of Anabaptists. (fn. 414) Only one dissenter was recorded in 1783. (fn. 415) In 1807 the vicar claimed that some dissenters had recently returned to the church, (fn. 416) but if so the situation soon changed and Methodism in particular seems to have made much progress in Eltisley in the earlier 19th century.
In 1811 a house was licensed for the use of Methodists. (fn. 417) In 1825 the curate said that there were four families of Independents or Baptists and that a licensed room was occasionally used by a preacher from the Primitive Methodists. (fn. 418) A Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built in 1835 (fn. 419) and registered in 1854. (fn. 420) In 1851 it had a congregation of 120, including people from Croxton, and 45 children attended the Sunday school. (fn. 421) The chapel had accommodation for 140 people in 1901. (fn. 422) A Primitive Methodist chapel was built facing the Green in 1846 (fn. 423) and registered in 1856. (fn. 424) In 1851 it had congregations of 40 in the afternoon and 43 in the evening. (fn. 425) It was rebuilt in brick in 1879. (fn. 426) In 1873 the Methodists were said to attract many people away from the parish church 'through curiosity'. (fn. 427) The vicar estimated in 1897 that of the 90 households in the parish 40 were dissenters and 40 more worshipped at a chapel if they went anywhere. Other denominations also made use of the village green on summer Sundays. (fn. 428) The Wesleyan chapel was closed in 1964 and sold to Mr. W. Topham of Manor Farm. For many years previously the Methodists had worshipped in the two chapels on alternate Sundays. (fn. 429) The Primitive Methodists' chapel remained in use in 1968.
In 1638 the vicar of Eltisley was licensed as a schoolmaster. (fn. 430) In 1789 there was no school and little possibility of one being established since the poor-rates were high and no gentleman lived in the village. (fn. 431) In 1818, however, a Sunday school, lately established at the expense of the curate, was attended by 16 boys and 31 girls. (fn. 432) The schoolroom of the Croxton charity school appears then to have been situated in Eltisley. (fn. 433) In 1835, in addition to the Sunday school, there was an infants' school attended by 9 boys and 7 girls, and a day-school attended by 11 boys and 5 girls who were instructed at their parents' expense. (fn. 434) In 1846 33 boys and 49 girls were taught in the Sunday school which was held in the church. The schoolmaster was paid by subscription. (fn. 435) In 1851 there were 33 Sunday school pupils. (fn. 436) A Church of England private school was mentioned in 1871. (fn. 437) By 1881 the Sunday school seems to have disappeared. (fn. 438)
The Wesleyan Methodists held a Sunday school in 1851 attended by 45 children, (fn. 439) which remained attached to the Wesleyan chapel until 1964 when an annexe was added to the Primitive Methodist chapel to accommodate it. (fn. 440) In 1902 the Wesleyans also had an evening school with an average attendance of nine which was aided by parliamentary grant. (fn. 441) Plans of 1873 for a day-school at Eltisley (fn. 442) came to nothing, and the children attended the school in Croxton (fn. 443) In 1897 the vicar complained of the general backwardness of education at Eltisley where, he estimated, not more than six heads of families could sign their own name. (fn. 444)
Charity for the Poor.
Powell's charity applies jointly to Eltisley and Croxton. (fn. 445)