A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1978.
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Babraham, the most northerly parish in Chilford hundred, lies across the river Granta 6 miles southeast of Cambridge. (fn. 1) Its boundaries, enclosing an area of 2,387 a., are formed on the north and east by ancient roads: on the north is the road called Worsted or Wool Street, (fn. 2) which was scheduled as a site of special scientific interest in 1951 when it was a grassy track; (fn. 3) on the east is a branch of the Icknield Way running from Stump Cross to Newmarket. The southern and western boundaries follow the river Granta and field boundaries. The parish is traversed by the Cambridge-Linton road, south of which the land is low-lying, mostly below 100 ft., on either side of the river. North of the road it rises more steeply, reaching 200 ft. at Fox's Burrow, Signal Hill, and Copley Hill which is surmounted by a barrow. Severe floods affected Babraham in 1655 and 1749. (fn. 4)
The course of the river Granta as it runs through the parish has frequently been changed. An encroachment on the river bank had been made by 1260, (fn. 5) and between 1330 and 1361 a water-mill was made valueless when the river changed its course. (fn. 6) A watercourse north of the main river, diverging from it in Little Abington, was made in the 1650s by Thomas Bennet of Babraham to irrigate his meadows. (fn. 7) Although sporadic use of the watercourse continued in the 18th and 19th centuries, it fell out of use in the early 20th century (fn. 8) and was a dry ditch in 1973. Before 1735 the stretch of the main river close to Babraham Hall was straightened to form an ornamental canal: the original course was still visible in 1973. (fn. 9)
Most of the parish lies over the Lower Chalk, overlapping the Middle Chalk in the north-east corner. The soil on the northern slopes of Babraham is thin, dry, and chalky, and there was a chalkpit and limekiln just north of the main road. (fn. 10) The subsoil in the southern half of the parish is gravel. (fn. 11) Babraham is wholly agricultural; its open fields were mostly inclosed in the early 19th century by the single landowner without a formal award.
The 38 tenants recorded in 1086 had increased to more than 60 by 1279, (fn. 12) and Babraham's population probably reached its highest point in the mid 14th century when 121 people were taxed. (fn. 13) Only 40 people were assessed in 1524, (fn. 14) and there were 36 households in 1563. (fn. 15) Twenty-eight houses paid the hearth tax in 1665, and there were 70 communicants in 1676 and 149 people in 32 families in 1728. (fn. 16) By 1801 the population had reached 196, and it continued to grow until a peak of 304 was reached in 1861. After a slight fall it recovered to 308 in 1901, declining to 200 in 1931 and 226 in 1951, since when new building in the village has caused an increase to 327 in 1971. (fn. 17)
Traces of a Roman building, probably a villa, were found in 1952 on the parish boundary between Babraham and Stapleford. (fn. 18) The building stood well away from the village, however, which is said to owe its name to a Saxon woman, Beaduburh. (fn. 19) The position of the church, ¼ mile from the village and close to Babraham Hall, has prompted suggestions that the village has been moved from its original site; (fn. 20) no evidence for such a removal has come to light, although medieval itineraries show that a branch of the Icknield Way passed through Babraham, (fn. 21) and it is possible that the road from Pampisford once continued due north, passing close to Babraham church and Copley Hill and joining the Ashwell or Street way. Alternatively the present village street has been represented as a part of the Icknield Way. (fn. 22) The village was wealthy in the Middle Ages: it paid more tax than any other in Chilford hundred c. 1250, (fn. 23) and its assessment was second only to that of Linton in 1327 and as late as 1571. (fn. 24) As the land was gradually collected into one large estate during the 16th century, however, so the wealth of the parish was concentrated into fewer hands. Babraham in the later 17th century had only two substantial farm-houses, each with 9 hearths, besides the Hall with 40 hearths, and more than a third of the village houses had only one hearth. (fn. 25)
The acquisition of the manor and virtually all the land in Babraham in 1632 by the Bennet family, succeeded by the Adeanes, gave the parish resident squires for most of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The Hall was occasionally leased, as for example to George, Earl Cadogan, between 1875 and 1888, (fn. 26) but the Bennets and Adeanes usually lived there themselves. The two families dominated every aspect of parish life, as founders of the charity which provided education and alms-houses, landlords who dictated agricultural methods, and patrons and benefactors of the church. Babraham was recommended in the 19th century as an example of a well-managed parish. (fn. 27) New cottages were built by the Adeanes c. 1870 on the farms outside the village, (fn. 28) and in 1871 there were more dwellings scattered around the parish than in the village. (fn. 29) The village itself has remained small, along a single street; it includes the George inn, probably a 17thcentury farm-house, the alms-houses and old school of 1730, and Chalk Farm and Home Farm, both of the 17th century. A row of cottages was built along the street in the 19th century, and C. R. W. Adeane built the Madeline Hall, named after his wife, for the village in 1903. (fn. 30) A new school south of the village was built in 1959, and a group of council houses more recently at the north end of the village street. An estate of c. 60 houses was built c. 1950 by the Agricultural Research Council for the staff of the Institute of Animal Physiology established at Babraham Hall, but it was inside the park and was physically and socially distinct from the old village. (fn. 31) Most of the parish belonged in 1973 to a trust set up by Sir Robert Adeane, and new building was strictly controlled.
The Cambridge–Linton road was a turnpike from 1766 to 1876, (fn. 32) and the road forming the parish's eastern boundary from 1724 to 1870. (fn. 33) Babraham is connected by minor roads with Pampisford and Sawston. The railway line from Great Chesterford (Essex) to Six Mile Bottom, opened in 1848 but closed three years later, (fn. 34) ran just inside the eastern boundary and its course was still visible in 1973. The Cambridge–Haverhill line, open from 1865 to 1967, just crosses the parish in the south.
Inns at Babraham mentioned from the 13th century were probably on the main road from Stump Cross to Newmarket, at Bourn Bridge. (fn. 35) The Angel, recorded as an inn in 1490, was still standing in 1600; (fn. 36) the Swan, open in 1543 and 1565, survived in 1600; (fn. 37) other named messuages which were perhaps inns in 1600 were the Chequer and the Griffin. (fn. 38) Three ale-house licences were granted for Babraham in 1682. (fn. 39) The George, perhaps an inn, had some land attached to it in 1488–9, and the new George was recorded in 1600; (fn. 40) though perhaps on a different site it was open as a public house in 1778, (fn. 41) and survived in 1973.
A feast was held on Whit Sunday in the 18th century, on the green outside the George inn. (fn. 42) Babraham amusement fair was held on 1 May, also in front of the George, until c. 1930. (fn. 43) Plough Monday was observed in the village until 1929, (fn. 44) and the annual Horkey supper was given in January or February by C. R. W. Adeane for his employees until at least 1914. (fn. 45) Adeane was running coal, clothing, and benefit clubs in 1897. (fn. 46)
The antiquary William Cole spent his boyhood at Babraham, where his father was the Bennets' steward. (fn. 47)
Manors and Other Estates.
About half of Babraham was held before the Conquest by Eddeva the fair, whose land there was given to Count Alan of Brittany. (fn. 48) Count Alan's successors became earls of Richmond, and the main manors of Babraham were described until the 15th century as being held of the honor of Richmond. (fn. 49) In 1086 the tenant of Count Alan's larger estate, comprising 2½ hides and 24 a., was Brian de Scalers. (fn. 50) Geoffrey de Scalers, son and heir of Geoffrey de Scalers, gave Babraham church to Waltham abbey in the 1180s. (fn. 51) He had been succeeded by 1202 by another Geoffrey, (fn. 52) who held the manor, later called BRUISY ARDS, c. 1235. (fn. 53) John de Scalers was lord of Babraham by 1249 and probably went on crusade in 1271. (fn. 54) His estate there was held in 1279 by Sir Warin of Hereford (d. after 1290). (fn. 55) In 1310 the manor was settled on Warin's son John of Hereford, (fn. 56) who was succeeded between 1316 and 1346 by Sir Thomas of Hereford (d. after 1361), (fn. 57) although Thomas of Lavenham was described as lord of the vill in 1347. (fn. 58) In 1388 the manor was held for life by Roger Ferrour by demise from Sir Robert Carbonell and others, who were then licensed to grant the reversion to Bruisyard abbey (Suff.) in exchange for property in Norfolk. (fn. 59) Ferrour released his rights in 1390, (fn. 60) when the abbey presumably took possession.
Bruisyard abbey surrendered its property in 1539 to the Crown, which immediately granted the manor to Nicholas Hare. (fn. 61) A year later Hare conveyed it to Alan Chapman, whose kinsman Thomas Chapman had leased it from the abbey in 1535, (fn. 62) and on Alan's death in 1553 it passed to his widow Margaret and then to their eldest son John. (fn. 63) John Chapman had by 1558 conveyed most of the manor to Henry Veysey and others. (fn. 64) In 1558 Chapman was convicted of counterfeiting money, and although he was pardoned the same year, Bruisyards was granted by the Crown as forfeit in 1563 to John Roynon, a yeoman of the wardrobe, (fn. 65) who was still claiming the manor unsuccessfully in 1565. (fn. 66) John Chapman's son Alan, who had succeeded his father by 1570, granted a long lease of all his Babraham property c. 1572 to Robert Taylor, a teller of the Exchequer, (fn. 67) and in 1576 Taylor purchased the estate outright and bought out all the other claimants. (fn. 68)
Robert Taylor's fortune, with which he built a new house and greatly extended his lands at Babraham, was lost in 1588 when one of his servants embezzled £7,500 of government money for which Taylor was held accountable. (fn. 69) In 1589 Taylor sold the estate to Sir Horatio Palavicino, the English government's financial agent abroad. (fn. 70) He settled at Babraham c. 1592 (fn. 71) and made further additions to the manorial estate, leaving more than 2,500 a. in Cambridgeshire to his son Henry on his death in 1600. (fn. 72) Sir Henry Palavicino (kt. 1611) had livery of the lands in 1614, but died without issue in 1615. His successor, his brother Tobias, rapidly dissipated the family fortune, and obtained an Act of Parliament in 1624 to enable him to sell his lands. (fn. 73)
Tobias sold his whole Babraham estate in 1632 to Richard and Thomas Bennet, sons of a London alderman, (fn. 74) and their mother-in-law Elizabeth Lamott. (fn. 75) Thomas Bennet's estate was sequestered in 1651 for his support of Charles I, and in 1660 he was created a baronet. (fn. 76) His son Sir Levinus Bennet succeeded him in 1667, and sat as M.P. for Cambridgeshire from 1679 until his death in 1693, (fn. 77) when the manor passed to his son Richard.
Sir Richard's heir on his death in 1701 was his daughter Judith, who died a minor in 1713 leaving as heirs her five aunts, the daughters of Sir Levinus Bennet. (fn. 78) Of them, Judith (d. unmarried 1724) devised her fifth share to Bennet Alexander, son of her sister Levina (d. 1732); Mary (d. 1725), wife of James Bush, was predeceased by her son Levinus (d. 1723), who had devised his reversion of one-fifth of the manor to Judith Bennet, with whose own share it passed to Bennet Alexander; and Jane, wife of James Mitchell, left her fifth to her son William. (fn. 79) The share of the last surviving aunt, Dorothy Page (d. 1735), (fn. 80) was presumably divided between Bennet Alexander and William Mitchell, for in 1765 Alexander's son and son-in-law held 3½ fifths between them and Mitchell held 1½. (fn. 81) Bennet Alexander assumed the surname of Bennet by Act of Parliament in 1742, and was succeeded in 1745 by his son Richard Henry Alexander Bennet. (fn. 82) The whole estate, consisting of the lordship, rectory, and 1,670 a. in Babraham besides land in the surrounding parishes, was offered for sale in 1765, (fn. 83) when William Mitchell apparently bought out Bennet and his brother-in-law John Luther. (fn. 84) Another sale was postponed in 1767, (fn. 85) and Babraham was eventually bought in 1770 by Robert Jones, an East India Company director. (fn. 86) Jones's only child Anne married Col. James Whorwood Adeane, and to their son, Robert Jones Adeane, Jones devised Babraham on his death in 1774. (fn. 87)
On the death of Robert Jones Adeane in 1823 the estate descended to his son Henry John Adeane, (fn. 88) who in 1845 was owner or lessee of all the land in the parish. (fn. 89) From him the lordship descended in 1847 to his son Robert Jones Adeane (d. unmarried 1853), to Robert's brother Henry John Adeane (d. 1870), to Henry's son Charles Robert Whorwood Adeane (d. 1943), and to Charles's son Col. Sir Robert Philip Wyndham Adeane, the lord in 1973. (fn. 90)
The Scalers family was resident at Babraham in the 13th century and there was a chief messuage attached to Bruisyards manor in 1279 and 1388. (fn. 91) In the 16th century there was a manor-house surrounded by a moat 40 or 50 ft. wide, perhaps on the moated site on the south bank of the river. (fn. 92) Robert Taylor built a new house called Babraham Place on the north bank c. 1580. (fn. 93) The house, described by Cole as one of the noblest Gothic houses in the county, was of brick with stone dressings and was built round a courtyard with the main front facing the road to Cambridge. (fn. 94) Tobias Palavicino embellished the great hall with a marble mantelpiece bearing his arms; (fn. 95) the house was taxed on 40 hearths in the 1660s, (fn. 96) and was surrounded by a park of 14 a. in 1765. (fn. 97) Babraham Place was demolished in 1766–7 and the materials were sold, some being used to repair Chesterton sluice. (fn. 98)
Robert Jones, the purchaser in 1770, built a 'neat small seat' on the same site, (fn. 99) which was pulled down in 1832–3 to make way for Babraham Hall, built in 1833–7 to the design of Philip Hardwick. (fn. 100) The house was originally a tall symmetrical block in brick with stone dressings, of interest as an early example of the revival of the Jacobean style. The symmetry was disguised, though the style was to a large extent retained, when the house was considerably enlarged and internally remodelled in 1864. At the same date the gardens were laid out according to a 16th-century plan. (fn. 101) Further alterations, including a billiard room, were probably made later in the 19th century. The Hall and 450 a. were sold by Col. Adeane in 1948 to the Agricultural Research Council, which established the Institute of Animal Physiology there; in 1952–3 the old kitchens, servants' quarters, and outhouses were pulled down, and several blocks of laboratories have since been built. (fn. 102)
Count Alan of Brittany's second estate in Babraham in 1086 comprising 3 or 3½ yardlands, had previously been held by Alric the priest from Eddeva the fair, and was held in 1086 by Ralph. (fn. 103) No record of the land in the 12th century has been found, but in 1279, 1282, and c. 1285 50 a. were held of the honor of Richmond as ¼ knight's fee by Sir Roger Walsham. (fn. 104)
The king's land in Babraham in 1086 comprised 2½ yardlands, in the keeping of Picot the sheriff, and formerly held by Wulfwin under Earl Alfgar. (fn. 105) The land was in the sheriff's hand as a purpresture, rendering £1 a year in 1165, (fn. 106) and was granted in 1166 to Hamelin of Babraham, paying the same yearly sum. (fn. 107) Hamelin died c. 1190 and was succeeded by his son Walter. (fn. 108) Thomas Hamelin succeeded his father William in 1235. (fn. 109) After 1260 Thomas became a monk, and his estate of 123 a. was delivered to his son John in 1285. It was then held in chief by the serjeanty of keeping a goshawk and paying the king 20s. for mewing it, later reckoned to be a fee-farm. (fn. 110) John conveyed to his son Walter Hamelin in 1316 c. 66 a., (fn. 111) which on Walter's death in 1350 descended to his son John. (fn. 112) The heirs of John Hamelin (d. 1361) were his sisters Alice, wife of Richard Gerunde, and Marion, who settled the estate in 1363 on Maud, Richard's daughter, and her husband Simon Bokenham. (fn. 113) On Simon's death in 1393 it passed to his brother Roger, who in 1394 enfeoffed Simon's widow Christine. (fn. 114)
By 1401 the former Hamelin estate had come to Thomas Mounpellers, probably by marriage with Christine. (fn. 115) It may therefore be identified with the manor later known as MOMPELLERS. That estate, called Hameletts, was granted for life by the Crown to William Denton with 190 a. in 1488, after the outlawry for felony of its former owner, Edmund Church, (fn. 116) against whom lands in Babraham were probably recovered in 1499. (fn. 117) When William Denton died in 1506 Mompellers, said to be held of Bruisyard abbey, passed to his widow Mary (d. after 1514) and then to his kinsman Thomas Denton of Henley (Oxon.). (fn. 118) In 1536 Thomas conveyed the manor to the lessee Alan Chapman, to whom Thomas Denton of Denton (Cumb.) released it in 1549. (fn. 119) Alan's son John conveyed parts of the manor to Edward Wood and many others, (fn. 120) but in 1576 John's son Alan Chapman sold Mompellers to Robert Taylor with Bruisyards manor, with which Mompellers descended thereafter.
The Hamelin estate had a chief messuage in 1285, 1350 (when it was ruinous), and 1362. (fn. 121) William Denton (d. 1506) lived in the manor-house of Mompellers, which stood on a moated site. (fn. 122) Edward Wood was accused of removing glass, wainscot, ceilings, and tiles from the house, and later of pulling down part of its wall. (fn. 123)
In 1086 1½ yardland, which had been held of Earl Gurth T.R.E. by his man Lemmar, was held by Countess Judith. (fn. 124) That estate has not been traced further. Robert Fafiton held in 1086 1¼ hide which had been held of Earl Alfgar by Godeva. (fn. 125) Robert's land in Trumpington had by 1212 become part of the estates of Mortimer of Wigmore. (fn. 126) By c. 1235 ¼ fee at Babraham belonging to the 'honor of Fafiton', held by the Mortimers, was held under the earl of Winchester as mesne lord by Tristram of the Ash. (fn. 127) In 1242 that ¼ fee was held of Ralph Mortimer, perhaps by marriage to a widow, by John of Cottenham, under whose name it was entered among the fees held of the Mortimers until 1425. (fn. 128) Robert Tristram died in 1289 leaving 140 a. at Babraham, held from Sir Edmund Hemgrave (d. 1334) under the earl of Lincoln, to his son John, aged two. (fn. 129) By 1311 Robert atte Ash held that fee. (fn. 130) A John Tristram was resident at Babraham in 1328. (fn. 131) By 1346 Robert Tristram and his parceners were said to hold the ¼ fee, as were John Wilford and others in 1428. (fn. 132) It may have been the land in dispute between Wilford's heirs, including his son John, and his feoffees in the 1460s, (fn. 133) but its later fate is not known.
Hardwin de Scalers in 1086 held 2 yardlands of the king's fee, formerly held by four sokemen from King Edward, and 1 or ½ yardland of the abbot of Ely's fee, formerly held by two sokemen. The land was held from Hardwin by Durand. (fn. 134) About 1235 Herbert de Alencon, probably as mesne lord, held lands of Hardwin's fee in Cambridgeshire, (fn. 135) which had passed by 1269 to William de Criketot. (fn. 136) William's son William (d. 1299) was overlord in 1279, with Roger Barbedor as his mesne tenant, (fn. 137) and in 1308 William Barbedor was the last mesne lord recorded. (fn. 138) The Babraham estate was held c. 1235 by John of Sawston, (fn. 139) and in 1279 by his son William (d. 1308) under the Barbedors. (fn. 140) It descended in the Sawston family, with Dale manor in Sawston, (fn. 141) from William to John, recorded at Babraham in 1350, (fn. 142) and was held in 1428 by Ralph Sawston, (fn. 143) but has not been traced further.
In 1086 Pirot held from Eudes the steward 1½ yardland formerly held freely by Alfric Campe from King Edward. (fn. 144) Before 1162 Ralph Pirot became a monk at Colchester abbey (Essex), to which he gave ½ hide at Babraham, confirmed by his son Ralph. Between 1152 and 1162 Colchester granted a perpetual lease of the land to Sawtry abbey (Hunts.), (fn. 145) to which the pope confirmed Coplow Grange in Babraham, perhaps part of the same grant, in 1164. (fn. 146) By 1228 other grants or purchases had enlarged Sawtry's Babraham estate to over 180 a. (fn. 147) On its dissolution in 1537, the site and lands of the abbey were granted to Sir Richard Williams alias Cromwell, who sold Coplow Grange to George Gill. (fn. 148) In 1556 Gill sold it to John and Thomas Amy, (fn. 149) and John settled it in 1591 on his son Nicholas (d. v.p. 1596, leaving a minor son Erasmus). (fn. 150) Coplow Grange was apparently purchased between 1612 and 1614 by Sir Henry Palavicino, and descended with the manorial estate after his death. (fn. 151)
The remainder of Ralph Pirot's estate, whose lordship presumably descended in his family with Pyratts manor in Sawston, (fn. 152) was held in 1302 by Thomas of Pampisford (fn. 153) and was later known as RUMBOLDS manor. Ralph of Coggeshall held it in 1346, and William Rumbold in 1428. (fn. 154) By 1497 it was apparently held by Edith Green of Little Leighs (Essex), whose sons-in-law and executors, Sir William Fynderne and Sir Henry Tey, defended their right to it in 1499; (fn. 155) under Edith's will, they granted the income from it to Queens' College, Cambridge, in 1502, to maintain a priest for 60 years. (fn. 156) In 1562 Rumbolds was sold by William Brian to Clare Hall, Cambridge. (fn. 157) The manor was probably part of the college estate claimed and apparently won by Sir Horatio Palavicino in 1599, (fn. 158) for it was not mentioned thereafter as a distinct estate. Clare Hall had acquired another estate in Babraham before 1540; what it did not lose to Sir Horatio in 1599 it gave to Tobias Palavicino in 1631 in exchange for land at Dullingham. (fn. 159)
The manor called CIFREWASTS was in 1302 probably part of the estate of Thomas of Pampisford, who had married Elizabeth, widow of Richard Cifrewast (d. before 1274). (fn. 160) Thomas was alive in 1316, but by 1324 Richard Cifrewast, grandson of Richard and Elizabeth, was in possession. (fn. 161) On Richard's death in 1330 his estate, held from John Kirkby, passed to his son Roger, (fn. 162) who was succeeded in 1361, when it was held of the honor of Richmond, by his son John Cifrewast. (fn. 163) Sir John died in 1394 and his widow Catherine in 1403, (fn. 164) and their son John (d. 1441) obtained orders for livery of her dower in 1406 and 1421. (fn. 165) In 1499 Sibyl, one of John's three daughters, and her fifth husband, Thomas Danvers, warranted Cifrewasts with Rumbolds to Sir William Fynderne and Sir Henry Tey; (fn. 166) those manors descended together after that date.
Before 1502 Queens' College held land in Babraham amounting to 76½ a. by 1489; (fn. 167) it was given more by John Ottwar c. 1529 (fn. 168) and exchanged some land in Bartlow for 30 a. in Babraham in 1527. (fn. 169) Apart from its rights over Cifrewasts and Rumbolds the college estate covered c. 200 a., which was granted on a perpetual lease to Sir Horatio Palavicino and his children in 1598 and became part of the manorial estate. (fn. 170)
The lands called BEVERECH and TAKELYS, which descended with WILLINGHAMS and BLUNTS, may have derived their names from the Babraham families of Beverech (fl. 1327–1429) and Takely (fl. 1327–1411). (fn. 171) In 1543 Robert Lockton of Sawston (d. 1550) settled the four estates held from Alan Chapman on his wife Elizabeth; (fn. 172) John Chapman sold the property, covering 330 a., to Thomas Altham in 1556, (fn. 173) and it was part of Sir Horatio Palavicino's estate in 1600. (fn. 174)
The reputed manor of DEPENHAMS was probably the estate of Thomas Depenham (fl. 1434), whose father John had held land in Babraham. (fn. 175) It was conveyed in 1573 by Robert Twyford to John Machell, who apparently gave it to his father-in-law Sir Francis Hinde in 1581, (fn. 176) though it was probably the estate sold by Machell to Sir Horatio Palavicino in 1595. (fn. 177)
William I gave ½ yardland, held before the Conquest of the thegn Wulfwin by his man Godwin or Godric, to Aubrey de Vere. (fn. 178) Aubrey's son of the same name, who founded Hatfield Broadoak priory (Essex) c. 1135, gave it among other lands 1 knight's fee at Babraham. (fn. 179) In 1256 the priory was taxed on the estate, (fn. 180) which was not mentioned later and may have been absorbed into its larger estate in Great Abington. (fn. 181)
Waltham abbey (Essex), to which Geoffrey de Scalers (d. by 1202) gave Babraham church and 17 a., (fn. 182) was granted free warren there in 1253. (fn. 183) By 1279 the rectory estate consisted of 100 a. and a messuage. (fn. 184) The abbey was dissolved in 1540, (fn. 185) and in 1560 the rectory was granted to Richard Baker and Sir Richard Sackville. (fn. 186) Robert Taylor acquired it before 1589 when he conveyed it with the manors to Sir Horatio Palavicino, (fn. 187) and Tobias Palavicino held it in 1625, though it had been farmed since 1601 by Sir Oliver Cromwell; Cromwell had married Sir Horatio's widow and his daughters and son had married Sir Horatio's three children. (fn. 188) From 1632 the rectory descended with the Babraham manor. The great tithes of the non-manorial land were commuted in 1845 for a rent-charge of £28 10s. (fn. 189)
A small estate in Babraham and other parishes was given in 1347 to St. John's hospital, Cambridge, (fn. 190) and was transferred with the hospital's other lands to St. John's College in 1511. (fn. 191) The rectory estate owed £13 6s. 8d. a year to the college in 1560. (fn. 192) In 1765 the college's estate was held on lease by the lord of the manor, (fn. 193) and the college exchanged land with H. J. Adeane in 1844, (fn. 194) after which it owned 103 a. (fn. 195) The land was sold in 1878. (fn. 196) A rent-charge of £13 6s. 8d. a year, due to Jesus College, Cambridge, from the rectory estate in 1545, (fn. 197) 1765, and 1873, (fn. 198) was in 1948 apportioned between the Agricultural Research Council and Sir Robert Adeane. (fn. 199) Emmanuel College received a rentcharge from the manor of Babraham in 1734 and 1765. (fn. 200)
The Benedictine nunnery of Swaffham Bulbeck held c. 30 a. at Babraham which by 1248 was held at farm of it by William son of John, (fn. 201) and probably in 1270 by William Kirkby, (fn. 202) whose son John had succeeded him by 1286, (fn. 203) and bought 60 a. there in 1300. (fn. 204) In 1332 another John Kirkby sold the reversion of 140 a., mostly at Babraham, to John Breton and others. (fn. 205) The land has not been traced later.
Babraham in 1086 comprised almost 7 hides, of which about one-quarter was in demesne; the land was worked by 26 villani, 12 bordars, and 1 servus. The parish contained land for 8 plough-teams, and 7 were there, 3½ of them owned by the villani. All the estates had maintained their value since 1066, except Robert Fafiton's. (fn. 206)
The description of Babraham in 1279 is incomplete, omitting the estates of the Hamelin and Tristram families and that of Sawtry abbey, each covering more than 100 a. Sir Warin of Hereford had 220 a. in demesne, besides 112 a. of grass, Sir Roger Walsham 50 a., and William of Sawston 53 a. Their tenants included c. 9 freeholders of 10–40 a. and up to 60 small tenants with between ¼ a. and 10 a. Rents were paid almost entirely in money and no customary tenants were recorded. (fn. 207) Later medieval inquisitions mention only one estate where works were owed, that of Robert Tristram in 1289, (fn. 208) and the absence of references to copyhold at Babraham in any period suggests that customary tenure disappeared very early.
Between four and six open fields were mentioned in the late 15th century, in the 16th and 17th, (fn. 209) and c. 1800. (fn. 210) Their names changed, but Cambridge, Burgoyne or Burgin, Sawston, and Bournbridge fields were often among them. About 1800 Sawston and Burgin fields partly overlapped the boundary with Sawston, while Chalkpit and Farm fields lay north of the Cambridge-Linton road.
The only grain crop recorded in the 16th century was barley. (fn. 211) In 1513 William Cowper, a Babraham farmer, dealt in grain on a large scale, (fn. 212) and William Thurgar of Babraham was ordered in 1597 to supply grain to local markets. (fn. 213) Saffron was grown in small plots and gardens, some of them leased from Sawtry abbey, in the early 16th century. (fn. 214) Robert Tristram (d. 1289) had a dovecot, (fn. 215) and the parish was said in the 18th century to be remarkable for its honey. (fn. 216)
In 1488–9 there were c. 10 substantial landholders in Babraham. (fn. 217) During the 16th century the whole parish was consolidated into one estate. About 1800 the land was divided between five farms ranging from 85 a. to 552 a. and a number of smallholdings. (fn. 218) The concentration of land in single ownership made possible agricultural improvements which required a large outlay of capital. The irrigation of the meadows in Babraham was undertaken in 1653 or 1654 by Thomas Bennet, the lord of the manor, (fn. 219) although later attributed to Sir Horatio Palavicino. (fn. 220) At a cost of £10,000 a new watercourse was constructed, diverging from the river in Little Abington, where it was controlled by a three-sluice dam and running north of Babraham Hall. It was extended in 1659. The work was supervised by Thomas Bennet's cousin Hugh May, (fn. 221) later a well-known architect, (fn. 222) assisted by a Mr. Cromwell. The purpose was later referred to as watering or overflowing the adjacent land, and there is no evidence of true floating as in Wiltshire, (fn. 223) but c. 200 a. inclosed from the common fields increased in value fivefold or more after watering.
Pastoral farming was always prominent at Babraham; in 1086 205 sheep were recorded. (fn. 224) In 1347 Babraham's assessment at 109 stone of wool was higher than that of neighbouring parishes. (fn. 225) There were butchers there in the 15th century. (fn. 226) The lessee of Coplow farm employed a shepherd in 1536, (fn. 227) and the lords of Bruisyards and Mompellers manors had liberty of foldage. (fn. 228) John Machell sold his sheeppastures at Babraham to Sir Horatio Palavicino in 1595, (fn. 229) and a farm was leased with 600 sheep in 1637. (fn. 230) William Cole's father in the early 18th century leased part of his Babraham farm, probably the open land in the north part of the parish, to the earl of Godolphin's steward for the earl's race-horses. (fn. 231) There were over 550 a. of heath in Babraham c. 1800, and another 125 a. were intercommonable with Sawston and Pampisford. (fn. 232)
In 1794 c. 1,350 a. were still in open fields, cultivated in common. On the inclosed arable land a three- or four-year rotation was practised. (fn. 233) Less than 700 a. had been inclosed by c. 1800, (fn. 234) and there were open fields at Babraham in 1806, (fn. 235) but by 1829 apparently no common arable land remained. In 1829 the main farm-houses were Cot (later Copley Hill), Reed Barn (or Slough, later Reed), Chalk, Home, and New Barn (later Church) farms. Church Farm, north-west of the village street, was later demolished. (fn. 236) Rollypooly Barn was extended after 1829 and by 1901 was Rowley Farm. (fn. 237) Home farm was the smallest holding with 348 a. in 1871; the other farms had between 400 and 580 a. each. (fn. 238) The six farms survived in 1973.
Improved farming methods at Babraham were encouraged by H. J. Adeane, lord of the manor 1823–47, and the increased production from previously uncultivated land was attributed in 1845 to the judicious application of capital and to the spirited manner in which the land was farmed. (fn. 239) By 1825 a four-course rotation was stipulated for Adeane's tenants: the principal crops in the 19th century were wheat and barley, with large quantities of turnips grown for feed. (fn. 240) Flax lands and parsley beds were mentioned in 1765, (fn. 241) and there was a potato field in 1829. (fn. 242) Three-quarters of the land in the parish (1,751 a.) was under crops in 1845. (fn. 243)
The 17th-century watercourse was used throughout the 18th and earlier 19th century for occasional irrigation of the water-meadows, which covered c. 165 a. in 1794. (fn. 244) Experts were critical, however, of the use made of the system: the water was distributed unevenly, for only seven weeks in the early summer and autumn, and the meadows were mown only once a year. (fn. 245) Although no one at Babraham realized the potential use of irrigation, and in spite of the restricted period of watering, the land watered rose two or three times in value in the 19th century. R. J. Adeane rebuilt his sluice in 1820, and his son guarded his access to the sluices in Little Abington. (fn. 246) The watercourse apparently fell out of use in the later 19th century, was repaired in 1890, and was decayed by the early 20th century. (fn. 247) In 1845 it was the only one of its kind in southern Cambridgeshire. (fn. 248)
In 1794 there were c. 1,000 sheep in the parish, (fn. 249) and 419 a. were under pasture in 1845. (fn. 250) Jonas Webb, the well-known breeder of Southdown sheep, was tenant of Church farm in Babraham from c. 1820 until his death in 1862. (fn. 251) Although a few Cambridgeshire farmers had already tried Southdowns, (fn. 252) Webb imported stock from Sussex breeders and increased the amount of mutton on each animal in his flock of 2,400 sheep, which won many prizes; his rams were leased to breeders in America and Europe. The flock, reduced to 969 sheep, was sold in 1862 to breeders from North and South America, Australia, and all parts of Europe. Jonas Webb's brother Samuel, tenant of Reed Barn farm until c. 1879, (fn. 253) also bred Southdowns, and Samuel's successor Henry Lambert bred Hampshire Down sheep. (fn. 254)
Jonas Webb was also a successful breeder of Shorthorn cattle, which had been introduced at Babraham c. 1830 by H. J. Adeane from Lord Spencer's herd in Northamptonshire. (fn. 255) One Babraham farmer in 1806 found dairy cows more profitable than sheep. (fn. 256) R. J. Adeane (d. 1823) bought cattle in London for fattening, (fn. 257) and C. R. W. Adeane, lord of the manor 1870–1943, was a notable breeder of Shorthorns and served as president of the Royal Agricultural Society. (fn. 258) By 1905 the area of permanent pasture in the parish had increased to 553 a.; (fn. 259) rising feedstuff costs and low meat prices in the earlier 20th century gradually cleared Babraham of most of its stock, (fn. 260) and the common was ploughed for the first time in 1953. (fn. 261) Babraham farms were mainly arable in 1973, growing barley, wheat, sugar-beet, potatoes, and oats.
The Institute of Animal Physiology was established by the Agricultural Research Council in 1948 at Babraham Hall, to study the fundamental physiology of farm animals. (fn. 262) About 320 a. of the 450 a. purchased in 1948 were farmed, including c. 250 a. reclaimed from derelict scrub. Besides providing animals for experiments, the farm was designed to be commercially self-supporting; its stock in 1971 included over 700 sheep, 430 pigs, a herd of cattle, and poultry, and its manager had bred prize-winning sheep and Jersey cattle. (fn. 263)
Humphrey Darnton (d. 1803), a Babraham farmer, kept his labourers' wages down when prices were high by allowing them cheap pork, cheese, and rice. (fn. 264) Forty-six of the 51 families at Babraham were dependent on agriculture in 1811, (fn. 265) and in 1841 62 of the 114 males were agricultural labourers. (fn. 266) Nonetheless, there was in 1867 a great shortage of labour, which had to be imported from neighbouring parishes. (fn. 267) No industry or other employment developed in Babraham, which remained small and entirely agricultural. The Institute of Animal Physiology employed 136 staff in 1971, (fn. 268) many of whom lived on the housing estate inside the park.
The smaller Richmond estate had a water-mill in 1086 and 1279; Bruisyards had one in 1279 which was not recorded later. (fn. 269) A water-mill belonging to Mompellers manor was recorded between 1316 and 1401, (fn. 270) and was perhaps extant in 1499. (fn. 271) Cifrewasts had a mill between 1330 and 1421, (fn. 272) and there was a road called Mill way in the 15th century. (fn. 273) There was a miller in 1581, (fn. 274) but apparently no mill at Babraham in 1601, (fn. 275) and none was recorded thereafter. A local tradition that a windmill once stood in the meadows is probably unfounded. (fn. 276)
John of Brittany, earl of Richmond, was granted a weekly Monday market at Babraham in 1335, confirmed in 1344, (fn. 277) but no evidence of its existence has been found.
The honor of Richmond held a court at Babraham from the 13th to the 15th century, to which other Cambridgeshire manors held of the honor owed suit, being sometimes said to be held as of the manor of Babraham. (fn. 278) A sentence given in the honorial court in the late 13th century was later reversed by the king's court. (fn. 279) The Richmond court met at least once a month in 1356 and 1426, (fn. 280) and twice yearly or more in 1486; (fn. 281) a court roll survives for 1334. (fn. 282)
The holders of the Richmond manors also held view of frankpledge at Babraham c. 1235, in 1279 and 1282, (fn. 283) and in the 15th century. (fn. 284) The abbot of Waltham in 1299 claimed view of frankpledge and the assize of bread and of ale by prescription, (fn. 285) and court rolls exist for various dates in the 15th century and 1540. (fn. 286) The Waltham court had profits valued at 1s. 5½d. in 1540, (fn. 287) but it probably lapsed at the Dissolution.
Although conveyances of the amalgamated manors in the 16th century and later always included the right to hold a court leet, there is no record of courts actually being held. Babraham had two constables and a town herdsman in the 1550s. (fn. 288) A parish rate for recasting a bell in 1599 was made by Sir Horatio Palavicino at his house with his servant and the two churchwardens, though parishioners protested at the lack of public discussion. (fn. 289)
Expenditure on poor-relief rose sharply to £208 in 1803, when 16 people received permanent relief. (fn. 290) By 1813 it had reached a peak of £486 when 26 people were on permanent relief, (fn. 291) but it gradually fell to £117 in 1828 and £130 in 1834. (fn. 292) No one in Babraham was permanently unemployed in 1829. (fn. 293) The parish was included in the Linton poor-law union in 1835 and was transferred to the South Cambridgeshire R.D. in 1934, (fn. 294) remaining in South Cambridgeshire in 1974.
The record of a priest, Alric, in 1066 suggests that there was then a church in Babraham. (fn. 295) The church was given by Geoffrey de Scalers to Waltham abbey, probably in the 1180s; it was also claimed, however, by Sawtry abbey, which already held land in Babraham and to which Geoffrey's father had withdrawn as a Cistercian monk. Both houses obtained papal confirmation of their claims between 1191 and 1195, but by 1198 Sawtry had abandoned to Waltham all its claims in the church, except to certain tithes on its own lands. By a further settlement of 1228 Sawtry gave the church 23 a. in return for freedom from tithe on c. 180 a. of its land in Babraham. (fn. 296) Coplow Grange, Sawtry's farm, was still accounted free from great tithes in the 16th century. (fn. 297)
Waltham abbey appropriated the church in the 13th century, probably between 1228 and 1253 when it was granted free warren in Babraham. A vicarage was ordained before c. 1278. (fn. 298) All the known presentations to the benefice before 1540 were made by Waltham abbey, except in 1476 when the abbot granted a turn to John Elrington, treasurer of the royal household. (fn. 299) From the Dissolution the Crown retained the advowson (fn. 300) until 1728 (fn. 301) or later. Bennet Alexander Bennet was said to be patron before his death in 1745, (fn. 302) and the advowson descended with the manor thereafter, though the Crown presented by lapse in 1798. (fn. 303) The patron in 1973 was Sir Robert Adeane. (fn. 304)
The vicarage of Babraham was exempted from taxation through its poverty in 1445; (fn. 305) in 1535 it was worth only £6 5s. 9d. and was the poorest living in Camps deanery. (fn. 306) In 1650 it was valued at £20 a year, (fn. 307) but its yield had risen to £31 15s. 6d. by 1728. (fn. 308) The vicar's income had once come from small tithes, which he was receiving in the 16th century, (fn. 309) and from 14½ a. glebe, which he held in 1615. (fn. 310) By 1748, however, the lord of the manor was paying a fixed sum of £30, charged on the manorial estate in 1765, in place of tithes and glebe. (fn. 311) From 1839 the Adeanes paid the vicar 100 guineas a year, (fn. 312) raised by 1877 to £125, (fn. 313) the rent-charge fixed when the small tithes were formally extinguished in 1845. (fn. 314) There were 3 a. of vicarial glebe in 1877. (fn. 315) No vicarage house is recorded until the 19th century, though some 16th-century incumbents were resident. (fn. 316) There was no house in 1615, (fn. 317) and in 1836 the curate lived in a house belonging to H. J. Adeane. (fn. 318) A new house was built between then and 1841, probably by H. J. Adeane on the institution of Joseph Singleton in 1839. (fn. 319)
John de Scalers (fl. 1246–71) founded a chantry in the chapel of St. Mary in Babraham church, apparently in the 1260s, endowing it with 2 messuages, 40 a., 15s. rent, and pasture for 4 cattle; if the founder and his heirs failed to present, a priest was to be appointed by the prior of Anglesey. (fn. 320) The chantry-priest of St. Mary was taxed in 1347, (fn. 321) and there was a priest in 1406. (fn. 322) Anglesey presented in 1439, but in 1479 and 1491 the abbess of Bruisyard presented. (fn. 323) The foundation, not mentioned as a chantry after 1492, (fn. 324) may have been connected with the guild of St. Mary in Babraham church recorded in 1504. (fn. 325) The 18 a. of chantry and obit lands sold by the Crown to Sir John Butler and Thomas Chaworth in 1553 may have been part of the chantry's endowment. (fn. 326)
Robert Wistowe, vicar in 1363, was then at Avignon trying to secure another living. (fn. 327) In 1504 Margaret, countess of Richmond, provided for a Cambridge university preacher to give sermons every year in a number of churches including Babraham. The sermons were abolished in 1679. (fn. 328) John Hullier, vicar from 1549 until c. 1555, was burned to death for heresy at Cambridge in 1556. (fn. 329) The parish was without a vicar and was served by a curate 1561–7, (fn. 330) and was sequestrated in 1569. (fn. 331) The vicar from 1617, Thomas Thornton, was ejected from his college fellowship in 1644 but retained the living of Babraham until his death in 1651. (fn. 332)
From the 1660s the cure was served by a succession of curates and sequestrators. (fn. 333) In the 18th century incumbents were usually non-resident fellows of Cambridge colleges; they included William Geekie, vicar in 1725, a fellow of Queens' College, (fn. 334) Stephen Whisson, vicar from 1746 to c. 1766, university librarian 1751–83, who also held a living in Norfolk, (fn. 335) and Henry Lloyd, vicar 1798–1831, who was Regius Professor of Hebrew at Cambridge and lived at Edinburgh. (fn. 336) The long incumbency of Joseph Singleton, vicar 1839–89, and the provision of a vicarage house set new standards of pastoral care at Babraham. The curate who preceded Singleton had raised the number of communion services each year from three to four, (fn. 337) and by 1877 there were six. (fn. 338) In 1851 the average attendances were 90 people at the morning service and 190 in the afternoon. (fn. 339) The Adeane family took a close interest in maintaining the church throughout the 19th century. (fn. 340) In modern times Babraham has often been held with neighbouring parishes, such as Great Abington 1890–3 and Hildersham 1919–21 and 1960–2. (fn. 341) Since 1947 Babraham has been held in plurality with the vicarage of Pampisford by dispensation, the vicar living since 1958 at Babraham. (fn. 342)
The church of ST. PETER, so called since the 12th century, (fn. 343) is of field stones and rubble with dressings of freestone, and has a chancel, an aisled and clerestoried nave with north and south porches, and a west tower. The chancel and lower parts of the tower surviving from the mid 13th century show that the church was then a building larger than average for the area, and a 12th-century capital re-used as rubble in the chancel may be evidence of an earlier church. The chancel, already well lit, was provided with more windows and a south doorway in the 14th century. The nave was completely rebuilt with aisles and arcades of four tall bays early in the 15th century, and the south porch and upper stages of the tower are of about the same date. Later in the 15th century the church was furnished with a pulpit, font cover, rood-screen, and seating. After the Reformation the church was apparently kept in good repair; the north porch and clerestory were probably not added until the later 16th century. The altar-rails were destroyed in the 17th century, perhaps by William Dowsing in 1644, and a new set was made in 1665, about which time the east face of the tower was strengthened with brickwork. Other additions of the period were associated with the Bennet family; a large monument of 1667 to Sir Thomas and Richard Bennet in the south aisle, the reredos of 1700, and a monument to Judith Bennet (d. 1713). Many early fittings, including the screen, were removed during an extensive restoration of 1770–4 by Robert Jones, when the chancel roof was slated and the nave roof completely rebuilt. (fn. 344) The chancel was again repaired shortly before 1836, and the church was thoroughly restored between 1890 and 1910. (fn. 345) Many monuments to members of the Adeane family were installed in the 19th and 20th centuries, including the east window of stained glass designed by John Piper in 1966.
In 1552 the church had four bells and a sanctus bell. (fn. 346) In 1599 the sanctus bell was in the house of Sir Horatio Palavicino, and neither he nor the parishioners were willing to pay for it to be rehung. (fn. 347) Four of an original peal of five bells remained in 1882, though one was broken; two (formerly three) were by John Draper of Thetford, 1615, given by Sir Henry Palavicino, (fn. 348) and survived in 1973, although one was cracked. (fn. 349) The church plate c. 1278 included two chalices, as in 1552, when one was taken. (fn. 350) Patens were given to the church by Elizabeth Lamott in 1633 and Dorothy Page in 1735, and a flagon by George Thorpe, curate, in 1685. (fn. 351) The parish registers begin in 1651, and are virtually complete.
In 1797 a house in Babraham was registered for nonconformist worship. (fn. 352) In 1807 there were one papist and a few Protestants, perhaps Methodists, who occasionally attended another church. (fn. 353) Four people in 1877 attended a chapel in Sawston, and in the 1880s members of the Congregational chapel there held Sunday evening services in a house at Babraham. (fn. 354) Only two or three families were thought to be nonconformists in 1897. (fn. 355)
A schoolmaster was mentioned in 1607. (fn. 356) In 1730, under the will of Judith Bennet, (fn. 357) a charity school was established at which all the children of the parish were to be taught free, except those whose parents held land worth £50 a year, and the schoolmaster, a member of the Church of England, was to teach the catechism. (fn. 358) The children were also taught spelling and arithmetic. (fn. 359) In 1818 20–30 pupils aged 7–14 attended the school, and an evening school was occasionally held in the winter for the older children. (fn. 360) In 1837 c. 30 children whose parents were settled parishioners were taught free; all the pupils learnt reading, writing, and arithmetic, and H. J. Adeane paid the master's wife £5 a year to teach the girls 'plain work'. (fn. 361) Additions were made to the school, which stood in the middle of the row of alms-houses, in 1861 and 1869, and a new room for infants was added in 1902 when the number of pupils reached 70. (fn. 362) A night school was poorly attended in 1867 and had been abandoned by 1877 for lack of support, (fn. 363) but the schoolmaster held technical classes on winter evenings in 1897 and 1900 and there was then a parochial library. (fn. 364) In 1872 most of the children were withdrawn from the school in protest at the imposition of fees, and although by 1878 Babraham children were again educated free, fees being paid only by pupils from other parishes, strong opposition was aroused by a Scheme giving the trustees powers to charge if necessary. (fn. 365) Attendance had fallen to 31 by 1922, and senior pupils were transferred to schools at Great Abington and Sawston in 1925 and to Sawston village college in 1930. (fn. 366) A new primary school was opened in 1959 on a site in Babraham bought from the Agricultural Research Council and conveyed in 1961 to the trustees of the educational charity. (fn. 367)
Charities for the Poor.
By will proved 1723 Levinus Bush devised the reversion of one-fifth of the manor of Babraham, after the death of his father James (d. 1726), to his aunt Judith Bennet, on condition that she leave £1,000 to charitable uses. Judith (d. 1724) gave £500 to build a free school and alms-houses for six women in Babraham, and for the other £500 charged her lands with £25 a year for apprenticing former pupils. In expectation of another legacy of £1,000, under James Bush's will dated 1723, Judith also charged her lands with £100 a year for the schoolmaster, almspeople, and apprentices. After Judith's death, however, James transferred the legacy to his daughter-in-law Sarah Bush, and a Chancery decree of 1734 reduced the rent-charges to £50 a year for the school and almshouses and £25 a year for the apprentices. (fn. 368)
Although the school and alms-houses were built in 1730, the rent-charges were not regularly paid: suits for payment and arrears were brought in 1734, 1757, 1762, and 1793. (fn. 369) In 1765 £1,353 stock was purchased, increased to £2,195 by 1863, but reduced to £1,256 by 1963. The charity's income in addition to the £75 rent-charge was £59 in 1837 and £66 in 1863. (fn. 370) A Scheme of 1878 provided that the whole net income, apart from the alms-house stipends and upkeep and the apprentices' fund, should be devoted to the school, and in 1908 Bush and Bennet's charity was divided into an alms-house charity, and an educational foundation. The income of the almshouse charity was £108 in 1961, and £256 in 1965. The six almswomen each received 3s. a week in 1806 (fn. 371) and 1877, with gifts of coal and clothing at Christmas. In 1959 the almswomen received 6s. a week, but after the modernization of their house a Scheme of 1963 allowed the trustees to charge small rents. The alms-houses, three red-brick onestorey dwellings on each side of a central two-storey block used for the school until 1959, were modernized in 1959–60 when the six one-room houses were converted to four.
In the 1830s boys from the largest and most deserving families were apprenticed outside the parish. (fn. 372) In 1877 it was difficult to find either apprentices or tradesmen to take them. The proposed diversion of the money to the almswomen or the school in years when no-one applied for apprenticeship was fiercely opposed by the labourers, and never formally adopted, but after 1913 when applications ceased completely the money was usually divided between the almswomen.