A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
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Manors and other estates
Ufi probably left the whole vill to Ely abbey between 996 and 1001. (fn. 1) In 1066 Ely's WILLINGHAMmanor was assessed at 7 of the 7½ hides there, the remainder being divided between a tenant and sokeland of the abbey. (fn. 2) On the creation of the diocese of Ely in 1109, the manor became part of the bishop's portion (fn. 3) and was held by his successors for the next five centuries. (fn. 4) By 1600 the land was mostly alienated and the manor comprised little more than quitrents and manorial rights, some of which were difficult to enforce. (fn. 5)
In 1599 Bishop Heton conceded the manor to the queen, who sold it in 1601 to Miles Sandys (fn. 6) (cr. Bt. 1611). (fn. 7) Sandys and his son and namesake conveyed it in 1626 to Thomas Parke (fn. 8) (d. 1631), perhaps as an indirect marriage settlement for his daughter and heir Elizabeth and the younger Sandys (kt. 1626), who possessed it by 1631. (fn. 9) Heavily in debt, Sandys conveyed the manor in 1649 or 1650 to trustees, one of whom, Richard Holman, became sole owner between 1664 and 1668. (fn. 10) By will proved 1678 Holman gave it to his son and namesake (fn. 11) (? d. 1679), whose successor John Holman by will proved 1689 left it to his nephew John Brownell. Brownell, of age in 1691, was lord until 1735. (fn. 12) He was later said to have shot himself, leaving the manor to his steward Dingley Askham. (fn. 13) Askham (d. 1781) probably gave it with his younger daughter Harriet on her marriage in 1752 to Sir Thomas Hatton, Bt., of Long Stanton. Hatton (d. 1787) was succeeded in turn by his sons Sir John (d. 1811) and Sir Thomas Dingley Hatton (d. 1812), (fn. 14) the latter's heirs being his six sisters. On the partition of their estate c. 1816, Willingham fell to Elizabeth Ann Hatton, under whose will, proved 1845, it passed with the reunited Hatton estate in Long Stanton to a distant relative, Daniel Heneage Finch-Hatton (d. 1866). (fn. 15) The manorial rights descended in turn to his sons Edward Hatton Finch-Hatton (d. 1887) and William Robert (d. 1909), then to the latter's sons George Daniel (d. 1921) and Nigel Montagu Finch-Hatton, (fn. 16) who in 1922 sold them to W. H. Francis (d. 1940). The latter's son W. M. Francis died in 1970 and in 1973 the lordship was sold by his heirs to Mr. R. B. Johns, who retained it in 1982. (fn. 17)
In 1238 the king gave 50 oaks to the bishop of Ely to rebuild his houses at Willingham. (fn. 18) The manor house, standing north of the church in an enclosure known later as Lordship close, (fn. 19) was substantial enough in 1244 to accommodate the king's household. (fn. 20) In 1357 it included a hall with chambers at its upper and lower ends, a kitchen, and other rooms called the 'knyghtchambre' and 'clerkchambre', mostly in good repair, and a dilapidated treasury and chapel. (fn. 21) Inquisitions were held there in 1370 and 1371, (fn. 22) but it was afterwards abandoned by the bishops, who were leasing their demesne by c. 1480. (fn. 23) In 1592 the close contained three houses and a barn. (fn. 24) The south-west part of the close was used to extend the churchyard in 1866. (fn. 25)
About 1210 Gilbert Something (Aucunechose) and Robert Leyr held ¼ knight's fee under the bishop of Ely. (fn. 26) In 1251 it was held as I hide by Thomas Something (Aliquid), (fn. 27) c. 1302 by Walter Something and his partners, and in 1346 by John Something, chaplain, all presumably descendants of Gilbert Something. (fn. 28) On John's death after 1350 it was apparently divided among four coheirs, (fn. 29) remaining in four parts in 1428. (fn. 30) Three have not been traced further, though in 1463 or 1464 Thomas Sowkeild did homage for land held by knight service. (fn. 31) The fourth part of the Something fee became a separate manor, BOURNEYS, regarded until the 17th century as held of the manor of Willingham. (fn. 32) The Bourn family was established in Willingham by 1295 (fn. 33) and Simon Bourn held 360 a. in Willingham and Long Stanton in 1331. (fn. 34) He was succeeded after 1349 (fn. 35) by John Bourn (fl. 1367-1404), (fn. 36) probably his son, (fn. 37) who held a fourth part of the Something fee in 1395. (fn. 38) The holder in 1428 was another Simon Bourn (? fl. 1406-34) (fn. 39) and another John Bourn was resident in Willingham in 1440. (fn. 40)
By will proved 1475 he or a namesake left the manor for life to his wife Joan (fn. 41) (d. 1495). Her grandson and heir John Druell (d. 1495) was succeeded by his brother Richard, of age in 1503 (fn. 42) (d. 1525). Of Richard's daughters and heirs, Joan died in 1528 and the manor passed to Anne (fn. 43) and her husband Thomas Peryent (d. 1545). Anne died in 1546, leaving as heirs her four daughters. Bourneys was assigned in 1548 to Dorothy, wife of George Burgoyne, (fn. 44) from whom it was bought in 1572 by Thomas Marsh of Pampisford (fn. 45) (d. 1587). (fn. 46) It descended with Pampisford in the families of Marsh, Parker, and Parker Hamond (fn. 47) until 1893 when Col. R. T. Hamond sold it to J. W. Prior. (fn. 48) By will dated 1901 Prior left it in trust for his nieces and nephew and in 1975 Mr. R. B. Johns, already lord of Willingham manor, bought Bourneys from the trustees. (fn. 49)
Bourneys manor house occupies a large close west of High Street. In the late 16th century its lords were non-resident and the farmhouse and demesne were leased. (fn. 50) The present building, known as Bourneys Manor Farm and probably dating from the 17th century but much altered, is T-shaped, two-storeyed, and timber-framed. The front range contains a hall and staircase flanked by two rooms, one with a plaster roundel dated 1696, and the back range was the original kitchen. (fn. 51)
A yardland which in 1066 was soke of Ely abbey but held by Eddeva's man Osulf passed with Eddeva's estates to Count Alan (fn. 52) and presumably descended with his honor of Richmond, of which the Somethings held part of their land in Willingham in the early 13th century. (fn. 53) Another yardland, held in 1066 by Gold, an unfree tenant of Ely, had passed by 1086 to a tenant of Picot, sheriff of Cambridge. Picot perhaps granted it to the house of canons regular which he founded c. 1092, later Barnwell priory. (fn. 54) In 1291 the prior was assessed at 12d. on his temporalities in Willingham, (fn. 55) probably the 12d. rent due to Barnwell from John Bourn in 1295. (fn. 56) The priory's land, not recorded later, was perhaps absorbed by Bourn. (fn. 57)
By will proved 1709, effective by 1719, Samuel Saywell left Queenholme pasture, c. 198 a., to the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy. Quarters of the income were to go to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. (fn. 58) The estate remained intact until sold to its tenant in 1918. (fn. 59)
The property in Willingham on which St. John's hospital, Cambridge, was taxed in 1254 (fn. 60) presumably passed with the rest of the hospital's endowments to its successor St. John's College. (fn. 61) The college had a small income from land in the parish c. 1545 (fn. 62) and held 7 a. after the inclosure award in 1853. (fn. 63) Jesus College, Cambridge, held two tenements c. 1545, (fn. 64) which were augmented with former chantry land under the will of its master John Reston, proved 1551. (fn. 65) In 1575 the college owned 48 a. of arable and in 1727 its estate comprised c. 125 a. (fn. 66) At inclosure in 1853 the college had 40 a. of old inclosures and was allotted a further 235 a. (fn. 67) The estate was sold in 1920. (fn. 68) Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, was allotted c. 20 a. at inclosure for land acquired after the 1720s and sold it in 1921. (fn. 69) By the 1720s Queens' College owned 34½ a. (fn. 70) The 50 a. allotted at inclosure (fn. 71) were sold in 1916. (fn. 72)