There were masons, whose materials came from the nearby quarries in Calverton, Cosgrove and Wolverton, carpenters and woodcarvers, thatchers and yelmers (men who prepared straw for thatching) all of whom are recorded in the rolls in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Edys were originally woollen merchants who at the beginning of the 15th century had considerable wealth and much influence. There were two brothers, John [Fine Rolls 1421] and William [Fine Rolls 1429].
John had a son [John Edy junior, Fine Rolls1431] who began accumulating land in the 1430s. He owned land in Cosgrove in 1445.
The plague certainly came close to Cosgrove in the 17th century. In 1625 it killed 113 people in the east side of Stony Stratford. In 1641 Stony lost 102 people and in 1647 another 43. In 1665 Wolverton people suffered the plague but Stony Stratford escaped.
P 68 Furtho
The two churches of Stony Stratford were united in a single benefice and Edmund Arnold of Furtho bequeathed money in 1676 to them on condition that the parishioners would be allowed to choose their own curate.
In 1710 the Longuevilles’ land ownership agreements came to an end and Dr John Radcliffe bought the whole estate. North of the River Ouse most of the land between Cosgrove, Lillingstone Lovell and Towcester became the estate of Henry Fitzroy, first Duke of Grafton.
The estate included Whittlewood forest, described in 1769 as
“divided by the woodsmen into 5 walks, namely Wakefield, where the Duke of Grafton has a house, Sholebrook, Hazlebury, Shrob and Hanger Walks, and each of these is divided into several coppices. There are also two lawns and pastures for deer, which are railed in. Fourteen townships were, until lately, allowed the right of common here for their cows and horses, in the open coppices and ridings.”
Cosgrove maps and Land agreements
In 1769 the Shrob came right down to the Old Stratford Deanshanger Road and formed a dense wood with many alleys in which strangers could easily get lost. The Shrob Walk was divided into five copses, the one nearest the Old Stratford crossroads being called Sallow Copse, and to its north were Eustilus and Bears Watering Copse, which extended to Puxley. Along the Deanshanger Road were first pond Riding Copse and then Cole Copse, which stretched to within sight of Deanshanger.
The original Shrob Lodge, which burned down in around 1850, was built in the 17th century for Thomas Willis of Whaddon, and it was here that his son Browne Willis, the great Buckinghamshire historian, spent much of his youth. It then passed to the Hartley family of Stony Stratford for a few years and for a century after that was inhabited by the keeper of Shrob Walk.
In 1791 there was a Survey by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. Whittlewood was computed to be 32 square miles in extent 5424 acres, of which 295 acres were in the Shrob, 514 in Hanger Walk, and 1814 in Wakefield Walk. The forest was still famous for its oaks, for in the previous two centuries it had provided over 51,000 for the Royal Navy and the Royal Palaces.The Shrob was the only part of the forest constantly enclosed with rails.
As a result of this survey, the resolution was taken to deforest the Shrob and to bring the whole area under cultivation. By 1820 all Puxley was clear, and North Field Farm had been created. Within another twenty years all had been cleared except a small spinney near the Shrob and a tiny triangle of trees north of North Farm. The last deer in Shrob Walk was killed in 1800. In the rest of Whittlewood deer were kept until the 20th century and Robins’ Diary records that in 1854 nearly 400 deer were caught or killed in a four day hunt. Robins was an observant old grazier who lived at the King’s Head.
Description of an area called the Malletts on the East side (near Stony Sports ground) from 1487 owned by John Edy of Cosgrove who is thought to have built the Magdalen Tower. Thereafter this land was owned by families of Pigott, then Penn, and Langracke, who let it to John Mansell.
There were water mills at Beachampton Mill, Passenham Mill, Stony Stratford Mill, Old Wolverton Mill and Meads Mill, near what is now Stantonbury. On the River Tow were two Mills, Thorpe Mill at Castlethorpe and Priory Mill at Cosgrove. There was a windmill somewhere between Old Stratford and Passenham, another at Potterspury, which disappeared in about 1840 and another at Bradwell, which was in use up until 1864.
Rev W Cole of Bletchley gives this account in his Diary of a dinner held for Dr Pulter Forester, Rector of Cosgrove and Passenham, and who in 1767 was Chancellor of the Diocese of Lincoln. All the local gentry were invited to meet him.
1766 Oct 13
I went to dinner on a Turtle of about 80 pounds at the Bull at Stony Stratford at an Ordinary for the neighbouring Gentry, given by Mr Bigging [Biggin] of Cosgrove to Dr Forester, who gave it to the Public; by which he avoided the expense of a large company at his own house. It [the Turtle] was very well dressed, with an Elegant Dinner, by Mr Knightley’s cook of Fawsley. Cards after dinner. The Company about 50, viz, Mr and Mrs Knapp of Little Lynford, Mrs Uthwatt of Great Lynford and with her Lawson Shann and his two unmarried sisters, Mrs Shepherd of Litcot and her 2 sons, Mr Robin Lowndes of Great Brickhill with Mr Pitts of the same, Miss Clara Lowndes of Astwood Bury, Dr and Mrs Forester, Mrs Bigging and her daughter [Mary Anne], Captain Mansell, Captain Rigby and his sister with Mr Mackanasse of Haversham, Mr and Mrs Shipton and their Daughter of Stanton-Barry, Mrs Ecklass, Mr Sabyn of Perry and his Daughter, Mr Hammer of Simpson, Dr Dayrell of Lillingstone Dayrell, Mr Arnold Rr of Perry, Mrs Deane of Cosgrove, Widow, Mr and Mrs Wilmer and Mr Bloxham with Mr Bradbury, all of Stony Stratford, Mr Smith of Wolverton, and others I cannot recollect. I got home about 8 o’clock.
Apparently he did not stay for the ball which followed.
The picture above shows a proper turtle dinner - still served in the US, as in the Charboneau Reveillon Christmas Eve dinner.
When John Whalley of Cosgrove died in 1670 it was found that he had left, in his will, the rents and profits of his estates at Hartwell (with the exception of £4 annually to the Vicar of Hartwell) to be used in apprenticing poor boys born in or near Stony Stratford. The apprenticing fee was not to exceed £10, but when the boy had served his time satisfactorily he was allowed £10 “to set himself up in the trade in which he was bound”. The income was then about £61 a year.
From 1684 to 1707 fifty eight boys were apprenticed by this charity, fewer than three a year; and of these, twenty two went to London. The favourite trades were blacksmith, cordwainer and frame-work knitter, but there were also lace buyers, pin makers, curriers, glovers, weavers and barbers. Among those apprenticed in London were shipwrights, “poulters”, sailmakers and one musician.
The Arnold Charity was similar, but for a total of £20 a year, and in the period of 1692 to 1750 sixty six children were apprenticed by this charity twenty four to London. Among these were a few girls, who usually went into service.
The conditions of apprenticeship as set out in the indentures were pretty grim, as may be gathered from the following, which is typical of most of them [unclear whether this is an actual transcription from Whalleys or Arnolds]
During the term of seven years, the said Apprentice his said Master well and faithfully shall serve, his secrets shall keep, his lawful commandments shall do, fornication and adultery shall not commit, hurt and damage to his Master he shall not do, not consent to be done, but to his power shall not let it, Taverns or Alehouses he shall not frequent, unless it be about his Master’s business there to be done: at Dice, Cards, Tables, Bowls or any other unlawful Games he shall not play……. Matrimony with any person within the term shall not contract, nor from his Master’s service absent himself; but as a true and faithful Apprentice shall order and present himself towards his Master as well in Deeds as in Words during the said Term.
The Master, on the other hand, had to find his apprentice with “sufficient and enough of meat, drink, washing and lodging and sufficient apparel for such an apprentice” and a new woollen suit at the end of the term, as well as to have him “taught, learned and informed” his trade during his apprenticeship.
The fame of Whalley’s and Arnold’s spread abroad, and tradesmen and merchants from many parts of south England wrote to the trustees for a good lad to be an apprentice. Tradesmen from as far apart as Staffordshire and Kent received boys and girls to serve apprenticeships. There is no indication in the documents available that the trustees of the Arnold or Whalley Charities ever visited their apprentices to find out whether or not they were happy.
At one period is seems that the trustees were almost indifferent to the welfare of their charges, for they sent some of the boys straight from the workhouse with the tattered clothes they stood up in, in charge of the local carrier. One master wrote from Northampton in 1737:
I like ye boy very well, but I find you sent no clothes with him than those on his back, so I desire you would clothe him humbly he wants everything but shoes, both linen and woollen, and a hat.
Another letter dated 1720 says of a boy who had just arrived as a bound apprentice:
I desire you to send his cloathes up ye first opportunity, for he is very bare, and has no shoes or stockings but what I have given him, so I hope you will fit him up well at first, and afterwards he shall want for nothing. It is always usual for a boy that is bound to have somebody with him, to pay his part of ye charger [carrier?] but as nobody was with him I paid it for you, your part comes to 16s and no more, so pray send it with ye cloathes if you can.
Throughout the next two centuries these indentures continue, and the Whalley’s and Arnold charities still exist today. Hundreds of boys and girls, who would otherwise have become labourers, were instead taught a trade.
From 1750 onwards Stony Stratford had a Fire Brigade which also attended fires in the local villages, for which they were charged. In 1833 they obtained a new fire engine, and the subscribers included the parishes of Passenham, Hanslope, Potterspury, Yardley, Calverton, Whaddon, Castlethorpe, Cosgrove, Shenley, Wolverton, Loughton, and Bradwell. These parishes paid £1 each per year up to 1835, then 5s per year to 1840, then 10s per year. By this time they had stopped paying the Fire Brigade for beer.
In 1740 John Heywood was ordained pastor of the Independent Chapel at Potterspury. He rapidly extended his ministry to cover lectures and sermons at Towcester, Yardley Gobion, Cosgrove, Old Stratford, Deanshanger, Hanslope and Stony Stratford. He died in 1778.
P 164 Cosgrove Iron Trunk Aquaduct
When in 1808 the old wood and clay aqueduct over the Ouse at Cosgrove collapsed, all Stratford was thrown into panic. The fear was not that the canal waters would deluge the surrounding district but that the mass of material which had fallen would so block up the Ouse that the whole district would soon be flooded. Next morning everybody flocked to the scene of the disaster, and were relieved to find that one arch of the aqueduct still remained and that through this the waters of the Ouse were still flowing.
The canal development closed down several tracks and bridleways which had been only occasionally used. The main road from Buckingham to Stratford was now established definitely north of the river, but the old bridleways from Calverton to Beachampton and from Stratford to Deanshanger were carefully preserved.
The new bridge at Old Stratford presented such a steep rise that it was found impossible to get wagons up it in wet or frosty weather, and in 1820 the hollow was filled up, leaving half a dozen houses on the north east corner of the crossroads some 10 feet below road level. These houses were pulled down in about 1925.
In the late 1880s people at Cosgrove found that in order to drive a horse and trap to Wolverton station one mile distant as the crow flies three tolls had to be paid at 6d each. One was at the Dog’s Mouth along the Northampton Road, One on the Stony Stratford bridge and one on the Wolverton Road.
P 184 Arnold & Whalley
In 1894 an Act was passed giving parish councils the power to administer all charities over forty years old other than Ecclesiastical [church] charities. The Stratfords divided into two camps. The Church party claimed that the Arnold’s and Whalley’s charities, which were easily the most important of the local charities, were ecclesiastical, and that the apprenticing money should only be used for church boys apprenticed to church going masters.
The nonconformists hotly disputed this, arguing that both charities were left for the poor of the town, irrespective of religion, The Church replied that since Arnold had appointed the local vicars and churchwardens as trustees he obviously meant his charity to be used for churchgoers.
In 1895 an anonymous article appeared in The North Bucks Democrat
By some jerrymandering by the administrators or trustees, the premiums of this charity (Whalley’s) have been given only to tradesmen who attend the parish church….. no tradesman who is I dissenter has been allowed to have the premium, the Church has decided that “no dissenter need apply”.
This is all contrary to the will of the donor….. This charity has been for generations a huge bribe to draw tradesmen to church, and has robbed the dissenting tradesmen of their legally rightful share of the charity………… Well to do tradesmen who went to Church have had premiums from this charity for their own sons. This robs the poor.
The Council passed a resolution condemning the account in The Democrat “before the report of the sub-committee had been given to the Councils.
The argument spread to the newspapers and the inns. There had never been such intense feeling between Church and Chapel, and local politicians took up the quarrel. There was a growing feeling that the parishes of Stony Stratford East and West should be amalgamated and poor a time there were combined meetings.
At the first united meeting on 22nd October 1895 the question of the charities came up again. The Clerk of the Councils had written to the Charity Commissioners asking point blank whether Whalley’s was an Ecclesiastical charity. The answer was that it was a non-ecclesiastical charity with the exception of £4 per year paid to the Vicar of Hartwell, and that the practice of limiting it to church-going masters “did not appear to be warranted buy the original trust.”
The nonconformists now pressed for the Trustees to pay apprenticeship fees paid by nonconformists who had not been permitted the help of the Charity in the past. But the church party carried the day on this item, after heated argument.
At the next meeting of the two Councils, new Trustees were appointed to the Charity, two from each parish, since when the Charity has been administered in a manner satisfactory to the whole town, although similar arguments recurred regarding other charities in subsequent years.