Ampthill Bedforshire Family History Guide

Ampthill is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Bedfordshire.

Parish Church: St. Andrew

Parish Registers begin: 1604

Nonconformists in Ampthill include: Baptist, Independent/Congregational, Primitive Methodist, Society of Friends/Quaker, and Wesleyan Methodist.

The ruins of Houghton House
The ruins of Houghton House, Houghton Park in Bedfordshire by Robin Brown

Parishes adjacent to Ampthill

  • Steppingley
  • Millbrook
  • Maulden
  • Houghton Conquest
  • Flitwick

Historical Descriptions

Ampthill Beeton’s British Gazetteer 1870

Ampthill, formerly called Ametulle, a market and post town and parish of England, in Bedfordshire, 7 miles S. from Bedford. Area of parish, 1928 acres. Mar. D. Thurs. Pop. 2144. A station on the Cambridge, Bedford, and Bletchley branch of the London and North-Western Railway.

Source: Beeton’s British Gazetteer 1870. Ward, Lock & Tyler, Paternoster Row, London.

Leonard’s Gazetteer of England and Wales 1850

Ampthill, 45m. N.W. London. P. 2001. Market, Thurs.

Source: Leonard’s Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales 1840

St Andrew's church in Ampthill
St Andrew’s church in Ampthill by Paul Billington via Wikimedia Commons

Ampthill, a market-town and parish in the hund. of Redbornstoke, union of Ampthill, county of Bedford; 8 miles south-west of Bedford; 12 from the Leighton station on the London and Birmingham railway. It is pleasantly situated, and is a neat and regular town, with a handsome market-house. Living, a discharged rectory, formerly in the archd. of Bedford and dio. of Lincoln, now in the dio. of Ely; rated at £10 6s. 8d.; gross income £355. Patron, in 1835, Lord Holland. The church exhibits a mixture of the later and decorated English style of architecture, with a tower in the centre. The Wesleyan Methodists, Baptists, and Society of Friends, have places of worship here. Near the town is an hospital, founded in 1690 by John Cross, for twelve poor men, a reader, and four poor women, who must be all unmarried; the salary of the reader is £15 per annum; of the others, £10. The vice- chancellor of the university, and the bishop of Oxford, are the visitors. There is a charity school for 10 boys and 14 girls, endowed, in 1691, with lands, now producing £30 per annum; and an endowment of £5 per annum, given, in 1740, for instructing 16 poor children. There are also a British school attended by about 300 children; several infant schools; and two day and boarding schools. Other charities connected with this parish produce upwards of £130 yearly. Most of the inhabitants are employed in agriculture; but there is some trade, an extensive brewery, and a large establishment for breeding rabbits for the London market. The market, principally for corn, is held on Thursday; and cattle-fairs are held on the 4th of May and 30th of November. Ampthill is under the jurisdiction of the magistrates of the county, who hold petty sessions here for the Ampthill division of the county, and the lord-high- steward holds a court for the honour of Ampthill, at which constables and other officers are appointed. The Ampthill poor-law union embraces a district of 59 square miles, containing a population returned, in 1831, at 14,357. The average expenditure on the poor of this district during the three years proceeding the union, was £14,607. Expenditure in 1838, £5,959. In the reign of Henry VI. a castle was built on the manor of Ampthill by Sir John Cornwall, afterwards Lord Fanhope. Catharine of Arragon resided here during the process instituted against her by Henry VIII., and here received the summons to attend the commissioners at Dunstable, which she refused to obey. A column, erected in 1770 by the earl of Ossory, then proprietor of Ampthill park, commemorates the circumstance. The inscription is from the pen of Horace Walpole, earl of Orford. The estate of Ampthill park was constituted a royal domain by Henry VIII., who named the annexed estates the ‘Honour of Ampthill.’ The park, to which that of Houghton is now united, is spacious, and is ornamented with a large number of ancient oaks. It is the seat of Lord Holland. The present mansion stands on lower ground than the old castle, and is a magnificent edifice, containing a fine collection of paintings. At the entrance to the park from the town is the celebrated pear-tree under which Sir Philip Sydney is said to have written part of his Arcadia. Pop., in 1801, 1,234; in 1831, 1,688. Houses 332. Acres 1,928. A. P. £4,579 Poor rates, in 1837, £400.

Source: The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales; Vol. 1; A. Fullarton & Co., Glasgow; 1840.

Topographical Dictionary of Great Britain and Ireland 1833

Ampthill, co. Bedford.

London 45½ m. NW.; Bedford 8 m. S b W. Pop. 1527. M. D. Thurs. Fairs, May 4, and Nov. 30 for cattle. Mail arr. 6 f. Mail dep. 8. 30 a.

A market-town and parish in the hundred of Redbornstoke, pleasantly situated between two hills in the centre of the county. The principal streets, which cross each other at right angles, are neat and regular, and there is a handsome market-house of modern erection. Here is an obelisk of Portland stone, forming a receptacle for a pump; as also a Gothic cross, erected in 1774, in memory of Catherine of Arragon, by the Earl of Upper Ossory, then proprietor of Ampthill Park, once the residence of that ill-treated queen. The employment of the greater part of the inhabitants is connected with agriculture; but a portion of them are concerned with trade, and the town also contains an extensive brewery. The living is a dis. rectory in the archdeaconry of Bedford and diocese of Lincoln, charged in K. B. 10l. 6s. 8d.; church ded. to St. Andrew; patron (1829) Lord Holland. Here is a school for the education of thirteen children, and almshouses founded by Mr. Cross, once principal of New College, Oxford, for ten poor men and women, who also receive an annual allowance. Ampthill Park to the west of this town, now the seat of Lord Holland, was constituted a royal domain by Henry VIII., who named the annexed estates the “Honour of Ampthill.” The old castle in which Queen Catherine resided, stood on higher ground than the present mansion, which is a superb edifice, with wings, and a flight of steps leading into a handsome hall. The park, to which that of Houghton is now united, is spacious, and supplies seme very pleasing prospects. At the entrance from Ampthill a pear-tree is shewn, under which Sir Philip Sidney is reported to have written a part of his Arcadia.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of Great Britain and Ireland by John Gorton. The Irish and Welsh articles by G. N. Wright; Vol. I; London; Chapman and Hall, 186, Strand; 1833.

Ampthill A Topographical Dictionary of England 1831

AMPTHILL, a market town and parish in the hundred of Redbornstoke, county of Bedford, 7 miles (S. by W.) from Bedford, and 45 (N.W. by N.) from London, containing 1527 inhabitants. The name of this place is of uncertain derivation. In the reign of Henry VI., Sir John Cornwall, created Lord Fanhope, built a castle on the manor of Ampthill, which, about the year 1530, came into the possession of the Crown,. and was made an honour by act of parliament. Catherine of Arragon resided here while the business of the divorce was pending, where she received the summons to attend the commissioners at Dunstable, which she refused to obey. In memory of which, the Earl of Ossory, in 1770, erected on the site of the castle a gothic column, with an appropriate inscription from the pen of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford. The modern seat is chiefly remarkable for the number of very ancient oaks which ornament the park. The town, pleasantly situated be tween two hills, is irregularly built, paved with pebbles, and amply supplied with water ; it has been of late years considerably improved by the removal of old buildings, and the erection of a handsome market-house. The market is on Thursday, principally for com; the fairs are on the 4th of May, and 30th of November, for cattle. Ampthill is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, who hold here a petty session for the hundred; and a court for the honour of Ampthill is held in the moot-house, an ancient building, under the lord high steward, at which constables and officers are appointed.

The living is a discharged rectory, in the archdeaconry of Bedford, and diocese of Lincoln, rated in the king’s books at £10. 6. 8., and endowed with £300 private benefaction and £200 royal bounty. Lord Holland was patron in 1820. The church, dedicated to St. Andrew, is a handsome cruciform structure, partaking of the decorated and later styles of English architecture, with a square embattled tower rising from the centre. There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. The charity school, for twenty boys and twenty-four girls, was endowed in 1691 with lands producing £30 per annum, by Mrs. Sarah Emery; and a rent charge of £5 per annum, given in 1740 by Mr. George Watson, is appropriated to the instruction of sixteen poor children. About a mile from the town is an hospital, founded in 1690, by John Cross, for twelve poor men, a reader, and four poor women: the reader has £15 per annum, the others £10; they must be unmarried. The Vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, and the bishop of that diocese, are visitors. The interest arising from a legacy of £700 left by Mr. Arthur Whitchelner in 1687, for the apprenticing of poor children, is shared by this parish conjointly with the parishes of Maulden, Millbrook, and Ridgemont.

Source: Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1831

Crosby’s Complete Pocket Gazetteer of England and Wales 1815

Ampthill, (Bed.) a market town pleasantly situated between two hills, near the middle of the county. The principal streets are neat and regular, crossing each other at right angles; and near the centre of the town is an obelisk of Portland stone, in which is a pump, erected by the earl of Upper Ossory, for the use of the inhabitants: a considerable improvement has also been made within a few years past, by the erection of a handsome market-house. The church contains a mural monument to the memory of R. Nicholls, gentleman of the bedchamber to the duke of York, who was killed in the famous engagement between the fleets of England and Holland, May 28, 1672, and the very ball by which he was slain is placed within the pediment. The charitable institutions of this town are, a free-school for 13 children, and an alms-house for 10 poor men and women, who, besides their place of residence, have an annual allowance. Population, 1299.

Market Day, Fairs, &c. The weekly market, which is very good, is held on Thursday. Fairs, May 4, and Nov. 30. Also a statute sessions for hiring servants, a few days before Old Michaelmas.

Post Inns, &c. The post goes out every evening, (Saturday excepted,) at 7 o’clock in summer, and 4 in winter, and comes in every morn, except Mon. Principal inns, the King’s Arms, (post office) and White Hart.

Coaches, Waggons. &c. A stage coach 3 times a week, from the Cross Keys, St. John’s street; and 2 waggons, one twice, and the other once a week, from the Windmill, St. John’s street.

Gentlemen’s Seats. Ampthill Park, (earl of Upper Ossory), the residence of Catherine of Arragon whilst her divorce from Hen. VIII. was in agitation; Wrest Park and House (Baroness Lucas), 4 miles; and Flitwick, (Robert Wever, esq.) 2 miles.

Ampthill is 7 m. distant from Woburn, 8 from Bedford, 12 from Dunstable, and 45 from London.

Source: Crosby’s Complete Pocket Gazetteer of England and Wales 1815; Baldwin, Cradock & Joy.

Ampthill Schools 1818

A school for the education of 5 boys, encreased lately to 10 or 12. The salary is 5l per annum arising from a house and land in the parish. Another school of which the parishes of Mappershall and Ampthill are each entitled to a moiety of the rent, which is 30l per ann. and arises from a house and land in the parish of Wilshamstead; exclusive of repairs for the house, the salary is 15l. for the instruction of 20 children from Ampthill.

Sunday Schools – Two Sunday schools, supported by voluntary subscriptions, one belonging to the Established Church, consisting of 130 children, and another to the Dissenters, in which a few children are instructed.

Observations – The poorer classes are desirous of having the means of education.

Notes – George Cardall, curate, signed the return

Source: 1818 Digest of Returns to Circular Letter from the Select Committee on Education of the Poor, &c.

Poll Books

Directories

Maps

Ampthill 1924: Bedfordshire Sheet 21.11 (Old O.S. Maps of Bedfordshire) Map – Folded Map, Facsimile. Detailed map of Ampthill; Beds sheet 21.11. Introduction by Alan Godfrey.

This detailed map of Ampthill covers the main area of the town around Bedford Street, Church Street, Woburn Street and Dunstable Street. Coverage includes Ampthill Park to the north of the map along with Russets Plantation and Laurel Wood. St Andrews Church is featured on the map, as is the Police Station, Brewery, Drill Hall, Friends Meeting House, Ampthill House, Coopers Hill and the Cinema. On the reverse we include an extract from a commercial directory and a list of private residents.

Bedford & Huntingdon (Cassini Revised New Series Historical Map)

Britain’s late-Victorian landscape re-projected and enlarged to match the present-day Ordnance Survey Landrangers®. These maps are taken from Ordnance Survey’s Revised New Series (in colour) maps which were first published between 1896 and 1904. They have all been carefully scanned, digitally re-projected and enlarged to match the present-day Ordnance Survey Landranger® series. Each Cassini Popular Edition map is directly comparable with the corresponding Ordnance Survey Landranger® and uses the same sheet number and grid references, so enabling the past and the present to be compared with ease and accuracy. All the Revised New Series maps of England & Wales (122 in all) have now been published.

Bedford: Bromham/Ampthill/Flitwick (Street Plans) Map – Folded Map

Pathfinder Maps: Hitchin (North) and Ampthill Sheet 1048 (TL03/13)

Books

Ampthill’s Fallen Paperback – 11 Nov 2014 by John Hele (Author)

Ampthill in Old Picture Postcards: v. 2 Hardcover – 1 Dec 1989 by Andrew Underwood (Author)

The Clock Strikes Five’: Memories of Ampthill House

Select Illustrations, Historical and Topographical, of Bedfordshire: Containing Bedford, Ampthill, Houghton, Luton, and Chicksands (Classic Reprint) Paperback by I. D. Parry (Author)

Administration

  • County: Bedfordshire
  • Civil Registration District: Ampthill
  • Probate Court: Court of the Archdeaconry of Bedford
  • Diocese: Pre-1837 – Lincoln, Post-1836 – Ely
  • Rural Deanery: Fleete
  • Poor Law Union: Ampthill
  • Hundred: Redbornestoke
  • Province: Canterbury

Credits

Photo of The ruins of Houghton House, Houghton Park in Bedfordshire by Robin Brown, some rights reserved.

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