The Purchase of Turvey

The 1786 Sale

For many years the noble Mordaunt family owned the estates within Turvey. Tombs within All Saints Church readily give evidence of this fact. The rebuilding of Turvey Hall and Turvey Abbey in 1603 is further evidence of their intention to establish Turvey as the base of the Mordaunt dynasty.

However, the Mordaunt’s adherence to the Catholic Church, which resulted in considerable fines from the State and the marriageof John Mordaunt to Elizabeth de Vere, daughter and co-heiress to Sir Henry de Vere of Drayton and Addington brought with it the magnificent Drayton House in Northamptonshire which became their main residence and meant that Turvey began to be of less importance to the family. Turvey Abbey became neglected being recorded in 1709 as”a dilapidated hall degraded into a farmhouse”, whilst little or no investment was made to the housing resulting in tenants having crowded and poor living conditions accompanied by subsistence living.

Matters came to a head in 1786 when Charles Henry Mordaunt, the 5th Earl of Peterborough, decided to sell the estates of Turvey. Above is the front page of the sale catalogue, the full but fragile contents of which are to be found in the Bedford Archives.

The Six Lots

The sale was broken into six lots; a brief description of each lot follows but more details may be found in the Sale Catalogue within the THS archives.

The six lots were as follows with the names of tenants in brackets.

Lot I

The advowson and presentation to the Rectory of Turvey
Lodge Farm (Mr. John Davison)
Hall Farm (Mr. Samuel Skevington)

Lot II

Eyle’s late Farm. (Mr. Thomas Battame)
Garden Field Farm (Mr. Thomas Battame)
Fowler’s late Farm (Mr. Thomas Battame)
Horse Close Farm (Mr Thomas Battame)
West Fields Farm (Mr. Thomas Davison)
The Tinker Public House
38 cottage House


Manor of Turvey
Grove Farm (Revd. Mr. Thomas Jones)
Williamson’s or Redland’s Farm (Revd. Mr. Thomas Jones)
Mount Pleasant Farm (Messrs. William and Austin Sheffield)
The ABBEY FARM, in the occupation of Mrs Sarah Lawrence, on lease for 7 years             from Michaelmas 1785 at per annum £116 4s 0d

Lot IV

Part of ABBEY FARM in the occupation of Mr. Lavendon  Fowler,
Tenant at will at £50 per annum
Turvey Farm (Mr. Hugh Row)
Bayden Farm (Mr. William Skevington)
7 Cottage Houses

Lot V

Pixhill Farm (Mr. Daniel Allebone)
Elderswell Farm (Mr. William Pearson)
2 Cottage Houses

Lot VI

Manor of Clifton (Reynes)
Newton Park Freehold Farm (Mr. John Manning)
Clifton Freehold Farm (Mr. Thomas Davison)
Some freehold Cottage Houses and gardens in Clifton
Clifton Leasehold Farm (Mr. Thomas Davison)

The Sale

 A mistake was made at the sale in that the Advowson was not included in Lot 1 and was accidently included in a lot sold to Charles Higgins. In 1788 Charles Higgins sold, with the Permission of the Earl of Peterborough, the Advowson to William Fuller for £1 500 (=£325,000 in 2018)

Lot I, The Advowson, Lodge and Hall Farm, was purchased by William Fuller (1705 – 1800) a banker of Lombard Street, London and described as “the richest man in England” for £9,200 (£2m in 2018) (Ref Bedfordshire Archives HI36)

Lot II, 5 farms, The Tinker Public House and 38 cottages, was purchased by John Higgins of Weston Underwood (1740-1813) for £10,142 (£2.17m in 2018 (Ref Bedfordshire Archives HI/26)

Lot III, The Manor of Turvey, the Grove, Williamson’s and Mount Pleasant Farms and part of the Abbey Farm in the occupation of Mrs Sarah Lawrence was purchased by Charles Higgins (1725 – 1792) for £11000 (£2.4m in 2018) (Ref Bedfordshire Archives HG1/1

Lot IV, Turvey and Bayden Farms plus the part of the Abbey Farm occupied by Mr Lavendon Fowler together with 7 cottages was purchased by Thomas Garrett (1722 – 1792) of London, co-owner of the Grocery business involving Charles Higgins for £ 6000 (£ 1.3m in 2018) (Ref Bedfordshire Archives Z178/15).

Lot V, Pixhill and Elderswell Farm with two cottages was purchased by Charles Higgins (1725 -1792) for £ 4700 (£1.2m in 2018) (Ref Bedfordshire Archives HI/30)

Lot VI, The Manor of Clifton, three farms and some cottages was purchased by William Fuller (1705 – 1800) for £1700 (£370000 in 2018) (Ref  Bedfordshire Archives H1/44)

The total estate was a considerable investment for each of the four gentlemen. Fuller had obtained his riches through banking, Charles and Thomas through their wholesale grocery business whilst John Higgins raised his money through a mortgage of £ 16000 with Edward Baber of Middlesex who had previously supplied mortgages to the Earl of Peterborough.

The Advowson & Lord of the Manor

The next 40 years will see many changes of ownership of land and property through inheritances and transactions before settling into the Higgins’ Turvey Estate based around Turvey House,  the Longuet Higgins’ Abbey Farm Estate based around Turvey Abbey and the Pixhill Estate. At this stage in the history of Turvey, the Advowson is owned by William Fuller and the Manor by Charles Higgins. The next stage can be found in the article “The Turvey Estates”.

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