Chronological History of Biggleswade.
Mostly from ‘A History of Biggleswade’ – Abel Harold Smith – 1900 to 2000.
|12,000 – 10,000 BC||Stone arrow heads from Paleolithic period found here suggest that the district was inhabited from early times; they can be seen in the Bedford Museum. There is also a stone age tool found at Dunton in the Museum.|
|Late 1st century BC||Gold, silver, copper and brass coins have been found minted by Tasciovanus, chief of a Celtic tribe from the now present St Albans.|
|43 – 411 AD||The ‘White Way’, a Roman loop road, ran via Baldock past Stratton and Sandy to join the Ermine Way at Godmanchester. The 1959 Town Guide says Stratton, Drove Road, along what is now a footpath on the Common to Sandy. It also says a Roman by-road has been traced going westward towards Old Warden. The 1954 O.S. map shows Hill Lane as a Roman Road. The road started from near the site of the old Sewage Works. A Roman ceremonial dish and an oculist's stamp have been found here. Oculist stamps were used to mark on a seal of an eye-salve or lotion, (now in the British Museum).|
|477 – 495 on||Saxon Invasions – The Saxon Gifle tribe or people settled here and gave their name to the Ivel River and Northill (Northgivle - 13th century) and Southill (Sudgivele - 11th century). The Brits were probably driven westward. There was a watch hill at Old Warden.|
|800 on||Danish invasions|
|878||The district formed part of the Danelaw under the Peace of Wedmore.|
|917||Danes defeated at major conflict at Tempsford. There were some Danes left in the area, the place named Holme is Danish but it was a Saxon who lived by a ford who gave his name to the settlement and later to the Hundred of Biggleswade – Biceil – Anglo Saxon personal name; Waed – Saxon for ford.|
|1066||The Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury held the manor of Biggleswade from the King.|
|1086||Domesday Book Ralph de Insula (Ralph de Lisle) held the manor under the Crown. There were no woods and no market. Apart from gentry and clergy there were twenty men in Biggleswade; 27 in Stratton and 15 in Holme. (Miss Godber says 34 men; Miss Bell about 50). Each peasant worked some days for the Lord of the Manor but each had about 30 acres which he hired from his master. There were 1,200 acres of arable land in Biggleswade (less than Holme and Stratton) also 240 acres of meadow and 13 mills in the Hundred of Biggleswade. Two mills were in Biggleswade itself (two mills means two water wheels under one roof); value £2/7/-, per annum, this was probably the site of a mill where the present mill stands. First place above ford with sufficient fall of water.|
|1132||Henry I granted Bishop Alexander of Lincoln (in whose diocese it was) the manor of Biggleswade with Holme to help endow the Cathedral. The bishop to have church, meadows, mills and fishing rights in return for yearly offering of a gown lined with sable.|
|c1163||The bishop made Biggleswade a Prebend and the church a Peculiar. A Peculiar had certain rights and need not send records to the Archdeacon; thus some Biggleswade church records are missing. A Prebendary did not usually reside in his parish. There is still a stall in Lincoln Cathedral marked Bigleswade (yes with one 'g'!).|
|c1200||The bishop made an attempt at town development. Small plots of land were made available at 1/- per year; burgage. A shilling was a large amount in those days. The holder did not have to do the customary work for his holding but could build a house or shop, ply his trade and travel.|
|18 Nov 1200||Miracle at Biggleswade. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln died in London and his body rested at Biggleswade. A woman with a broken arm touched the body and it is reported that she was healed. The wax tapers in the procession stayed alight and St Hugh was canonised in 1220.|
|1212||"The men of Biggleswade and the men of the Episcopal fee of Biggleswade" appealed against Robert de Braybrook who had "put part of the fen of Kynmondewick under ban and carried off hay by force". Biggleswade men claimed "they have and ought to have common in that fen". (Kinwick is thought to have been in the area NE of Biggleswade now covered by Millhouse Fen, Deepdale and Sandy Heath).|
|1227||Market. Biggleswade has been granted a market by King John (1199 – 1216). This was confirmed in 1227 by Henry III. (Peck says confirmed to Bishop Hugh, who Rutt says died 1220). Monday was market day.|
|1228||Fairs were held before this date but in this year the Bishop altered the day from 15th August to 14th September, Holy Cross Day.|
|1247||1. Henry de Suqual drowned in Mill Pit. 2. Sanctuary was taken in the church. A felon could remain 40 days and was then deported. 3. House burgled. The Hue and Cry was raised but Biggleswade did not pursue. When the cry was raised all who heard were supposed to help.|
|1276||Walter Justice, first known vicar. Thomas de Northfleet was Prebendary. Bishop Gravesend instituted the living; the vicar to have house, offering, tithes, donations put in church chest at Biggleswade and chapel at Stratton.|
|1280||King Edward I at Biggleswade. About this time Biggleswade claimed to be a Borough through the ‘Burgage’ system.|
|1294||Biggleswade people claimed the right to leave their burgage tenements by will. Bishop Oliver Sutton ordered an investigation.
Bishop Sutton was in Biggleswade several times and it seems the Bishop often stayed here; a convenient place. Local rumour says they had a residence in Palace Street; hence the name.
|1296||Chancery Ancient Deed: Grant by Robert Villemai, of Bikeleswade, and Sibila his wife, to Hugh de Barrins and Matilda his wife, of half a burgage tenement in the town of Biggleswade: Bedf.|
|1297||Taxation List for this year shows dredge corn, rye, hay and straw were grown. There were some cows and sheep. Only the Bishop had a cart. Tenants had to attend the manor court. Villeins worked on the lord’s land. The lord’s steward regulated tillage. Biggleswade area shows three villages with an average of more than five sheep to each man taxed.|
|c1300||Biggleswade prosperous. There was a mill. There were weaving, tanning and dyeing industries (Patricia Bell, former County Archivist).|
|1302||First Bridge here across the River Ivel . Bishop Dalderby granted an indulgence to those who contributed towards building the bridge.|
|1309||Hugo de Hostwyke was the Tax Collector|
|1309 - 1332||Decline in tax payers:in 1309 there were 37 with a value of £6 by 1332 declined to 19 with a value of £5.|
|1313||Richard de Gostwyke set on at Biggleswade by a band of men who assaulted him and carried away his goods. A commission of 'Oyer e Ferminer' appointed to enquire.|
|1317||Thomas de Northfleet, Prebendary of Biggleswade left money to repair chapel at St Mary, Stratton.|
|1330||John Whitbread, Tax Collector|
|1340||Church dates from 1340 – L. Maynall: Portrait of Bedford|
|1349||Black Death. Death of Hugh Frankelyn, vicar since 1344, probably of plague. Replaced by Robert de Clifton. Wool weavers known to be in Biggleswade.|
|1369||Another outbreak of plague. Vicar Robert de Clifton died.|
|1370||Three Biggleswade tanners fined for selling hides at Shefford market at an excessive price|
|1379||Vicar John had eight chaplains and six clerks to assist him. Note there were chapels at Stratton and Holme.|
|1403||Thomas of Walsingham writes, "Strange portents were seen at daybreak and midday at Biggleswade when mysterious figures dressed in colours as men of war could be seen emerging from a wood. They engaged in combat but on getting closer they became invisible".|
|1422||John Forster, clerk.at the Houses of Parliament complained that he was ousted from the prebend of Biggleswade in Lincoln Cathedral and requests restoration. It was agreed in the parliament of 1 Henry VI that he should be restored and that Forster should have letters patent accordingly. Other people mentioned in the petition were Philip Repingdon the Bishop of Lincoln; Philip Morgan the Bishop of Worcester; John Ixworth, clerk; Humphrey [of Lancaster] the Duke of Gloucester. (National Archives)|
|1424||August 27 Grant by Margery Misden, to John Beteller, of all her lands and tenements, fields, pasture and meadow, rents and services with all appurtenances and commodities in Biggleswade (Bykeleswade), Bedfordshire. Dated at Biggleswade, with the seal of Margery Misden attached. Witnesses: John Stoughton, John Manypeny, William Rouell, William Hunte, John Ryede and others. [Endorsed] Prayer: 'In thys bed I ded ly & ded dwell / Jhu Cryste the whyche harrowed hell lady for they masse herynge thy prayers & thyn Almes dede doynge thy lord & thu shall be to me In hevyn everlasting lye.' (National Archives)|
|1442||John Enderby, MP of Biggleswade; Thomas Stratton, Clerk of the Peace and six others from the town were part of a representation to the King’s Council on behalf of Sir Thomas Wauton.|
|1454||Chancery pleading addressed to Richard Neville Earl of Salisbury as Lord Chancellor:
George, son of William Crosse. v. William Byngham and other feoffees of the said William Crosse.: Lands, &c. in Biggleswade (Bykeleswade), Stratton, Holme, and Hill (in the Old Warden parish). : Bedford.
|1456||Chancery pleading addressed to William [Wayneflete], Bishop of Winchester as Lord Chancellor: Robert, son of Robert Pagman. v. Thomas Aylbarne (Aylbern), feoffee: of Robert the elder Messuage and land in Biggleswade (Bikleswade).: Bedford.|
|1467||Church restoration started by John Rudying, Archdeacon.|
|1475||The King granted a licence to the Bishop and Archdeacon John Rudying and others to found the Fraternity of the Holy Trinity. They must pray for the King and could acquire land, rents, etc. (See article in Part III)|
|1481||Church restoration completed. There is a memorial brass to John Rudying in the church.|
|1484||Thomas Easton, Lord of the Manor of Holme.|
|1490||John Hoywood left 6s 8d to Fraternity to buy lamb that it may continue for ewes.|
|1508||Edward Pound left his son John 60 sheep, 10 hives with bees, 2 swine and 30 quarters of malt.|
|1508||Katherine Vincent left her house to the Fraternity on condition that they pray for her soul.|
|1508||Bishop of Lincoln estate record shows 123 burgages paying 1s each. Rent from assize £136.|
|1516||Richard Easton; Lord of the Manor, Holme.|
|1518||To 1529. Chancery pleadings addressed to Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York, Cardinal and Papal Legate as Lord Chancellor: John, son of John Byrges and of Margery, his wife, daughter of David John. v. Alice, executrix, and late the wife of the the said David.: Detention of deeds relating to a messuage and land at Stratton [in Biggleswade].: Bedford.|
|1528||Bishop obtained the right to hold two more fairs, 3 days each on 22nd July (St Mary Magdalen) and 28 Oct (St Simon & St Jude).|
|1529||Simon Mathew of Biggleswade was a delegate to determine the legality of Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon. A book of his is in the British Museum.|
|1531||Bargin and sale by Francys Pygott, of Stratton, co. Bedford, esquire, and William Colworth, of Holme, in the same county, gentleman, executors of the will of William Westdayle, clerk, late Bachelor of Canon Law, and parson of the church of St. George in Edworth, to Thomas Lettys, of Bekeleswade, of one burgage and a half lying together in Holmestrete, Bekeleswade: and covenant by the said executors to surrender the premises according to the custom of the borough Court of Biggleswade, to the said Thomas Lettys. Bedf.|
|1535||Vicarage worth £10|
|1538||Grant by John, Bishop of Lincoln to Henry Lawson. "Mylneo of Bykellswade of all his myllneo being under one Roofe". He paid £17 a year for the mills and £2 14s 4d for 20 acres of land, floodgates etc. 21 years lease. Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Early Proceedings, Richard II to Philip and Mary: John LANGFORD of Biggleswade (Bychylleswourth), shoemaker, v. William LOVELL (Lovewell), son of Thomas Lovell of Potton (Patenam), tanner, deceased.: Demand for a debt already paid.: BEDFORD.|
|1544||Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Early Proceedings, Richard II to Philip and Mary: Francis MORGAN of the Middle Temple, gentleman, v. Thomas SNAGE (Snegge), yeoman.: Half profits of a moiety of the parsonage or prebendary of Biggleswade in excess of the ordinary amount.: BEDFORD.|
|1547||Bishop Holbeche surrendered the Manor of Biggleswade to Edward VI in exchange for other lands. The canon leaves the market and received toll from produce sold.|
|1548||440 people old enough to receive communion; total population about 550. Fraternity of the Holy Trinity suppressed; the Crown took the brotherhood house and lambs (see article in Part II).|
|1550||Roads bad. Tempsford road called "Soul Slough".|
|1557||Thomas Darcy gentleman of Lee, Kent, had helped quell Wyatts rebellion. In consideration of this the Crown granted his widow, Joan, the Biggleswade mills and woods, etc. for 21 years. £17 12s 9d for the mills, 54s 4d for the lands etc.
Edward Peake of Southill left a cottage, lying west of his mansion house at Holme, as a house sufficient for a school and school master. Also rent charge on Mansion House of £10 per year as master's salary.
|1565||The Market House or Court House on the square was in need of repair; it had a chamber 60ft long and 24ft wide. Used by justices on assize. There was also a stockhouse or lockup. William Stewarde took over as lessee from Ralph Belfield. He sold his interest in the White Horse for less than its value on condition that he could remain there for his life. Henry Fynche, yeoman, left over 12 burgages, 3 of which had belonged to the Fraternity and to each of his 4 children, 20 sheep.|
|1567||Walter Fisher of the Bell had a great carved chest wainscoted.
Customers from Cardington, Hitchin and around had clothes from Thomas Adcock, a tailor, but they did not always pay.
|1568||28 July. Inquisition concerning treasure trove (gold coins) unearthed in the 'Wellyard' in Stratton, by Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, on land owned by Thomas Pygott of Stratton, esquire.|
|1575||A well-to-do man, John Ratchford had 100 sheep, 18 beasts but only 3 chairs.
Note: Biggleswade must have prospered in last half of this century.
|1583||Wm. Dimbleton, Vicar of Langford left in his will 5s towards repair of seats in Holme School.|
|1586 or later||Camden (1551-1623) renowned antiquary, historian and headmaster of Westminster School wrote, "Biggleswade is famous for its stone bridge and its horse fair." At this time Biggleswade had five horse fairs.|
|1587||Thos. Decons and Johannah his wife. v. George Smythe: Lands of John Rodwell, deceased, in the manors of "Biggleswade Burgage" and "Biggleswade Forreyn." Customs of manors. [The possessions of John Poolie, Francis Poolie, and Richard Edwards are mentioned.]: Bedford (National Archives)|
|1598||Holme schoolmaster was John Bond. A 7-year old pupil was Henry Piggott who boarded nearby.|
|1604||Fire destroyed a great number of dwellings.|
|1607||Holme School bequest. Benjamin Piggott of Nether Gravenhurst, left the 'chapel' at Holme to be used as a schoolhouse.|
|1608||Wm. Fishe, Wm. Finche. v. George Smythe, Helen Hunt.: Parcel of land near the town of Biggleswade, belonging to the manor of Biggleswade, of 14 acres, and another of two acres. Meets and bounds. Survey. [The names of Mr. Violet, Edward Bray (possessions), Elizh. Piggott, and William Hunt, are mentioned.]: Beds|
|1611||Bill for 'Biggleswade Highway' rejected by Parliament.|
|1622||Another bill for road from Biggleswade to Baldock rejected.|
|1628||Biggleswade paid subsidy £10|
|1631||Lessee of the manor, Edward Ditchfield, obtained permission for two more fairs, 2nd February and Whit Monday.|
|1639||Ship levy of Charles I; three Biggleswade men refused to pay. Sir John Cotton at Stratton. Cottonian Collection of manuscripts housed here during the Civil War.|
|1643||Fowler, in 'History of Gamlingay' writes, "When Sir John Burgoyne was raising troops at Biggleswade; he was apparently in great difficulty as Cromwell calls men of Biggleswade 'slow fellows and dormice'".|
|1649||Trustees for Crown Lands and Fee Farm Rents: Particulars for Sale of Estates of Charles I. Parliament confiscated Biggleswade manor; sold to Thomas Margetts, a Bedford burgess, MP and Judge-Advocate. He changed market day to Wednesday instead of Monday.|
|1660||Restoration of the Monarchy under Charles II.|
|1661||22nd July; Samuel Pepys left Huntingdon at 4 a.m. wearing only thread stockings (and other clothes I hope - H.S.). Bought a pair of coarse warmer woollen ones at Biggleswade.|
|1663||Pepys and his wife left Hinchingbrook for Biggleswade; as it was dark he was guided by two countrymen through long and dangerous waters because of ditches. They dined in Biggleswade and stayed overnight. Lt. Col. John Miller of Biggleswade imprisoned at Windsor for suspected plotting against the Crown. He had fought for Parliament.|
|1660s||Coinage. Many parishes and tradesmen issued tokens to use as small change. Biggleswade examples: Overseers of the Poor halfpenny, John Boddington (draper) 1669 halfpenny, John Bray of the Swan inn 1668 halfpenny, Wm. Parnell farthing, Thomas Tompkins farthings.|
|1668||Vicar Thomas Miles reported to Bishop for refusing to pray for new born Prince of Wales (Old Pretender)|
Thomas Bromsell of Biggleswade Esquire is made Sheriff of Bedfordshire in the room of De Lawney Esquire
|1671||Robert Audley; Royalist had a house with eight hearths and had suffered several fires. Biggleswade and Eaton Socon had houses without fire places 773 conformists; i.e. Church of England.|
|1673||John Yardley, miller, fined 20s for refusing to provide the customary cakes for manor court jury.|
|1674||Manor leased to the Carterets; who had settled in England from Jersey.|
|1676||William Pope; when fishing, bought stolen sheepskin for 9d. Sold it for 1s 2d. Pope accused of theft.|
|1677||Men stole wheat from Parsonage barn, malt from malthouse and lifted barn door off hinges to steal peas.|
|1679||George Norris of Buckingham went to Biggleswade fair to sell horses. With others went to the 'Wrestlers Arms' to drink. Played 'All Fours' (H.S. didn't know what this was but details can be found here) and lost. Claimed his money was stolen. Followed men to 'Kings Lynn'. Case tried at Bedford.|
|1693||A visitor on the way to St Neot's via Biggleswade, April, 1693
4th - To Biggleswarth (Biggleswade), where is nothing observable but a delicate new Inn with a curious bowling green as can easily be met with; here we lodged the first night.
5th - Thence passed to Thameford (Tempsford), four (miles), where is the Lady St John's house. Thence passed through Eaton (Ford), and after had a pretty prospect of St Neot's &c &c.
The Diary of Ralph Thoresby FRS; Pub by the Rev Joseph Hunter; 1831, Vol 1, pp162.
|1694||10 July. Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Other Probate Jurisdictions: Engrossed Inventories and Exhibits: Gawen Wright of Biggleswade, Beds|
|1696||Old Warden; Samuel Ongley, draper, director of East India Co, bought Palmer property.|
|1700||Market Town had wheelwright, grocer, malster, tanner, glazier, ploughwright, saddler, schoolmaster, attorney, innkeepers, victuallers, cornhandlers, carters, etc. Inns were: White Horse, Cross Keys, Bell, White Hart, Crown, Kings Arms, Red Lion, Royal Oak, Wrestlers, Sun, Swan.|
|1707||About this time no clergy at Langford. Vicar of Biggleswade had to serve both parishes.|
|1709-1714||Accounts in Bromsall v Pryme. Plaintiffs: Dame Mary Bromsall, John Hubert her husband, Mary Bromsall junior. Defendants: William Pryme, Phillippa Pryme. Receiver: William Rogers. Estate: Lands and estates in Biggleswade and Potton, Bedfordshire. Details: Names of tenants, rents, receiver's payments including taxes, certainty money Chancery Master: Master Rogers|
|1711||Vicarage built behind what is now Goldthorpe's shop.|
|1715||Baptists had 300 members - Baptist Old Meeting|
|1716||Story v Story. A bill and answer. Plaintiffs: Edward Story (son of Thomas Story esq deceased who was son of Thomas Story deceased both of Biggleswade Bedfordshire). Defendants: Valianna Story widow (mother of plaintiff), John Herbert clerk and Dame Mary Herbert his wife (formerly widow of Sir Thomas Bromsall deceased late of Biggleswade), Frances Cockayne spinster (daughter of John Cockayne esq deceased of Hinxworth Hertfordshire), Joseph Mountfort clockmaker of London and Susannah Mountfort his wife (formerly widow of James Story the plaintiffs brother).|
|1717||246 Conformist families - 27 non-conformist|
|1720||250 Conformist families - 20 non-conformist|
|1720||Church tower rebuilt out of grey ashlar.|
|1720||Stevenage/Biggleswade road Act passed, reached only the south end of town (Godber. says 1730, but Turnpike map shows 1720).|
|1725||Biggleswade/Alconbury road; map agrees.|
|1724-26||Daniel Defoe: 'Good inns, pleasant place on Ivel, one of greatest barley markets in England but droves of cattle in winter made road repair difficult'.|
|1731||Sir John Cotton left money to found a school in Stratton.|
|1735||Mr Rudd of Bigglesward, Steward of Duchess of Marlborough, wanted to employ Thomas Monk. Another, unnamed man, wanted job, murdered Monk.|
|1746||Tablet on church wall to Curtis Barnett, commander-in-chief on the Coromandel coast|
|1750||Combined Petty Sessions for Hundreds of Biggleswade, Clifton and Wixamtree met at Biggleswade. Public whippings still carried out. Town had 6 brewers and good market gardens C1750 - Turnpike trustees, usually eight, met at the 'Sun'|
|1753||Thomas Hughes stole pig from market square and drove it home.|
|1755||Turnpike extended to bridge by Act of 1755. Tollhouse at new bridge was 13 ft square. Road to St Ives via Potton, turnpiked (map shows 1735). Toll house at Turnpike Farm on the Potton Road no longer stands.|
|1756||Plan for River Ivel Navigation|
|1757||Justices besieged by a mob of 1,500-2,000 men at the Sun Inn in fear that militia men could be sent overseas to fight for the colonies in America and India|
|1758||River Ivel opened for traffic from the Great Ouse to Biggleswade. There were five locks.
1. Traffic brought in £350 p.a. (See 'River')
2. Ivel Bridge built of sandstone (Godber and Mee say 1797 but I think this is wrong H.S.)
|1762||John Wesley preached at Road Farm, Potton Road, Biggleswade. Entry in Wesley's Journal, Sat 2 January 1762: "I set out for
Everton to supply Mr Berridge's church in his absence. In
my way I preached at Road-Farm, five-and-forty miles
from London. Afterwards, the moon shining bright, we had
a pleasant ride to Everton." The 45 milestone is on
Potton Road within a few hundred yards of Road Farm.
|1762||Boswell at Biggleswade 17 Nov (Dr Johnson)|
|1763||Mr Pepper of Biggleswade, clockmaker, charged John Blundell 2/6 for cleaning clock.|
|1764||Edward Edgly of Stratton left £1,080, 289 sheep, 8 cows, 5 horses, etc. Thomas Fletcher of the 'Sun' had 44 horses, etc. (For full list see 'Coaching Inns', Peck & G.329 300 'rose-nobles' of Henry V & VI found by labourer at Stratton (See 'Coins & Skeletons', Lyson - Magna Britannia, etc.)|
|1764||Cotton family, who in previous century, had obtained Stratton by marriage with an Anderson heiress sold it to the Barnett family.|
|1770||George Fletcher is proprietor of Sun Inn|
|1771||Population about 1000. Quarter Sessions met at the 'Sun'. Various independent Congregationalists formed one church. Met in Baptist Church, it was burned down in the 'Great Fire' of 1785.|
|1772||William Granville leased the Biggleswade manor from the Crown for 31 years. 'Biggleswade, the next town we visited, is situated in a most pleasant manner on the banks of the River Ivel, over which is a good stone bridge and lighters with coal come up to the town' - N. Spencer, 'The Complete English Traveller. Note: Peck says 1785 in Directory published by J.F. Hennington (a copy)|
|1773-95||John Pedley of Great Barford brought wool to Biggleswade, often came to Biggleswade, hired chaise from the 'Oak'. See Diaries in B.H.R. also G.360|
|1776||December - Ivel blocked by ice and snow for three weeks.|
|1779||The Hitchin Tolls sold to Biggleswade man.|
|1780||Ivel Navigation debts paid off.|
|1785||The 'Great Fire' - much of Biggleswade destroyed. See 'Famous Fires'.|
|1786||Vicar Gibson helped 'Blind Jack' Metcalfe over Ivel in flood. Metcalfe, a renowned road builder from Knaresborough, was walking from London to Yorkshire to prove that he could cover the distance faster than the fastest stagecoach. He won his bet!|
|1786||Apr 15. Report of George Nares on 1 collective petition (42 people, in and near Biggleswade in Bedfordshire) on behalf of William Twelvetree, a servant in Biggleswade, convicted at the Bedfordshire[?] Lent Assizes, for stealing 2/-, property of his master John Malden. Initial sentence: 7 years transportation. Grounds for clemency: first offence, is of good character, is willing to 'serve the state in any capacity by land or sea'. Recommendation: to enlist in HM Forces.|
|1787||One of Hunt’s heavy waggons, major hauliers operating out of Stamford, overturned on Biggleswade bridge and went into the river. The load, chiefly tea and sugar, ruined but team of 8 horses survived. Driver absconded.|
|1789||John Chalkly Taylor, brought up as a Quaker, moved to Biggleswade. Appealed against rates; seems an odd character. In 1795 signed a Nonconformist Meeting House Certificate.|
|1790s||Highwayman Shock Oliver stops Biggleswade’s Doctor McGrath on the Great North Road on his way to a gravely ill patient in Sandy. The doctor allowed to pass unmolested. (Shock Oliver hanged at Hertford in 1800.) From: ‘Seventy Years a Master – A Huntsman’s Reminiscences’, the edited memoirs of George Race of Road Farm, Biggleswade (1818 – 1911).|
|c1790-4||John Byng (Viscount Torrington) stayed at the 'Sun' several times. Read Torrington Diaries for account of theatre, church, fishing, etc.|
|1791||The Sugar Strike - Biggleswade people refused to buy sugar because of high price. Penalty £5|
|1792||Earthquake shock lasted several seconds. 25th February. Felt as far as York and Doncaster. Several houses demolished; rebuilt in brickwork - some of these still remain. No deaths.|
|1794||A barn licensed for Methodist services. Biggleswade celebrated Lord Howes victory over the French at Ushant with rejoicing and bonfires.|
|1795||Miss Harvey built first Wesleyan Chapel.|
|1796||'The Bridge at Biggleswade was rebuilt with stone from the quarry at Sandy under the inspection of Sir Phillip Monnoux'. From Lysons Magna Britannia 1806.|
|1797||Miss Godber and Arthur Mee say that the bridge was built in this year and before that it was wooden. (Note something odd about this; see 1758 and the 'The Stone Bridge Mystery' - perhaps there were two bridges. H.S.)|
|1801||Census - 298 houses, 3 uninhabited, 241 families, 1,650 population
Sir Francis Wiles purchased Biggleswade manor from Thomas Margetts.
|1801-31||Biggleswade population increased by 80%.|
|1805||Biggleswade carpenter, James Albone, dies of dysentery in Africa whilst on explorer Mungo Park’s second ill-fated expedition to plot the course of the river Niger. Albone was one of four carpenters serving sentences on a prison hulk in Portsmouth who were recruited by Park to build river boats for the expedition in return for pardons. All 45 members of the expedition perished.|
|1806-7||Merchandise unloaded at Biggleswade Wharf into carts for Shefford, etc. increased by 389; 1/6 toll on 7,000 tons would bring in £500 p.a.|
|1807||Earl Granville's lease of the Biggleswade Manor expired. The Manor was sold by public auction by the Crown at Carroways Coffee House to Sir Francis Willes for £2,180.|
|1816||Biggleswade man Edmund Chamberlain hanged at Bedford for murder of Southill Park gamekeeper, Charles Dines. Shot him during a struggle when Dines disturbed a gang of poachers from Biggleswade. During this period the bodies of executed murderers were handed over to the medical profession for dissection by students of anatomy. This was Chamberlain’s fate.|
|1824||Ivel Navigation extended to Shefford.|
|1826||Body snatchers William Smith (22) and George Lester (21) lately of Biggleswade exhumed freshly buried corpse of John Cooper from St Andrew’s churchyard. Were arrested next morning when they took it in a box to William Carrington’s yard to put on his waggon to London. Imprisoned 3 months at Bedford and fined £10 each. An unidentified accomplice escaped capture. The illicit trade in corpses for anatomical dissection was very prevalent in the early years of the 19th century.|
|1827||Young Biggleswade man James Walker, born 1800, son of a blacksmith, hanged at Bedford 31 March for stealing a horse from a stable at the house of William Chapman, solicitor (Stratton House, now Stratton House Hotel). His accomplice, a deserting soldier from Ashwell, avoided prosecution by turning King’s evidence against Walker. Walker had a bad reputation and had been convicted of several previous offences, hence the severity of the sentence.|
|1832||Thomas Perkins, gamekeeper to Mr Pym of Hasells Hall near Sandy, attacked by poachers and left for dead on the Tempsford to Everton road. Biggleswade men William Albone, John Chessum, John Butler and James Warner convicted at Bedford Lent Assizes 1833 and transported to Australia for life (Warner 14 years).|
|1834||Methodist church built in Shortmead Street. (Now known as Trinity Methodist Church).|
|1835/6||Workhouse built in London Road|
|1844||Town Hall built in High Street.|
|1850||Great Northern Railway opened, Biggleswade is the first town in Bedfordshire to have a mainline station.|
|1856||Birth in Hitchin Street, Biggleswade, of Henry Ryland, world-renowned artist in the pre-Raphaelite and neo-classical traditions. Son of John Benjamin Ryland, grocer, draper and prominent townsman. The corner of Hitchin Street and Market Square where the Rylands had their premises was known locally as ‘Rylands Corner’|
|1857||Fatal early accident on the GNR. Biggleswade man William Pickett (66), inspector of bridges on the Great Northern Railway, killed when walking on the line near Huntingdon. Hit by two trains passing. Headstone in St Andrew’s churchyard.|
|1860||Dan Albone born.
Biggleswade windmill built. 70 feet high – tallest in Bedfordshire. (Demolished in one day in 1970.)
|1865||Mary Tealby, born Mary Bates 1801 in Huntingdon, founder of Battersea Dogs’ Home, dies in Biggleswade whilst staying with relatives. Buried in St Andrew’s churchyard. Her brother, Rev Edward Bates, later buried in the same plot.|
|1867||Drove Road cemetery chapel built.|
|1871||Accidents: inspecting officers' reports for 1866-1871: Great Northern Railway; Report on an accident that occurred on 22 August 1871, at Biggleswade, by part of the carriages of an excursion train leaving the rails in shunting the train.|
|1873||Birth in Biggleswade, of Charles Penrose, music hall celebrity and stage, film and radio entertainer and actor. Best known for his comic songs, in particular his famous recording of ‘The Laughing Policeman’. Born Frank Penrose Cawse, son of a watchmaker and jeweller in the High Street, and later renamed Charles Penrose Dunbar Cawse. Charles Penrose was his stage name. A heritage plaque marks his birthplace.
Primitive Methodist Chapel built in Shortmead Street, later known locally as the Bourne Chapel. It replaced an earlier smaller chapel of 1854 on the same site. The building survives, having been converted into apartments.
|1874||Biggleswade Fire Brigade started.
Biggleswade and District Gas Company Limited incorporated (dissolved between 1933 and 1948)
|1874||The Biggleswade Board Schools (later, the Council Schools) opened in Rose Lane. Known to many locally as ‘Hicks Pits College’. Most of the buildings survive, having been converted into apartments.|
|1876||Ivel Navigation Trust brought to an end by an Act of Parliament|
|1880's||Dan Albone, the racing cyclist, establishes the Ivel Cycle Works|
|1883||St John’s Church built in St Johns Street to serve the Victorian New Town expansion of Biggleswade to the north and east. Demolished 1974.|
|1884||Seven light east window of St Andrew's church is installed|
|1888||Fire Station built in Church Street, (then Brewery Lane, previously Back Lane).|
|1891||First issue of the Biggleswade Chronicle on October 10, 1891|
|1899||Biggleswade: purchase of land south west of station; Charles Samuel Lindsell (owner).|
|1902||Prototype Ivel Agricultural Motor (first successful lightweight internal combustion engine farm tractor) designed and built by Dan Albone at his Ivel Works, Shortmead Street. Tractor went into production 1903 and was exported worldwide. A heritage plaque commemorating Dan is on a wall opposite the site of his works.|
|1906||Francis Frederick Lovell, Lord of the Manor, died 1st August.
Dan Albone died 30th October at Ivel Works, Shortmead Street aged 46
Maud Rosalind Lovell appointed Lord of the Manor 31st August.
|1911||Coronation Festival on 22nd June (George V).|
|1912||Opening of newly built Georges Hall in High Street. Named after Lloyd George.|
|1913||Opening of the Empire cinema in Hitchin Street, built by travelling showman Charles Thurston. Closed 1958 and later demolished. Housing development, Empire Close, built near the site.|
|1914-1918||During the First World War there was a Royal Engineers Signal Training Depot at Biggleswade.|
|1921||On 24th April unveiling and dedication of the cross at the War Memorial|
|1925||Death of Henry Martin Lindsell, owner of the Fairfield estate. By his will he bequeathed the Fairfield meadow to the town to be used for recreation and sports, principally cricket.|
|1935||Biggleswade Royal Silver Jubilee Celebrations on 6th May|
|1936||Regal cinema opened on 27th July|
|1937||Biggleswade coronation celebration on 12th May (George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon).|
|1942||30 May Corvette K52 HMS Balsam, Flower Class, launched. She had been adopted by Biggleswade after a successful Warship Week National Savings campaign in January 1942.|
|1943||Biggleswade Wings for Victory Week 8-15 May|
|1943||The Avenue Club opened on 6th November, funded by the War Relief Society of America.|
|1943||15 July - PBY (VP 92) and British destroyer HMS Rochester and frigates HMS Mignonette and HMS Balsam sink German submarine U-135, 28°20'N, 13°17'W.|
|1944||Biggleswade Salute The Soldier Week 13-20 May|
|1947||20 April HMS Balsam scrapped|
|1953||Chancel roof of church burnt, restoration work resulted in the discovery of the stone slab to John Rudying, 1481, archdeacon of Bedford|
|1953||Coronation celebration on 2nd June, (Queen Elizabeth II).|
|1950s||Horse Fair of 14th February lapsed|
|1954||Aerial photography reveals a hitherto unknown castle site.
27th April - Bowls Club and tennis courts open in Drove Road. The clubhouse was an ex-prefab' house.
|1960||New Fire Station opened on 21st May.
Stratton Park manor house derelict. Demolition by owner Walter Stratton begins. Mr Stratton had not inherited the house; he bought it after it had lain derelict for some years after the war and used it variously as a hen house and agricultural store house. He lived in part of the rear gatehouse and stables block. After demolition he built a bungalow for himself in the grounds using materials and features reclaimed from the mansion, and also two other bungalows.
|1961||Cincinnati Milacron established on taking over the Weatherley Oil Gear site in Dells Lane.
Biggleswade A1 by-pass opened.
|1966||Outdoor swimming pool opened 28th May|
|1968||Biggleswade Old Meeting Baptist Church, rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1785, demolished and replaced by a new Baptist church in London Road. The old burial ground in Hitchin Street was cleared and exhumed remains cremated and reburied in Foster Hill Road Cemetery, Bedford.|
|1971||Demolition of former coaching inn, the ‘Swan’. Originally the ‘White Swan’, it had been rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1785. A heritage plaque is affixed to buildings on the redeveloped site.|
|1972||Workhouse in London Road demolished.|
|1974||Biggleswade & District History Society formed.
The town War Memorial moved from its original site on the corner of Shortmead Street and High Street to its present position in the garden on the Market Square.
|1979||Weatherley Centre opened 6th October by H.C.( Tom) Weatherley.|
|1984||Biggleswade History Society is formalised and sets out on the route to become a Registered Charity.|
|1996||Acorn Business Centre in Lawrence Road opened|
|1997||New swimming pool at Saxon Gate opened|
|1998||Trinity Methodist Church, Shortmead Street - Weekend of Rededication - 9-11 January|
|1998||Refurbished Town Centre opened|
|2001||Dedication of The Millennium Window in St Andrews church on 28th January. It was designed by Petri Anderson, Hunton Bridge, Herts.
A unique gold coin of Coenwulf, Anglo-Saxon King of Mercia, East Anglia and Kent, dating to 805-810AD discovered on Biggleswade Common. Bought in 2006 by the British Museum for £357,832, the most ever paid for any coin until then.
|2003||10th September - Induction and Installation of Reverend William Thackray.|
|2005||Biggleswade VE-VJ celebration of the 60th anniversary of the end of WW2 on 16 October|
|2006||Town Hall moves from a 3 bedroom detached house in Chestnut Avenue to the old Magistrates Court in Saffron Road|
|2013||Kingdom Hall (formerly the town's Memorial Hall) in Shortmead Street demolished and a new Kingdom Hall built on the site by the Jehovah's Winesses.|
|2015||Official opening and launch 22 March at Jordan’s Mill of the Biggleswade Green Wheel, a 7-mile circuit for walkers and cyclists passing through areas of landscape, heritage and wildlife interest. Project was developed by the Central Bedfordshire Council together with the Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity.|
|2015 Dec||High Street Railway Bridge renewal begins - completed in June 2016. The last time it was renewed was in 1952.|
|2016||Steel sculpture for the Green Wheel by artist Martin Heron of Dan Albone driving his Ivel tractor officially unveiled 16 April on the grassed picnic area beside the Dan Albone car park next to the bridge over the Ivel and close to the site of Dan’s Ivel Works.|
|2017||Reopening of former coaching inn, the ‘Crown’, as a Wetherspoons hotel, bar and restaurant.|
|2017-18||Installation of a series of ‘Story in Stone’ local history inspired public art mosaics by artist, Oliver Budd, in the three market towns of Biggleswade, Sandy and Potton. The Story in Stone project was largely funded by the Central Bedfordshire Council as part of its Market Towns Regeneration Scheme.|