Explanation of the name Stowe Nine Churches

by Mike Rumbold

Because it is based upon a historic document, I favour the explanation that, as part of the property, the Lord of the Manor of Stowe owned the Advowson, or Right of Presentation, to nine churches.

This means that, when there was a vacancy, the Lord of Stowe was able to present, or suggest, to the Bishop, the priest to become Rector of each of these churches.

The document is an Inquisition Post Mortem of 1493/4; that is, a valuation of the property left by a person on their death.

In the ninth year of Henry VII dyed Dame Catherine Dudley seized of the Manor of Stowe, and, as the Record expresseth it, cum Advocationibus novem Ecclesiarum appendent. eidem Manerio. Note 1

The Latin translates colloquially as

‘With the right of presentation to nine churches attached to this manor’

Lest you think that it seems excessive for a manor to include such privileges, remember a manor was more than a posh country house; it was an estate, in the sense of an area of land together with all that stood on it, and could include other rights and responsibilities. Moreover, Dame Catherine owned more that one, as can be seen from the following.

In a history of the Stowe, by a former Rector, he refers to the will of the mother of Dame Catherine, thus

On the division of their patrimony the Northamptonshire estates were assigned to the younger sister Elizabeth, wife of George Nevill, Lord Latimer, of Corby. By her will, dated 20th September 1480 (20 Edw IV), she thus disposes of Stowe: ‘And forasmuch as my daughter Dame Katherine (Dudley), hath no livelode (sic) nor other sustenance to find her meat, drink, and clothes, nor other necessaries during my life, I will succour, help, and find her as I may, and as I am naturally bound to do, and will that after my decease she have the lordships and manors of Stowe in Northamptonshire, and the manor of Tetcote with Puke, Holywell, and Lurkbere, in the county of Devon; the lands and tenements in Bruggewart (Bridgewater) in the county of Somerset, and will and charge that in any wise and without delay, or as hastily and soon as it is goodly, that there be made a good and lawful estates thereof of my feoffees, so that I may see and know that she be surely purveyed for in my life, if may conveniently so be done, or else that such estate be made to my said daughter, or to her use immediately after my decease, also I bequeath to my said daughter towards her finding, 100 of the lawful money of England; to the church and parishioners of Stow 100 in recompense of tithes and obligations forgotten and not paid etc

(Vide Nicolas’s Testamenta Vetusta, p. 359) Note 2

To me, it does not seem impossible that, within such a large property portfolio, there were nine churches to which the owner had right of presentation.

Note 1 John Bridges History and Antiquities of Northamptonshire.

Note 2 August 1899 Weedon Deanery Newsletter: History of Stowe by Rev HH Crawley almost certainly quoting from Baker, George, History & Antiquities of the County of Northamptonshire 1822. (Testamenta Vetusta is obtainable on CD ROM from The Archive CD Books Project – www.archivecdbooks.org )