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
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 )