Charitable Bequest.

In 1780 Elizabeth Forster of Grantham, widow, bequeathed two cottages, now called the Bell-houses, and a rent-charge of 20s. issuing out of a field in Misson, to two poor unmarried women belonging to Bawtry, and of the respective ages of 60 years and upwards, to be appointed by the incumbent of Bawtry for the time being.


A school was founded here in 1822, the master of which was to be a member of the Church of England, to be appointed by a committee of the inhabitants, and to teach the Church Catechism, but not in cases where parents and guardians objected to it. This school was in 1848 made available to the poor by a voluntary subscription, which enabled the master to reduce his charges to the lowest amount.

In 1857 an infant school was erected by voluntary contributions upon a site given by the late R. P. Milnes, Esq. for religious education in strict connection with the Church of England, the mistress of which is appointed by and removable at the discretion of the incumbent.


Austerfield church.
Austerfield church.

The derivation of the name of this village from Ostorius, a Roman general, is of course pure hallucination. It is the old Scandinavian Osterfjcld—the Eastern-field. In Domesday it is written Oustrefeld.

The church is the original church of John de Builli, consisting simply of one aisle divided into nave and chancel by a coeval round arch. The windows are insertions of a later age, but some of them of good character, and exhibiting fragments of ancient stained glass; and the two bells are suspended in a simple bell gable, very like that of the beautiful church of Wycliffe.

It is dedicated to St. Helen, as appears by the following extract from an ancient will: "13 Ap. 1471, Ego Nicholaus Hancok de Braincroft parochial de Austyrfeld ------Corpus sepeliendum in ecclesia Sanctæ Elense de A. coram altari Sancti Nicholai -------Lego ad duas torchias conficiendas viiis. Lego ad unam capam emendam xs."

The church in 1834 was in an unsatisfactory condition. The open pews, some of them containing excellent work of the Decorated period, which was carefully preserved, were inconveniently low and out of repair; and the wooden floor, if there had ever been one, had perished. The church was therefore re-pewed and a new gallery added.

I take leave here to state, with reference to the re-pewing both of this church and of that of Bawtry, that if the work had been done a few years later it would have been done differently, and I would fain persuade myself better. But we acted according to the light and the information which we then possessed; and the study of ecclesiastical arrangement was then altogether in its infancy.

The manor has descended in precisely the same course with that of Bawtry.

Idonea de Vipont, or her father, John de Builli, for there is some uncertainty as to the donor, gave 13½ bovates of land in this place to the Knights Templars for the maintenance of a chaplain to celebrate in their house at London for the soul of her husband, herself, and her family. Mr. Hunter conjectures, with great probability, that this estate was that which the Earls of Scarborough once possessed here, and which was sold by them to the Listers, and thence came to the family of Milnes.

The commons and wastes of this township, which is of considerable extent, were inclosed in 1765, when an allotment of land was assigned to the vicar of the parish in lieu of by far the greatest portion of his tithes. From some cause, with which I am unacquainted, the rectorial tithes were not commuted for land.

The First Colonists of New England.

From Austerfield, and from the neighbouring parish of Scrooby, went forth William Bradford and William Brewster, the first governor and first elder of the congregation of the founders of New Plymouth, the parent colony of New England, of whom Mr. Hunter has given so full and so interesting an account, that I refer my readers with confidence to his volume for further and more complete details upon the subject. I will merely state that William Bradford, as appears by the baptismal register of Austerfield, was baptised there March 19, 1589, his father being a small freeholder; and, having attended the ministrations of the Rev. ---------- Clifton, a puritan rector of Babworth, about eight miles distant from Austerfield, joined before he had reached his eighteenth year the Separatist congregation at Scrooby, which was presided over by William Brewster in a farm house, a remnant of the ancient palace of the Archbishops of York. Brewster had been private secretary to Davidson, the Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth, and on the disgrace of that minister after the execution of the Queen of Scots retired to Scrooby, a village two miles from Austerfield, and situated on the great north road, where he held the situation of postmaster, and in which he was probably born.

The New Benefice of Bawtry-with-Austerfield.

By an order of the Queen in Council dated July 31, 1858, the townships of Bawtry and Austerfield were separated from the vicarage and parish church of Blyth, and constituted a separate parish and a separate benefice, by the name of the Perpetual Curacy of Bawtry with Austerfield, of which the master, fellows, and scholars of Trinity College, Cambridge, shall be the patrons, and the church of Bawtry the parish church.

This benefice is endowed with tithe rent-charges amounting to 300l. per annum, subject to the deduction of property-tax alone, including two rent-charges of 64l. 10s. and of 9l. 10s. issuing from Bawtry and Austerfield respectively, and hitherto belonging to the vicarage of Blyth. It is further endowed with all mortuaries, surplice-fees, and other payments heretofore paid to the vicar of Blyth: and when taken by a fellow vacating his fellowship is augmented out of the funds of the college by an annual grant of 200l.; thus raising the living to 500l. a-year, subject to the deduction of property-tax alone.

The order with my consent took immediate effect, and shortly afterwards the Rev. Augustus Dobree Carey, a fellow of the college, was presented to the new benefice.

Although I consented that this arrangement should take immediate effect, I cannot affect to deny the fact that it never had my hearty concurrence. It is rarely indeed that we can improve the acts of our ancestors. The comparatively enfeebled and inadequate powers of the Anglican Church are, I conceive, in a large measure attributable to departure from their principles—I say not doctrines—and plunder of their endowments. It is perfectly true that the only authorities whose consent is necessary for effecting such a separation as this of Bawtry and Austerfield from the mother church are the patron, ordinary, and archbishop of the province, which, when confirmed by the Crown, necessarily takes effect on the next avoidance of the living. The existing incumbent has no authority whatever in the matter. He has merely the power of accepting, or if he pleases, of deferring the separation during his own lifetime. Such is one of those laws in the enactment of which the clergy of course have no voice. Still the experience and information accumulated by an incumbent of any standing justify him in propounding his views, and entitle him to be heard, when measures seriously affecting the spiritual welfare of his parish are in contemplation.

Under this conviction I endeavoured to impress upon the patrons some years ago, when this subject was first agitated, the impropriety of taking for the formation of their new benefice anything whatever, beyond the ordinary fees, from the endowments of a large parish, the position and claims of which necessarily subjected the vicar to heavy outlays, more especially as those endowments had in times past been so severely and so unjustly injured bv the moduses of which I have spoken, and as the rectory, which the patrons enjoyed, was little, if at all, short of 3,000l. a-year. I recommended that they should augment the stipend of the curate of Bawtry and Austerfield to the extent of 150l. per annum, for which the services of a valuable and efficient clergyman would readily have been secured and retained; and at the same time provide a church and clergyman for the benefit of Ranskill, Torworth, and Barnby Moor, three adjacent villages of the parish, where none existed, and where, by so doing, a real and acknowledged want would have been met and supplied.

My suggestions were not acted upon; and, as already stated, the new benefice has been constituted, and an incumbent appointed.

I have thought it expedient to place my views upon record, Valeant quantum valent.

For Trinity College, that most illustrious of all seminaries, which has never ceased to contribute so largely to the supply of men duly qualified to serve God, both in Church and State, I have a profound veneration. For the Church of England I have a more profound veneration still. With all my love for this great house, I, in common with very many other of its alumni, have always regretted that it should have had such a foundation as the ancient parochial endowments of this country. And the best wish which I can utter for my college and for all other similarly endowed institutions is this,—that, being ever mindful of the nature of their endowments and of the obligations imposed upon them by their founders, they may make the wants of the Church their first care, and thus dutifully minister to her, whose handmaids it is their highest honour to be, and with whose welfare their own is inseparably bound up and united.

And now, by the blessing of a benign Providence, I have completed a task which I have had at heart for many years, but the accomplishment of which various causes have hitherto conspired to arrest. If this volume shall afford my wealthier friends and parishioners, and through their kindness and indulgence my poorer brethren, the means of spending a few moments now and then in innocent recreation—if it shall attach them with interest to the soil in which their lot has been cast—if it shall in any degree contribute to engender feelings of gratitude in any of my readers, wherever situate, whilst contrasting the past convulsions of England, civil and religious, with the tranquillity which they are now permitted to enjoy—above all, if the contemplation of the unceasing vicissitude of all earthly things and possessions, to which these pages bear testimony, shall teach them to transfer their thoughts and affections to a higher and better world—then I shall have laboured in an undertaking not altogether alien to my profession, nor, I would humbly hope, altogether barren of fruit to the honour of Him, whose I am, and whom I serve.

Domesday; Dodsworth, lxx. f. 2 ; Dugdale, Baronage, i. 395; Collins, Houses of Despenser and Beauchamp; Reg. Priorat. de Blida, f. 122; Testamenta Eboracensia (Surtees Society), 1836, p. 210.