NEWPORT-PAGNELL, which gives name to the hundred and deanery in which it stands, is 51 miles distant from London, on the road to Northampton. It has been a town of considerable consequence, from a remote period: the assizes for the county were occasionally held here, from the reign of Henry III. to that of Henry VI. A market at Newport-Pagnell was either originally granted, or confirmed by charter, in 1270, to Roger de Somery, together with a fair for eight days, to commence on the festival of St. Luke: the market was again confirmed to John Botetort, in 1333: the market-day is Saturday. There are now six fairs, held annually; February 22, April 22, June 22, August 29, October 22, and December 22.
In the early part of the civil war, between King Charles and the parliament, Newport was garrisoned by Prince Rupert; but on the approach of the Earl of Essex, not long after the first battle of Newbury, in 1643, it was abandoned by Sir Lewis Dyve, and taken possession of for the parliament, to whom it proved a very useful garrison, during the remainder of the war. Sir Samuel Luke, supposed to have been the Hudibras of Butler, was its governor in the year 1645, when the sum of 80 l. a month was voted by parliament, for the support of the garrison.
At the time of the Norman conquest, Newport was the property of William Fitzansculf, a powerful baron, ancestor of the Paganells or Pagnells, who gave their name to this place. From them it passed, by female heirs, to the families of Somery, Botetort, Burnell, and Bermingham. Of the latter, it was purchased by the Botelers. This manor having become vested in the crown, on the attainder of James Boteler, Earl of Wiltshire, was granted, in 1462, to Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and in 1471, to George Duke of Clarence. It was afterwards restored to the St. Legers, as being representatives of the Botelers in the female line. In 1627, this manor, which had been again vested in the crown, by an exchange with the St. Legers, was granted to Sir Francis Annesley, whose family had been settled at Newport, as early as 1558. Arthur Annesley was created, in 1661, Baron Annesley, of Newport-Pagnell, and Earl of Anglesey. From him the manor pf Newport descended to its present proprietor, the Earl of Mount-Norris. The profits of the market and fairs have always been annexed to the manor.
The Paganells had a castle at Newport, the site of which is still called the Castle-mead; but there were no remains of the building even in Camden's time.
Fulk Paganell, in the reign of William Rufus, founded a cell of Cluniac monks at Tickford, adjoining to this town, and gave the manor of that place. This house was subordinate to the abbey of St. Martin, Majoris Monasterii, commonly called Marmonstiers, at Tours, and was seized as an alien priory, by King Edward III. during the wars with France. It was restored by King Henry IV. and made subject to the priory of the Holy Trinity, in York. King Henry VIII. suppressed this monastery in 1525, (its revenues being then estimated at 126 l. 17s. per annum,) and gave it, with all its land, to Cardinal Wolsey. After the Cardinal's fall, it was given to Christ Church college, in Oxford, but afterwards resumed by the crown. It is said to have been sold by King James I. to Dr. Atkins, his physician; it is more probable that it was given him as a remuneration for his attendance, in Scotland, on his son, Prince Charles, when he recovered of a dangerous fever; for which we are told that he was amply rewarded, and offered a baronet's patent, which he refused. The priory was one of the seats of his posterity, who were afterwards baronets by a patent, bearing date 1660: their chief residence was at Clapham, in Surrey. Tickford Abbey is now the property of Mr. Hooton: there are no remains of the conventual buildings. Mr. Hooton's family have a burial place in a retired part of the garden belonging to their dwelling-house, which is supposed to have been the cemetery of the priory: an obelisk has been erected there, in memory of the late Mrs. Hooton.
[Correction/Addition at the end of Magna Britannia states "By the death of Mr. Hooton, Tickford-abbey has devolved to his son-in-law Mr. Ward."]
Tickford Park, and the manor of Tickford-end, were sold by the Atkins' family to the Uthwatts, and by them to Sir William Hart: it is now the property of Mr. Vanhagen, in right of his wife, whose first husband purchased it of the heirs of Sir William Hart.
The manor of Caldecot, (a hamlet of this parish,) which belonged also to the priory of Tickford, was sold by the Atkins' family, in 1758, to William Backwell esq. a banker in London. Mr. Backwell, in 1769, bequeathed it to William Harwood, who has assumed the name of Backwell, and is the present proprietor.
The parish church, which is a spacious Gothic edifice, contains no monuments of note. In the church-yard is the following epitaph, written by Cowper, the poet, on Thomas Abbott Hamilton, who died July 7, 1788.
"Pause here, and think a monitory rhime
Demands one moment of thy fleeting time.
Consult life's silent clock; thy bounding vein
Seems it to say, health here has long to reign?
Hast thou the vigour of thy youth? An eye
That beams delight? A heart untaught to sigh?
Yet fear; a youth oftimes healthful and at ease
Anticipates a day it never sees,
And many a tomb, like Hamilton's, aloud
Proclaims, prepare thee for an early shroud."
The great tithes, which were given by Fulk Paganell to the priory of Tickford, now belong to the Earl of Mount-Norris and Mr. Vanhagen. The vicarage is in the gift of the crown. The vicar is always master of an ancient hospital, originally founded by John de Somery, and dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, in the the reign of Edward I. and refounded by Anne of Denmark, Queen of James I. for a master, three poor men, and three poor women. Its revenues were rated, in 1534, at 6 l. 6s. 8d. per annum. The rents are now about 70 l. per annum. Portfield, in Newport Pagnell, was inclosed by an act of parliament, passed in 1794: the tithes were to continue as before, but power was given to persons entitled to them, to take a compensation either in land or otherwise. A close in North Crawley was given, by a benefactor now unknown, to the widow of the vicar of this parish: when there is no vicar's widow living, the profits are appropriated to the apprenticing of poor children.
In the year 1240, which was before the foundation of St. John's hospital above-mentioned, there were two hospitals at Newport-Pagnell, called St. Margaret's and New Hospital, of which we have no later accounts. Dr. Lewis Atterbury, (brother of the bishop of Rochester,) who was born at Caldecote, gave the sum of 10 l. per annum to a school-mistress, for teaching 20 girls to write, read, and sew plain work.
Mr. John Revis, in 1763, founded and endowed seven alms-houses (for four poor men and three women) who receive 10 l. per annum each, besides clothes and fuel.