Place:Melchbourne, Bedfordshire, England

Alt namesMelceburnesource: Domesday Book (1985) p 30
TypeParish (ancient), Civil parish
Coordinates52.267°N 0.483°W
Located inBedfordshire, England
See alsoStodden Hundred, Bedfordshire, Englandhundred in which it was located
Bedford Rural, Bedfordshire, Englandrural district of which it was part 1894-1934
Melchbourne and Yelden, Bedfordshire, Englandcivil parish into which it merged in 1934
Bedford District, Bedfordshire, Englanddistrict municipality covering the area since 1974
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

Melchbourne is a small village located west of Swineshead and east of Yelden in Bedfordshire, England.

Melchbourne was originally an ancient parish in the Stodden Hundred. As an ancient parish it had supervision of the chapelry of Knotting.

It was made a civil parish in 1866 and in 1894 it became part of the Bedford Rural District. In 1934 Melchbourne merged with the civil parish of Yelden to become the civil parish of Melchbourne and Yelden. Since 1974 the merged parish has been in the non-metropolitan Borough of Bedford.

A Vision of Britain through Time provides the following description of Melchbourne from John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales of 1870-72:

"MELCHBOURNE, a village and a parish in the [registration] district and county of Bedford. The village stands 2 miles E of the boundary with Northampton, 5 NNE of Sharnbrook [railway] station, and 5½ ESE of Higham-Ferrers; and was once a market-town. The parish comprises 2,574 acres. Post town: Higham-Ferrers. Real property: £3,170. Population: 251. Houses: 52. The property belongs to Lord St. John. Melchbourn Hall is Lord St. John's seat; was built about the time of James I. or Charles I.; has been modernized in the front; and stands in a fine park of about 400 acres. A preceptory of Knights Hospitallers was founded here in the time of Henry I., by Alice, Countess of Pembroke; was given, by Queen Elizabeth, to the Russells; and has left some remains. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ely. Value: £150. Patron: Lord St. John. The church is modern; consists of nave, aisles, and chancel, with porch and tower; and contains a brass of 1377, and two monuments to the St. Johns [family]."

Research Tips

  • The website British History Online provides three chapters of the Victoria County History Series on Bedfordshire. The first covers the religious houses of the county; the second and third provides articles on the parishes of the county. The parishes are arranged within their "hundreds".
  • GENUKI main page for Bedfordshire which provides information on various topics covering the whole of the county, and also a link to a list of parishes. Under each parish there is a list of the settlements within it and brief description of each. This is a list of pre-1834 ancient or ecclesiastical parishes but there are suggestions as to how to find parishes set up since then. GENUKI provides references to other organizations who hold genealogical information for the local area. There is no guarantee that the website has been kept up to date and therefore the reader should check additional sources if possible.
  • Bedfordshire family history societies are listed in GENUKI.
  • The FamilyTree Wiki has a series of pages similar to those provided by GENUKI which may have been prepared at a later date and from more recent data. The wiki has a link to English Jurisdictions 1851. There is a list of all the parishes in existence at that date with maps indicating their boundaries. The website is very useful for finding the ecclesiastical individual parishes within large cities and towns.
  • A Vision of Britain through Time, Bedfordshire, section "Units and Statistics" leads to analyses of population and organization of the county from about 1800 through 1974. There are pages available for all civil parishes, municipal boroughs and other administrative divisions. Descriptions provided are usually based on a gazetteer of 1870-72 which often provides brief notes on the economic basis of the settlement and significant occurences through its history.
  • These two maps indicate the boundaries between parishes, etc., but for a more detailed view of a specific area try a map from this selection. The oldest series are very clear at the third magnification offered. Comparing the map details with the GENUKI details for the same area is well worthwhile.
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