Bernard O’Connor 2000
The earliest documentary evidence of the parish of Everton-cum-Tetworth comes from the Domesday Book. This was written in 1086, two decades after the Norman invasion, to ensure King William and his French Lords knew who owned what land in the areas under their control. Commissioners were required to find how many hides there were in each manor (an area of land that produced enough for one household) and how many ploughs were in demesne, (the land owned by the lord of the manor). They wanted to know how many messuages (houses and gardens), how many cottars there were (occupants of a cot or cottage who were liable to work for their rent), boardars, serving men and free-tenants there were; how much wood, meadow and pasture as well as the number of mills and fishponds. It was a very comprehensive coverage of the country. The Saxon Chronicler of the time reported how “there was not a single hide, not one virgate of land, an ox, nor a cow, nor a swine, left that was not set down.”
As the parish falls on the boundary between the counties of Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire there were two accounts which gave different spellings. The southern part of Everton, which was in Bedfordshire, was described as Euretone. The northern part, which fell in Huntingdonshire, was described as the parish of Evretune. The boundary line was marked with a stone which used to stand in the wall opposite the Village Hall. As there are other settlements called Everton in Nottinghamshire and Hampshire it is accepted that the name derives from the Old English eofor-tun, meaning “boar-farm.” (Godber, J. ‘The History of Bedfordshire' p.3)
There are a similar variety of spellings for Tetworth, the adjoining parish to the north in Huntingdonshire. They include the 12th century Tethewurda and the 13th century Tetteworth and Tettesworthe. It is claimed to have derived from the Old English Tettan-wor, meaning “Tetta's enclosure or farm.” This end of the village used to be known as “Oog Turd End” and every house had a pigsty and the people kept one or more pigs. Even in the Domesday Book Everton is mentioned as a good place for hunting wild boar. “Oog” is the old Saxon word for “Hog”.
Prior to the invasion the Bedfordshire part of the parish belonged to Potton Manor, the property of the Saxon earl, Tosti. William the Conqueror “relieved” Tosti of it and gave it to his niece, Countess Judith. She was the widow of Earl Waltheof. According to the Domesday Book it consisted of five hides.
“There is land for 5 ploughs. There are 2 ploughs and there could be 3 (more). There are 4 villeins and 5 boarders and measure (sufficient) for 1 plough team. It is worth 3 pounds; (was worth) when received 10,000 shillings, and as much TRE. This manor Earl Tosti Held, and it belonged to (jacunt in) Potone (Potton), the sum (proprio/demesne) manor of the countess.”
The northern part of the parish which fell in Huntingdonshire was slightly larger and more valuable. During the reign of Edward the Confessor it belonged to Ingewar. It was described as of
7 hides (assessed) to the geld. (There is) land for 18 ploughs. There are now 2 ploughs on the demesne, and 19 villeins and 2 boardars who have 9 ploughs. There are a priest and a church and 15 acres of meadow, and 40 acres of under wood (silvae min). In King Edward's time it was worth 10 pounds now 7 pounds. Rannulf, brother of Ilger, holds it of the king.”
(VCH. ‘Beds’ vol.i.pp.210,214,259b,266a)
What happened to Tosti, Ingewar and their families is not known. They may have been killed in the fighting or became tenants to the new occupiers. After the Conquest Rannulf, sometimes written as Ranulf, was given charge of all of Bedfordshire except Godmanchester. Whether he and Countess Judith lived in the village is not known but map evidence shows four manors which would have been built to accommodate the newcomers. In 1140 Gilbert de Clare, the Earl of Pembroke, and cousin of William the Conqueror, was given Everton Manor. He also held extensive property around Clare in Suffolk - hence his name. This was part of his reward for his royalty to the king. The Earls of Pembroke were generous in their donations to monastic houses. So were other landowners. During the reign of Henry II Gilbert, son of Gilbert, Earl of Pembroke, granted the church, together with land in Everton, to the Priory of St. Neots. They held the advowson of the parish until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Other plots of land were granted to Sawtrey monastery, Statford Langthorne abbey in Essex and St John of Jerusalem’s preceptory in Shingray, Cambridgeshire. This practice was part of the religious tradition of giving to the Church, a public gift to God, attempting to guarantee a place in heaven and ensuring that, on their death, the monks would say prayers for the repose of their souls.
St Mary’s Church was built on the site of the Saxon church and was consecrated by the Bishop of Lincoln. Gilbert probably stood in the front row. The Pembrokes and through them the Earls of Norfolks continued as overlords of Everton with the manor being held as the manor of Weston, near Baldock in Hertfordshire.
Subsequent evidence of Norman occupation has come from field names. One such was Chenemonde-wiche. This was land on top of the hill coming in from Sandy. Another was Kennet field, part of Kinwick field, nnear the boundary with Sandy. “The Pounds” was a field on the south side of Potton Road, on open land near Manor Farm, where stray animals were kept until a fine was paid for their release. On the opposite side of Potton Road was another smaller open field, marked on the map as “The Ore.” The origin of this field name remains a mystery. Other 13th century place-names are Pondennellehul and Boresleile. (BCRO. CRT 130 EVE; VCH, ‘A History of Bedfordshire,’ p.226)
Depending on the relief of the area and how successful their soldiers had been in suppressing the defeated Saxon peasantry the Normans tended to build defensive moats around a strongly fortified manor house. There is no evidence of a motte and bailey castle nearby which suggests they already had strong control of this area of East Anglia and that there was no fear of attack from disaffected Saxons.
There were four manors in the parish and there is some confusion over their histories as sometimes several were held by the same person. As the parish fell in two counties the following account comes from the Victoria County Histories of Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire. Everton Manor, sometimes known as Everton Bury or Netherbury, was thought to be on the spring line at the foot of the ridge at Story Moats. Everton Overbury could describe the manor which was built later on the top of the hill on the site on what became Everton House, near St Mary’s Church. Everton Mosbury, sometimes known as Mossbury or Moricebury, is the Bedfordshire part of the parish, close to Tempsford. Sir John Morice was a local resident in the 14th century. Everton Biggin is the manor on the western edge of the parish near its boundary with Tempsford. The manor of Canons or Tetworth is in the northern part of the parish and the manor is thought to have been on the present day site of Valley Farm, just below Old Woodbury.