Chronological History of Biggleswade.
Mostly from ‘A History of Biggleswade’ – Abel Harold Smith – 1900 to 2000.

12,000 – 10,000 BCStone arrow heads from Paleolithic period found here suggest that the district was inhabited from early times; they can be seen in the Bedford Museum. There is also a stone age tool found at Dunton in the Museum.
Late 1st century BCGold, silver, copper and brass coins have been found minted by Tasciovanus, chief of a Celtic tribe from the now present St Albans.
43 – 411 ADThe ‘White Way’, a Roman loop road, ran via Baldock past Stratton and Sandy to join the Ermine Way at Godmanchester. The 1959 Town Guide says Stratton, Drove Road, along what is now a footpath on the Common to Sandy. It also says a Roman by-road has been traced going westward towards Old Warden. The 1954 O.S. map shows Hill Lane as a Roman Road. The road started from near the site of the old Sewage Works. A Roman ceremonial dish and an oculist's stamp have been found here. Oculist stamps were used to mark on a seal of an eye-salve or lotion, (now in the British Museum).
477 – 495 onSaxon Invasions – The Saxon Gifle tribe or people settled here and gave their name to the Ivel River and Northill (Northgivle - 13th century) and Southill (Sudgivele - 11th century). The Brits were probably driven westward. There was a watch hill at Old Warden.
800 onDanish invasions
878The district formed part of the Danelaw under the Peace of Wedmore.
917Danes defeated at major conflict at Tempsford. There were some Danes left in the area, the place named Holme is Danish but it was a Saxon who lived by a ford who gave his name to the settlement and later to the Hundred of Biggleswade – Biceil – Anglo Saxon personal name; Waed – Saxon for ford.
1066The Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury held the manor of Biggleswade from the King.
1086Domesday Book Ralph de Insula (Ralph de Lisle) held the manor under the Crown. There were no woods and no market. Apart from gentry and clergy there were twenty men in Biggleswade; 27 in Stratton and 15 in Holme. (Miss Godber says 34 men; Miss Bell about 50). Each peasant worked some days for the Lord of the Manor but each had about 30 acres which he hired from his master. There were 1,200 acres of arable land in Biggleswade (less than Holme and Stratton) also 240 acres of meadow and 13 mills in the Hundred of Biggleswade. Two mills were in Biggleswade itself (two mills means two water wheels under one roof); value £2/7/-, per annum, this was probably the site of a mill where the present mill stands. First place above ford with sufficient fall of water.
 1132Henry I granted Bishop Alexander of Lincoln (in whose diocese it was) the manor of Biggleswade with Holme to help endow the Cathedral. The bishop to have church, meadows, mills and fishing rights in return for yearly offering of a gown lined with sable.
c1163The bishop made Biggleswade a Prebend and the church a Peculier. A Peculier had certain rights and need not send records to the Archdeacon; thus some Biggleswade church records are missing. A Prebendary did not usually reside in his parish. There is still a stall in Lincoln Cathedral marked Bigleswade (yes with one 'g'!).
c1200The bishop made an attempt at town development. Small plots of land were made available at 1/- per year; burgage. A shilling was a large amount in those days. The holder did not have to do the customary work for his holding but could build a house or shop, ply his trade and travel.
18 Nov 1200Miracle at Biggleswade. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln died in London and his body rested at Biggleswade. A woman with a broken arm touched the body and it is reported that she was healed. The wax tapers in the procession stayed alight and St Hugh was canonised in 1220.
1212"The men of Biggleswade and the men of the Episcopal fee of Biggleswade" appealed against Robert de Braybrook who had "put part of the fen of Kynmondewick under ban and carried off hay by force". Biggleswade men claimed "they have and ought to have common in that fen". (Kinwick is thought to have been in the area NE of Biggleswade now covered by Millhouse Fen, Deepdale and Sandy Heath).
1227Market. Biggleswade has been granted a market by King John (1199 – 1216). This was confirmed in 1227 by Henry III. (Peck says confirmed to Bishop Hugh, who Rutt says died 1220). Monday was market day.
1228Fairs were held before this date but in this year the Bishop altered the day from 15th August to 14th September, Holy Cross Day.
12471. Henry de Suqual drowned in Mill Pit. 2. Sanctuary was taken in the church. A felon could remain 40 days and was then deported. 3. House burgled. The Hue and Cry was raised but Biggleswade did not pursue. When the cry was raised all who heard were supposed to help.
1276Walter Justice, first known vicar. Thomas de Northfleet was Prebendary. Bishop Gravesend instituted the living; the vicar to have house, offering, tithes, donations put in church chest at Biggleswade and chapel at Stratton.
1280King Edward I at Biggleswade. About this time Biggleswade claimed to be a Borough through the ‘Burgage’ system.
1294Biggleswade people claimed the right to leave their burgage tenements by will. Bishop Oliver Sutton ordered an investigation.
Bishop Sutton was in Biggleswade several times and it seems the Bishop often stayed here; a convenient place. Local rumour says they had a residence in Palace Street; hence the name.
1296Chancery Ancient Deed: Grant by Robert Villemai, of Bikeleswade, and Sibila his wife, to Hugh de Barrins and Matilda his wife, of half a burgage tenement in the town of Biggleswade: Bedf.
1297Taxation List for this year shows dredge corn, rye, hay and straw were grown. There were some cows and sheep. Only the Bishop had a cart. Tenants had to attend the manor court. Villeins worked on the lord’s land. The lord’s steward regulated tillage. Biggleswade area shows three villages with an average of more than five sheep to each man taxed.
c1300Biggleswade prosperous. There was a mill. There were weaving, tanning and dyeing industries (Patricia Bell, former County Archivist).
1302First Bridge here across the River Ivel . Bishop Dalderby granted an indulgence to those who contributed towards building the bridge.
1309Hugo de Hostwyke was the Tax Collector
1309 - 1332Decline in tax payers:in 1309 there were 37 with a value of £6 by 1332 declined to 19 with a value of £5.
1313Richard de Gostwyke set on at Biggleswade by a band of men who assaulted him and carried away his goods. A commission of 'Oyer et Ferminer' appointed to enquire.
1317Thomas de Northfleet, Prebendary of Biggleswade left money to repair chapel at St Mary, Stratton.
1330John Whitbread, Tax Collector
1340Church dates from 1340 – L. Maynall: Portrait of Bedford
1349Black Death. Death of Hugh Frankelyn, vicar since 1344, probably of plague. Replaced by Robert de Clifton. Wool weavers known to be in Biggleswade.
1369Another outbreak of plague. Vicar Robert de Clifton died.
1370Three Biggleswade tanners fined for selling hides at Shefford market at an excessive price
1379Vicar John had eight chaplains and six clerks to assist him. Note there were chapels at Stratton and Holme.
1403Thomas of Walsingham writes, "Strange portents were seen at daybreak and midday at Biggleswade when mysterious figures dressed in colours as men of war could be seen emerging from a wood. They engaged in combat but on getting closer they became invisible".
1422John Forster, clerk.at the Houses of Parliament complained that he was ousted from the prebend of Biggleswade in Lincoln Cathedral and requests restoration. It was agreed in the parliament of 1 Henry VI that he should be restored and that Forster should have letters patent accordingly. Other people mentioned in the petition were Philip Repingdon the Bishop of Lincoln; Philip Morgan the Bishop of Worcester; John Ixworth, clerk; Humphrey [of Lancaster] the Duke of Gloucester. (National Archives)
1424August 27   Grant by Margery Misden, to John Beteller, of all her lands and tenements, fields, pasture and meadow, rents and services with all appurtenances and commodities in Biggleswade (Bykeleswade), Bedfordshire. Dated at Biggleswade, with the seal of Margery Misden attached.  Witnesses: John Stoughton, John Manypeny, William Rouell, William Hunte, John Ryede and others.  [Endorsed] Prayer: 'In thys bed I ded ly & ded dwell / Jhu Cryste the whyche harrowed hell lady for they masse herynge thy prayers & thyn Almes dede doynge thy lord & thu shall be to me In hevyn everlasting lye.' (National Archives)
1442John Enderby, MP of Biggleswade; Thomas Stratton, Clerk of the Peace and six others from the town were part of a representation to the King’s Council on behalf of Sir Thomas Wauton.
1454Chancery pleading addressed to Richard Neville Earl of Salisbury as Lord Chancellor:
George, son of William Crosse. v. William Byngham and other feoffees of the said William Crosse.: Lands, &c. in Biggleswade (Bykeleswade), Stratton, Holme, and Hill (in the Old Warden parish). : Bedford.
1456Chancery pleading addressed to William [Wayneflete], Bishop of Winchester as Lord Chancellor: Robert, son of Robert Pagman. v. Thomas Aylbarne (Aylbern), feoffee: of Robert the elder Messuage and land in Biggleswade (Bikleswade).: Bedford.
1467Church restoration started by John Rudying, Archdeacon.
1475The King granted a licence to the Bishop and Archdeacon John Rudying and others to found the Fraternity of the Holy Trinity. They must pray for the King and could acquire land, rents, etc. (See article in Part III)
1481Church restoration completed. There is a memorial brass to John Rudying in the church.
1484Thomas Easton, Lord of the Manor of Holme.
1490John Hoywood left 6s 8d to Fraternity to buy lamb that it may continue for ewes.
1508Edward Pound left his son John 60 sheep, 10 hives with bees, 2 swine and 30 quarters of malt.
1508Katherine Vincent left her house to the Fraternity on condition that they pray for her soul.
1508Bishop of Lincoln estate record shows 123 burgages paying 1s each. Rent from assize £136.
1516Richard Easton; Lord of the Manor, Holme.
1518To 1529. Chancery pleadings addressed to Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York, Cardinal and Papal Legate as Lord Chancellor: John, son of John Byrges and of Margery, his wife, daughter of David John. v. Alice, executrix, and late the wife of the the said David.: Detention of deeds relating to a messuage and land at Stratton [in Biggleswade].: Bedford.
1528Bishop obtained the right to hold two more fairs, 3 days each on 22nd July (St Mary Magdalen) and 28 Oct (St Simon & St Jude).
1529Simon Mathew of Biggleswade was a delegate to determine the legality of Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon. A book of his is in the British Museum.
1531Bargin and sale by Francys Pygott, of Stratton, co. Bedford, esquire, and William Colworth, of Holme, in the same county, gentleman, executors of the will of William Westdayle, clerk, late Bachelor of Canon Law, and parson of the church of St. George in Edworth, to Thomas Lettys, of Bekeleswade, of one burgage and a half lying together in Holmestrete, Bekeleswade: and covenant by the said executors to surrender the premises according to the custom of the borough Court of Biggleswade, to the said Thomas Lettys. Bedf.
1535Vicarage worth £10
1538Grant by John, Bishop of Lincoln to Henry Lawson. "Mylneo of Bykellswade of all his myllneo being under one Roofe". He paid £17 a year for the mills and £2 14s 4d for 20 acres of land, floodgates etc. 21 years lease. Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Early Proceedings, Richard II to Philip and Mary: John LANGFORD of Biggleswade (Bychylleswourth), shoemaker, v. William LOVELL (Lovewell), son of Thomas Lovell of Potton (Patenam), tanner, deceased.: Demand for a debt already paid.: BEDFORD.
1544Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Early Proceedings, Richard II to Philip and Mary: Francis MORGAN of the Middle Temple, gentleman, v. Thomas SNAGE (Snegge), yeoman.: Half profits of a moiety of the parsonage or prebendary of Biggleswade in excess of the ordinary amount.: BEDFORD.
1547Bishop Holbeche surrendered the Manor of Biggleswade to Edward VI in exchange for other lands. The canon leaves the market and received toll from produce sold.
1548440 people old enough to receive communion; total population about 550. Fraternity of the Holy Trinity suppressed; the Crown took the brotherhood house and lambs (see article in Part II).
1550Roads bad. Tempsford road called "Soul Slough".
1557Thomas Darcy gentleman of Lee, Kent, had helped quell Wyatts rebellion. In consideration of this the Crown granted his widow, Joan, the Biggleswade mills and woods, etc. for 21 years. £17 12s 9d for the mills, 54s 4d for the lands etc.
Edward Peake of Southill left a cottage, lying west of his mansion house at Holme, as a house sufficient for a school and school master. Also rent charge on Mansion House of £10 per year as master's salary.
1565The Market House or Court House on the square was in need of repair; it had a chamber 60ft long and 24ft wide. Used by justices on assize. There was also a stockhouse or lockup. William Stewarde took over as lessee from Ralph Belfield. He sold his interest in the White Horse for less than its value on condition that he could remain there for his life. Henry Fynche, yeoman, left over 12 burgages, 3 of which had belonged to the Fraternity and to each of his 4 children, 20 sheep.
1567Walter Fisher of the Bell had a great carved chest wainscoted.
Customers from Cardington, Hitchin and around had clothes from Thomas Adcock, a tailor, but they did not always pay. 
156828 July. Inquisition concerning treasure trove (gold coins) unearthed in the 'Wellyard' in Stratton, by Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, on land owned by Thomas Pygott of Stratton, esquire.
1575A well-to-do man, John Ratchford had 100 sheep, 18 beasts but only 3 chairs.
Note: Biggleswade must have prospered in last half of this century.
1583Wm. Dimbleton, Vicar of Langford left in his will 5s towards repair of seats in Holme School.
1586 or laterCamden (1551-1623) renowned antiquary, historian and headmaster of Westminster School wrote, "Biggleswade is famous for its stone bridge and its horse fair." At this time Biggleswade had five horse fairs.
1587Thos. Decons and Johannah his wife. v. George Smythe: Lands of John Rodwell, deceased, in the manors of "Biggleswade Burgage" and "Biggleswade Forreyn." Customs of manors. [The possessions of John Poolie, Francis Poolie, and Richard Edwards are mentioned.]: Bedford (National Archives)
1598Holme schoolmaster was John Bond. A 7-year old pupil was Henry Piggott who boarded nearby.
1604Fire destroyed a great number of dwellings.
1607Holme School bequest. Benjamin Piggott of Nether Gravenhurst, left the 'chapel' at Holme to be used as a schoolhouse.
1608Wm. Fishe, Wm. Finche. v. George Smythe, Helen Hunt.: Parcel of land near the town of Biggleswade, belonging to the manor of Biggleswade, of 14 acres, and another of two acres. Meets and bounds. Survey. [The names of Mr. Violet, Edward Bray (possessions), Elizh. Piggott, and William Hunt, are mentioned.]: Beds
1611Bill for 'Biggleswade Highway' rejected by Parliament.
1622Another bill for road from Biggleswade to Baldock rejected.
1628Biggleswade paid subsidy £10
1631Lessee of the manor, Edward Ditchfield, obtained permission for two more fairs, 2nd February and Whit Monday.
1639Ship levy of Charles I; three Biggleswade men refused to pay. Sir John Cotton at Stratton. Cottonian Collection of manuscripts housed here during the Civil War.
1643Fowler, in 'History of Gamlingay' writes, "When Sir John Burgoyne was raising troops at Biggleswade; he was apparently in great difficulty as Cromwell calls men of Biggleswade 'slow fellows and dormice'".
1649Trustees for Crown Lands and Fee Farm Rents: Particulars for Sale of Estates of Charles I. Parliament confiscated Biggleswade manor; sold to Thomas Margetts, a Bedford burgess, MP and Judge-Advocate. He changed market day to Wednesday instead of Monday.
1660Restoration of the Monarchy under Charles II.
166122nd July; Samuel Pepys left Huntingdon at 4 a.m. wearing only thread stockings (and other clothes I hope - H.S.). Bought a pair of coarse warmer woollen ones at Biggleswade.
1663Pepys and his wife left Hinchingbrook for Biggleswade; as it was dark he was guided by two countrymen through long and dangerous waters because of ditches. They dined in Biggleswade and stayed overnight. Lt. Col. John Miller of Biggleswade imprisoned at Windsor for suspected plotting against the Crown. He had fought for Parliament.
1660sCoinage. Many parishes and tradesmen issued tokens to use as small change. Biggleswade examples: Overseers of the Poor halfpenny, John Boddington (draper) 1669 halfpenny, John Bray of the Swan inn 1668 halfpenny, Wm. Parnell farthing, Thomas Tompkins farthings.
1668Vicar Thomas Miles reported to Bishop for refusing to pray for new born Prince of Wales (Old Pretender)
1669London Gazette
Thomas Bromsell of Biggleswade Esquire is made Sheriff of  Bedfordshire in the room of De Lawney Esquire
1671Robert Audley; Royalist had a house with eight hearths and had suffered several fires. Biggleswade and Eaton Socon had houses without fire places 773 conformists; i.e. Church of England.
1673John Yardley, miller, fined 20s for refusing to provide the customary cakes for manor court jury.
1674Manor leased to the Carterets; who had settled in England from Jersey.
1676William Pope; when fishing, bought stolen sheepskin for 9d. Sold it for 1s 2d. Pope accused of theft.
1677Men stole wheat from Parsonage barn, malt from malthouse and lifted barn door off hinges to steal peas.
1679George Norris of Buckingham went to Biggleswade fair to sell horses. With others went to the 'Wrestlers Arms' to drink. Played 'All Fours' (H.S. didn't know what this was but details can be found here) and lost. Claimed his money was stolen. Followed men to 'Kings Lynn'. Case tried at Bedford.
1693A visitor on the way to St Neot's via Biggleswade, April, 1693
4th - To Biggleswarth (Biggleswade), where is nothing observable but a delicate new Inn with a curious bowling green as can easily be met with; here we lodged the first night.
5th - Thence passed to Thameford (Tempsford), four (miles), where is the Lady St John's house. Thence passed through Eaton (Ford), and after had a pretty prospect of St Neot's &c &c.
The Diary of Ralph Thoresby FRS; Pub by the Rev Joseph Hunter; 1831, Vol 1, pp162.
169410 July. Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Other Probate Jurisdictions: Engrossed Inventories and Exhibits: Gawen Wright of Biggleswade, Beds
1696Old Warden; Samuel Ongley, draper, director of East India Co, bought Palmer property.
1700Market Town had wheelwright, grocer, malster, tanner, glazier, ploughwright, saddler, schoolmaster, attorney, innkeepers, victuallers, cornhandlers, carters, etc. Inns were: White Horse, Cross Keys, Bell, White Hart, Crown, Kings Arms, Red Lion, Royal Oak, Wrestlers, Sun, Swan.
1707About this time no clergy at Langford. Vicar of Biggleswade had to serve both parishes.
1709-1714Accounts in Bromsall v Pryme. Plaintiffs: Dame Mary Bromsall, John Hubert her husband, Mary Bromsall junior. Defendants: William Pryme, Phillippa Pryme. Receiver: William Rogers. Estate: Lands and estates in Biggleswade and Potton, Bedfordshire. Details: Names of tenants, rents, receiver's payments including taxes, certainty money Chancery Master: Master Rogers
1711Vicarage built behind what is now Goldthorpe's shop.
1715Baptists had 300 members - Baptist Old Meeting
1716Story v Story.  A bill and answer. Plaintiffs: Edward Story (son of Thomas Story esq deceased who was son of Thomas Story deceased both of Biggleswade Bedfordshire). Defendants: Valianna Story widow (mother of plaintiff), John Herbert clerk and Dame Mary Herbert his wife (formerly widow of Sir Thomas Bromsall deceased late of Biggleswade), Frances Cockayne spinster (daughter of John Cockayne esq deceased of Hinxworth Hertfordshire), Joseph Mountfort clockmaker of London and Susannah Mountfort his wife (formerly widow of James Story the plaintiffs brother).
1717246 Conformist families - 27 non-conformist
1720250 Conformist families - 20 non-conformist
1720Church tower rebuilt out of grey ashlar.
1720Stevenage/Biggleswade road Act passed, reached only the south end of town (Godber. says 1730, but Turnpike map shows 1720).
1725Biggleswade/Alconbury road; map agrees.
1724-26Daniel Defoe: 'Good inns, pleasant place on Ivel, one of greatest barley markets in England but droves of cattle in winter made road repair difficult'.
1731Sir John Cotton left money to found a school in Stratton.
1735Mr Rudd of Bigglesward, Steward of Duchess of Marlborough, wanted to employ Thomas Monk. Another, unnamed man, wanted job, murdered Monk.
1746Tablet on church wall to Curtis Barnett, commander-in-chief on the Coromandel coast
1750Combined Petty Sessions for Hundreds of Biggleswade, Clifton and Wixamtree met at Biggleswade. Public whippings still carried out. Town had 6 brewers and good market gardens C1750 - Turnpike trustees, usually eight, met at the 'Sun'
1753Thomas Hughes stole pig from market square and drove it home.
1755 Turnpike extended to bridge by Act of 1755. Tollhouse at new bridge was 13 ft square. Road to St Ives via Potton, turnpiked (map shows 1735). Toll house at Turnpike Farm on the Potton Road no longer stands.
1756Plan for River Ivel Navigation
1757Justices besieged by a mob of 1,500-2,000 men at the Sun Inn in fear that militia men could be sent overseas to fight for the colonies in America and India
1758River Ivel opened for traffic from the Great Ouse to Biggleswade. There were five locks.
1. Traffic brought in £350 p.a. (See 'River')
2. Ivel Bridge built of sandstone (Godber and Mee say 1797 but I think this is wrong H.S.)
1762John Wesley preached at Road Farm, Potton Road, Biggleswade. Entry in Wesley's Journal, Sat 2 January 1762: "I set out for
Everton to supply Mr Berridge's church in his absence. In
my way I preached at Road-Farm, five-and-forty miles
from London. Afterwards, the moon shining bright, we had
a pleasant ride to Everton." The 45 milestone is on
Potton Road within a few hundred yards of Road Farm.
1762Boswell at Biggleswade 17 Nov (Dr Johnson)
1763Mr Pepper of Biggleswade, clockmaker, charged John Blundell 2/6 for cleaning clock.
1764 Edward Edgly of Stratton left £1,080, 289 sheep, 8 cows, 5 horses, etc. Thomas Fletcher of the 'Sun' had 44 horses, etc. (For full list see 'Coaching Inns', Peck & G.329 300 'rose-nobles' of Henry V & VI found by labourer at Stratton (See 'Coins & Skeletons', Lyson - Magna Britannia, etc.)
1764Cotton family, who in previous century, had obtained Stratton by marriage with an Anderson heiress sold it to the Barnett family.
1770George Fletcher is proprietor of Sun Inn
1771Population about 1000. Quarter Sessions met at the 'Sun'. Various independent Congregationalists formed one church. Met in Baptist Church, it was burned down in the 'Great Fire' of 1785.
1772William Granville leased the Biggleswade manor from the Crown for 31 years. 'Biggleswade, the next town we visited, is situated in a most pleasant manner on the banks of the River Ivel, over which is a good stone bridge and lighters with coal come up to the town' - N. Spencer, 'The Complete English Traveller. Note: Peck says 1785 in Directory published by J.F. Hennington (a copy)
1773-95John Pedley of Great Barford brought wool to Biggleswade, often came to Biggleswade, hired chaise from the 'Oak'. See Diaries in B.H.R. also G.360
1776December - Ivel blocked by ice and snow for three weeks.
1779The Hitchin Tolls sold to Biggleswade man.
1780Ivel Navigation debts paid off.
1785The 'Great Fire' - much of Biggleswade destroyed. See 'Famous Fires'.
1786Vicar Gibson helped 'Blind Jack' Metcalfe over Ivel in flood. Metcalfe, a renowned road builder from Knaresborough, was walking from London to Yorkshire to prove that he could cover the distance faster than the fastest stagecoach. He won his bet!
1786Apr 15. Report of George Nares on 1 collective petition (42 people, in and near Biggleswade in Bedfordshire) on behalf of William Twelvetree, a servant in Biggleswade, convicted at the Bedfordshire[?] Lent Assizes, for stealing 2/-, property of his master John Malden. Initial sentence: 7 years transportation. Grounds for clemency: first offence, is of good character, is willing to 'serve the state in any capacity by land or sea'. Recommendation: to enlist in HM Forces.
1787One of Hunt’s heavy waggons, major hauliers operating out of Stamford, overturned on Biggleswade bridge and went into the river. The load, chiefly tea and sugar, ruined but team of 8 horses survived. Driver absconded.
1789John Chalkly Taylor, brought up as a Quaker, moved to Biggleswade. Appealed against rates; seems an odd character. In 1795 signed a Nonconformist Meeting House Certificate.
1790sHighwayman Shock Oliver stops Biggleswade’s Doctor McGrath on the Great North Road on his way to a gravely ill patient in Sandy. The doctor allowed to pass unmolested. (Shock Oliver hanged at Hertford in 1800.) From: ‘Seventy Years a Master – A Huntsman’s Reminiscences’, the edited memoirs of George Race of Road Farm, Biggleswade (1818 – 1911).
c1790-4John Byng (Viscount Torrington) stayed at the 'Sun' several times. Read Torrington Diaries for account of theatre, church, fishing, etc.
1791The Sugar Strike - Biggleswade people refused to buy sugar because of high price. Penalty £5
1792Earthquake shock lasted several seconds. 25th February. Felt as far as York and Doncaster. Several houses demolished; rebuilt in brickwork - some of these still remain. No deaths.
1794A barn licensed for Methodist services. Biggleswade celebrated Lord Howes victory over the French at Ushant with rejoicing and bonfires.
1795Miss Harvey built first Wesleyan Chapel.
1796'The Bridge at Biggleswade was rebuilt with stone from the quarry at Sandy under the inspection of Sir Phillip Monnoux'. From Lysons Magna Britannia 1806.
1797 Miss Godber and Arthur Mee say that the bridge was built in this year and before that it was wooden. (Note something odd about this; see 1758 and the 'The Stone Bridge Mystery' - perhaps there were two bridges. H.S.)
1801Census - 298 houses, 3 uninhabited, 241 families, 1,650 population
Sir Francis Wiles purchased Biggleswade manor from Thomas Margetts.
1801-31Biggleswade population increased by 80%.
1805Biggleswade carpenter, James Albone, dies of dysentery in Africa whilst on explorer Mungo Park’s second ill-fated expedition to plot the course of the river Niger. Albone was one of four carpenters serving sentences on a prison hulk in Portsmouth who were recruited by Park to build river boats for the expedition in return for pardons. All 45 members of the expedition perished.
1806-7Merchandise unloaded at Biggleswade Wharf into carts for Shefford, etc. increased by 389; 1/6 toll on 7,000 tons would bring in £500 p.a.
1807Earl Granville's lease of the Biggleswade Manor expired. The Manor was sold by public auction by the Crown at Carroways Coffee House to Sir Francis Willes for £2,180.
1816Biggleswade man Edmund Chamberlain hanged at Bedford for murder of Southill Park gamekeeper, Charles Dines. Shot him during a struggle when Dines disturbed a gang of poachers from Biggleswade. During this period the bodies of executed murderers were handed over to the medical profession for dissection by students of anatomy. This was Chamberlain’s fate.
1824Ivel Navigation extended to Shefford.
1826Body snatchers William Smith (22) and George Lester (21) lately of Biggleswade exhumed freshly buried corpse of John Cooper from St Andrew’s churchyard. Were arrested next morning when they took it in a box to William Carrington’s yard to put on his waggon to London. Imprisoned 3 months at Bedford and fined £10 each. An unidentified accomplice escaped capture. The illicit trade in corpses for anatomical dissection was very prevalent in the early years of the 19th century.
1827Young Biggleswade man James Walker, born 1800, son of a blacksmith, hanged at Bedford 31 March for stealing a horse from a stable at the house of William Chapman, solicitor (Stratton House, now Stratton House Hotel). His accomplice, a deserting soldier from Ashwell, avoided prosecution by turning King’s evidence against Walker. Walker had a bad reputation and had been convicted of several previous offences, hence the severity of the sentence.
1832Thomas Perkins, gamekeeper to Mr Pym of Hasells Hall near Sandy, attacked by poachers and left for dead on the Tempsford to Everton road. Biggleswade men William Albone, John Chessum, John Butler and James Warner convicted at Bedford Lent Assizes 1833 and transported to Australia for life (Warner 14 years).
1834Methodist church built in Shortmead Street. (Now known as Trinity Methodist Church).
1835/6Workhouse built in London Road
1844Town Hall built in High Street.
1850Great Northern Railway opened, Biggleswade is the first town in Bedfordshire to have a mainline station.
1856Birth in Hitchin Street, Biggleswade, of Henry Ryland, world-renowned artist in the pre-Raphaelite and neo-classical traditions. Son of John Benjamin Ryland, grocer, draper and prominent townsman. The corner of Hitchin Street and Market Square where the Rylands had their premises was known locally as ‘Rylands Corner’
1857Fatal early accident on the GNR. Biggleswade man William Pickett (66), inspector of bridges on the Great Northern Railway, killed when walking on the line near Huntingdon. Hit by two trains passing. Headstone in St Andrew’s churchyard.
1860Dan Albone born.

Biggleswade windmill built. 70 feet high – tallest in Bedfordshire. (Demolished in one day in 1970.)
1865Mary Tealby, born Mary Bates 1801 in Huntingdon, founder of Battersea Dogs’ Home, dies in Biggleswade whilst staying with relatives. Buried in St Andrew’s churchyard. Her brother, Rev Edward Bates, later buried in the same plot.
1867Drove Road cemetery chapel built.
1871Accidents: inspecting officers' reports for 1866-1871: Great Northern Railway; Report on an accident that occurred on 22 August 1871, at Biggleswade, by part of the carriages of an excursion train leaving the rails in shunting the train.
1873Birth in Biggleswade, of Charles Penrose, music hall celebrity and stage, film and radio entertainer and actor. Best known for his comic songs, in particular his famous recording of ‘The Laughing Policeman’. Born Frank Penrose Cawse, son of a watchmaker and jeweller in the High Street, and later renamed Charles Penrose Dunbar Cawse. Charles Penrose was his stage name. A heritage plaque marks his birthplace.
Primitive Methodist Chapel built in Shortmead Street, later known locally as the Bourne Chapel. It replaced an earlier smaller chapel of 1854 on the same site. The building survives, having been converted into apartments.
1874Biggleswade Fire Brigade started.
Biggleswade and District Gas Company Limited incorporated (dissolved between 1933 and 1948)
1874The Biggleswade Board Schools (later, the Council Schools) opened in Rose Lane. Known to many locally as ‘Hicks Pits College’. Most of the buildings survive, having been converted into apartments.
1876Ivel Navigation Trust brought to an end by an Act of Parliament
1880'sDan Albone, the racing cyclist, establishes the Ivel Cycle Works
1883St John’s Church built in St Johns Street to serve the Victorian New Town expansion of Biggleswade to the north and east. Demolished 1974.
1884Seven light east window of St Andrew's church is installed
1888Fire Station built in Church Street, (then Brewery Lane, previously Back Lane).
1891First issue of the Biggleswade Chronicle on October 10, 1891
1899Biggleswade: purchase of land south west of station; Charles Samuel Lindsell (owner).
1902Prototype Ivel Agricultural Motor (first successful lightweight internal combustion engine farm tractor) designed and built by Dan Albone at his Ivel Works, Shortmead Street. Tractor went into production 1903 and was exported worldwide. A heritage plaque commemorating Dan is on a wall opposite the site of his works.
1906Francis Frederick Lovell, Lord of the Manor, died 1st August.
Dan Albone died 30th October at Ivel Works, Shortmead Street aged 46
Maud Rosalind Lovell appointed Lord of the Manor 31st August.
1911 Coronation Festival on 22nd June (George V).
1912Opening of newly built Georges Hall in High Street. Named after Lloyd George.
1913Opening of the Empire cinema in Hitchin Street, built by travelling showman Charles Thurston. Closed 1958 and later demolished. Housing development, Empire Close, built near the site.
1914-1918During the First World War there was a Royal Engineers Signal Training Depot at Biggleswade.
1921On 24th April unveiling and dedication of the cross at the War Memorial
1925Death of Henry Martin Lindsell, owner of the Fairfield estate. By his will he bequeathed the Fairfield meadow to the town to be used for recreation and sports, principally cricket.
1935Biggleswade Royal Silver Jubilee Celebrations on 6th May
1936Regal cinema opened on 27th July
1937Biggleswade coronation celebration on 12th May (George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon).
194230 May Corvette K52 HMS Balsam, Flower Class, launched. She had been adopted by Biggleswade after a successful Warship Week National Savings campaign in January 1942.
1943Biggleswade Wings for Victory Week 8-15 May
1943The Avenue Club opened on 6th November, funded by the War Relief Society of America.
194315 July - PBY (VP 92) and British destroyer HMS Rochester and frigates HMS Mignonette and HMS Balsam sink German submarine U-135, 28°20'N, 13°17'W.
1944Biggleswade Salute The Soldier Week 13-20 May
194720 April HMS Balsam scrapped
1953Chancel roof of church burnt, restoration work resulted in the discovery of the stone slab to John Rudying, 1481, archdeacon of Bedford
1953Coronation celebration on 2nd June, (Queen Elizabeth II).
1950sHorse Fair of 14th February lapsed
1954Aerial photography reveals a hitherto unknown castle site.
27th April - Bowls Club and tennis courts open in Drove Road.  The clubhouse was an ex-prefab' house.
1960New Fire Station opened on 21st May.

Stratton Park manor house derelict. Demolition by owner Walter Stratton begins. Mr Stratton had not inherited the house; he bought it after it had lain derelict for some years after the war and used it variously as a hen house and agricultural store house. He lived in part of the rear gatehouse and stables block. After demolition he built a bungalow for himself in the grounds using materials and features reclaimed from the mansion, and also two other bungalows.
1961Cincinnati Milacron established on taking over the Weatherley Oil Gear site in Dells Lane.

Biggleswade A1 by-pass opened.
1966Outdoor swimming pool opened 28th May
1968Biggleswade Old Meeting Baptist Church, rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1785, demolished and replaced by a new Baptist church in London Road. The old burial ground in Hitchin Street was cleared and exhumed remains cremated and reburied in Foster Hill Road Cemetery, Bedford.
1971Demolition of former coaching inn, the ‘Swan’. Originally the ‘White Swan’, it had been rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1785. A heritage plaque is affixed to buildings on the redeveloped site.
1972Workhouse in London Road demolished.
1974Biggleswade & District History Society formed.
The town War Memorial moved from its original site on the corner of Shortmead Street and High Street to its present position in the garden on the Market Square.
1979Weatherley Centre opened 6th October by H.C.( Tom) Weatherley.
1984Biggleswade History Society is formalised and sets out on the route to become a Registered Charity.
1996Acorn Business Centre in Lawrence Road opened
1997New swimming pool at Saxon Gate opened
1998Trinity Methodist Church, Shortmead Street - Weekend of Rededication - 9-11 January
1998Refurbished Town Centre opened
2001Dedication of The Millennium Window in St Andrews church on 28th January.  It was designed by Petri Anderson, Hunton Bridge, Herts.

A unique gold coin of Coenwulf, Anglo-Saxon King of Mercia, East Anglia and Kent, dating to 805-810AD discovered on Biggleswade Common. Bought in 2006 by the British Museum for £357,832, the most ever paid for any coin until then.
200310th September - Induction and Installation of Reverend William Thackray.
2005Biggleswade VE-VJ celebration of the 60th anniversary of the end of WW2 on 16 October
2006Town Hall moves from a 3 bedroom detached house in Chestnut Avenue to the old Magistrates Court in Saffron Road
2013Kingdom Hall (formerly the town's Memorial Hall) in Shortmead Street demolished and a new Kingdom Hall built on the site by the Jehovah's Winesses.
2015Official opening and launch 22 March at Jordan’s Mill of the Biggleswade Green Wheel, a 7-mile circuit for walkers and cyclists passing through areas of landscape, heritage and wildlife interest. Project was developed by the Central Bedfordshire Council together with the Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity.
2015 DecHigh Street Railway Bridge renewal begins - completed in June 2016. The last time it was renewed was in 1952.
2016Steel sculpture for the Green Wheel by artist Martin Heron of Dan Albone driving his Ivel tractor officially unveiled 16 April on the grassed picnic area beside the Dan Albone car park next to the bridge over the Ivel and close to the site of Dan’s Ivel Works.
2017Reopening of former coaching inn, the ‘Crown’, as a Wetherspoons hotel, bar and restaurant.
2017-18Installation of a series of ‘Story in Stone’ local history inspired public art mosaics by artist, Oliver Budd, in the three market towns of Biggleswade, Sandy and Potton. The Story in Stone project was largely funded by the Central Bedfordshire Council as part of its Market Towns Regeneration Scheme.