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Muckleston Family History Group

researching all references to the surnames Muckleston, Mucklestone, Muckelston and Mackleston please get in touch via the contact us page with any additional information or to correct any errors.

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 (images to follow)
 

Toddington is a village of approx 4500 people situated in an agricultural area of South Bedfordshire, some 5 miles north of Dunstable and about 1 mile west of the service area of the same name. In the Domesday Book it was known variously as Dodintone and Totingetone.

 

The name probably derives from a Saxon family called Tuda or Tuding who settled here and farmed the land. Prior to occupation by the Saxons there is evidence that this part of Bedfordshire was peopled (prior to Ceasar’s invasion) by the Catuvellanni tribe. Roman pottery has been unearthed, from time to time, usually in ancient graves.

 

During the wars between the Saxons and the Danes the Toddington area was much fought over and for a considerable time the village was part of the Danelaw (i.e. subject to Danish rule).

 

With the coming of the Normans, Toddington was already, for that period of English history, a place of some size with a population of approximately 400 people. The Manor was under the control of a Saxon Thane by the name of Wulward Lewet (White). By the time of the Domesday Book (1086) Wulward Lewet was dead and the Manor had been granted to a Norman Knight by the name of William Spee.

 

Over the next two centuries the Manor of Toddington passed into the hands of several important families including the Earls of Pembroke, Simon de Montfort (to whom is due the origins of the House of Commons), The Earl of Norfolk and eventually, the Peyvre and Loring families.

 

Late in the 16th century Toddington Manor was owned by Sir Henry Cheyne who was a great builder and acquirer of land. He had the old Manor House demolished and in it’s place built an enormous domicile which is said to rival Henry VIII’s fabled Nonsuch Palace in size and splendour. The Home Farm and Park were said to cover well over 1000 acres.

 

By the middle of the 17th century Toddington Manor was owned by the Wentworth family and, by the 1670’s was the property of Henrietta, the young Baroness Wentworth. She attracted the attention of James, Duke of Monmouth (the illegitimate son of King Charles II) and, although he was married, became his mistress. The Duke spent most of his time intriguing against his father and the government of the day and fled several times to Toddington and Henrietta to avoid capture and imprisonment. In 1683 after being implicated in the Rye House Plot, he fled to Holland. Upon the death of King Charles II in 1685, and the accession to the throne of King James II, Monmouth landed at Lyme Regis, raised an army, and proclaimed himself King. He was defeated at the battle of Sedgemoor, captured, sent to London where he was tried and then executed on Tower Hill. When captured he had a map of a route to Toddington in his pocket. Henrietta died 9 months after Monmouth aged just 29.

 

Like much of Bedfordshire, the area around Toddington has been mainly agricultural, with much of the employment being on the numerous farms. In the 18th century a Straw Plait industry was set up in Toddington and a short lived attempt was made to rival Luton as a centre for this trade. As well as hats and bonnets the villagers made toys and fancy coloured boxes out of straw.

 

In 1832, after several fires, it was decided that Toddington needed its own fire engine. After a great fundraising effort the sum of £170 was collected, most of which was spent on the engine and accessories. 18 firemen were appointed and given large hats. On each of these hats a large white number was painted on the front. It was decreed that when a fire occurred firemen with numbers on their hats could ride on the engine. Those without numbers had to make their own way to the fire the best they could!

 

As a “family” village Toddington came late on the scene. The earliest record we seem to have at the moment relating to the village is the marriage there, on the 30th November 1843, of Elizabeth Muckleston, daughter of William Muckleston, butcher, to a Joseph Odell.

 

Many more Mucklestons were to form part of Toddington's history in the latter half of the 19th and throughout the 20th centuries.

 

Toddington War Memorial.

 

Bedfordshire “Allotments”

 

In the Bedfordshire County Records Office, there is a document reference Z1077/1. Showing plans of allotments at Toddington with two schedules one for 1897 and the other 1907 of names of tenants, quantity of land, plus annual rent. Names include N Muckleston, W Muckleston, George Muckleston junior, James Muckleston, Thomas Muckleston, T Horley, W Hobbs and others. W Hobbs bought the land at auction in1907.

 

 

 

The following memories were sent to us by Joyce Sullivan.

Tales from Toddington

 

My Grandmother, Clara Jane Pelling, nee Muckleston was born in 1872 at The Square Toddington, the eldest of seven or more children. She once told me that she was a nurse before marriage but others in the family thought she was "In Service", however she did meet her husband Mark Pelling whilst he was in a London hospital suffering from lead poisoning, his work being ship’s painter. It is also known that she was nursing during WW1 at what is now Woodford County High School for Girls. The census for Toddington shows:

1881

Harry Muckleston       29        Head   Bricklayer

Jane Muckleston         28        Wife    Straw Hat Trimmer

Clara Muckleston        9          Dau     (my Grand Mother)

William Muckleston    6          Son      (later Butcher)

Frederick Muckleston  4         Son      (died later that year)

Arthur Muckleston      1          Son

Harry's sister Maria aged 17 was a pupil teacher.

 

1891

 

Harry Muckleston       39        Head

Jane Muckleston         38        Wife

William Muckleston    16        Son      Butcher

Arthur Muckleston      11        Son

Harry Muckleston       8          Son

Alice Muckleston        1          Dau

Harry's sister Maria aged 26 years was a National School Teacher

 

In 1891 Clara was away from home, maybe in London nursing, it was her Aunt Maria who was one of the signatories on her marriage certificate.

 

My father William born in Walthamstow, which was then in Essex, but now in London E17, was the third of five children, brother George died aged 3. Although he was born in London he was at heart a Toddington man, all holidays were spent there and when he was old enough he would cycle there at the weekend. In 1910, when his grandmother died, his mother took him and maybe others of the family to Toddington, either to look after her mother who died of TB, or to look after the remaining family. Anyway my father thought he would have a few weeks away from school but great aunt Maria soon put that right and if they still have the school records for that time he should appear in them. It may have been at this time or during a holiday, and being a normal boy and used to taking free lifts on the back of carts or wagons, took one too many. This one had just been tarring the roads, and once on he couldn't get off without a lot of prying, it caused quite a lot of merriment in the village but not so with his mother.

 

The Mucklestons and the Crawleys were very caring people, especially to the family, for when it was time for my father’s sister Alice to start school she was taken into her grandmother’s family at Luton, they may have thought that London was not good for her healthwise or morally or simply that there would be too much housework for her to do with four brothers. They were very staunch Chapel people. As she was now very close to Toddington she saw far more of her cousins (there were many of them), than she did her brothers and there she stayed until her marriage in 1922.

 

My cousin Alice Joyce Richardson, known to me only as Joyce until 1996, daughter of the above Alice had her tales to tell of the Mucklestons, she was born in Bedfordshire and grew up among the relations there. She remembers helping Tom and Jack youngest sons of the butcher William, to muck out the pigs which were kept on land behind the property at Toddington. Joyce also told me that during the 1914-18 war Uncle Alfred was in a troop train in France when they spotted another train going in the opposite direction, it turned out that the other train was carrying Canadian Troops and one of them asked if by any chance there was an Alf Pelling on the train, it was his uncle Charlie from Canada and that is how they met for the first time.

My father’s sister Aunt Alice, Uncle Will, cousin Joyce and Billie, later known as Bill, all came to stay in the summer, the adults at number 1 the children with us, where they could make more noise. Before starting school I would go back with them for a short holiday to Bedford where they lived. As that part of the country is known for its straw hat trade most of the women and girls had something to do with sewing or decorating them, my sister and I always had a new straw hat each summer.

 

A man would come and take the decorated hats away and leave new ones, sometimes Aunt would take them to Luton, this may have been because she had a "helpful" four year old to look after and could not concentrate on the fine work.

 

One of my first memories away from home was at Toddington with my mother and father, great grandpa Harry Muckleston wanted to send me to the "pub" across the square, I think we were at the butchers shop, for his daily pint. Knowing that I ran everywhere they were sure I would spill it or fall over and I am sure he did not get his full pint.

 

It may have been on the same visit, my father told me that it had become very quiet and I was nowhere to be seen, a search party set out only to find me in the pig sty, they are all still great friends of mine.

 

There were so many people in Toddington who were aunts, uncles or cousins but great great aunt Maria was the most memorable, I was half afraid she would ask me questions I could not answer, but was also amazed she was so unlike any other aunt, we have some photos of me with them.

 

The last memory I have of  great grandfather is during the war, not long before he died. Our uncle Alf his grandson, took grandfather, our aunt, my sister and myself for an outing in his car, grandfather sat in the passenger seat on a very pretty patchwork cushion with his pipe which I almost thought was part of him. As we were contemplating the peace of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire countryside my aunt from the back seat told my uncle with great urgency to stop the car. (No there was not a pile up as we were the only car on the road as petrol was rationed). My aunt had seen smoke coming from the cushion. With great difficulty they got grandpa out before they could remove the burning cushion, meanwhile Doris and I had clambered out of a window. The cushion fire was put out and left by the roadside (litter louts) back we got into the car and resumed our journey. The pipe was put out and not allowed to be lit for the rest of the journey.

 

There are many, many very small snaps, many of which I can't name the people or places, help would be appreciated from the Bedfordshire folk, you never know they may find themselves there.        

 

I remember the house where I was born. It was my maternal grandmother’s house, but that isn't quite true we were born at the Salvation Army Mother’s Hospital, Clapton, sister Doris in 1924 and I in 1927, but only knew Grandmother McGraths, 3, Landsdown Road, Walthamstow, London, E17 as my home.

 

Being Mucklestons you really want to know about number 1 next door where my paternal grandmother Pelling nee Muckleston lived, yes you are right my father had married the girl next door, not only he but his eldest brother Alfred had married my mother’s sister.

Such a cosy world or so I thought at the time, a few pailings were removed from the fence between the two gardens this was not only for my benefit, my father would not only get Grandmother’s coal in but would clean the fireplace each day as the fire was not only needed for heating but cooking and water heating also.

 

My sister and I had to ask when we could go next door as grandmother "lodged" the priest or when I was small the Deaconess from the church close by. Miss Lodges was a lovely lady; I thought she was a nun as she always wore long blue or grey dresses down to her feet, a black cape and head dress even indoors. Another reason for my admiration of this lady was that she had put her hand down our beloved dog’s throat to remove a bone.

 

I forgot to tell you that there were no grandfathers, my mother’s father died 10 days before she was born and paternal grandfather Pelling in 1914.

 

Number 1 was the end of a terrace and the garden wall at the back was the back wall of the stables for the horses belonging to the delivery vans. I liked to go early in the mornings to watch the men harnessing the horses and leading them down a cobbled entrance way on to the road. But in the winter when there was snow and ice on the ground the horses would slip and slide on the cobblestones and I would cry and lament and was sent inside. Sometimes the men put big leather shoes on the horses which helped and once my grandmother told me she had been kept awake all night with the horses coughing as they had flu, I think one of them died.

 

The following extracts were taken from the AMPTHILL AND DISTRICT NEWS in 1893.

 

May 13th 1893

TODDINGTON

 

May Day - on Monday week sixteen children of the National Schools, under the leadership of Miss M Muckelstone, paraded the town with their may-pole, and performances were given in the principle parts. A collection was made which amounted to 12 shillings.

 

[This would be Maria Muckelstone born 1864 died 1943 - daughter of George and Mary.]

 

September 2nd 1893

TODDINGTON

 

Cricket - On Monday last the Toddington Club played a match with the Flitwick Club, on the ground of the latter, and the game resulted in a decided win for the Toddington team by forty six runs on the first innings.

 

            Toddington

            First Innings                                        Second Innings

F. Muckleston run out                       14

H. Horley run out                                8

G. Hobbs, c Nutt, b Olney                  15

W J Hobbs, b Beale                            43        not out                                     19

                        b Hobbs                       1

                        b Beale                                    10

                        ......                              9

                        b Hobbs                       6

T. Hobbs c do, b do                            1

                        t                                   0          not out                                     10

                        Beale                           0

                                                            17                                                        __

                                                            124                                                      29

            Flitwick

W. Feasey, b Hobbs                            0          c Muckleston b Horley           29

C. Hobbs, c Fox, b Horley                  21        b Muckleston                         3

W Olney run out                                 20        c T Hobbs, b c Hobbs             6

F Briden c Brazier b G. Hobbs           18        b Muckleston                         8

A Nutt b ditto                                     7          s W. Hobbs b Hobbs               10

J Spragg b ditto                                   7          b G. Hobbs                              9

A. Beale b Brazier                               0          b Muckleston                         2

C. Nutt b G. Hobbs                            0          s W. Hobbs                             5

F. Price not out                                   1          b G. Hobbs                              1

J. Richardson c Horley b Brazier        0          b Muckleston                         0

H. Martin c Hobbs b Ditto                  0          not out                                     0

Extras                                                  15        Extras                                      6

                                                            77                                                        79

[F. Muckleston is a mystery; the only Mucklestons living in this area, found so far, whose names started with an F were not born until 1890 - there were others but they died before 1893 - maybe "F" was his middle name by which he was more commonly known]

September 23rd 1893

SILSOE AND AMPTHILL DISTRICT LABOURERS SOCIETY

 

The 53rd Annual Meeting was held on Thursday at the National School. The exhibits were again excellent and numerous. Prizes:-

HEAVY LAND - Peck of Best.....

Kidney Potatoes - 1. David Parrish, 2. G. Kendal, 3. T. Case 4. T. Muckleston

Onions - 1. T. Muckleston  2. A. Parrish, 3. J. Whiteman

Carrots - 1. G. Kendal 2. W. Butcher 3. T. Muckleston

Parsnips - 1. T. Muckleston 2. A. Richardson

Turnips - 1. T. Muckleston  2. W. Harris 3. G. Kendal

Desert Apples - 1. J. Smith 2. C. Fisher 3. T. Muckleston

 

[This T. Muckleston was likely to be Thomas born 1850 in Harlington died 1936]

 

October 7th 1893

AMPTHILL

 

Surveyor’s Report - At TODDINGTON the repairs to the arch at Long Lane were completed as per tender of C Muckleston £14 10s but banking to brook was not yet done.

[We are currently unsure who this C Muckleston is.]

November 18th 1893

TODDINGTON

 

Funeral - On Friday the funeral of Mrs James Mucklestone, whose death occurred, the previous week, took place at the cemetery. The deceased body lay in the same grave with her mother. A large number of sympathisers assembled at the church. At the grave the hymn "O, love divine, how sweet thou art" was sung, this hymn being a favourite with the deceased.

This lady was Elizabeth Ann nee Fletcher, died aged 32, the first wife of James (who was born in 1868), he remarried Emma Woodman in 1895 and they emigrated to Canada.

 

A snapshot of the live’s of Mucklestons in Bedfordshire just before the turn of the century. Notice the different spellings of the surname - despite the fact that they were all descended from Edward Muckleston who appeared in Bedfordshire in 1772.

 

INSERT PICTURES APPROPRIATE TO THESE CAPTIONS.

 

Mothers' Union Children’s Party Toddington 1954

 

The first child on the front row in this photograph is Daphne Muckleston born in 1943 who is now Daphne Thorne.

 

Roll of Honour

 

Names on the Roll Of Honour in St George's Church, Toddington, Bedfordshire, of the men who died in the first and second World Wars contain:-

 

1914-1918

 

Cecil Muckleston (b1880 d1918)       George Muckleston (?)

Harold Muckleston (b1881 d 1916)   William Muckleston (?)

 

1939 - 1945

 

Dennis Muckleston (b 1914 d 1945)

 

           

 

William Muckleston’s Butchers Shop.