It is very probable that the ‘Hocgganclife’ given to Stolferth by Æthelstan son of Ethelred II in his will may be identified with Hockliffe. There is no absolute proof, but Æthelstan certainly disposed of other lands not remote, and the form is consistent with the modern name. In 1066 the estate belonged to a certain Anschil, and in 1086HOCKLIFFE MANOR, assessed at 10 hides, was held by Azelina widow of Ralph Tallebosc. This manor, like Ralph’s other property, later became attached to the barony of Bedford being held of that moiety of the barony which passed through Beatrice de Beauchamp to the Nevills and Latimers.
No sub-tenant of this manor is mentioned in the Survey, but the Malherbes were settled here in the early 13th century. First mention of them has been found in 1227, when William Eversend quitclaimed 2½ hides in Hockliffe to John Malherbe. His heir, who was under age and in the custody of Roger de Scaccario, c. 1240, appears to have been one Robert Malherbe, whose nephew John Malherbe had by 1251 inherited the manor, in which he then held a three-weekly court. In 1255 Richard Earl of Cornwall, represented by Abraham the Jew of Norwich, attempted to deprive William Beauchamp, the overlord, of his rights in Hockliffe Manor, saying that Robert Malherbe had alienated all his lands to the Jews. The attempt was unsuccessful, however, and the Malherbes remained in possession, the next mention being found in 1283, when a wrestling match, attended by many from Dunstable, took place before the hospital. John, the Dunstable smith, and Simon Mustard, a man of William de Monchensey, ‘guardian of the heir of John Malherbe,’ were both killed whilst wrestling, and the Annals of Dunstable give a very full account of the coroner’s inquest which followed.
Between this date and 1302 the Malherbe property passed to co-heirs, of whom Lucy became the wife of Sir Robert Chetwood, and together with William Pont held the vill in 1302–3. John de Amaury, who appears to represent a second co-heir, died seised in 1344 of a messuage and 2 carucates of land in Hockliffe, which John Chetwood, son of Lucy, held at a yearly rent of 9 marks Edmund de Amaury, his son, was under age, and the same year the king granted this yearly rent to John Herlyng, one of his yeomen, together with the guardianship of Edmund. John de Amaury and John Chetwood’s name both appear in the feudal assessment of this parish in 1346.
Edmund de Amaury died seised of a toft and land in Hockliffe in 1350, when the jurors were not able to discover his heir. The dual connexion of the Amaurys and Chetwoods with this manor had hitherto continued, but was ended in 1351, when Sir John Amaury, kt., made a settlement of the manor, which Nicholas Chetwood and Elizabeth his wife and Guy their son held for life. This settlement appears to have been preliminary to the complete alienation of his rights, for the Chetwoods are henceforward found in sole possession. John Chetwood son of Nicholas held the manor in 1391. He died in 1412, leaving two sons and a daughter. Of these John died in 1420 without issue, his property passing to his brother Thomas, whose heir at his death, c. 1458, was his sister Agnes. She married Thomas Wodhull, bringing Hockliffe Manor into the possession of this family, of whom details will be found under Odell. Elizabeth Wodhull died seised in 1475, (fn. 26) and the manor then follows the same descent as Odell (q.v.) until 1584, when it was held by Sir George Calverly, second husband of Agnes Wodhull, a direct descendant of Elizabeth. Between this date and 1589 Hockliffe Manor passed to William Jervis, who at the latter date, together with his wife Elizabeth, conveyed it to Thomas Hillersdon. In 1614 he received a confirmation by Letters Patent of his right to hold a court leet and view of frankpledge in this manor. Thomas Hillersdon, who died in 1623, owned property in Elstow, with which this manor descends until 1712, when it was sold by the Hillersdon family to Alan Lord Bathurst. He only retained Hockliffe a few years, selling it in 1719 to John Reynal. In 1770 John Sayer Neale Reynal, his descendant, held the manor, which was held by Francis Moore in 1820 in right of his wife, widow of John Neale Reynal. It afterwards passed to Mr. J. Reynal Adams, and is now held by Mrs. Mann.