Linton in Pictures
A History of Linton
in Photographs
Available here

Hidden away behind the curtains of the West Tower are two identical monuments placed on the southern interior wall. The inscriptions are fairly indistinct and they look somewhat jaded and would appear to be of little importance. Yet these monuments, to John and Elizabeth Lone and their eldest son John, were the reason for the bitterest dispute in local church history.

Squire John Millicent of Barham Hall inherited the family estates in 1686 at the age of 29 and was the dominant figure in local politics. He led the life of a bachelor country squire with hunting , hard drinking and gambling providing the central focus for his life. He was a die-hard Tory and loyal to the Stuart cause even after the deposition of James the Second in 1688. As a Jacobite wanting the restoration of James and his son, the Old Pretender, Millicent presented a local threat to William of Orange and the Whig government.

The formidable Cambridgeshire Tories were led by the powerful Earl of Oxford who lived at Wimpole Hall and Sir John Cotton of Madingly Hall. They were now challenged by the Whigs led by the local magnate Lord Montfort of Horseheath Hall. But John Millicent’s Tory world collapsed in 1694 when a Gray’s Inn lawyer called John Lone purchased the Pembroke College Rectory lease which gave him control of the Great Tithes and responsibility for repairs to the Chancel. By 1698 Lone had replaced Millicent as the County J.P and arranged for him to be stripped of all his County offices and Lone himself had been appointed as Deputy Lieutenant for the County. Lone took over control of the Guildhall in 1697, a bitter blow since the lease had been held by the Millicents and the Town Vestry for around 140 years.

To display his huge wealth and to humiliate his Millicent rival Lone built Linton House, then called the Great House, in 1698. It dominated the town skyline and clearly demonstrated the complete demise of the local Tory faction. John Lone purchased strategic properties in Linton including the Coffee House and the Red Lion coaching inn. But domination of the Church was the key to long term success. Lone obtained a Faculty from Ely to build his own family a new high backed pew located to the left of the Chancel arch, as close as possible to the Chancel itself and the Millicent family pew, which itself overlooked the Chancel through the Chapel arch. Lone’s pew could seat his wife Elizabeth and their 8 children whereas the Millicent pew only had room for six people.

Suddenly the fortunes of the Lone family lay in ruins because John Lone unexpectedly died aged 44 years on May 10th 1700. He was buried under the family seat and a large monument, the left hand one now beneath the Tower, was erected nearby. Elizabeth was forced to witness the complete rehabilitation of John Millicent who was restored to all his former offices and appointed to the prestigious office of Receiver General of Royal Taxes for Cambridgeshire.

In his private letters Millicent reveals his true enmity towards John Lone. The day after Lone’s burial he wrote to his friend Oliver le Neve, “ John Lone Esq. is dead; he lay in state for some days and was buried in his own seat as near to mine as possible. I did not know whether he did this to be neighbourly.”

Further misfortune now overtook the Lones when Elizabeth passed away in March 1702 when only 37 years of age. The Lone heir John junior was only 19 years of age but Millicent had not reckoned with the hostility of the family guardian, the childrens’ uncle William Lone. William was determined to restore the Lone family fortunes and wreak his revenge. He was a wealthy London merchant who had a ruthless and vindictive personality. He now secured a 21 year lease of the strategically important Rectory and Guildhall leases. He waited for John Millicent to set off for London in June 1702 to indulge in his love for bowling at Marylebone and to replenish his cellars with red wine and claret from his London wine merchants. William immediately assembled a gang of workmen to “ repair the Chancel” as he was entitled to do under the terms of the Rectory lease.

Instead of making repairs William supervised the construction of a new large family pew inside the Chancel itself, immediately up against the arch of the Millicent Chapel! The ancient wainscoting was removed and a high brick wall built rising to half the height of the Chapel arch. John Lone’s body was “dug up and indecently exposed” before being re-interred under the new pew in the Chancel. Elizabeth was also re-buried next to him so that in death they could lie triumphant over the Squire. John Millicent returned from London at the end of June to discover that his view of the altar and pulpit was blocked by this new Chancel wall which, since it lay in the Rectory Chancel, was supposedly beyond the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Ely and the Linton Vicar. To add insult to injury William had placed a large monument on the disputed wall in memory of John and Elizabeth Lone. The inscription read:

In sure and certain hope of a joyful resurrection hereunder
Interred lyeth the body of John Lone Esquire who in his
Life time for his great abilities in the law his undeniable
Loyalty and good affection to his King and country was first
put into the commission of the peace and afterwards made
one of the deputy lieutenants of the county in both which
places his equal and impartial distribution of justice gained
him the universal good esteem of all who were not enemies
to the rightful and lawful King William the third and
noe friends to virtue valueing themselves only for that
which in itself is not valuable—antiquity
Who therefore denied Servius to be worthy of the Roman Crown
tho’ borne of a captive handmaid, unless it were the envious
Or who upbraided Marius as an upstart who was called from the
Plow to be governor of the Roman City, unless he were the Scirrolous. He departed his life the 10th day of May in the 44th year of his age leaving behind him a sorrowful widow
and 8 children and not less lamented by his neighbours
and acquaintances.

The venom in this epitaph can easily be seen in the references to his loyalty to William the Third and to those like John Millicent who only valued themselves for the antiquity of their families. At the bottom of this monument in a small shield under the Deaths Head is added: Elizabeth his wife who departed this life the 30th March, 1702 in the 37th year of her age lieth here also. John Lone junior died on October 29th, 1702 when only 19 years of age and a second monument was erected alongside that of his parents at the cost of £60. It is quite clear that the Lone monuments could have been placed on the right hand side of the Chance close to the Chapel of the Resurrection, then the Catley Aisle, but William had rejected this alternative position because of his bitter feud with John Millicent.

John Millicent now displayed some restraint because he resorted to the jurisdiction of the Church Courts in 1702 rather than the use of force. William and the Lone family still resided at the Great House and William was still so determined to thwart the Squire that he inserted a clause in his Will to provide John’s children with £100 a year to continue the fight through the courts. However, it seems that Squire Millicent won his case because the Lone estate was wound up by Act of Parliament in December 1702 and William was fined £100 for his breach of Church law.

When William Cole, the antiquarian, recorded the Linton Church monuments in 1743 he said that the two Lone monuments were high up on the wall of the Chancel and the Arch and the Millicent monument was clearly visible from the Chancel.

The two Lone monuments remained here until Pembroke College renovated the Chancel in the 1890’s. The monuments were probably moved to their Tower position then because space had been created under the tower when the Western Gallery was removed in the 1870’s. The Lone family Coat of Arms over the monuments is described as “Agent (gold), a tiger passant Gules (gold colour tiger facing to the right with right paw raised), azure border (blue), semee de Fleur de Lis, Or scattered fleur de lis gold / yellow in colour. Crest a Bucks head (head on top of helmet).”

It should come as no surprise that Squire John Millicent rubbed in his victory by building the beautiful Millicent Memorial in his Chapel. His friend, Thomas Sclater of Catley Park , Lord of Great and Little Linton ensured that there would be no further disputes by purchasing the Rectory lease together with the Great House from the Lone Trustees in July 1706 for £1500.