Emmanuel College, Cambridge, was founded in 1584 by Sir Walter Mildmay, Chancellor of the Exchequer to Elizabeth I. Mildmay was a Puritan, and intended Emmanuel to be a college of training for Protestant preachers; other wealthy Puritans, such as Sir Wolstan Dixie, a former Lord Mayor of London, helped with its foundation. Sir Wolstan endowed the College with £600 on condition that property should be bought to yield an annual income which would support the foundation of two fellowships and two scholarships The Master and Fellows of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, purchased an estate in Sutton Coldfield in 1594 with the Dixie bequest, yielding at the time an annual rent of £33.
This estate previously belonged to Simon Parratt, who was still living in the principal house there (Maney Hall, long since demolished), and he agreed to collect the rents from the rest of the property and deliver the £33 to the college. But Simon Parratt was heavily in debt, Emmanuel College received no rent, and Simon Parratt absconded to Ireland where he died in poverty. The College continued to lease out the whole estate after the Parratt shambles had been resolved, first to Marmaduke Dawney and then to Edward Willughby
Willughby ran the estate as he saw fit, rebuilding houses and barns, and building at least three new houses, all at his own expense, so that the College was obliged to reduce his rent to only eleven pounds per annum. However, Willughby’s lease was not renewed in 1639, the College regaining its full income by letting the estate out as two separate properties. This continued until 1720, when the College took a more proactive role in the running of the estate, imposing detailed instructions on the new tenant and injecting a capital sum of £300 for improvements and repairs. Subsequent leases followed this pattern, as in the 1764 lease to John Kendrick of Sutton Coldfield, yeoman.
The 1764 lease is for twenty-one years at £70 per annum, and contains a detailed list of all the property. Twenty-six separate units are listed, eight dwellings and eighteen pieces of land, occupied by twenty-one different tenants. There is reference to several cottages having been “long since pulled down”, possibly over a century earlier in Willughby’s day, and a “Blacksmith’s shop lately erected in Maney”, and Kendrick is instructed in the lease to make more changes. The old medieval Maney Hall, now a ruinous place where Ann Madox and Elizabeth Cooper dwell, is to be pulled down, along with Henry Jackson’s cottage there. At least £150 is to be laid out on rebuilding a house near the top of Mill Street, later an inn known as Emmanuel College Arms; in 1634 this had been the town house of Mr. Hannum, converted into an inn called the Bulls Head by 1764.
In 1802 the College took direct control of their Sutton property, when a survey showed that the 142-acre estate was “in bad condition - repairs needed”. Tenants now held their land and houses directly from the College, and the sale of some land for road widening was a hint of other changes to come. In 1810 a small piece of ground in Mill Street was sold to the new turnpike road trustees, followed in 1828 by the sale of a blacksmith’s shop and land there to the turnpike for £189.12s. This was followed in 1860 by the sale just over three acres of land near the Driffold to the London and North Western Railway Company in 1860 for £1080 12s. 6d.
Improved communications after 1860 enabled the College to run the estate through local solicitors, and over the next century most of the property was developed for housing. However, the forty acres near Roughley allotted to the College when the commons were enclosed still lie undeveloped in the green belt - they produced an unexpected bonus when the M6 Toll road was built across the land.