OF THETFORD DEANERY AND DEANS.
This town was always in the archdeaconry of Norwich; but before
the Dissolution acknowledged no archidiaconal jurisdiction, for the
deanery of Thetford contained all the city, the two Snareshills, and
Santon by Downham, and the sole peculiar jurisdiction over all the
churches, monasteries, and inhabitants, except the abbey and nunnery, which were exempted from it; and yet the abbey, though it
did not acknowledge itself subject to the deans power, claimed exemption for some places where they were concerned, from all other
spiritual courts, otherwise than that of this dean, as for Hockham, &c.
it is to be thought, that this was made a peculiar, with such large
jurisdiction, by the Bishop, when he removed the see, to satisfy the
people as well as he could, by permitting them to have a court of the
same jurisdiction, as well after his removal, as before, by which means
they would not be forced to follow him to Norwich, to transact their
business; and from this time the Bishop's, or Archdeacon's Court,
had nothing to do in this deanery, except thus far, that all persons
that would prove any will in their courts, might do so, otherwise they
must prove it before the dean, if a spiritual person, or before the dean
and mayor, if he was a temporal person, and chose to have it recorded
in both their courts, as some did, though I find very many proved
in the Bishop's Office; the succeeding bishops did not like this exempt, but bare with it, till Richard Nick, Nix, or Nikke's time, who
could not brook it, and so brought himself into a præmunire; the
affair is thus related by Collier, (fn. 1) Richard Nix Bishop of Norwich is
said to have offended the King signally, by some correspondence with
Rome, and was kept long in the Marshalsea, and convicted and found
in a præmunire. (fn. 2) But this relation goes only upon conjecture, and
looks improbable even from Nix's age and behaviour: for he was a
very old man, and had been blind many years; and as he could have
no prospect of advantage from such a correspondence, so neither did
he manage it like one that would risk his fortune for any religion.
For as to regularity he was a person of a very slender character; (fn. 3) the
true cause of his conviction and imprisonment was this: the town of
Thetford in Norfolk made a presentment upon oath, before the
King's judges, in proof of their liberties. The matter alleged was,
that none of that town ought to be cited into any spiritual consistory,
but only into the court of the Dean of Thetford, and that whosoever
cited any inhabitant of that town into another spiritual court, should
forfeit 6s. 8d. toties quoties. The Bishop taking this as a check upon
his jurisdiction, cited Richard Cockarel, Mayor of Thetford, and some
others, into his court, (fn. 4) and enjoined them, under the penalty of excommunication, to summon a jury of their town, and cancel the
former presentment; for this the Bishop was prosecuted in the King's
Bench, cast in a præmunire, and had judgment executed upon his
person and estate, pursuant to the statute; (fn. 5) this was done in the beginning of the year 1534, the King, afterwards, upon his submission,
dicharged him out of prison; (fn. 6) however he was not pardoned without
a fine, with part of which, it is said, the glass windows in King's
College chapel in Cambridge were purchased: the Atlas says, (fn. 7) he
was forced to purchase his peace of the King, by exchanging the
large estates (viz. thirty good manors and more) belonging to his
bishoprick, for the abbey and revenues of St. Bennet of the Holme,
which seems indeed to be the chief motive of the whole proceeding,
for that this agreement might remain firm for ever, the King got it
settled by Act of Parliament; and it was after confirmed by William
Rugg, or Reppes, his successour, under a pretence indeed of increasing
the bishoprick, though it decreased it very much; yet thus far we must
say for this bishop, that his confirmation was a means of increasing
it, for he got Hickling priory with its revenues, and a prebend in St.
Stephen's, Westminster, added to the revenues of Holme abbey, by
means thereof. But the town enjoyed the privilege but little while,
for in or before 1540 the rural deaneries came all into the bishop's
hands, and their jurisdictions into the archdeacon's, from which time
there hath been no dean of Thetford, and consequently, the spiritual
jurisdiction thereof hath ever since belonged to the bishop and archdeacon of Norwich, as it now does.
I never met with the seal of this deanery, but without doubt it had
one as well as the rest.
The patronage of it was in the Bishop, who collated the following
1175, Ranulf, the dean of Tetford, Robert the dean, his associate
1318, 17 kal. June, John de Northstrete de Buklesham, priest.
1319, 7 id. April, Robert de Kertlyngetone, sub-deacon.
1319, 15 kal. May, Alex. de Betele, sub-deacon, who resigned for
Sancroft in Suffolk.
1319, 4 kal. July, Henry de Upegate de Wyleby, priest.
1346, 15 March, Robert de Walton, accolite.
1359, Henry de Lydingtone, priest.
1360, 27 May, John Vergen, clerk, on Lydingtone's resignation.
1374, pen. Nov. William de Baketon exchanged this for Fordham
deanery, with John de Coryngham, shaveling.
1375, 17 April, Thomas, son of John Cotton of Cambridge, shaveling, on Coryngham's resignation.
1380, William Galyon, clerk.
1420, 5 October, Will. Duckett, clerk, who was the last that I meet
with, though there were several others without doubt, before the
deanery expired in 1540.