William de Noiers was steward of the principal manor in this
town (at the time of making the book of Domesday) for the Conqueror,
who had seized on it, on the deprivation of Archbishop Stigand, who
held it as a lay fee, in the reign of the Confessor. Four carucates and
20 acres of land belonged to it, with 14 villains, 18 borderers, and 8
servi, there were 3 carucates in demean, and 8 acres, and 20 acres of
meadow; paunage for 80 swine, 1 runcus, 4 cows, &c. and 100 sheep;
5 socmen had one carucate and a half of land, 5 carucates and 8 acres
of meadow, and valued, &c. in Hadescoe. (fn. 1)
It remained in the Crown till granted to Robert de Bellomont Earl
of Mellent in Normandy and of Leicester in England, in the reign of
King Henry I. who gave it to the Benedictine abbey of de Pratellis
(or Preaux) in Normandy; and on that account was called Monks
Tofts. In the 14th of Edward I. the abbot claimed the assize, a gallows, and many other liberties, who had a cell here.
In the 20th of Richard II. Sir Lewis Clifford, by the mediation and
license of that King, had a grant from the abbot of Preaux, of this
manor, for life, on a certain rent, with the remainder to his son Lewis,
with Warmington in Warwickshire, Spelbury in Dorsetshire, and Aston
in Berkshire; and in the parliament at Leicester, Ao. 2 Henry V. on
the dissolution of alien priories, came to the Crown, and was granted
for life to Sir Thomas Erpingham, on March 15, Ao. 6°. The said
King, in his 19th year, gave it to Eaton college; after this King
Edward IV. gave it to King's college, Cambridge, where it still continues. King Henry V. on its dissolution, is said to have granted the
revenues of it to the Carthusians of Witham in Somerseishire, which
they held some short time.
Humphrey de Wirlingham, in the 54th of Henry III. granted to this
cell, and to William, abbot of St. Peter and St. Paul de Preaux, 2
messuages, 72 acres of land, 10 of wood, 8 of marsh, and 4s. 5d. rent
here, in Hadesco-Thorp, &c. Nicholas Carde, a monk of this cell, or
priory, proctor for the abbey of De Preaux, accounted for 100l. in the
13th of Edward III. as custos of the lands and tenements, goods and
chattels of the same; and in 1428, their temporalities were valued at
40l. 16s. 10d. 0b.
In Toft also and in Raveningham, a freeman had 60 acres of land
mortgaged by several persons, a carucate and an acre of meadow with
27 borderers, valued at 20s.
This was in the King: at the survey William de Noiers took care
of it, which Stigand the archbishop held as a lay fee, and was deprived
of. (fn. 2)
In the 34th of Henry III. William de Tofts had an interest herein,
and in the 6th of Edward III. William de Stafford and his wife Isabel
had a lordship, settled on Walter their son; and in the 12th of that
King, Walter died seized of it, and James his brother was his heir.
In the 9th of Richard II. a fine was levied between Richard Dodenhale, merchant of Coventry, querent, Richard Bottler and Joan his
wife, deforciants, of the manor of Netherhall in this town, &c.; and in
the 17th of that King, Sir John Panton died seized, as is said, of Overhall and Netherhall manors, and John was his son and heir; but in
the 1st year of Henry IV. Richard Bottler and Joan his wife conveyed
the said lordships to James Billingford, by fine; and the 3d of that
King, Jeffrey Wafre held here and in Raveningham a quarter of a fee,
called Reedswell, in capite.
James Billingforth, of Blackworth-hall in Stoke Holy cross, died
lord in the 17th of Edward IV. Edmund Billingford, Esq. was lord in
the 33d of Henry VIII. Thomas Billingford, Esq. in 1571, and John
Billingford, in the 11th of James I. and afterwards, George Billingford.
Ash Windham, Esq. was lord in 1742, and his son William Wyndham
inherited it, and his son, a minor, is lord.
The abbey of Langley had considerable possessions here; their
temporalities were valued at 26s. 8d.
The tenths of the town were 5l. 7s.
In the 1st of Richard II. here were lands given by John Loudham,
to the repair of St. Olaves causey.
The Church of Toft is dedicated to St. Margaret: two parts of it
were appropriated to the abbey of Preaux, by William Turbus Bishop
of Norwich, and confirmed by John de Gra, Bishop, Ao. 1181, and
were valued at 20 marks, and the third part was a rectory valued at
10 marks: the two appropriated parts always passed with the manor
belonging to Preaux abbey, and the 3d part was held by a rector, who
in Edward the First's time had a manse and 30 acres of land, Peterpence 8d. carvage 8d.
In 1316, John de Warmington, instituted, presented by the proctor
of the abbey of Preaux.
Ralph Morel, rector.
1318, John de Warmington. Ditto.
Roger de Grestein, prior of Tofts, and proctor of De Preaux
1327, John Red, by ditto.
1349, Jeffrey Purchas, by the King.
1391, Thomas Baylly, by Sir Lewis de Clyfford.
1408, Richard Banham, by Sir Thomas Erpingham.
1410, John Auncel, by ditto.
1417, John Staunford, by ditto.
1427, Mr. John Gley, by ditto.
1438, Simon Jenvey, by the King.
Sim. Hole, rector.
1443, William Swan, by William Waynflete, provost of Eton college.
1449, William Westbroke, by ditto.
1454, John Bullock, by ditto.
1459, Peter Cantele, by ditto.
Christopher Whitesyde, rector.
1476, Thomas Mayster, by the provost and fellows of King's college,
1487, William Billyng, by ditto.
1506, William Skevyn, by ditto.
1533, William Alen, A. B. Ditto.
1555, Christopher Calvert, by the Bishop, a lapse.
1559, Robert Best, by the Bishop's vicar-general.
1563, John Beane, by the provost, &c.
1593, Phil. Ausham, occurs rector in 1603, and returned 160 communicants.
1619, Thomas Langley, by the provost, &c.
1639, Richard Peter, by ditto.
1663, Charles Ashby, by ditto.
1717, Benjamin Shipman, on Clerk's death, by King's college, Cambridge.
1751, John Lodington, rector, by ditto.
The rectory is valued at 8l. and is discharged.
On an alabaster monument, against the north wall of the chancel,
Hic jacet sepultus Joh. Bayspoole ob Toft Monks, in Com. Norf.
gen. obt. die 3°. Aug. 1624, cum uxore suâ Eliz. Spelman, sorore viri
nobilis Hen. Spelman, equitis.