An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 1. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1805.
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Is bounded on the east by Dickleburgh, on the west by Burston, on the south by Thelton, and on the north by Gissing. It is a rectory appendant to the manor, and being discharged of first fruits and tenths, is capable of augmentation. The rectory hath a house and 16 acres of glebe: Norwich Domesday says, that Richard de Boyland was then patron, that the rector had a house and xv. acres of land; that the procurations were then vi.s. viii.d. and the synodals xxii.d.
|King's Books.||Clear Value.||Synodals.||Arch. Procur.|
|Acres Glebe.||Norw. Taxat.||Lincoln Taxat.|
|16||0||0||11 Marks.||16 Marks.|
1507, 4 Aug. James Galle. (fn. 1) Lapse.
1536, 26 March, John Lanman, (fn. 2) on Ward's death. John Aldham, lord of the moiety of Elyngham's manor here, by turns.
1609, 1 Aug. Nicholas Colte. (fn. 3) John Sherdelowe.
1642, Jeremiah Gowen. (fn. 4) Adrian Mott of Braintree, and Margaret Carter of Stratford in Essex.
1649, Thomas Cole, (fn. 5) clerk, A. M. John and James Mott, Gent.
The Church hath a steeple, round at bottom, and octangular at top, and four small bells; it is leaded, though the chancel is thatched, and the north porch tiled. It is dedicated to St. George, (fn. 6) whose effigies, with his shield, viz. arg. a plain cross gul. is to be seen in a south window of the chancel, and seems to be as old as the building, which in all appearance was in the beginning of the thirteenth century, (though the steeple is much older,) for then William de Shimplyng was lord and patron, whose arms still remain under this effigies, viz. arg. a chief gul. a fess between six de-lises sab.
Here was a Gild in honour of the same saint, (fn. 7) and a Chapel dedicated to St. Mary, which stood in Shimpling Hithe, of which there are no remains. This had some endowment, for Girrard the Prior, (fn. 8) and his Chapter at Norwich, with the Bishop's consent, granted to Richard the chaplain of Shimpling, 7 roods of meadow in Roreker in Shimpling, &c. in perpetual alms, paying yearly 5d. at the high altar in the cathedral, to which John Pierson of Gissing, and others, were witnesses, (fn. 9) so that this must be before 1201, for in that year Gerrard the Prior died; this was down before the general dissolution, for I meet with no grant of it at that time.
St. George and the dragon, and the arms of Shimpling, are carved on the font; the chancel is covered with large grave-stones, all disrobed of their brasses; several of them were laid over the rectors, as appear from the chalice and wafer upon them, that being the symbol of a priest; the rest that had arms, I take to be laid over the Shimplings and the Shardelows. The arms of
In the Confessor's time Torbert held this manor of Stigand, it being then worth 20s. of whom the part in Gissing was also held by another freeman, and was then of 5s. value, but was risen to ten in the Conqueror's time, though Shimpling continued at the same value. This, as one manor, was given by the Conqueror to Roger Bygod, who gave it to Robert de Vais, (de Vallibus, or Vaus,) it being then a mile and a quarter long, and a mile broad. (fn. 10) The whole paid 5d. Geld. There was then a church and 10 acres glebe, valued at 12d. and several other manors extended hither, of which I shall afterwards treat in their proper places. The Vaises held it of Bygod's successors, till 1237, in which year Oliver de Vallibus (fn. 11) granted it to Richard de Rupella, (afterwards called Rokele,) settling it on him and his heirs by fine, (fn. 12) to be held of him by knight's service; he died in 1287, at which time he held it of John de Vallibus. This Richard granted it to be held of him and his heirs by Richard de Boyland, in trust for Ralph Carbonell, (fn. 13) who held it of Maud, wife of William de Roos, who was daughter and coheir of John de Vaux. This Ralph conveyed it to
Roger de Schymplyng, to be held by knight's service of Richard Rokeles's heirs; and in 1280, the said Roger (fn. 14) was lord, the manor being settled upon him, and Emma his wife, in tail; after their deaths it came to William de Schympling, (fn. 15) their son, who held it of Richard Rokell at half a fee, he of the Earl-Marshal, and he of the King in capite. This William married Margaret de Tacolveston, (fn. 16) on whom the manor was settled for life in 1303, it being then held of William de Roos and Maud his wife, and Petronell de Vaux, her sister. This William purchased a great part of the town of divers persons. He had a son named Roger, who presented in 1328, and held it till about 1345, when he was dead, and Emma his wife had it, at whose death it fell divisible between their three daughters: (fn. 17)
Katerine, married to William de Ellyngham, who had Dalling manor in Flordon. Isabell had issue, Roger and Emma, who left none, so that this manor and advowson descended to Roger, son of William de Elyngham and Katerine his wife, daughter of Roger de Schymplyng, which said Roger de Elyngham held it in 1401, by half a fee, of John Copledick, Knt. who held it of the Lady Roos, she of Thomas Mowbray, and he in capite of the King. How it went from the Elynghams I do not know, but imagine it must be by female heiresses; for in 1521, Humphry Wyngfield had a moiety of it, and John Aldham had another part; he died in 1558, and was buried in this chancel, leaving his part to John his son, (fn. 18) who held it jointly with Bonaventure Shardelowe, in 1571; Mr. Aldham had a fourth part of the manor, and a third turn, and Mr. Shardelow three parts and two turns. The patronage and manor was in Mr. John Motte, who was buried October 7, 1640, and John Motte, and his brother James, presented in 1649. It looks as if the Mottes had Aldham's part, and after purchased Shardelow's of Mr. John Shardelowe, who held it till 1611, together with Dalling manor in Florden, which was held of Shimpling manor. He conveyed it to Edmund Skipwith, Esq. and Antony Barry, Gent. and they to Thomas Wales, and John Basely, Gent. who conveyed it to the Motts, from whom, I am apt to think, it came to the Proctors, for John Buxton of St. Margaret's in South Elmham had it, in right of his wife, who was kinswoman and heiress of Mr. Proctor, rector of Gissing; after this it came to Robert Buxton, Esq. who died and left it to Elizabeth his wife, who is since dead, and Elizabeth Buxton, their only daughter, a minor, is now  lady and patroness.
As to the other parts of this village, (fn. 19) they being parts of the manors of Titshall, Fersfield, and Brisingham, it is sufficient to observe, that they went with those manors, except that part held by Fulco, of which the register called Pinchbek, fo. 182, says that Fulco or Fulcher held of the Abbot in Simplingaham and Gissing, 70 acres, and 4 borderers, being infeoffed by Abbot Baldwin in the time of the Conqueror; this, about Edward the First's time, was in Sir John Shardelowe, a judge in that King's reign, in whose family it continued till 1630, when it was sold to Mr. Mott. The seat of the Shardelows is now called the Place, and is the estate of the Duke of Grafton; and (as I am informed) formerly belonged to Isaac Pennington, (fn. 20) alderman of London, one of those rebels that sat as judges at the King's trial, for which villainy he was knighted. He lived to the Restoration, when, according to his deserts, his estates were seized as forfeited to King Charles II. who gave this to the Duke of Grafton; upon the forfeiture, the copyhold on the different manors were also seized, which is the reason that the quitrents to Gissing, Titshall, &c. are so large, they being made so when the Lords regranted them.
I have seen an ancient deed made by John Camerarius, or Chambers, of Shimpling, to Richard de Kentwell, clerk, and Alice his wife, and their heirs, of 3 acres of land in this town, witnessed by Sir Gerard de Wachesam, Knt. and others, which is remarkable, for its never having any seal, and its being dated at Shimpling in the churchyard, on Sunday next before Pentecost, anno 1294. (fn. 21) This shews us that seals (as Lambard justly observes (fn. 22)) were not in common use at this time; and, therefore, to make a conveyance the most solemn and publick that could be, the deed was read to the parish, after service, in the churchyard, that all might know it, and be witnesses, if occasion required. The Saxons used no seals, only signed the mark of a cross to their instruments, to which the scribe affixed their names, by which they had a double meaning; first, to denote their being Christians, and then, as such, to confirm it by the symbol of their faith. The first sealed charter we meet with is that of Edward the Confessor to Westminster abbey, which use he brought with him from Normandy, where he was brought up; and for that reason it was approved of by the Norman Conqueror; though sealing grew into common use by degrees, the King at first only using it, then some of the nobility, after that the nobles in general, who engraved on their seals their own effigies covered with their coat armour; after this, the gentlemen followed, and used the arms of their family for difference sake. But about the time of Edward III. seals became of general use, and they that had no coat armour, sealed with their own device, as flowers, birds, beasts, or whatever they chiefly delighted in, as a dog, a hare, &c.; and nothing was more common than an invention or rebus for their names, as a swan and a tun for Swanton, a hare for Hare, &c.; and because very few of the commonality could write, (all learning at that time being among the religious only,) the person's name was usually circumscribed on his seal, so that at once they set both their name and seal, which was so sacred a thing in those days, that one man never used another's seal, without its being particularly taken notice of in the instrument sealed, and for this reason, every one carried their seal about them, either on their rings, or on a roundel fastened sometimes to their purse, sometimes to their girdle; nay, oftentimes where a man's seal was not much known, he procured some one in publick office to affix theirs, for the greater confirmation: thus Hugh de Schalers, (or Scales,) a younger son of the Lord Scales's family, parson of Harlton in Cambridgeshire, upon his agreeing to pay the Prior of Bernewell 30s. for the two third parts of the tithe corn due to the said Prior out of several lands in his parish, because his seal was known to few, he procured the archdeacon's official to put his seal of office, for more ample confirmation: (fn. 23) and when this was not done, nothing was more common than for a publick notary to affix his mark, which being registered at their admission into their office, was of as publick a nature as any seal could be, and of as great sanction to any instrument, those officers being always sworn to the true execution of their office, and to affix no other mark, than that they had registered, to any instrument; so their testimony could be as well known by their mark, as by their name; for which reason they were called Publick Notaries, Nota in Latin signifying a mark, and Publick because their mark was publickly registered, and their office was to be publick to all that had any occasion for them to strengthen their evidence. There are few of these officers among us now, and such as we have, have so far varied from the original of their name, that they use no mark at all, only add N. P. for Notary Publick, at the end of their names. Thus also the use of seals is now laid aside, I mean the true use of them, as the distinguishing mark of one family from another, and of one branch from another; and was it enjomed by publick authority, that every one in office should, upon his admission, choose and appropriate to himself a particular seal, and register a copy of it publickly, and should never use any other but that alone, under a severe penalty, I am apt to think, in a short time we should see the good effects of it; (fn. 24) for a great number of those vagabonds that infest our country under pretence of certificates signed by proper magistrates, (whose hands are oftener counterfeit than real,) would be detected; for though it is easy for an ill-designing person to forge a handwriting, it is directly the contrary as to a seal; and though it is in the power of all to know the magistrates names, it is but very few of such sort of people that could know their seals; so that it would in a great measure (if not altogether) put a stop to that vile practice; and it would be easy for every magistrate to know the seals of all others, if they were entered properly, engraved, and published: and it might be of service, if all the office seals in England (or in those foreign parts that any way concern the realm) were engraved and published, for then it would be in every one's power to know whether the seals of office affixed to all passes, &c. were genuine or no; for it is well known that numbers travel this nation, under pretence of passes from our consuls and agents abroad, and sometimes even deceive careful magistrates with the pretended hands and seals of such, it being sometimes impossible for them to know the truth, which by this means would evidently appear. And thus much, and a great deal more, may be said to encourage the true and original use of that wise Conqueror's practice, who can scarce be said to put any thing into use but what he found was of advantage to his government.
This rectory is in Norfolk archdeaconry, and Redenhall deanery: it had 69 communicants in 1603, and hath now  23 houses, and about 130 inhabitants. The town is valued at 300l. per annum. (fn. 25) Here are 3 acres of town land, one piece is a small pightle abutting on the land of Robert Leman, Esq. another piece is called Susan's pightle, lying in Gissing, and was given by a woman of this name, to repair the church porch, (as I am informed,) the other piece lies in Diss Heywode, and pays an annual rent of 5s.