An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 10. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1809.
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At the survey, Godric, the King's steward, held a lordship, granted before by the Conqueror (as it seems) to Ralph Earl of Norfolk, on the expulsion of two freemen, who held it under the protection of Aslac and Lefrick, in the reign of King Edward, and Ralph was deprived of it on his rebellion against the Conqueror.
The two freemen, and 6 other freemen, of whom Godric had a moiety of their protection (as lord) held 16 acres of land, with half a carucate and 16 acres of meadow, and was delivered to Godric for a manor. One horse, and two cows belonged to it, (and at the survey 200 sheep) with 5 acres, &c. the whole was valued at 40s. but at the survey at 4l. the king and the earl had the soc and sac.
Five freemen, with the moiety of another, had also in the commendation of Edwin, 34 acres of land, with half a carucate and an acre of meadow, the soc of these was in the hundred. (fn. 1)
On the death of Godric it seems to have come as an eschaet to the Crown, and was granted to William de Cheney, lord of Horseford, in the reign of King Stephen, sheriff of Norfolk; and King Henry II. gave him the manor of Blyburgh in Suffolk.
By the marriage of Margaret his daughter and coheir, it came to Sir Hugh de Cressi, and so to Sir Rog. de Cressi, his son, who married Isabel, daughter and coheir of Hubert de Rye, a great baron of the realm, and the family of De Kerdeston was enfeoffed of this lordship by them.
In the first year of King John, Sir Roger de Kerdeston, son of William de Kerdeston, (to whom Hubert de Rye had granted the manor of Bircham Newton) gave 30 marks to the King, for a confirmation of the lands formerly belonging to Hubert de Rye; Hugh de Kerdeston his brother, took part with the rebels, in rebellion against that King.
Fulco de Kerdeston was son and heir of Sir Roger; and in the 8th of King John, Fulco de Baynard claimed his wardship. (fn. 2)
By a deed, sans date, of Andrew, son of Richard de Sybeton, wherein he grants lands in Bulecamp in Suffolk, to Sibton abbey in the said county, Sir Fulk de Kerdeston held then lands in Bulecamp. About the said time, Rosia de Kerdeston, had an interest in Claxton, and East Ruston, and was probably widow of Sir Roger.
William de Kerdeston in the 20th of Henry III. had half a fee in this town, also lands in Kerdeston, and Themilthorp, by knight's service, and Agnes, widow of Fulk de Kerdeston, died in the 19th of Edward I. Fulk was living in the 43d of Henry III.
In the 10th of Edward I. William de Kerdeston, son Sir of Roger de Kerdeston, was summoned among the barons of the realm to attend the King in his expedition against the Welsh, and in the 15th to meet at Gloucester, Edmund Earl of Cornwall, in three weeks after the feast of St. John Baptist, with horse and arms to advise with Edmund, then custos of the realm, about the Welsh affairs.
In the following year the aforesaid Will. held 2 fees here and in Bulchamp; in the 27th of that King, Sir Will. grants to Sir Thomas de Helgeton, and Alice his wife, for life, a messuage, with certain lands and villains as part of the manor, which they had conveyed to him: he was sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, in the 25th and 26th of Edward I.
In the 33d, he, with William de Ormesby, William Inge, John Le Breton, and Richard de Walsingham, were constituted justices of trail baston in Norfolk and Suffolk: he married Margaret, eldest sister and coheir of Gilbert de Graunt, lord of Folkingham, in Lincolnshire, by whom he had Roger his son and heir, created Knight of the Bath with Prince Edward of Carnarvon, son of King Edward I. sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, in the 5th of Edward III. governor of Norwich castle, summoned as a baron to parliament, from the sixth, and died in the 11th, seized of Bircham, Newton, Kerdiston, Claxton, Sedestern, and Hadeston in Norfolk; Stratford and Henham in Suffolk, of the manor of Gaunt in Siwardeley, and Skendelby in Lincolnshire, &c. as heir to Gilbert de Gaunt.
In the 8th of Edward III. he gave to the King's, relief, (55s. 11d. ob.) for his 3d part of the manor of Skendelby, as parcel of the barony of Folkingham, and was buried in the abbey church of Langley, and his mother Margaret was buried in 1328, in the cathedral church of Norwich.
William de Kerdeston was his son and heir, aged 30, at his father's death; in the 13th of Edward III. he had license to make a castle of his manor-house here; in the following year he obtained a charter for a weekly mercate, on Monday, and a fair on the eve of St. John Baptist, the day, and 3 days after; in the 15th had the King's letters to provide 10 men at arms, and to come with them to Newcastle upon Tyne, in order to invade Scotland, or to hinder the Scots from making inroads into England.
In the next year, Sir William Kerdeston had a writ dated at Westminster December 20, to provide 10 men at arms and 10 archers, to be transported into Britany in France, and to go with them himself, (as the King desired) but if he could not, then to come to London, or to send somebody of his council to treat with the King's council about their wages, &c.
In the 20th of Edward III. he was found to hold half a fee in this town, of Fulco Baynard, and by the name of Sir William de Kerdeston, lord of Claxton, was summoned to parliament, ao. 28, and signed a letter of proxy to Richard Wysondesold, to give his consent to the agreement, that should be made between the envoys of England and France, before Pope Innocent VI. at Avignon, to prevent the war, which ensued.
In the 33d of the said King he was summoned to meet at Westminster, on Sunday next after St. Martin's feast, to be of council to Tho. de Woodstock Duke of Gloucester, the King's son, custos of England, during the King's absence in France; and died in October, in the 35th of Edw. III. seized of the manors abovementioned in Norfolk and Suffolk, also of the manor of Holbache at Rythe in Swaledale, with that of Hunmundby in Yorkshire, they being part of the inheritance of the Lord Gilbert de Gaunt.
William was found to be his son and heir, by Maud his first wife, aged 36; but by another inquisition, John, son of John Burghersh and Maud his wife, daughter and coheir of Sir William de Kerdeston, and Margaret his 2d wife, daughter of Edmund Bacon, of Gresham, was found to be heir of Sir William.
Great lawsuits ensued on these inquisitions, in order to prove this William to be illegitimate, and to be born ante sponsalia; and some accounts make him to be the son of Alice, daughter of — Norwich, his father's concubine, in Trinity term, ao. 38th Edward III.
There was a trial to enquire if John Burghersh, son of John Burghersh, and Maud his wife, daughter of Sir William Kerdeston, and Margaret his wife, or William, now a knight, was the heir, when the jury found Sir William to be born ante sponsalia.
But in the 43d of that King, in the return of the escheators inquisition, it appears that the King had seized on the manors of Kerdeston, Claxton, and Helgeton, which caption Sir William traversed in the King's Bench, alleging that Sir William Kerdeston, senior, by his deed, had entailed those manors, and that he was the right heir, as the jury then found, and lawfully begotten; so that the King's hands were taken off.
He was sheriff of Norfolk in the 49th of Edward III. and 5th of Richard II.
In the 3d of Richard II. he had a grant of free warren in his manors in Norfolk, and Suffolk; and being wealthy, lent the King money, and finished his manor-house, or castle, at Claxton, and died soon after, leaving Cecilia his wife, daughter of Sir — Brews, of Stinton, who was living in the 3d of Herry IV. and held the manor of East Ryston, &c. in dower, and was buried by her husband in the church of Repham.
Leonard Kerdeston was lord in the 9th of Richard II. and in the 3d of Henry IV. when he was a Knight; and Thomas Lord Mowbray, as heir to the Bigots, held it in capite; Sir Leonard was living in the 9th of Henry V.
In the 3d of Henry VI. a fine was levied between Thomas Chaucer, Esq. (fn. 3) and Maud his wife, one of the daughters and heirs of Sir John Burghershe, querents, Sir Thomas Kerdeston, and Elizabeth his wife, deforcients of this manor, and many other, conveyed to Maud, who with her husband resettled them on Sir Thomas and Elizabeth, in tail, to be held of the heirs of Maud.
After this, in the 20th of the said King, William Delapole Earl of Suffolk, and Alice his wife, daughter and heir of Thomas Chaucer, Esq. and Maud his wife, released to Sir Thomas Kerdeston, all their right in this manor and advowson: this Alice, first married Sir John Phelip of Dennington in Suffolk.
Sir Thomas Kerdeston, by his will dated July 1, 1446, desires to be buried in the church of the Austin Friars at Norwich, and that the third part of the passage of Bukenham Ferry, in the parish of Carleton in Norfolk, which descended to him lawfully, and all the messuages, lands, &c. in Claxton, Ashby, Helgeton, Carlton, Burgh-Apton, Holveston and Yelverton in Norfolk, which he bought of William Claxton, &c. with the advowson of the church of Carlton St. Peter's, be sold forthwith after his decease, and out of the money arising, he gives to the aforesaid convent of friars 300 marks, on condition that they find three brethren for ever of the said house, to pray for his soul and the souls of Elizabeth (fn. 4) and Philippa his wives, and all his parents; he gives to the honourable Lord Hump. Buckingham one horse, to the high altar of the aforesaid friars, a silver cross, and two silver basons, with this inscription to be wrote round them,
Orate p. a'iab; Thome Kerdeston, Militis, et Philippe uxori sue, filie Joh. Trussel, Militis.
Also to the Lady Philippa his wife, one silver bason; to his daughter Elizabeth, a missale: appoints his wife, and William Yelverton, the judge, executors, and Humphrey Duke of Buckingham, supervisor; he died on July 20, Ao. 25 of Henry VI.
In the eschaet rolls Ao. 29 of the aforesaid King, the jury find that Sir Thomas died not seized of the manors of Bulcamp, Henham, and Stratford in Suffolk, but that William de la Pole, late Duke of Suffolk, and Alice his wife, (as her right,) entered on and took the profits during the life of Sir Thomas, and that Alice, late wife of the said Duke, and Sir John Howard, were his next heirs.
And before this, in the 26th of Henry VI. William James, &c. conveyed to William de la Pole, Marquis of Suffolk, and Alice his wife, this manor of Claxton, with that of Kerdeston, &c. so that Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Kerdeston, was deprived of her inheritance.
It appears that she married Sir Terry Robsart, son of Sir John Robsart, Knt. of the Garter; and that Edmund de la Pole Earl of Suffolk, in the 12th of Henry VII. granted the manors of Bircham, Newton, and Sedisterne in Norfolk, to the Lady Elizabeth Robsart, and to her heirs by Sir Terry, then deceased, as may be seen at large under those townships.
In the 15th of Edward IV. Alice, late wife of William de la Pole Duke of Suffolk, died, seized of this manor, with those of Stokingham and Yalmeton in Devonshire, &c. of the inheritance of Richard Earl of Warwick; and in the following year Sir Edward Hungerford, John Heydon, and Humphrey Forster, by deed dated November 20, release to John de la Pole Duke of Suffolk, and Elizabeth his wife, (sister of King Edward IV.) William Hastings, Robert Chamberleyn, James Tyrell, William Knyvet, Knts. &c. to the use of the Duke and Dutchess, the lordships of Claxton and Helgeton in Norfolk; Frestendon, Bacton and Creting St. Olaves in Suffolk; which the said Sir Edward, &c. were seized of, to the use of William, late Duke of Suffolk, and the Lady Alice his wife, deceased.
On the attainder of Edmund de la Pole Earl of Suffolk, this lordship coming to the Crown, King Henry VIII. in his 2d year, granted it with Helgeton, valued at 33l. 13s. per ann. to Thomas Howard Earl of Surrey, and after Duke of Norfolk, and his heirs; but in the following year, the said Earl, and the Lady Anne his wife, with Catherine. Countess of Devonshire, (who were two of the daughters of King Edward IV.) conveyed to that King, their right in many manors, castles, &c. and some accounts say that the King granted this lordship, and that of Helgeton in consideration of this conveyance.
On the death of Anne Dutches of Norfolk, without surviving issue, this lordship was granted to Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk, and the Lady Anne of Cleves, the King's divorced wife, as some say, had an interest herein.
On September 10, in the 4th and 5th of Philip and Mary, Edward Lord North had letters patents to hold it in capite, late the possessions of Charles Duke of Suffolk; and in the said year had license to alien it to John Throgmorton, Esq. and his heirs, who conveyed it to Thomas Gawdy, Esq. and Henry his son, in the 8th of Elizabeth.
Thomas Gawdy, Esq. was afterwards a knight, and a judge of the Common Pleas, son of John Gawdy, Gent. of Harleston in Norfolk, by Rose, his second wife, daughter of Thomas Bennet; and John was the son of Thomas Gawdy, of the said town.
The judge resided at this manor house of Claxton, and was also lord of Helgeton, (fn. 5) Asby, Carleton, Helveston, Rockland St. Peter's, Saxlingham, Surlingham, Bramerton, Catfield, Frenge, Shipdam, Tasborow, Cantley, and Gawdy Hall, in Harleston; and died seized of them November 4, Ao. 31 of Elizabeth, as was found by an inquisition taken at Loddon August 9, following, leaving Henry his son and heir by Etheldreda his first wife, daughter and coheir of William Knightley, Gent. of Norwich, aged 36 years; his second wife was Frances, daughter of - - - - Richers, of Kent.
Henry Gawdy his son, was created Knt. of the Bath, on the coronation of King James I. and was sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in the 6th of the said King: he married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Warner, Esq. of Milden-hall in Suffolk.
Sir Robert Gawdy, his son, enjoyed it, and lived at Claxton-Castle in 1624; by Winefred his wife, daughter and coheir of Sir Nathaniel Bacon of Stifkey in Norfolk; he had Henry, his son, who married - - - - - - - - - - daughter of Sir John Heveningham, and died s. p. Dorothy, daughter and heir of Sir Robert, married Sir Philip Parker of Arwarton, to whom she brought a considerable estate, and Sir Robert settled on her the manor of Stanfield in Windham in 1631.
On the death of Sir Robert, without issue male, this lordship descended to Thomas Gaudy, Esq. son of George Gaudy, Esq. fourth son of Sir Henry Gaudy, which Thomas was lord in 1644, and was father of Thomas Gaudy, captain of the horse, in the Lord Windsor's regiment, and died in Ireland; he was the last of the Gaudys, that enjoyed this lordship.
Thomas Brereton was lord in 1697, and is said to have purchased it of Thomas Gaudy.
Roger Crow, Esq. of Caster, and Norwich, was lord, about 1720, and John Beding field, Esq. in 1740.
Roger Bigot, ances or of the Earls of Norfolk, had the grant of a lordship, of which Suetman, a freeman who held it under Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, in King Edward's reign, was deprived: with 30 acres of land, which Robert de Vaux holds under Bigot; 7 borderers belonged to this manor, and there was a carucate in demean, and the tenants ploughed with two oxen; also 5 acres of meadow, a church endowed with 30 acres, valued at 3s. and Suetman had 15 freemen, who held 30 acres, among them all there was a carucate with 2 acres of meadow; Suetman had also the moiety of 13 freemen with 50 acres, a carucate and 2 acres of meadow. (fn. 6)
Four freemen of Ulchetell, and 3 borderers, had 14 acres, and half a carucate, valued at 2s. and at the survey Robert de Vaux held this also under Bigot; Clakeston was 6 furlongs long and 5 broad, and paid 9d. ob. gelt.
The ancient family of De Helgeton, held this fee before the reign of King John (as may be seen at large in Helgeton) of the De Vaux, who held of the Bigots.
Walter de Claxton had also an interest herein, in the 20th of Henry III.
Sir Thomas de Helgeton and Alice his wife conveyed in the 25th of Edward I. the principal part of their lordship to Sir William de Kerdeston, and in 1326, Sir Roger Kerdeston possessed the whole, and so it became united to their manor before mentioned, and was conveyed from them, &c. as is there shown.
The tenths were 3l. 10s.—Deducted 20s.
In the 52d of Henry III. Henry Atte Lyng and Agnes his wife, granted lands here and in Ashby, to Simon, the abbot, &c. of Langley, and the temporalities of that convent here and in Ashley were valued at 40s. 9d. ob. West Derham temporalities at 11s. ob.
The town is wrote Clarestona, and Clakestona, both signify a town seated by a clear stream, river, or water, thus Clare in Suffolk, Clavering in Essex; Kes, or Ches, is the same as Re, thus Keswick, StowChess, Chesham, &c.
The church is dedicated to St. Andrew, and was appropriated to the priory of Bliburgh, to which it was probably given by William de Cheyney, lord of this town in the reign of Henry II. valued at eleven marks, and a vicarage was appointed; the patronage of it was in the said priory, valued at 40s.— Peter-pence 12d. carvage 8d. ob.
In 1334, John Fowas was instituted vicar, presented by the prior and convent of Bliburgh; he and Clement Torald, vicar of Bradfield in Suffolk, conveyed to the prior of Bliburgh, a tenement called Beaumont's in Bregg, a hamlet to Bliburgh, and his successours, Ao, 36 of Edward III. (fn. 7)
1362, John Lystere,
1364, Rayn. de Perkin.
1369, Laur de Heysham.
1376, Sim. Bond.
1391, Roger Segrave.
1396, William Swynflet.
1399, Henry King.
1408, Thomas Byshop.
1410, Roger Turnour.
John Serles, vicar.
1417, John Ingelwode.
1418, William Chapman.
1421, Sim. Gosselyn.
1428, William Preston.
1438, John Wynton.
1452, John Fordon.
1462, Michael Gosse.
John Hart, vicar.
1474, John Patrik.
1478, Edmund Huberd, by the Bishop, a lapse.
1488, John Felde, by the Bishop.
1492, John Salue, by the prior, &c.
1493, John Cowper.
1495, John Overfeld.
1500, Thomas Rokinson.
1521, Andrew Anderson.
1521, William Burseye.
1523, Andrew Anderson.
1529, Robert Walkington, abbot of Langley, presented by Thomas Godsalve, assignee of the prior and convent.
Thomas Phelips occurs vicar 1593, and Henry Gawdy was patron.
After this in 1603, James Heath held it as a curacy, and returned 72 communicants.
In the 26th of Edward III. William de Kerdeston designed settling the manor of Startford, in Suffolk, on the master and chaplains of the chantry of St. Mary of Claxton, and in the 26th of Henry VI. a patent was granted to settle the said manor with tenements there for the founding of a chantry, which manor was said to be held of the prior and monks of Thetford. (fn. 8)
The chapel of St. John Baptist is mentioned in 1485.
The Church has a nave with a north isle, and a chancel, and square tower.
On the north wall of the chancel, was a neat monument, but much damaged, by the fall of a ladder on it, with the arms of Gawdy, argent, a tortoise vert.
Magistratus est lex loquens, Lex nonquam irascitur,
Monumentum Henrici Gawdy, equitis aurati, militis balnej, qui his vicecomes Norf. ter servus patriœ in parliamento, semper amator patriœ, et semper amatus, insignis natu, insignis sobole, pater Rob. et Antonij Gaudy, Georgii et Edv. Gaudy, Armig. et Anna Dominœ Jenkinson, obijt Ao. 1620, septuagesimo tertio œtatis, memoriœ patris ejus struxit Rob. Gaudy, Miles, filius primogenitus, Ao. 1637. Piœ memoriœ avi, parentis, et avunculorum dedicavit hanc inscriptam tabulam Tho. Gaudy, Armiger, filius Georgii Anno. 1644— Vivit post funera virtus.
Here was the effigies of a man at full length of plaister work, (broke now to pieces) on an altar tomb, adjoining, and on the body of it, a man and his wife, with reading desks before them, and the arms of Gaudy and Bacon, quartered, inclosed with iron rails.
A grave-stone in the north isle,
For Jane Bushby, late wife of Nicholas Bashby, daughter of Sir Christopher Dee, Kt. she died October 25, 1607.
Adam Rouse, Gent. buried in the church 1544.
Concealed lands in this town and Ashby were granted to Sir George Howard, November 25, Ao. 3 Elizabeth.