An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 10. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1809.
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Eudo, son of Spiruwin, had a grant of a considerable lordship in the town, which Godwin, a freeman, enjoyed under the protection, only of Earl Guert, in King Edward's reign, containing three carucates of land, 12 villains, &c. 30 borderers, with 7 servi; there were 4 carucates in demean, &c. 7 among the tenants, paunage for 20 swine, with 4 acres of meadow; and 4 freemen held under Eudo one carucate of land, whom his predecessor Henfrid gave him livery of, as belonging to this manor; under these freemen were 5 villains, and 12 borderers, with 5 carucates among them all, &c. and a saddlehorse kept at the manor-house, and 20 goats, valued then at 6l. at the survey at 8l.
In the same town, Godwin, a freeman, who held partly under the protection only of St. Edmund, and of Edric in King Edward's time, held a carucate and a half, which Covin after held, and 8 villains, and 11 borderers belonged to it, with 4 servi, and 2 carucates; and there were in King Edward's time, 8 carucates and a half among the tenants, three acres of meadow. The whole of this was valued at 30s. at the survey at 40s. It was one leuca long, and one quarter and 9 furlongs broad, and paid 20d. gelt, whoever was lord of it. (fn. 1)
Eudo was a Norman, and came into England with the Conqueror, and being rewarded with the manor of Tateshall, in Lincolnshire, resided there, and according to the custom of those times, assumed the name of that town; his descendants were barons of the realm; Hugh his son founded the abbey of Kirstead in Lincolnshire.
This Lord Tateshale, in right of Mabel, was lord of the castle of Bukenham, and the manors also of Wymondham, with the office of chief butler to the King. In the 42d of Henry III. he had a grant of free warren, and in the 15th of Edw. I. the lord had free warren, assise of bread and beer, a gallows, weyf, &c.
Sir John de Cove was lord in the 9th of Edward II. and in 1330, in right of Eve his wife, daughter of Robert de Tibetot, and relict of Robert Lord Tateshale. On the death of the last Lord Tateshale, a minor, his inheritance came to his three aunts, Emma, married to Sir Osbert Caily; Joan, to Sir Robert de Driby, and Isabel, to Sir John de Orreby.
Sir John Clifton, his grandson, was lord in the reign of Richard II. and his grandson, Sir John Clifton, of Bokenham castle, the last heir male of the eldest branch of the Cliftons, by his will, (as appears, dying without issue male) dated August 16, 1447, gives to Robert Clifton his cousin, this lordship, with that of Denton. This Robert was descended from Adam de Clifton, knight, lord of Denver, 2d son of Sir Adam abovementioned, son of Thomas Clifton, Esq. who was brother of this Sir John.
In the 4th and 5th of Edward IV. Robert Clifton and Elizabeth his wife conveyed the united lordships of Topcroft and Denton to Sir Gilbert Debenham, Knt son of Sir Gyles, with the manor of Denver; and by a fine, they were settled on Thomas Gardiner, as trustee, for the use of Robert and Elizabeth, his wife, for life; remainder to Sir Thomas Brews of Salle in Norfolk, and Elizabeth his 2d wife, sister and heiress of Sir Gilbert Debenham; and Sir Thomas Brews, on the death of Robert and Elizabeth aforesaid, about the 22d of Edward IV. had livery of it, had his will, being dated in 1479, proved April 27, 1483, and bequeaths to William his eldest son, for life, after the death of Elizabeth his wife, the manors of Topcroft, Denton, Hoo, &c.
William was son of Sir Thomas, by Mary, his first wife, daughter of Sir John Calthorp, of Burnham in Norfolk, and dying in 1489, left by Isabel his wife, daughter of Sir John Hopton, relict of Sir John Jermy, 2 daughters and coheirs; Thomasyne, married to Sir Thomas Hansard, and Anne to Sir Roger Townsend; so that this lordship came to Robert Brewse, Esq. eldest son of Sir Thomas, by Elizabeth his 2d wife, who, by Catherine his wife, daughter of Sir John Wingfield of Letheringham, had Thomas Brews, Esq.
After this, the Wiltons were lords; and in 1650 Robert Wilton, Esq. of Wilby, son of Richard Wilton, brother of the aforesaid Cecily, possessed it, and remained in that family, till Nicholas Wilton, Esq. sold it in 1680, to George Smith, M. D. second son of John Smith of North Nibley, Esq. in Gloucestershire; he married Mary, daughter and heiress of David Offley of Cheshire, Esq. by whom he had Offley his son, who inherited it, and died at London, in 1708, and was buried there in St. Bride's church, leaving this manor to George Smith, his eldest son, by Mary, daughter of Thomas Archer, of Gloucestershire, Esq.—George married Mary, 3d daughter of William Churchman, Esq. of Illington: he was high sheriff of Norfolk, 1735, and died in 1745, leaving William Smith his son and heir, of Topcroft-hall, Esq.
The abbot of St. Edmund in Bury had a lordship which Berengarius held of the abbot at the survey, with 2 carucates of land; 2 priests held it of the abbey in the reign of the Confessor, 4 villains, 10 borderers and 2 servi belonged to it; there were 2 carucates in demean, and 3 among the tenants, &c. 3 acres of meadow, and a socman had 2 acres, valued at 30s. at the survey at 40s. the soc belonged to the abbey. (fn. 2)
A fine was levied in the reign of Richard I. between Sampson, abbot of Bury, petent, and the said Roger de Hoo, tenent, of 2 knights fees in this town, Micklefield, and Ugkeshale, in Suffolk, (fn. 3) which Berengarius held, wherein Roger acknowledges the tenure, and that when the scutage was at 20s. he would pay 20s. when more he would pay more, and when less he would pay less, and to perform ward to Norwich castle.
Roger de Hoo and Agnes his wife, settled this manor in the first of Edward II. on themselves, with that of Shalfanare; and in the 9th of that reign, Richard Sutton had an interest herein, as trustee to the abbot, when he aliened one rood of meadow, and the advowson of the church to the see of Norwich.
In 1316, Mr. Roger de Snetesham instituted, presented by Richard de Sutton, rector of Heveningham; Richard, abbot of St. Edmund's, granted license to him in that year, to assign to John Bishop of Norwich, and his successours, one rood of land, and the advowson of the church, held in capite of the said abbot.
In memoriam Georij Smith Armigeri, qui juxta hoc marmor sepultus jacet, uxorem reliquit Mariam, filiam natu tertiam Gulielmi Churchman, Armig. de Illington in Norfolc. comitatu, e quâ numerosam susceperat prolem. Genus et nomen duxit a generosa familia Glocest. provinciam incolente, nempe huic Georgio, pater erat Offley, illi Georgius, M.D. (qui primus apud Topcroft, eadem fixit A. D. 1680) filius secundus Johs. Smith, Armigi. de North Nibly, in agro Glocestr. obijt 10 die Decr. 1743, quadragenarius
Here lyes buried George Smith, M. D. he was son of John Smith, Esq; of North Nibly in Gloucestershire; he died in Topcroft-Hall, August 15, 1702, and had 2 wives, Mary, daughter of David Offley of London, Esq; by whom he had one son, Offley Smith; and Ann, the daughter of William Chilcott of Isleworth, Middlesex, Esq; who left no issue: on it the arms of Smith impaling Churchman.
Here lyeth the body of Mrs. Anne Smith, widow of George Smith, M.D. and only sister of William Chillcott, Esq. who departed this life May 10, 1708, aged 64 years: with the arms of Smith, impaling Chilcot, two lions rampant, in fess, &c.
Topcroft-Hall is in the parish of Bedingham, and all christenings and burials belonging to the vicar of that church, time immemorial, and there was a free chapel near to the hall, dedicated to St. Gyles, of which the lords of Topcroft-Hall were patrons, this was anciently taxed at 53s. 4d.
Steph. Provet was the last chaplain at its Dissolution, and had a pension of 48s. per ann. and it was granted to Sir Thomas Woodhouse of Waxham, with certain lands belonging to it, and certain tithes of lands, and brush-wood, and long-wood by patent, Ao. 2° Edward VI. pat. 4.