An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1810.
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The principal part of this town belonged, before the Conquest, to the abbey of St. Bennet of Holm, given by King Canute the Dane, and was part of the abbot's barony of Tunsted.
Jeff. de Askeby and Maud his wife, had an interest here, and in the patronage, in the beginning of the reign of Richard I. and in the 8th of that King, William, son of Alexander de Sparham, and Roger de Suffield, conveyed by fine to Ralph abbot of Holm, a moiety of the advowson, and he granted to them the advowson of the church of Repps; William, gave also to the abbot, lands in Owley.
It appears that the abbot had at the survey two carucates of land, with 3 borderers, one carucate in demean, and half a one among the tenants, 10 acres of meadow, with paunage for 6 swine; there were 13 socmen of whom he had the soc, and sac, who held 62 acres, and 5 of meadow, with 2 carucates then valued at 26s. 8d. but before at 20s. it was 8 furlongs long, and 4 and a half broad, and paid 15d. gelt, whoever was lord. (fn. 1)
In the 32d of Henry III. William de Sparham sold to Roger and William de Suffield, 80 acres of land in this town, Oby, &c. who regranted it to Sparham for life; about this time the rent of assise of the abbot's manor was 38s. 4d. 109 acres of arable land, let at 5d. per acre, 45s. 5d. 3 acres of meadow 1s. and in the 14th of Edward I. the abbot had the assise, soc, sac, toll, lete, wreck, &c.
On the dissolution of the abbey, and exchange of lands, between King Henry VIII. and Bishop Rugg, it was granted to the see of Norwich; and in the 3d and 4th of Philip and Mary, Sir Thomas Woodhouse held this and Oby manors of the bishop, and it is held of the see at this day.
At the survey, William de Beaufoe Bishop of Thetford, had in lay fee, the lands of two freemen of St. Bennet, who had been deprived, 16 acres of land, and two of meadow, with half a carucate, valued formerly at 12d. at the survey at 16d. (fn. 2)
Bishop Beaufoe, at his death, gave this fee to his see and successours, and so continues at this time, being united to that of the late abbot of Holme, abovementioned.
Walter de Suffield Bishop of Norwich, with the consent of the abbot of St. Bennet, who was patron, and of William de Tudeham, rector of the church of Ascheby, granted to Sir William de Sparham, a chantry in the chapel of his house here, on condition that the chaplain should swear to bring all the oblations to the mother church, and that he shall confess no parishioner, give no extreme unction, and that Sir William, and his heirs should come to the parish church, at Christmas, Easter, the Assumption of the Virgin, and the dedication day of the church, dated in the 3d year of his consecration; and Sir William granted an acre of land on this account.
The tenths were 30s.—Deducted 10s.
Jeffrey de Askebi had an interest in the advowson, which he granted to the abbot of Holme. Maud his widow, contested it with the abbot, maintaining that the seal to the deed was not the seal of her late husband, but the prior's plea was allowed in the 7th of Richard I. and in the following year a fine was levied between William, son of Alexander de Sparham, and Reginald de Sudfield, petents; Ralph, abbot of Holm, tenent, of the advowson of the moiety of this church, released to the abbot; who granted the patronage of the church of St. Peter of Repps, to William and Reginald, and the two moieties belonging.
The church was a rectory dedicated to St. Mary; and valued with Obey, &c. at 20 marks, the abbot of Holm had a portion therein valued at 7 marks. Peter-pence 2s.
William de Tudeham, occurs rector in 1233.
1280, Nicholas de Suthfeld, instituted according to the tenour of the council of Lyons (fn. 3).
1299, Bennet de Oldton, by Jeff. de Askeby.
William, occurs rector in 1300.
1337, Robert de Mundeford occurs rector.
1342, William de Berney, by John de Berney, rector of Walsham, &c.
1346, John de Thoresby, by the King.
1352, Richard Hocham, by the abbot.
Thomas de Cottingham, presented by the King in 1349, (fn. 4) he was one of the commissioners of the great seal.
John Aleyn, rector.
1384, William de Swynflete, by the abbot.
1397, Thomas de Smalburgh, by the abbot.
1409, John Lanum.
1409, William Mayon.
1422, John Fouler.
1426, Thomas Bredham.
1429, Thomas Frenge.
1432, Step. Multon.
1432, Robert Cantrell.
1454, William Reynald.
1488, Robert Kebyte, S.T.P.
William Beyham, occurs rector in 1489.
1506, Laur. Stubbys.
1509, Edward Wood.
1521, William Pey.
1522, Thomas Clerk.
1527, Sim. Rising.
William Barret, rector.
1569, Leonard Rannow, by the assignees of the Bishop of Norwich.
1591, William Holland, by the Bishop.
1603, John Ponder, LL.B. by the Bishop.
1625, Theoph. Kent.
1660, Phil. Whitefoot, by the King, a lapse.
1691, Isaac Laughton, by the Bishop.
1718, Charles Trimnell, by the Bishop, on Laughton's death.
1724, Thomas Bullock, collated by Bishop Leng, D.D. and dean of Norwich.
1730, Thomas Cross, D.D. collated by the Bishop, master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge.
1736, William Wake, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, as his option; on Dr. Cross's death.
1747, John Addenbrook, ditto, now dean of Litchfield.
1747, Richard Fayerman, on Wake's death, by the Bishop.
The present valor of this rectory, with Oby, is 10l. and pays first fruits, &c.
In the chancel on a gravestone,
Orate p. a'ia. Will'mi. Clypesby, Armig. qui obt. 2 die Julij 1455.
Also on another,
Orate p' a'ia. Will. Clypesby, qui ob. 24 die mensis Septemb. 1479; his will proved by Catherine his wife, 18th of May, 1480.—Reg. Aubrey, Norwich fol. 53.
Here layeth buried the body of Anne, late wife to Daniel Shanke, of Oby, Gent. one of the daughters of Sir James Hales of the city of Canterbury in Kent, Kt. and one of the judges of the court of common pleas at Westminster, which said Anne, died 29 Dec. 1599;—on it the arms of Shanke—gules, a fess between three escallops, or, impaling gules, three arrows or, feathered argent, Hales.
There are two tombs here, one on the north side of the chancel, the other on the south side, without any inscription or arms, that on the south, is said to be for the lord of Oby, and that on the north, for his lady.
On a gravestone in the church,
Orate p. Catherina filia Joh. Spilman, Armig. quond. uxoris Will. Clipesby. Armig. Postea uxoris, Edm. Paston, Armig. quæ obt. 18 April, 1491; on it are the arms of Paston, and Clipesby, impaling Spilman.
On the font is an escotcheon and orle of martlets.
Many years past there were no houses standing; but that of the manor, the inhabitants of Oby come to this church.
Besides the lordships abovementioned, William de Scohies had here, in Winterton and Reps, the lands of 3 freemen, who lived in King Edward's reign, under the commendation of the abbey of St. Bennet, with 46 acres of land, and a carucate, and was valued in Stokesby, to which it belonged. (fn. 5)
The town takes its name from its watery site, as Esche, Esse, or Asche, signifies; thus Ashen, Essi, Esche, or Eske, in Essex, lies, as Newcourt observes, (fn. 6) by the river, and is also called de Essa; thus Aston on the Trent or Derwent; and the river Ben in Hertfordshire, Ashby in Domesday, wrote Esseby, now included in Snetterton, Norfolk, Ashbourn, or Esseburn in Derbyshire; Ashwell, Escewell in Hertfordshire; Esse, in the British tongue signifies an island.