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 chief lordship of this town was at the survey in the abbot of Holm, and held of him by a socman, who had a carucate of free land, and gave it to that abbey in the time of King Edward, and held it after of the abbot: there belonged to it 2 villains, with a carucate and an half, and 2 acres of meadow, valued at 20s. The whole was 10 furlongs long and 12 perches broad, and the gelt was 8d. (fn. 1)
The family of De Smalburgh were enfeoffed of the greatest part of it soon after the conquest, and claimed the right of patronage belonging to it. In the 12th of Henry III. John de Smalburgh granted to Peter de Brompton and Maud his wife, lands claimed as part of her dower from Henry de Smalburgh, her late husband.
In the 5th of Edward I. William, son of Reginald de Smalburgh, was petent, and Bartholomew de Corston and Maud his wife, deforcients, of 3 messuages, lands and rents here, and in Barton; and in the 8th of that King, Thomas de Smalburgh conveyed with Beatrice his wife, to John, son of Walter de Smalburgh, eight messuages, a mill, with several parcels of land here and in Berton.
Was held of the abbot by fealty, and the rent of 4s. per ann. Edmund Bokenham, Esq. who died in 1479, and had lands and a tenement in Smalburgh, called Baxter's, purchased this lordship of the executors of Henry Catt.
John Wychingham, Esq. son of John, settled it on Ann his wife in the reign of Henry VII. and came to his daughters and ceheirs. In the 33d of Henry VIII. Christopher Coote. Esq. and Elizabeth his wife, passed it to William Arnold. In 1575, Thomas Pettus, alderman of Norwich, possessed it; and by an inquisition taken at Worsted, January 21, in the 19th of James I. Sir Francis Jones was found to be seised of it in right of his wife, with Trusbut's in this town, and of a fishery called Eale-Set, in Barton Water, and Sutton, valued at 12l. 6s. 8d. per ann.
Roger Bigot, ancestor of the Earls of Norfolk, had, on the conquest, the grant of a lordship of which 3 freemen were deprived, who had a carucate of land, with 12 borderers, and 3 socmen who possessed then 3 carucates of meadow, 2 of them were accounted for in Antingham, and the 3d was valued at 10s. (fn. 2) One of them was under the protection of the predecessour of Robert Malet, and the other of St. Bennet of Holm, which abbey had the soc.
In the 3d year of Henry III. William de Stalham granted by fine to Robert de Bosco, a carucate of land in this town, Bertham and Dilham, who regranted it to William, to be held of Robert and his heirs, by one knight's fee.
This came in the next reign to Sir Jeffrey Withe, by the marriage of Isabel, daughter and coheir of Sir William de Stalham; he was found to hold one fee here and in Dilham, of Sir Robert de Boys; and Sir Robert of Sir Richard de Rokele, who held it of the Earl Marshal. Sir Jeffrey lived at Hepperuth in Suffolk, and was father of Sir Olyver Wythe, who was living in the 16th of Edward I.
Jeffrey Wythe, the prior of Norwich, John de Smalburgh, Roger de Gyney, were returned to have lordships here, in the 9th of Edward II. and in the 9th of Edward III. John de Hederset and Elizabeth his wife, convey to Olyver Wythe and Wynesia his wife, 12s. 6d. rent, with the homage and services of Isabel Wyche, William de Felburgh, &c.
In 1373, Sir Jeffrey Wythe of Smalburgh gives his body to be buried in the churchyard of the brethren of Mount Carmel, (the White Friars) of Norwich; (fn. 3) his will was proved the last day of February, in the said year; and Alice his wife was executrix; and in 1361, Dame Alice Wythe was buried in that convent, as was Sir Oliver Wythe her husband.
Sir John Wythe, by his will, dated on Monday before the feast of St. Peter in Cathedra, (February 22,) desires to be buried in the chancel of Beeston church; names Sibilla his wife; and was proved in the said year, September 30, 1387: he left a daughter and heiress, Amy, or Anne, married to Sir John Calthorp. Sibilla her mother, was daughter and heir of Sir Edmund de Omer, and after the death of Sir John Wythe, was married to Sir William Calthorp. father of Sir John, and surviving Sir William, was buried by her first husband Withe, in the chancel of Beeston on the south side, to which church she was a benefactress, as may be seen in Calthorp.
In this family it continued, Sir Philip Calthorp dying lord in 1535; Elizabeth his daughter, being heir to her brother Philip, who died s. p. brought it to Sir Henry Parker by marriage, who had livery of it in the 3d of Edward VI. and was sold by Sir Philip Parker in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, to Charles Cornwallis, Esq. who about the 37th of that reign, conveyed it to Thomas Gross, Esq. and Sir Charles le Gross, presented to the rectory in 1620, and Charles le Gross, Esq. in 1693, was lord: he sold it to Giles Cutling, an attorney at Norwich.
The prior and convent of Norwich had also a lordship here. Gunnora, sister of Hugh Bigot Earl of Norfolk gave them Elstan de Bac, a freeman, for an exchange of whom the said Earl, by deed, sans date, in the reign of King Steven, or Henry II. gave them Godwin de Smalburgh and Alfer, both freemen, (fn. 4) with their lands, to be held as freely of the prior, as they had been of him, and that they might honourably perform yearly his father's anniversary, and for his own soul and of his brothers and sisters, all his ancestors and successors. Richard de Turbeville, Robert de Reymes, Gilbert de Coleville, &c. are witnesses.
William de Heggs and his parceners held the 10th part of a fee of Richard de Berningham, and he of the Earl Warren, about the 20th of Henry III. and John de Hemmesby, and Adam Tucker, held it in the 20th of Edward III. of Oliver Wythe, and he of the Earl. In the 3d of Henry IV. Richard Kirope, and his parceners were in possession of it, held of the heirs of Wythe, and they of the Earl of Arundel.
The Church is dedicated to St. Peter and is a rectory. By an inquisition taken before the archdeacon of Norfolk, it was found that the church of Smalberge was vacant, and that the abbot of St. Bennet presented last, and that Robert de Smalbergh, Reginald, son of Hugh, Hubert, John and Theobald, sons of William de Smalberge, freemen of the said abbot, say they are the true patrons; (fn. 5) also Jeffrey son of Ralph, William son of Simon, and John son of William de Smalberge, say they are true patrons.
But all these by several deeds, sans date, about the time of King John, as I take it, released all their right to the abbot.—Witnesses, Sir Fulk de Baynard, Sir Bryan de Hickling, Sir Richard de Butler, &c.
In the reign of Edward I. the abbot was patron. The rector had a manse and 8 acres of land, valued at 13 marks. Peter-pence 10d. The prior of Norwich is said to have a portion of tithe valued at 6s.— The present valor is 10l. 14s. 2d. and is discharged.
Here was the guild of Jesus, and in the church the picture of Edward the Confessor, in his regalia, and his arms, and the arms of Wythe, azure, three griffins, passant, in pale, or,—and those of Calthorp.