An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 2. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1805.
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OF THE MANORS OF HALWICK, OR THETFORD MANOR, WESTWICK, BRAYES, AND NORTHWIC, OR NORWICK.
Halwick manor was given to the priory of the monks of Thetford by Roger Bigot, their founder; and in 1286, return was made, that it was of the annual value of 20 marks, and that the Prior held it by the service of finding two footmen in the King's army, whenever he went into Wales, for forty days together, at his own charge; to which the Prior answered, that he held this manor in pure and perpetual alms, of the gift of Roger Bigod, Steward to William the Conqueror, whose gift was confirmed by King Henry I. whose charter he produced, and thereby proved the rights belonging to the manor, which were soc, sac, toll, tem, infangenethef, the amerciaments and forfeitures of all his tenants, with liberty of free-warren in all the town, all which privileges, except the warren, he and his predecessors always enjoyed; and as to the warren, he produced the grant and charter of King Henry I. which allowed him and his successours the liberty of freewarren, not only in this town, but in all their lands and manors elsewhere. (fn. 2) And from this time it remained in the monastery till its dissolution, and then it came to
King Henry VIII. who, in 1539, among other large possessions, granted it, with the site of the monastery, to
Thomas Duke of Norfolk, and his heirs, in exchange for the Duke's manors of Birdeshurst in Wilts, Kencote and Hardwick in Oxfordshire, Wydeford, Brimesnorton, &c.; but upon his attainder, which was but eight days before the King's death, it was seized with the rest of his revenues, and so, at King Henry's death, it came to
Edward VI. who, in the first year of his reign, granted it with many other of the Duke's manors, to
Edward Duke of Somerset, who immediately after had license to alien it to
Sir Richard Fulmerstone, and his heirs; but upon the Duke's death in 1554,
Thomas, his grandson, succeeded, and being restored in blood, had livery of the inheritance of his grandfather, notwithstanding the former grants, and among others, of this and Norwick manors, from which time the fee of it hath been always in the Norfolk family, though sometimes in trustees, mortgagees, and lessees hands. About this time, I find that the site of the monks, commonly called the Abbey, with the manors of Halwyk, Brayes, (fn. 3) and Norwick, were valued at 23l. 6s. 3d. the manor of Westwyk (fn. 4) at 31l. 3s. 4d. the castle-mill at 8l. 13s. 4d. the pit-mill at 5l. 6s. 8d. the free-farm rents and pensions at 7l. 4s. 4d. and the rectories of St. Mary and St. Nicholas at nothing, because they were in decay.
In 1603, Thomas Howard Earl of Suffolk, and Henry Howard Earl of Northampton, settled on John Holland and other trustees the manors of Westwick, Halwick, &c. and in 1604, they purchased of Sir Edward Clere, Knt. to the use of the said Earls and their heirs, the site of the canons, and of Mason Dieu, with the feed and common of pasture for twelve milch cows, or neat, and a bull, with their followers, in Faverton-Field, Baxter's, and Thorro-Grounds in Westwick, in Thetford, and Downham, (fn. 5) together with the waters, fishing, and keeping of swans in Thetford river, and the common pasture, soyle, turbary, reed, bruary, and pasture for great cattle on the heaths and lawns of Westwick and Downham aforesaid, and all commons, profits, and privileges, to the late dissolved monastery of canons and Mason Dieu, and sites thereof, belonging and appertaining, together with the fairs called Canons Fairs, (fn. 6) which were then worth 3l. per annum. In 1641, it was settled on
Thomas Earl of Arundell and Surrey, and his heirs.
In 1642, Lionel Earl of Middlesex, Henry Lord Pierpoint, Edward Lord Neirburgh, Will. Playters, Knt. and Bart. and Richard Onslow, Knt. held their first court.
In 1682, Francis, Lord Howard of Effingham and his trustees let to farm all that their royalty of fishing in the river Wessy, alias Ouze the Less, running through the town of Thetford, extending from Melford-Bridge to Thetford-Bridge upon the said river, for 20 years, at 10s. per annum.
In 1691, the Honourable Henry Howard, brother and heir apparent of Thomas Duke of Norfolk held his first court.
In 1701, Thomas Duke of Norfolk held his first court, and some time after, conveyed it to
The honourable Philip Howard, his youngest brother, who is now  lord.
The Customs of all the manors in Thetford are, that the eldest son is heir, the free tenants pay a year's free rent at every death, by way of relief; there is but very little copyhold. There is no leet belonging to these manors, neither do they pay any leet fee.