An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 5. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1806.
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It being at that time, the mark out of the great lake at the division of the rivers, though by corruption it is now called Matteshall; the whole village, as well as the church, is dilapidated, there being only one farm-house in its precinct, which was lately built by the Pettus family, called Matteshall-Hall, where the farmer lives that occupies the whole.
This village belonged in the Confessor's days to Godwin, a freeman of Bishop Stigand, who held it at two carucates in demean; the whole was then 5l. per annum, besides the church, which had 6 acres of glebe, worth 12d. per annum. At the Conquest it belonged to Ralf Beaufoe, was worth 11l. a year, had a freeman that held 6 acres in Dunston, which belonged to this manor, of which the King and Earl had the soc or lete, and the town was then 6 furlongs long and 5 broad, and paid 6d. ob. geld or tax. (fn. 1)
Afterwards it belonged to Hubert de Ria, or Rhye, being settled on him by the Beaufoe family, when Henry son of Hubert married Agnes de Beaufoe; (fn. 2) this Hubert gave the tithes of his demeans in Merkeshall, to the monks of Norwich, and Henry de Ria and Agnes his wife, confirmed them. On the division of the barony of Rhye, this went to Isabel, who married for her 2d husband, Roger son of Hugh de Cressi, who had a daughter named Isabel, married to Alex. de Poringland, and before that, to Will, de Merkeshall, whose son, Peter de Merkeshall, was lord here; and after him Sir William de Merkeshall, Knt.his son, whose widow Margery, daughter of Sir John de Vaux, was a benefactrix to Norwich priory; Aliva, the other heiress, to Rhie barony, married John le Marshal, and had in this town and Castre adjoining, rents of 11l. per annum which she conveyed to Robert de Mauthy and Alice his wife, (fn. 3) who in 1267, sold part of them to Roger son of Hugh le Bigot; and in 1274, this part was esteemed as a manor, for the Earl-Marshal held a manor in Merkeshall, and had free-warren to it; and Stephen de Brokedish was his bailiff there. In 1382, Sir Will. de Merkeshall granted this advowson and 7 acres of land, to Norwich monks; but a law-suit ensued, and it was proved that Peter de Merkeshall, his father, had granted it to Roger, son and heir of Roger de Thirkelby, and he, to Walter de Thirkelby, his brother, who sold it to Roger Bigot; and in 1284, the said Roger agreed for the whole of the manor with Sir William; (fn. 4) and it was settled on him and his heirs, and he had view of frankpledge, assise of bread and ale, and all royalties allowed him to his village of Merkeshall, paying 12d. a year to the King, to his hundred of Humbleyard; from the jurisdiction of which, this village was exempt by the said payment. In 1306, the manor and advowson was settled on Giles de Munpynzoun, and Lady Christian his wife, who presented in 1310. In 1343, Nic. Deveros had it too, and in 1349, it was settled on Tho. Moyne, who died seized in 1362, leaving it to Edm. his son and heir. In 1384, it belonged to Simon and Roger Blickling of Norwich; and it was settled in 1386, on Henry Luminor and Margaret his wife, and William their son, of London; and in 1395, to Henry Luminor, senior of Norwich; in 1408, he, Margaret his wife, and Thomas Moigne or Monk, of Merkeshall, settled it on Edmund Warner of Norwich, in trust for William Morley, Esq. whose daughter Margery had it in 1441, and in 1451, John Yelverton, Esq. was lord of the manor of Merkeshall, called Monk's manor, or Lumnour-hall: about 1520, I find it in James Helmes, Esq. and in 1551, Amy his widow had it, and was succeeded by their son William Helmes of Rackhithe, Gent. who about 1568, sold it to Thomas Pettus, alderman of Norwich, with Rackhithe, &c. In which family it hath continued ever since, Sir Horace Pettus, Bart. being now lord.
The church was dedicated to St. Edmund the King and Martyr, and stands on a point or promontory, like the chapel of that Martyr, which stood at the very north-west extremity of the county, from thence called St. Edmund's Point; it never had a steeple, but only a nave, and chancel, the first about 10 yards long and 8 broad, the latter about the same length, and about 6 yards broad; the only house in the parish stands about 2 furlongs south of it; the ruins are still perceptible at some distance. The rector formerly had a house and 24 acres of glebe; it was first valued at 2 marks, 7s. 6d. after at 10 marks; it paid 18d. synodals, 3s. procurations, 6d. Peter-pence, and 3d. carvage; and the rents of the monks of Norwich were valued at 4s. 2d. to the tenths, and the whole village at 1l. 4s. 2d. but paid clear, only xi.s. to each tenth.
Rectors of Markeshale.
William Woodward, priest, not as formerly to a rectory, but to a free-chapel; by means of which, at the Dissolution, it was demolished, the glebe and profits seized, which were then valued at 6l. 6s. per annum. Woodward was returned not rector, but custos or master of it, and had a pension for life assigned him as custos, of 2l. 15s. 6d. which I find paid him in 1553, and then it was totally left out of the King's Books, and the whole lost for a time; but in 1688, it being found that it was a presentative rectory, formerly valued in the King's Books at 3l. 6s. 8d. it was reinstated, and the King presented.
1695, Mar. 16, Rob. Fawcet, junior, A. M. on the death of Goddard, had it consolidated to the adjacent rectory of Castor St. Edmund, with the consent of Sir John Pettus, Bart. and then held it united to Burlingham St. Peter, and now it remains, by virtue of the consolidation, part of Castor, though this is in this hundred, and Castor in that of Henstede, being divided only by the river Taüs, which runs between them, separating those hundreds.