An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.
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This town belonged principally to Alan Earl of Richmond, at the grand survey; Alpha, who was lord of it in King Edward's reign, being deprived of it. It contained 3 carucates of land, 14 bordarers, with 3 carucates in demean and 2 carucates of the tenants, with 4 acres of meadow, &c. then valued at 60s. per ann. It was 10 furlongs long, and 8 broad, and paid 13d. gelt, and Facicon or Phanceon held it under Alan. (fn. 1)
This Alan was also Earl of Britany in France, a principal commander in the decisive battle near Hastings, and married Constance, one of the daughters of William the Conqueror: Dugdale says he had a younger son, Brian; Dugd. Baron. V. i. p. 53, but p. 46, says that the said Alan died without issue. Brian had issue Alan called Alan Fitz Brian, father of Brian Fitz-Alan. By this family, the Kerdestons were enfeoffed of this lordship, (of whom see in Bircham Newton,) Fulco de Kerdeston was lord in the reign of Henry III. Agnes, his widow, held it by one fee, and paid 10s. per ann. to Richmond castle-guard, in the 10th of Edward I. and in the 16th Brian FitzAlan granted it to her in fee tail, by fine, excepting the advowson.
On Brian's death, 31st of Edward I. he was found to leave 2 daughters and coheirs; Maud, who became the wife of Sir Gilbert de Stapleton, and Catherine, of Sir John de Grey, of Rotherfield, who, (as appears from the Institution Books,) with their descendants, continued patrons of this church, as the capital lords. On the death of Roger de Kerdeston, in the the 11th of Edward III. Maud, his widow, had it assigned to her in dower, and William de Kerdeston held it in the 3d of Henry IV. (fn. 2) In the 3d of Henry VI. this manor was settled on Sir Thomas Kerdeston, and Elizabeth his wife, in tail, by Thomas Chaucer, Esq. and Maud his wife. In the 14th of that King, Sir Thomas held it of the honour of Richmond; and William de la Pole Earl of Suffolk, and Alice his wife, daughter and heir of Thomas Chaucer, Esq. late relict of Sir John Phelip, released to Sir Thomas all their right which formerly belonged to Sir William, son and heir of Sir Roger Kerdeston, in the 20th of the said reign; after this it was settled on Sir Thomas Kerdeston. and Philippa his wife, in tail, and remainder to William de la Pool, and Alice his wife, in the 24th of Henry VI.
In the 12th of Henry VII. May 25th, Edmund de la Pole Earl of Suffolk, granted to Elizabeth Robsert, widow of Sir Terry Robsert, for life, and to William Robsart, her son and heir, and the heirs of the body of Sir Terry, lawfully begotten, all his right and title in this lordship, and that of Bircham Newton, on the condition, that, on her death, and on the death of the lawful heirs of Sir Terry Robsart, they should return to him and his heirs; this Elizabeth being daughter of Sir Thomas Kerdeston, whose arms, impaled by Sir Terry, were to be seen in this church. He was descended from Sir Canon Robsart, a knight of Heynault, (fn. 3) a great commander under King Edward III. and attended John Duke of Lancaster into Spain, and sent by King Richard II. in his 3d year, with John Cotesford, L. L. D. to treat with the Duke of Juliers and Geldres about his doing homage, service, and giving aid to that King. He left 3 sons, Sir John Robsart, Sir Lewes, and Sir Terry Robsart. See Collins on the Peerage, vol. iii. p. 476, &c.
Sir Lewes Robsart, his 2d son, was standard-bearer to King Hen. V. with a pension of 100l. per annum, governour of Cruley and Caudeler, and all the forests, woods, &c. in Normandy, installed Knight of the Garter Ao. 7°. and Ao. 8°. sent ambassador with the Earls of Warwick and Kyme, and the Lord Ross, to Philip Duke of Burgundy; was a great favourite of that King, attended him at his death, and at his funeral. He married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir Barth. Bouchier, and was summoned to parliament as Lord Bouchier, in the 3d, 4th, &c. of Henry VI. and dying in November, Ao. 9°. of Hen. VI. was buried in Westminster abbey.
Sir John Robsart, his eldest brother, attended King Henry V. Ao. 1°. on his first landing in France, had a patent for 100l. per annum for his great services, and a grant of the castle and lordships of St. Saviour's in Normandy, Knight of the Garter, Ao. 6th of Henry V. and keeper of the great seal of that order, and dying in the 29th of Henry VI. was buried in the Gray-friars church of London.
Sir Terry Robsart married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Kerdeston, and dying lord of this town, December 19, Ao. 12th of Henry VII. left two sons, William and John, and a daughter, Lucy, afterwards the wife of Edward Walpole, Esq. of Houghton.— William being a minor, King Henry VII. December 11, Ao. 19°. granted to Margaret Carew, widow, and Thomas Blake, the wardship of all his lands, which, on the death of the said William, soon after descended to his brother, John Robsart. Sir Terry was retained, with his brother Sir John, to serve the regent, John Duke of Bedford, in France, and was captain of Hamby, and St. Saviour de Ive, in Normandy.—Dugdale observes, (fn. 4) that Sir John de Burghershe as cousin and heir to William Kerdeston, (his grandfather,) had livery in the 40th of Edward III. of the lands of his inheritance in Norfolk and Suffolk; but this being contested by William his son and heir, he recovered them.
The aforesaid Sir John died Ao. 19th of Richard II. leaving only two daughters, Margaret and Maud; Maud married Thomas Chaucer, and it is probable that contest abovementioned was renewed by Alice, (daughter of Maud,) who married to William de la Pole Duke of Suffolk, as heir to Sir John de Bughershe.
Sir Thomas Kerdeston's will is dated July 1st, 1446, and gives his body to be buried in the Augustine friars church at Norwich, (fn. 5) appoints the 3d part of the passage of Bunkenham ferry, which descended to him in fee simple, and all his lands, common fishing, rents in Claxton, Ashby, Helgheton, Berghapton, Helveston, Yelverton, which he purchased of William Claxton, to be sold, and the money to be disposed of for his soul's health, and Elizabeth's his wife, (his second wife Philippa, daughter of Sir John Trussel, surviving him,) and gives to Elizabeth, his daughter, a missal, and was proved May 4th, 1448.
John Robsert, 2d son of Sir Terry, was lord of this manor, sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, in the 1st of Edward VI. I find that this John Robsert, called late of Windham in Norfolk, Esq. alias of Stanfeld, in the parish of Wymundham, to have a pardon from the said King, by the advice of Edward Duke of Somerset, the protector, and the council, for all treasons, &c. insurrections, rebellions, murders, felonies, before the 20th of January, in the first year of that King:—Witness, the King, at Westminster, the fifth day of May, in his first year.
Anne, his daughter, married Sir Robert Dudley, afterwards Earl of Leicester, who had a grant of this manor, with that of Hemesby, and advowson of the vicarage, lately belonging to the cathedral church of Norwich, the manor of Newton, by Bircham, and the advowson, late John Robsart's; (fn. 6) also the manor of Great Bircham, to hold Hemesby with Anne his wife, and the heirs of their bodies, in capite; and to hold Sidestern, Newton, and Great Bircham, to Anne and Robert, during the life of the said Robert, by a grant, dated January 30, in the 3d and 4th of Philip and Mary.
This lady came to an unhappy death at Mr. Foster's house at Cumnore, near Oxford, by a fall from the stairs, and was buried in St. Mary's, the University church at Oxford. The Earl is said not to be over kind to her, and that she was either thrown, or tumbled down a pair of stairs, and broke her neck; and the Earl held this manor for his life, dying lord of it in 1588, when it came to John Walpole, Esq. son and heir of Edward Walpole, Esq. of Houghton, and Lucy his wife, daughter of Sir Terry Robsart; (fn. 7) and in this family it remains, the Right Honourable Earl of Orford being lord.
The Earl Warren had a lordship, which Ralph held of him, with 4 socmen, and 43 acres, at the survey; and Lambert also held 30 acres, half a carucate, with 3 bordarers, valued then at 5s. 4d. after, at 12s. —This was a beruite to Rudham. (fn. 8)
Ralph de Wivergill gave to this priory his lands here, and Brygg mill, by deeed sans date, and Simon Bishop of Norwich confirmed to them part of the tithes of Alan, son of Brian, lord in 1265. The prior, in the reign of Henry III. had the 3d part of a fee.—In the 3d of Henry IV. the prior held the manor of Sydestern Wyks, of the Earl of Arundel.
Baldwin de Rosey, Robert de Ysseis, and Reginald, son of William Aveline of Taterset, gave them lands here.—In the 29th of Henry VIII. the prior conveyed it, by fine, to the King, and the King to the Duke of Norfolk, as Robert, prior of Lewes, did.
The Church is dedicated to St. Mary, and has a nave, and a south isle, covered with lead, (the north isle is down,) with a round steeple, and one bell.—The ancient valor was 25 marks, the present, 13l. 13s. 4d. and is a rectory.
In memoriam Mariæ spectatæ probitatis, uxoris nuper Edwi. Corbet, rectoris hujus ecclesiæ filiæ Rogeri Thornton, equitis aurati de Snailwell, in com. Cantabr. quæ uniquam post se relinquens filiolam Mariam nomine. sanstissime obiit in fide cultuq; Jesu, Ao. Dni. 1630, Aug. 27.
Geo. Hall, hujus ecclesiæ et medietatis rectoriæ de Scarning, rector, —Geo. Hall, born in the city of Norwich, Master of Arts, and Fellow of Corpus Christi college, in Cambridge, was inducted into the rectories of Scarning and Sidesterne in 1605, and deceased December 6, 1628.—The grave is ready for me, Job 17: with the arms of Hall; sable, three talbots heads erased, argent.
Jane Peyton, daughter of Sir Edward Peyton, of Isleham, in Cambridgeshire, Kt. and Bt. by dame Jane his wife, living virtuously, and dying comfortably, was buried February 8, A. D. 1632; her picture is on the wall, kneeling, and an angel standing at each side.
In the church were these arms; barry of eight or, and gules, FitzAlan of Bedale.—Quarterly, gules and argent, a bend or, Loring.— Gules, a saltire ingrailed, Kerdeston.—Vert, a lion rampant, or vulned in the shoulder, Robsert.—Also Robsert impaling Kerdeston;—argent, a lion rampant, sable, Stapleton.
Elizabeth, widow of Sir Terry Robsert, by her will, dated November 10, 1345, desires to be buried by her husband in the chancel of Our Lady of Sedestern, gives to the high altar 26s. 8d. to the repair of both isles in the said church, 40s. proved October 30, 1536.
Brian Fitz-Alan was patron in King Edward the First's reign, when the rector had a manse, with 50 acres, valued at 25 marks.— Peter-pence 18d. Simon Bishop of Norwich confirmed to the priory of Castleacre 2 parts of all the tithes of the demeans of Alan aforesaid, in 1265.