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 was, at the survey, one entire lordship, possessed by William de Beaufoe Bishop of Thetford, in his own right, as a lay fee. Almar Bishop of Elmham (Archbishop Stigand's brother) was lord in King Edward's reign, and part of the Conqueror's, till deprived in 1070. He is said to have been a married priest, and to have held it in right of his wife, being her portion. On this depriva tion, it was granted to Beaufoe, and consisted of two carucates of land, nine villains, two servi, two carucates in demean, and half a carucate of the tenants, &c. four acres of meadow, &c. In King Edward's time there belonged to this manor 43 socmen, (who could not sell or grant their lands,) with three carucates of land, and four acres of meadow, and ten carucates, &c. William de Noiers, Rainald Baldwin, and Helias, held five socmen under Beaufoe; and, besides these, the Bishop, in the Confessor's time, had the forfeiture of six, but the hundred had not seen the writ, the seal, or grant of the King. It was valued then, in the whole, at 7l. at the survey at 8l. was one leuca long, and three furlongs, and in breadth one leuca and one furlong; paid gelt 30d. Almar had this manor with his wife, before he was a bishop, and held it afterward whilst he was a bishop. William Beaufoe, Bishop, is the present lord. (fn. 1)
On the death of this Bishop, it came to the episcopal see by his donation, and was esteemed the head of the barony of the see of Norwich, and held in capite of the Bishop by the ancient family of De Cateston, or Caston. Sir Robert de Caston appears to have held it in the time of Bishop Ralph, about the year 1236, and claimed, in the Bishop's right, to fish, to cut reed in any part of the town, and fen lying against Whitton, and sealed with the Holy Lamb.
Walter de Suffield, Bishop, had a charter of free warren, in the 35th of Henry III. and in the 49th, William de Newton complained against several particular persons, and against the townships of Blofield, Hasingham, &c. for being assaulted and beat there; and the townships were bailed, and obliged to appear at the King's Bench; (fn. 2) I mention this as a quere,—whether such a complaint would be good at this time.
In the 15th of Edward I. the Bishop claimed free warren in his demean lands, frank pledge, assise of bread, &c. weyf, &c. In the see it remained till the exchange of lands made between King Henry VIII. in his 27th year, and Bishop Rugg, by act of parliament, February 4, and then was vested in the Crown; and the said King, on June 20, in his 32d year, granted it to Sir Thomas Paston, in consideration of other lands, together with the patronage of the church.
The manor had court baron, and lete, which, with the patronage of the church, and the Bishop's palace here, were all conveyed; the demean lands contained 280 acres, besides as much land as was let for 20 marks per ann. Rent of assise, and quitrents, were 20l. per ann. In this family it continued many years, Edward Paston, Esq. being ord and patron in 1640.
In Domesday Book the town is wrote Blafelda, from its site near a river, and gives name to the hundred: thus we find Blakeney in Norfolk, Blakenham and Blaxhall in Suffolk, Blakesley in Northamptonshire, Blakenham in Cheshire, and Blaby in Leicestershire; all thus seated by some considerable water; also Blore in Staffordshire, and Blonorton in Norfolk.
The Church is a rectory dedicated to St. Andrew: ancient valor 48 marks; Peter-pence 4s. carvage 4d. The prior of Norwich had a portion of tithe, valued at 10s. granted by Bishop John de Grey, and confirmed by Bishop Blomvile; the church was not visited by the archdeacon, being in the Bishop's manor:—the present valor is 23l. 6s. 8d. and pays tenths, &c.
In 1349, February 6, William Bateman Bishop of Norwich reserved the profits of this rectory, by papal authority, to the use of his table, for life, but applied them to the building of Trinity-hall in Cambridge. Soon after, April 22, he collated
1369, William de Beverley. Ditto. (fn. 3)
Was taxed at 13s. 4d.—In 1256, Robert — occurs dean; it paid synodals to the archdeacon of Norwich, at St. Michael, 25s. and the same at Easter:—Peter-pence, 25d. Carvage to the high altar of the cathedral church of Norwich, in Whitsunday week, with solemn procession, 5s.; to the sacrist for copes 4d.; to the clerks of the church for ringing 4d. It seems by this that it was part of the dean's offices to collect these dues from each church in his deanery.
In 1306, Mr. Thomas de Byteryng, collated dean by the Bishop. 1307, Adam de Tyringham. 1308, Thomas de Foxton. 1319, Henry de Thornton. Henry de Washbrook, dean. 1326, John de Parys. 1342, Ralph Ive. 1347, Stephen Nally.