An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.
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Is a village on a hill, (surrounded with water and fens,) on the south side of the river Wissey, near its fall into the river Ouse: at the survey it was a lordship of the abbey of Ramsey, by the gift of King Edgar, and contained 2 carucates of land, 8 villains, and 11 bordarers, 5 servi, and 8 acres of meadow; there were 2 carucates in demean, and 2 bovates amongst the tenants, or men, &c. valued at 80s. in King Edward's time, but after at 70s.—William Earl Warren, had deprived the abbot of 8 men of this manor, with their customary dues, and 43 acres of land, as the hundred certified. The manor was 5 furlongs long, and 4 and an half broad, and paid 8d. of a 20s. gelt. (fn. 1)
The abbot of Ramsey had also in this hundred of Clacklose, lordships in Wimbotsham, Snore, Derham, Fordham, and Outwell; in the hundred of Freebridge, Walsoken manor; in Docking hundred, Brancaster manor; in Smithden hundred, Ringsted; and in Brodecross hundred, Burnham manor.
The abbot of Ramsey had a charter for free warren here, in the 35th of Henry III. and in the 16th of Henry VI. the issues and profits of this manor amounted to 124l. 16s. as stated by John Bexwell, Esq. steward to the manor.
On the Dissolution, this lordship, with the advowson of the rectory, was granted, Nov. 27, in the 38th of Henry VIII. to James Hawe, Esq. to be held of the King by knight's service. Henry Hawe, his son, built here a large manor-house of brick; and dying in 1592, left by Ursula his wife, daughter of Robert Holditch, Esq. of Diddington, a daughter and heir, Frances, who brought it by marriage to Sir John Willoughby, Knt. of Risle in Derbyshire, son of George Willoughby, and Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Richard Neale of Wigenhale, St. Mary Magdalen.
Sir John left, by the said Frances, Sir Henry Willoughby, created baronet in 1611. His daughter Elizabeth married Sir John Wray, Bart. whose daughter and heir Elizabeth, married the honourable Nicholas Saunderson, Esq. eldest son of Sir George Saunderson, Bart. Lord Viscount Castleton of Ireland, and had Wray Saunderson, who dying s. p. at York, April 7, 1714, gave this lordship to Sir Cecil Wray, Bart. 2d son of Sir Drury Wray, Bart. and Anne his wife, daughter and heir of Thomas Casey of Rathcannon, in the county of Limerick in Ireland, Esq. who succeeded his brother Sir Christopher in 1710. Sir Cecil was bred to arms, was a captain in General Farrington's regiment, and served in Flanders, Spain, and Portugal, and married Mary, daughter of Edward Harrison of Morely, in the county of Antrim in Ireland, Esq. by Johanna his wife, daughter of the Right Reverend Dr. Jer. Tayler Bishop of Down and Connor; and was succeeded in honour, and this lordship, &c. in May 1736, by his cousin, Sir John Wray, Bart. eldest son of William, only son of Cecil, 4th son of Sir Christopher Wray, whose son, by Frances, daughter of Nicholas Norcliffe of Langton, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, Esq. Sir Cecil Wray was late lord, whose arms are,—azure on a chief, or, three martlets, gules; crest an ostrich, or; motto, Et juste et vray.— A fee-farm rent of 1l. 14s. 8d. per ann. paid for it, and Captain Manby of Denver is the present lord.
Massingham, or Curtey's Manor.
In the 22d year of Henry VI. William Massingham, Esq. of this town, was lord of this manor, with its lands, tenements, rents, services, meadows, pastures, moors, marshes, a free fold, &c. held of the abbot of Ramsey; all which formerly belonged to Thomas Lovell, Esq. and after that to Nicholas Massingham, Esq.; and in the 3d year of Edward IV. Thomas Massingham, Esq. son of William, held the same, and sealed with a cross, ingrailed; crest, a griffin's head; on the right side of the helmet a lion rampant; on the left, a man, as supporting it. On December 16, 1468, John Astley, Esq. of Melton Constable in Norfolk, had a grant from the abbot of Ramsey of the custody and marriage of Thomas Massingham, son and heir of Thomas Massingham, Esq. This Thomas died possessed of it in 1492, his will being dated August 20.
Stigand Archbishop of Canterbury also held in his own right, as a lay fee, 30 acres, and one carucate, which a freeman under his protection enjoyed in King Edward's reign. At the Conquest, the Conqueror seized on it, and was held for him by William de Noyers, and after granted to William Earl Warren, who had 22 acres also, which belonged to 8 freemen in King Edward's time, valued at 7s. 6d. and belonged to the monastery of Ramsey, as the hundred witnesses. (fn. 2)
This belonged to the great lordship of Methwold, and extended here, and was possessed under the Earls Warren and Surry, by the families of Cailli and Clifton. Roger de Cailli gave to the priory of Castleacre all his rents of eels here; viz. 1000 and an half per ann. for the soul of Simon his father, Alice his mother, Joan and Beatrix his wives; (fn. 3) and Alice, by her deed sans date, gave a fishery called Poltsere, to find the house 1000 eels per ann. Ralph de Baliol, by his deed sans date, gave also for the soul of his lord, the Earl Warren, a rent of 2000 eels, with Goderick de Wodebrict, his wife and children: —Witnesses, Reginald de Warren, &c.
The temporalities of Castleacre were, in 1428, valued at 20s.
These tenures made part of the dutchy of Lancaster in this town.
The abbot of St. Edmund's Bury had 58 acres of land held by 3 villains, with one carucate and 4 acres of meadow, which were valued with his manor of Suthrey, which extended here, and the temporalities of the cellarer of that abbey, in this town, were valued, in 1428, at 40s. per ann. (fn. 4)
Here were also at that time several other small tenures. Hermerus de Ferrariis, lord of Wirmegey, had seized on 6 acres of land: of this the abbot of Bury had only the protection valued at 8d. also on 2 acres held by 2 freemen, &c. (fn. 5) Roger Bigot had one acre and an half held by a freeman before the Conquest, valued at 3d. (fn. 6) and the church of Ely had 4 bordarers, who held 2 acres, valued at 6d. (fn. 7)
The temporalities of the priory of Wymondam were valued at 40s. per ann. The prior, by deed sans date, demised to Leoline Rok all his fishery in the parts of Helgey.
The abbot of West-Derham had a cottage, and part of a fishery granted by William de Githnei, in fee-farm for a mark of silver; and he confirmed the gift of Jeff. Fitz-Jeffrey of the other part, in the reign of King Henry III. This was given at the dissolution, Sept. 13, in the 4th and 5th of Philip and Mary, to Thomas Guybon, and William Mynn.
In the 12th of Henry III. Steph. de Tyeford, and Maud his wife, gave lands here to Margaret the prioress, and convent of Blackburgh.
The tenths of the town were 8l.—Deducted 13s. 14d.
The lete was in the abbot of Ramsey, and was in Sir George Hare, Bart. fee 2s.
In this parish, about a mile from the church, south-west, near the river Ouse, was the priory of Modeny, called now Modeney-Hall, and was a cell to Ramsey abbey. On the Dissolution, it was granted, with its appertenances, April 18, in the 35th of Henry VIII. to Robert Hogan, Esq. on his paying 39s. per ann. to the Crown; soon after, in the said year, Feb. 4, he had license to alienate it to James Hawe, Esq.; from the Hawes, it came to the Willoughbys; and by Catherine, a daughter of Sir Henry Willoughby, to the Purefoys, and to the Greys, and the Astons, as in Southrey, and is now in Sir Robert Burdet, Bart.
The Church of Hilgey is dedicated to All-Saints, consisting of 2 isles, covered with lead, and a tower at the west end, built of rag-stone, &c. in which are 5 bells: the present valor is 10l. and pays firstfruits, &c.
Against the wall of the south isle, near the east end, is a mural monument, with the small effigies of a man, his wife, and a child, all on their knees, with a desk before them, thus inscribed:
Hic jacet Henricus Hawe Armiger, et Ursula uxor ejus, una filiarum Roberti Holditche Arm. quorum gratuitas in amicos, Elymosyna in pauperes, charitas in omnes, satis liquet. Vixere hii duo fideli conjuncti matrimonio annos 44, unicam tantum habentes filiam Franciscam nuptam Johi. Wilughby, Armig. qui in eorum memoriam hæc fieri fecit, dictus Henricus, obiit 31 Septembr. 1592, et ipsa Ursula 8 Decemb. 1594.—Johs. Wilughby, semper idem.
On the pavement adjoining, lies a marble grave-stone, with a plate of brass, and thereon,
Subjacet Henricus cognomento Haweus, omni Virtute insignis, vir pius, artis amans.
Delicias vitæ sprevit matura senectus, Quas sequitur flelus, mors, labor atq; dolor.
Vitam aliam sperat, laniat quam nulla senectus, Mors, labor, aut fletus, gaudia sola refert, Terra, breve hospitium, corpus fit vile cadaver, Cum truces parcæ tristia fila secant.
Flet, gemuit, queritur, pauper, peregrinus, egenus, Patrono ut præstent funera justa suo.
Henrici fatum deflemus triste, camœnâ, Dum veniam precibus dederis alme Jesu.
Obiit 31 Sept. 1592.
On the aforesaid monument are the arms of Hawe; sable, a fess humet, ermin, between three griffins heads, erased, argent; and of Holditch, — on a chevron, — three magpies proper.
On the pavement of the north isle lies a grave-stone,
In memory of Nicholas Spencer, S. T. B. Fellow of Trinity college, Cambridge, and rector of this parish, who died June 15, 1705, Ætat. suœ 63.
Near to this another,
In memory of Margaret, wife of John Musson, rector, who died March 29, 1710, Ætat. suœ 30.
At the east end of this isle is the communion table.
The roof of the south isle has been curiously painted, and thereon, &c. have been many arms of benefactors, owners of land here, &c. viz. of Spencer Bishop of Norwich; Thomas of Brotherton Earl of Norfolk; or, on a bend, azure, three rams heads cabosed, argent, armed or, Ramsey abbey; Norwich priory; Earl Warren; Lords Mowbray, Howard, Bardolf, Scales; or, on a chief, gules, three plates, Camois; Ingaldesthorp, argent on a bend, sable, three lis of the first, Thorp, Tilney, Lord Bouchier, Tatsall, Clifton, Ufford, and Beke quarterly, Clifford, Stafford, Ferrers, Dagworth, Erpingham; argent on chevron, sable, three lis of the first, Bardwell, Rainham, Strange, Ross, Narburgh, Foliot, Gonvill, Calthorp, Lovell, Wingfield, Caston, Berney, Wilton, Rochford, Argenton, Inglos, Bois, Le Gross, Harsike, and argent on a bend, gules, three lozenges, or, Elmham, &c.
In the north isle, in a window, was the portraiture of a knight in armour, kneeling, on his surcoat, gules, a saltire ingrailed, argent, Kerdeston; and that of his lady, with an orate for them. Sir Thomas Kerdeston died seized, 29 Henry VI. of a messuage, and 14 acres of land here.
1307, John de Hengham, instituted rector; (fn. 8) presented by the abbot and convent of Ramsey.
1335, Simon de Glynton, by Simon Costyn, hâc vice.
1349, Andrew de Grundesburgh, by the King.
Robert Westowe, rector.
1397, Simon de Helgeye, by the abbot, &c.
1400, John Wells.
1402, Richard Merkwyke.
1403, Henry Drayton.
John Long, rector.
1412, Jeffrey Medwey.
1418, John Toly.
1425, Richard Alone: it appears that the sacrist of Ramsey had a pension of 20s. per ann. out of this rectory.
1442, Thomas Maunchell. (fn. 9)
1443, William Spencer.
1457, Roger Keys.
1477, John Raughton.
1496, William Fitz-John, S. T. B.
1503, Edmund Jackson, L. L. D.
1521, John Rayne, L. L. D. The church was valued at 12 marks: he was also rector of Barton St. Andrew, and prior of St. Neot's in Huntingdonshire.
1533, William Holyer, A. M. by the assignees of the abbot, &c.
1554, Griff. Richard, alias Tregarn, L. L. D.
Simon Brande, occurs rector, and died 1572. He was a married priest, and in Parker's Certificate. (fn. 10)
1573, Thomas Smith, by Henry Hawe, Esq.
1580, Thomas Pigott, by H. Hawe, Esq.
1595, Thomas Barsham, by John Willoughby, Esq.; in 1603, he certified that there were 200 communicants here.
1610, James Williams, A.M. by Richard Williams, assignee of Henry Willoughby, Esq. (fn. 11)
1621, Phineas Fletcher, A. M. by Henry Willoughby, Bart. He was brother to the Bishop of London.
1650, Arthur Tower, A. M. admitted by the committee for plundered min sters.
1675, Thom is Malyverer, A. M. by Nicholas Saunderson, Esq.
1679, Nicholas Spencer, A. M. by Nich. Saunderson, Esq.
1705, John Musson, by Walter and Robert Spencer.
1740, John Deering, by Sir John Wray, Bart. and prebend of Rippon.
Here was St. Mary's guild, and that of St. John Bavtist.