An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 8. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1808.
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Called in Domesday Book, Meltinga, was then the lordship of William de Beaufoe Bishop of Thetford, which he held in his own right, as a temporal fee, and not in right of his church, by the Conqueror's grant and expulsion of 15 freemen, who held here 40 acres of land; and 6 borderers had half a carucate valued at 30s. per ann.; his predecessor had the protection only of these, and Stigand had the soc. (fn. 1)—This Bishop on his death gave this and many other lordships to his church, and it continued in the see of Norwich till granted with Gaywode by King Henry VIII. to the Duke of Norfolk, and so came (as is there observed) to the Thursbys, and was sold by Franc. Thursby, Esq. to Sir Cyril Wyche, and Cyril Wyche, Esq. is the present lord.
Some conceive that it takes its name from a mint that the Bishops of Norwich had here for coining of money, a privilege which many great sees both in England, and beyond sea, were endowed with; but this is a mistake, it being so called long before the see at Elmham, Thetford, or Norwich, had any right or interest in it; Mel is to be met with in many towns, as, Melford, Melburn, Melton, &c. from Mel, a river, and Ing, a meadow; we find also a priory at Minting in Lincolnshire.
Herbert Bishop of Norwich, who succeeded Beaufoe, gave (as appears from a pleading in the 25th of Henry III.) to the prior of Norwich a carucate of land lying in Geywode and Myntling, which was Hugh Claves, and paid half a mark yearly to the Bishop, (fn. 2) and was then esteemed as a berewic or hamlet to Geywode; and there was a family who assumed their name from it; Peter de Mentling was a witness to a charter of Eborard Bishop of Norwich, in the reign of King Stephen, and probably held lands here of that prelate, or the church of Norwich.
William, son of Richard, gave to the monks of Castleacre, his land at Agonalosa, which they formerly held of him, with one Rodulf, to which deed, Robert, son of William Milo Basset, Walter de Cheravilla, Rain. de Marham, Robert de Wibravilla, &c. were witnesses. (fn. 3)
Henry, prior of Castleacre, gave to William, the prior of Linn, totam Hagnelosam, to be held for 24 years, at the yearly farm rent of 20s. and all their land in Mintlingis, which is held of the church of St. Margaret of Linn.
This deed is dated on the day after the feast of St. Margaret 1182; witnesses, William de Merlai, Ralph, the Bishop's chaplain, Ralph capellane, of Acre, Mr. Walter de Candue, Mr. Steph. de Binham, Mr. Roger de Norwic, William de Gernemue, &c.—By totam Hagnelosam, no doubt, was meant what was afterwards called Haveless in Mintling, where the seat of the Thorsbys was; and the prior of Lynn was obliged to pay 20s. per ann. at Castleacre, (fn. 4) on the feast of Easter, and for default, a distrain might be made at Haclose, and Mintling.
Alice, formerly wife of Gibert, son of Richard, gave to the priory of Castleacre, all her land in Mintlinges, in exchange for 8 solidates of land, which they hold in her manor of Socingam, of the gift of Ingelnulf de Sereres; witnesses, Hugh Francigena, Peter Scingham, William de Tunewaird, Aria. Parlett, Odo de Wella, &c.
Bishop Herbert gave this church to the monks of Norwich, residing at Lynn, and it was appropriated by John de Grey Bishop of Norwich, about 1205, saving to himself and successours all episcopal and parochial rights. (fn. 5)
Bishop Beaufoe had a grant from the Conqueror, of this town, Sedgford in Smethden hundred;—Eccles in Shropham hundred;— Langham, in Holt hundred;—Gunton and Shipden, in North Erpingham hundred;—Walsham, in Walsham hundred;—Blofield in Blofield hundred and Plumstede;—Hemmesly, in West Flegg hundred;— Rockland, in Hensted hundred;—Mendham, in Earsham hundred;— North Langley, in Lothing hundred;—Helmingham and Thurning, in Eynford hundred;—Taverham, and Attleburgh, in Taverham hundred; —Blickling, Berningham, East Beckham, Marsham, and Stratton, in South Erpingham hundred;—Horsey, in Happing hundred;—Scroutsby, Ormesby, and Thrigby, in East-Flegg hundred;—Stratton, in Depwade hundred;—Raveningham. in Clavering hundred:—Cressing ham Magna, in South Greenhow hundred;—Hunstanton, in Smethden hundred;—Stanford, in Grimshoe hundred;—Gateley, in Launditch hundred;—Colkirke, in Brothercross hundred;—Saxtingham in Gallow;—Sneterley, Burningham, Melton, in Holt hundred;—Hindringham and Thorp, in North Greenhow hundred;—Houghton, Berningham, and Beckham, in North Erpinghum hundred;— Hemlington, in Walsham hundred;—Plumstede, in Berlingham, Frethorp, and Lecham, Bradston, Catun, and Bucham, Brundale, and Witton, in Blofield hundred;—Winterton, Somerton, Ashby Martham, Rollesby, Burgh, Bastwick, Hadesco, Billockby, and Clipsby in West Flegg hundred;— South Berlingham and Tivetshall in Henstede hundred, and the lands of St. Michael in Norwich, and Taverham, in Taverham hundred.
Near to Geyton, (and now included in Geyton town,) when the book of Domesday was made, was a town called Welle, from its watery site. Stigand Archbishop of Canterbury was lord of it in the reign of King Edward: 10 villains belonged to it, with 2 carucates of land, 6 borderers, with one servus, and 30 acres of meadow; there were then 2 carucates in demean, &c. and 2 among the tenants, 2 mills, 14 socmen held 28 acres, &c. valued then at 9l. at the survey at 10l. per ann. Well and Geyton together were one leuca and an half long, and half a leuca broad, and paid 16d. gelt, whoever held it. (fn. 6) In Well also were 5 furlongs of pasture in length, and 4 furlongs broad, valued and included in the account above.
Of this town or lordship, Stigand (who held it as a lay fee) was deprived by the Conqueror, who gave it to William de Eschoies, or Scohies, who possessed it but a short time, and gave it to the abbey of St. Stephen's at Caen in Normandy. The author of Neustria Pia calls him William de Streis, and gives us the foundation deed of the said abbey, by the Conqueror, wherein this grant is mentioned, and confirmed; and it appears that William Bishop of Durham was one of the witnesses to the King's grant; so that it was about the year 1081, when he was consecrated Bishop of that see.
On this grant, the abbey of Caen had a cell here. King Richard I. confirmed the aforesaid grant of Wells, with its appertenances in Geyton, that church and tithe, and many royal privileges, as King Henry II. had done, and William II.
In the 5th of Henry III. the abbot of St. Stephen gave a mark to have a pone, (that is a writ whereby a cause depending in an inferior court is removed to a higher,) against Hugh de Noiun, on account of lands here; and in the following year, Hugh released to the abbot his right in lands, by fine, saving a right of common; in the 3d of Edward I. the abbot was found to hold this manor in pure alms, to have free warren, weyf and stray, assise of bread and beer, a gallows, &c.
The prior of this cell paid, in the 13th of Edward III. 34 marks per ann. to the King, for the farm of this priory, and that of Panfield in Essex, a cell also to St. Stephen's abbey, that King having seized on all the lands, &c. of the priory aliens, on account of his war with France; and on the 14th of December, in the 47th of that King, the custody of this priory, and that of Paunfield, was granted on the manucaption of Robert Caly of Norfolk and Gyles de Wenlok of Shropshire, to Sir Hugh Fastolf, with all their possessions, from the feast of St. Michael last past, to continue as long as the war with France, paying to the King 40l. per ann. and 10l. per ann. to a certain monk, there residing, all tenths due to the King, and performing all customary duties incumbent on the said priories, without waste, and keeping the houses, &c. in repair.
King Richard II. in his 5th year, granted this priory and manor to Sir John Devereaux, and Mary his wife, and Joan their daughter, for their lives; and on the 25th of June, in the 3d of Henry V. John Wodehouse, Esq. (the renowned warrior) had a grant of it by the name of the priory, or house, of Wells, with the manor of Wells, to be held by the service of a rose, to be paid on Midsummer day; in 1421, he obtained license to appropriate the rectory which belonged to the priory, and was now vested in him, to the chantry priest of the Holy Trinity, and the 5 wounds of Christ, in the lower chapel of the charnelhouse at Norwich, near to the cathedral church, wherein he was afterwards buried, which priest was to officiate there for his soul; the manor was at this time valued, at 23l. 10s. 2d. per ann.
Henry Wodehouse, Esq. conveyed the lordship by fine, to Thomas Daniel, Esq. in the 28th of Henry VI. with several messuages, 500 acres of land, 100 of meadow, 500 of pasture, 20 of wood, 200 of moor, and 10l. per ann. rent, in Wells, Grimston, Congham, &c.
After this, it was again in the Crown; and on March 10, King Edward IV. in his ninth year, gave the manor of Well-hall-priory, to the college or chapel of St. Stephen, at Westminster. On the Dissolution of that college, King Edward VI. on the 17th of August, in his 2d year, granted it to Osbert Mundford, and Thomas Gawdy, Gent. with lands in Geyton, Grimston, &c. and the advowson of the vicarage of Geyton.
Francis Mundford, son of Osbert, had livery of it in the 23d of Elizabeth; Sir John Heveningham purchased it of Sir Edmund Mundeford, in the 13th of James I. but this sale being resigned, Sir Edmund conveyed it, February 20, in the 16th of the said King, to Henry Beck, Gent. who died seized of it, August 21, 1638, and left by Elizabeth his wife, daughter of—Bendishe, Esq. Jerome, his son and heir, aged 17, &c. and Anne Beck, widow, presented in 1662.
Roger West, Esq. presented to the vicarage in 1694, as lord of Well-hall, and in 1699; after this,—Sharock, Esq. was lord, and by his last will gave the patronage of the vicarage of Geyton to the see of Norwich; the Bishop of Norwich presented in 1707, 1740; Mr. Sharrock is the present lord.