An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 8. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1808.
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William de Noiers was steward of the principal manor in this town (at the time of making the book of Domesday) for the Conqueror, who had seized on it, on the deprivation of Archbishop Stigand, who held it as a lay fee, in the reign of the Confessor. Four carucates and 20 acres of land belonged to it, with 14 villains, 18 borderers, and 8 servi, there were 3 carucates in demean, and 8 acres, and 20 acres of meadow; paunage for 80 swine, 1 runcus, 4 cows, &c. and 100 sheep; 5 socmen had one carucate and a half of land, 5 carucates and 8 acres of meadow, and valued, &c. in Hadescoe. (fn. 1)
It remained in the Crown till granted to Robert de Bellomont Earl of Mellent in Normandy and of Leicester in England, in the reign of King Henry I. who gave it to the Benedictine abbey of de Pratellis (or Preaux) in Normandy; and on that account was called Monks Tofts. In the 14th of Edward I. the abbot claimed the assize, a gallows, and many other liberties, who had a cell here.
In the 20th of Richard II. Sir Lewis Clifford, by the mediation and license of that King, had a grant from the abbot of Preaux, of this manor, for life, on a certain rent, with the remainder to his son Lewis, with Warmington in Warwickshire, Spelbury in Dorsetshire, and Aston in Berkshire; and in the parliament at Leicester, Ao. 2 Henry V. on the dissolution of alien priories, came to the Crown, and was granted for life to Sir Thomas Erpingham, on March 15, Ao. 6°. The said King, in his 19th year, gave it to Eaton college; after this King Edward IV. gave it to King's college, Cambridge, where it still continues. King Henry V. on its dissolution, is said to have granted the revenues of it to the Carthusians of Witham in Somerseishire, which they held some short time.
Humphrey de Wirlingham, in the 54th of Henry III. granted to this cell, and to William, abbot of St. Peter and St. Paul de Preaux, 2 messuages, 72 acres of land, 10 of wood, 8 of marsh, and 4s. 5d. rent here, in Hadesco-Thorp, &c. Nicholas Carde, a monk of this cell, or priory, proctor for the abbey of De Preaux, accounted for 100l. in the 13th of Edward III. as custos of the lands and tenements, goods and chattels of the same; and in 1428, their temporalities were valued at 40l. 16s. 10d. 0b.
This was in the King: at the survey William de Noiers took care of it, which Stigand the archbishop held as a lay fee, and was deprived of. (fn. 2)
In the 34th of Henry III. William de Tofts had an interest herein, and in the 6th of Edward III. William de Stafford and his wife Isabel had a lordship, settled on Walter their son; and in the 12th of that King, Walter died seized of it, and James his brother was his heir.
In the 9th of Richard II. a fine was levied between Richard Dodenhale, merchant of Coventry, querent, Richard Bottler and Joan his wife, deforciants, of the manor of Netherhall in this town, &c.; and in the 17th of that King, Sir John Panton died seized, as is said, of Overhall and Netherhall manors, and John was his son and heir; but in the 1st year of Henry IV. Richard Bottler and Joan his wife conveyed the said lordships to James Billingford, by fine; and the 3d of that King, Jeffrey Wafre held here and in Raveningham a quarter of a fee, called Reedswell, in capite.
James Billingforth, of Blackworth-hall in Stoke Holy cross, died lord in the 17th of Edward IV. Edmund Billingford, Esq. was lord in the 33d of Henry VIII. Thomas Billingford, Esq. in 1571, and John Billingford, in the 11th of James I. and afterwards, George Billingford.
The Church of Toft is dedicated to St. Margaret: two parts of it were appropriated to the abbey of Preaux, by William Turbus Bishop of Norwich, and confirmed by John de Gra, Bishop, Ao. 1181, and were valued at 20 marks, and the third part was a rectory valued at 10 marks: the two appropriated parts always passed with the manor belonging to Preaux abbey, and the 3d part was held by a rector, who in Edward the First's time had a manse and 30 acres of land, Peterpence 8d. carvage 8d.