An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 9. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1808.
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In the Saxon tongue, signifies a wood, from which (it is probable) it derived its name. It was an extensive lordship and royal demeans in the time of the Confessor, who was lord of it, containing 2 carucates of land, 24 villains, and as many borderers, and 2 servi, &c. there were eleven carucates among the tenants, paunage for 60 swine, 6 acres of meadow, 5 mills, a mercate, and a port belonging to it, which was (as I take it) at Cley, a beruite to this lordship, as was Sniterley, Batheley, Hempstede, and other neighbouring places, and with Cley and Sniterley was valued at 20l. per ann. and one noctem (entertainment in honey for one day) (fn. 1) with 100s. and customary dues, but paid to the Conqueror, lord of it, 50l. per ann. in money; Holt and Cley were together, 2 leucas long, and one broad, and paid 2s. and 4d. gelt. Eight freemen, belonged to it in King Edward's time, who had 3 carucates of land and an half; and at the survey Walter Giffard (who was Earl of Bucks) was lord of it, by a grant of the Conqueror, as his men say; and there then belonged to it one freeman, with 23 acres, under the protection of Earl Hugh; (fn. 2) and all Holt, with its beruites, paid 66l. in money, per ann. (fn. 3)
Earl Hugh, here mentioned, was Earl of Chester, and had a grant of this great lordship from the Crown, soon after this survey, and was held by the Vauxes of the said Earl, and after by the Earl of Albemarle, &c.
The family of De Vallibus, or Vaux, were soon after the Conquest enfeoft of this lordship. Robert de Vaux held it in the 5th of King Stephen, and gave then 53l. 6s. 8d. livery, for lands of his wife's inheritance: in the Vaux it continued till the death of Sir John de Vaux, in the 16th of Edward I. who was a parliamentary baron, &c. and found to hold it of the Earl of Albemarle. (fn. 4) Margaret de Riparijs, Countess of Devon, recovered her dower in 7 knights fees in this town, Cley, &c. held by Baldwin, the late Earl her husband, (see in Wayborn,) and the freeman's tenures that Giffard held were after united to the capital manor.
Sir John de Vaux left by Sybill his wife, two daughters and coheirs; Petronilla the eldest, married Sir William de Nerford, who in her right had a moiety of this town: in the 3d of Edward II. the said Petronilla, then a widow, had a grant of freewarren, and a weekly mercate, on Tuesday, and a fair on the eve and day of St. Matthew.
Sir John Nerford possessed it in the 2d of Edward III. settled it on himself, and Agnes his wife, daughter of William de Bereford, and Sir Thomas, his brother, in the 9th of that King, on Agnes his wife, and on his death it came to his son John.
Sir John de Nerford, in or about the 38th of Edward III. dying, left Margery, his sole daughter and heir, who is said to have vowed a single life; she settled this manor on the Lady Alice de Nevill, in which the said Lady Alice had an interest, probably as widow of Sir John, or Sir Thomas de Nerford; this Lady Alice, married to her second husband, Sir John Nevill of Essex, who presented to this church in 1349, &c. and she in 1375, and 1382.
In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Sir Christopher Heydon was lord and patron: by the Heydons it was sold to James Hobart, Esq. whose son Edmund died possessed of it in 1666: his daughter and heir, Hannah brought it by marriage to Dr. William Briggs, physician, in ordinary to King William III. whose son, Henry Briggs, D. D. was rector of this church, and chaplain to King George II. and died lord and patron in 1748; he married Grace, only daughter of William Briggs, merchant of Leverpole, and left several children.
Maud, youngest daughter and coheir of Sir John de Vaux, married William Lord Ros of Hamlake, lord of a moiety in her right of this town: William, his son and heir, died seized of it in the 17th of Edward III.; in this family it continued till Thomas Lord Ros, being attainted in the first year of Edward IV. for his adherence to King Henry VI. John Tiftoft Earl of Worcester had a grant of it, whose sister Philippa the said Thomas Lord Ross had married, and by her had Edmund, a son, and three daughters; Elianor, Isabel, and Margaret: Edmund his son never inherited it, being obliged to live an obscure and private life, but Elianore being married to Sir Robert Maners of Ethale-castle in Northumberland, obtained a grant of it, and his son and heir, George, by the said lady, was Lord Ros; Thomas, his son and heir, was Earl of Rutland: Henry Earl of Rutland, his son, and the Lady Margaret, his wife, sold it in the 1st and 2d of Philip and Mary, to Thomas Lodge, Esq. afterwards Lord Mayor of London; it came then to Sir Christopher Heydon, and so to Hobart, and Briggs, and was united to the other moiety.
The family of Perers gave name to it. (fn. 5) Roger de Perers held one fee in the 18th of Henry III. Robert de Perers was eschaetor in Norfolk, about the 3d of Edward I. and held one fee here, in Edgfeld Letheringset, &c. of the Vaux.
Sir Roger de Perers lived in the reign of Edward II. and in the 7th of Edward III. a fine was levied between Roger de Perers and Alianore his wife, querents, William de Sechford, &c. deforcients; when this lordship was settled on them, remainder to Gunnora, widow of John de Perers, sister and coheir of Sir Thomas de Ormesby, and John, son of John de Perers, and his heirs in tail, &c.
Of this family was Alice Perers, (that being her true name, and not Peirce, as she is generally called,) the famous mistress of King Edward III. who in his 47th year granted her all the jewels which belonged to Philippa, his late Queen, with all her goods and chattels, which were in the possession of Euphemia, wife of Sir Walter de Haselacton, and delivered to her by the King's order: she had been one of Queen Philippa's maids of honour, and married, it is said Sir Thomas de Nerford, a younger son of Sir Thomas, and brother (as I take it) to Sir John de Nerford; which Sir Thomas died in 1371, and his will was proved on November 28, in that year, (fn. 6) wherein he styles himself of Holt, and desires to be buried there.
Soon after the death of King Edward, being obnoxious to the Duke of Lancaster, and other great lords, she was accused of the statute of maintenance, and was attainted Ao. 1 of Richard II. in parliament, and her goods forfeited: but in the 3d year of the said King, (being then the wife of Sir William de Wyndesore,) he restored to them divers manors and lands.
The Greshams afterwards possessed it, and Sir John Gresham, Knt. and alderman of London, bought it of his elder brother, William Gresham, Esq. in this capital messuage, or manor-house, their father John Gresham, Esq. lived, and here the said Sir John, and his brother Sir Richard (who were lord mayors of London) were born; the deed of sale is dated October 14, in the 39th of Henry VIII. and the purchase was 170l. Sir John converted it into a school-house, endowing it with this manor, and a grove, called Prior's Grove, for 30 free scholars, the master to have a salary of 30l. per ann. and the usher 20 nobles; leaving the patronage and government of it to the fishmongers company of London.
In a window of the hall were the arms of Sir John, argent. a chevron, ermines, between three mullets pierced, sable, impaling those of his lady, argent, a demy lion, gules, in a bordure, sable, platée: Mary, daughter and heir of Thomas Ipswall, is said to have been his first lady, and Catharine Sampson, his second, relict of Edward Dormer, Esq. of Fulham in Middlesex.
A scholarship in Sidney college, Cambridge, belongs to the school, and a fellowship there to the said company. William Bennet, citizen and fishmonger of London, for 60l. paid to the master and fellows, had a grant from them, to himself, the master and wardens, of that company, of a fellowship, to be enjoyed from time to time, by such person of the said college, who is from this school, with the same allowance as the founder gave:—of the Greshams, see in ThorpMarket.
In the 20th of Edward III. William de Hales, Thomas de Grimsby, and William de Norton held 2 fees in Holt, Leringset, and Sherington of the Nerfords and Lord Ros, which Agnes, late wife of Peter de Leringset, held; and in the 25th of that King, Sir Stephen de Hales manumitted several villains of this manor; he was a person of great eminency in this county, and taken prisoner by Litster, and the Norfolk rebels, in the reign of Richard II. On his death it came to his brother Thomas, whose daughter and heir, Elizabeth, brought it by marriage, to William Rokewode, Esq. of Warham: his son William, by his will dated in 1474, orders it to descend according to his father's settlement, and leaving two daughters, Margaret and Agnes, Sir Nicholas Appleyard of Brakenash enjoyed it on his marriage with Agnes: Roger, his son and heir, died lord in the 20th of Henry VIII. and John his son had livery of it, who in the 2d and 3d of Philip and Mary, conveyed it by fine to Sir John Gresham, being held of the manor of Ross.
Hamon, son of Simon de Hempstede lived in the reign of King Richard I. and granted a quitrent of toll in his market of Holt, to the canons of Waltham, and their tenants, for the soul of Simon his father, Avice his mother, &c. (fn. 7) Thomas Fitz Symon gave two hawks to hold his wood here, and in Cley, in peace, in the 7th of King John, and Simon Fitz Simon, in the 53d of Henry III. had a grant of confirmation of the mercate, and of free warren here.
In the 3d of Edward I. Hugh de Caly was found to hold the mercate in capite, and paying 20s per ann. and John de Ormesby sued several for not paying the toll due at his mercate here, on Saturday; but in the 2d of Henry V. it is said to have descended from Sir William Caly, to his two daughters and coheirs; Agnes, married to Sir John Harsyk of Southacre, and Alice, to John Clipesby, Esq.; and Sir Roger held it with 2 acres of land, called the Market-place, and had a right of stallage, picage, toll, &c. Richard Dorward, Esq. and Joan his wife, &c. daughter and coheir of Sir Roger Harsick, owned it, in the 33d of Henry VI. and by his daughter and heir, Margaret, it came to Sir Jn. Wing field, of Dunham Magna, and his descendants. Thomas Wing field, Esq. conveyed it in the 24th of Henry VIII. to the Earl of Rutland, and being united to his manor of Ross, came, as there mentioned, to Dr. Briggs.
The temporalities of Waborne priory were 2s. 5d.; of Fakenhamdam 4s.; of Castleacre priory 3s. 4d.; and in 1244, Sir Hamon de Hempstede, paid to that priory 10s. rent per ann. out of a mill in this town. (fn. 8) Simon son of Peter de Cley confirmed his father's gift, and his own, of a mill, with the third sheaf of his tithe.
Before the fire it had a nave, north and south isle, a square tower, with a spire so high as to be a sea-mark; the chancel, after this, was fitted up for the reception of the parishioners. In the south isle of the curch was a monument,
"Here lyeth the body of Edmund Hobart, Gent. of this town, son and heir of James Hobart, Esq; by Hannah his wife, descended from an ancient and honorable family of that name, in this county that had in King Henry VII. and King James I's. reign, a learned attourney general, and an eminent lord chief justice, the great ornaments of it. He married Bridget, daughter of Woodhall Street, of Oxfordshire, Gent. by whom he had onely one daughter, Hannah, sole heiress of his estate and manors of this town, since married to Dr. William Briggs, in London, physitian to his majestie's hospitals, by whose appointment this monument was here placed; he died February 13, A. D. 1666, in the 52, year of his age, after he had escaped the malice of the usurper, who for his loyalty to the blessed martyr King Charles I. sought after his life, and forced him from his paternal seat to live in obscurity, but his loyalty kept him stedfast thro' the storms of that unnatural rebellion, and here at last he found rest, and expects a blessed immortality."
Subjacent reliquiœ, spe beatœ resurrectionis, Elizabethœ, filiœ Joh. Ellis de Wymondham, verœ, charœ nec minus piœ conjugis Joh. Newdigate, medici de Holt, quinquies malris liberis, supersunt Edmundus, Maria, et Joh. quœ obt. die septimo Febr. 1710, quarto et quadragesimo œtatis Ao.
M. S.—Samuel Butler, nup. de Holt, in agro Norf. pharmacopola, vir pius et ingenij tam alienis quam suis acutus, tot idoneis diversi nominis officijs; quot vitam suam plurimum spectabilem, et mortem multum effecere deflendam, bene de cognatis, amicis et sodalibus meritus, Deo animam, homini famam, terrœ corpus, in spem resurrectionis reliquit A. D. 1697, Junij 19, œt. 74.
Here lieth interred the body of Henry Briggs D.D. who was 26 years rector of this parish, and chaplain in ordinary to his majesty, King George II. He was diligent in his ministerial office, exemplary in piety, a friend to the distressed, and bountifull to the poor. His whole life bespoke him a true christian, ever chearful and preparing for a happy eternity. Reader, according to thy station, go thou and do likewise— He died May 31, 1741, aged 61, leaving behind him to lament his loss, his widow, Grace, and four children, William, Hobart, John and Elizabeth, and one grandchild, Amelia, daughter of his eldest son, who died at Bengal in May, 1747.