An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 9. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1808.
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This lordship was granted by the Conqueror to William de Beaufo Bishop of Thetford, to be held of him as a lay fee, and in his own right, (with many other,) being his lord chancellour, &c. out of which 4 freemen of King Herold were expelled, and Roger de Lyons held it of the bishop, with Anschetel the provost, with 3 carucates of land; 2 villains and 32 borderers belonged to it, with 7 carucates and an half; there was paunage in the wood for 60 swine, and 6 acres of meadow, 2 beasts for burden, and 7 cows, &c. and a church endowed with 6 acres valued at 5d. the whole valued formerly at 30s. at the survey at 40s. per ann. and was one leuca long and half a leuca broad, and paid 10d. gelt. (fn. 1)
From this Anschetel, the provost, descended the family of De Mealton, who according to the Norman custom assumed that name from their lordship, and sometimes wrote themselves De Constable, from the office and place that they held under the Bishops of Norwich, by whom they had been enfeoffed of it.
The office of constable related as well to affairs of peace, as to military affairs. The Conqueror seems first to have appointed this office: his grand constable, or marshal, was styled Princeps Militiœ Domus Regis, and was hereditary, of whose dignity and authority our statutes and histories afford many proofs, and many lordships were held under the King by virtue of it; and the same was in this family, the office appearing to be hereditary, and by virtue of it, held the lordships of Burgh, Langham, Bruningham, Briston, Sniterle, West Tofts, East Tudenham, Melton, &c.
In the reign of King Henry II. Ao. 12, Peter le Constable de Meaulton held 3 knights fees and an half of the old feofment of William Bishop of Norwich, and about 1160, Peter le Constable and Geffrey his son were witnesses to a confirmation of lands in Dilham, &c. given by Robert, son of Ralph. (fn. 2)
Peter Constable de Meaulton, was sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, in the 3d, 4th, and 5th of King John.
Geffrey, son of Peter, son of Geffrey le Constable, by his deed sans date confirmed to Hugo de - - - - - - - - -, his serjeant (servienti) the lands late Robert Morgan's.
Also Peter de Mealton, Constabularius, son of Geffery, by deed sans date, granted to Clement de Longham, his serjeant, 24 acres in Sniterley; witnesses, William de Meauton, Bart. de Marham, William de Stodey, &c. and sealed with a man on horseback in armour.
In the 5th of Henry III. Muriel, widow of William de Constable of Melton, feigned herself to be enfeiant, and a writ was awarded to the sheriff, to convene her before him, and the keeper of the pleas of the Crown to have her examined, which was done accordingly, and she was found not to be with child; in the following year she appears to be the wife of John de Somery, and released with him all her right in the thirds of this town, Burgh, Bruningham, Langham, Sniterly, and East Tudenham, and Peter granted to them for the life of Muriel an annuity of 16l. per ann. payable in Windham priory, half yearly, without any charge, by a fine then levied. Peter aforesaid probably was brother of William,
Robert de Scales, and Reginald de Mealton gave 60 marks to the said King, in his 21st year, to have the custody of the marriage of the heir of Peter Constable of Mealton, according to the fine which they paid to Thomas, late Bishop of Norwich.
In the 41st of that King, Jeffrey de Burnavill, and Maud his wife, were impleaded, to know what right they had in the inheritance of Peter de Meauton, who answer that they claimed nothing but by right of dower, Maud being widow of Geffrey, son and heir of Peter, and Isabel his wife.
On the death of this Geffrey, his 3 sisters were found to be his coheirs, Isabel, Alice, and Edith.
Sir Thomas Estele, Lord Estele, had a 3d part of this town, and of the inheritance of Jeffrey aforesaid, by the marriage of Edith, his 3d sister and coheir, descended from Philip de Estley, lord of Astley, in the 12th of Henry II. (which gave name to the family) and other lordships in Warwickshire, and which his grandfather had been enfeoffed of in the reign of King Henry I. as may be seen in Dugdale's Baronage (fn. 3) and his History of Warwickshire, in his account of the family at large; my business being to observe such things as principally belong to the family, and which in some measure have not been observed or mentioned by any authors in print.
This Thomas appears to be a knight in the 26th of Henry III. and one of the justices for the goal-delivery at Warwick, and took part with the barons in their rebellion in the 47th of that King, and was slain at the battle of Evesham in the 49th of that King.
He married two wives, Joan, the daughter of Ernald de Bois, a person of great eminency in Leicestershire, (according to Dugdale,) but, as Burton says, Helen, daughter and coheir of Gerard de Camvile, lord of Creke in Northamptonshire; (fn. 4) and by the said Joan, (as I take it) had Andrew Lord Astley, from whom descended the eldest branch of this family in Warwickshire.
By Edith, his 2d wife, he had Thomas de Estlee, Stephen, and Ralph. To Thomas his son he gave, in the 47th of Henry III. his manor of Hill Morton, with the advowson of the church in tail: witnesses, Sir Robert Moton, Sir Robert de Verdun, and Walter de Holewill, and sealed with a seal of a triangular form; the impress a cinquefoil, which arms they bore in allusion to those of Robert Earl of Leicester, &c. of whom they held lordships, only varying the colours according to the custom of that age; Robert bearing in a field, gules, a cinquefoil, ermine, and they bearing the same charge at this time, in a field, azure.
Edith, widow of Sir Thomas, married Robert de Holewell, and afterwards Thomas Peche, who in the 9th of Edward I. seems to have held a court lete here and in other towns in her right.
Thomas de Astley, eldest son of Sir Thomas, died without issue in the 13th of Edward I. his mother Edith then living, who in the following year claimed view of frank pledge, assise, &c. in this town; and Stephen de Astley, his brother, had a grant of free warren in this town, and East Tudenham, in the 14th of that King. In the said year, Thomas, son of John de Briston, released to him all his right in the inheritance of Peter le Constable, and in the church of Birston, as one of the heirs of Peter, by a fine levied.
By this, it appears to me, that there were 4 sisters and coheirs, and one of them was married to John de Briston, father of this Thomas.
In the 18th of the said King Edward I. Edith de Astley, granted to Stephen her son, all her inheritance in this town, Burgh, Bruningham. Langham, Sniterle, East Tudenham, Wiveton, Glanford, Saxlingham, Sharnton, Hindringham, &c. which descended to her on the death of Geffrey, son of Peter le Constable, with the advowson of this town, Burgh St. Mary, Bruningham, and Rackey Parva, to which deed were witnesses, Luke de Ely, archdeacon of Coventry, William de Castre, Thomas de Wolvey, Roger de Colvil, Simon de Nowers, Edmund de Hengrave, Richard de la Rokele, Knights, dated at Wedyngton in Warwickshire. One of the lordships that Dugdale observes to be assigned by the King, out of commiseration for her maintenance, on the death of her husband Sir Thomas.
This Stephen was living in the 29th of Edward I. when an agreement was made between him and Benedict, prior of St. Olaves Heringflete, or Heringby, when he remitted to the prior the 3d part of 8 marks, annual rent in East Tudenham, and Tudenham Faldgale, for the souls of his ancestors.
Stephen was living in 1317, and presented then to this church, but died soon after, surviving, as I take it, both his brothers, Sir Ralph, the younger dying in or about the 28th of Edward I.
In the 32d of Edward I. Nicholas. son of Andrew de Astley, was impleaded by Sir George de Charnels, to keep the agreement made between the said Sir George and Sir Andrew, father of Nicholas, for the custody of the lands of Thomas, son and heir of Sir Ralf de Asteley and which Sir Andrew, had granted to Sir George, viz. the manor of Hill-Morton in Warwickshire, and the 3d part of it, which Roesia, widow of Sir Ralph, held in dower, when she should happen to die.
It is to be observed, that this lordship came to Sir Ralph on the death of his brother Thomas, and so descended to Thomas, son of Sir Ralph, who was also lord of Melton, &c. on the death of his uncle Stephen.
In 1324, this Thomas presented to the church of Rackheath Parva, and in the following year to that of Melton.
In the 8th of Edward II. John de Charnels, clerk, was a trustee for Thomas, son of Sir Ralph de Asteley, Knt. and Margaret his wife: she was daughter of Sir George de Charnels, lord of Elmesthorp, in Leicestershire, who bore azure, a cross ingrailed, or.
In the 17th of that King there was an indenture between this Thomas de Astley, cousin and heir of Stephen de Astley on one part, and Sir John de Gurney, Sir Nicholas de Herdwyk, and Joan de Astley, on the other part, for founding certain chaplains, but were not mentioned: witnesses, Sir Robert de Nowers, Sir John de Cockfeld, William de Fileby, &c. Quere, if this Joan was not relict of Stephen?
In the 9th of Edward III. he had a quietus from the King, dated April 20, from all military services, and bearing of arms; probably on account of his age; but was living in the 15th of the said King, 1341, and presented to this church, in which year he died, Margaret his widow surviving.
Sir Ralph de Asteley was his son and heir, and presented to the church of Melton in 1342.
In the 21st of Edward III. William de Cantele obliged himself to pay 12d. per ann. for lands in East Tudenham, to Sir Ralph; and in the 31st of that King, Sir Ralph confirmed in trust, to Sir Thomas de St. Omer, and Henry de Berney, &c. his lordships of Melton and Langham Castle, and all his lands there and in Burgh, Bruningham, Bryston, Irmingland, Geystwick, Gunthorp, Hindringham, Sniterle, Wiveton, Glandford, and Laringsett: witnesses, Sir Robert de Cockfeld, Sir John de Rattlesden, Sir John de Erpingham, and sealed with a cinquefoil, ermine, in a bordure, - - - - -.
Sir Ralph was living in 1355, and presented to this church; but in 1367 his trustees presented.
About this time (I presome) he died leaving Thomas his son and heir, by Agnes his wife, daughter of Edward or Ralph Gerbridge of Norfolk.
In the 47th of the aforesaid King, 1368, John Charve, and Henry de Berney, trustees of Sir Ralph, conveyed to Thomas and Margaret his wife, the manor of Astley Hall in Langham and Melton, &c.
This Margaret was his first wife, and daughter of — Elmrugge, who bore sable, on a chief, argent, three elm leaves slipt, vert, and in the 5th of Richard II. being a knight, demised to Ralph Erneys of Field-Dalling, many of his lands for a term of years.
In the 9th of that King he had a protection granted him, being then to accompany John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster into Spain, where he died in the 11th of the said King,
On the 3d of May, in the said year, the King granted the custody of all his lands in Hindringham. He settled his estates before his departure out of England, and his will was, that as soon as his death was known in England, his feoffees should pay to Margaret his daughter, 10 marks; to Joan and Catharine his daughters, 40s. each, and bequeaths lands to Thomas his son; to Catharine his wife, the manor of Hilmorton for life; remainder to Thomas his son.
And in the said year, Henry le Spencer Bishop of Norwich received of Catharine, relict of Sir Thomas, 85 marks sterling, wherein she was bound for the ward and marriage of Thomas, son and heir of the late Sir Thomas.
This Catharine was daughter of Sir Roger Bacon of Baconsthorp, Knt. and mother, as I take it, of Thomas the minor.
In the 18th of Richard II. Thomas de Astley, son and heir of Sir Thomas, granted in trust, this manor, to Sir Robert Carbonel, and sealed with the cinquefoil, in a bordure ingrailed; and after, in the 3d of Henry V. to Sir Simon Felbrigg, Sir Robert de Berney, and Sir Edmund de Oldhall, this, with other manors, and was living in the year 1422, when he and Isabel his wife presented to this church.
He married two wives; Elizabeth, the first, was daughter of— Dacres, who bore gules, 3 escallops, argent; his 2d was Isabel, daughter of Jeffrey Okes, of Shrubland in Suffolk, and bore sable, on a fess, between six acorns, argent, three oak leaves, vert.
By Isabel he had John his son and heir, who took to wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edward Witchingham; by his will, dated April 8, 1475, (fn. 5) and proved June 23 following, it appears that he had 2 sons, Thomas and Robert, a daughter, Alice, married to John Calthorp, Esq. and a daughter, Constantia, to whom he bequeaths 40l. his manor of Melton to his executors for 2 years, to perform his will, and his body to be buried in the church of the Carmes at Blakeney.
Thomas Astley, Esq. son and heir, had 2 wives; Margery, daughter of William Lumner, Esq. of Manington, in Norfolk, who bore sable, on a bend, azure, cottised, ermine, three escallops, gules.
To this Thomas and his wife, John his father, in the 11th of Edward IV. granted the manor of Holewell Hall in Langham, and that of Hindringham Nowers; the 2d wife of Thomas was Elizabeth, daughter of William Clipsby of Owby, Esq.
In the 7th year of Henry VII. Thomas Spicer, &c. at the instance of Thomas Astley, Esq. son and heir of John Astley, late of Melton, confirmed to the said Thomas and Elizabeth his wife, one of the daughters of William Clipesby, late of Owby, Esq. deceased, the manors of Langham and Hindringham aforesaid, dated May 2; witnesses, Sir Henry Heydon, Edward Paston, John Clipesby, Esq. &c.
By his first wife he had Thomas, his eldest son, to whom he gave the manors of Melton, Burgh, and Bruningham; and to Ralph his son, the manor of Hindringham, by his will, dated June 7, and proved March 12, 1500, and was buried in the chancel of the church of the Carmes of Blakeney.
Thomas Astley, son and heir of Thomas, enfeoffed in the 22d of Henry VII. Will. Eton, &c. of this manor in trust, and married first, Anne, daughter of Edw. Boughton of Lawford, in Warwickshire, who bore sable, three crescents, or;—and had by her John, his son and heir; his 2d wife was Anne or Hellen, daughter of Robert Wode of East Barsham, Esq. and sister of Elizabeth, the wife of Sir James Boleyn of Blickling, by whom he had also a son, John, who was master of the Jewel-house.
She died in child-bed, and was buried at Blickling.
In the 26th of Henry VIII. January 4, Thomas Astley, (fn. 6) Esq. settled on his trustees, for his own use, and after for that of John his son and heir apparent, and Frances his wife, daughter and heir of John Chene, Esq. of Settingbourn in Kent, the manor of Melton.
Cheney bore ermin, on a bend, sable, three martlets, or.
By an inquisition, taken September 16, in the 36th of Henry VIII. at Norwich castle, Thomas Asteley, Esq. of Melton, was found to die October 19, last past, seized of this manor and advowson, and the manors of Burgh, Bruningham, Langham, &c. and John was his son and heir, aged 30.
This John was, by Frances aforesaid, father of Isaac Astley, Esq. John his father dying about the year 1558; in 1557 he presented to this church, and in 1559 Frances his widow presented, also in 1564.
Isaac married Mary, daughter of Edward Waldgrave, Esq. of Borley in Essex, who bore per pale, gules and argent, a roundle counterchanged, and presented in 1593, and had by the said Mary, Thomas, his eldest son, and Jacob, who for his many eminent services to King Charles I. was created by him Lord Asteley of Reading.
Thomas Astley, Esq. married Frances, daughter and coheir of— Dean of Tilney in Marshland, Norfolk, by whom he had 3 sons, Sir Francis, who was high sheriff of Norfolk in 1636, and died in the same year without issue, leaving Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Sir James Altham of —, in Hertfordshire: he was buried in the Savoy church at London, and his lady remarried to the Lord Digby, and after to Sir Robert Bernard, serjeant at law.
Sir Isaac, the 2d son, was also high sheriff of Norfolk, created Bart. in 1641, January 21.
He took to wife first, Rachel, daughter of Augustine Messinger of Hackford in Norfolk, Esq. and 2dly, Bridget, daughter of John Coke, of Holkham, Esq. who survived him: he died s. p. December 7, 1659.
Sir Edward, the 3d son, was high sheriff of Norfolk, and a Baronet, and married Elizabeth, only daughter of Jacob Lord Asteley of Reading, who surviving him, married Henry Clifton, Esq. of Toftrees in Norfolk, by which lady he had Sir Jacob Astley, Bart. who was many years knight of the shire for the county of Norfolk: by his wife, Blanch, daughter of Sir Philip Wodehouse of Kimberley, Bart. he had Jacob, his son and heir, who died at Oxford in 1681. Sir Jacob dying in 1729, August 17, was succeeded in honour and estate, by his 2d son, Sir Philip, who married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of — Bransby of Yarmouth, Esq. who died in 17 - -, leaving 2 sons, Jacob, and Edward, who was a commissioner of the Salt-office, and died single.
Sir Jacob Astley, Bart. eldest son of Sir Philip, died January 5, 1760; and, by Lucy his first wife, daughter of Sir Nicholas L'Estrange, he had 2 sons, Edward, and John, rector of Thornage in Norfolk, and a daughter, Lucy, married to Edward Pratt, Esq. son and heir of Roger Prat, Esq. of Ruston, by Downham in Norfolk.
His 2d wife was—, relict of— Page, Esq. of Saxthorp, and his 3d, Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Christopher Bedingfeld, Esq. of Wighton in Norfolk; by these he had no issue.
Sir Edward Astley, the present Bart. married first, Rhoda, daughter of Francis Blake Delaval, Esq. and by her has 2 sons living: his present Lady is Ann, youngest daughter of Christopher Milles, Esq. of Nackington, in Kent, and sister of Richard Milles of North Elmham, Esq. the present member for Canterbury.
Sir Edward was elected member for this county, 23 March, 1768.
Sir Jacob Astley, Bart. grandfather of Sir Jacob, built the present hall or manor-house, of brick, which stands in a large park, a very agreeable and handsome seat, of which there is a print, and about it are several large ponds, stored with fish, and fine avenues: and there is a turret on the summit covered with lead, affording an agreeable prospect towards the sea and land; and there is a very neat and elegant chapel.
The town is seated near the rise of the river Bure.
I have already observed that on the death of Jeff. de Meauton, alias Le Constable, son of Peter, his three sisters, Isabel, Alice, and Edith were his coheirs, between whom this lordship was divided; Edith married Sir Thomas de Astley, Isabel married Adam de Cockfeld, and Alice married Robert de Cockfeld, brother of Adam, (as I take it,) and sons of Adam de Cockfeld, by Agatha, or Isabel, daughter of Sir Robert de Aguillon, by Agatha his wife, daughter and coheir of Fulk de Beaufoe, lord of Hockwold and Wilton, in her right.
The family of Cockfield seem to descend from a younger son of the noble family of the Veres Earls of Oxford, Alberick de Vere had a younger brother, Roger, who held the lordship of Cockfeld in Suffolk, of the abbots of Bury, immediately after the conquest, and Anselm, abbot of Bury, who lived in the reign of Henry I. granted the service of Roger to his brother, Alberic de Vere, at the King's request; from this town they took their sirname. (fn. 7)
Adam de Cockfeld left a daughter and heir, Nesta, who was Lady Semere in Suffolk, and married Matthew de Leyham.
In the reign of Richard I. Sampson, abbot of Bury, settled for life on Adam, son of Robert de Cockfeld, the manors of Groten and Semere in Suffolk, (fn. 8) and a fine was levied between the said abbot and Adam, in the 7th of that King, of the hundred of Cosford, wherein Adam, grandfather of Adam, is mentioned, and in the 10th of that King, a fine was levied between Lucy de Cokefeld and Adam her son.
In the 41st of Henry III. a fine was levied between John, son of Robert de Cockfield and Isabel, and Adam de Cokefeld and Isabel his wife, impedient, of two messuages, two carucates of land, 105s. rent in Mealting, Burgh, Burningham, Sniterley, Birston, and East Tudenham, with the advowson of the church of Birston, with all the demeans, homages, services of freemen, advowsons of churches, knights fees, wards, reliefs, eschaets, villages, woods, alders, meads, pastures, waters, pools, ponds, parks, &c. belonging; and whatever Adam and Isabel had of the inheritance of Peter de Mealton, father of Isabel, one of whose heirs she was, all which were released to John and his heirs, to be held of Robert de Cockfeld and Alice his wife, for the life of Alice, and after her decease of the chief lord of the fee, with a third part of the lands, tenements, and advowsons of churches, which Jeffrey de Burnavill and Maud his wife held in dower of the said inheritance, she being, as it appears, relict of Geffrey de Mealton.
Sir John de Cockfeld was at that time one of the justices of the King's Bench; and in the 56th of that King had an annuity of 40l. per ann. as one of those justices.
In the 14th of Edward I. John de Cockfeld claimed view of frank pledge, and other liberties belonging to their manor, (now united,) as belonging to the barony of the see of Norwich, and William Inge, serjeant at law, and John de Cockfeld, were in the 26th of the said reign appointed justices to enquire after the grievances of the people of England, in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutlandshire, Northamptonshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk; concerning things taken from the churchmen and laity, in wool, hides, leather, corn, beasts, flesh, fish, &c. either for the keeping of the seas, or any other reason after the war with France; according to the King's promise before his going over into Flanders and to do all other things according to the form of instructions sent them from the King and his council.
In the 12th of Edward II. John de Catfeld, clerk, Eustachius de Dalling, &c. trustees, settled this manor on John de Cokfeld and Margaret his wife, for their lives, remainder on Reginald, son of John, in fee tail; remainder to John, another son.
We find Sir John de Cockfeld to present to the church of Briston in 1305, and Cecilia his relict in 1311, and 1330, who were father and mother of John, who married Margaret; and in 1349, Sir John de Cockfeld presented to Birston.
John Cockfeld, Esq. was probably his son, and died before the year 1365, when Simon, Bishop of Ely, granted an indulgence of 40 days, to all who on confession of their sins, and saying Ave-Mary and the angelick salutation, for the health of the soul of the said John, buried in the conventual church of Wykes in Essex: he died before Sir John, his father, and Sir Thomas his brother was lord in the 36th of that King, and his son, Sir Robert de Cockfeld, was lord in the 5th of Richard II.
Sir John de Cockfeld, son of Sir Robert, kept his first court in the 4th of Henry V.; he married Margaret, daughter of Thomas Foljambe, and died s. p. about the 30th of Henry VI. and was then the wife of Ralph Monboucher. After this it came to Agnes, sister and heir of Sir John, who brought it by marriage to John Talbys, Esq. of Lincolnshire, and so to John Ascough, Esq. of the said county, as may be seen in East Tuddenham, in Mitford hundred, who sold it to John Wynham, Esq. in the reign of Henry VI. Sir Thomas Wyndham died seized of it in 1522: his son Edmund, in the 27th of Henry VIII. held with Thomas Astley, Esq. three knights fees, and 3 quarters of the Bishop of Norwich, paying castle guard to Norwich from 30 weeks to 30, 3s. 6d. for each fee; and was sold by a fine levied in the 34th of the said King to Sir William Butts, whose son William was lord, and by the heiress of this family came to Sir Nich. Bacon, Bart. whose son, Sir Edmund, sold it to the Astleys, in which family it now remains.
Besides what is above observed, I find that Remigius, son of Will. de Meuling had an interest in this town, and by his deed, granted and surrendered to William Bishop of Norwich, for himself and heirs, all those knights fees which he held of the Bishop and his church of Norwich, in capite, in Saxlingham, Egmere, Long-Stratton, Shippeden, &c. viz. in Meuling, the sixth part of a fee, which William de Milksop held of him, &c. dated in the 10th of Edward I. 1281.
From the register of Castleacre, (fn. 9) we learn several curious particulars relating to the ancient family of de Mealton, or Constable.
Alice de Warren, in her widowhood, with the consent of her son and heir, Sir Jeffrey de Mealton, gave by deed to the monks of Castleacre the yearly rent of 3s. out of a mill in Tudeham (East;) witnesses, Roger, son of Osbern, Fulk de Munpinchun, Roger de Saxlingham, &c. and by another deed confirms the same, willing the monks to remember her, and with the said yearly rent, to mend their towels, sans date.
By her will in Latin, beginning thus,
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen, This is the testament of Alice de Warren—Imprimis, I give my body to be buried in the church of St. Mary, of the monks of Acra, and two of my better sort of horses, with a vestment for a priest, and a chalice, (or a cup) and half a mark rent, per ann. for ever out of my mill in Tudeham, &c.
Geffrey Constable de Meauton, heir of his mother Alice de Warren, by deed confirmed the abovementioned grants.
Peter de Mealtun confirmed also by deed the said grant of his mother Alice, &c. and moreover gave to the said monks the yearly rent of 12d. to be received of Reiner de la Dale of Tudeham.
Peter de Meautun Constable, son and heir of Sir Peter de Meauton, and Dame Alice de Warren, his mother, bound himself to pay in performance of his mother's will to the monks of Castleacre at Easter 40d. and at Michaelmas 40d.—Dated at Castleacre 15th of the calends of February, 1228;—witnesses Sir William de Mortimer, Sir Adam de Birlingham, Sir Robert Burnell, Sir Richard de Mortimer, &c.
By these deeds it appears that Sir Peter de Mealtun married Alice, a daughter of the Earl Warren, and had by her Sir Jeff. who dying without issue, was succeeded by Peter his brother, which Peter was father (as I conceive) of Geff. and of his three sisters and coheirs.
The tenths were 2l. 3s.—No deductions.
The church is an old building, and contained only one isle, being a single pile, till Sir Jacob Astley, in 1681, built a neat chapel, with a vault under it of brick.
The tower stands between the church and chancel, and is foursquare, with three bells.
In the chancel, on a marble grave-stone,
Here lyeth interred the bodies of Thomas, Frances, and John Astley, children of Sir Edward Astley, 1645/6.
Agnita, daughter of Sir Edward, and Dame Elizabeth his wife, died Aug. 24, 1648.
Memoriœ sacrum — Hoc saxo tegitur corpus Edw. Astley, equitis aurati, filij tertia Tho. Astley de Melton Constable, Armig. prosapiam duxit a Tho. de Astley, Barone de Castro de Astley in comit. Warwicj (qui floruit tempore Henricj Tertij, Regis Angliœ) et Editha sorore et cohœrede Roberti Constabularij, Militis. de Melton Constabl. Primo meruit apud Belgas, postea in bello contra Scotos sub auspicijs serenissimi Regis Caroli primi, in utroq; clarus. In cœteris justus, sobrius, et pius. Ex unica uxore, Elizabetha filia Jocobi Domini Astley, Baronis de Reading, reliquit Jacob Astley, Militem et Baronettum, hœredem tam patris quam patruj Isaacj Astley Militis et Baronetj.—Obt. 15 die Martis, A. D. M. DC. LIII, et œtat. suœ XLIX.
In the said chancel,
Here is interred the body of Isaac Astley Kt. and Bt. second son of Thomas Astley, of Melton Constable, Esq; and heir of his eldest brother Francis Astley, Kt. descended from Thomas D'Astley, Baron of Astley Castle, in the county of Warwick, (in the time of Henry III. King of England) by Editha the sister and co-heir of Sir Robert Constable of Melton Constable. He was first married to Rachel, daughter of Augustine Messenger, of Hackford in Norfolk, Gent. his second wife was Bridget, daughter of John Coke of Holkham in Norfolk, Esq; he died without issue, the 7th of December 1659.
Edward Astley, third son of Sir Jacob Astley. Kt. and Bt. and Dame Blanch Astley his wife, died January 7, 1672.
Here lyeth Elizabeth Astley, daughter of Sir Jacob Astley, Bt. &c. born April 10, died April 22, 1676.
In the east window of the chancel were the figures of Thomas Astley, Esq. and his two wives, with the arms of Astley, of Dacres his first wife, and of Okes his second wife, and underneath, Orate p. a'ia'b; Thome Astley, armig. Elizabethe, et Isabelle consortis sue: and in the said window the arms of Cockfield, azure, a cross compony, argent and gules, and of Constable, quarterly in the 1st and 4th gules, in the 2d and 3 vairy, or and argent, over all a bend of the 3d—azure, 3 boars passant, or, Bacon.
On a marble grave-stone in the church,
Mercia Wodehouse, Edm. Wodehouse, Armig. et Merciœ uxoris ejus filia obt. 23 Martij, M. DC. LXXIII.
In the chapel or isle, built by Sir Jacob Astley, lies a white marble stone:
In hypogœo sub hoc monumento, opere arcuato extructo, conduntur reliquiœ Jacob Astley, Armig. filij natu maximj Jacob Astley, hujus parochiœ de Melton Constble. in com. Norf. militis et ban. et Blanchœ uxoris ejus filiæ Philippi Wodehouse de Kimberley in eodem agro, baroneti. Aspice res fluxas et inanes hujus labentis et fallacis œvi, eximiœ indolis, juvenis, literarum studiosissimus, ingenij universœ eruditiones ac artium capacis, memoriœ supra fidemtenacis, religiosus, Dei cultor, regis et ecclesiœ amantissimus, obsequij in parentes grande exemplum, a modestia, comitate, et eutrapelia omnibus percharus, domus suœ decus et columen, in quo prœcellentium virtutum plurima vestigia mature apparuere, futurœ suœ claritudinis si superstes fuerit, haud obscura prœsagia. In ipso flore juventœ, a paternis penatibus longo totius anni intervallo absens, in ipsa propemodum hora quâ parentes conspectum ejus magnopere cupientes ad visendum eum iter avidi susceperant, et votorum suorum compotes fieri optabant, multam spem et immensum solatij in eo, merito reponentes lethali morbo extinctus est, et a visu et amplexibus eorum, quasi temporis momento abreptus. Ante annum quam e vitâ excessit et candidam in cœlis, sortitus est, in œdem Christi, in academia Oxoniensi lœtis auspicijs admissus fuit, ubi pulchre se gessit sub tutela clarissimi viri Joh. Fell, Oxoniens. episc. admodum reverendi ejusdemq; œdis tunc temporis decanj, curatore una ab eodem episc. electo, et ei ob majorem ejus curam et dignationem prœposito, a quibus sœpissime per literas certiores facti fuerant parentes de praeclaris moribus et spectabilj ejus vitâ, quod auxit gaudium eorum, et mox dolorem ex auditu improvisae ejus mortis, quae eum e medio sustulit apud eundem Oxonium cum mœstitia, ineffabili parentum ignoscatis ergo, si non ita fortiter tolerarent tam charj pignoris, tam ornati juvenis inopinatum et gravem casum) et acerbo omnium luctu, nono die Junij, A. D. 1681, et a nativitate ejus duo de vicesimo septem hebdomadis et diebus quatuor superadditis.
On another white marble stone,
M. S. In conditorio infra structo, jacet ornatissima Domina Elizabetha Astley, uxor D'ni Edw. Astley equitis aurati, filia nobilissimi D'ni Jacob Astley, Baronis de Reading, prosapia materna ab illustri et antiqua implorum apud Germanos stirpe deducta, fœmina pietate in Deum, amore in suos, liber alitate in agenos, benignitate, in omnes admodum insignis, annos nata LXV, denata 22 Januar. M.DC.LXXXIII, Beatam resurrectionem praestolatur, Dominus Jacob Astley, Miles et Baronettus, et septennis liberis solus superstes in perpetuam dilectissima matris memoriam H. M. P.
In the church were also these arms—sable, two barrulets vairy, argent and vert, Hacon.—Quarterly, sable and argent, a bend over all,—Burston, or Briston.
Constable with his crest—a lion's paw, ermine armed or.
It is a rectory dedicated to St. Peter, valued formerly at 10 marks; and paid Peter-pence 7d. ob.; the present valor is 6l.
In 1298, Michael occurs rector.
1312, Richard de Aungeville instituted, presented by Stephen de Estle; Richard was afterwards Bishop of Durham in 1333.
1325, John de Astlele, by Thomas Astele.
1329, Simon Motoun. Ditto.
1341, Richard Daneys. Ditto.
1342, Brice de St Lyze, by Sir Ralph de Astele.
1349, John le Mey, by Sir Ralph de Astele.
1350, Richard de Barsham. Ditto.
1354, John de Wolterton. Ditto.
1355, John de Egfeld, Ditto.
1367, William de Egfeld, by Dennis de Egfeld, clerk, Henry de Berney &c.
1370, William Wulsey, by Thomas de Astelee.
1386, John Rolf, by Thomas de Merygton, &c.
1396, John Skynner, by Thomas de Astele.
1422, Thomas White, by Thomas Astele and Isabel his wife.
1441, William Cook, by John Astele, Esq.
1447, John Coton. Ditto.
1447, Thomas Alysson. Ditto.
1466, Thomas Sutton. Ditto.
1467, Robert Bennet. Ditto.
1485, Roger Humpfrey, by the Bishop, a lapse,
1486, Thomas Spicer, by Thomas Astele, Esq.
1514, Richard Fowler.
1533, Robert Parker, by Thomas Astele.
1546, Roger Elward, by Robert Astele, Esq.
1548, Thomas Athow, by John Astele, Esq.
1554, John Frear. Ditto.
1557, William Sewell, by John Astele, Esq.
1559, Thomas Corker, by Frances Astle, widow.
1564, Edmund Weston. Ditto.
1593, Richard Foster, by Isaac Astele, Esq.
1617, Richard Astley, by Francis Astley, Esq.
1642, Thomas Reyner, by Isaac Astley.
1671, Charles Spicer, by Sir Jacob Astley, Bart.
1712, Francis Fasquet. Ditto.
1734, Thomas Horseley, by Sir Philip Astley, Bart.
1754, Samuel Shaw, by Edward Astley, Esq.; died in 1764.