An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 9. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1808.
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Of of this town we meet with no account in the book of Domesday, it being part of the King's manor of Sporle, and farmed of him by Godric, and so is accounted for under Sporle: (fn. 1) it remained royal demeans till King Henry I. granted it, together with Sporle, to Baldwin de Bosco or Bois, who on the marriage of his daughter and coheir Hildeburgh, granted it to Henry de Vere, and Henry granted it to Sir Ralph de Briston, who gave it William le Briston, and John his son and heir.
In the 5th of Henry III. Alianore, widow of Reginald de Dunham possessed lands here.
This family held the lordship under the Britons. John de Dunham was found to hold a quarter of a fee here and in Beeston, under Sir John de Brelong; and in the 15th of Edward I. John de Dunham claimed the assise of his tenants, weyf, and other royal privileges in this town.
John de Dunham, by fine levied, settled it on Sir John de Briton and Maud his wife, with all its services and rents.
Sir John was a parliamentary baron in the 29th of that King, and in the 33d one of the justices of trail baston, whose son John died seized in 1311, leaving Maud his sister and heir, the wife of Richard de la Rivers, of Ongar in Essex, who became lord in her right, and of Sporle.
In the 5th of Edward III. Sir Richard de River settled the reversion of it on Thomas his son, and Alice, daughter of John de Loudham, in tail, (his intended wife,) remainder on John and Ralph, brothers of Thomas.
Sir Richard died before the 10th of that King, Maud being then his widow; and Sir Thomas de la River was lord in the 20th of that King.
Thomas de Batesford presented to this church in 1338, in right of Maud aforesaid, then his wife.
In the 49th of Edward III. Sir Robert Swillington, Knt. and Margaret his wife, John Garleke and Sarah his wife, conveyed by fine, this lordship, to Sir Robert Corbet, senior, and Beatrix his wife, the said Beatrix, Margaret, and Sarah, being daughters of Sir Richard de la River, and sisters and coheirs of Sir Thomas: this Sir Robert, senior, died seized of it, as appears from the escheat rolls, in the 6th of Henry IV. leaving Robert his son, aged 40, and bore two barrulets, and on a canton a lion passant.
Robert his son was also a knight and lord of this town, and of Assington in Suffolk, and dying without issue male in 1438, left Sybill his daughter and heir, who married John Grevill, Esq son of — Grevill, a merchant, at Cambden in Gloucestershire, and dying without issue in the 23d of Henry VI. Guy Corbet, (fn. 2) her uncle, became lord of this town and Assington, and by Joan his wife, daughter of Sir Edmand Thorp the elder, of Ashwell Thorp, had Sir Robert Corbet, his son and heir, who married Elizabeth, daughter of—Dorward of Rocking, in Essex, who, with his wife, settled this lordship, by fine, in the 33d of the said King, on Sir John Fortescue, Knt. lord chief justice of the King's Bench, and John Prisot, chief justice of the Common Pleas.
This Sir Robert was father of Robert Corbet, Esq. who married Maud, daughter of the aforesaid Sir John Fortescue; and after married (during the said Maud, his first wife's life, forsaking her) Lettice, daughter of John Shirewood, of Coventry, and left issue by her Robert and Alice; his first wife, Maud, surviving him, from whom he never was divorced; upon this, Roger Corbet, Esq. his brother, 2d son of Sir Robert aforesaid, made an entry into his lands, as next and legal heir, but Lettice aforesaid, having married — Talboys, a servant to Thomas Rotherham, Archbishop of York, and Chancellor of England, Roger sued him in the spiritual court of Canterbury, and Talboys procuring a prohibition, Roger appealed to Rome, and a writ was directed by Rotheram, to Roger, of Ne exeat regnum; upon this, Roger was laid up in the counter two years, but being enlarged in the last year of King Edward IV. died presently after.
It appears that Maud, first wife, had a jointure of 20 marks per ann. out of this manor: she retired, and lived in the nunnery of Hellenstow in Bedfordshire, and died there.
It further appears, that Sir Rich. Corbet aforesaid, left also two daughters, sisters of Robert and Roger Corbet; Blanch, married to Humphrey Conynsby of Neen-Solers in Shropshire, and Elizabeth to William Leighton of Little Wenlock in the said county; but I do not find they ever had any interest in, or inherited this manor.
In the 12th year of Edward IV. during the suits abovementioned, Margaret Corbet, sister of Sir Robert Corbet, deceased, father of Robert and Roger, died, having sold this lordship to John Coket, senior, and in 1479, the said John presented to this church, and in 1481, Thomas Cocket presented.
In the 10th of Henry VII. John Cocket was found to die lord of it, and John was his son and heir. Thomas Coket, Esq. was lord in 1511, and presented.
In 1515, Robert Coraunt, and in 1541, Edmund Bockyng presented in right of Elizabeth his wife; in 1556, Richard Bockyng and John Calybut, and John Calybut, Esq. in 1562; in 1583, Edmund Bockyng and Philip Audley, Esq. which Philip married Margaret, eldest daughter and coheir of John Calybut, Esq.
From Philip Audley it came to Sir Edward Coke, who was lord in 1601. Sir Edward, by deed, dated November 4, in the 15th of James I. settled it, with Thornham Bishop's in Norfolk, and Elmham, &c. on Frances his daughter, fourth wife of Sir John Villiers after Viscount Purbeck, after his and his wife's death; and she presented in 1640. On her death it came to Robert Danvers, Esq son of the Lord Viscount Pwbeck aforesaid, by his 2d wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Slingsby of Kippax in Yorkshire, Knt. of whom she was privately delivered, and he was for a long time called Robert Wright. (fn. 3)
This Robert taking to wife the daughter and heir of Sir John Danvers, one of the murtherers of King Charles I. obtained a patent from Oliver Cromwell, to change his name to Danvers, and died seized of this lordship February 18, 1637, but not without issue, as Dugdale says.
In 1682, Sir William Rawstern, Knt. presented as lord, and in 1692, John Turner, third son of William Turner, attorney, is said to have bought it of Francis Drury; but in 1708, Thomas Rogers, Esq. of Cley by the Sea, possessed it, and presented to the church, and his son — Rogers, Esq. of Norwich, is the present lord.
The manor once possessed by the Turners was sold by Sir John Turner, to Mr. Backler; the site is in Great Dunham manor, Roger's is in Little Dunham, and does not seem to have belonged to the Turners, unless the Turners had two manors.
The tenths were 3l. 16s. 11d.—Deduct 1l.
The honour or manor of Hokering extended into this town: see in Scarning and Swanton Morley in this hundred.
In the 19th of Edward I. Godfrey de Beaumont held here, in Scarning, &c. four fees of the aforesaid honour, and in the 9th of Edward II. Walter de Langton and Joan Beaumond were found to hold lands in this town, Scarning and Fransham, by four fees, of John le Marshall.
The Church is a rectory dedicated to St. Margaret, the old valor was 18 marks, and paid Peter-pence 5d. ob. the present valor is 9l. 15s. 11d. ob. and is discharged.
In 1431, I find a legacy to the new building of the tower.
In the 18th of Edward I. Sir John de Briton had the patronage of it.
1308, Roger de Swanton, rector, presented by Sir John de Dunham, Knt.
1335, Walter de Wanyngdon, by Thomas de Batisford and Maud his wife.
1349, Roger de Chalfont. Ditto.
1379, William Dunnelent, by Sir Robert Corbet, senior.
1385, William Acton. Ditto.
1399, Richard Scroop. Ditto.
1408, Richard Person, by Guy Corbet,
1413, John Wakke, ditto, he died 1431, and was buried in the chapel of St. Mary in this church.
1479, Geff. Norman, by John Cocket, sen. of Hampton.
1481, John Clerk, by Thomas Coket.
1511, Walter Yevan, by Thomas Coket, Esq.
1515, William Stevynson, by Robert Coraunt.
1541, William Ficays, by Edmund Bockyng, jure uxoris.
John Reder, rector.
1556, John Brightive, by Richard Bockyng, and John Calybut.
1562, Edmund Morton, by John Calibut, Esq.
1583, William Davy, by Edmund Bockyng of Bocking Ash, Suffolk. and Philip Audley.
1585, Thomas Repkin, by Philip Audley, Esq.
1601, John Beacon, by Sir Edward Coke.
James Molines, rector, compounded for first fruits in 1635,
1640, William Thelwell, by the lady Elizabeth Hatton, alias Coke, late wife of Sir Edward Coke.
William Jacob, rector.
1660, John Gunby, by the King, a lapse.
1682, William Somersby, by Sir William Rawstern, Knt.
1708, Thomas Cook, by Thomas Rogers, Esq.
1716, Fran. Green, by Thomas Rogers, Esq.
1724, Joseph Ward. Ditto.
1741, John Edgerley, by Thomas Rogers, Esq.
1747, Charles Allan, by ditto.
In the church were the guilds of St. Margaret, the Holy Trinity, and the Virgin Mary.