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 town takes its name from its site, as surrounded with water: Turchetet was lord of it in the Confessor's time, a freeman, and had 2 carucates of land, 11 villains, 7 borderers, and 2 servi, with 30 acres of meadow; there were 2 carucates in demean, and one amongst the tenants, one mill, and the moiety of another, 4 salt pits, and the third part of another, &c. a church endowed with 30 acres; 13 socmen belonged to this manor, with 37 acres and a carucate. (fn. 1)
It was always valued at 6l. 4s. per ann. the whole was one leuca long and broad, and paid 12d. of a 20s. gelt, and East Winch was measured with it, (that is the part which Hermerus held there) and the Conoueror gave it to Hermerus de Ferrarijs, who was lord at the survey.
The descendants of this Hermerus assumed the name of Wirmegay, which town was his chief seat and residence: Richard de Wirmegay was father of William de Wirmegay, who lived in the reign of Henry II. was Baron of Wirmegay, and held 14 knights fees belonging to it, &c.
Reginald de Warren, second son to William, the 2d Earl Warren and Surry, married Alice, daughter and heir of the said William de Wirmegay, and had by her William de Warren, who lived in the reign of King Richard I. and dying in the 11th of King John, left Beatrix his daughter and heir, then the widow of Dodo Bardolf, son of Thomas de Bardolf; by Dodo, she had William Bardolf, Lord Bardolf, who in the 27th of Henry III. had that honour and barony delivered to him, together with this town, as a part, or member of it.
In this family it continued till the death of Thomas Lord Bardolf, who was beheaded and attainted, being in rebellion against King Henry IV. and that King granted it to his brother, Thomas Beaufort Duke of Exeter.
It came afterwards to Sir William Phelips Lord Bardolf, so to John Viscount Beaumont, and on the death of William Viscount Beaumont, and his lady, this manor and honour of Wirmegay fell to the Crown, as in Wirmegay, and so continued for some years.
In the 1st of King Edward VI. Christopher Caningsby, Esq. of Wallington (fn. 2) was found to die seized of it, and left it to his three daughters and coheirs, Elizabeth, Ann, and Amy. Francis Gawdy, Esq. by the marriage of Elizabeth, the eldest, had a third part of the same Thomas Clark, Esq. of Hampshire, who married Amy, and Alexander Balam, Esq. who married Ann, held the other two parts in the 1st of Elizabeth, which were purchased by the said Gawdy, afterwards a knight, and lord chief justice of the Common Pleas. At his death in or about 1605, it came to his daughter and heir, Elizabeth, who by Sir William Hatton, alias Newport, had a daughter and heir, Frances, married to Robert Rich Earl of Warwick, lord of this town in her right, and was sold by him on the 1st of June, in the 12th year of King James I. to George Cremer, alias Skryme, which George was third son of John Cremer of Snetesham, in Norfolk, by Ann, daughter of—Task: George married Elizabeth, daughter of Adam Williamson, of Keswicke in Cumberland, and had Sir John Cremer, Knt. his eldest son, and Edmund Cremer, his 2d son; Sir John married Sarah, daughter of Sir Edward Filmer of East Sutton, in Kent, by whom he had a son and 3 daughters, who all died young, Edmund the second son lived at Westwinch, and married Anne, daughter of Richard Tryce, of Godmanchester in Huntingtonshire, and left Anne, his daughter and heir, who being married to William Lord Fitz Williams, of Lefford, in Ireland, in 1694, was living with this lady his wife; at Milton in Northamptonshire, and in this family it now remains.
Sir William de Rungeton was high sheriff of Norfolk, in the 16th of Edward II. and sealed with 2, 2, and 1 escallops, or flowers-de-lis.
Another lordship in this town was held at the survey, by William de Scohies, and by Turchill, in the Confessor's time; it consisted of one carucate of land held by 2 borderers, and 20 acres of meadow, one carucate in demean, and half a one amongst the tenants; 7 socmen belonged to it, in King Edward's time, who held then 60 acres, and 2 carucates; at the survey they held but one carucate and 8 acres of meadow, valued at 3l. per ann.
Soon after the conquest this seems to be possessed by William Giffard Earl of Buckingham, and by the marriage of the daughter and heir of that family it came to the Earls of Clare,
To this town the hamlets of Seche Magna, and Hardwick belong.