The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: Volume 1. Originally published by WS Crowell, Ipswich, 1846.
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Barnaby is evidently, by its name, a village of Danish origin, having been the residence of Barne, or Berne. In Domesday Book its spelling is corroborative of this derivation, being therein called Barneby. It must have been a spot of no inconsiderable importance in early days, as a promontory steps from the land abruptly to the marshes, and commands an unimpeded view of the three arms of the estuary which flow past it in their courses to Yarmouth, Lowestoft, and Beccles, and which at high water must formerly have bathed the foot of the hill. The point juts out near the little publichouse, called the Blind Man's Gate, and a handful of resolute men might even now maintain the pass against a very superior body of opponents.
In the reign of Edward the Confessor, five free-men held, under Burchard, 44 acres of land, and half an acre of meadow, in this parish, then valued at seven shillings. At the time of the Survey, in the year 1086, this estate had fallen to six shillings, in consequence of the depreciation in landed property, which resulted from the battle of Hastings. It was then the estate of Earl Hugh, though the Crown held a moiety of the soke. It had a church, endowed with the unusual quantity of 80 acres of glebe, valued at two shillings, and Hugh, the son of Norman, was the earl's tenant. The lordship appears to have been included in the grant of Mutford, and is now the manor of Mr. Peto, having passed to that gentleman from the family of Anguish. The families of Crofts and Thewt appear to have possessed interests here at an early period; because in the British Museum is a charter of Beatrix, the daughter of Richard de Crofts, to Isabella, her sister, granting lands in Barneby. (fn. 1) The deed has neither date nor seal; and in the second of Richard II., 1378, Agnes, late the wife of Thomas Thewt, conveyed an estate to John de Moaunforth, situated in Barnaby, and to which is appended her seal. (fn. 2)
The church of Barnaby St. John was granted to the Priory of Butley soon after its foundation in 1171, and confirmed to it by John of Oxford, Bishop of Norwich. (fn. 3) This convent presented to the church till the dissolution of religious houses, when the patronage fell to the Crown, and was afterwards granted to Gonville Hall, in Cambridge, the master of which establishment presented in 1552. It is now held as a discharged rectory consolidated with the vicarage of Mutford, and the rectory of Wheatacre All Saints, in Norfolk; and which consolidated preferment is in the gift of the master and fellows of Gonville and Caius College. The Reverend Joshua Burton, who died Rector of Barnaby in 1730, bequeathed by will £10, for the purchasing a rent-charge of five or four shillings a year, if it will thereunto reach, or less; to be paid by his executors into the hands of his successor in the vicarage of Mutford cum Barnaby, within six months after his institution; and which rent-charge was to be purchased by him; and the proceeds to be paid yearly, and every year, for ever, to the Vicar of Mutford cum Barnaby, for the repairs of the chancel of Barnaby church; (fn. 4) which sum of £ 10 was accordingly paid by the Rev. Martin Johnson, the executor of Mr. Burton, into the hands of the Rev. Christopher Smear, his successor, as appears by the acknowledgment of the latter gentleman. (fn. 5)
The church at Barnaby is a small narrow edifice, devoid of architectural grace or embellishment. It comprises a nave and chancel, without aisles, and has a square tower at the west end, in which hangs a solitary bell. The registers, preserved in the church, commence in the year 1701, but the older parochial records are united with those at Mutford, and bear the date of 1554.
The parish is small, containing little more than 1000 acres, much of which is ordinary marsh-land, and the ample Saxon endowment of 80 acres of glebe has dwindled to less than five. The parish is not yet surveyed in conformity with the Commutation Act. A portion of marsh-land was apportioned to the poor, in lieu of the right of cutting furze on the common, when the parish was enclosed, which now produces about £ 9 per annum, distributed in coals.
The population in 1841 amounted to 296 souls.
Rectors Of Barnaby.
Estimatur ad iij marc.