Hundred of Shropham: Bretenham

Pages 440-445

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 1. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1805.

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The manor and advowson was given to the monks of Ely, along with Bridgham, and the rest of the possessions of that abbey in Norfolk, all which were confirmed by King Edgar in the year of our lord 970, (fn. 1) (see p. 436) but was divided before the Conqueror's time by the Abbots, into divers parts, they reserving the advowson, part of the demeans, and a few small rents only, to themselves, all which they joined to their manor of Bridgham, with which it was assigned at the erection of that see, to the bishops thereof, who always presented to this church, as they do at this day; the advowson not being appendant to Bridgham manor, did not pass to the Crown at the exchange of that manor. In 1277, it was found by an inquisition, that the Bishop of Ely had the free gift and patronage of this church, (fn. 2) that it was in the archdeaconry of Norfolk, and deanery of Rokelond, but the Abbot of St. Alban's had two parts of both the small and great tithes, of the demeans of Alexander de Royinges, (or Rothynges, as the family was after called,) except 40 acres, which the rector was to have the whole tithes of, and the Prior of Thetford had two parts of the great and small tithes, of the demeans of William de Carleton, and the lady Sarah Le-Noreise, except 48 acres, which belonged solely to the rector; and also two parts of the great and small tithes of the demeans of Alexander Purri, (fn. 3) and Godfride de Snareshille, except 12 acres which the rector had the whole tithe of, all which were given by Roger Bigot at the foundation of the priory, (fn. 4) at which time he was lord of that whole part, which was now divided, and held by the said William, Sarah, Alexander, and Godfride. This portion was taxed at one mark, and so was the portion of the Prior of St. Alban's.

The rectory was valued at 4l. 12s. 6d. in the King's Books, but being sworn of the clear yearly value of 40l. 6s. 8d. a year, it is discharged of first fruits and tenths, and consequently is capable of augmentation. It is a small parish of near 100 inhabitants; in 1603, it had 48 communicants; it paid 55s. to the tenths, and is now assessed at 119l. to the King's tax.

At this town there have been divers Roman coins ploughed up; (fn. 5) I have seen a very fair one of Vespasian, thus circumscribed, IMP. caes. vespatian. aug. cos. viii. pp.; the reverse was a Mercury holding an urn, and S.C.; there are also urns found here; I have seen a small one of red earth, that held about half a pint, all which make me apt to think, that this town, and not Bretenham in Suffolk, might be the Combretonium of Antoninus, and the Conventronum et ad Convecin. in the Peutegerian Tables; (fn. 6) and the rather, because I never heard of any Roman antiquities found at the other Bretenham; but whether the name in English implies a town on the Breton, or, in Welsh, a great valley or low place upon the Breton, I confess I know not; but the situation is in a great valley, or low place, upon that river which runs from Quidenham-Mere to Thetford, the name of which I have not met with.

The Church and parsonage-house were burnt down in 1693: the nave was rebuilt, but the chancel was not; there is a square tower and one bell; the nave and south porch are tiled. This is written on the north wall,

By this Place lyeth the Body of Roger Beales, who died June 29, 1711, and was Church-Warden alone for the Town of Bretenham, and built this Church after the Fire, being the 18th Day of May, in the Year 1693, and laid out all the money, before he made his Rate, to gather in any Money, and whose Names, and what every Man paid.

Charles Wright [lord] 29l. 6s. 6d.; Mr. John Newcomb [rector] 21l. 1s.; Roger Beales 12l. 12s.; John Sele 6l.; Roger Howes 3l. 18s. Tho. Townsend 1l. 13s.; Richard Lovick 1l. 19s. &c.

Rectors of Bretenham St. Andrew.

1303, 5 id. May, a sequestration was granted to Alfred de Brok.

1303, 6 id. Aug. Roger de Orford.

1309, 6 id. Aug. Richard de Denesford, accolite.

1309, 17 kal. Jan. Tho. de Haytone, priest.

1328, 5 kal. Feb. John de Derby, priest.

1335, prid. id. Feb. He had license, as chaplain to the Bishop of Ely, to let his rectory, and not reside upon it. The above were presented by the Bishop of Ely.

1345, 22 July, Tho. Elyot de Swaffham-Market, priest, on the resignation of John Breidesdale de Derby. The King, by reason of the vacancy of the See. (fn. 7)

1349, 24 Octob. Tho. Burchard, priest. Brother Alan Prior of Ely, attorney of Tho. Bishop of Ely, who was beyond sea.

1356, 11 Febr. Peter de Berton, priest. The King, on account of the temporalities of the Bishoprick, then in his hands.

1361, 25 Aug. Will de Nessingwik, accolite on Berton's resignation. Ditto.

1363, William de Derkewey. Thomas de Wilton.

1372, 30 Nov. Tho. de Clypesby, priest, on Wilton's resignation. John Bishop of Ely.

1373, 26 June, John de Conguresbury, shaveling. (fn. 8) The King, the see being void.

1376, 15 June, Walter De-la-more, priest. The Pope, by provision or reservation.

1394, 30 Sept. Ralph Lemburgh, priest. Ditto.

1401, 12 Aug. William Aleyn, priest. The Bishop of Ely.

1403, 4 July, William Lylye, priest. Ditto.

1442, 7 Jan. Will. Dorant, priest, on Lylye's death. John, vicargeneral to the Bishop of Ely. (fn. 9)

1449, 24 Febr. Will. Gilberd, bachelor in the decrees. Lapse.

1454, 30 Dec. Thomas Walle, on Gilberd's resignation.

1466, 7 Octob. John Fustour, on Walle's resignation.

1470, 8 June, John Kaa. John Aleyn,

1502, 10 April, Tho. Watson, on Aleyn's death,

1511, 9 June, John Eldred,

1542, 10 Aug. Sir Tho. Horne, chaplain, on Eldred's death,

1544, 23 July, Will. Collison, on Horne's death,

1554, 14 May, John Thirkelby,

1559, 1 July, Robert Dixon, priest, William Collinson,

1562, 11 Nov. Hugh Weston, priest, on Collinson's resignation.

1566, 19 June, Sir Thomas Smith, on Weston's resignation.

1569, 5 May, Robert Westley,

1571, 13 Febr. Tho. Green, clerk, on Westley's resignation. The above were presented by the Bishop of Ely.

1581, 30 Aug. John Townsend. The Queen, lapse.

1600, Mr. John Wolf.

1608, 2 Aug. Richard Mucklestone, A.M. who held it united to Thurston in Depwade hundred. The Bishop.

1612, 10 Dec. Richard Pemberton, A.M. Ditto.

1624, 2 July, William Alcock, A.M. The King, lapse.

1627, Alexander Pistor, S.T.P. The Bishop.

Edward Furnace, clerk.

1636, 31 May, Tho. Cordell, A. M. by the promotion of Edward Furnace. The Bishop.

Thomas Pell, united to Bridgham. Ditto.

1663, 23 Dec. Will Monford, A.M, on Pell's death. Ditto.

1666, 25 Nov. Tho. Hetherset, A. M. on Monford's death. Ditto.

1675, 17 Aug. John Chinery, on Wormley Hetherset's (fn. 10) death. Ditto.

1686, 19 Aug. Edmund Newcomb, united to Knatishall in Suffolk. Ditto.

1701, 10 Oct. The Rev. Mr. Thomas Lone, the present [1737] incumbent; and now holds it united to Kilverstone. Ditto.

The whole at first belonged to the Abbot of Ely, as aforesaid, by whom it was divided into several parts; the first two parts belonged to John, Waleram's nephew, at the time of the Conquest, (fn. 11) and had been held by two freemen under the abbot in the time of the Confessor; the next was held by Eudo the Sewer in the Conqueror's time, (fn. 12) and by Turgis in the Confessor's; and Lesius claimed it against Eudo, who recovered it from him, and then held it. (fn. 12) Another part belonged to Roger Bigot, of whom William de Burneville held it at the survey; (fn. 13) the whole was then two miles long, and a mile and quarter broad, and paid 14d. ob. geld, the lord of the hundred being then (as he is now) lord paramount of this town, and after this there was no less than six manors here, viz. the Bishop of Ely's, which was joined to Bridgham, and ever after passed with it; the manor of Catton, or Carleton Hall, Burnvile's manor, the two manors called Rothyng, or Rothyng Hall, and the manor called Brethenham's.

Catton, or Carleton Hall,

Belonged to Edudo the Sewer, and in 1230 was settled by Richard de Meisy, on Richard Fitz-Richard, and was after in a family sirnamed de Carleton; Will. de Carleton held it in 1277, but how long it continued in that family I do not find; the Bretenhams had it in 1314, and Will. de Bretenham was then lord; it seems as if the Prior of Thetford was lord of it afterwards, till the Dissolution, but whether in trust or in right of his monastery I cannot say; but in 1543, the King licensed Nicholas Rookwood, prothonotary of the Common Pleas, to sell it to Sir Ralph Warren, Knt. alderman of London, whose son, Richard Warren of London, Esq. settled it on Elizabeth his wife, in jointure, who after his death married the Lord Knevet; the reversion, after her death, came to Sir Oliver Crumwell, in right of Joan his mother, heiress of Richard Warren; he sold the reversion to Sir Bassingbourne Gawdy, who purchased the Lady Knevet's right, and in 1606, Framlingham Gawdy, Esq. sold it to Thomas Wright of Kilverstone, Esq. in whose family it remained, till it was lately sold by Thomas Wright of Kilverstone, Esq. to Mr. George Proctor, the present [1737] lord.

Burnville's Manor

Was held of Roger Bigot, by William de Burneville, as is aforesaid, whose daughter Avice gave it to the prior of the monks at Thetford, and it was confirmed to them by King Henry II. (fn. 14) The Prior joined it to his manor of Rothyng Hall, from which it never was separated.

Bretenham's Manor

Belonged to Eudo the Sewer, and in 1198, to Richard de Brethenham, after to John de Brethenham, and after to Alexander de Bretenham, and in 1218, Richard de Brethenham held it, and had a carucate in demean, held of Clare honour at half a fee. In 1297, Will. de Bretenham and John de Brockdish had it; (fn. 15) in 1299, the Lady Sarah LeNoreise held it, and half Bretenham's part was settled on Rushworth college, (fn. 16) and John de Brockdish's part was divided into several parcels; (fn. 17) for in 1345, Tho. de Brockdyssch, Rob. de Welholme, and William de Bretenham, held that quarter of a fee of the Earl of Gloucester, which formerly belonged to John de Brokedysh: and after this it was divided in many small parcels, all which were purchased, some by the Master of Rushworth college, and some by the Prior of Thetford, and added to their manors; the other part which was not settled on Rushworth, was held by William de Bretenham, and passed to the monks at Thetford, along with their manor of Rothyng Hall, as you may see, at p. 287, where there is an account also of the separate fishery belonging to this manor.

Rothyng Hall, or Rutten Hall,

Was the capital manor, and was owned by John, Waleram's nephew, at the Conquest, and in Richard the First's time by Alexander de Rohinges, Roynges, or Rothyng, who, in Henry the Third's time, is said to hold it at half a fee of Margery de Riparijs, who held it of the Earl of Arundell, as of his hundred of Shropham, belonging to his castle of Bukenham, and the Earl of the King in chief. In 1301, Henry de Rothinge held of the King, as of his honour of Albemarle, at half a fee, one capital manor-house, 80 acres of land, one piece of meadow, and six acres bruery, liberty of a free-fold, 20s. rents of assize, and other rents and services in Brethenham, the whole being valued at 50s. 9d. and also 100 acres in the said town, of William de Bretenham, by the service of 12d. a year, and Alexander was his son and heir, who, in 1308, possessed it; in 1314, (fn. 18) Alexander de Rothing, William de Bretenham, the Prior of Thetford, and the Master of Rushford, were lords of the manors in this town. This Alexander it was that divided the manor into many parts, by selling half a fee held of the honour of Clare, to Robert Baynard, Hugh Stopusle, and others, who settled all their parts on Thomas Gardiner, clerk, rector of Croxton, in trust for the Prior of Thetford. In 1345, Henry de Rothing held the other part, which he divided into two manors, and sold one to the Herlings, whose heiress gave it to Rushworth college; and this was that Rothing Hall manor, that belonged to the college, to which there was 60 acres, and a toft added by Will. Fullere, and others; (fn. 19) and in 1374, he sold the other part to Rob. de Batisforth, Robert Benbrus, clerk, Richard Pareys, James de Bretenham, John Purri, and Tho. Fullere, who, in 1385, settled it on Tho. Gardiner, rector of Croxton, and he conveyed it, with Baniard's part, to the Prior of Thetford, who was taxed for the first part at 16s. and for this, at one mark; and these constituted that manor called Rothyngs, alias Rothyng Hall, to which the Prior joined his manor of Burnvilles; and in 1413, Alexander, master of Rushworth college, Tho. Crowe, John Mannyng, Will. Parys, and John Greene, clerks, fellows there, released to the Prior of St. Mary at Thetford a yearly rent of 6d. paid them by the Prior, out of lands in Bretenham, and thus there were two manors called Rothing Hall, to the Dissolution, and then they both came to the Earl of Surrey in 1542, who reunited them; and in 1556, Thomas Duke of Norfolk held it in capite of the Queen, and in 1572 it belonged to the Earl of Surrey; and in 1583, Phillip Earl of Arundell sold it to Tho. Lovell, Esq. and in 1622, Sir Francis Lovell, Knt. and William Lovell, Esq. sold it to Tho. Wright of Kilverstone, Esq. in whose family it continued till Tho. Wright of Kilverstone, Esq. lately sold it to Mr. George Proctor of Thetford, who is the present lord [1737.]


  • 1. Mon. Ang. vol. fol. 92, 3, 4, &c.
  • 2. Regr. Ely, Claudius. C. 2. Bib. Cott. fol. 348. and Regr. Ely, &c. in Bib. Coll. Caij. Cant. fol. 267. b.
  • 3. Alexander Purry had a messuage and land, purchased from Carleton-hall manor, and Snareshelles lands was part of Snare-Hill that extended hither.
  • 4. Donavit eis Rogerus et uxor sua Adeliza, duas partes decimationum, de Dominijs eorum, de omnibus, que decimari debent. E Cart. Confirmationis Herberti Epi. Norwic. penes lien. Smith, Gen. de Hautboys-Magna.
  • 5. Coll. T. M.
  • 6. See Atlas Suffolk, fol. 207.
  • 7. Wharton's Anglia Sacra, vol. i. fol. 649.
  • 8. Combersbury (as he is also called exchanged Elme vicarage in Ely diocese for this.
  • 9. "Ad presentationem Johannis Fabri Formati, S. T. Bac. succentoris Bajocensis, et canonici Rothomagensis, Reverendissimi, Patris Ludovici, titulo Sanctorum quatuor coronatorum presbiteri, Cardinalis de Lucemburgo vulgariter nuncupat. Rothomagen. Archiep. Ecclesiæque et Episcopatus Eliensis, in spiritualibus et temporalibus perpetui administratoris, vicarij in spiritualibus." Institut. Lib. 10.
  • 10. There might be two Hethersets rectors; the institution says, Thomas. Chinery's institution says, Wormley, who might perhaps be between them, though I meet with no such institution.
  • 11. Terre Johis. Nepotis Walerami. (fol. 280.) H. Screpham, Bretham, tenet W. ii. car terre quam tenuit lib. homo T.R.E. semper iiii. vill. et i. bor. et i. ser. xii. acr. prati tunc ii. car. in dnio. post et modo i. semper i. car. homin. ct i. mol. semper lx. oves et ii. lib. xviiii. acr. terre quas habuit commendationem tantum, soca in Bucham et i. lib. ho. xxx. acr. terre soca in Sca. Adel. totum val. lx. sol. In eadem i. lib. ho. ii. car. terre T.R.E. tunc xii. vill, post et modo iii. semper iii. bor. et viii. acr. prati semper ii. car. in dnio. tunc iii. car. homin. post et modo ii. semper i. mol. semper ii. animal. modo xiiii. porc. et lxx. oves, et v. vasa apum tunc. val. Ix. sol. modo xl. soca in Bucham.
  • 12. Terre Eudonis Dapiferi, (fol. 236.) In Bretham ten. Turgis vii. liberi hoies. T.R.E. i. car. et dim. terre ii. acr. prati tunc et post i. et dim. car. modo i. car. et dim. posset esse, tunc. val. xxx. sol. post, et modo xx. soca horum vi. in Bucham Regis, de septimo Sancta Adeldret soca et commend. sed Lesius totum retinuit, et Eulo retinet totum. habet i. leug. in long. et v. quar. in lat. et xiiii.d. et i. obulum de Gelto.
  • 13. Terra Rogeri Bigoti, H. de Scherepham. (fol. 128.) In Bretham iii. liberi hoies i. car. terre quos tenet Will. de Burnevilla et iii. bor. et iiii. acr. prati tunc et post i. car. et dim. modo i. et val. xxxiii. sol. et viii. d. soca in Bucham.
  • 14. Dug. Mon. vol. i. fol. 667.
  • 15. See p. 287.
  • 16. See p. 292.
  • 17. In 1314, John, son of Benedict de Thetford, settled by fine a messuage and lands here, on John de Brokdysh, and Agnes his wife, and Richard their son, and his heirs.
  • 18. Nomina Villarum.
  • 19. See p. 291.