An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 10. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1809.
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The towns of East and West Lexham had the additional names of East and West, since the Conquest: being then called Leccesham and Lechesham, from its site on a bog, or lake by the water.
At the survey it was the lordship of Ralph de Beanfoe, and Ricard held it of him, but Fader was lord in the reign of the Confessor, when it consisted of 3 carucates and a half of land, 9 villains, 7 borderers, 3 servi, 6 acres of meadow, 2 carucates in demean, &c. a carucate and a half amongst the tenants, paunage for 30 swine, a mill, a fishery, and the fourth part of a salt-pit; one horse, 7 cows, &c. 80 sheep, and 4 bee skeps, and 6 socmen had half a carucate of land and 2 acres of meadow, &c. valued then at 40s. after at 3l. per ann. and a freeman had 60 acres of land under Herold, with 2 borderers and an acre and half of meadow, &c. valued then at 5s. after at 4s. the soc belonged to the King's manor of Mileham. Here was a church endowed with 30 acres, valued at 16d. the whole was one leuca long, and half a leuca broad, and paid 7½d. gelt. (fn. 1)
Of this Ralph de Beaufoe, see in Swanton-Morley lordship, and of his descendants.
Ralph de Caineto, or Cheyney, was lord, as was John his son, whose sister and coheir, Sibil, was married to William Fitz Robert, brother of John Fitz-Robert, to whom Bishop Eborard, in the reign of Henry I. granted the lordship of Blickling in Norfolk; which William left 3 daughters and coheirs; Margaret, the wife first of Hugh de Cressi, after of Robert Fitz-Roger; Clementia, of Jordan de Sackvile; and Sarah, of Richard Engaine, who in 1191 gave the King 200 marks to have possession of his wife's inheritance; but in 1217 Jordan de Sackvile and Vitalis Engaine, son of Richard, released their rights herein to Margaret de Cressi, and so it came entirely into that family.
But it is more probable that this manor was not in the Cressies (fn. 2) till Roger de Cressi, son of Hugh, obtained it on his marriage with Isabel, daughter and coheir of Hubert de Rie in the 9th of King John, and died possessed of it in the 30th of Henry III. in right of his wife; (fn. 3) Ralph de Beaufoe's daughter and heir being married to Hubert de Rie, castellan of Norwich.
About the end of Henry III. A. 52, that King is said to have granted to William de Valentia and Joan his wife, and their heirs, the manor of West Lexham, Filby, Posswyk, &c. in Norfolk, which came to him as an eschaet; and in the 3d of Edward I. the said William de Valentia Earl of Pembroke claimed the assise, free warren, &c. in this lordship: he was son of Hugh de Brun Earl of March in France, by Isabel his wife, widow of John King of England, sole daughter to the Earl of Angolesme, and took his name from the place of his nativity, and being brother by his mother to King Henry III. was sent for into England, together with Guy de Lezinian, his elder brother, and had a grant of many lordships, and through the influence of King Henry married Joan, daughter of William, and sister and heir to her brother William de Monchensi, great barons of this realm, by whom he had 3 sons, but was succeeded in his honour and inheritance by the youngest, Aymer, or Adomare de Valentia Earl of Pembroke, who held this town in capite by the service of 3 carrats of gold (unam obolum aurj) per ann. (fn. 4) He attended Queen Isabel of England into France, and was on June 23, 1323, murthered there, as appears by the eschaet rolls, and dying without issue, this lordship was delivered, in the 19th of Edward III. to David de Strabolgi Earl of Athol, son of John de Strabolgi Earl of Athol in Scotland, (executed as a trailor in the 34th of Edward I.) David the son being restored in blood, and a great favourite in the reign Edward II. and having married Joan, daughter of John Comyn, (by Joan, his wife, one of the sisters and coheirs of Adomare, aforesaid, Earl of Pembroke,) and sister and coheir of John Comyn, Lord of Badenagh in Tindale.
In this family it continued till the death of David de Strabolgi Earl of Athol, on October 10, in the 49th of Edward III. who had been summoned to parliament as a baron in the 39th, 42d, &c. of that King, and served in the wars of France, leaving by Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Henry Lord Ferrers of Groby, two daughters and coheirs, Elizabeth and Philippa.
Elizabeth, the eldest daughter, married Sir Thomas Percy: the said Sir Thomas had livery in the 1st of Richard II. of that purparty of inheritance which came to her from the Earl of Pembroke. This Elizabeth in an old writing is called widow of Sir Thomas Percy, junior, in the 12th of Rich. II. and then granted to Sir John de Halsham and Philippa his wife, (her sister and coheir,) her right herein: it is said that she proved her age in the 5th of Edward III. and in the next year married Sir Thomas Percie, and remarried John Le Scroop, and was his wife in the 15th of Richard II.
Philippa, the youngest sister and coheir, is said by Dugdale to marry Sir Ralph Percy, brother to Sir Thomas, younger sons of the Earl of Northumberland, and after Sir John Halsham, by whom she had John Halsham, who was found to be their heir to this lordship in the 19th of Richard II. and appears to be lord in the 3d of Henry V.
Sir Hugh de Halsham died seized of it in the 20th of Henry VI. Petronilla, his 2d wife, surviving, leaving Joan, (daughter and heir of Rich. Halsham, his brother, and wife of John Lewkenore, Esq.) his heir; and it was settled by John Lewkenore of Sussex, by fine, on Thomas Randolf, with the manors of Filby, Posswick, and Stiveky.
Soon after this it came to the Boleyns of Blickling, and Sir William Boleyn died possessed of it in 1505.
King Edward VI. in his 2d year granted license to Sir James Boleyn, to alien it to John Calibut, Esq. and his heirs, with a fold course in this town, East Lexham, Dunham Magna, Newton, and Castleacre; and by an inquisition taken at Castleacre, April 17, in the 7th of Elizabeth, Bridget Calybut, widow of John Calybut, Esq. was found to die seized of it February 20, last, and John was her son and heir, aged 30; and by another inquisition taken at Swaffham, June 16, in the 12th of Elizabeth, John Calybut, Esq. was found to die at Upton in Northamptonshire, October 23, past, lord of this manor, (fn. 5) and left four daughters and coheirs, Margaret, Anne, Susan, and Elizabeth, which Elizabeth, with her husband Bernard Wilfeld, had license to alien her part in the 15th of the said Queen, to Robert Cuddon, and in the 18th of the said reign, Philip Audley and Margaret his wife, another of the daughters, had license to alien it to Arthur Downing and Susan his wife, another of the coheirs.
In the 2d of James I. Sir Edward Coke was lord of the whole.
John Coke, Esq. possessed it in 1659, and his descendant, the Right Honourable the Earl of Leicester, died lord in 1759.
The tenths were 1l. 14s.—Deduct 8s. 8d.
The Earl Warren's manor of East Lexham extended into this town, of which see there.
Roger, who was dapifer to the Earl Warren, and lord, gave to the monks of Castleacre, for the health of Odo his brother, and William his father, one mark per ann. rent out of his mill at Lexham, situate on the west side of the town, witnesses, Henry de Rye, Ralph and Baldwin de Frevill. (fn. 6)
Richard de Sancto Claro, or St. Cleer, gave the said monks his right in the church in free alms for ever, for the health of his own and wife's soul, his heirs and ancestors, with all the liberties thereto belonging; witnesses, Ketel the dean, Aluric the priest. Umfrey de Dunham, Robert Tusard, &c.
The church is dedicated to St. Nicholas, and was given to the priory of Petreston.
Simon Bishop of Norwich granted (or appropriated) to the said priory (to relieve their poor estate) the church of West Lexham of their patronage, after the death of Benedict (Anglici) English, to be possessed to their own use, except the vicarage; the prior to have all the tithe of garbs, with a moiety of the land and messuage belonging to the church, dated at Crec (Creek by Burnham) 4 of the ides of August in the 2d year of his pontificate, 1259; (fn. 7) and in 1265, the said Bishop confirmed to the priory of Castleacre the tithes of the land called Kalveswide of the demean of William, son of Richard de Lechesham; also two parts of the tithe of the demean, formerly Roger de Cressi's, in this town.
And an agreement was made between John, the prior of Castleacre, and his convent, and Roger, the prior, and convent of Petreston; that whereas the monks of Castleacre had let to farm to the monks of Petreston, and their successours, two parts of all the tithes of the demeans formerly Roger de Cressi's and William de Lexham's and all the land called Rabnelwood, belonging to the monastery of Castleacre, lying in West Lexham, for 40s. per ann. to be paid to the monks of Castlcacre for the use of the sacrist, at two terms; and on default of payment, the monks of Petreston were liable to be excommunicated by the Bishop of Norwich; for the payment of the said 40s. they tied all their lands and tenements in Rucham, to be seized, and their goods distrained by the Earl Warren's bailiffs, or the bailiff of the sheriff of Norfolk for the time being; in witness whereof two instruments were made, one to be kept by the monks of Castleacre, sealed with the seal of the priory of Petreston, and another by the monks of Petreston, sealed with the seal of the monks of Castleacre; dated at Castleacre on Saturday the feast of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1299.
The priory of Petreston had the patronage of the church in 1229.
The rectory anciently was valued at 5 marks, paid Peter-pence 6d. —The vicarage at 40s.
Thomas de Reedham, vicar, sans date.
1339, Roger de Barsham, vicar, presented by the prior and convent of Peterston.
1349, Bartholomew de Wighton. Ditto.
1356, John Ingland. Ditto.
1357, John de Wesenham, Ditto.
1372, John de Narford. Ditto.
1375, John Shaver. Ditto.
1379, John Fuller. Ditto.
1401, Richard Bangot. Ditto.
1403, Richard Bytering. Ditto.
1419, Thomas Heyme. Ditto.
1432, John Gedney, canon of Petreston. Ditto.
1446, William Ogill, presented by the Bishop of Norwich, the priory of Petreston being united to the priory of Walsingham.
Robert Cantele, vicar.
1455, William Bishop, by the Bishop of Norwich.
1476, James Panche. Ditto.
1513, Richard Brown.
1517, William Amflele, presented by the prior and convent of Castleacre, when it is said to be a rectory valued at 8 marks.
1521, Richard Elder. Ditto.
1555, William Mombray by Thomas Duke of Norfolk, who had a grant of the advowson from King Henry VIII. on the dissolution of the priory, December 22, Ao. 29.
1560, John Jackson. Ditto.
1577, Thomas Morton, by Edward Morton, yeoman.
1630, William Morton, by Thomas Morton: this William was sequestered, and in
1654, John Jequis, an usurper, held it.
1661, Edward Fitlin, A. M. by Sir Philip Woodhouse, Bart.
1672, Thomas Brown. Ditto.
1689, Richard Brown, by Edmund Woodhouse, Esq.
1702, John George. Ditto.
1742, Thomas George, by Sir John Woodhouse, Bart.
The Rev. Mr George is the present rector, and Sir Armine Woodhouse, Bart. Patron, and is valued at 5l. 11s. 6d. ob. and is discharged of tenths, &c.
The Church is a single pile with a chancel covered with thatch, and a round tower at the west end.
The town takes its name from its site on a low marshy ground and meadows; Leche is also the name of a river in Gloucestershire.