Loddon Hundred: Pirnhow

Pages 128-134

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 10. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1809.

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Roger Bigot, ancestor of the Earls of Norfolk, had a grant of this lordship, and Godwin held it of him at the survey; Algar, a freeman, being deprived of it on the conquest, who held it under Stigand, the Archbishop, in the reign of King Edward, with half a carucate of land, 6 borderers, half a carucate in demean, and half a one among the tenants, a mill, 2 saddle horses, and 5 cows, with 60 sheep; there was a socman with 4 acres of land, valued at 10s. and at the survey at 20s. it was 8 furlongs long, 3 broad, and paid 8d. gelt; the soc was in the lordship of Ersham. (fn. 1)

The town of Pirnho has been demolished time immemorial, the lands belonging to it lie now in Ditchingham, and Pirnhow-Hall is therein.

William de Pirrow held it under Bigot in the reign of Henry I. he was a person of great account at court, and witness to a charter of that King (to the abbey of Ramsey) with Gilbert Fitz Richard and Walter, son of Richard.

In the 26th of Henry II. a fine was levied before Geffrey Ridel Bishop of Ely, John Bishop of Norwich, William Basset, Roger, son of Reinfr. Robert Mansel, &c. the King's justices, at Westminster, on the feast of St. Pancrase, between William de Pirnhou, and William de Brom, about a water-course in that town, whereby it was agreed that William de Pirnhow, and William de Brom, should destroy their two mills, and erect one, on the said water-course belonging to both their fees, (viz. of Pirnhow, and of Brome,) and each to have an equal right or moiety in the new one.

William de Pirnho, in the 24th of Henry III. released to Roger Earl of Norfolk, by fine, his right of fishery, from the mill of Cliff, and the bridge af Bungey, and the Earl granted to him a fishery, from Bungey Bridge, to the Earl's Vineyard.

Reginald de Pirnho, by deed sans date, confirmed to God and the monks of Sibeton in Suffolk, all the land which Robert Aldred gave them in Stickingland, in Suffolk:—witnesses, Norman de Pesal, Walter and William Maleth, Robert de Pirho, &c.; this Reginald was brother of William.

In the 35th of Henry III. a fine was levied about the custody of a carucate of land in Barsham, Norfolk, held of Edmund de Soterley, wherein it appears that Roger Bigod had the custody of the body of Sara, a minor, daughter of William de Pirnho deceased.

This Sara married James de Creke, and in the 41st of that King, they had the manor of Yoxford in Suffolk, conveyed to them by fine, from Jeff. le Neve, and Catherine his wife, it being the inheritance of William de Pirnho, her father.

Alice, daughter of William de Pirnhow, released in the 14th of Edward I. to John de Creke, son of James, her right in 40 acres of land, 30 of meadow, 20 of wood, 30s. rent here and in Ditchingham, with messuages and lands in Yoxford, Burgh, and Grundesburgh in Suffolk.

In the aforesaid year, Joan, late wife of John de Creke, sued James de Creke, for her dower; and in the 16th of the said King, William, son and heir of Sara de Pernhow, granted to Robert de Swillington, son of Helewise de Pernhow, and his heirs, the manor of Pirnhow.

The family of De Swillington take their name from a town in the West Riding of Yorkshire, of which they were lords, and descend from Hugh de Swynlington, father of Robert, whose son Hugh confirmed to God, and the church of St. John of Pomfret in Yorkshire, and the monks serving God there, the rent of 5s. per ann. which Robert, son of Hugh formerly gave them, as appears from a pleading at York, before Silvester Bishop of Carlisle, one of the King's justices, in the 35th of Henry III.

Of this family was Eva de Swillington, who in the 11th year of King Henry III. gave to John, the abbot of Fountains, 5 bovates, 5 acres, and 2 roods of land, in Stainburn, and William de Swynlington who held lands in Burle, in Yorkshire, of William de Byron, and died in 1224.

Hugh de Swindlington was living in the 35th of Henry III. and in the 11th of Edward I. when being a knight, had a grant of free warren in his lordships of Swindlington, Rodes, Burle, Whitby, Thorp Extra Welle, and Newsome in the aforesaid county. This Hugh was probably the father of Robert, by Helewisia de Perhow, to whom William, son and heir of Sara de Perho, granted the lordship of Perho; and in the 18th of Edward I. the said William granted by fine two parts of the lordships of Jokesford, Middleton, and Burgh in Suffolk, and the reversion of the third part, which Joan, late wife of John de Creke held in dower of the inheritance of William, Robert paying to him 10l. per ann. for his life,

In the 33d of the said King, William de Swylington gave to Adam de Swylington and Joan his wife, the part 3d of the lordship of Kynewardeby in Lincolnshire.

Sir Adam de Swylington was in the expedition into Scotland, in the 34th year, and in the following year was arrested by the constable of Dover castle, for going beyond sea to the tournaments, contrary to the King's prohibition, and being brought to the Exchequer before the treasurer and barons, was committed to the Tower.

In the 5th of Edward II. he and Joan his wife, convey to William de Swillington, and Hugh Trusbut, by fine, his part of Kinewardeby, and Ouseby manors, which Robert de Rason, and Annora his wife held in dower.

In the 16th of that King, he and William de Scargill, were commissioners of array, to raise and conduct the men of the wapontake of Ansty in Yorkshire, against the Scots: and before this, as heir to William his brother, in the 10th of the said reign, gave to William Charles, all his right of presentation of the church of Tweyt in Norfolk, and was summoned to parliament as a baron from the 21st of Edward II. to the 2d of Edward III.

His elder brother, William, was lord of this town, also of Yoxford, Midleton, and Helmingham in Suffolk, in the 35th of Edward I. and in the 4th of Edward II. had a grant of free warren in this town, Yoxford, &c. and in Rodes, Burley, Witley, and Shelf in Yorkshire, as Adam his brother had in Swillington, Thorp Pirho, and Thorp on the Mount: in the 3d of the said King, William died s. p. Margaret his widow remarried Roger de Pilkington.

Sir Adam had by Joan his wife, two sons, Sir Adam, and Sir Robert, who died s. p.

Sir Adam, son of Sir Adam, released the manor of Thorp on the hill, by Rothwell in Yorkshire, to Thomas Fenton, and Isolda his wife, in the 22d of Edward II. This Adam was father of Sir Robert de Swyllington, jun. so called to distinguish him from his uncle Sir Robert: in the 44th of Edward III. he released to his uncle Sir Robert and his heirs, the manor of Pirnow; Sir Robert, jun. left a son Thomas, who had a daughter and heir, Elizabeth, married to Robert Sampson, Esq.

Sir Robert Swillington, senior, in the 45th of Edward III. gave to John de Nevile 40 marks for the manor of Bliburgh in Suffolk, and in the following year had a grant of the lordships of Pirnow, with those of Yoxford, Middleton, &c. from his nephew, who was to hold them for life.

In the 49th of that King, he received of William Pamplyon of London, 106l. in part of the profits of his lands in Nottingham and Derbyshire; in the following year a grant of Westhale manor in Suffolk, from Pde Naborn, and of that of Winepol in Cambridgeshire, from the feoffees of Warine de Bassingbourn. He held, in the 2d of Richard II. the 3d part of the manor of Prestwold in Leicestershire.

In the next year, Sir Ralph Cromwell of Tattleshall in Lincolnshire, released to him and his wife, all his claim, on the death of Thomasine, one of the daughters and coheirs of Sir Roger de Belers, of KirkbyBelers in Leicestershire.

In the 9th of the said King, he and his wife paid 10l. relief for the lordship of Boney, in Nottinghamshire; he was also lord of Sporle and Dunham Parva in Norfolk.

At this time Sir William Swillington was living, who accompanied John Duke of Lancaster into Spain, son of Adam de Swillington, and brother of Sir Robert: he was of Driffield in Yorkshire, and married Margaret, daughter and heir of John Dringe.

Sir Rob. senior, or the uncle, died on Wednesday after the translation of St. Thomas the Martyr, in the 15th of Richard II. and was buried in the priory of Kirkby super Wrethesk (fn. 2) in Leicestershire, makes his executors, Margaret, (his wife) daughter and coheir of Sir Roger Belers, (by Margaret, daughter of Sir Richard de la River,) and to Joan, wife of his son Roger, he gives the marriage and wardship of Margaret Fretchevile; (fn. 3) and to Thomas Hopton, his natural son, 20l. and before his death gave lands in Bliburgh to the friars-preachers.

Margaret his widow married Sir John Eynesford, sheriff of Leicestershire, in the 21st of Richard II. and in the 17th of that King, they held the manor of Criche in Derbyshire, in capite.

Her will is dated Feb. 19, in the 5th of Henry V. and was buried in the priory church of Kirkby Belers in Leicestershire, under the stone designed by her: gives to Roger her son, and Robert his brother, several things, and to Margaret their sister 10 marks, and it was proved July 2, 1418. (fn. 4)

Sir Robert's seal was argent, a chevron, azure, in chief, a file of three points, ermin.

Roger de Swillington, son and heir of Sir Robert, senior, and Margaret his wife, was aged 2 years at his father's death, in 1491, and had livery of a large estate; was a knight, and married first, Joan, daughter of Sir Robert Nevil of Hornby castle, in Lancashire; his 2d wife was Joan, daughter of Stephen Scroop, Esq. and had issue by both.

His will is dated on the morrow of St. Catharine, ao. 5th of Henry V. and deviseth to Joan his wife, 100l. to John his son, 10l. to Margery Gra his daughter, a gold cup; to Joan, wife of his son John, 100l. to the friars-preachers of Ludgate, 40l. to keep the anniversaries of himself, his 2 wives, and of his father, Robert; and to the 2 nuns (sisters of Thomas de Swillington) 13s. 4d. each, and appoints Thomas Hopton and Joan his wife, executors; proved August 12, 1417, in the said reign.

By his 2d wife, he had a son, Sir Robert Swillington, who married Margaret, daughter of—Allesford, and died before his father, without issue.

Sir John Swillington was son and heir of Sir Roger, by his first wife; besides the many lordships abovementioned, he was lord of Wydmerpole, Gonaldston, Standford and Normanton, in Nottinghamshire; also of Burston, in Norfolk, of the grant of John Carbonell, Esq; he survived his father but one year, dying in the 6th of Henry V. without issue; so that his great inheritance, with this lordship of Ditchingham, held of the Mowbrays, Dukes of Norfolk, descended to his sister and heir, Margaret, married to Sir John Gra, of South Ingleby in Lincolnshire, and died without issue in the 8th year of King Henry V.

On the death of Margaret Lady Gra, Elizabeth, wife of Robert Sampson, of Playford in Suffolk, Esq. was found to be next heir, (as daughter of Thomas, son of Robert, son of Adam de Swillington,) and they had livery.

In the 6th of Henry VI. died Joan Lady Swillington, daughter and heir of — Scroop, 2d wife of Sir Roger, possessed of her thirds in many lordships, leaving Isabel, wife of Robert Coyners of Stockborn, Elizabeth, wife of Roger Aske, and Margaret, wife of William Edlyngton, her daughters and coheirs, by her husband, William de Port.

At this time there seems to have been a contest about the inheritance of Swillington.

In the 6th of Henry VI. Robert Sampson, and Elizabeth his wife, released all their right in the manors of Ditchingham and Elingham, in Norfolk; Bliburgh, Westleton, Lenvale's, Rysing's, Cleydon, Thoreton, Wenhaston, Westhale, Yoxford, Muriel's, and all the lands late Sir Robert Swillington's, to John Hopton, Esq. and his heirs.

This John was son of Thomas Hopton, natural son of Sir Robert Swillington, to whom he left, at his death 20l. and by some settlement, no doubt, laid claim to this estate.

Thomas Hopton the father died before Margaret Lady Gra, and an entail on him and his heirs, was made (as is said) by Sir Rog. de Swillington, father of John. King Henry VI. in his 8th year, by virtue of this entail, commands the sheriff of Norfolk to deliver seisin to John Hopton, Esq. taking security for his relief: he was son of Thomas, by Joan his wife. (fn. 5)

In the 11th of the said King, John Hopton was found to hold of the Duke of Norfolk, (heirs to the Bigots) half a fee in this town. Sir John Gra released to him in the 18th of the said reign, Swillington Old, and New-hall, the manors of Preston, Cutworth and Rode, in Yorkshire, with others in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, and Derbyshire, with all his right and claim; and in the 18th year, Bartholomew Whitfeld, and Elizabeth his wife, released all their right &c.; she was the relict of Robert Sampson, and now the wife of Whitfeld.

John Hopton died seized of the aforesaid manors in the 8th of Edward IV. and William Hopton, Esq. was found to be his son and heir.

John occurs frequently in writings by the names of John Swillington, alias Hopton, of Wood in Suffolk; he married first, Thomasine, daughter of John Barrington; she died s. p.

By Margaret his 2d wife, daughter of Thomas Savile of—in Yorkshire, he had William his son, who was a great courtier, treasurer of the house, and of the privy council to King Edward IV. a knight, sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in the reign of Richard III.; he married Margaret, daughter of Sir Roger Wentworth, of Nettlestead in Suffolk, and died in the said reign.

Sir George Hopton, of Westwood, was his son and heir, created a knight banneret at the battle of Stoke, in the 2d year of King Henry VII. he died July 6, in the 5th of Henry VII. by Thomasine his wife, daughter of—Southhill, of Yorkshire, he had William, his eldest son, who died before him, in the said year; and Arthur, who succeeded his father. Sir George bore the arms of Swillington.

By an inquisition taken at Woodbridge, November 1, in the 6th year of Henry VIII. Arthur was found to be son and heir of Sir George: he was of Westwood, and married Anne, daughter of Sir David Owen, of Cowdry in Sussex, natural son of Owen Tudor, who married Catherine, Queen dowager of Henry V. and was father of Sir Owen Hopton, who was lieutenant of the Tower of London.

The Hoptons sold by fine the lordship of Swillington in Yorkshire, to Edward North, Esq. in the 32d of Henry VIII.

About this time, most likely, this manor of Ditchingham, and Pirnow-hall, were alienated.

Thomas Gawdy, serjeant at law, died seized of this lordship, on August 4, in the 4th of Philip and Mary; and in the said year, Thomas his son, had livery of it.

Anthony Gawdy had a præcipe in the 14th of Elizabeth, to deliver it to Thomas Gawdy, as William Sutton had in the 38th of that Queen, to deliver it Francis Gaudy.

After this, Robert Brent of Ditchingham is said to sell it to the Calvers of this town.

Gregory Calver was lord in 1627, and father of Richard Calver, born in that year, whose son Richard sold it to Philip Bedingfield of Ditchingham.

Robert Davy, Esq. counsellor at law, recorder of Norwich, died lord, and s. p. in 1703, descended from an ancient family in this town.

Andrew Davy of Ditchingham, married Elizabeth, daughter of John Thurton, Gent. Robert Davy and Anne his wife, living, ao. 1634, and had Robert their son, then baptized Robert Davy, Esq. married Elizabeth, daughter of Philip Bedingfield, Esq.

The tenths were 4l. 2s. Deducted 6s.

The Bedingfelds of Ditchingham had an estate here in the reign of Henry VIII. and being lords of Hedenham, I shall there treat of them.

Ditchingham Church.

In the chancel, on a gravestone, a brass plate,

Orate p. a'i'a. Philippi Bosard, generosi, qui obt. 16 Nov. 1490, et p. a'i'a Margeria uxor.

Against the south wall of the chancel a monument,

Exuviœ hic juxta positœ sunt viri eximiœ pietatis Sam. Pycroft, A. M. hujus ecclesiœ quondam rectoris fidelissimi qui Margaretam filiam Robi. Davy gen. duxit. quam unam cum duobus filiis et unica. filia superstitem reliquit, 3°. die Junij ao. 1709. œtat, suæ, 82.

In the church,

Orate p. a'i'a. Rogi. Bosard Geni. et Willi. Bosard, filij ejus, Rog. obt. 14, Sept. 1505.

He is said to give legacies to the finding poor scholars at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Regist. Rix. Norw. fol. 68.

The church is dedicated to St. Mary. In the reign of Edw. I. Roger Bigot Earl of Norfolk was patron, as capital lord of Ditchingham: the rectory was valued at 30 marks; there belonged to it a manse, and 30 acres. Peter-pence, 2s. 6d. Carvage, 9d.


William de Breccles, rector.

William Ball, occurs rector, 1300.

1304, Mr John Martell, presented by Roger Earl of Norfolk; he was prebend of Wells.

1334, John de Langecumb, by Thomas de Brotherton Earl of Norfolk.

1348, Robert Swan, by Sir Edward de Montacute.

1349, Roger de Halesworth. Ditto.

1382, Henry de Glaston, by Sir Edw. de Montacute.

1393, John Hervey, by Lady Margaret, Countess of Norfolk.

1397, Richard Clerk. Ditto.

1398, John Syleby. Ditto.

1417, Richard Hoo, by John Grey, Lord of Ruthyn, and Constantia Marshal, his wife.

1445, Richard Hadeley, by John Duke of Norfolk.

1446, Edmund Hadilsey. Ditto.

1454, Mr John Benet. Ditto.

1473, William Ballys, by Alianore Duchess of Norfolk.

1501, Mr. John Dey, A B. by Elizabeth Duchess of Norfolk.

1514, Mr. George Mawer, Decret. Doctor, by Thomas Howard Duke of Norfolk.

1519, Mr. Richard Bakon. Ditto.

1538, William Bayly, by Thomas Duke of Norfolk.

1550, Mr John Sewell, by the assignees of Frances Countess of Surry.

1572, Thomas Dancher, by the Queen, a lapse.

1580, Gabriel Poynt. Ditto.

1585, Nicholas Forster. Ditto.

1587, Robert Lynaker, Ditto. In 1603, he returned 220 communicants.

1605, John Curteis, by the Bishop, a lapse.

1609, Ralph Pell, by the assignees of the Earl of Northampton.

1635, Mathew Barton, S.T.B. by Thomas Earl of Arundel; he was sequestered, and died December 18, 1653.

1654, Samuel Pycroft, by Sir William Playters, and Sir Richard Onslow.

1709, Charles Buchanan, A. M. by Thomas Duke of Norfolk.

1718, Abraham Baker, by Sibil Wall, widow.

The presentation is in the Duke of Norfolk.

The family of Hare had a good estate here: (fn. 6) Michael Hare buried here, 1487, and Maud his wife, in 1495.

The present valor is 16l. and pays synodals and procurations.


  • 1. Tre Rogeri Bigoti—Pirenhou ten. Algar lib. ho. sub Stigando, T.R.E. p. dim. car. tre. hoc tenet Goduin. sep. vi bord. tc. dim. car. in d'nio mo. ii et dim. car. ho'um. mo. i mol. mo. ii eq. in aula ct v an. mo. lx ov. et i soc. de iiii ac. tc. val. x sol. mo. xx ht. viii qr. in longo. et iii in lato et viiid de gelto. soca in Hersa.
  • 2. In an inquisition taken by Baldwin Rugg, escheator of Leicesterehire, Kirkby Belers is so called.
  • 3. Reg. Rous in Cur. Prerog. Lond. fol. 60.
  • 4. Reg. Marsh. in Cur. Prerog. fol. 124.
  • 5. Claus. Rot. ao. 8 Hen. VI.
  • 6. Reg. Wolman, Norw. fol. 138.