Mitford Hundred and Half: Shipdam and Throp

Pages 243-249

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

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In the book of Domesday we find no account of Shipdam being a lordship, or possessed by the church of Ely, but that Thorp, a town of considerable value at that time, though now (as I take it) included in Shipdam, was one of the lordships of that monastery, in the Saxon age, given to it, with that of East Derham, by Ethelwold Bishop of Winchester, in the reign of King Edgar, and extended into Shipdam.

King Edward the Confessor, in his charter of confirmation of the lordships, &c. belonging to the abbey of Ely, mentions this town of Thorp; and when Leoffin, the 5th abbot, assigned certain towns and lordships in the time of King Canute, for the annual support of it, Derham (East) and Thorp are named together, and were to find provisions for 2 weeks.

At the survey, St. Atheldreda, that is the church of Ely, had 3 carucates of land, with 10 villains, 20 borderers, and 4 servi, and one carucate then in demean, &c. 7 carucates and a half among the tenants, paunage for 800 swine, &c. 8 acres of meadow, a mill, 2 runci, 11 cows, &c. 97 sheep, and 38 goats, 12 socmen had 40 acres, and 5 carucates and 12 acres of meadow, &c. then valued at 60s. at the survey the whole was valued at 11l. was one leuca long and one broad, paid 15d. gelt.

In Thorp, Thurston, and Sachesham in this hundred, 5 socmen of St. Atheldreda had 50 acres, and a carucate valued at 8s. (fn. 1)

On he foundation of the see of Ely, this lordship was assigned to the Bishop, and made part of his barony; and in the 29th of Henry III. the Bishop had a mercate and fair granted to him. (fn. 2)

In 1277, it was found that he enjoyed the privileges as mentioned in East-Derham; Alexander Atte Rode, Robert Atte Buk, and their parceners, Roger Verley, Symon Prudham, and their parceners, the homage of — de Frevile, and that of —de Cateston, did suit to his hundred court, for tenements and lands here: he was patron of the church of Shipdam.

The demean lands were 236 acres of land, and a half, by the less hundred, the perch being at 16 feet and an half, and to be ploughed by 2 ploughs of four oxen, and 2 scots each, with 2 horses for harrow; every acre valued at 12d. per acre, per ann. the commons of Westmore, Lyngmore, Northwode, Wykesmethe, are bounded and they who intercommon are mentioned.

Old Park, called Little-Haw, and the New Park, West Haw, the woods of Suthaw, Karshaw, Blakmere-Haw, contained 70 acres, in which the towns of Letton and Reymerston had liberty of common for their beasts, with the Bishop's, horn under horn, but the Bishop alone had power to dig, as lord of the soil.

He had also 2 windmills belonging to this manor and the suit belonging to them, with free warren in the whole manor.

William de Calveley and Sarah his wife, held in Calveley 2 carucates of land, by one knight's fee.

Sir William Bardolf a tenement at Whinburgh. Other free tenants are mentioned with their rents, services, reliefs, customs, &c. in the register of Ely.

In the 34th of Henry VI. this lordship was found to be worth 44l. 3s. 6d. per ann. and in the 3d and 4th of Philip and Mary, at 45l. 18s. 3d. as by the accounts of the Bishop's register general.

Soon after this, it came to the Crown, and was granted by act of parliament, in the first year of Queen Elizabeth, and confirmed most probably, by the chapter 19, in the acts, of the said year, which was before the deprivation of Bishop Thurleby.

No printed author (that I have seen) mentions this: and on August 9, in her 3d year, Sir William Wodehouse, Knt. of Hickling, in Norfolk, and the Lady Elizabeth his wife, had a grant of this manor, (late the Bishop of Ely,) with the park, and the advowson of the church, paying a fee farm rent of 21l. 6s. 5d. per ann. with a close, called the Lord's Close; and on May 9, ao. 26, Sir Thomas Wodehouse, had a new grant of it, with the deer in the park, all the woods and underwoods, and about 1585, conveyed it to Sir Thomas Gawdy of Claxton, a judge of the Common Pleas, who died seized of it, November 1, in the 30th year of that reign, leaving Henry his son and heir, aged 16.

Robert Gawdy his son, passed it to William Castleton, Esq. created a Bart. on August 9, 1641, and Sir John his son, presented in 1673; and Edmund Castleton sold it to Charles Lord Viscount Townsend, about 1704, and in that family it continues.

William Earl Warren had a considerable lordship in Shipdam, of which eleven freemen were deprived on the conquest, containing one carucate, held by 3 borderers, with 10 acres of meadow, &c. also 5 carucates, &c. then valued at 30s. at the survey at 40s. and the moiety of a church endowed with 8 acres: it was one leuca long and 5 furlongs broad, and paid 15d. gelt.

And under the title of invasions, we find that his men, (those who held lands under him,) had invaded or seized on 44 acres, in Shipdam, which Brodo and Alwin held under King Edward, and half a carucate held by a borderer, &c. with 4 acres of meadow, valued at 8s. and 1d. ob.

This was always part of the King's manor of Saham, and no livery was made of it, as the hundred witnessed.

The ancient family of Caston, was early enfeoffed of this, and held it of the Earl Warren.

William de Catestune (or Caston) and Ela his wife, possessed it in 1200; Sir John de Caston settled it about 1292, on William his son; and in the 5th of Edward III. Sir John de Caston and Catherine his wife, granted it for their lives, to Symon de Hedersete, and Thomas his son.

After this, by Elizabeth, a daughter and coheir of Sir John Caston, it came to Sir Robert Carbonel, son of Sir William Carbonel, of Bodingham in Suffolk; Thomas his son, was lord in 1402: and Sir John died lord, as appears by his will, in 1425, leaving Thomas his son, a minor, who dying in his minority, it descended to the Berneys.

Margaret, daughter of Sir Robert Caston, married Will. de Reedham, of Reedham in Norfolk, and Margaret, daughter and heir of this William, having married Thomas Berney, Esq. 2d son of John Berney, Esq. of Wichingham, was lord of Reedham, &c. in her right, in the reign 'of Richard II.

John Berney, Esq. son and heir of Thomas aforesaid, died lord of this manor in 1400, as appears by his will, proved September 5, and thereby gives it to his 2d son, Philip, with the manor of Caston, who dying s.p. in 1453, bequeathed them to his younger brother, John, but soon after they came to the family of the Reedhams.

By an inquisition, taken November 7, in the 20th of Henry VIII. John Berney, Esq. was found to die seized of it October 27, ao. 19th of that King, held (as was found) of the manor of Saham, in Norfolk, by fealty, and 3s. rent per ann. and John was his son and heir, aged 18.

Richard Berney, Esq. died lord in 1695; he mortgaged it, and in 1709, was sold by a decree in Chancery, to pay his debts.

Thomas de Snetterton had an interest here; and in the 7th of Edward II. conveyed a messuage, 190 acres of land, with rents and services, to Symon Brake, of Brandeston, and Catherine his wife, as did John de Mershe, of South Wootton, senior, and Margaret his wife, lands, in the 8th of Edward III. to Ralph de Shipdam.

Humphrey de Skypdam, son of Ralph and Catherine, and their tenants, were found in the 20th of that King, to hold the 10th part of a fee of the Earl Warren, late Ralph's and Symon Brake's.

In the 4th of Henry IV. Sir Robert Knolls held the same of the Earl of Arundel; and John Skeet, chaplain, half a fee here and in Letton, of the said Earl.

Hermerus de Ferrarijs's lordship of Whinbergh, and Gerveston, extended into this town: he had also one socman here, with 16 acres of land valued at 4s. held by Adelm.

Hermerus's interest came to the Lords Bardolf of Wirmegay, and went with that barony.

William Atte Rode of Shipdam, held in the 3d of Edward III. the 4th part of a fee in this town, Letton, and Yaxham, &c. of the honour of Wirmegay. Robert Attehow possessed it in the 20th of that King; and in the said feign, John de Thetford, &c. held lands called RodeFee, with a wind-mill, rents and services, of the Lord Bardolf; and Robert Reed possessed it in the 3d of Henry IV.

The Conqueror, at the survey, had here and in Cranworth, 30 acres, held by a socman, in Stowe, and 8 acres of meadow, &c. valued at 2s. Robert Bund held them of the King, but Godric never.

This was soon after granted by the Earl Warren, and so was joined to the lordship abovementioned of Caston, &c.

A mercate weekly on Thursday, and a fair for 3 days on St. Peter and St. Paul's day, was granted in the 29th of Henry III. to Hugh de Northwold Bishop of Ely, who built a great hall in his palace here.

In 1639, on an inquisition for charitable uses, it was found that the moiety of a manor called Bennet's, with messuages, lands, &c. on the south-west part of the church, belonged to the township, worth 18l. per ann. and that out of it, bread and wine had been found for the communion, and the church repaired.

William Hattersley, rector, by will, in 1608, gave 20l. to be put out at interest for the poor; and Alice his widow, by will, in 1614, 20l. to the same use, and John Bullock, 10l. in 1617.

John Tudenham, clerk, gave by will, in 1613, a tenement called Sparks, and half a rood of land, for the dwelling of 4 poor people.

William Mowting of East Derham, by will, 1561, for the relief of the blind and lame, &c. 14l. per ann. in lands; all which gifts had been sadly abused, &c. and then rectified.

The town seems to take its name from some stream, &c. of water called Scip, or Shep. In Kent we find a lathe or hundred, and an island, called Shepey; thus Shepeshead in Leicestershire, Shipley in Derbyshire, &c.

The tenths were 10l. Deducted 13s. 4d.

The Church is dedicated to All-Saints, and was in the patronage of the Bishop of Ely. It appears that the rector, in the reign of Edward I. had a manse, with 60 acres of glebe, and that there had been formerly a vicar belonging to it, but at that time there was only a rector; the valor was 40 marks; Peter-pence 2s. 10d. The monks of Castleacre had a portion of tithe valued at 5s. per ann. given them by John de Kateston, viz. two parts of the tithes of his lordship in this town, and Rockland, which Simon Bishop of Norwich confirmed to them in 1265.

The present valor is 26l. 7s. 5d. ob. and pays first fruits and tenths.


1301, Mr. Simon de Walpole, collated to this rectory, by the Bishop of Ely.

1337, John de Macclesfield, presented by the King, in the vacancy of the see.

1342, Mr. Paul de Montefloro, by the Bishop.

1342, Mr. William Flamerans, by the Bishop; he was prebendary of Hastings, in the diocese of Chichester.

Mr. Thomas de Morle occurs rector in 1357.

1358, William de Tyryngtone, by the King, his chaplain, and prebend of St. Paul's: the temporalities of the see of Ely being then in the King's hands.

1361, William de Tyryngton, was again presented by the King.

1389, John de Crowton, by the Bishop of Ely.

1395, William Smithe, by ditto.

1406, Mr. John Wysebech.

1429, John Moresburgh. Ditto.

1436, Mr. John Walpool, by the King, the temporalities being in him.

1438, Mr. William Irforth, A.M. presented by the vicar-general of the Bishop of Ely.

1469, William Townsend, by the Bishop of Ely,

Thomas Collins occurs in 1477.

Mr. Tho. Alcock, was rector, brother to Dr. Alcock Bishop of Ely, master of Jesus College in Cambridge, archdeacon of Ely, and chancellor to that Bishop: he resigned this rectory in 1516, (as some say,) but rather a relation or nephew to Bishop Alcock, and not brother, &c.; he died in 1523, and was here buried.

1523, Mr. Walter Burnell, by the Bishop of Ely.

1557, Mr. John Parker, S.T.B. prebend of Ely. Ditto.

15 --, Bickerdike.

1561, Mr. Stephen Pherne, S.T.B. by the Queen.

1562, William Parker, by Sir William Woodhouse.

1572, William Hattersley, by Sir Drue Druery, and Elizabeth his wife.

1608, Thomas Playfere, S.T.B. by Sir Henry Gaudy.

1608, Henry Siday, A.M. Ditto.

1614, Thomas Wyth, A.M. Ditto.

1661, William Castleton, by Sir John Castleton, Bart.

1667, Matthew Eaton. Ditto.

1673, Astius Ives. Ditto.

1695, Edmund Castleton. Ditto.

1696, John Heron. Ditto.

1707, Thomas Townsend, by Charles Lord Viscount Townsend.

1754, Colby Bullock, on Townsend's resignation, by Charles Lord Viscount Townsend.

The church is a good pile, with a very broad nave and chancel, and a north isle that runs the whole length of the nave and chancel, all covered with lead; at the west end of the nave is a strong four square tower, embattled, with 5 bells, a dial, and clock.

On the tower, an handsome lantern or turret, covered with lead: between the nave and chancel hangs the saints bell.

In the chancel lie several gravestones for the Bullocks: on them this shield, gules, a chevron, between three bulls heads, caboshed, attired, or, Bullock, impaling, on a bend, between two lions rampant, three roundels, Fluellin,

In memory of Mary, wife of Thomas Bullock, gent. eldest daughter of William Fluellin, Esq; alderman of London, who died October 29, 1683, and left one daughter, Diana, and 3 sons, Thomas, William, and Robert, now living, who enjoying a plentiful estate, by the death of Sir Thomas Colby, of Kensington, baronet, son of Elizabeth, 2d daughter of Alderman Fluellin, have placed this inscription in gratitude to God and her memory, May 12, 1730.

Another with the arms of Bullock,

In memory of Thomas Bullock, gent. who died Feb. 21, 1736, aged 63.

One with the arms of Lane, Or, a chevron between three mullets, pierced, gules, impaling Bullock,

In memory of John Lane, gent. who died December 2, 1732, aged 55,

In memory of Diana, wife of William Clemence, of—, and daughter of Thomas Bullock, late of Shipdam, gent. who died May 12, 1739, aged 69.

Or, on a fess, between two and two de-lis, gules, as many of the first, Devall;

In memory of Thomas Devall the elder, who died April 9, 1677.

On a brass plate,

Pray for the soul of Mr. Thomas Alkoke, sometime parson of this church, who dyed September 19, A.D. 1523, on whose soule, &c.

In the north isle, a gravestone, with the arms of Bullock,

In memory of Robert Bullock, late of Hingham in Norfolk, gent. who died August 20, 1729. in the 60th year of his age.

Adjoining, another for

Robert Bullock, late of Hingham, gent. son of Robert, who died November 2, 1715. in his 31st year.

In the churchyard, at the west part, by the tower, is an altar monument,

In memory of William Bullock, late of Shipdam, who died January 13, 1673, aged 70.

In 1603, William Hattersley returned in answer to the King's queries, that there were 480 communicants.

I find the chapel of St. Mary, and that of St. Thomas, mentioned in this church, 1503, with the image of our Lady of Pity; and land bequeathed to the light of our Lady.

Probably this was the chapel in the north isle, in which there were in the east window, formerly these arms; Or, a maunch, gules, the Lord Tony, impaled with argent, on a fess gules, three bezants, between three torteaux; gules, a lion rampant, in a bordure, argent, Grey Bishop of Ely; quarterly, gules, and ermine, in the first and 4th, a goat's head, erased, argent, attired, or; Morton Bishop of Ely; argent three choughs proper.

Here was also the tabernacle of St. Michael, the guilds of the Holy Ghost, St. John Baptist, St. Thomas, St. Andrew, Assumption of St. Mary, All-Saints, and St. Etheldreda; the lights of St. James, St. Nicholas, St. John Baptist, St. Thomas, &c.

In 1487, John Alcock Bishop of Ely granted 40 days indulgence to all who would contribute to the repair of the chapel of St. Thomas of Canterbury, situate in a certain hermitage, within this parish, and of the ways that lay about it.

In 1512, there was a suit between the rector of Saham Tony, and the rector of Shipdam, on account of tithe milk, and the agistment of cattle, feeding on the common of Shipdam.

I find a certain common pasture called Westmore, belonging to the lordship of Shipdam, beginning at the church of Shipdam, and leading and continuing to the meres or bounds between the liberties of St. Etheldreda, (that is the see of Ely,) and the hundred of Wayland, which belonged to the heirs of Ralph Thony; and this I suppose was the common.

John de Kateston, by deed, confirmed to the monks of Castleacre, the grant of his father, the 3d parts of the tithes of his demeans here. (fn. 3)

William de Warren, son of Reginald, gave them a mark rent per ann. out of a tenement which John de Kateston, held of him in Sepedeham, for an anniversary for Reginald his father, and Alice his mother, and after his decease for himself; witnesses, Reginald de St. Martin, Robert de Capravill, Osbert de Stradesete, Richard Curpeil, &c.

Osbert de Denever confirmed to the said monks, 2 garbs of his demeans in Lipling, which his grandfather gave them, also the land called Osbeneshach, in Sipedeham, which his grandfather gave in exchange for the said tithes; witnesses, Geffrey, dean of Fincham, William Talebot, his brother, &c.

The temporalities of Castleacre priory were 18s. 4d. per ann. ao. 1428; of Hulm abbey, 17s. 3d.; of Wendling, 2s. 6d.; of Colchester, 8s.: of Lewes priory 6s. and of Beeston 11d.


  • 1. Terra S'ce. Adeldrede—Torp tenet sep. S. A. iii car. terre. sep. x vill. xx hor. mo. iiii ser. tc. i car. in d'nio. mo. ii sep. vii et dim. ho'm. tc. silv. dccc. por. mo. DC. viii ac. p'ti. sep. i mol. ii runc. xi an. xxvii por. lxxxx vii ovs. xxxviii cap. et xii soc. xl ac. sep. v car. xii ac. p'ti silv. xii porc.' tc. val. lx sol. mo. xi lib. et ht. i leu. in long. et i leu. in lato. et xvd de g. In Torp et in Turstuna, et in Sachesha' v soc. S'ce. Adeldrede l ac. sep. i car. val. viii.
  • 2. Reg. Ely in Cotton. Biblioth. p. 233, &c.
  • 3. Reg. Castleac. fol. 99.