Smethdon Hundred: Bircham Tofts

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

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Francis Blomefield, 'Smethdon Hundred: Bircham Tofts', An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 10, (London, 1809), pp. 286-288. British History Online [accessed 18 June 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "Smethdon Hundred: Bircham Tofts", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 10, (London, 1809) 286-288. British History Online, accessed June 18, 2024,

Blomefield, Francis. "Smethdon Hundred: Bircham Tofts", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 10, (London, 1809). 286-288. British History Online. Web. 18 June 2024,

In this section


This town occurs at the survey by the name of Stofstan, or Stony Tofts. One freeman held it under Stigand the Archbishop, with 4 carucates of land, in the reign of the Confessor, when there were 2 carucates in demean, &c. 8 villains, and 5 borderers, and was valued with Snetesham, his capital lordship; it was one leuca long, and 4 furlongs broad, and paid 10d. to a 20s. gelt, (fn. 1) and on the expulsion of Stigand, was granted to Ode Bishop of Baieux, whom we find to enjoy it with Snetesham, at the survey.

Odo rebelling (as has been observed) against King William II. forfeited it, and that King granted it to William de Albini, his butler, whose posterity enjoyed it; but Hugh de Aibini, the last heir male of this family, Earl of Sussex and Arundel, dying without issue, in 1242, on the division of his inheritance, between his 4 sisters and coheirs, this lordship came to Robert Lord Tateshale, by Mabel his wife, the eldest sister.

A family who took their name from this village was early enfeoffed herein. Roger de Tofts was lord in the 41st of Henry III. and in the 3d of Edward I. was found to hold it of Robert de Tateshale, as was Roger de Tofts, in the 9th of Edward II. and Nicholas de Tofts settled it in the 17th of the said King, by fine, on Richard de Tofts for life; remainder to Thomas Newton and Catherine his wife.

In the 20th of Edward III. Thomas de Brokesburne, and Catherine his wife, appears by the inquisitions to hold 2 parts of a fee; on the death of Eve late wife of Robert Lord Tateshale, she held it in dower; and in capite, in the 24th of Edward III. and Adam de Clifton, John de Orreby, and Robert, son of William Bernack, were found to be heirs of it.

Sir Ralph de Poley, Knt. &c. as trustees, settled it in the 36th of the said King, on Sir John Vernoun and Catherine his wife, in tail, and on John and Hamon his sons.

After this, a moiety of this lordship was in Thomas, son of Robert Lovell, who granted it by fine, in the 9th of Richard II. to Roger Davy, and Alice his wife, who died seized of it, as by the escheat rolls, in the 18th of the said reign.

In the 8th of Henry IV. William Chaffere, and Alice his wife, (probably late widow of Davy,) convey it with the advowson of the church; from the heirs of Alice it came to Sir John de Ingaldesthorp, Knt. Sir Henry Everard, Hamon and John L'Estrange, Esq.

After this, William Wotton was lord; and in the 4th of Henry VIII. it was settled on Sir Robert Southwell, and Alice his wife, and their heirs, who in the 6th of the said King, was found to die possessed of it, held of Sir William Knevet, by knight's service.

This Sir Robert Southwell was of Woodrising, Norfolk, and master of the rolls; he jointured Alice, or—,his 2d wife, daughter of Sir Philip Calthorp, in 300 acres of land, 10 of meadow, 500 of pasture, 2 of wood, and 5l. rent per ann. in this town, South Wotton, Bagthorp, &c. by dying without issue, Richard Southwell, son of his brother Francis Southwell, was his heir, who was afterwards a knight, and lord in the 38th of Henry VIII.

In the 42d of Elizabeth, Richard Southwell, senior, Esq. conveyed to his son, Richard, the reversion of this manor, held by Thomas Southwell his brother, for life.

After this, it was in the Cornwallis's, and Sir Charles Cornwallis was lord in 1603.

In 1626, Sir Charles le Gross possessed it, and was held of the hundred of Smethdon, and so of the duchy of Lancaster, in free soccage; the fines are said to be at the will of the lord, and that no dower belonged to any of the lands held of it.

Tenths 4l. 13s. Deducted 13s. 4d.

The Church is dedicated to St. Andrew. The rector had in the reign of Edward I. a mansion, with 14 acres of land, and was valued at 10 marks, and the prior of Canterbury had a portion of tithes valued at 4s. per ann. The present valor is 6l. 13s. 4d. and is discharged.


John occurs rector in the 14th of Edward I.

In 1304, Richard de Toftes was instituted, on the presentation of Roger de Toftes.

1329, John de Mountpinzon, by Thomas Bacoun.

1349, Thomas Toket, by Katherine Bacoun.

1375, John Lakenheath, by Fulk Grey.

1402, John Wittlesey, by Roger Davy.

1405, John Grande, by William Chaffare.

1414, John Persbrygg, by Sir John Ingaldesthorp, on account of an enfeoffment of this manor, made to him by William Chaffare, and Alice his wife.

1416, Gilbert Godhead, by John Davy, Esq.

Gilbert Motte.

1438, Thomas Ade, by Thomas Charles, Esq. in right of his wife.

1454, John Whyte, by the Bishop, a lapse.

1460, Richard More, by Thomas Charles, Esq.

1478, Richard Buttre, by Edmund Clere, and Elizabeth his wife.

1486, James Hawys, by Edmund Clere, &c.

Nicholas Hillington.

1502, Nicholas Edmunde, by James Hobart, attorney general to the King, and Simon Clere, Gent.

1516, Thomas Banks, by Thomas Brooke Lord Cobham, and Elizabeth his wife.

1543, Martin Claxton, late canon of Walsingham, by Sir Richard Southwell, Knt.

1558, Richard Russell. Ditto.

1575, Marmaduke Cholmeley, by Richard Southwell, Esq.

1595, Thomas Cobbe, (fn. 2) by the assigns of ditto.

1615, Humf. Tomson, by Sir Charles Cornwalleys.

James Smarthwaite.

1624, John Cannan, A. M. by Sir Charles le Gross.

1652, Nicholas Carr.

1663, Vinc. Pearse, S.T.P. by Augustine Reeve, Gent.

1673, Alexander Booty, by Thomas Brown of Lavenham.

1717, Robert Betts, on the death of Thomas Carter. Ditto.

1721, Simon Bagg. Ditto.

In the church were the guilds of St. John Baptist, and of St. Thomas, and the lights of St. Andrew, St. Bartholomew, St. Mary, of the crucifixion, St. Catherine, and St. Christopher.

In the church,

Here lyeth Mr. Nicholas Carr, sometime rector of this church.


  • 1. Terre Epi. Baiocensis—H. de Dockinge In Storstan iiii car. t're. ten. i lib. ho. sub Stigando T. R. E. ii car. in d'nio. tc. et p. et mo. i semp. viii vill. et v bord. hoc e. in p'tio. de Snetesha' hoc totu' Stofstan ht. i leug. in long. et iiii quar. in lat. et reddit xd. de xx sol. de gelto.
  • 2. In 1603, he certified there were 56 communicants.