Smethdon Hundred: Sedgeford

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

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'Smethdon Hundred: Sedgeford', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 10, (London, 1809) pp. 385-390. British History Online [accessed 4 March 2024]

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So called, as Spelman says, from its site on a reedy, or sedgy ford: in Domesday Book, it is wrote Setesford, as set on a ford, or a river called the Set, or Snet. Earl Gyrthe, one of King Harold's brothers, was lord of it, who being slain at the battle of Hastings, King William granted it to William de Beaufoe his chancellor, who was lord of it, and Bishop of Norwich, when the book aforesaid was made, and held by him as a lay foe, and his proper inheritance.

It consisted in Earl Guert's time of 3 carucates in demean, and 15 acres, 15 villains, 39 borderers, 5 servi. and 8 acres of meadow. The tenants had 5 carucates, paunage for 60 swine, 4 mills, 300 sheep, &c. one beruile called Frenge, to which there belonged a carucate in demean, and 7 villains, and there were 2 soemen who held a carucate and a half, and 7 borderers; Agelmer, bishop, made of this a berurle; the other socman had 4 borderers, and there was a freeman who possessed one carucate in demean, 6 borderers and 2 servi, and of this he made a beruite; and there was another freeman had one carucate in demean, 4 borderers, and 2 servi, of which he made a beruite; 2 freemen had also 2 carucates of land, and a beruite, with 2 carucates in demean, 5 borderers, and 2 servi, 2 acres of meadow, and a mill in King Edward's reign, which Anant, (fn. 1) the predecessor of Peter de Valoins had.

The whole was valued in that reign at 16l. at the survey at 24l.

Ingulf had in this town one carucate of land, held by Guert aforesaid, and a carucate in demean, valued at 10s.

The whole was one leuca long, and one broad, and paid 4s. on a 20s. gelt.

Eight freemen belonged to the soc, and were under protection only, with 4 carucates of land, 5 villains, with 4 acres of meadow, &c. valued at 40s. at the survey 80s.

It was one leuca long, and half a one broad, and pays 17d. ½. on a 20s. gelt. (fn. 2)

Besides the lordship that Guert had, from the tenures abovementioned, it appears that Agelmar or Aylmer Bishop of Elmham, had also a considerable manor in this town and Frenge, in the reign of King Edward: he was brother to Archbishop Stigand, was a married prelate, had many lordships in lay fee, as his own inheritance; some of them he gave to Bury abbey, and that of Blofield, which he had as a portion with his wife, before he was Bishop, to his own see, and probably that of this town, which he had till the year 1070, when being deprived, this lordship, with that of Frenge, we find possessed at the survey by William Beaufoe, late chancellor to King William, and then Bishop of Thetford, to whom the said King had granted the lordship of Guert, which he then also held, and on his death, granted it to his see for ever.

Norwich Priory Manor.

These tenures thus united, were held by his successour, till John de Grey Bishop of Norwich, on June 2, in the 5th year of his pontificate, granted it to the prior of Norwich, by way of exchange for certain tenures at Lynn; (fn. 3) and in the 9th of Henry III. the prior gave two palfreys to have a fair and a mercate here and in Hemesby.

Sir John de Catteston confirmed in 1246, to the prior, Simon, &c. all that they held of the fee of Walter Fitz-Roger, in Secheford, saving to him and his heirs, scutage, relief, ward to Norwich castle, and suit of court to the sheriffs; witnesses, Sir Adam de Burlingham, Knt. William de Hakeford, Mr. Ralph de Thurston, &c.

The said prior and convent granted to Sir John and his heirs, free ingress into their manor, and to distrain as well on their freemen and villains, as their men and tenants, which he held of the said fee.

In the 18th of Henry III. William de Eye, sold to the prior for 100s. 30 acres of land.

John Fitz-Jeffrey and Basilia his wife, by fine levied, before Henry de Bath, Mr. Simon de Wanton, &c. the King's justices, convey to the prior, ao. 34 of that King, 20 acres.

Walter, son of Robert de Secheford, gave several villains with their tenements and services, cum tota sequela.

John, son of William Caly, grants to Simon the prior, &c. a tenement in 1256, and Roger de Langton, to Roger the prior, &c. 2 villains; Christiana, daughter of Alan de Secheford, 25 acres and an half.

In the 3d of Edward I. the prior was found to have the assise of bread and beer, and other privileges.

In the 6th of that King, William de Secheford quitclaimed to the prior, his right in the fold called East Lyng, and in all the arable lands of the prior, from the said heath, to the field of Docking and Southmere.

Ralph de Barsham, vicar of St. Mary de Secheford, gave a messuage; and William de Kirkeby, all the lands, &c. which he bought here of Sir William Felmingham, in 1280.

Sir John de Ingaldesthorp granted to the said prior, 14 acres of land, paying 5s. per ann. Richard, son of Alban de Stanford, gave him all his lands, with 2 sheep folds, and all the lands which Matilda, late wife of Alban de Stanford, his mother, had in dower of his inheritance.

In the 8th of Edward II. the prior had license to purchase 17 acres and an half of land, and 2 of marsh in this town; and Adam Baldeswell aliened to him 12 acres of land, and one of moor.

In the 20th of Edward III. the prior was found to hold half a fee of the Bishop, which Adam de Baldeswell and others held of the lands of Robert de Caston formerly; and in 1428, his temporalities were valued at 16l. 18s. 4d. ob. per ann.

In 1519, it appears from the account of the cellerar of Norwich, that 100s. was paid to Thomas L'Estrange, Esq. for a fine of certain lands here, 12d. for suit of court; for sheriff's shot, 20d.; to Norwich castle guard, 3s. 6d. for half a year; to the manor of Hunstanton, 7d. ½. honour of Clare, 9d.

At the dissolution of the priory, King Henry VIII. granted it to the dean and chapter of Norwich, then founded by him, who are the present lords.

Caston's Manor.

The family of Caston had also a lordship here, as appears from what has been observed above, under the 9th of Henry III. part of which was then granted to the prior; and in the 19th of Edward IV. Sir John de Caston and Katherine his wife, convey to Mr. John de Brisley, John Yemme of Norwich, and William de Sharington, chaplain, 5s. and 1d. rent, with the moiety of one Knight's fee, the services of the prior and convent of William de Secheford, and other tenants of his lordship, held of the Bishop of Norwich, for 100 marks of silver; and in the following year, the prior was found to hold half a fee of the Bishop which Adam de Baldeswell and others held formerly of Robert de Caston.

The Sechefords had also a lordship. Walter, son of Robert de Secheford, gave several villains to the priory in King Henry the Third's time: and Sabina, daughter of Walter, granted to William de Kirkeby, the prior, her right in 9s. rent, with a free fold, late her father's, for 2 marks.

In the 20th of Edward III. William de Secheford and Henry de Elingham, held half a fee of the Bishop, which William de Secheford formerly held.

Of this family was Robert de Secheford, Esq. one of the Norfolk Gentlemen who accompanied John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster in his expedition into Spain.

In the 3d of Henry IV. Thomas de Secheford was found to hold here and in Thornham, half a fee of the Bishop of Norwich.

After this, it was in the Delapoles Dukes of Suffolk; and in the 22d of Henry VII. was granted to John Carre and his heirs male, by letters patents, dated April 11, as parcel of the lands of that Duke, settled on Sir Robert Drury, &c. in trust, for Margaret Countess of Suffolk, as part of her jointure.

In the 4th of Philip and Mary, September 6, it was granted to Francis Chaloner, and William Butler.

After this, it was possessed by John L'Estrange, Esq. (3d son of Sir Nicholas L'Estrange of Hunstanton) who married Anne, daughter and heir of Richard Goding, Esq. of Boston in Lincolnshire, by whom he had 3 daughters and coheirs: (fn. 4) Eleanor, one of them, married Sir Henry Spilman, the great antiquary, but Anne, their mother, remarrying Richard Stubbs, Esq. he gained possession of it.

By an inquisition taken at Norwich castle, September 22, ao. 19 of James I. before William Heigham, Esq. escheator, it was found that Richard Stubbs, Esq. died November 24, in the 17th of that King, seized of it, formerly part of the possessions of the Duke of Suffolk, and that it was entailed on Sir Hamon L'Estrange of Hunstanton, and Alice his wife, one of the daughters and coheirs of Richard, and was held in soccage of the manor of East Greenwich in Kent, by fealty, and paying 13s. 4d. per ann.

In this family it remains, the Honourable Sir Henry L'Estrange, Bart. being the late lord.

This Richard was son of—Stubbs, Gent. by Alice his wife, daughter of —Richers, Gent. of Bungey in Suffolk.

I find that Isabel, Queen dowager of England, when she resided at Rysing castle, in King Edward the Third's reign, as lady of the hundred of Smethdon, claimed the amercements belonging to the prior of Norwich's lete in his manor: her style and title she then used, was Queen of England, Lady of Ireland, and Countess of Ponteif.

John Duke of Lancaster, King of Castile and Leon, sued the prior for 12d. per ann quitrent, and 8s. per ann. due for the lete of the town, which he recovered as lord of the hundred, ao. 6 of Richard II. on a commission of enquiry.

Stubbs bore sable, in a bend, between three phæons, argent, as many round buckles, gules;—Gooding, three spear heads.

The tenths. were 15l. 10s.—Deducted 6l.

The Church is dedicated to St. Mary, and consists of a nave, a north and south isle, a south transept, and a chancel covered with lead.

There has been also a north transept, now in ruins, and has a round steeple with three bells.

In the middle of the chancel is an altar tomb, but no memorial thereon, said to be in memory of Stubbs, probably for Richard Stubbs, Esq.

In the south transept lies,

Ambrose Fleming, Gent. who died 1637, aged 61—William Palmer, Gent. who died 1634,

And in the nave,

Thomas Buller, Gent. who died 1653.

In this church were the guilds of St. Mary, St. John Baptist, and of All-Saints; to all which John Acre de Eton in Seggeford gave legacies by will in 1444, and to the church 9 roods of land lying at Tokysty; and the gild of the Holy Trinity, the image of St. James in the north alley.

It was anciently a rectory valued at 45 marks, and appropriated to the use of the cellarer of Norwich priory, (fn. 5) by John de Grey Bishop of Norwich, on the 11th of the calends of April, in the 5th year of his pontificate.

The present valor of the vicarage is 8l. ancient valor 6 marks.

In the 6th of Edward I. William de Secheford acknowledged by fine the advowson of the church to be in the prior and convent, and it is now in the dean and chapter.


Ralph de Barsham was vicar before 1274.

1310, Adam de Bedingham, by the prior and convent of Norwich. Adam Hert.

1355, Richard Perkin, by the prior and convent of Norwich.

1397, Richard Castre. Ditto.

1402, Richard Gore. Ditto.

1405, John Aylesham. Ditto.

1405, Thomas Middleton.

1426, John Amy Ditto.

1433, John Sterre. Ditto.

1456, William Brewster, by the dean and chapter of Norwich.

Thomas Laucock.

1559, John Feltham. Ditto.

1563, Thomas Drake.

1600, Christopher Powley.

1619, Phil Leade. Ditto.

1636, William Waters. Ditto.

1692, John Wilson. Ditto.

1708, William Pitcarn. Ditto.

1708, Robert Harmer. Ditto.

1737, Robert Cremer, ditto, died vicar 1751.

1751, John Hatch, on Cremer's death, by the dean, &c. of Norwich.

In the 44th of Edward III. the King granted to John Essex, clerk, the chapel of St. Peter of Sechisford: prayers were every day in this chapel for the soul of Rose de Segeford.


  • 1. Anant had a lordship here.
  • 2. Terra Willi. Epi. de feudo.— Smethduna H. Setesforda tenet Guert T.R.E. iii car. in dominio et xv ac. tc. xv. vill. p. et mo. v sep. xxxix bord. et v serv. viii ac. p'ti. sep. v car. hom. silv. ad lx iiii por. mol i r. et xlv. porc. et ccc ovs. huic man. jacet i beruita que vocatr. Frenga. sep. i car. in dominio et vii vill et ii soc ten. i car. et dim. et de uno soc. fecit beruita. Agelmar. Episc. et vii bord. et ad. soc. h't iiii bord. et un lib ho. i car in dominio de he't fecit beruitam. sep v bord. et ii servi, et ali lib ho. sep i car. in dominio et de hoc fecit beruita. semp. iiii bord. et ii serv. et ii libi. ho'es. ii car. t're. de h. et i beruita, ii car. in dominio et v bord. et ii serv. et ii ac. p'ti. et T.R.E i molin. hunc inde tulit Anant antec Petri de Valoinjis; hoc tot. val. T.R.E. xvi lib. p. et mo. xxiiii lib.—In ead. Ingulfus ten. i car. t're. qua' tenuit Guert T.R.E. sep. i car. in dominio et val. x sol. Tot. ht. i leug. in longo et i lg. in lato, et reddit iiii sol. de gelto.— Hic jacent semp. viii libi. ho'es soca et com'datione tant. iiii car t're. semp. v villi. iiii ac. p'ti. tc iiii car mo ni tc. val. xl sol. mo. lxxx tot. ht. i lg. in longo, et dim. in lato et redd. xviid. et i sol. de xx sol. de gelto.
  • 3. Regist. 1. Eccles. Cath. Norw. fol. 3.—Rot. Pip.
  • 4. Dorothy married Roger Anderson, Gent. and Catherine died single.
  • 5. Reg. Ecc. Norw. 1. fol. 36.