West Flegg hundred: Hemesby

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1810.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


Francis Blomefield, 'West Flegg hundred: Hemesby', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) pp. 165-168. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp165-168 [accessed 20 May 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "West Flegg hundred: Hemesby", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) 165-168. British History Online, accessed May 20, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp165-168.

Blomefield, Francis. "West Flegg hundred: Hemesby", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810). 165-168. British History Online. Web. 20 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp165-168.

In this section


Algar Earl of Mercia, son of Leofric Earl of Mercia was lord of Hemesby in the time of King Edward; Alwi bought it of Algar, and Stigand the Archbishop of Canterbury, took it from him, and gave it to Almarus, his brother, Bishop of Elmham; but what right the see had to it, the hundred (by whom all suits and causes were tried) knew not. (fn. 1)

At the survey William Beaufoe Bishop of Thetford, was lord by the grant of the Conqueror, and held it as a lay fee in demean, consisting of 3 carucates of land, 33 villains, and 13 borderers, 6 servi, &c. 3 carucates in demean, 11 among the tenants, 40 acres of meadow, and 2 salt works, with a church endowed with 20 acres, valued at 16d. &c. and 4 socman had 60 acres of and, land 3 of meadow, with one carucate, it was with its beruite in Martham, one leuca and a half long, one broad, paid 30d. gelt, and valued with part of Martham, and Winterton at 26l. in King Edward I. reign, at the survey 29l.

This was a large capital manor, and Bishop Beaufoe at his death left it to his successours; and Herbert Bishop of Norwich, on his foundation of the priory of Norwich, settled it on that convent.

(b) Gyrard, who was prior in the reign of King Henry II. and his convent, with the consent of John Bishop of Norwich granted in fee to Henry de Marsh and his heirs, all their land at Hemesby, and their men, with their services, paying 70l. per ann.—witnesses, Master - - de Holcham, William de Toftes, Ralph de Bedeford, Adam de Akebeach, &c. (fn. 2)

Roger son of Richard, son of Walter de Hemesby, granted a certain rent to William de Walesham, prior, sans date, but about 1280; —witnesses Roger de Ormesby, &c.

Bartholomew, son of Ralph de Somerton, granted lands here to William de Kyrkely, prior, &c. sans date;—witnesses, Sir William de Redham, Ralph Bill, Thomas de Begevile, Roger de Bavent, Knts. &c. and William son of Godfrey de Hemesbye gave lands here to the said prior;—witnesses, Sir Robert de Castre, Laurence de la Mare.

John, son of Sir William de Ormesby, quitclaimed to William de Kirkeby, prior, lands here, between the lands of Sir William de Redham and Ellen his wife, held by her in dower of the inheritance of Roger de Ormesby;—witnesses, Sir Walter de Burgh, Sir Ralph Bill; and Gerberge, widow of William Plente of Ormesby, gave lands to the said prior;—witnesses, Sir William de Redham, Sir Robert de Mauteby, Roger de Ormesby, Nicholas Clere.

John Everard of Ormesby granted also lands to the said prior;— witnesses, Sir Walter de Mauteby, and Robert his son, Robert de Somerton, Simon Peche, and Thomas de Hakeford, Knts.

Roger, son of Sir William de Ormesby, quitclaimed lands to Henry de Lakenham, the prior, about 1290, which Sir William de Redham held of the dower of Ellen his mother.

In the 6th year of William de Claxton, prior of Norwich, a court was held by him, when it was found by the homage, that it was the custom of this manor, that on the death of a villain, his heir, had a right to, and might claim a cart, and a plow with their utensils, a table with its cloth, a ladder, a bason, and washing vessel, dishes and plates, 1 tinum, 1 ciman, et 1 cilicum for a bed (p. torac) - - - - - -, a bason, washing vessel, a grindstone, spade, and fork.

In the 9th of Henry III. the prior gave two palfreys to have a mercate here, and at Secheford; and in the 13th of that King, Walter de Malteby, conveyed by fine to Simon the prior a messuage, and 3 carucates of land in Hemesby and Martham; and the prior granted to Walter, all the land that he had at Becham, excepting the advowson of that church, which was to remain to the prior and convent, and gave besides to Walter 200 marks. (fn. 3)

In the 41st of that King, the prior had wreck at sea, which belonged to the abbot of Holm, but the prior's men being near to the sea, save it, and the abbot allows it at will; and in a pleading in the 52d year of Edward I. the prior claimed wreck from Palling cross to the bounds of Yarmouth, with frank pledge, assise, free warren, pillory and tumbrel.

Their temporalities in 1428, were valued at 41l. 11s. 2d. ob. per ann. and in the Cellarer's Computus, in the 31st of Henry VI. I find 3s. 4d. abatement of rent on account of lands swallowed up here by the sea; and the same abatement for lands swallowed up at Winterton; the cellarers account for 92d. revived at the fair in 1519, for the prior, to pray for the soul of Elizabeth Clere.

On the dissolution of the priory this manor became part of the Crown revenues; and the church was deprived of it, and King Edward VI. on November 21, in his sixth year, granted it to John Dudley Earl of Northumberland, in consideration of the site of the monastery of Tinmouth, in that county; with the impropriated rectory and advowson of the vicarage.

On the attainder of that Duke, in Queen Mary's reign, it fell to the Crown; and in the 3d and 4th of Philip and Mary Sir Robert Dudley, son of the aforesaid duke, and Anne his wife had a grant of it on January 30.

Queen Elizabeth, by letters patents dated at Westminster, February 5, in her 7th year, reciting the grant made by Philip and Mary (to the said Sir Robert Dudley, now her faithful counsellor and Earl of Leicester) of this manor, 30 messuages, 14 cottages, 1000 acres of land, 200 of meadow, 1000 of pasture, 80 of wood, 1000 of furze and heath, with the advowson of the vicarage of the church, &c.

King Edward VI. on January 26, in his fifth year, demised to Hugh Ellis Gent. the rectory of the said church, with all the glebe lands, tithes, &c. for 21 years, paying to the king 11l. per ann. the queen hereby also now gives to the said earl, the reversion of the same rectory, in as full a manner, as John Duke of Northumberland held the same; (the rent of 11l. per ann. being reserved to the Crown) with all courts, letes, felon's goods, mercates, fairs, &c.

In the said year, Sir Thomas Gresham purchased it of the Earl, and in the 13th of Elizabeth, settled this lordship, with the rectory and advowson of the vicarage, on himself for life; the reversion on Nath. Bacon, Esq. of Greys Inn, son of Sir Nath. Bacon, lord keeper of the great seal, and Ann his wife.

This Nathaniel was afterwards Knight of the Bath, and Ann his wife was a natural daughter of Sir Thomas Gresham, by whom he had three daughters and coheirs; Anne married to John Townsend of Raynham; Elizabeth, to Sir Thomas Knevet, junior of AshwellThorp; and Winefrede to Sir Robert Gawdy of Claxton in Norfolk; and on a division of the estate, this lordship came to Sir Thomas Knevet, by Elizabeth his wife.

Sir Thomas Knevet junior, dying in 1605, Elizabeth, lady Knevet, afterwards settled it on Nathaniel Knevet, Esq. a younger son, who was lord in 1633.

Edward Paston, Esq. lord in 1742.

The tenths were 9l.—Deducted 3l.

The Church was a rectory, dedicated to St. Mary, valued at 16 marks, and was appropriated to the priory of Norwich, and a vicarage was settled, valued at 6 marks, the cellarer of Norwich, had a pention of 10s. per ann. paid by the vicar, the present valor of the vicarage is 4l. 6s. 8d. and is discharged.


In 1324, Robert de Langele, instituted vicar, presented by the prior and convent of Norwich.

1328, William de Bynham.

1331, John Goodrych.

1340, Roger Pertroun.

1355, John de Steynaston.

1394, Oliver Mendham.

1448, Edmund Trynok, instituted vicar, on the death of Jeffrey Danyell, by the prior, &c.

Richard Maryl died vicar 1728, and Thomas Whaite succeeded, presented by Simon Taylor, Esq.

On a grave-stone, the pourtraiture of a woman in brass, and on a plate,

Pray for the soule of Margaret Dooke, late the wife of John Dooke, who departed, &c. in 1539.

On a window, the arms of Dooke; or, three lions heads erased gules, on a chief of the second, three mullets of the first.

Orate p. a'ia Tho. Bunne, qui pavimentum hujus ecclie lapdib; marmoreis fieri fecit Ao. D'ni. 1500.

The town probably takes its name from some rivulet, Hems, is a rivulet near Totness in Devonshire.


  • 1. Terra Will. Epi. Tedfordensis de Feudo —Hemesbej tenet Algar Comes T. R. E. et Alwius emit. Stigand. abstulit et dedit Almaro fri. suo sd. hund. nescit quomodo ex illo fuit in episcopatu in dominio. iii car. tre. et semp. xxxiii vill. et xiii bord. tc. vi ser. mo. iii sep. iii car. in d'nio et xi car hominu' et xl ac. p'ti. et ii salin. i ecclia xx ac. et val. xvid. mo. xii porc. et clx ov. et iiii soc. de lx ac. terre, iii ac. p'ti. et sep. i car.
  • 2. Reg. Cath. Norw. fol. 197, & 223.
  • 3. Reg. Cath. Norw. 1, f. 105.