East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, chronology of particular events

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

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'East Flegg Hundred: Great Yarmouth, chronology of particular events', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 11, (London, 1810) pp. 394-399. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol11/pp394-399 [accessed 12 April 2024]


In 1287, The sea flowed into St. Nicholas's church, four feet deep, and laid great part of the town under water.

1290. Upon a marriage proposed between Prince Edward (afterwards King Edward II.) and the Queen of Scots, the ship-carpenters of Yarmouth had orders to build a very beautiful ship (præparari navem pulcherrimam) which was sent to Norway for the King's daughter, heiress of Norway and Scotland.

1297. Simon Blaking, of Martham, fled into St. Nicholas' church, and confessed that he had broken open the house of one Hill, of Hemesby, and stolen a bacon, value two shillings, and afterwards broken open the prison of South Town, and after that killed William Fitz Nicholas Blaking, of Martham; and abjured the kingdom, in the presence of the coroner, the bailiffs of Yarmouth, &c. He was allowed port at Erwell, to transport himself in 15 days. Such papal abjurations frequently happened in this church, especially in the reigns of Edward I. II. and III. The laws in those days, if the murderer could reach a church or church-yard, before he was apprehended, on confession of his crimes there to a coroner, justice, &c. permitted him to abjure the kingdom, without taking his trial, and accordingly set him at liberty.

1330. The new work, at St. Nicholas' church, which we have before mentioned, was begun this year; the breadth of which was 47 feet, the length 107, within the walls; the latter being the breadth of the west end of the church, to which this was intended as an addition.

1337. The Yarmouth navy, containing 20 men of war, had orders to proceed to the ports of Dort, in order to convoy the King's four plenipotentiaries to the court of Hainault, from those parts to England. In their return, they took two Flemish ships, laden with men, money, and provisions for Scotland, with the Bishop of Glasgow on board, who died of his wounds at Sandwich.

1338. This year Yarmouth fitted out a fleet of men of war, well equipped, to go against the enemies at sea, for the space of a month, at their own cost and charge.

1342, King Edward III. embarked on board the Yarmouth squadron, in his expedition to Britanny.

This year the principal inhabitants were fined 1000 marks, for committing trespasses, and other unwarrantable acts, on the sea coast.

1347. In the siege of Calais, Yarmouth furnished the King with 43 ships, and 1075 mariners; whence it appears, that this town sent more men than any sea-port in the Kingdom, except London, a matter at this time, not a little extraordinary.

1352. Yarmouth, this year, gave to the college of Windsor, a last of red herrings, to be delivered annually for ever; concerning which, many disputes have since happened.

1368. John Lauwes hanged for exporting seven sacks of wool out of Kirkley Road, without paying the custom.

1382. This year King Richard II. paid a visit to this town, amongst others, in June.

1386. Sir Henry Percy and Faux Percy sent to Yarmouth with 300 men at arms, and 600 archers, to guard the coast, an invasion from France being apprehended.

1403. This year Henry IV. with the consent of parliament, grants that the shipping of wool, hides, and skins, together with the packing and weighing of wools, &c. which then used to be at Lynn and Ipswich, should from thenceforth be at the said town of Yarmouth, and no where else within the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, during the King's pleasure. This was in consideration of its being a frontier town, and liable to invasions by the enemy, &c.

1427. The bridge first built over the river, where there had been a ferry-boat before.

1454. This year John Bowyer, organist, with ten others, amongst whom was Richard Southwell, Esq. member for Yarmouth, received their freedom for 26s. 8d. each.

1463. John Pedle, labourer, of Yarmouth, for coining and uttering 18 groats made of copper and lead, as good and lawful money of England, was tried, condemned, and hanged.

1491. A large porpoise was sent from Yarmouth, as a present to the Earl of Oxford.

1511. South Town united with Gorleston.

1515. The French Queen, and Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk, her husband, came this year to Yarmouth, and were entertained by the town three days. They were so well satisfied with the urbanity of the people and the situation of the town, that they promised to prevail on the King to pay a visit to Yarmouth.

1541. Thomas Alleyn, shoemaker, and Thomas Hamond, merchant, both of Yarmouth, were fined 2s. each, for merchandizing, bargaining, and selling a last of white herrings in the church, in the time of divine service, the 2d of November.

1553. The draw bridge first built.

1554. This year fifty sail of ships were lost in one day and night. —The haven very bad, and a fire-beacon erected on the top of the castle.

1555. The hermitage, on the west side of the haven, was this year given to the town.

1562. John Berry, one of the eight-and-forties, at an assembly holden April 29th was expelled the society, "for that he ys a whoremaster, and lyveth ungodly with sundry women, as he hath openly confessed and sworne to the same."

1563. Herrings were so scarce this year, that green or fresh herrings were sold for 9l. a last and upwards.

1569. This year a last of herrings and a tun of wine were of equal value, either being sold for 8l. at this town.

1570. Yarmouth bridge was this year broken down, and carried away by a rapid tide, which cost to rebuild it 403l. 15s. 9d. notwithstanding 225l. had been expended on it, in repairs, the year before.

1578. Great preparations were made at Yarmouth, for the entertainment of Queen Elizabeth, who was expected there, by the way of Suffolk; a silver cup, in form of a ship, wich cost 16l. was made on purpose to be presented to her majesty; but she came no further than Norwich, whence the lords of her retinue came to Yarmouth, and were elegantly entertained in the priory, at the town's expense.

1579. A grievous plague at Yarmouth, which carried off there, between May and Michaelmas, about 2000 people. On this account the grammar school was shut up for half a year; and a letter was received by the bailiffs, from the mayor, aldermen and sheriff of Newcastle, forbidding the people of Yarmouth to come thither for coals, &c.

1582. This year Scrotby Sand (so called from its situation near a small village of that name, on the coast) was swept away by a strong easterly wind and tide, and became sea again, having emerged from the water but a few years before, and formed itself into a small island. About 1578, it became intirely dry land, and raised its head so much above high-water mark, that grass, &c. grew on it, and sea fowls made choice of it for the building their nests, so that it was in fact a small island; whither many of the Yarmouth people used to go, in the summer season, in order, to pass an agreeable day, in such recreations as their fancy led them to. Hence it appears that on August 2, 1580, the bailiffs with a respectable company of gentlemen, burgesses, mariners, &c. went down to take formal possession of this spot, by the name of Yarmouth island, where they all dined, and spent the day in festivity. From the circumstance of its appearance, they did imagine that it would soon accumulate, and become of some importance to the town. Sir Edward Clere, Knt. therefore, opposed them in the possession of it, claiming it himself, as parcel of his manor of Scrotby, and for that purpose erected a frame of timber upon it as a testimony of his claim. It was the more eagerly contended for, on account of the many valuable goods that were often cast ashore there, from ships lost on the coast, particularly this year, (582) when several parcels of silk, wax, &c. were found there and carried to Yarmouth, in spite of Sir Edward's claim. The contest, however, was of short duration. The sea put in its more powerful claim, received again its property, and left Sir Edward and the people of Yarmouth "not a wreck behind," whereby to keep alive the fruitless contest.

1610, This year the gutters and drains on the key were neatly covered over, which contributed much to the convenience of the place, as they had before been a great nuisance.

1611. A great scarcity of herrings this year, a last of Windsor herrings being sold for 15l. 5s.

1614. This year 190 Jacobus's were presented to King James, by the town, as a mark of their loyalty and affection to him.

1625. On December the 29th, this year, an order was made that no poor people should be married, unless they should first procure the hand writing of the alderman and chief constable of the ward wherein they lived for that purpose.

1631. An agreement made with the post-master of Ipswich, to pay him 20s. a quarter, for bringing and carry letters to and from Yarmouth to London, for the use of the town.

1633. The ordinance which had formerly been made, enjoining all the aldermen's wives to wear velvet hats only, was this year annulled.

1642. The town collected 136l. for the relief of his majesty's distressed subjects in Ireland.

1653. The 29th of August, this year, General Monk, being in Alborough road, granted his warrant to free the Yarmouth fishermen in the herring fair from being impressed into the service of the states.

1659. There having been a terrible fire at Southwold, in Suffolk, by which three fourths of the town was laid in ashes, and the inhabitants thereby sorely distressed, Yarmouth humanely sent the poor of that place twenty combs of wheat, ten of rye, and ten pounds in money.

1662. At a sessions holden the 10th of December, one James Smith was fined ten pounds, and to be imprisoned till the money was paid, for speaking the following disrespectful words of Sir Thomas Medowe, one of the bailiffs: "He is a fool, and I have killed a bull of "30s. that had better brains than Sir Thomas have."

1664. Died of the pla gue here this year, 2500 persons; amongst whom were both the ministers of Yarmouth church.

1667. This year the overseers of the poor got a die to coin farthings, at which the king was much offended; and, therefore, in 1673 Lord Townsend was prevailed on by the town to petition the king in their behalf, that he would be pleased to pardon the offence; the expenses in which cost the town 90l.

1671. On the 27th of September, King Charles II. with the duke of York, and many of the nobility, came to Yarmouth, and were elegantly entertained by the corporation, which cost them a thousand pounds. They presented the king with four golden herrings and a chain, value two hundred and fifty pounds.

1672. The duke of York's ship being in Southwold bay, the town sent him, as a present, a hogshead of white wine, two tierces of claret, six sheep, six lambs, a chest of lemons, and one hundred fowls and fresh fish.

The 28th of May, this year, the English and Dutch fleets came to an engagement in the abovementioned bay, during which the report of the guns was heard at Yarmouth.

1677. Captain Booth, for stabbing a seaman in the town, was executed here; and the town paid 3l. 13s. to the guard, which was thought necessary to attend his execution.

This year, also the ground betwixt the walls and the east side of the town, from the market place to the Frier's Lane, was sold for 2265l. 17s. 6d. to sundry persons, to build upon.

1678. The ground between the walls and the new buildings was levelled, the rope-makers' posts pulled up, and the whole made fit for passage.

1681. The whole body of freemen this year claimed a right of electing members for the town, and accordingly chose Sir James Johnson, Knt. and George England, Esq. Before this, the corporation had usually taken upon them this business, sometimes by a majority of the assembly, sometimes by an inquest of 6 aldermen and 6 common-council-men.

1683. St. Nicholas's steeple (being of wood and lead) was set on fire by lightning, and extinguished by one John Grice, for which service the corporation voted him their thanks and a piece of plate of the value of ten pounds, for his activity; and in 1695 the said John Grice had four pounds paid him for taking down and putting up the vane of the said steeple.

1685. Sir Henry Sheers, a skilfull engineer, came this year to Yarmouth, to survey the haven and piers. He had his entertainment at the Three-Feathers inn, gratis, 100 guineas for his trouble, and 40s. a day for his coachman when travelling, 30s. when lying still.

1687. Prince George of Denmark landed at Yarmouth, the 12th of August, whence he went post, the same day, for Windsor.

1692. King William III. landed here, October 18th, and was elegantly entertained by the corporation, the expence of which was 106l.

1712. Near twenty persons, in their passage hence, for Norwich in a wherry, were drowned in Braydon.

1718. It was agreed this year that the two last, and every succeeding mayor, should receive 100l. each, in lieu of the fishing thousand.

1729. A contribution of 50l. was raised by the town, for the relief of the English prisoners at Mequinez.

1734. This year a subscription was set on foot, by which were purchased a golden chain, and an appendant medal, having the arms of the corporation on one side, and a ship under sail on the reverse, to be worn by every mayor of the corporation during his respective mayoralty, for ever. The whole cost 166l. and 3d. but the medal was ordered to be sold in 1746, in order to purchase an additional length of chain with the money.

1737. King George II. landed at Lowestoft, the 14th of January.

1744. Samuel Killet, Esq. alderman, gave to the corporation a silver oar, double gilt.

1758. An act for the better recovery of small debts, within the liberties of the burgh, was this year obtained.

1759. The sea-baths were this year built, which cost near 2000l.

1766. This year, on account of the very enhanced price of provisions, a subscription was set on foot here, for supplying the poor with bread, at a reasonable rate. It was liberally supported by the inhabitants; corn was bought, a baking office hired, and the supply was conducted in the following manner.

The poor of each ward were to apply to the subscribers of their respective wards for tickets, which were registered, and numbered correspondent to the same number in a register book kept on purpose, wherein, against each number, was the name of the pauper, his occupation, the number of his family, and the loaves which were to be delivered. Each ward had particluar hours of application, to prevent confusion. Thus, on producing the ticket, the register was referred to, and the number of loaves delivered accordingly, at three pence the quartern loaf, weighing 4lb. 14oz. when a similar loaf, with 11oz. less weight, was sold by the bakers for five-pence. This very seasonable relief continued from the 8th of January, to the 25th of April 1767, in which time upwards of sixty thousand loaves were disposed of in this laudable manner.