The city of Norwich, chapter 32: Of the city in the time of King James II

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 3, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part I. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1806.

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Francis Blomefield, 'The city of Norwich, chapter 32: Of the city in the time of King James II', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 3, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part I( London, 1806), British History Online [accessed 19 July 2024].

Francis Blomefield, 'The city of Norwich, chapter 32: Of the city in the time of King James II', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 3, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part I( London, 1806), British History Online, accessed July 19, 2024,

Francis Blomefield. "The city of Norwich, chapter 32: Of the city in the time of King James II". An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 3, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part I. (London, 1806), , British History Online. Web. 19 July 2024.

In this section



James the Second was crowned King, April 23, 1685.

This year the well in the middle of the market, which was built of freestone, was pulled down, and a pump erected at the east end of the Gild-hall.

Barnard Church, Esq. by will dated Feb. 16, 1685, gave the mayor, sheriffs, &c. of Norwich, 400l. the city giving good security to his executors, that the said sum may be safe, and for ever go to no other but the following uses, viz. to be put out by 5l. per cent. to able men, till they can find a purchase proper to lay it out upon, and the yearly interest or rent to be disposed of

To find a sermon yearly on the 17th day of May, being his birthday, "to excite unto charitable and good works," for which the minister to have 13s. 4d. and the clerk of the parish where the sermon is, 3s. 4d. to be preached in St. John Sepulchre's church in Berstreet, (in which parish he lived,) the first year, by the minister of that parish for the time being, if he be a licensed preaching minister, and if not, by such a minister as the mayor shall appoint; and the second year in the parish church of Whinburgh in Norfolk, (where he was born,) by the minister of the parish, if a licensed preacher, if not, by one procured by the church-wardens; the third year in St. John's church aforesaid, and the fourth year in the church of Garveston, alias Gaston, near Whinburgh, by the minister of the parish, if a licensed preacher, if not, one is to be procured by the church-wardens there, and so successively from four years to four years for ever. And when the sermon is at St. John's, the two church-wardens and the two overseers, shall have 6d. each, the mayor 1s. to six of the ancientest justices, two sheriffs, and the two aldermen of the ward, 6d. each, if they be present to the town-clerk, chamberlain, sword-bearer, and three other officers attending the mayor 6d. each; to four officers attending the sheriffs, to the master of the house of correction, and two other beadlemen, which shall be present, 4d. each: and when at Garceston or Whinburgh, besides the 13s. 4d. for the minister, and 3s. 4d. for the clerk, the two church-wardens and two overseers shall have each 1s. and 9s. 4d. to be divided equally among the poor of the parish present at the sermon; and on the 15th of January the following sums shall be yearly paid by the city, viz.

20s. to the poor of Whinburgh; 20s. to the poor of Garveston; 10s. to the poor of St. Laurence's parish in Norwich (where he served his apprenticeship); and 10s. to the poor of St. Edmund's (where be lived some time); 20s. to the poor of St. George of Colegate (where he also lived): 20s. to the poor of St Austin's; and 20s. to the poor of St. John Sepulcre; 10s. to the poor prisoners in the city goal, to be equally divided among them; 10s. to the poor prisoners in the castle, to be equally divided; 50s. to the master of the Old Folks hospital; to be spent over and above the ordinary allowance in a dinner among the poor old people there, in such provision as four of the ancientest old poor men and four or the ancientest old poor women shall best like of. And also the master of the Boys hospital to have other 50s. towards the better maintenance of the boys there. Other 50s, to be paid to the master or mistress of the Girls hospital, for the better maintenance of the girls there; 20s. to be spent in a friendly meeting of the mayor, justices, sheriffs, and aldermen, yearly en their court day, next before the 15th of January, when they are to take "especial care concerning the gifts and payments aforementioned," all overplus to go to the hamper box in the council chamber for the relief of the necessitous poor in their necessities, according to the discretion of the mayor for the time being: he gave also 50l. to be freely lent by the mayor and aldermen, for five years to five poor tradesmen, worsted weavers, "of honest lives and good conversations, such as the headmen, wardens, and other chief officers of the company of worsted weavers shall nominate and approve of," to each 10l. on security given for the repayment, and so to continue to five fresh ones every five years for ever.

He gave also 9l. to nine ministers in the city and country, and to the poor of divers parishes about, 20l.

In 1668, the city settled an estate for these uses.

In 1686, on May-day, the freemen assembled to choose a new-elect, and presented Mr. John Wrench, the youngest alderman, and Robert Bendish, (that had been mayor and was now unqualified,) to the mayor and court, who because they could not take their choice, neither of them being eligible, they went home, and so none was chosen; whereupon by order from the King, the freemen were summoned the last of May, and Mr. Will. Salter was chosen. Will. Doughty, Gent. by will dated April 25, 1687, founded an hospital here, of which see under Doughty's, hospital.

In 1687, the King suspended all penal laws that respected religion, and gave free liberty to all Papists and sectaries, to exercise their own way of worship without control; upon which the Papists had the granary granted them at the New-hall, over the sealing-hall, for their publick chapel, which they made very handsome; it was opened on Sunday Dec. 11, publick mass and a sermon being performed there by Mr. Acton.

The Presbiterians built a meeting-house from the ground over against the Black-boys.

And the Independents repaired a house in St. Edmund's that had been formerly a brew-house.

By the King's mandate 19 of the common-council were turned out, and 10 aldermen, one of which was sheriff, viz.

Aldermen turned out.

Augustine Briggs.

Laurence Goodwin.

Rob. Bendish.

Will. Helwys.

Nic. Helwys.

Francis Gardiner.

Francis Osborn.

Rich. Brockden or Brogden.

Nic. Bickerdyke, sheriff.

Aldermen placed in their rooms.

John Wrench.

Tho. Seaman.

John Wigget.

Rob. Cook.

Tho. Cook.

John Leverington.

John Dersley.

John Rarnham, Will. Barnham.

Timothy Wenn, sheriff.

Common-Council ejected.

John Hall, John Thompson.

Tho. Hunting, Gamaliel Sugden.

Will. Brereton, John Ransom.

George Bennet, Aug. Corteis.

John Seaman, Laurence Bond.

Will. Hare, Aquila Crusoe.

John Norgate, Peter Scot.

Rich. Sterling, Tho. Furman.

John Freeman, Henry Prattin.

Elias Norgate.

New Common-Council.

John Wall, Roger Salter.

John Wigget, jun. Rob. Scoulden.

Isaac Paine, Isaac Decelè.

Walter Rayner, Tho. Wasey.

Will. Nockold. Will. Newman.

Anthony Thacker, Peter Castle.

John Man, jun. Tho. Parsley.

Rob. Emperor, Stephen Buttolph.

John Browne, Walter Long.

Tho. Andrews.

But in 1688, Oct. 20, came down a proclamation to restore corportions to the same constitution they were in, in 1679; which, on Oct 30, was performed at Norwich, when all that were cast off by their new charter took their places again, and the old charter brought down by the Duke of Norfolk, was restored, and is now in use. (fn. 1)

On July 25, came an order from the King to admit 30 Quakers freemen, without taking the oaths; but they were refused by a great majority, 39 voting against their admission, and only 8 for it.

Seven of the bishops were sent to the Tower June 8 for denying to authorise their parochial clergy to publish his Majesty's declaration for liberty of conscience, or a general toleration, in their several parish churches, they were brought to be tried at the King's Bench bar June 15, their trial was put off to the 29th, and they were then acquitted to the great joy of the kingdom in general, "at Norwich particularly the joy was excessive." (fn. 2)

Dec. 1, Henry Duke of Norfolk rode into the market place at the head of 300 knights and gentlemen, and declared for a free parliament, where the mayor and aldermen met him, from the Gild-hall, and consented with him.

Dec. 7 and 8, the rabble assembled in a riotous manner, pulled down and burned all the furniture of the Popish chapel lately opened at the New-hall, pillaged several houses of the Papists in the city, but were dispersed by the trained bands; but getting together again on the Friday and Saturday following, they grew so insolent as to threaten to plunder the Bishop's palace, and some of the chief citizens houses, but several being taken up on Monday and whipped, and others imprisoned, and after punished, they ceased from such actions.

Nov. 5, William Prince of Orange, arrived at Torbay, and on Dec. 16 came to St. James's.

Dec. 23, James II. went into France.

Feb. 13, King William and Queen Mary were proclaimed at London, and on the 18th at this city.

Mayors And Sheriffs.

1685, Francis Gardiner. Tho. Blofield, Augustine Briggs.
1686, Will. Salter. William Guybon, Rich. Brockden or Brogden.
1687, Philip Stebbing. Nic. Bickerdyke turned off by the King's mandate.
Timothy Wenn put into his place.
John Ward.
1688, John Wrench. Thomas Postle, John Atkinson.
Rob. Davy, Esq. recorder.
Rob. Ward, Esq. steward.

Burgesses in Parliament.

1685, Parl. at Westm. Honourable Robert Paston, Esq. brother to the Earl of Yarmouth. Sir Nevile Catlyn, Knt. of Kirby-Cane in Norfolk.

1688, Parl. at Westm. Sir Nevile Catlyn, Knt. Rob. Davy, Esq. these two were elected Jan. 7, by the King's writ, and on Jan. 11, were elected.

Ditto. Thomas Blofield, alderman, Sir Nevile Catlyn, Knt. by the circular letter, for the convention.


  • 1. There is a common tradition that the charter when it was returned, was found thrown by in a coal-hole, much blemished by its lying there: the origin of which story proceeded from the misunderstanding of the words wrote on the margin of the court-book, against the surder of the charter; where the words nigro carbone are written with a black lead pencil, by some just observer on that action, alluding without doubt to divers passages in the classicks, as that of Illa prius cretâ, mox hæc carbone notasti? Juvenal, Satr. v. lin. 108. or that of Horace, — Creta an carbone notandi ? Satr. iii. lin. 246. Meaning, that that action ought to be stigmatised as wholly unwarrantable and' unjust, and as such to be marked, according to the custom of the ancients, with a black coal, who when they would express a fortunate or lucky day, or a commendable action, did it with chalk, which makes a white mark, the usual colour or token of innocence and virtue; and contrarywise to express an unfortunate or unlucky day, or a wicked action, did it with charcoal, which makes a black mark, the usual colour or token of guilt and vice.
  • 2. Rapin, vol. xv. p. 144.