Hundred of Depwade: Fritton

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 5. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1806.

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'Hundred of Depwade: Fritton', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 5, (London, 1806) pp. 309-312. British History Online [accessed 21 April 2024]

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The chief part of Fritton, or Free Town, to which the advowson belonged, was part of the honour and manor of Forncet, (fn. 1) and from its enjoying the liberties of the honours that extended hither, it might take its name, as being free from many things that other villages were subject to.

There was another small part held of the manor of Hemenhale, (fn. 2) by Thomas Trot and Alice his wife, in 1384. (See p. 183.)

Robert Malet, lord of the honour of Eye, which extends hither, (fn. 3) had two freemen here and their services.

And the honour of Richmond also extends into this village; for in 1636, it appears by the rolls of that honour, that Roger Warde, Gent. was amerced 20s. for detaining from the King, as lord of the honour, 1d. a year of ware-pound rent for his lands in Freton.

The Abbot of St. Edmund had lands here belonging to his manor of Moringthorp; (fn. 4) which he assigned with that manor to Robert de Vals, and it hath passed to this day with Moringthorp, or Thorp-hall manor, to which I refer you. To this also was joined one freeman and two bordars under him, and their services, which belonged till then to the King's hundred of Depwade

Besides these parts, there was a considerable share of the parish, which in the Confessor's time was held by Olketel a Dane, and freeman of Ederic de Laxfield's, the antecessor of Robert Malet, lord of Eye; and by Gifart, under Robert Fitz-Corbun at the Conquest: (fn. 5) and there were then 7 tenants of this manor that had power to sell their land, if their lord refused to purchase it of them; it was always worth 25s. and had the liberty of faldage; and the town was a mile long and half a mile broad, and paid 9d. to the geld. This was afterwards called Boyland manor, and hath passed ever since, as BoylandHall in Moringthorp, to which I refer you.

Another part of this village extended into Henstede hundred, (fn. 6) and was held of Roger Bigot's manor, at the 20th part of a fee, by Rainulf or Ralf, and belonged to Ulf the Dane in the Confessor's time. In 1264, Roger le Hayre, Eyre, or Ayer, was found to be a rebel against King Henry III. and to hold a manor in Freton of 100s. value, which the King seized; but in 1276, it was restored to William le Ayer; in 1306, Roger Ryvet had it, and in 1432, John Storer, and after Roger Bennet, by whom it was sold to the lord of Boyland, and so became joined to it.

The Manor of Bavent's Burtoft's and Hemenhale's,

Was infeoffed by the lord of Forncet, in Peter Fitz-Nicholas, to be held of Forncet at the 4th part of a fee; and in 1198, he settled it by fine on Eustace de Bavent and his heirs; and about 1210, Ralf de Freton and John his son, were lords; and in 1245, John de Burtoft, who in 1264 was found to be one of the rebels against Henry III. but having obtained his pardon in 1285, Ralf de Burtoft and Margaret his wife possessed it. In 1307, a Ralf de Burtofts was lord, and in 1315, Sir John de Sturmyn, Knt. who in 1327, had a charter for a weekly market and yearly fair here, and for free-warren, in this town, Stratton, and Moringthorp. (fn. 7) In 1329, Ralf de Burtoft, and Margaret his wife sold it to John de Hemenhale, and in 1331, the rest of their lands here; (fn. 8) in 1345, Sir Thomas de Hemenhale had it, and it continued in that family till about 1400, and then James Rees and Edmund Younghusband, held the lands and site of Hemenhale's alias Burtoft's manor in Freton; but the manor continued with Hemenhale, and Lady Lukyn now hath it. (fn. 9)

The church is dedicated to St. Catherine, was valued in the old taxation at 16 marks, and had a house and 11 acres of glebe; it paid 2s. 2d. synodals, 6s. 8d. archdeacon's procurations, 10d. Peter-pence, and 5d. carvage. And the whole village paid 3l. 10s. clear to every tenth.

It stands thus in the King's Books,

9l. Fritton Rectory. 40l. clear yearly value.

It is discharged of first-fruits and tenths, and is capable of augmentation.

There is a messuage and 10 acres of town-land, and the following religious houses had temporals here taxed as follow;

The Prior of the monks at Thetford 30s. (fn. 10) The Abbot of Windham 10d. the Prior of Dunmow 2s. and the sacrist of St. Edmund at Bury 4s. 4d. (fn. 11)

Rectors of Fritton.

1293, Master Hamon de Gatele, who held it with East-Tuddenham; resigned.

1300, Robert de Bosco, or Boys of Great-Thornham; he purchased the parsonage-house and a 2d rent in 1319, of William le Ey[?] and settled it on the church by license of mortmain from King Edward II. who presented him.

1349, Thomas Revet of Freton. Sir John de Segrave, Knt. lord of Forncet. He was deprived, because the King, as guardian to Sir John, recovered the next turn in his own court in 1352, and then he presented

Robert Colston.

1375, John Beneyt. Margaret Lady Segrave, and Marshal. Resigned.

1376, Henry Godchilde. Ditto. He changed with Beneyt for this, and Will. Mulsho, dean of the royal chapel of St. Martin le Grand in London, presented him to St. Catherine's in Colman-street, London, which was in his patronage.

1380, Robert son of Ralf in the Willows.

1387, Hen. Gille. Ditto. Afterwards rector of Holesle.

1394, John Wilby. Ditto. Deprived in 1434, and

William Horne had it of the King, as guardian to the Duke of Norfolk. He was deprived the same year, and

John Gybelot had it and resigned in

1441, to Thomas Joye. John Duke of Norf. Resigned.

1447, John Machon. Ditto.

1458, John Turnor, ob. Ditto.

1489, Thomas Clerk. Eliz. Dutchess of Norf. Resigned.

1496, Nic. Saunders. Ditto.

1528, Sir Lancelton Wharton, resigned. Tho. Duke of Norfolk.

1536, Will. Hughson, ob. Ditto.

1559, John Collison. Ditto.

1565, John Midleton, resigned. Ditto.

1557, Reginald Nuthall, resigned. Will. Dix and Will. Cautrell, assignees of Thomas Duke of Norfolk. In 1603, he returned 88 communicants.

1616, Thomas Cronshay, or Crausley, resigned. Henry Jermyn this turn. In

1627, Ralf Smith of Fritton, Gent. having purchased the advowson of the Norfolk family, presented

George Cooke, who in 1636, was suspended by Bishop Wren, for not complying with the Rubrick; but after his submission, he was restored, and died rector; and in

1661, Samuel Snowden, A. M. was presented by Mr. SMITH, and at his resignation in 1668, he presented

John Smith, A. B. who held it united to Hemenhale. In

1697, John Smith was presented by Anne Smith, widow, and held it united to Hardwick; and at his death in

1714, Tho. Holmes, A. M. had it, united to Flordon; he was presented by John Howse, senior Esq. who purchased the advowson; at his death John Howse, Esq. son of the said John, who is now patron, presented

The Rev. Mr. Martin Baily, the present rector, who holds it with the rectory of Wrentham in Suffolk.

In 1536, Margaret Sporle widow, gave five marks to make the covering for the font.

The church and chancel are leaded, the south porch is tiled, the steeple is round at bottom, and octangular at top, and hath three bells. There is no memorial of any kind in this fabrick, except the arms of Bigot, Thetford abbey, and Brotherton, in the chancel windows.

In the yard, against the south chancel wall, under an altar tomb lies buried,

Thomas Holmes A. M. Rector here 14 Years, he died in Aug. 1729, aged 44. He left the World with a great Assurance to be made Pertaker of a glorious Resurrection.


  • 1. For the Forncet part see Doms. fo. 123. (as at p. 223, 4, under Forncet,) and at fo. 139 Doms. under Forncet also, is this: In Fredetuna iii. liberi homines (belonging to Forncet manor.) et dim. lxxx. acr. et xiii. bord. semp. ii. car. et dim. car. hominum et iii. acr. prati, et i. ecclesia xl. acr. et i. soc. et dim. sub. illis v. acr.
  • 2. Terre Radi. Bainardi Depwade H. Doms. fo. 252. In Fretuna et in Herduic X. acr. tenet lib. homo T. R. E. et val. xxd. hoc est additum huic manerio, hoc est in Hamehala.
  • 3. Terre Roberti Malet. Doms. fo. 80. Depwade H. In Fretuna i. liber homo de quo habuit suis antecessor commendationem tantum T. R. E. et habet xv. acr. et ii. bordarios et dimidium carucate, et valuit iv. sol. et iiid. Fretuna i. lib. homo de quo suis antecessor habuit commendationem T. R. E. xxx. acr. et ii. bord. modo dimid. car. et dim. acr. prati et val. vii. sol. et tenet Garinus cocus. Et in Herduuic i. vill. et v. acr. et est in pretio de Eia.
  • 4. Terra Abbatis de Sco. Eadmundo, Depwade H. Doms. fo. 184. In Fritletuna tenet idem sc. Rob. de Vals) as belonging to Moringthorp manor, ii. liberi homines, de xxiii. acr. et i. vill. et iii. bord. et i. car. In Frietuna i. lib. homo Regis de xv. acr. et ii. bord. et val. iii. sol. hoc tenet idem Robs.
  • 5. Terre Roberti Corbutionis. H. Depwade Doms. fo. 270. Fridetuna tenet Gifart quam tenuit Olketel liber homo Edrici de Laxefelda, antecessoris Roberti Malet xxx. acr. et iii. bord. tunc et post. ii. car. tunc xvi. porc. mo viii. tunc vi. anim. et lx. oves, mo nichil semper dim. car. hominum i. acr. et dim. prati, soca falde et vii. homines qui possent vendere terram suam si eam prius obtulissent domino suo et habent xiv. acr. et i. liber homo iv. acr. semper dim. car. semper valuit xxv. sol. et habet i. leug. in longo, et dim. in lato et ixd. de gelto. Ex hac terra erat saisites W. Malet, quando ivit in Maresc.
  • 6. Doms. fo. 132. Sub tit. Terra Roceri Bigoti. H. Heineste. In Freistuna i. liber homo Ulfi commend. hoc tenet Ranulfus.
  • 7. Cart. 2 E. III. n. 69. See fo. 127.
  • 8. See p. 185.
  • 9. Ibid. p. 184. And on account of exchanges made between the lords of Boyland and Burtoft's, it hath passed by the name of Fritton cum Boyland for some time.
  • 10. In 1342, John Sturmy and Rob. his son held a messuage and 30 acres of land, in Freton, of the Prior of Thetford monks, by the annual rent of 30s. Esch. 47 E. III.
  • 11. These were small rents given by Walter and Rob. le Goz, and Botild, daughter of John le Noreis, as the Sacrist's Register informs me at fo. 128.