Hundred of Earsham

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

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

'Hundred of Earsham', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 5, (London, 1806) pp. 313-318. British History Online [accessed 22 April 2024]

In this section


This hundred or rather half hundred, is wholly in the liberty of the Duke of Norfolk, and joins to Diss hundred on the west, Depwade and Lodne on the north, and Waveney river (which divides Norfolk and Suffolk) on the south; the east end of it terminating upon the town of Bongeye in Suffolk, which island, (fn. 1) by the winding of the river northward, juts out as it were into Norfolk.

The fee of it is appendant to the manor of Earsham, and was first granted with it, to Roger Bigot Earl of Norfolk, by King Ric. I. and was confirmed to Hugh Bigot by Henry II. when he made him Earl of Norfolk, (fn. 2) In 1269, Roger Bigot, then Earl, held it as parcel of his barony. In 1285, Robert de Tateshale, lord of Bukenham-castle, sued Roger le Bigod Earl of Norfolk, and John Grenecurtel, his warrener, or game-keeper, (fn. 3) for this half hundred, for taking away his dogs, and two hares, from the game-keeper of his manor of Denton, in the half hundred; upon which, the Earl sets forth his liberties, and shows, that in the Confessor's time, Bishop Stigand had the soc and sac of all the half hundred, except Thorp, which belonged to St. Edmund's at Bury, Pulhams, to St. Etheldred of Ely, and such parts of Redenhall and Denton, as belonged to Earl Ralf who had the soc, sac, and all jurisdiction of his own men or tenants there, when he forfeited; and when the grant of the hundred passed to his ancestors, they then had, as he now hath, free-warren through the whole hundred; and the letes, or superiour jurisdiction and paramountship, in his own, and all other persons fees, except those before mentioned; with view of frankpledge, assise of bread and ale, a common gallows, infangthef, weyf, (fn. 4) and all other liberties belonging to a hundred. (fn. 5) The whole, with Earsham manor, being valued at 30l. and held of the Crown by a feefarm of 40d. (fn. 6) to which Robert answered, that he had free-warren also to his manor of Denton, and it appearing that it was that part which belonged to Earl Ralf, it was agreed between the parties, at the instance of R. de Ingham, and his fellow justices itinerants at Norwich, that both should have free-warren in Denton. In 1352, the jury for the hundred presented, that the inhabitants of Bongeye used, time out of mind, to repair the bridges between Bongeye, and Suffolk, and those between Bongeye, Ditchingham, and Earsham in Norfolk. (fn. 7)

In 1374, there were free-rents paid to the hundred from Brockdish, Lyncroft, Prilleston, Reveshale, Sterston, Redenhale, Aldebergh, and Denton. The perquisites of eleven hundred-courts held at Harleston, were 5l. 9s. 6d. The profits of the nine letes belonging to the hundred 5l. 8s. 7d. and of the eight views of frankpledge 3l. 17s. The profit of Harleston market and fairs, 3l. 10s. &c. The whole received this year from the hundred and accounted for to the head manor of Forncet, was 46l. 15s. 5d. 3q. and in 1537, Rob. Appleyard, steward, accounted for the profits received of the bailiff of the hundred, to John Robsart, receiver-general, much the same as before.

This is often written anciently Erlesham, and was thought to take its name from the Earls of Norfolk, the lords of it; but it is not so, for it was called by this name long before it belonged to the Earls: Hersam, as spelt in Domesday, seems to signify the station of the army; and accordingly there is an encampment by the church; this hundred (with that of Diss) makes up the deanery of Redenhall in the archdeaconry of Norwich, and paid clear to every tenth, 49l. 18s 4d.

The annual payment of each town in this hundred to the land tax, at 4s. in the pound.

l. s. d.
Alburgh 127 16 0
Billingford 74 8 0
Brockdish 99 10 0
Denton 231 12 0
Earsham 233 16 0
Langmere in Dickleburgh 67 0 0
Mendham 76 12 0
Needham 95 0 0
Pulham-Market 249 11 0
Pulham St. Mary 203 16 0
Redenhall cum Harleston 425 14 0
Rushall 65 8 0

The quarterly payment for each town to the justices of the sessions, &c. for quarterage vagrant-money, bridge money, &c. for a 600l. levy each quarter.

l. s. d.
1 8 8
1 3 2
1 5 8
2 1 6
2 4 4
valued with Rushall.
0 13 10
0 15 8
1 14 4
1 13 6
2 18 2
1 6 2
Starston 185 2 0
Thorp-Abbots 20 8 0
Wortwell in Redenhall 87 10 0
2303 19 0
1 10 4
1 4 2
19 19 6

The Manor of Earsham

Was the chief manor of the hundred, and belonged to Stigand the Archbishop at the Confessor's survey, (fn. 8) when there were 3 carucates in demean, 2 mills, wood sufficient to maintain 300 swine, 3 saddle horses, 30 goats, &c. and was worth 11l. being then a mile and an half long, and a mile broad, and paid 6d. to the geld or tax. At the Conquest it belonged to the Conqueror, who committed the management of it to William de Noiers. The soc and sac belonged to it, and the whole was risen to 40l. value. There were then belonging to this manor, 12 socmen in Denton; Stigand had the soc of nine of them in Ersham, and the Abbot of St. Edmund had the soc of three of them, who held 40 acres, which they could neither give nor sell, without license from that church.

From the time it was granted to the Norfolk family along with the half hundred from the Crown, it passed with Forncet manor, to which I refer you; the Duke of Norfolk being lord of the manor and hundred, and owner of the park here, which is now disparked, though in 35 Edw. I. it was well stocked, and belonged to the lodge or manor house, which had 286 acres in demean, 16 acres of meadow, and the hall dykes or fishery, a watermill, and many woods and fens; (fn. 9) all which were kept for the use of the family of Roger Bigot, then lord, who chiefly resided at his adjacent castle of Bongeye.

There was a manor here, which formerly belonged to William de Fraxineto, or Freney, who gave the tithes of the demeans of it to the monks at Castleacre; (fn. 10) it after came to Rog. de Glanvile, who confirmed that donation, as did Simon Bishop of Norwich in 1265; but it extinguished or was joined to the other manor, for I meet with nothing of it since.

The church is dedicated to All the Saints; Norwich Domesday tells us, the rector had then a house and 40 acres of land, and now hath about 37 acres; it was first valued at 24, and after at 30 marks, and paid 2s. synodals, 7d. Peter-pence, and the village 4l. 8s. clear to every tenth. It is incapable of augmentation, and so consequently pays first-fruits and yearly tenths, and stands thus in the King's Books:

15l. Earsham Rectory. 1l. 10s. Tenths.


1305, Walter de Bonyngton. Hugh Bigot Earl of Norfolk, and Mareschal.

1321, Giles de Wingfield. Tho. de Brotherton.

1349, Rob. Swan. Sir Edw. Montague, Knt.

1361, John de Methelwold. The King, as guardian to Sir Edward's heir.

1390, Will. Fitz-Piers. Margaret Countess of Norfolk.

1394, Tho. de Orton; he changed for Thaxted in London diocese, with

Rob. Witton, doctor in the decrees, in 1407. Elizabeth Dutchess of Norfolk.

1412, Rob. Gouerton, ob. John Duke of Norfolk.

1437, Henry Bradfield, res. Ditto.

1444, Rob Stafford, res. Ditto.

1466, John Wace; he was buried in 1502, and gave a piece of alder-carr to repair the church, and a piece in North-Meadow towards paying the town charges for evermore. (fn. 11)

1502, Will. Pynchebek, united to Alburgh. ob. Eliz. Dutchess of Norfolk.

1504, Will. Holme, res. Ditto.

1510, Rob. Legge, ob. Thomas Earl of Surrey.

1524, Tho. Seman; he and the five following were presented by Tho. Duke of Norfolk.

1526, Reginald Maynerd, priest, buried in the church.

1543, Henry Simonds, deprived in 1553, by Queen Mary, as a married priest, and

Henry Cumbreford, S. T. B. was instituted, who resigned in

1558, to Alan Persey, (fn. 12) brother to Anne Countess of Arundell.

1560, Will. Dyer, ob.

1585, Edward Key, A. M. Will. Mayster, LL. D. this turn; (fn. 13) in 1603, he returned answer that there were 260 communicants in this parish.

1612, John Blague, A. M. ob. Earl of Northampton.

1618, Nic. Sherwood, A. B. he was ejected in 1643, by the Earl of Manchester, but lived to be restored, and died Apr. 19, and his wife Apr. 22, 1671. (fn. 14)

1671, John Doughty, A. M. Will. Doughty, this turn. He is buried by the altar rails.

1702, Edw. Chebsey, buried by Doughty. Will. Longevile, Esq. assignee to the Duke of Norfolk.

1717, Charles Buchanan. John Anstis, Esq. Garter Principal King at Arms, united to Ditchingham.

1718, Samuel Ganning, (fn. 15) Ditto. At his death in

1740, The Rev Mr. John Burcham, the present rector, (fn. 16) was presented by his father, who purchased this turn of Mr. Ganning, who is said to have purchased the advowson of the assignee of the late Duke of Norfolk.

The church stands on an old encampment, which, by its oval form, seems to have been a work of the Danes or Saxons. The tower is square, and hath three bells, the nave, the chancel, and south porch, are tiled, and the north porch is leaded; at the door of which, lies a stone over Thomas Berry, Apr. 17, 1653.

On a mural monument in the chancel, on the south side, by the altar,
Juxtà depositæ sunt Reliquiæ, Gulielmi Lamb Generosi, Vitæ integri, Scelerisque Puri, Dei servi, veri Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ Filij, Pacis æque ac Charitatis Alumni, omnibusque Amici, obijt 20 Aug. 1724, Ao æt. suæ 54°. Cujus Memoriæ hoc sacravit in Lachrymis Filia ejus unica Martina.

Lamb, sab. on a fess or, between three cinquefoils arg. a lion passant gul. between two mullets of the first, impaling.

Arg. in a bordure ingrailed, a lion rampant sab.

Under this monument lies a flat black marble for Sir Thomas Barker, Knt. who died Aug. 22, 1658,

Barker, per fess nebule az. and or, three martlets counterchanged, a canton er. Crest, a lion saliant,

In the altar rails, on black marbles,

M. S. Johannes Filius secundus, Johannes Filius tertius Johannis Buxton de Chanonz in primâ ætate obierunt, et hic sepeliuntur; Fato cessit alter Mense Junij 1710, alter Maij 1712.

Robert Gooch of Earsham Esq; ob. 2 Apr. 1655, æt. 53. Anne Dr. of Leonard and Dorothy Gooch, ob. 29 Dec. 1692. Leonard Gooch Gent. ob. 10 Jan. 1686.

Gooche's arms and crest, an arm in pale cooped at the elbow, the sleeve parted per pale embattled A. S. the hand proper; to this is sometimes added a wolf's head erased proper, held in the hand.

Dorothy Wife of Leonard Gooch Gent. one of the Daughters of Richard Catlyn of Kirby Esq; ob. 19 June, 1685, æt. 48. Gooch impales Catlyn.

On a monument against the north wall,

In Memoriâ Eternâ erunt justi.

Near this Place lies interred the Body of Robert Gooch late of this Town Esq; who departed this Life upon the 29th Day of Sept. A. D. 1704, and in the 76 Year of his Age. To whose (never to be forgotten) Memory, his Niece Dame Barbara Ward, Wife of Sir Edw. Ward Bart. of Bixley in this County, has caused this Monument to be erected, as a small, but lasting Token of her Gratitude, to so good a Friend, and just a Guardian.

On brasses by the chancel door,

Orate pro anima Margarete Throckmerton Filia Johannis Throkmerton.

Hic iacet Simon Throkmerton, secundus Filius Johannis Throkmerton, nuper South-Clmham, in Comitatu Suflalcie, qui fuit secundus Filius Thome Throkmerton, nuper de Throkmerton in Comitatu Wygornie, obiit decimo Die Julii, Ao Dni. Mo ccccc rrviio.

There is a silver cup with this on it,

For the Tovne of Ersam Al Sayntes.

And a flaggon with this,

Sarah Gooch D. D. Ecclesiæ de Earsham.

The estate formerly the Throkmertons, was afterwards the Gooches, and then the Buxtons, on which John Buxton, Esq. built the present house called Earsham Lodge or Hall; and afterwards sold it to Colonel William Windham, who is interred under the altar; and it is now the seat of the Windhams.

For Ric. Belward, and others of this town, see Fox's Martyrs, fo. 660, 1.

I do not find that the Abbot of Sibton had any thing to do here, though it is said that he had, in the Atlas, p. 332.


  • 1. Bongeye, or the Good Island.
  • 2. Rog. Bigot Earl of Norfok, gave Ric. I. 1000 marks, to have seizen of his county of Norfolk, this town, and half hundred, with that of Pirnho, &c. Rot. Pip. I R. I. Norf.
  • 3. Warener, the keeper of the liberty of free-warren, or game-keeper of a manor; for the liberty of free-warren or gaming, every where belonged to the Crown, till granted thence, by the several charters of free-warren.
  • 4. Catalla vocata weyes, adjudicantur per juratores, et totum comitatum, pertinere Comiti Marescallo, ratione hundr. de Eresham: consuetudo regni, custodieudi Weye per anuum, et diem adjudicatur bonam esse, post proclamacionem factam apud Harleston in pleno comitatu. Placita Corone 34 H. III. Rot. 14 Norf.
  • 5. A hundred court, to be held at Harleston on the market day, every three weeks, &c. with the tolls of the market and fairs at Harleston, paying 3s. 4d. to the King, as to the castle of Norwich, felon's goods, &c.
  • 6. In 1286, it was found, that Stephen Fitzwalter held a part of Earsham half hundred, worth five marks; Ernald de Mountenay another part worth 60s. and Ric. de Boyland another part worth 28s. and Stephen paid for the whole of this half hundred, a fee-farm of 40d. and had all liberties, as the Earl of Norfolk had, to his half hundred of Earsham; this being that part of Earsham hundred, then and now joined to Diss hundred. See vol. i. p. 1, 6.
  • 7. Placita Term. Hillarij 27 E. III.
  • 8. Terre Stigandi Epi. quas custodit Will. de Noiers in mauu Regis. Hersam dimid. hund. (Doms. fo. 52.) Hersam tenuit Stigandus T. R. E. pro iii. car. terre, tunc et post xxi. vill. modo xxv. semper xxiv. bord. et semper v. serv. tunc iii. car. in dom. post et modo ii. tunc xvi. car. hom. post et modo xii. tunc silva ccc. porc. post et modo cc. xx. acr. prati semper ii. mol. et semper iii. equi in aula, et i. runc. tunc xl. porc. et mo similiter semper xxx. capr. et xi. soc. de i. car. terre et iv. bord. Tunc iv. car. post et modo iii. silv. xl. porci et xii. acr. prati. Tunc valuit ii. libr. post et modo 40 libr. blancas, cum omnibus que adjacent. Habet i. leug. et dim. in longo, et i. leug. in lato, et de Gelto vid. In Dentuna 12 soc. de his ix. habebat Stigandus socam in Ersam et habebant 60 acr. et de iii. Sanctus Edmundus habebat socam et habebant 40 acr. quod nec dare, nec vendere poterant terram suam extra ecclesiam, sed Rogerus Bigot addidit in Ersam propter consuetudinem quia soca erat in hundredo, semper v. car. inter omnes.
  • 9. In 1652, the commission of sewers found 418 acres of low ground subject to be damaged by inundations, valued at above 330l. and so paid 13l. 10s. 7d. towards the repair of the sea breach between Lowestoft and Kirkly in Suffolk; and anciently I find many legacies left to repair Earsham dam.
  • 10. Regr. Castleacre, fo. 61, a. 129 b.
  • 11. Regr. Popy, fo. 154.
  • 12. See vol. iii. p. 208 vol. iv. p. 231, 98.
  • 13. See vol. iv. p. 346.
  • 14. Walker, part ii. fo. 367.
  • 15. See vol. iv. p. 190.
  • 16. Ibid. p. 355.