Hundred of Earsham: Thorp-Abbots

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 Earsham: Thorp-Abbots', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 5, (London, 1806) pp. 324-326. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

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So called to distinguish it from other villages of this name, (fn. 1) it being for many ages, part of the possessions of the Abbot of Bury, and of those manors that were appropriated to the Abbot's own use; and from its being much larger than the other neighbouring vill called ThorpParva in Diss hundred, it is often named Thorp-Magna; and of late years, Thorp-Cornwaleis, from its lords.

This town belonged to Ailfric Bishop of Elmham in King Edgar's time, (for whom see vol. iii. p. 460,) who gave it to Bury abbey, (fn. 2) to which it belonged ever since, to its dissolution; the abbots of that house being always lords and patrons. At the survey, the manor had two carucates in demean, and was seven furlongs long, and six broad, and paid 4d. geld or tax. (fn. 3) The church had 12 acres of glebe, then worth 2s. a year; and the Abbot had the soke or superiour jurisdiction here exempt from the hundred, except the services of two freemen which belonged to Hersam; and in all returns made to the King, the Abbot is said to hold this town as part of his barony.

In 1285, Roger Bigod Earl of Norfolk, as Lord of Ersham hundred, claimed freewarren here, but it was not allowed him, the Abbot recovering it against him, proving by Domesday, that he was sole lord, and had the paramountship of Thorp in right of his church, exempt from the hundred: about this time, Robert of Thorp held it by lease for life from the Abbot; and it appears, that he had a good estate in the town, for in 1271, he purchased of Arnold de Bedingfield and Orframnia his wife, two messuages, a mill, 120 acres of land, 4 acres of meadow, 10 acres of wood, here and in Preleston.

In 1425, Will. Curteys, then abbot, leased it to Will. Grice of Brockdish for 10 years, at 22 marks a year. At the Dissolution, it was bought of King Henry VIII. by Giles Bridges, Esq. citizen and draper of London, son of Sir John Bridges, Knt. (fn. 4) Lord Mayor of London, who died in 1521, and is buried in St. Nic. Acon church in Lumbardstreet; his wife was daughter of Tho. Ayloffe of Braxted in Essex. This Giles married Eleanor daughter of John Robins, Gent. of Worcestershire, and they conveyed it to Robert Southwell Esq. who in 1546, sold it to

Thomas Cornwaleis, Esq. and his heirs: he was afterwards knighted, and became a man of great figure and reputation; an account of him and his descendants (who have been lords here) may be seen in the 4th volume of the Peerage, edit. London 1741, p. 175, to which I refer you.

The Right Hon. Charles Cornwaleis, Lord Cornwaleis of Eye, and Baronet, constable of the Tower of London, lord lieutenant of the Tower hamlets, and one of the lords of his Majesty's most honourable privy council, is now lord and patron, and hath the lete here.

His arms are quarterly, 1 and 4, sable, gutté d'eau, on a fess arg. three cornish choughs proper.

Crest, on a wreath a mount vert, thereon a stag lodged arg. attired or, with a garland of laurel proper, about his neck.

Supporters, two stags, attired and gorged arg.

Motto, Virtus vincit Invidiam.

This rectory stands thus in the King's Books:

6l. Thorp-Abbots rectory. 49l. clear yearly value.

And being discharged of first-fruits and tenths, it is capable of augmentation.

In Domesday we find, that the church is dedicated to All the Saints, and the rector had a house and nine acres of land, that it was valued at 15 marks, (fn. 5) paid 2s. synodals, 7s. 7d. ob. procurations, and 7d. ob. Peter-pence. The vicarage was dissolved and fallen into the rectory. The Abbot of Bury was taxed for his temporals here, viz. the manor, demeans, mill, silva cedua, &c. at 20l. 4s. 1d. and the village paid 36s. clear to every tenth.


presented by the abbots of bury.

1303, Peter de Tatington, who changed for Hoxne in

1324, with Richard Frebern of Fulbourne, who resigned in 1331, in exchange for Botesham in Ely diocese, with

Barth. Peryn, who changed for Frekenham in

1340, with Robert de Overee, and he in 1348, for Bradfield, with

Simon son of John de Thurlow of Lopham, who died in 1381, and was succeeded by

John de Rekynghale, S.T.B. (fn. 6) who exchanged for Fresingfield mediety with

George Palmer in 1399, and he in

1408, with Tho. Springthorp, for Besby in Lincoln diocese.

1414, Will. Ward ob.

1449, John Brackle, D. D. a gray friar at Norwich, for whom see vol. iv. p. 110, 15.

1461, Brother John Norwich, a Premonstatensian canon. Lapse. John London, ob.

1472, Philip London, ob.

1475, Andrew Daldy.

1484, Robert Cross.

1527, Robert Draicot, resigned.

1530, Robert Norwich, or Norrys, ob.

1538, John Manser, ob.; he was the last presented by the Abbot.

The six following rectors were all presented by Sir Thomas Cornwaleis, Knt.:

1558, Will. Hudson, who held it united to Billingford.

1560, Rob. Crabbe, resigned.

1561, William Towsell, ob.

1566, George Webbe, resigned.

1577, Ric. Peacock.

1588, Edm. Risley; he returned 63 communicants.

1607, John Woolward, A. M. resigned. Mary Countess of Bath, younger daughter of Sir Thomas Cornwaleis, Knt. on whom he had settled this town for life.

1642, Thomas Woods, A. M. ordained priest this year, born at Pulham St. Mary, ob. Frederick Cornwaleis, Bart.

1661, John Jermy, resigned. Ditto, Baron of Eye.

1667, Thomas Page, ob. Charles Lord Cornwaleis Baron of Eye.

1673, Charles Robins, A. B. resigned. Ditto,

1683, Sam. Bayes, ob. Ditto,

1694, The Rev. Mr. Abraham Cooper, the present rector, was presented by Charles Ld. Cornwaleis, and now holds it united to Scole.

The steeple is round at bottom and octangular at top, having a clock and two bells; the chancel, church, and south porch are tiled. There was a brass by the pulpit, with this on it:

Orata pro anima Gogeri parbey, cuius anime propicietur Deus.

The arms of the East-Angles and Bury-Abbey are in the windows, but no other memorials, save a piece of black marble fixed into the south side of the wall in the churchyard, with this:

Near this Place lyeth the Body of Susan late wife of Henry Chamberlain late of Flordon-hall, who died March 1, 1707, aged 71 years.


  • 1. N. B. The account in the Atlas, p. 332, is every word false, as to this town, most of it belonging to Thorp by Norwich.
  • 2. Ex Albo Registro Coenobij Sci. Edmundi penes Honorab. Edm. Bacon de Garboldesham, Bar. fo 24. b. Alfricus Episcopus dedit Sco. Edmundo Torp.
  • 3. Terra Abbatis de Sancto Eadmundo. Doms. fo. 179. Hersam dim. Hund. Thorp tenuit Sanctus Eadmundus T. R. E. pro manerio et pro ii. car. terre tunc viii. villani, modo 9 et viii. bordarij semper ii. car. in dominio et vi. car. hom. tunc silva lx. porc. modo 40. 12 acr. prati. tunc i. mol. modo non. semper iv. runcin. 10 animal. xi. porc. 10 oves. 20 capr. Et in Brodise ii. soc. pertinentes isti manerio, de i. car. terre et ii. villani et ii. bordarij. Tunc valuit iv. libr. modo c. sol. habet vii. quar. in longo et vi. in lato, et de Gelto iv. d. Ecclesie xii. acr. val. ii. sol. Terre Stigandi Epi. quas custodit Will. de Noiers in manu Regis. Doms. fo. 53. Hersam dim. hundr. Hersam tenuit Stigandus, &c. In Torp 20 liberi homines, ii. Stigandi fuer commend. et habebant - - acr. terre T. R. E. et 18 Sancti Edmundi commend. et non poterant reddere sine licencia Sancti, sed soca et saca in Hersam. Habuit Stigandus socam et sacam T.R.E. de hoc dim. hundreto preter Torp Sancti Edmundi et preter Pulham S. Aldredre in Hersam, de terra vero quam Sanctus Edmundus habet. in hoc dim. hund. tenuit socam.
  • 4. There was a fee-farm rent reserved to the Crown, of 11l. 12s. 8d. per ann. which was granted among other fee-farm rents by King William, to the Lord Ossulston, afterwards Earl of Tankervile, and is now paid to Horatio Walpole, Esq. In 1507, these following out-rents were paid: for the Queen's rent: 4s. to the Lord of the hundred 6s. 8d. to the free-suiters court at Harleston 12d. rent for Thorp Close 4d. to the serjeant of Langmere 21d. Mr. Tebould's rent 2s.
  • 5. 1694, a house and 12 acres glebe.
  • 6. See for him, vol. iv. p. 171.