Hundred of South Erpingham: Colteshall

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 6. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.

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'Hundred of South Erpingham: Colteshall', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 6, (London, 1807) pp. 303-310. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

In this section


Commonly called Coulshill, and in Domsday Coketeshall and Cokereshall, (fn. 1) no doubt from some Saxon owner, Stigand the Archbishop had it, and occupied it by 16 socmen, and after granted it to Turold; and at the Conqueror's survey, the ancestor of the Earl Warren had it of that Prince's gift, all but Ralf Stalra's part, which contained 110 acres of land, which he gave with the burial of his wife, to the Abbot of St. Bennet at Holm, (fn. 2) who joined it to his adjacent manor of Hautbois, with which it always passed. Colteshall had then a church and 10 acres of glebe, and was above a mile long and half a mile broad, and paid 12d. geld or tax towards every 20s. raised in the hundred.

Roger of Poictou, third son of Roger de Montgomery Earl of Arundel, &c. held 4 socmen and 30 acres here, formerly Bishop Stigand's, which he joined to his manor in Fretenham. (fn. 3)

Ralf de Camois died seized of this manor in 1218, William de Hakeford, and Walter de Rochford, held three parts of a fee here, and paid aid accordingly to the Earl Warren, and now the manor entered in the Hackfords, and passed with West-Herling from them to the Seckfords, as you may see at p. 301, vol. i.

But the Lete and superiour jurisdictions of all kinds always belonged to the Crown, and accordingly King Henry III. as superiour lord of the whole town, and of all the tenants of Sir William de Hackford there; by letters patent dated at Woodstock, June, 13, 1231, granted to all men, women, boys, and girls, born or to be born in his village of Couteshall, that they should be free from al Villenage of body and blood, they and their families, in all parts of England, and that they should not be forced to serve any offices for any one, unless they liked it, and that all frays or trangression of bloodshed, bargains, and all quarrels and suits, concerning the town of Colteshall, should be determined twice every year, before the King's officers at the Letes there, and the natives of Colteshall; shall be free from Toll, by water and by land in all fairs and markets throughout England, and from all stallage, poundage, and picage, being the King's tenants, and as such, they were to pay to him and his successours 20s. to the Aid, to make his eldest son, Knt. when ever it happened, so that the King's officers demanded it in the village, and if not there demanded, it was not to be paid; and they were in like manner to pay 20s. for scutage, as often as it was raised on the new acquired royal demeans, of which this town was part, and that they were to pay six shillings every Michaelmass, for the Fee of those demeans; but as the patent is very remarkable, I have added it for your view. (fn. 4) The Atlas, page 271, says, Cowshill, a village on the banks of the Bure, to which Henry III. granted this privilege among others, that a servant that remained here a year should go out Free; of which there is not a word of truth, for servants are not mentioned in the Charter, which was confirmed by King Henry IV. in the ninth year of his reign, with this clause added, that if there were any privileges in their former charter, that neither they nor their ancestors had made use of, yet they and their successours might at any time use them, without any molestation from any of the King's justices, sheriffs, bailiffs, or other officers whatever; this is dated at Westminster, 21 December, 1407, and King Henry the Sixth, with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal in his 1st paliament held at Westminster, in the 3d year of his reign, by letters patent, dated October 5, confirmed the said Charters, and afterwards, conveyed all his rights in this town (fn. 5) to his college (called King's College in Cambridge), to which this village now belongs.

This manumission or charter of freedom to the natives of this village was a very great favour and privilege in those days; there were few then born freemen, half of most villages were either customary tenants, and so bound to perform all their customary services to their lords, or else Villains, I may say in plain English slaves, to their several lords, who had so absolute a power, that they could grant them, their wives and children born, or ever hereafter to be born of them, together with all their household goods, cattle and chattels whatever, to whomever they pleased; and indeed nothing is more common in antiquity, than to meet with grants of this nature from one lord to another, or to whomever he would; nay so absolute was the lord's jurisdiction over them, that they could not live out of the precincts of the manor without their lord's leave, nor marry their children to another lord's tenant, without their own lord's license; but in all ages men were naturally desirous of liberty, for these villains continually endeavoured to procure their freedom, either by pleasing their lord so much as to obtain a manumission, or by getting some friend or relation to purchase it for them; now this grant at once manumised all the natives of Colteshall and all their posterity, male and female, and that in so ample a manner, that contrary to other freemen (who were obliged to do suit at court and serve the offices of the manor, as collectorships, reeveships, &c.) they were not to be put into any office without their own consent, and though they removed into any other lord's fee or manor, yet they and their posterity should remain free. Now because I have mentioned these manumissions, and shewn their extent, it may not be amiss to subjoin an example or two of such assertions, many people being ignorant in what state their forefathers lived, and so are not capable of sufficiently valuing the freedom which we now enjoy. (fn. 6)

In the time of Edward I. lived Sir Giles de Wachesham, Knt. lord of a manor in Wortham in Suffolk, he died in 1278, so that this deed though ti hath no date, must be before that time; this Giles granted to William de Hereford, rector of the mediety of the church of Wortham, Richard son of Hervy Ingald, with all his family, and all his chattels for two marks, and the said William, who had purchased him, made him and all his descendents free, on condition that he and his successours for ever, should pay a penny a year to the church of St. Mary at Wortham, upon the day of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, at the high altar, to find a light at that altar, and to the said William and his successours 3 roots or races of ginger every Michaelmas day. (fn. 7)

The manor continued in the Hackfords and Seckfords, and in 1401 was found to be in the Dutchy of Lancaster, and the advowson was sold to the master and brethren of St. Giles hospital in Norwich, about 1450, and the manor and advowson was afterwards sold to trustees for the use of King's college in Cambridge; but by reason of the prior conveyance of the advowson, that college, though they tried for it, could not for a long time recover it, but did afterwards gain it, and have presented to it ever since, the college being now sole lords and patrons.

There was a Church here, long before the Conquest, but the present building, after it was finished, was dedicated to St. John the Baptist, on the day of the Conversion of St. Paul, by William de Middleton Bishop of Norwich, in the year 1284; the tower is square, and hath six bells in it, the nave and chancel are thatched, the north porch and south isle leaded, and the porch tiled; on a monument against the north wall,

M. S. Quod fuit Mortale, juxta situm est, Gulielmi Perkins Generosi, quem (laetus refero) erga Deum immortalem Pietas, erga Conjugem inviolata Fides, erga Liberos amor perspectissimus, post Funera felicem reddidere: Qui Calculi Doloribus, diu multumque tortus, in Spem futuræ et beatæ Vitæ Mortalitatem exuit, 4to Febr' Anno Salutis 1711, Ætatis 63. Hoc pietatis Testimonium poni curavit Gulielmus Perkins, S. T. P. Filius natû maximus, Collegij Divi Johannis Evangelistæ in Academiâ Cantabrigiœ Socius.

On brasses in the nave,

Orate pro anima roberti Postyl. (fn. 8)

Hir iacet alica Pope, (fn. 9) cufus anime propicietur Deus.

Pray for the Sowle of William Brasey.

Orate pro anima Roberti Breyge, cuius anime propitietur Deus Amen.

William Varden, ob. 22 April 1724. Æt. 24.

Orate pro anima Roberti Horne, cuius anime propicietur Deus Amen.

Richard Lubbock, of this Parish Merchant, March 17, 1686. Barbara his wife December 19, 1727. Robert Lubbock their eldest son late of Norwich Merchant, May 30, 1729. Æt. 56.

Pake, an eagle displayed between three lozenges.

Elizabetha Filia Samuelis Pake, M. D. (de Buriâ Sancti Edmundi in Comitatû Suffolciœ et Elizabethæ uxoris) obijt die undecimo Aprilis A. D. MDCCXXII Æt. XIVo.

Plumstede's arms and crest, an eagle's head erased on a coronet.

Owen Plumsted, Gent. June 11, 1704. Martha his wife March 8, 1692.

In the middle of the altar, Henry Palmer, Gent. for whom a monument against the north chancel wall hath this inscription,

Hic juxta positæ sunt exuviæ, Henrici Palmer Generosi, cujus Pietatem, Vitæque Integritatem, maximâ Laude et Imitatione dignissimas, ut hoc marmor Posteris testaretur, ex animo optat Georgius Warren, Nepos et Hæres, qui quidem Henricus postquam Legem edidicisset, eamque summo Honore et probitate per Annos LV. peritissime exercuisset tandem animam Deo placidè reddidit, Aug. 24, Ano Æt. 82. Salutis 1714,

On another monument against the north chancel wall,

Near to this Place in hopes of a joyful and blessed Eternity, lieth the Body of Mr. John Chapman late of this Parish Merchant, who by his last Will and Testament, gave and bequeathed to the Benefit of this Parish for ever, the yearly Sum of Ten Pounds, to be paid out of certain Lands lying in the said Parish, (fn. 10) and in Great-Hautbois in the County of Norfolk, to a Schoolmaster, to be approved of by the Chancellor of the Diocess of Norwich, and the Minister of Colteshall for the Time being, to the Intent that ten poor Lads of the same Parish, may be taught freely Reading English, Writing and Arithmetick: (fn. 11) He also gave in his Will Twenty Pounds, to be distributed among such poor people as followed him to his Grave: He was desirous to have Founded in his Life Time a School in this Parish, for the free Education of poor Children; and it is very probable he would have effected it, and thereby been a living Example of Charity to others, if it had not pleased God to take him out of this transitory Life, after a short Indispostion of Body in the 57th Year of his Age, and in the Year of our Lord 1719.

Blessed is he that considereth the Poor. Psalm XLI. I.

There were formerly in the windows here, the arms of St. George, Seckford, Felbrigge, Clere and le Gros, Warren, Clare, and France and England. The steeple is 67 feet high, the nave is 50 feet long and 31 broad, the isle is of the same length with the nave and 9 feet broad, the chancel is 30 feet long and 20 broad.

It stands thus in the King's books;

7l. 2s. 6d. Colesale alias Colteshall rectory 14s. 3d. yearly tenths. And being undischarged it is incapable of augmentation, being said in the last Valor to be 200l. per. annum.

At the Confessor's survey there were 10 acres of glebe; and in 1231 the rector had a license in mortmain to receive an acre of pasture, and half an acre of marsh; (fn. 12) and about 1270 Roger then rector, gave a house and 3 roods of land here, which in 1285 Sir Ralf de Hakeford, then rector, recovered against John de Summerton, chaplain, who sued for it, and had it settled on his church for ever.

The Rectory was anciently valued at ten marks; it pays 21d. qr. visitatorial procurations, and 16d. synodals to the Bishop, and 5s. procurations to the archdeacon; the whole village paid 8d. Peter-pence, and 2l. 17s clear to every tenth, besides the lands of the religious here, for which the abbot of Holm was taxed for his mill and lands at 50s. the abbot of Caen in Normandy, for his fishery and revenues here, 25s. 10d., (fn. 13) and the prioress of Carrow had Churches tenement here, and 20 acres of land given by Robert Everard, chaplain, to that abbey in 1449.

It is valued at 473l. 10s. to the land-tax, and pays 10s. to every 300l. levy of the County rate. There was a gild of St. John the Baptist held anciently on Midsummer-day.


1270, Roger.

1289, Ralf de Hakeford.

1300, Ralf de Hakeford. Sir William de Hakeford.

1304, William Goscelyn. Ditto.

1305, Master Ralf de Hakeford again. Ditto.

1325, Robert Rouland. Sir John Foliot, Knt. in right of his wife.

1347, Edmund de Easton. John de Sekeford.

1374, Sir William Elmham, Knt. was lord and patron.

1406, John Brydecock. Sir Simon Felbrigge, Knt. Oliver Groose, Esq. John Felbrigge, clerk, John Yelverton, Tho. Owdolf, and Robert Gostlin, chaplains, patrons of this turn only. In 1420 Bridecock exchanged this, for Redenhall vicarage with Master John de Aylesham. Thomas Duke of Exeter, Earl of Dorset and Harcourt, Admiral of England and Ireland. In 1425, Augustine Stratton and Margaret his wife, widow of Sir George Seckford, Knt. settled the manor and advowson on Sir Simon Felbrigge, Knt. and other trustees, to the use of George Seckford, Esq. In 1426 Aylesham exchanged for Beeston by Mileham rectory with

Thomas Crundale. George Seckford Esq. He resigned in

1440, to Simon Belton. Ditto. who resigned in

1452, to Thomas Hancock. George Seckford, Esq. in full right.

1458, Nicholas Harryngton, the last presented by Seckford, who sold the advowson to

John Selot, master of St. Giles's hospital in Norwich, (fn. 14) and he was presented rector here by the Brethren of the hospital in 1465, and Pope Paul the second, by bull dated at St. Mark's at Rome, February 23, 1465, annexed it for ever to the Mastership of the hospital, and appointed that if any master resigned that office, this rectory of course should be void. In 1479 the hospital presented their master,

John Smith, L.L. D. at whose death in

1489, Master Oliver Dynham, A. M. had it, and the Provost and scholars of the college of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Nicholas in Cambridge (now called King's college) presented

Robert Ellesmere, A. M. the manor now being purchased by the college with the advowson: but on a Jus Patronatus tried April 9, 1490, it was found to be annexed to the mastership, and severed from the manor.

1495, Thomas Schenkwyn.

1497, Nicholas Goldwell.

1498, Robert Honywood, L.L. D. fellow of All-Souls in Oxford, dean of the Chapel in the Fields in Norwich, master of Bek hospital, chancellor, &c.

1499, John Julles.

1513, William Sooper, A. M.

1519, John Hekker, who was the last presented by the hospital; he resigned it in 1522, and from that time the College hath presented here, having recovered it by the King's writ on a trial against the hospital. (fn. 15)

1522, John Cock, A. M. united to Horstede in 1554, at his death in

1556, Guthlac Cordal had it, and on his resignation in

1564, Nicholas Aylonde, had it united to Horstede in 1571, who died in 1607, and in

1608, Richard Sutton, S. T. B. held it united to Horstede, on whose death in

1619, Henry Howgrave, S. T. B. succeeded and died in 1645 possessed of this and Horsted, and was succeeded in

1646, by George Goade, A. M. and he in a very little while by

Thomas Jenner, who in 1657 was complained of to the sessions in order to dispossess him, and being unable to make head against their proceedings, in 1658, he resigned to the college, and they gave this and Horstede to

Grindal Sheaf, S. T. P. canon of Windsor, (who published Vindiciœ Senectutis, or a Plea of Old Age, London 1639, octavo,) and fellow of King's college in Cambridge, of whose numerous preferments and wealth you may see in Wood's Fasti, &c. vol. i. fo. 798; he resigned the livings in 1661, and

Daniel Warren, A. M. had them, at whose death in

1700, Mr. John Layton succeeded, and died August 16, 1728, and

Doctor Gilbert Burroughs, fellow of King's, had them, at whose death

The Rev. Mr. Robert Parr, late fellow of King's, the present rector, succeeded, and now holds them.


  • 1. Terre Willi. de Warrenna. Erpincham Sud. h. Doms. fo. 82. In Cokereshala tenuit Turoldus quam tenuere xvi socmanni Stigandi, et Radus. Stalra cx acr. terre, semper iii bordarij i ecclesia x acr. et v car. et viii acr. prati tunc valuit xxx sol. modo xl Radulfus dedit Sancto Benedicto suam partem soche cum uxore sua, ut dicit abbas, et totum habet i leug. in longo et dim. in lato, et de geldo xiid. Terre que fuere Rogeri Pictaviensis. fo. 242. In Coketeshala tenuit idem (sc. Rogerus Pictaviensis) iiii soc. Stigandi, de Fretam xxx acr. terre et clxxx acr. de dominio de Fretham semper iii bord et v acr. prati et iiii villani tunc ii car. mo i et dim: hoc est in pretio de Fretam.
  • 2. Robert de Aguillon confirmed to the abbot of Holm divers land here and in Belagh, of the gift of William son of Symon de Alsynges. Regr. Holm, fo. 50.
  • 3. Dug. Bar. vol. i. fo. 27.
  • 4. Henricus Dei gratia Rex Anglie, Dominus Hibernie, Dux Normannie, Acquitanie, et Comes Andegavie; omnibus et singulis suis homnibus per totum regnum Anglie constitutis, salutem. Sciatis nos dedisse concessisse et presenti nostrâ cartâ confirmasse, omnibus hominibus, feminis, pueris et puellis, natis, et nascendis, in villâ nostrâ de Colteshall, Norvicensi diocesi, comitatû Norfolcie, omnes libertates subscriptas, videlicet, Quod omnes homines, femine, pueri, et puelle, nati et nascendi in villâ predictâ sint liberi, in omnibus locis in regno nostro Anglie, ac corpora et sanguines eorum, ubicumque deveniant: et quod nullus eorum ponatur in aliquo officio alicui serviendo, nisi propriâ suâ voluntate. Ac eciam, quo domnes affrare, tracture sanguinis, transgressiones, conventiones, ac omnimode Querele dictos homines de Colteshall, tangentes, terminentur bis in anno, coram ministris Domini Regis, et quod dicti homines sint liberi in ominibus ferijs et foris per terras et per a mam, intra regnum nostrum Anglie, absque stallagio, paunagio et picagio solvendo capitalibus Dominis feodi illius redditus consuetos; et quod solvant nobis et successoribus nostris viginti solidos pro auxilio, ad primogenitum filitum nostrum militem faciendum; ita quod ministri Domini Regis petant dictos viginti solidos in villâ predictâ, et si non petuntur, predicti viginti solidi non solvantur; et quod solvant nobis et successoribus nostris viginti solidos pro Scutagio nove terre, quando scutagium capiatur in villâ predictâ, et quod solvant nobis et successoribus nostris sex solidos per annum ad Festum Michaelis pro Feodo nove terre. Has verò omnes concessiones et libertates concessimus dictis hominibus, feminis, pueris et puellis, natis et nascendis in villâ nostrâ de Colteshall in prepetuum duraturas. In cujus rei testimonium has literas nostras patentes fieri fecimus. Teste meipso apud Woodstoke tertio decimo die Junij anno regni nostri sexto decimo. (16 Hen. III, ano 1231.)
  • 5. The inhabitants of Colteshall, in 1462, had a confirmation of their charters and privileges, from King Edward the Fourth, in the third year of his reign.
  • 6. That villains were held in fee, and granted as estates are, and that the fee in them, was so far a freehold, that the wife was forced to join with her husband in the manumission deed, by reason of her thirds or right of dower is plain from the following deed. Omnibus Christi fidelibus, ad quos hoc presens scriptum pervenerit Johannes Pylkyngton Chevaler, et Margareta uxor mea, salutem in Domino; Noveritis nos unanimi assensu et voluntate, manumîsse, et liberam fecisse, Johannam filiam Johannis Hare, nativam nostram, manerij nostri de Bresingham, et ab omni jugo nativitatis, et servitutis exonerasse et volumus et concedimus per presentes, quod predicta Johanna, liber asit, et libere conditionis, erga nos et heredes nostros, et ab omni iugo nativitatis, et servitutis exonerata in perpetuum, in cujus rei testimonium, huic presenti scripto sigilla nostra apposuimus, hijs testibus, Rogero Lyntowe, Thoma Ive, Roberto Smyth, Johanne Wade de Bresingham, et alijs, data est apud Bresingham die Jovis proxima post Festum Sancti Mathei Apostoli, anno regni Regis Henricj quarti, post conquestum, quinto, (ano 1403.)
  • 7. Sciant presentes et futuri, quod ego Egidius de WacheshamMiles, concessi dedi, et hac presenti carta mea confirmavi, Wilielmo de Hereford rectori dimidietatis ecclesie de Wortham, homagium Richardi filij Hervei Ingald, cum totâ sequelâ suâ et cum omnibus catallis suis, ubicunque fuerint, sine ullo retenemento, vel reclamatione, ita scilicet, quod ego dictus Dominus Egidius, nec heredes mei, nec aliquis pro me, nec heredibus meis, aliquid possumus exigere versus dictum Ricardum, nec versus sequelam suam nec catalla sua, quin libere sint, ubicunque fuerint, cum omnibus pertinentijs suis; habendum et tenendum dicto Willielmo et heredibus suis, vel assignatis suis, de me, et heredibus meis, vel assignatis meis, libere et quiete, et in pace, in feodo, bene et hereditarie, ut dictus Ricardus sine aliquo clameo vel molestiâ, de me vel de heredibus meis, de servitute libere maneat; pro hac autem concessione, remissione, et carte mee confirmatione, dictus Willielmus dedit mihi duas marcas pre manibus, et ad istam donationem et concessionem, et hujus carte mee confirmationem et liberam servitutis donationem tenendam, huic scripto sigillum meum apposui. Hijs testibus, Rogero le Bretun, Jacobo de Gedeing, Richardo de Nerford, Jocelino filio Presbiteri, &c. Omnibus hoc scriptum visuris et audituris Wilielmus de Hereford rector medietatis ecclesie de Wortham, salutem, noveritis me concessisse Ricardo filio Hervei Ingald, quem Dominus Egidius de Wachesham mihi dedit, et cum tota sequela sua confirmavit, liberum esse, cum predicta sequela sua, et cum omnibus catallis suis, ubicumque fuerunt, ita scilicet, quod nec ego, nec aliquis pro me, ullam servitutem de dicto Ricardo, vel sequela sua, aliquo modo exigere de cetero possumus, pro qua libertatis donatione, et hujus, carte, mee confirmatione, solvet dictus Ricardus ecclesie Beate Marie de Wortham, de annuo redditu, unum denarium, super altare die Nativitatis Beate Marie, ad sustentationem luminis, et mihi et successoribusmeis, tres radices gyngiberis die, Sancti Michaelis, pro omnibu sconsuetudinibus et demandis, et ego et successores mei, warrantizabimus predictum Ricardum, cum tota sequela sua, et suis catallis, ab omni servitute liberum in perpetuum esse, in cujus rei testimonium, huic scripto sigillum meum apposui. Hijs testibus, Rogero le Bretun, Ricardo de Nerford, Jocelino filio Presbiteri, &c.
  • 8. The Postyls or Postles are very ancient in this town; in 1474 John son and heir of Simon Postle sold a good estate here, and in several adjacent towns, to John Selot, master of St. Giles's hospital in Norwich.
  • 9. Thomas Pope buried in the church in 1528.
  • 10. Item I give and bequeath unto the said Robert Chapman the said inclosure called the Stonehill containing 9 acres and another inclosure of 10 acres, and another acre in the field (all particularly described) to hold to him and his heirs for ever, to the intent that he the said Robert Chapman or his heirs, or some of them, do and shall within 6 months after my decease, settle and secure the said premises into the hands of 6 or more trustees, whereof Joseph Elden and John Ives, shall be two, for the securing the yearly payment of 10l. by quarterly payments out thereof, unto a schoolmaster, to be chosen by the minister of the parish of Colteshall and the chancellor of the diocess of Norwich, for the time being, to teach and instruct ten poor children of the said parish of Colteshall to read English, write and arithmetick. Upon condition that the ministers of the parish of Colteshale and the churchwardens for the time being, shall permit and suffer the said schoolmaster to teach school in the church or chancel of the said parish, and not otherwise, which lads shall be nominated and appointed by the said Robert Chapman or John Ives, or their heirs.
  • 11. After this, there was a school-house, built by subscription, in which the master now dwells and keeps school.
  • 12. Rymer, vol. viii. fo. 501.
  • 13. The Lord hath a fishery in the river belonging to his manor, the whole extent of Coltishall bounds on the Coltishall side of the stream, but not exclusive of the tenants, many of which have free fishery in the whole stream with him; in 1577 George Sotherton sold to Newell Sotherton a messuage in Coltishall, with liberty of faldage and free fishery in the whole river &c.
  • 14. He was canon of Stoke by Clare, &c. see an account of him at vol. iv. p. 399. and of all the rectors to John Hekker, the last master.
  • 15. 1522 Robert Hacumblen, provost, obtained the King's writ on a trial he had gotten against John Hekker, clerk, rector here, on which he resigned it to the college. It appeared to be united to the mastership by the Pope's Bull only, and not by act of the King nor Bishop, and the roaring of the bulls begining now to be stopped and their's and master's authority weakened, the college recovered it, as appendant to their manor.