Hundred of South Erpingham: Colby

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: Colby', in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 6, (London, 1807) pp. 423-426. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]

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Is another village in this hundred, and in the dutchy liberty, valued to the land-tax at 324l. and pays 6s. 6d. to every 300l. levy of the county rate; it paid 2l. 15s. 8d. to each tenth; the prior of Hickling's temporals paid 8d. ob. and the prior of Waborne's 6s. to the tenth.

The rectory stands in the King's Books at 8l. 15s. 10d. but being sworn of the clear yearly value of 38l. only, it is discharged of first fruits and tenths, and is capable of augmentation; it was anciently valued at 13 marks, it pays 6d. synodals, and 4s. procurations.

The church is dedicated to St. Giles, who had a gild here, and there were two others of our Lady, and St. John Baptist; the steeple is round, and had three bells, the two biggest of which were sold by a faculty granted for that purpose in 1749, and then the north isle was pulled down, and the lead sold to repair the church. The


here that I have met with are,

1314, Thomas de Preston, who in 1334, changed for a mediety of Antingham St Mary, with

William de Swerdeston. Thomas Earl of Norfolk.

1349, William Symonds. Sir Edward de Montacute, Knt.

1361, James de Horningtoft. The King, as guardian to Sir. Edward's heir.

1361, Robert de Muskham. Ditto. At his resignation in

1367, William de Haydok was presented by John Herlaston, clerk, Reginald de Eccles, and Sir Ralf Hemenhale, Knt. attorneys to Sir William de Ufford, Knt.

1372, John de Bradstrete, (Sir William Ufford Earl of Suffolk,) who in 1379, changed for Thorndon in Suffolk with

John de Scothowe. Ditto. At

Robert Pelse's resignation in 1428, John Duke of Norfolk, and Earl-Marshal, gave it to

William Mortimer.

Jeffry Walsh was buried in the chancel, whose brass is thus inscribed;

Nic iacet Galfridus Walsh Clericus, quendam Rector istiud Ecclesie, qui obiit die Aprilis, A.D. Mccccc octabo, cuius anime &c.

At John Bancroft's death,

Thomas Reeve had it, who was ejected from this and Aldborough, by the Earl of Manchester, Aug. 13, 1643, for observing the orders of the church, dissuading his parishioners from rebellion, and refusing to assist in it himself, and for refusing the covenant. This following is the account of his usage, from his own son. (fn. 1)

One major Raims his neighbour, having raised a troop of horse for the parliament, got a warrant from the committee of sequestration at Norwich, to take away Dr. Reeve's cattle, and to bring him prisoner to Norwich jayl; which he executed with all the rigour he could, searching in the bed, where his wife had layn-in but three days, for the Doctor; and when the women rebuked him for his barbarity, telling him he acted more like a beast than a man, he drew his sword, and stabbed it through the bed in several places, pretending to stab the Doctor, if hid in the bed; after that, he caused all his troopers to pull the bridles off their horses, and whip them round the garden, to tread all under foot; after that, he brake open the barn-door, and turned all the horses to the sacks of corn, to fill their bellies; some few days after, he came with another warrant, and brake open the doors with a plougshare, being denied possession, and turned Mrs. Reeve and six children into the street, (probably not above a week after lying-in,) and brought carts and carried away the library, and all the household goods, and sold them for what he pleased, and gave no account to the Committee. After this, having lain obscure for near 3 years, he attempted to go to the King at Oxford, but was taken prisoner within 7 miles of that place, by a trooop of the Parliament horse, and stript naked in very cold weather, and his clothes ripped to pieces, to search for letters, instead of which, they met with near threescore pieces of broad gold, which were quilted into several places for his support, but he could get none of them again; then he was imprisoned in London when his countryman, Miles Corbet, (of Sprowston,) who was afterwards one of King Charles the First's judges, sat chairman of the committee; who pretended at first to send him in exchange to Oxford; but after that, told him he knew him to be an old malignant, and promised to see him hanged; and so sent him prisoner to the Gatehouse, Westminster, where he was very hardly used for three years; but Corbet being sent into Ireland, by the intercession of many friends, he at last got his liberty out of that noisome place, and his estate spiritual and temporal being sequestered about 8 years, and swallowed by the committee at Norwich, and no delinquency in all that time proved against him, his wife petitioned the grand committee at London, that the committee at Norwich might produce articles against him, for what reason his estate was sequestered, and no return made thereof to the committee at London; and there being no such articles returned, with much soliciting, many long journeys, and great friends, he produced an order, from the then so-called, Barons of the Exchequer, to reverse the sequestration of his temporal estate only in 1652. (fn. 2) One

Meredith, when he was ejected, got possession of Colby, and died in 1569, and then Sir William Platers of Saterly, Knt. and Bart. and Sir Richard Onslow of Westclandon in Surrey, Knt. trustees to the Norfolk family, presented

Roger Flint. In 1702 John Harbord, Esq. was patron, and after him, Harbord Harbord, Esq. and now Sir William Morden Harbord of Gunthorp in Norfolk.

The following memorials, may be seen in the church: on the north side of the chancel is a large altar monument, without arms, or inscription.

The three following inscriptions on old brasses in the church,

Orate pro anima Thome Sadeler qui obiit primo die mensis Januarii, Anno Domini Mo cccco lxxxi cuius anime propicietur Deus Amen.

Orate pro anima Alicie Sadeler, nuper Uxoris Thome Sadeler, qui obiit iiio die Januarii Ano Dni Mo ccccolxxxxvi, cuius anime propicietur Deus.

Orate pro anima Domini Thome Attewood Capellani, cuius anime propicietur Deus.

Over this inscription is the effigies of a man, out of whose mouth, on three labels,

Credo quod Redemtor meus vivit, Et in novissimo die de terra Surrecturus sum, Et in Carne mea videba Deum Salvatorem meum.

On two old brasses in the north isle.

Hic iacent Robertus Walsh et Margeria uxoris eius, ac Thomas filius dictor' Roberti' et Margerie, qui quidem Robertus obiit xvio die Augustii Ano Dni' Mo Uo tercio, et dict' Niger et Thome obier' octo die Apri' Ano Dnio Mo cccco octogessimo, quorum animabus propicietur Deus Amen.

Hic iacent Thomas Walsh Generosis, et Margareta Uxoris eius, qui quidem Thomas obiit xxiii die Mensis Junii Ano Dni' Mo cccco lio et pro fata Margareta obiit quarto die Mensis Octobris Ano Dni' Mo cccco Nonagessimo quarto, quorum animabus pro picietur Deus.

On the screens of the east north isle chapel,

Orate pro animabus Thome Walsh, Alicie et Margarete urorum eiusdem Roberti Walsh, et Margerie Uxoris sue et pro quibus tenentur.

Lower down on a freestone,

Mary the Wife of Richard Snelling, and Daughter of the late John Symonds of Suffield-Hall, Esq; was buried here on the Fourteenth Day of September, in the Year Mdccxxiii. Prov. 14. 13.

Here lyes Richard Snelling of Colby Yeoman, who bequeathed One Pound, to be distributed every Christmass-Day among the aged Poor therein; and One Pound and Ten Shillings on every Easter-Day, to cloath 4 poor Children of the said Parish, and tyed two Closes of his Land in the Northfield of Colby, to secure the Payment of these Legacies, h. d. t. 1. on the xxi Day of October, in the Year Mdccxxiii, and of his Age Lxxiii.

He that hath Pity on the Poor, lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given, will he pay him again. Prov. 19, C. 17, V.

The windows were all adorned with the arms of the Norfolk family, as Howard, Bigod, Brotherton, Segrave, Mowbray, Felbrigge, Warren, Nevile, &c.

At the survey, Coleby was a berewic, belonged to Cawston, (fn. 3) (see p. 254,) and the whole continued with that, till William de Burgh severed it by granting half the town, and half the advowson from Cawston, which in 1199 Robert de Colbi held, with Warine de Coleby, and Simon his brothers; and in 1221 Reiner de Burgh granted the other part and moiety of the advowson, to Hugh Bigod Earl of Norfolk. In 1274 the Earl of Norfolk had a common gallows in Colby, free-warren, view of frankpledge, and of assize bread and ale, and infangthef, here and in Hanworth; and in 1285 all these liberties were allowed to Roger Bigod Earl of Norfolk, as a member of his manor of Hanworth, to which his part and manor of Colby was then joined, and it continued in the Howards till Sir John Howard, Knt. afterwards Duke of Norfolk, on marrying his daughter Margaret to John Windham, conveyed this manor to that family, and it hath passed in it ever since, as the manor of Felbrigge, William Windham of Felbrigge, Esq. being now lord.

The Colbys' manor here, called Oldstead-hall, descended in that family from Robert de Colebi, who inherited it by release of Warine and Simon his brothers, to Hugh de Colebi and Margaret his wife, daughter of William Frank of Felmingham, and from them to their son, Henry de Coleby, who had a charter for freewarren, as at p. 367, and from that time it passed with Ingworth manor, (to which I refer you,) till 1387, and then it was settled by Sir William Phelip, Knt. and Julian his wife, on Sir Simon Fellbrigge, Knt. for the life of Julian. In 1594 it belonged to Sir George Carew, Knt. and Thomas Hitchcock, and in 1598 John Smith and Stephen Drury, Gent. settled it on Martin Fountain, Gent. and John Dodman.

This place produced Thomas de Colby, who was entered in the monastery of the White Friars or Carmelites at Norwich; where by diligent application to his studies, he became an excellent scholar, was admitted D. D. and for his eloquence and ready knowledge in divers languages, he was taken particular notice of by King Richard II. who in 1399 promoted him to the see of Lismore and Waterford in Ireland; he was such a lover of learning, that to gain knowledge in different parts of it, he visited several foreign universities, and published many treatises; and dying in 1406, was buried in his own cathedral. A large account of him may be seen in Pits, p. 582, and in Bale, p. 179.


  • 1. Walker, part ii. fo. 345.
  • 2. He survived the Restoration, and was restored, and became D. D. after 1660.
  • 3. Terra Regis in manu Regis. Doms. fo. 12 Hund. Erpincham Sud. In Colebei ii. liberi homines; ii. car. terre semper viii. bordarij tunc vi. car. modo ii. et viii. acr. prati tunc silva xii. porci mo viii. moi. molendinum et i. socman. i. acr. This was then valued with, and a berewic of, Cawston manor.