Gallow and Brothercross Hundreds: Toftes, or Toftrees

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.

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Francis Blomefield, 'Gallow and Brothercross Hundreds: Toftes, or Toftrees', An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7, (London, 1807), pp. 200-205. British History Online [accessed 12 June 2024].

Francis Blomefield. "Gallow and Brothercross Hundreds: Toftes, or Toftrees", in An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7, (London, 1807) 200-205. British History Online, accessed June 12, 2024,

Blomefield, Francis. "Gallow and Brothercross Hundreds: Toftes, or Toftrees", An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7, (London, 1807). 200-205. British History Online. Web. 12 June 2024,

In this section


Part of this town was a beruite to the Earl Warren's manor of Sculthorp, consisting of 4 carucates, and 2 socmen, with 40 acres, and under them were 12 bordarers, and an acre and half of meadow, &c. and a church with 60 acres; (fn. 1) this was accounted for, and valued under Sculthorpe.

It is called in Domesday Book, Tofsas and Toftes, and seems to take its name from toft, a dwelling, and sas or es, by the water: some may conceive it to take the name of Rys, being called afterwards Toftrys, from a family that lived here: the first of that name that I meet with, was William Rys, who held some lands here in the reign of Richard II. but had no lordship to entitle him to impose his own additional name, as some considerable lords did, on their towns and lordships; that Rys bespeaks a river, or stream of water, appears from Ryburgh, Reynham, Rysing, Rysby, &c.

The noble family of De Playz were, soon after the conquest, enfeoffed of many lordships, by the Earl Warren.

Sir Hugh de Playz was lord in the reign of King John, and one of the rebellious barons against him, and held 7 knights fees in Sussex; he married Philipa, one of the daughters of Richard de Montefixo, or Mountfitchet, and sister and coheir of Richard Lord Montfitchet, a great baron, of Stanstead in Essex, by whom he had Richard de Playz, his son and heir. Sir Hugh married to his second wife, Beatrix de Say, widow of Hugh de Nevill.

Richard de Playz, in the 53d of Henry III. as one of the nephews and heirs to the Lord Richard Montfitchet, paid his relief for the third part of Montfitchet's lands, and was lord of this manor, and of Leye in Kent, in the 40th of Henry III.; to this Richard succeeded Ralph, his son and heir, 9 years of age, in the 3d of Edward I. and in ward to Robert Aguilon; Isabel, or Alice, widow of Richard, being living in the 13th of that King. (fn. 2) Ralph dying without issue, left Richard his brother heir to the estate, to whom succeeded Sir Gyles de Playz, who had summons to parliament as a baron, in the 25th of Edward I. and in the 31st of that King, died seized of this lordship, and that of Weting, &c. held of the Earl Warren, leaving Richard his son and heir, 6 years of age; Joan, his widow, was living in 1313, Sir Richard had a summons to parliament, in the 11th, &c. of Edward II.; he had a lete, and paid to the hundred court of Brothercross 12d. per annum, and held 3 fees in Toftrees, Sherford, Geyton, Sparham, Bradenham, Feltwell, Knapton, &c.; by—,sister and heir of John, and daughter of Roger de Lancaster, he left a son, Richard, found heir to John de Lancaster of Stanstede, in Essex, who died on Wednesday preceding the feast of All-Saints, in the 33d of Edward III. Richard, by his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Walter de Norwich, left John, his son and heir, aged 18 years, who married Joan, daughter of Sir Miles Stapleton, of Ingham in Norfolk, and by her had a daughter and heir, Margaret, married to Sir John Howard, ancestor of the Dukes of Norfolk. The will of Sir John Plaiz is dated on Thursday before the feast of St. John Baptist, in 1385, at Ocle Magna, in Essex, and was proved July 16, in 1389; he bequeaths his body to be buried in the priory of Bromehill, in Weting, to which house he gives a whole suit of vestments, a cup, a thurable, two vials, an incense boat, and an osculatory of silver gilt; with legacies to several religious houses, 20s. to the church, and benefactions to many others; to Joan his wife, all his goods and chatels in this manor, &c.

Sir John Howard, by Margaret, daughter and heir of Sir John Plaiz, had a son, Sir John Howard, who died in 1410, and by Joan his wife, daughter of Sir Richard Walton, left Elizabeth, his daughter and heir, who married John Vere, Esq. Earl of Oxford, beheaded in the 1st year of King Edward IV. whose grandson, John Earl of Oxford, dying without issue, this lordship came to this 3 sisters and coheirs; Elizabeth, married to Sir Ant. Wingfield; Dorothy, to John Nevill Lord Latimer; and Ursula, to Sir Edward Knightly; and Ursula, dying without issue, one moiety of the manor was vested in the Lord Latimer, and the other in Wingfield.

The Lord Peter de Valoine's manor of Ryburgh extended into this town, and was a beruite to it, who had 30 acres of land held by 4 bordarers, one carucate in demean, and half a one among his men, valued at the survey, at 5l. was 4 furlongs long, and 3 broad, and paid 15d. gelt, (fn. 3) and, together with Ryburgh Magna, was worth 5l. per annum.

Hempton-Priory Manor.

Henry, son of Roger de Warham, released by fine to Richard, prior of Hempton, his right in a messuage, 17 acres of land, and 3s. and a half-penny rent in Toftee-Rys, and in the tenement that the said prior held there, of the gift of Bertram, son of Nicholas Nuion, and of Margery his wife, sister of the said Henry, of the inheritance of Agnes, the mother of Henry, whose heir he was. In the 56th of Henry III. and in the 1st of Edward I. the prior had here, and in Norton, 2 marks per ann. rent, purchased of William de Helweton, who was enfeoffed hereof by William de Waterden, who held in capite.

Richard, prior of the conventual church of St. Stephen of Hempton, and the convent, in their chapter-house, granted to John Rys of this town, and Alice his wife, &c. lands here, called Cokys-Croft, paying 4d. per ann. dated on the feast of the conception of the Blessed Virgin, in the 28th year of King Henry VI. and about this time their temporalities were valued at 5l. 11s. 10d. ob. q. per ann.

In the 20th of Henry VII. this lordship was charged with an annuity of 20s. per ann. payable to Henry Fermor, Esq. of East-Barsham, for life, and on the 9th of September, in the 37th of Henry VIII. granted to Sir William Fermor, and the Lady Catherine his wife, and after, came with the patronage of the vicarage, and the rectory, from the Duke of Norfolk, to Rothwell, Clifton, and the Lord Townsend.

The manor of Haviles in Reynham extended into this town; and Thomas de Hanvill held it in the 30th of Edward I. Henry Scoggan held it in the 9th of Henry IV.; soon after it came to the Townsends; and in the 27th of Henry VIII. was possessed by Sir Roger Townsend, as may be see in Rainham, and so was joined to the capital manor; the whole town being now in the Lord Townsend.

The Cliftons of this town were a family of good account: John Clifton, and William Clifton, were living here in the reign of Henry VI. as was Nicholas Clifton, and Henry his son, in the 20th of Henry VII. Henry Clifton, by his will, dated April 20, 1548, desires to be buried in this church, and was proved December 3[?] 1554; (fn. 4) the will of Barbara, his widow, is dated — 18, 1558, and was here buried by her husband Henry; Thomas Clifton, her son, and Cœcilia (fn. 5) his wife, Stephen, her son, Mary, her daughter, and Catherine, her daughter beforementioned, (fn. 6) married to Edward Gosnal of Bildneston, in Suffolk, and Amy, to Clement Herward of Gressenhale, Gent. The said Barbara was daughter of — Hewet of Elsing, in Norfolk, and the will was proved March 18, 1558.

In the 43d of Elizabeth, one Evans took the son of one Clifton, a gentleman of Norfolk, who was taught to sing for his recreation, by virtae of a commission to take children for the King's service in his chapel, but he being a gentleman's son, Evans, for that offence, was grievously punished. (fn. 7) The heiress of this family is said to have married — Ruding, Esq. (fn. 8)

The tenths were 6l.—Deducted 1l.—The temporalities of Petreston priory were 18s. of Warden abbey 11s.

In this parish was a beacon.

The Church of Toftes is dedicated to All-Saints, and was a rectory, valued at 28 marks, and being appropriated to the priory of Lewes, a vicarage was settled at 7l. 18s. 6d. ob. anciently at 8 marks. Peter-pence 14d.—William, the second Earl Warren, gave it to the convent of Lewes, and it was appropriated in 1246, by Walter, Bishop.

Peter Lord Valoins, founder of Binham priory, confirmed to it, in the reign of Henry I. two parts of the tithes of this lordship, (which Richard de Spineto, held of Ralph Fucatus, who held it of Peter,) the church of Tofts having the third part, or sheaf: this portion of Binham priory was valued at 20s. per ann. in 1428, and was demised by the prior and convent, for ever, in the 7th of Richard II.

Robert, prior of Lewes, and the convent, granted the appropriated rectory, and portion aforesaid, with the patronage of the vicarage, to the King, by fine Ao. 29th of Henry VIII. and the King, on December 22, in the said year, granted them to Thomas Duke of Norfolk.

The guilds of the Holy Trinity, of St. Baptist, and St. Thomas, of this church, are mentioned in 1516. (fn. 9)

In the chancel, against the north wall, is a marble copartment, on the summit of which is the arms of Clifton; cheque, or and gules, a bend over all, ermine, and in an oval, below it, a globe, with an arm over it, issuing out of the clouds, holding a lily, and this motto—mihi minus in lubricum; under this the shield of Crofts, quarterly, in the first and fourth, p. fess indented, azure and argent, a lion sable, a or, in the 2d gules, a cross patonce, argent, Quitwell; in the 3d quarter, chevron ermin, between three covered cups, or, Felmingham, impaling quarterly, passant, Townsend, and Hayvill. In the centre, on a black marble,

Siste vivens, quia moriturus es, et meditare mortuos

Fuere HENRICUS CLIFTON, Armiger, et uxor Maria, filia Thomæ Crofts, de Felmingham, Armig. qui quondam trinj unius Dej et fide et timore freti vixere; nunc velle suo et pace manumissi, recessere. Ille, A. D. 1620. Ætat. 57, Illa A D. 1603, æt. 36. Quorum jam nomina memoriæ et piæ et humanæ et officiosæ, non ingratè debita, ne cito nimis evaderent, aut Tu iliorum nesciu abires, hoc nullo quasi, (sed quali potuit) mnemosyno curavit filius.

Quod tantum potui positis pro nomine, signis
(unus enim binâ de prole relictus
Huc usq; existo
) lacrymas et funera solvo.
Sic ego lassatam (non duro tramite) vitam
Deponam placidè, sic me vixisse bonorum
Consensus memoret, nam non bene vivere, non est
Sic tandem Ætherium moriturus adire parentem
(His ego privatus) mediter dum flebilis ultro
Circumstet proles, quæ nostrum nomen et omen,
Numine propitij confisa et nomine Christi,
Promoveat, placidas, sic, sic juvat ire sub umbras
[Greek text - see page 204]

On the pavement of the chancel, a grave stone,

In memory of Jane. Ruding, daughter of William Ruding, of WestCoat, Esq. and Abigail his wife, daughter of Henry Clyfton, of Tofts, Esq. she dyed Janu. 3, 1709, aged 38 years, also of Martha Ruding, daughter of William Ruding, and Abigail his wife, and 3 sons, William, Clifton, and Richard.

Also an old marble grave stone, deprived of its cross flory, and letters of brass round the rim, and covered for the most part with a pew, from what can be seen of the incision made for the letters, it was in French, about the time of Edward I. probably in memory of some priest,



1302, William Edmund, presented to the vicarage by the sub-prior and convent of Lewes, was instituted vicar.

1329, John de Gottelbrigg, by the prior, &c.

1338, John Wineboum, by John Earl Warren, the temporalities of priory being then in his hands.

1349, John, son of Robert Prest, by the prior of Lewis.

1393, William Rust. Ditto.

1410, Richard Preston. Ditto.

1416, Alexander Colyn. Ditto.

1443 Walter Hynde, by the Bishop, a lapse.

1456, John Wright. Ditto.

1462, Henry Franceys Ditto.

1481, Edmund Herbard. Ditto.

1491, William Ottelee, by the prior, &c. of Lewes.

1506, John Cayle. Ditto.

1510, John Westhouse. Ditto.

1512, Edmund Medewe.

1524, Edmund Clerk.

1546, Humf. Wilson, by Thomas Duke of Norfolk.

1558, Thomas Brewer, by the King.

Robert Seman,

1560, Thomas Mason, by Catherine Farmer, widow.

1575, Richard Russell, by Hugh Rothwell.

1576, John Langdon, alias Baker. Ditto.

1578, Vinc. Man. Ditto.

1583, John Pynknay. Ditto.

1624, Tob. Legg, by Elizabeth Clifton, widow.

1640, John Lyng, by Henry Clifton, Esq.

1706, William Peartree was admitted curate.

1732, Edward Franklin, on the death of Daniel Hopkins, by the Lord Townsend.

This town gives name to the deanery of Toftrees, which was taxed at 6s. 8d. in Edward the First's reign, who paid synodals to the archdeacon of Norwich, and Peter-pence 8s.

1323, William de Stoketon was collated dean, by the Bishop.

1348, Richard de Pulham. Ditto.


  • 1. Tre. Willi. de Warenna, Hundret. de Galhou. Semp. iiii. car. et ii. al. soc. de xl. ac. manent, in Tofsas. et sub. ipsis xii. bord. i. ac. et dim. pti. semp. ii. car. i. ecclia. lx. ac.
  • 2. Alice de Pleiz claimed the lete here, in the 3d. of Edward I.
  • 3. Huic. man. ptin. (Reienburgh) i. beruita, Toftes de xxx. ac. tre. sep. iiii. bor. sep. in dnio. i. car. tc. et sep. dim. car. houm. tc. val. iiii. lib. mo. v. lib. Toftes hab. iiii. qr. in long. et iii. in lato. et xvd. in gelto.
  • 4. Regist. Wilkins. Norw. p. 56.
  • 5. Cæcilia, daughter of — Lawes.
  • 6. Reg. Woodcock, Norw.
  • 7. Coke's Reports, fol. 46.
  • 8. Tho. Clifton of Tofts, Gent. married Elizabeth, daughter of Calybut Walpole, Esq. of Houghton, and was living in the reign of King Charles I.
  • 9. Regist. Gyles, Norw. fol. 112.