An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.
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CLACKCLOSE HUNDRED AND HALF.
Lies on the western part of the county of Norfolk, and adjoins to the isle of Ely. The Saxon king Edgar gave the lordship of it to the abbey of Ramsey, in Huntingdonshire, with 60 socmen in the towns of Wimbotsham, Hilgey, Downham, and its market, at the request of Oswald, a monk, who lived with him; and at the grand survey, made by King William I. we learn, that the aforesaid abbey had 70s. per ann. issuing out of the profits of the soc, or lordships of it. (fn. 1)
Soca hundr. et dim. de Clakeslosa habt. Scs. Ben. (that is, St. Bennet's abbey of Ramsey) lxx. sol.—Domesday Book.
Sir Henry Spelman observes, that there were 60 monks in that convent, so that every monk had his socman to maintain him, and that there were 4 other socmen to maintain the abbot. (fn. 2) Many and great were their privileges; in the 4th of King John, they were confirmed, as they had been by King Henry I. with the same liberties and pleas that belonged to the Crown. (fn. 3)
In the 3d of Edward I. the jury find, that it was valued, together with the lordships of Wimbotsham, Hilgey, and the Market of Dunham, at 10 marks per ann. and that the abbot had the taking out, and the return of all writs, &c. view of frankpledge, forfeitures, felons goods, the lete, a gallows, and a prison belonging to it; and that Roger Giffard was then the abbot's bailiff, together with Richard de Odiam, &c. The prison for it was at Wimbotsham; and in the 41st of Henry III. William Briton, the King's justice, by the King's writ made a gaol delivery of many robbers, &c. taken within and without the abbot's liberty, (fn. 4) and before this, in 1249, Robert de Benemere appears to be the abbot's coroner.
The abbot, in the 18th of Edward I. had a power of distraining for amerciaments in his hundred court, and before the King's justices itinerant; and, in his 22d year, there was an agreement between William de Luda Bishop of Ely, and John de Sautry, Abbot of Ramsey, that the Bishop should have his court baron of his tenants in this hundred.
The hundred court, and sheriffs turn, was then held at Clackclose hill, on the common of Stradset, and all lords of manors within the liberty, their tenants, and all men of considerable estates were suitors to it, excepting the tenants of the Bishop of Ely, abbot of Derham, prior of Shouldham, &c.
On the Dissolution of religious houses, in the reign of King Henry VIII. it came to the Crown, when the hundred was separated from the half hundred; and on October 14, in the 1st and 2d of Philip and Mary, the hundred was granted to Edward Lord North, and soon after was purchased by Sir Nicholas Hare; on his death, October 30, in the 3d and 5th of Philip and Mary, Michael his son and heir had livery of it.
At an inquisition taken in 1637, on the death of Sir John Hare, it was valued at 45l. per ann. and his descendant, Sir George Hare, Bart. was lord, who appoints his own bailiff, steward, and coroner, and died in 1764.
Several grants from the Crown have confirmed it, with all its rights and privileges to this family, and one in particular, in the 2d year of King James I. to Sir Ralph Hare.
The half hundred being separated from the hundred, and vested in the Crown, was granted on March 2d, in the 7th of Edward VI. to John Dudley Duke of Northumberland, who conveyed it the next day to Edmund Beaupre, Esq. of Outwell, to be held of the King in soccage, as part of the manor of East Greenwich in Kent; and, by the marriage of Dorothy, daughter and heir of Edmund, by his 2d wife, came to Sir Robert Bell, lord chief baron of the Exchequer, who was killed by a pestilent fume or vapour at Oxford assises in 1577, whose descendants enjoyed it till Beaupre Bell, Esq. on his death, about 1741, gave it, by will, to Elizabeth, his youngest sister, who, in 1742, was married to William Greaves, Esq. of Fulburn in Cambridgeshire, and is now lord in her right.
This half hundred extends itself into the isle of Ely, and great level of the fens, Well stream, or river, running through the towns of Upwell and Outwell, seems to be the boundary of the county of Norfolk, and the isle of Ely; the south side, or part, of the river being in Norfolk, and the north side in the isle.
The boundaries of this half hundred to the north, where it joined to the isle of Ely, (which belonged to the bishops of Ely,) were, in ancient days, well known, and remain upon record; but, through great length of time, the names of the places, and rivers, growing obsolete, and being much changed and altered by new drains, &c. by the adventurers on their draining, are at this time, it is to be feared, in a great measure unknown.
These boundaries were settled in the reign of Richard I. and appear in a register of the abbey of Ramsey, &c. (fn. 5) —There have also been disputes and law-suits about the rights, privileges, and boundaries between the lords of the hundred and of the half hundred in the last century. On the 8th of December, in the 36th of King Charles II. a robbery being committed near Shouldham Thorp and Stradset, the townships of Upwell and Outwell refusing to pay their proportion as charged, a suit of law commenced, they pretending to be in the liberty of the half hundred; but, on a full hearing, it was decreed by Sir Robert Atkins, lord chief baron, on July 9, in the 2d of William and Mary, that they should forthwith pay their shares, being members and parts of the said hundred.
In Domesday Book, this hundred and a half is wrote Clachelosa, Clacheslosa, and Clakeslosa, and is a compound of these three words, Cla or Claia, Chess or Kess, and Losa; Cla or Claia, and Cley, betokens a place surcharged with water, as Cley in Norfolk, by the sea, Clare in Suffolk, Clavering in Essex, &c.—Ches, or Kess, is a place seated near some river, as Cheswick, or Keswick in Norfolk and in Middlesex, Clacheston in Norfolk, Chesham in Bucks.—Losa sets forth its site, Le Ouse, on the river Ouse.