An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 7. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1807.
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The Saxon King Edmund, the elder, father of King Edgar, in his 3d year, gave this town to Theodred, who was Bishop of London, and of Elmham in Norfolk, (or of the East Angles,) and was called at that time Sutreia, or the South Island, in respect of Hilingeia, or Hilgey. (fn. 1)
The said Bishop, not long before his death, gave it to the secular clergy of Bury abbey, before the new foundation of King Canute for Benedictine monks. Theodore flourished about 940.
At the survey, we learn, that it then was the lordship of that abbey, consisting of two carucates of land, 13 villains, 7 bordarers, and 5 servi, with 24 acres of meadow, 2 carucates in demean, 11 among the tenants, &c. a fishery, &c. 31 cows, &c. 80 sheep, 11 breeding mares, valued at 32s. at the survey at 4l. was half a leuca long, and 4 furlongs broad, and paid 3d. gelt. (fn. 2)
The abbot was also at this time lord of part of Hilgey, and of Fincham, Rungton and Thorp in this hundred—of Islington, and Middleton in Frebridge hundred—of Buckenham in Shropham hundred—of Quidenham, Norton, Gatesthorp, Snareshill, Herling, in Gilcross hundred—of Wendling in Laundich hundred—of Marling ford in Fourhow hundred—of Buckenham in Blofield hundred—of Castor, Broc, Shotesham, How, Poringland in Hensted hundred—of Thorp, Brockdish, Mendham, Herleston, Starston in Earsham hundred—of Titshall, Gissing, Shimpling, Brisingham, Raydon, Shelvanger, Frenge, Dickleburg, Semere, in Diss hundred—of Loddon, Brook, Mundham, Topcroft, Langhale, Kirsted in Loddon hundred—Tibenham, Thorp, Freton, Stratton in Depewade hundred—of Kirby, Hales, Norton in Clavering hundred.
The abbot had here, and in all his manors, royal privileges, by grant from the Crown, and in Edward the First's time, it was appropriated to the office of the cellarer in the said abbey, by John de Northwold, then abbot.
At the Dissolution it came to the Crown, and was given by King Henry VIII. on July 5, in his 36th year, with the advowson of the church, to James Hawes, and so came to the Willoughbys, as in Hilgey, and on a partition of the estate of Sir Henry Willoughby, a moiety of it came to George Purefoy, Esq. by the marriage of Catherine, one of the daughters and coheirs of Sir Henry, and another moiety to Sir Henry Grey, by another daughter and coheir; and I find Knightly Purefoy; Esq. and Sir Henry Grey, charged with the fee farm rent, 1l. 4s. 8d. per ann.—and George Purefoy, Esq. presented, 1670. In 1689, Willoughby Grey presented to the church as lord, and in 1705, Mrs. Elizabeth Grey;—after this it came to Sir Thomas Aston, Bart. of Cheshire, the present lord.
The tenths were 5l. Deducted 6s. 8d. the lete fee, 3s.
The Church is dedicated to St. Mary, and is a very antique plain building, consisting of a nave about 50 feet long, and 20 broad, with a chancel, both covered with thatch; at the west end of the nave is a little four square-tower of rag, and car stone with 2 bells, and a cap to it covered with tile. On the pavement by the pulpit, lies a grave stone with this shield in brass, barry of, ten, argent and gules, a chevron over all, or, Stokes;—and on a brass plate:
Here lyeth the wife of William Stokes, late of Wyverston in the county of Suffolk, gent. she departed the 11th day of February, An. Dni. 1639, aged 81 years.
The chancel is separated from the nave by an old wooden screen, and is in length about 19 feet, and in breadth about 15; on the pavement lies a gravestone with these arms, (Plate I. Fig. 19,) quarterly, gules, and vairy, argent and azure, over all a bend, or, Constable, and thus inscribed:
Here lyeth the body of Robert Constable, who was rector of Southrey nineteen years and three months; he was the son of Thomas Constable, and Elizabeth his wife, late of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, London; he departed this life, the first day of October, 1689, in the 54th year of his age.
Against the south wall of the chancel, is a small mural monument with this shield; (Plate I. Fig. 20.) Nr. 3, argent, two chevrons, azure, in a bordure engrailed, gules, Tyrrell; and this epitaph:
Here rests that just and pious Jane, That ever hated all that's vayne; Her zeal for God, made her desire T' have dy'd a martyr in the fire; Or into thousand pieces small, Been cutt to honour God with all. Her life right vertuous, modest, sober; Ended the 7th day of October, 1638: Her purest soul 'till the body rise, Enjoys heaven's peace in paradise. Her virtues hid from common sight, Enforc'd her husband these to write. Johan. Tyrrell de Gypping in Suff.
Instituted 1300, Peter de Casteleyn, presented by the abbot, &c. of Bury. (fn. 3)
1335, Nicholas de Wisebeach, presented by the abbot, &c. of Bury.
1349, William de Lausill.
Mr. John de Brandon occurs about 1380.
Richard Smyth occurs rector in the 19th of Richard II. (fn. 4)
1419, John Goffe, (on the resignation of Dacke,) presented by the abbot, &c. he held the church of Swathefield in the diocese of Norwich, and exchanged with Dacke.
1420, Alexander Collow, (on the resignation of Goffe,) presented by the abbot, &c.; he held the church of Donyngworth, and exchanged with Goffe.
1420, William Barker, (on the resignation of Collow,) by the abbot, &c.; he held the church of Sterston in Norwich diocese, and exchanged with Collow.
1420, Robert Banyngham, by the abbot, &c.
1421, John Cachero, (on the resignation of Banyngham,) by the abbot, &c.; he held the church of Kirkele, and exchanged with Banyngham.
1426, Thomas Marchall, (on the resignation of Cachero,) by William, abbot of Bury, &c.; he was rector of Bexwell, and exchanged with Cachero, and after this rector of Fincham St. Michael.
1431, William Attemell, (on the resignation of Marchall,) by William, abbot, &c.; he was rector of Fincham St. Michael, and exchanged with Marchall.
1435, John Tyrell, acolythe, L. L. B. on the death of Atwell, by William, abbot, &c. in 1436. - - - One John Tyrell was presented by the abbot of Bury to Redgrave in Suffolk, in December 1436, probably the same person.
1436, Philip Long, (on the resignation of Tyrell,) by William, abbot, &c.
1436, Thomas Turnour, (on the resignation of Long,) by William, abbot, &c.
1438, Stephen Parker.
1457, Thomas Bullock, (on the resignation of Parker,) by John, abbot, &c.
1460, William Hall, L. L. B. (on the resignation of Bullock,) by the abbot, &c.
1463, William Sparwe, or Sparrow: he was rector of Mephale in the isle of Ely, and exchanged with Wylde.
1490, Thomas Neele to St. Mary, Southrey, on the death of Sparrow, by Thomas, abbot, &c.
1511, Roger Whalley, L. L. B. on the resignation of Neele, by William, abbot, &c.
1526, Richard Granger on the death of Whalley, by John, abbot, &c.
1526, John Burie, on the death of Granger, by the abbot, &c.; this church was at this time valued at 19 marks.
1532, William Percy, on the resignation of Burie, by the abbot, &c.
1541, Robert Wylsey, on the death of the last rector, by the King: this Robert was deprived in 1553, being married. (fn. 5)
1554, Robert Peerson, presented by Henry Hawe, Gent. on the deprivation of Wylsey, a married priest.
1554, Robert Morley.
1557, Thomas Disse, S. T. P. on the resignation of Morley, by Henry Hawe, Esq.
1559, William Susan, on the death of Disse, by H. Hawe, Esq.
George Longe, A. M. occurs in 1562, vicar also of Stow-Bardolph. Presbyter conjugatus, doctus, non residet, non hospitalis, in vicariâ suâ de Stow Bardolph, prœdicat licentiatus, duo. (fn. 6)
Peter Tye; rector afterwards of Watlington, and Barton St. Mary.
1578, Lionel Life, on the resignation of Tye, by Henry Hawe, Esq.
1582, John Smith, A. M. presented by Catharine Winter, widow.
1583, Thomas Everard . . . . by Henry Hawe, Esq.
1588, Robert Pearne, on the death of Everard, by H. Hawe, Esq.
1589, Jonas Steward, A. B. on the resignation of Pearne, by Henry Hawe, Esq. in his answer to King James, he observes, that there were in 1603, 94 communicants here.
1608, Charles Smith, A. M. on the death of the last rector, by James Hawe, Gent. assignee to Henry Willoughby, Esq.
1625, Elijah Catlyn, A. M. on the death of Smith, by James Hawe of Berney, Gent.
1642, Samuel Hutton, A. M. on the death of Catlyn, by Sir Henry Willoughby, Baronet.
1670, Robert Constable, A. M. on the death of Hutton, by George Purefoy, Esq. and Knightley Purefoy, Gent.
1675, Roger Davies, A. M. by the King, on account of Constable's not reading the Articles.
1685, Robert Constable iterum, by Francis Pawlet, Esq. Sir John Sidenham, Bart. Sir Thomas Putt, Bart. Edward Heade, Esq. and Sir Henry Purefoy, Bart.
1689, Girsholm Malcolm, by Willoughby Gray, Esq.
1705, Samuel Lees, A. M. on the death of Malcolm, by Elizabeth Grey, spinster.
1737, Cuth. Sewell, on Lees' death, by Jos. Sewell, Esq. hac vice.
This rectory is valued in the King's books, at 7l. 10s.—Old valor was 19 marks. The rector had in Edward the First's time, a manse with 24 acres of land. Peter-pence, 18d.