Eynford Hundred: Helmingham and Morton

Pages 235-239

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 8. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1808.

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Morton, now called Morton on the Hill, was anciently an hamlet belonging to Helmingham, and included therein, and on that account is not mentioned in Domesday Book. The principal lordship in this town was then in William de Beaufoe Bishop of Thetford, possessed by Ailmar Bishop of Elmham, in King Edward's time, and was in that see in the Saxon age: 3 carucates of land then belonged to it (held at the survey of Bishop Beaufoe, by Geffrey the archdeacon) also 8 villains, 9 borderers and one servus, 2 carucates in demean, and one and an half among the tenants, with 8 acres of meadow, and a mill. paunage for 11 swine and 19 sheep, 2 churches endowed with 10 acres valued at 8d. and 13 socmen held 40 acres of land, and 5 carucates and 2 acres of meadow, valued at 4l. (fn. 1)

The said Bishop, William de Beaufoe, held also in his own right, as a lay fee, another lordship, held by Renold, a freeman; before the survey 30 acres of land, (of this Renold Bishop Ailmer was only protector, or had the commendation only,) 2 villains, 3 borderers, and 2 carucates belonged to them and the tenants, valued at 10s. it was one leuca and an half long, and one broad, and paid 11d. gelt. (fn. 2)

Helmingham Manor.

In the 8th of Richard I. William de Carcchun sold by fine to Julian de Swathfield one knight's fee and an half, for 30 marks; (fn. 3) Thomas de Helmingham was lord in the 15th of Edward I. had free warren, and the assise of bread and beer, and held half a fee of the Bishop of Norwich.—Ralph and William de Helmingham, sans date, are mentioned.

Eustace, son of Roger de Poringland, confirmed to Thomas, son of Ralph Athelwald, of Weston, and Maud his wife, and their heirs of messuage and all his lands in Helmingham, with the rents and services of his tenants and lands, &c. in Weston and Ringland, and sealed with the impress of a lion passant, under a branch of a tree, loaded with fruit, on the top a bird: and Thomas Athelwald of Weston presented to this church as lord in 1318, and in the 11th of the said King, John and Thomas de Helmingham, parson of Felmingham, conveyed their right in this lordship and advowson to Thomas Athelwald and Maud his wife.

In 1330, John de Weston was lord, and presented, and Maud de Weston in 1349. John de Weston, by his will dated June 4, 1375, bequeaths his body to be buried in the chapel next the chancel of the church of St. Margaret the Virgin, in Helmingham, appoints Eleanor his wife, executrix, and gives this lordship to Thomas, his son, (fn. 4) which extended into Weston, and was proved that year; Eleanor died in 1386, and was buried in the said chapel; he was probably descended from Robert de Weston, who married Hawis, sister and heir to Ralph de Rovecester, or Rochester, which Ralph married Eva, daughter of Hamon Peche, from whom the Tudenhams had some right here and in Weston.

Margaret, widow of Edmund Bedingfeld, Esq. of Oxburgh, sister and heir to Sir Thomas Tudenham, died seized of an interest here, in the reign of Edward IV.

The heirs of Thomas and John de Weston were found, in the 3d of Henry IV. to hold here, in Weston, and Ringland, half a fee of the Bishop, as parcel of his barony, and in 1417, Henry Johnson, Esq. presented to the church as lord of the manor, and in the 10th of Henry IV. Julian wife of John de Weston, and John, her son conveyed it to John de Inglesthorp,

Nicholas Walter, vicar of Snetesham, received of the lady Margaret, late wife of Sir Robert de Berneye, Knt. and executrix of his last will, 20l. sterling, in part of a larger sum due to him, for the manor of Helmingham; dated at Gunton, Friday after Epiphany, in the 3d year of King Henry V.

In the 18th of Henry VI. Margaret, wife of Stephen Palgrave, one of the daughters and heirs of Thomas Weston, granted her right herein to George Draper, of Norwich, as did William Goodburgh, and Catharine his wife, another of the daughters; and in the 23d of that King Henry Apehagh and Alianore his wife, another of the daughters and coheirs, conveyed their interest to John Norman and Joan his wife, probably a coheiress also; this John presented to the church in 1452, and in 1469.

Richard Southwell had an interest here in the 22d of Edward IV. and Francis Southwell of Windham and Dorothy his wife, presented in 1504, and Richard Southwell, Esq. in 1531, and in 1559, by the title of Sir Richard.

Thomas Southwell, Esq. presented in 1599: he built the manorhouse here, and dying s. p. was buried in the church in 1609. After this many law-suits were commenced about the right of this manor, which after long contests, was settled on Denzany Southwell, Esq. (a younger son of Thomas Southwell, Esq. of Spixworth) who by Mary, his wife, daughter of Thomas Shuthwell of Biskton, in Shropshire, had Thomas, his son and heir.

In the 28th of Elizabeth, it appears that the Southwells held in this town, Morton, and Ringland, 20 messuages, 10 cottages, 10 tofts, 2 dove-houses, 300 acres of land, 120 of meadow, 200 of pasture, 60 of wood, 1000 acres of furze, 300 of moor, 40 of marsh, with 6l. rent, and the advowsons of the churches of Helmingham, and Ringland.

Thomas, son and heir of Denzany Southwell, was a counseller of Greys Inn, and died s. p. at Lovain, in Flanders: he sold this manor, June 18, 1642, to Sir Arthur Jenny, Knt. and his grandson, Suckling Jenny, Esq. conveyed it in 1691, to Nicholas Helwys, Gent. of Norwich, who presented in 1702.

William Helways presented in 1724, who gave it to his sister, Catherine, and she to her niece, Bladwell, who married Charles Le Grys, Esq. the present lord.

East's, Reefham-Hall, alias Escois Manor.

Walter Giffard Earl of Bucks had also a lordship, held before the Conquest by a freeman, being 2 carucates of land, one villain, and 3 borderers, 3 servi; 2 carucates in demean belonged to it, and half a carucate among the tenants, with 4 acres of meadow, a mill, and 12 socmen had 30 acres of land, 3 carucates and 2 acres of meadow, valued at 40s. per ann. (fn. 5)

Alexander de Refham held lands of the honour of Clare, (which came to the Earls of Clare, by marriage of the heiress of Giffard,) and was impleaded for obstructing a way in this town, in 36th of Henry III.

Simon Est held also, in the said reign, of Adam de Lyons, the 4th part of a fee, of whom see in Weston.

In the 9th of Edward III. John, parson of Rackheath, and John, son of Thomas Athelwold, of Weston, convey it by fine to Richer, son of Symon East, soon after it was united to Helmingham manor, &c. and so remains.

The tenths of this town and Ringland united were 3l. 15s. 8d. Deducted 6s. 8d.

The Church of Helmingham, alias Morton, is dedicated to St. Margaret, the ancient valor was 4 marks, and paid Peter-pence 6d. the present valor is 3l. 14s. 6d. and is discharged of first fruits and tenths.

Here were at the survey two churches, one belonging to this town and the other most likely to Morton, which seems to have been dilapidated some centuries past.

In the church a gravestone with the arms of Jermy, Thomas Jermy, obt. 4, Sept. 1503, and impaling Yelverton; Jermy impaling Brampton, a saltire, between four cross crosslets fitchè, also impaling Wroth argent, on a bend sable, three lions heads erased, of the first, and crowned or. His portraiture is in brass, and in armour.

Orate p. aia. Joh. Wychingham, Armigi. qui. ob. 23, Martij 1505, and Wychingham impaling Brampton, his portraiture also in armour.

Orat. p. aia. Joh. Jermy.

In the chapel, on the north side of the church, against the north wall, an altar tomb;

Here lyeth the body of Thomas Southwell, Esq. second son of Sir Richard Southwell, of Wood Rysing in Norfolk, Kt. deceased, which Thomas lived unmarried with the good love and reputation of all men until the age of 60 years, and so departed this life on Apr. 8, 1609, being lord of this manor and builder of the capital mansion house thereupon—the arms of Southwell on the tomb.

Here lyeth Katherine Audley, of Bere Church, in Essex, widow, she dyed Nov. 29, 1611, in the 80 year of her age, and lived 45 years a widdow, she kept good hospitality, and was charitable to the poor.

Mary, wife to Densany Southwell, Esq. lord of this manor, departed this life May 29, 1637.

In an arch against the north wall, an antique monument, no inscription, only a cross cut in wood.


Martin, rector sans date.

1318, Thomas de la Chambre, instituted, presented by Thomas Athelwold of Weston.

1330, Jeff. Egge, by Thomas de Weston, citizen of Norwich.

1349, Richard de Scardale, by Maud de Weston.

1349, Nicholas Attebek, by John de Weston.

1368, Mr. Dionysius de Eggefeld, occurs rector.

1375, Hugh Godeborn, by Thomas de Weston, and Walter de Middleton.

1388, John Jay, occurs rector.

Alexander Denton, occurs rector 1407.

1417, Robert Blaunche, by Henry Johnson, Esq.

1421, Richard Talbot, occurs rector.

1452, John Foster, by John Norman, Esq.

1463, Thomas Everard. Ditto.

1466, John Congham. Ditto.

1469, Thomas Sond. Ditto.

1504, John Wolmar, by Franc. Southwell of Windham and Dorothy his wife.

1508, Richard Marykys. Ditto.

1512, John Cross, by the Bishop, a lapse.

1531, Richard Breccles, by Richard Southwell, Esq.

1537, John Frend, by Sir Richard Southwell.

1555, Thomas Hewes, by the Bishop.

1556, John Whight, by Sir Richard Southwell.

1559, Richard Blackborn. Ditto.

1599, Christopher England, by Thomas Southwell, Esq.

1631, Thomas Stoughton, A. M. by Sir Edward Waldgrave.

1678, John Gibson, A. M. by Clement Horne, Esq.

1702, John Wells, A. M. by Nicholas Helwys, Esq.

1723, Edward Bulwer, by Nicholas Helwis, Esq.

1724, Jonathan Thornton, by William Helwys, Esq.

1753, Robert le Grys, by Catherine Helwys, spinster.

Here were the gilds of St. Margaret, the lights of St. Mary, St. Margaret, and the Holy Sepulchre.

Nicholas Hokering, by his will in 1375, was buried in the chapel abovementioned; Agnes, wife of William Loweth of Morton, buried here in 1464.

Theophilus Adams and Thomas Butler of London, had a grant from Queen Elizabeth, August, 2. Ao. 27, of some pasture ground here, lately belonging to the priory of Horsham St. Faith's.

The abbot of Wendling had several tenants here, as appears from a rental in the 20th of Henry VI. John Jenkins held a messuage, 5 acres and a half of land, one acre of meadow in the village of Morton within the parish of Helmingham, &c.


  • 1. Terra Epi Tedfordensis ad episcopatu' p'tinens T. R. E. Helmingham tenuit Ailmar. Eps. T. R. E. p. manerio. et iii car. t're. mo. ten. Goufrid. archidiacon. de epo. tc. viii vill. mo. iiii sep. ix bor. tc. i ser. mo. null. semp. ii car. in d'nio. semp. i car. et dim. hom. et viii ac p'ti et i molin. modo xi porc. et xix. ovs. ii ecclie. x ac. et val. viid. et xiii soc tenet id'. de xl. ac. t're. semp. v car. et ii ac. p'ti. semp. val. iiii lib.
  • 2. Terra ejusd. de feudo.—In Helmingham, ten. Renold. i lib. ho. xxx ac. terre de quo habuit Epi. Ailmar. com'datione. tantu. semp. ii vill. et iii. bord. tc. ii car. int. se et hom. mo. i sep. val. x sol. et ht. i lg. et dim. in longo. et 1 in lato et reddit xid. de gelto regis, qcuq. ibi tenant.
  • 3. In the 2d of King John, this Will. and Julian held each a moiety of the demean lands, but Julian resigned to William the capital mansion and advowson by fine.
  • 4. Reg. Heydon, fol. 96. b. and Reg. Harsike. fol. 77. b.
  • 5. Terre Walteri Giffardi. In Helmingeham, ten. i lib. ho. t. r. e. ii car. tre. sep. i vil. et iii bor. et iii ser. tc. ii car. in dnjo. p'. et mo. i et i-posset restauri. sep. dim. car. hou. et iiii ac. pti. et i mol. et xii soc. xxx ac. tre. semp. iii car et li ac. pti. sep. val. XL. sol.