Eynford Hundred: Wood Norton

Pages 311-317

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

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Part of this town belonged to the Bishops of the East-Angles, and to the see, when it was at North Elmham, in this county, and when the see was at Thetford, we have this account of it from the survey. —Norton was a beruite to the Bishop of Thetford's manor of Hilderston, consisting of 200 acres of land, held by 9 villains and 6 borderers, with 2 servi, there was always one carucate in demean, and two among the tenants, 8 acres of meadow, paunage for 30 swine, there was the 3d part of a church belonging to it, endowed with 2 acres and a half of land, valued at 4d. and 8 socmen had 51 acres of land, 3 borderers, 2 carucates and 4 acres of meadow, &c. and Hugo held this under the Bishop. This beruite with the lordships of Hilderston, Geist, Geistweit, belonging to the Bishop, were valued together at 13l. viiis. per ann. (fn. 1)

Herbert Bishop of Norwich, on his foundation of the priory of Norwich, gave this lordship to it as part of their endowment, and also granted lands, &c. to Edric Le Cat, in this town, Geist and Hilderston, Godfrey Le Gross, a descendant of Edric, granted all his right herein to the aforesaid priory, in the 31st of Edward I. as may be seen in Hilderston. Sir Alan Le Gross, son of Roland, was living at Wodenorton in the reign of Henry III. and had a daughter, Christiana, married to Andr. de Sharnburn, and after to Edmund de Gelham, and died the 10th of Edward I. His son Adam was father of Robert Le Gross of Geistweyt, living in the 20th of Edward III. but John le Gross was seized of this lordship in the 23d of Edward I. and in the 25th of that King, had a writ ad quod Damnum, to give lands to religious uses.

Thomas de Gelham, in the 20th of Edward III. was found to hold half a quarter of a fee of the Bishop of Norwich, which Edmund de Gelham formerly held, and before this, in the 11th of Edward II. a fine was levied between Richard, son of Edmund de Gelham, Reginald and Philip his brothers, querents, and Christiana, widow of Edmund, deforciants, of a moiety of this manor, settled on her for jointure, and rendering 8l. per ann. to her for life instead of it.

In the 11th of Richard II. Thomas Curson of Folsham, John, son of William Curson, and Henry Curson, parson of Folsham, released to William Curson, all their right in the manors of Gelham and Gerbridge in this town.

Sir Edmund de Reynham purchased by fine the manor of Gelham, of John Spoo, and Nichola his wife, in 1394, and in the said year, Sir Thomas Gyney, &c. were querents, John Curson, junior, and Margery his wife, deforciants, of this manor and the advowson, conveyed to Gyney, and in 1401, Sir Thomas Geney presented to the church of St. Peter's in this town.

John de Save's manor, which was granted to Alice de Luton, in the reign of King Henry III. and called Luton fee, extended into this town, Geist, and Themilthorp, (as is there mentioned,) and came after to the Gerbridges, who had an interest also in this lordship, of the Bishop of Norwich; Thomas Gerbridge held it in the 15th of Edward I. John Gerberge presented to the church of AllSaints in this town, in right of this manor, in 1310, and in 1321; in 1355, Roger Gerbrigge presented, and in 1359, the Bishop of Norwich, as guardian of the heir of Roger Gerbrigg, as lord of Ling-hall.

In 1374, Sir Thomas Gerberge died intestate, and left Alice his widow, and William, his son and heir; Alice his widow released in the 12th of Richard II. to Sir Thomas Hengrave, Hugh Curson, &c. all her right in the manor of Wood Norton, 2 parts of the manor of Yaxham, the homage and demean of Luton fee, and her right in the manor of Thorley in Hertfordshire.

William Gerberge, in the 4th of Henry IV. held half a quarter of a fee of the Bishop, and half a fee in this town and Themilthorp, of the Earl of Arundel: in the 13th of that King, a fine was levied between Sir John Howard, and Sir John Heveningham, querents, Sir Thomas Gerberge, Knt. and Cecilia his wife, deforciants, when it was settled as a jointure on the said Cecilia, and paid to her 8l. per ann. for life.

In 1414, Joan, relict of William Gerbrige, Esq. on account of the manor of Ling-hall, presented by her assignee, (fn. 2) and in 1427, John Crane presented to All-Saints church as lord; in 1449, Edmund Dokking and Margaret his wife; in 1457, Alice Crane presented; and Edmund Dokking and Margaret his wife, in 1461; by this it seems that Crane and Dokking had each a moiety of presentation to the church of All-Saints.

John Savile presented to it in 1503, in right of his wife, and Sir Robert Southwell, as lord of the whole town, to All-Saints and St. Peter's churches, in 1509; from the Southwells it came to the dean and chapter of Christ church in Oxford, who presented in 1552; the church is now consolidated; the presentation is in the dean and chapter at this time, lords of the town; and held of them by lease.


Rainald, son of Ivo, had a lordship held by St. Edmund in the Confessor's time; 2 carucates of land belonged to it, 8 villains, 8 borderers, one carucate in demean, 3 carucates among the tenants, and 8 acres of meadow, paunage for 30 swine, 6 cows, &c. 12 goats, valued at 20s. at the survey at 30s. (fn. 3)

Walter Giffard has also 72 acres of land, out of which 3 freemen were ejected, held by 6 borderers, with 2 carucates and 4 acres of meadow, &c. valued at 13s. but at the survey at 20s. and one of these freemen was under the protection of Almar Bishop of Norwich. (fn. 4)

It appears from Domesday book, that even religious houses of the greatest distinction were not free from the depredations and plunder of the Norman invaders, and the abbey of St. Edmund of Bury was deprived of this their lordship here, by Rainald, son of Ivo.

Both these lordships above-mentioned came to the Earls of Clare, from the Giffards, by marriage.

Hugo, or Hugh de Norton was lord, and father of Henry; (fn. 5) Robert de Norton, his son, by Maud his wife, was father of Roger de Norton, who by Alice his wife, had Robert his son, sans date.

John de Norton was lord in the 34th of Henry III. and of Geystweyt, and John his son was living in the 14th of Edward I. In 1308, Philip de Norton, lord, presented to the church of St. Peter's in this town, and held this manor of Geysweyt, of the Earl of Clare, by half a fee; he presented also in 1320, and Vincent de Norton in 1344 and 1349.

William de Norton was lord in 1361, and presented to the aforesaid church, but in the 13th of Richard II. it was lound that this manor, with a messuage, 210 acres of land, 50s. rent per ann. with the advowson of St. Peter's church, was held by John Rysing, as of the manor of Pencethorp, and of the honour of Clare, and atter by Sir Robert Carbonell, as lord of Pencethorp; and that William Norton did not die seized of it, but as a convict; and that Nicholaa his wife was now married to John Spoo; William fled beyond sea for some crime, and the manor escheated to the Crown, and John Spoo and Nicholaa were in possession of it, and presented to St. Peter's church in 1386.

After this, it was in Sir Thomas Geney, who presented in 1401; —Thomas Geney, Esq. in 1415, and Sir Thomas Geney in 1416; John Bryston, Esq. presented as lord in 1424, and John Crane, Esq. to St. Peter's in 1428. In the 8th of Henry VI. there was an agreement, dated April 20, between William, prior of Norwich, &c. and their tenants, and William Paston, one of the King's justices, Sir Edmund Berry, and John Crane, Esq. seized in fee of the manor of Woodnorton, and Lyng Hall, and their tenants; and William Paston, Esq. of London, presented to St. Peter's, as lord, in 1485.

John Bernard, Esq. of Norwich, by his will, dated March 16, 1474, bequeaths his body to be buried to the church of St. Michael, of Coslany, Norwich; gives sums of money to the Friars-Austine, Carmes, Dominicans there; to the nuns of Carhow, Mettingham college; the churches of Geyst, Geystwayt, Burgh by Whetacre, St. Laurence's, St. Margaret, and St. John of Ilketeshall, in Suffolk; to Anne his wife, 10l. per ann. his manor of Norton Hall, and rents called Clere rents, with a water mill, and foldcourse for life, after to be sold by his executors, and the money given to pious uses; his manor in East-Derham called Colbourus, alias Mowles, to be sold, and his swan mark in Norwich river to his wife for life, after to be sold; proved June 7, 1474. About this time Norton-Hall manor was valued at 6l. 19s. 4d. per ann.

In 1309, Sir Robert Southwell, as lord, presented to St. Peter's, and All-Saints churches; and in 1533, Sir Richard Southwell to St. Peter's, and Sir Richard, by his assigns, presented to All-Saints in 1540.

Soon after, May 16, ao. 38th Henry VIII. it was granted to the King, by Sir Richard, in exchange for certain abbey lands; and King Henry VIII. gave it to the dean and chapter of Christ church in Oxford, December 11, ao. 38. In 1552, the dean and chapter presented, and the patronage is now in that church.

Hagon, the Conqueror's reeve or bailiff, had a grant of 50 acres of land; 5 socmen held it of him, and were resident on the land; and the tenants had 2 carucates, and 11 acres of meadow, &c it was always valued at 10s. (fn. 6) This came soon after to the Giffards, and so was united to the honour of Clare.

John, son of John de Wood-Norton, and Warine le Gross, with Mabel his wife, granted to Walsingham priory, six score sheep in the common pasture, from Ulfs Cross to Horsley Bec; (fn. 7) and Jeffrey le Gross, 6 sheep between Jordan de Haghaghs, and Swanton Wood, and confirmed the other common in Norton meer. It appears that Bertrand, son of Warine le Gross, was father of Jeffrey, and Rodland le Gross was his son.

Richard le Brun of Walsingham Parva gave them lands that he purchased of Robert, son of Hugh de Byntre, and of Strangia his mother; and Hugh, son of Robert de Byntre, gave lands with a foldcourse and a droveway.

By a deed, the prior agreed to pay to Godfrey, rector of St. Peter's church, 2s. per ann. for small tithes of their manor in this town, called Dulacres, and the rector was to take tithe of the corn only. The temporalities of this priory in rent, land, and a dove-house, valued in 1428 at 13s. 4d. per ann.

Nigel Sulier of Hapesburgh, by deed, sans date, gave to the priory of Bromholm 56 acres of land, with rents, homages, and services here, and in Geyst; (fn. 8) William Atwood gave a foldcourse and common of pasture. Their temporalities valued at 22s. 7d. ob. q.

The temporalities of Westacre priory valued at 3s. 6d.

Eborard, son of Sir Ralph de Geyst, granted to Castleacre priory the rent of William, the clerk of Byntre, which he held of him in land and pasture at Horsley Bec; Gilbert, son of Ralph, two parts of the tithe of his demeans (fn. 9)Ralph, son of Gilbert, lord of Felvetesham, two parts of the tithe in all things of his lands in Norton, as well cattle, as small tithe, and all offerings, of which tithe ought to be yearly paid, as well as of corn. Their temporalities valued at 4s.

Temporalities of Fakenham Dam, 8d. Of Coxford, 2s. 9d. q. Of Norwich priory, 40s.

Lands in the tenure of John Russel, late belonging to Buckenham priory, granted July 30, ao. 1st of Queen Mary, to George Rotherham and Robert Barber.

The tenths were 2l. 13s. 10d. Deducted 4s. 2d.

There were two churches standing in this town in the 5th of Henry V. as appears by the will of Sir Thomas Geney of Brandeston; AllSaints, the valor of which was 5 marks, Peter-pence 2d. St. Peter's, the valor 5 marks, Peter-pence, 7d. 0b. both rectories; but St. Peter's has been dilapidated long since, and consolidated with AllSaints; the present valor of which is 7l. 12s. 2d. 0b.

All-Saints church has no steeple, but a frame for bells in the churchyard.

In the chancel a gravestone

In memory of Samuel Fisher, rector, who died Feb. 17, 1691.

And in the church, one

In memory of Edward Blower, of Wood-Norton, gent. 2d son of Christopher Blower, of Weston on the Green in Oxfordshire, who died December 3, 1681.

And one

For John Lee of Fulmodeston, gent. who died December 12, 1681.


In 1310, Peter le Curson instituted rector, the church not named, presented by John Gerberge.

1321, William Gerberge. Ditto.

Vincent de Norton, rector.

1308, William de Ry, by Philip de Norton.

1314, Richard de Glooz. Ditto.

1320, Jeffrey Boteman. Ditto.

1344, Henry de Fordham, by Vincent de Norton.

1349, Thomas de Heydon. Ditto.

1355, Thomas Curson, to All-Saints, by Roger Gerberge.

1356, Robert Curson, by Eleanor, late wife of Roger Gerberge.

1356, John Hubert, to St. Peter's, by Vincent de Norton.

1357, Richard Nicholls, by the Bishop, a lapse.

1358, William Lacthon, by the Bishop, guardian of the heir of Roger Gerberge.

Thomas Heydon, rector.

1359, John de Elford, to All-Saints, by the Bishop, as guardian of the heir of Roger Gerberge.

1361, William de Rolleston, to St. Peter's, by William de Norton.

1386, Thomas Makhaut, by John Spoo, and Nicholaa his wife.

1387, John Clerk, to All-Saints, by William Gerbridge of WoodNorton.

1401, Richard Good, to St. Peter's, by Sir Thomas Geney.

1404, Thomas Ryngsted, to St. Peter's, by Thomas Geney.

John Giffe occurs rector in the 8th of Henry IV.

Roger Philpot, rector.

1408, John de Thorpland, by Sir William Bardwell.

1409, Robert Folsham, by Thomas Gerbridge.

1413, John Everard, to St. Peter's, by Thomas Geney.

1414, Robert Hall, to St. Peter's, by Thomas Geney, Esq.

1414, John Bykkys, to All-Saints, by John Crane, on account of the manor of Linghall, on a grant from Joan, relict of William Gerbrige, Esq.

John Kelk, rector.

1415, John Skarlet, to St. Peter's, by Thomas Geney.

1416, Andrew Valentyne, by Sir Thomas Geney.

1424, Robert Syre, to St. Peter's, by John Bryston, Esq.

1425, Thomas Gloos, to St. Peters, by John Crane, Esq.

1427, Simon Blake, to All-Saints, by John Crane.

1449, John Thomson, to All-Saints, by Edmund Dokking, and Margaret his wife.

1457, Stephen Paly, by Alice Crane.

1461, John Shyming, to All-Saints, by Edmund Dokking, and Margaret his wife.

1472, Thomas Lenn, by the Bishop, a lapse.

1485, Jeffrey Howys, to St. Peter's, by William Paston, Esq. of London.

1503, James Ottis, to All-Saints, by John Savaile, in right of his wife.

1509, William Hayward, by Sir Robert Southwell, to All-Saints and St. Peter's.

1533, Octavian Talbot, to St. Peter's, by Sir Richard Southwell.

1540, John Steel, (ditto,) to All-Saints.

1552, Octavian Talbot, to All-Saints, by the Dean and Chapter of Christ church in Oxford.

1553, John Sankey. Ditto.

1554, John Scolt. Ditto.

1556, John Dobson. Ditto.

1557, Edward Andleser. Ditto.

1579, Edward Andleser, S. T. B. by the Queen, a lapse.

1600, William Marshall, to All-Saints and St. Peter's, by Christ church, Oxford.

1616, John Doughty, A. M. by Christopher Sheringham.

1664, Nathaniel Gunter, by Christ church, Oxford.

1683, Samuel Fisher, by Christ church, Oxford.

1691, William Faswell. Ditto.

1698, Edward Stillingfleet, M. D. Ditto.

1708, William Hodgson. Ditto.

George Watson, D. D. died rector in 1750, and Edward Whitmell was presented by Christ church college in Oxford.


  • 1. Terra Epi. Tedford' sis ad episcopatu. p'tinens T. R. E.—Hic jacet (in Hildolfestina) i beruita que dicitur Nortuna de cc. ac. sep. ix villi. et vi. bor. tc. ii s. mo. i sep. i car. in dnio. et ii car. hominu. viii ac. pti. silv. xxx porc. et t'cia pars eccle. in bereuuita de ii ac. et dim et val iiiid. et viii soc. de LI. ac. tre. qd. ten. Hugo de epo. iii bord. sep. ii car. et iiii ac. pti. pti. silv. x porc.
  • 2. Lib. Instit. Norw.
  • 3. Terre Rainaldi filii Ivonis—In Nortuna ten. S'cs. Edmund. T. R. E. ii car. t're. sep. viii vill. tc. viii bor. mo. xvi sep. i car. in d'nio. tc. et p. iii car. ho'um mo. ii et viii ac. p'ti. silv. xxx por. sep. vi an. et vi por. et xii cap. tc. et p. val xx sol. mo. xxx.
  • 4. Terre Walteri Giffardi, in Nortuna iii libi. ho'es. lxxii ac. t're. sep. vi bor. sep ii car et iiii ac p'ti. silv. viii por. tc. val. xiii sol. mo. xx et i de his hominib; fuit com'd. Almari Epi.
  • 5. Regist. Bromholm, fol. 64, 66, &c.
  • 6. Terra Hagonis—In Nortuna 1 ac. t're. et v soc in ipsa t'ra manentes sep. ii car. intr. ho'es et ii ac. p'ti. sep. val. x sol.
  • 7. Reg. Walsingh. in Bibliot. Cotton, p. 107, 109, &c.
  • 8. Reg. Bromholm fol. 64, &c. 74.
  • 9. Reg. Castleac. fol. 57.