Freebridge Hundred and Half

Pages 327-328

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

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In the grand survey, or Domesday book, made by King William I. it is wrote Fredrebruge, or Fredebruge, containing what is now called Freebridge citra Lynn, and Freebridge Marshland, taking its name from some remarkable bridge on the river Ouse, that part of it citra Lynn making the hundred, and that of Marshland the half hundred. Where this bridge was is doubtful, probably it was what is now called St. German's Bridge. The river was (we may conclude) much narrower hereabouts, in King Alfred's time, when hundreds were first made, than at this present time; Dugdale observes, that between Wigenhale, St. German's, and Islington, it was anciently but 12 perches over, and in King Edward the Third's time, a full mile; (fn. 1) and by an inquisition taken in the 13th of Edward II. the said author mentions a bridge at Islington, and a causey kept at the charge of Sir John de Ingaldesthorp, and Sir Robert de Scales, lords of Islington, &c. in respect of the fishery granted to them, but I quere if this was over the Ouse.

Odo Earl of Kent Bishop of Baieux in Normandy, had a grant of it from his half brother, King William I. together with the hundred of Smethden, on the deprivation of Stigand Archbishop of Canterbury, who held it as a lay fee, before the conquest. Odo, on his rebellion against that King, was deprived of it, who granted it to William de Albini, his (pincerna) butler; his heirs (Earls of Sussex and Arundel) enjoyed it; on the death of Hugh, the last Earl of that family, in 1242, on a division of his estate between his 4 sisters and coheirs, this was assigned to Sir Robert de Tateshale, in right of Mabel his wife, the eldest sister, and was held by the service of being the King's butler, and paying 20 marks per ann.

From the Lords Tateshale it came by Amy, a daughter and coheir, to Sir Osbert de Caily; and by Margaret, sister and heir to Sir Thomas Caily, to Sir Roger Clifton, whose son, Sir Adam, died lord in 1366; his 2d son, Sir Adam de Clifton, possessed it, and his son, Sir Robert, on whose death in 1442 it came to Thomas Clifton, Esq. of Denver, and descended to his son Robert, who on March 16, in the 4th of Edward IV. let it with all its profits, to Thomas Playters, Esq. at 40 marks per ann. To this deed is the seal of Clifton, quarterly, in the first and fourth, bendy of eight, gules and argent, in the second and third, checque, or, and gules, a bend over all, ermin.

Soon after this, Anthony Woodvile Earl Rivers enjoyed it, and by his last will, gave it to his brother, Sir Edward; but in the 7th of Henry VII. Robert Clifton aforesaid died lord, and sans issue, when Sir William Knevet had livery of it, as his heir.

In the reign of King Henry VIII. Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk was lord, Thomas Grey Marquis of Dorset conveying it to him in Hillary Term, ao. 21, by fine, on whose death it was granted to the Lady Anne of Cleves, late wife of the aforesaid King.

In the reign of Queen Elizabeth it was in the Crown, and farmed at 20l. per ann. On June 15, ao. 9 of James I. Richard Hovell, Gent. in consideration of 100l. had a grant of it, with the courts, letes, fines, rents, &c. and was held by one fee.

The ancient place of holding this hundred's court was at FlitchamBurgh, where is a tumulus, &c. about a mile from the town, (of which see there,) on the road to Sharnburn. In the 3d of Elizabeth, it appears, from a rental of Sir Richard Southwell's, that his manor of Walsoken paid then to the Queen's bailiff of the hundred, 40s. per ann. suit of court, held under an oak, at Gaywood, near Lynn, and was called Gaywood Oak-fee.

After this, the court was held at an oak at Wigenhale, St. German's, called Fitton Oak, in a farm of that name belonging to the town of Lynn, the Duke of Norfolk being lord, but it has been discontinued about 30 years.

In the 18th of Edward II. the hundred of Freebridge citra Lynn was rated at the twelfth part of any public payment for the whole county; and the Marshland part was rated at a third part of the aforesaid twelfth part.

In the 52d of Henry III. this hundred and half; with those of Clackclose and Smethden, had a grant to hold pleadings de fine at Lenne. (fn. 2)


  • 1. Dugd. of Imbank. &c. p. 395, and 251. Regist. Kemp, Abbat. de Bury. fol. 107.
  • 2. P'lita Coronæ Anno 52 Hen, III. R. 31.