Freebridge Hundred: Massingham Parva

Pages 13-20

An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 9. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1808.

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Great Massingham and little Massingham, as I have observed, were undivided before, and at the grand survey, making one township, the greatest part of which was in the Conqueror's hands, being the possessions of Harold, the late King, who was killed at the battle of Hastings. Another part of Massingham was the lordship of Eustace Earl of Bologne: this was what is now called Massingham Parva; of this part Orgar, a freeman, was lord in King Edward's time. It consisted of four carucates of land, to which belonged five villains, five borderers, and 2 acres of meadow; there were 2 carucates in demean, at the survey 3, one carucate among the freemen, and the fourth part of a salt pit; one socman belonged to it, who held 12 acres of land, 24 sheep, but at the survey 260, &c. It was formerly valued at 20s. at the survey at 50s. per ann. and there were 20 socmen of Herold in Marsingham, who held 2 carucates and an half with 5 borderers; there were at that time and after, 6 carucates; at the survey 3, and valued at 50s. (fn. 1)

All these were delivered to Eustace, as Herold held them, and Wido Angevin held the whole under Eustace.

The whole was one leuca long, and half a leuca broad, and paid 8d. to the 20s. gelt.

Wido had also 20 of the 25 socmen who belonged to Herold's manor, in the Confessor's time, with all their customs, and who held 2 carucates, 58 acres, and the 4th part of an acre, at the survey, of the king's manor of Great Massingham.

The descendants of Wido Aungevine, according to the custom of the Normans, assumed the name of Massingham, from this town.

Roger, son and heir of Aungevine, was father of Sir Robert de Massingham, who held 7 fees in Thorp, Anmere, and this town, &c. of the honour of Boloigne: he is also sometimes called Sir Robert de Thorp, Eda his wife survived, and in 1209, is styled Eda de Thorp, as lady also of that manor.

Sir Hugh, her son, was a benefactor to the monks of Castleacre, Sir John de Thorp was son of Sir Hugh, and sealed with checque, or and gules, a fess in a bordure, argent, was lord of this town, Ashwell Thorp, &c. He married Margery, daughter of Sir Robert de Creke, lord of North Creke, and Hillington, &c. and at length his descendant was coheir to that family, and had an interest in those manors.

He died in the reign of Henry III. and was father of Sir Robert, whose son, Sir John Thorp, was living in 1293, and was (as I take it) the first of the Thorps that inherited the North Creke, and Hillington estates, presenting to North Creke in 1311, and died in 1323; he married first, Agnes, and then Alice, relict of Sir William Mortimer, (who survived him,) and bore cheque, or and gules, a fess, ermine.

Sir Robert de Thorp was his son and heir, by Agnes, aged about 30, at his father's death. In 1327, he presented to the church of North Creak, and married Beatrix, daughter of Sir Edmund de Hengrave, and died in 1330.

She presented to this church in 1333, and resided in this town, which, with North Creak, she held in jointure.

About this time, Thomas Sarlet, the lord's bailiff, accounted for 117s. and 11d. rent of assise, of the free tenants and villains; 10l. 2s. 0d. for lands let to farm, and 31s. 3d. perquisites of court.

Sir Robert bore azure, three crescents, argent, impaling Hengrave, argent, a chief indented, gules, as carved on the porch of this church.

Sir John de Thorp succeeded, aged 15; he married Joan, one of the daughters and coheirs of Roger Atte-Ashe or Eshe, and died in 1340.

Joan his widow, in 1345, married to Sir Roger le Strange, but having no issue by Sir John de Thorp, on her death it descended to Edmund de Thorp, (fn. 2) brother to Sir John de Thorp, which Edmund married Joan, daughter of Robert Baynard; in the 38th of Edward III. Sir Edmund de Thorp made John de Holm, chaplain, and others, his attornies, to deliver seisin of this manor, and others, to William de Bergh, rector of Cantele.

Edmund Berry, Robert, parson of Creyk, Thomas de Bumpsted, citizen of Norwich, and Adam de Redgrave, parson of Bathele, by deed, dated at Massingham Parva, on the feast of St. Ambrose.

He died in 1393, and was buried in the chancel of Ashwelthorp in Norfolk, giving legacies to his tenants here, &c. and to Sir Edmund, his eldest son, all his goods in his manor-house in this town, who was married before his father's death, in 1368, to Margaret, daughter of Richard de la Rivere, October 6; but this wife dying, he afterwards married Joan, daughter and heiress of Sir Robert de Northwood, or Norwood, of Northwood-Berningham, in Norfolk, and of Northwood in Kent, widow of Roger Lord Scales, of Newcells.

In 1399, on his going into France; he made his will, wherein he gives this manor to his wife, for life, if it should fall into his hands, being then held by his brother Robert, and sealed with azure, three crescents, argent.

He was slain at the siege of Lover's Castle, in Normandy, in 1417, and his body was brought into England, and buried in the church of Ashwellthorp, under a stately tomb, where he and his lady lie.

Both these statues are in full length, of white alabaster, under a neat canopy of wood

The arms of Thorp, azure, three crescents, argent, quartering Bainard, sable, a fess, between three chevronels, or, being cut on his armour, with a chaplet round his head, and a collar of S. S. On the south side of this tomb are four shields, supported by as many angels, viz. Thorp impaling Bainard, argent, three bars, gules, (quere if not Moulton,) impaling Northwood; ermine, a cross ingrailed, argent; checque, or and gules, a bend over all, ermine, Clifton; argent, a chevron, between three bears heads couped, sable, muzzled, or, Berney. On the north side, or, a lion rampant, gules, armed azure, Felbrigg; argent, two bars, and a canton, gules, Boys; gules, a saltire ingrailed, argent, Kerdeston, and checque, or and gules, a fess, ermine, the ancient arms of Thorp; and at the head of the tomb, the arms of St. George, argent, a cross, gules, and quarterly, France and England.

This Sir Edm. left 2 daughters and coheirs, Joan, who married Sir Robert Echingham, (fn. 3) Knt. and afterwards Sir John Clifton, Knt. of Buckingham Castle; but on default of issue, the estate of the Thorps was settled on her sister Isabel, who married Philip Tilney of Boston, in Lincolnshire, Esq. who together joined in a mortgage of this lordship, by deed, dated July 10, in the 10th of Henry VI. with the manor of North Creke, to Charles Aleyn, parson of North Creke, for 6 years, for the payment of 220 marks.

Isabel, dying in 1436, was buried in the church of Ashwell Thorp, and her husband, then retiring from the world, became a secular canon in the church of Lincoln, where he was buried in 1453. His arms were argent, a chevron, between three griffins heads, erased, gules.

Frederick Tilney of Boston, Esq. was his son and heir, and enjoyed this lordship and the Thorps estate. He married Elizabeth, a daughter of Laurence Cheyney, Esq. of Ditton in Cambridgeshire, (relict of Sir John Say,) by Elizabeth his wife, daughter of—Cockain.

Cheyney bore, quarterly, argent and sable, a bend, lozengy, gules. By her he had one only daughter, Elizabeth, who married Sir Humphrey Bouchier, knight, (eldest son of John Lord Berners,) who has slain at Baruet-field, on the part of King Edward IV. on Easter day, 1471, and was lord of this manor in right of his wife; she afterwards mar ried Thomas Howard, son and heir of John Lord Howard, (who was created Earl of Surrey, and after was Duke of Norfolk) and dying in 1507, was buried in the nuns quire of the Minoress, without Aldgate, London; but this manor was held for life by the courtesy of England, by her husband.

In the 39th of Henry VI. it appears that this lordship was rented or farmed by Henry Thorysby, at 18l. per ann. Lete fee 2s. and rented at 12l. 3s. 6d. ob. in King Henry the Seventh's time.

Sir John Bourchier, son and heir of Sir Humphrey, was summoned to parliament, as Lord Berners, in the 11th and 12th of Henry VII. &c. and died deputy-general of the town and marches of Calais, March 19, 1532.

He married Catherine, daughter of John Howard Duke of Norfolk, who survived him, and died March 12, 1535.

In the 7th year of King Henry VIII. the jury find, on the death of Sir William Capel, Knt. that long before his death, Sir John Bourchier Lord Berners had sold his reversion of this manor and advowson, to Sir William Capel, who gave it to his grandson, Edward, 2d son of Sir Gyles Capel, son and heir to Sir William, being then held, as it is said, of the prior of Castleacre. This Edward (afterwards a knight) sold it in the 26th of Henry VIII. by fine, with Anne his wife, to John Jenour and Anthony Brown. Soon after this, it came to the Mordants family, who before this had an interest in the said town.

Eudo, son of Spiruwin, had a lordship also, of which Scula a freeman, who was lord in King Edward's reign, was deprived at the conquest; three carucates of land belonged to it, 8 villains, one servus, and there were 2 carucates in demean, and one among the tenants, &c. valued at 20s. and Bervald held it under Eudo. (fn. 4)

Eudo having the lordship or barony of Tateshale in Lincolnshire, assumed that name, and his descendants held this lordship in capite of the King; of whom see in Babingley.

The family of de Thorp, of whom we have treated as above, had an interest herein, soon after the conquest, and in the reign of Edward I. from the Thorps it was conveyed to the L'Estranges.

Henry L'Estrange of Hunstanton, Esq. by his will, dated November 13, 1433, (fn. 5) appears to be lord of it, and his 3d son, John L'Estrange, Esq. who married Margaret, daughter and coheir of Sir Thomas L'Estrange, of Walton-Deiville, in Warwickshire, Esq. died seized of this lordship. By his will, dated December 16, 1516, bequeaths his body to be buried (if he died within 5 miles of Massingham) before our blessed Lady, in the chapel on the south side of the chancel of this church, and that a tomb be made for him, and set up there in the said chapel, after the manner of Sir Henry Heydon's tomb in Norwich, with the arms of him, his wife, and his ancestors, and a sculpture of him and his wife, with an orate, &c. and if his corps lies in any other place, he wills that a plain stone, with his arms, and his wife's, be laid over him, but that a tomb be nevertheless erected here.

To the church of Massingham Parva he gives a vestment, and tunicle, after the rate of Sir Robert Ratcliff's cope, with orate, &c. of white damask, price 8 marks, to be made after the rate of the green vestment at Hunstanton, with the Stranges arms, but that his 3 escutcheons have his father's arms, on the one side, his father-in-law's on the other, and his and his wife's at the tayle. To Barbara his daughter, all his books of law, except the boarded books, to be given to her son, if she have the fortune to have one; his boarded books to the library of Lincoln's-Inn, every one of them to have a scripture of his gift, being a fellow, twice reader and twice treasurer of that Society, and to the chapter of that house, a vestment and an altar cloth, price 10 marks; to his wife the manors of Massingham and Congham, and after her decease to her daughter Barbara, and in default to Richard le Strange, the son of Thomas le Strange; Master William Mordaunt and Barbara his daughter, &c. executors; proved October 23, 1517.

This John is said to have been one of the King's judges.

Barbara, his daughter and heir, married Robert Mordant, Esq. lord of this manor and Congham, in her right, which Robert was eldest son of William Mordant, prothonotary of the Common Pleas, by Jane his wife, daughter and coheir of Thomas Huntington, Esq. of Hempstead in Essex. It appears that in the 21st of Henry VIII. he and his wife held this manor, and lands called Elingham's, Walcote's, Rusteyn's, Geffrey's, Pettygard's and Alexander's, with 30 messuages here and in Congham St. Ann's, St. Andrew's, and All-Saint's, &c. and in this family it still remains, Sir Charles Mordant, Bart. of Walton D'Eivile, in Warwickshire, being the present lord, descended from Sir Osbert de Mordaunt, a Norman knight, lord of Radwill in Bedfordshire, by the gift of his brother, Eustachius de Sancto Ægidio, which he had by the gift of the Conqueror, for his and his father's services at the conquest.

By indenture, dated November 20, in the 3d of Henry VIII. Thomas Thomson, D. D. master of Christ's college in Cambridge, and the fellows, &c. demised to John L'Estrange, of Massingham Parva, Esq. all their lands, tenements, rents, services, fold-courses, in this town, and Harpley, lately belonging to Creke abbey, for 60 years, paying 3l. per ann. and all taxes, tenths, &c.

The tenths were 4l. Deducted 20s.

The temporalities of Castleacre priory were in 1428, valued at 2l. 11s.

Of Creke abbey 6s. 8d.

Of Massingham priory 16s.

The Church is dedicated to St. Andrew; the ancient valor was 15 marks, and paid Peter-pence, 10d. The present valor is 9l. 13s. 4d.

On the outside of the porch are the arms of Thorp, azure, three crescents, argent, impaling Hengrave; argent, a chief indented, gules.

On a gravestone in the chancel, as you enter,

Ossa Edv. Salter, hujus ecclesiæ rectoris Maij 26, 1664.

On a marble gravestone,

Josephus Hacon, Topcroftœ in agro Norf. natus Maij 17, 1603, educatus Cantabr. coll. Eman. cœlis vixit inculpabilis, inculpatus, et orthodoxus hujus ecclesiœ rector, annos plus minus 20 - - - - - - -, and the arms of Hacon, sable, two barrulets, vairy, argent and vert, in chief, a martlet, between two plates.

On another with a brass plate,

Orate p. a'i'a. D'ni. Jacobi Bastard, quondam rectoris istius ecclie, qui totaliter tectum hujus cancelli fieri fecit, et obt. Ao. Dni. 1530, cuj. &c.

In the chancel east window, were these arms, checque, or and gules, a fess, ermine, the old arms of Thorp; checque, or and azure, a fess, ermine, Calthorp; azure, three crescents, argent, Thorp; argent, a chief indented, gules, Hengrave.

Between the arch at the upper end of the nave and the south isle, is an altar monument of gray marble, raised above a yard from the ground, on which have been the portraitures of a man and woman, and that of our Saviour on the cross, with the shields of arms, and a rim of brass, running round it, now all reaved and stolen; probably in memory of John L'Estrange, Esq. and Margaret his wife, beforementioned; and in a window near to it, were the arms of the said John, gules, two lions passant guardant, argent, quartering his wife's, which were the same, with a bendlet over all, or.

Against a pillar, a copartment of marble with the arms of Mordaunt, impaling Talmarsh; argent, a frett, sable;

Sir Charles Mordaunt, knight and baronet, dyed at London, July 10, 1648, aged 33, he was married to Catherine, daughter of Sir Lionel Tallemache, of Helmingham in Suffolk, knight and bart. by whom he had Sir Charles, his eldest son, Kath. Tallemache (dying before her father) John, Henry, (departed also) Elizabeth and Amy.

Here remains in civill trust His beloved bewayled dust, Whose goodness is secure from fear Of finding any sepulchrer.

On a marble gravestone at the east end of the nave,

Hic sublocantur reliquiœ D'ni. Caroli Mordant de Massingham, militis et baronetti, filij et hœredis Rob'ti Mordant militis, de quo D'no Carolo plura ad murum orientalem legantur, 1648.

On another, with the arms of Mordant,

Carolus Mordant baronettus, Caroli Mordant, baronetti, et Katharinœ Taiamach filius, humanitatis et virtutis exemplar, obt. Ao. Dni 1664, die 24 Apr.

Anno œtat. 25, in œternum doloris et amoris monumentum Elizabetha Thori. consors integerrima marmor hoc posuit.

On another,

M. S. — D'na Anna W. Risley de Bedford gen. filia. et hæres D'ni. Johs. Mordaunt de Walton in com. Warw. bar. uxor amans et amata, casta, pia, fidelis, affabilitate, pudicitiâ, et morum suavitate, peramabilis; variolis malignis occidens, mortis evuvias (certâ spe renascendi ad gloriam) hoc subter marmor deposuit.

Obijt prid. non. Junij anno salutis nostrœ 1692, œtatis suœ === bis gravida et semel puerpera, heu nullum reliquit sobolem, quippe alteram in incunabilis, alleram in utero cum matre ademptum lugemus, Penelope quam solam peperit, matrem prœcedens, eodem quiescit sepulchro. Et sic in maternis amplexius dormire videatur. Vita vix inchoata recessit, prid. non. Januar. Ao. Christi incarnati 1690.

Mordaunt bears argent, a chevron between three estoils sable; the crest, on a wreath, a negro's head couped at the shoulder, proper, wreathed about the temples with ribbans, or and azure.


Reginald occurs rector in the 22d of Edward I.

Hugh de Aschewell in 1325 and 1327.

1333, Walter Coleman instituted, presented by Beatrice, late wife of Sir Robert de Thorp.

1338, John Lovesire, by ditto.

John R- - - -, rector was buried in 1374.

1374, William, son of Jeff. de Bumstede, by Thomas de Bumstede, citizen of Norwich.

1401, Edmund Atte Hill, by John Herr of Cambridge.

1432, John Totyll, by Phil. Tilney, of Boston, Esq.

1433, Richard Tydde. Ditto.

1434, William Pyvyle. Ditto.

1458, Henry Abraham, by John Bouchier, on the minority of Elizabeth, heir of Frederic Tylney, Esq.

John Scarlet, rector.

1468, John Palmer, by Humphrey Bouchier and Elizabeth, his wife.

1507, James Bastard, by the Earl of Surry.

1558, Thomas Burre, by Robert Mordaunt, Esq.

1561, Mr. John Nowell, S. T. B. ditto, on June 1, 1556, was dean of Bocking in Essex.

1569, Henry Warren, S. T. B. by the Queen.

1571, Roger Brearwood, by Robert Mordaunt, Esq.

1591, Thomas Hawley, by the Queen, on account of the launacy of James Mordaunt, Esq.

1603, Andrew Pilkington, by Le Strange Mordaunt, Esq.

1616, Edward Thorogood. Ditto.

1620, Thomas Thorowgood, by William Thorowgood, hac vice.

1643, Joseph Hacon, by Sir Charles Mordaunt, Bart. buried in 1662.

Mr — Salter, rector, buried in 1664.

Mr.— Lockwood, rector, buried here 1673.

1715, Thomas Grigson, on the death of Charles Preston, by Sir John Mordaunt.

1725, Charles Squire died rector in 1752.

1752, Ayrmine Stileman, A. M. by Sir Charles Mordaunt, Bart.

1760, Charles Mordaunt, by Sir Charles Mordaunt, Bart.

In 1567, the Lady Anne Hollis, late relict of Sir Thomas Hollis of Flitcham, and wife of Philip Mordaunt, Esq. was here buried.

Catherine, wife of Philp Mordaunt, Esq. buried in 1559.

Barbara, wife of Robert Mordant, Geat. buried in 1581.

Edward Mordaunt, Gent. in 1583, and Robert Mordaunt, Esq. in 1602.


  • 1. Terre Comitis Eustachij—Masincham tenuit Orgar lib. ho. T.R.E. iiii car. t're. semp. v vil. et v bord. et ii ac. p'ti tnc. et post ii car. in d'nio mo. iii semp. i car. ho'um. et quarta pars sal. hic jacet i soc xii ac. t're. tnc. xxiiii ov. mo. cclx. et xxiii porc. tnc. et p. val. xx sol. mo. l. et xx socm. Heroldi in Marsingham de ii car. et dim. semp. v bord. tnc. et p. vi car. mo. iii et val. l sol. Isti ho'es fuer. lib'ati sic tenebat eos Herold. mo. hoc totu' tenet Wido Angevin. Tota ht. i leug. in long. et dim. in lato. et reddit viiid. de gelto de xx sol. Marsingham terr. Regis—De hoc manerio desunt xxv soc. qui aderant T. R. E. cum om'i consuetudine, xx hor. tenet Wido Angevin et hn't ii car. t're. et lviii et quartam partem unius acre.
  • 2. This Sir Edmund Thorp seems to be a judge. King Edward III. impowered John Cavendish, William de Wychingham, William Skipwith, Ham, de Felton, Richard Waldgrave, John Mauteby, Edmund de Thorp, Thomas Gissing, William Clere, and Reginald de Ecles, to try a certain cause between Henry Bishop of Norwich, querent, and persons of Lynn in Norfolk.—Dated June 18, ao. 51.
  • 3. Of this family see more in vol. v. p. 40.
  • 4. Terre Eudonis filij Spiruwin— Masincham tenet B'uoldus quam tenuit S'cula lib. ho. T.R.E. sep. iii. car. t're. tc. viii villi. mo. vii et i s. to. ii car. in d'nio. et mo. et i car. ho'um. et iii car. possunt restaurari sep. v por. et xl. oves et val. xx sol.
  • 5. Regist. Tippes Norw.