Holt hundred: Merston

Pages 426-428

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

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The Bishop of Norwich's manor of Langham extended into this town, and was the principal manor, the patronage of the church being in the see. In the 15th of Edward I. the Bishop claimed, as lord, frank pledge, a gallows, assise of bread and beer, wreck at sea, &c.

It remained in the see till granted to the Crown by act of parliament, in the 27th of Henry VIII. on an exchange of lands with that King and the Bishop, and was granted by King Philip and Queen Mary, January 20, ao. 2 and 3, together with Langham, to Thomas Gresham, Esq.; and by the marriage of his natural daughter, Anne, came to Sir Nathaniel Bacon, Knt. 2d son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, lord keeper of the seal, and by his daughter and coheir, Anne, to Sir Roger Townsend, Bart. and in the said family it remains, the Right Honourable Charles Lord Viscount Townsend being the present lord and patron.

Mary Dutchess of Richmond and Somerset, widow of Henry FitzRoy, natural son of Henry VIII. had an interest here; and by an indenture, dated April 10, ao. 30 of Henry VIII. demised and let to Richard Fulmerston, Gent. her two fold courses in Langham and Merston, with her salt mershes in Merston.

From these marshes and its site, by the great German ocean or sea, the town derives its name.

It appears that she had the Bishop's manors in both the aforesaid towns, and warren, and all the demean lands, &c. and before the grant to Gresham, were let to William Cordel, solicitor general to Queen Mary.

The King's manor of Holt extended also into this village; Guert, a younger brother of King Harold, who was slain in battle with him, had 30 acres and a borderer, with half a carucate, valued at two oras per ann. (fn. 1) (ora was a Saxon coin, some make it to be of the value of 16d. and some more; 15 of them made one pound, as the laws of Canute testify.)

In the reign of Henry III. Jeffrey le Syre held this of the family of De Vaux, and they of the Earl of Albemarle, by the 16th part of a fee. From the Vauxes it came to the Nerfords, and Lords Ross, and has been united many years to the Bishop's manor, as I take it.

Roger Bigot had also, at the survey, a small fee, out of which a freeman had been expelled, containing half a carucate of land, which Turald held under Roger, and 4 borderers belonged to it, with a carucate valued at 20s. (fn. 2)

This has been many years joined to the capital manor.

The tenths were 5l. 4s. Deducted 10s.

The Church is a rectory, dedicated to All-Saints. The old valor was 30 marks, and the priory of Norwich had a portion valued at 13s. 4d. per ann. Peter-pence, 10d.; the present valor is 18l.


In 1289, Robert de Brundishe instituted, presented by the King, in the vacancy of the see of Norwich.

In 1341, Robert de Hales, occurs rector.

1349, Thomas Colyn, by the Bishop.

1361, John de Stowe. Ditto.

1383, Walter Poul. Ditto.

1384, Jann Curson, by the King.

1399, Richard Turner, by the Bishop.

1435, Mr. John Ayr, S.T.B. Ditto.

1443, John Est. Ditto.

1478, Florence, by the Bishop of Clogher in Ireland. Ditto.

1500, John Stanton, by the King.

1507, William Parys, by the Bishop.

Thomas Baker, rector.

1554, William Umfrey, by the assignees of Richard, late Bishop of Norwich.

1556, Richard Marken, by Thomas Gresham, Esq.

1596, Ralph Furnes, S.T.B. by Nathaniel Bacon, Esq.

William Armstead, rector, compounded for first fruits in 1606, presented by Sir Nathaniel Bacon.

Richard Asteley rector.

1736, Theophilus Lowe. Ditto.

1713, William Wilson, on Thomas Nelson's death, by the Lord Townsend.

Lord Viscount Townsend, lord and patron in 1742.


  • 1. In Merstuna Guert de xxx ac. et i bor. et dim. car. et val. ii oras.
  • 2. Terra Rogeri Bigoti—In Marstuna i lib. ho. de dim. car. t're. que tenet Turald. et iiii bor. et i car. et val. xx sol.