Blomefield’s History of Norfolk

Early Wood Norton

Part of this town belonged to the bishops of 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 from the survey. – Norton was a beruite to the bishop of Thetford’s manor [a] of Hilderston, consisting of 200 acres of land, held by 9 villians and 6 borderers, with 2 fervi, 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, 3 borderers , 2 carucates and 4 acres of meadow, &c. and Hugo held this under the bishop. This beruite with the lordships of Hilderton, Geist, Geistweit, belonging to the bishop, were valued together at 13l. viiis. Per ann.

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 Hilderton. 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 Hilderton. 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 see 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 his Nichola his wife, in 1394, and in the said year, Sir Thomas Gyney, &e. were querents, John Curson, junior, and Margery his wife, deforciants, of this manor and the advouson, conveyed to Gyney, and in 1401, Sir Thomas Geyney presented to the church of St. Peters 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 see, 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 of All Saints in this town, in right of this manor, in 1310, and in 1321; in1355, 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, &e. all her right in the manor of Wood Norton, 2 parts of the manor of Yaxham, the homage and dean 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 the town and Themilthorp, of the Earl of Arundel: in the 13thof that king, a fine was levied between Sir John Howard, and Sir John Heveningham, querents, Sir Thomas Gerbege, 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, (b) presented by her assignee, 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 Peters 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; held of them by lease.

Norton Hall

Rainald, son of Ivo, had a lordship held by St.Edmund in the confessor’s time; (c) 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.

(d) Walter Giffard had also 72 acres of land, out of which 3 free men 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 free men was under the protection of Almar, bishop of Norwich.

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 abby of St.Edmunds of Bury, was deprived of their lordship here, by Rainald, son of Ivo.

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

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

John de Norton was lord in the 34 of Henry III. and of Geystweyt, and John his son, was living in the 14 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 Geystweyt, 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 13 of Richard II. it was found that this manor with a messuage, 210 acres of land, 50s, rent per ann. with the advousan of St. Peters church was held by John Rysing, as of the manor of Pencethorp, and of the honour of Clare, and after by Sir Robert Carbonell, as lord of Pencethorp; and that William Norton did not die sized 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. Peters church in 1386.

After this, it was 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. Peters in 1528. – In the 8 of Henry VI. there was an agreement, dated April 20, between William prior of Norwich, &c. and their tenants; 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. Peters as lord, in 1485.

John Bernard, Esq. of Norwich, by his will, dated March 16 1474, bequeaths his body to be buried in 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 collage; the churches of Geyst, Geystwayt, Burgh by Whetacre, St. Laurences, 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 fouldcourse for life,after to be sold by his executors, and the money given to pios uses; his manor in East Dereham called Colbourns, alias Mowles, to be sold, and hisswan 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 1509, Sir Robert Southwell, as lord, presented to St. Peters, and All Saints churches; and in 1533, Sir Richard Southwell to St. Peters, and Sir Richard, by his assigns, presented to All Saints in 1540.

Soon after, May 16, ao. 38 Henry VIII. It was granted to the king, by Sir Richard in exchange for certain abby lands; 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, (e) the Conqueror’s reeve or baliff, had a grant of 50 acres of land; 5 socmen held it of him, who were resident on the land; the tenants had 2 carucates, and 11 acres of meadow, &c. it was always valued at 10s. This came soon after to the Giffards, and so was united to the honor 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 (f) comman pasture, from Ulfs Cross to Horsley Bec; and Jeffrey le Gross, 6 sheep between Jordan de Haghaghs, and Swanton Wood, aqnd confirmed the other common in Norton meer. It appears that Bertrand, son of Warine le Grosss, was father of Jeffrey, and Roland 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 Strangia his mother; Hugh , son of Robert de Byntre, gave lands with a foldcourse and droveway.

By a deed, the prior agreed to pay 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. per ann.

Nigel Sulier, of Hapersburgh, by deed, sans date, gave to the priory of Bromholm, (g) 56 acres of land, with rents, homages and services here, and in Geyst; 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 Byntry, which he held of him in land and pasture at Horsley Bec; (h) 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 the tithe ought to be yearly paid, as well as of corn. Their temporalities valued 4s.

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

Lands in the tenure of John Russel, late belonging to Buckingham priory, granted July 30, ao.i 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 5 of Henry V. as appears by the will of Sir Thomas Geney of Brandeston; – All Saints, the valor of which was 5 marks, Peter-pence 2d. – and St. Peters, the valour 5 marks, Peter-pence, 7d ob both rectories, but St. Peters has been dilapidated long since, and consolidated with All Saints; the present valour of which is 7l. 12s. 2d. ob.

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

In the chancel a gravestone “In memory of Samual Fisher, rector, who died Feb. 17 1691”. – And in the church, one “In memory of Edward Blower, of Wood Norton, gent. 2nd 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”.


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

1321     Vincent de Norton, rector    –    William Gerberge,

1308    William de Ry    –    Philip de Norton

1314     Richard de Glooz    –    ditto

1320    Jeffrey Boteman    –    ditto

1344    Henry de Fordham    –    Vincent de Norton

1349    Thomas de Heydon    –    ditto

1355     Thomas Curson    –    All Saints    –    Roger Gerberge

1356      Robert Curson    –    Elenor late wife of Roger Gerberge

1356      John Hubert    –    St. Peters    –    Vincent de Norton

1357      Richard Nicholls    –    The Bishop, a lapse

1358      William Lacthon    –    The Bishop as guardian of the heir of Roger Gerberge

Thomas Heydon

1359       John de Elford    –    All Saints    –     The Bishop, as guardian of the heir of Roger Gerberge

1361        William de Rolleston    –    St. Peters    –    William Norton

1386       Thomas Makaut    –    John Spoo, and Nichola his wife

1387        John Clerk    –    All Saints    –    William Gerbridge of Wood-Norton

1401        Richard Good    –    St. Peters    –    Sir Thomas Geney

1404        Thomas Ryngsted    –    St. Peters    –    Thomas Geney

John Giffe    –    Occurs rector in the 8th of Henry IV

Roger Philpot

1408        John le Thorpland    –    Sir William Bardwell

1409        Rober Folsham    –    Thomas Gerbridge

1413        John Everard    –    St. Peters    –    Thomas Geney

1414        Robert Hall    –    St. Peters    –    Thomas Geney Esq.

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

John Kelk

1415        John Skarlet    –    St. Peters    –    Thomas Geney

1416        Andrew Valentyne    –    Sir Thomas Geney

1424        Robert Syre    –    St. Peters    –    John Bryston Esq.

1425        Thomas Gloos    –    St. Peters    –    Thomas Crane Esq.

1427        Simon Blake    –    All Saints    –    John Crane

1449        John Thomson    –    All Saints    –    Edmund Dokking and Margaret his wife.

1457        Stephen Paly    –    Alice Crane

1461        John Shyming    –    All Saints    –    Edmund Dokking and Alice his wife.

1472        Thomas Lenn    –    The Bishop, a lapse

1485        Jeffrey Howys    –    St. Peters    –    William Paston Esq. of London

1503        James Ottis    –    All saints    –    John Savaile in right of his wife.

1509        William Hayward    –    All Saints & St. Peters    –    Sir Robert Southwell

1533        Octavian Talbot    –    St. Peters    –    Sir Richard Southwell

1540        John Steel  –  All Saints  –  ditto

1552        Octavian Talbot  –  All Saints  –  Dean and Chapter of Christ Church Oxford

1553        John Sankey  –  ditto

1554        John Scolt  –  ditto

1556        John Dobson  –  ditto

1557        Edward Andleser  –  ditto

1579        Edward Andleser  –  By the Queen, a lapse

1600        William Marshall  –  All Saints & St.Peters  –  By Christ Church, Oxford

1616        John Doughty AM  –  Christopher Sheringham

1664        Nathaniel Gunter  –  Christ Church, Oxford

1683        Samuel Fisher  –  Christ Church, Oxford

1691        William Faswell  –  ditto

1698        Edward Stilling fleet, MD  –  ditto

1708        William Hodgson  –  ditto

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


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