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*^ 




THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



yVoiv Ready. Extra croivn 8vo, 7s. 6d. net. 

CHRONICLES 
OF THEBERTON 

A SUFFOLK VILLAGE 



BY 

HENRY MONTAGU DOUGHTY 

Author of " Frieslatid Meres, " ^'c. 

With an Introduction and Notes by 
The Rev. W. W. SKEAT, Litt.D., &c. 

Professor of Anglo-Saxon in the University of Cambridge. 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 
ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

1910 



TN this book we have the history of a Suffolk parish written 
by one who knows its traditions and loves its soil. Com- 
mencing with the Norman Conquest, when its serfs were still 
sold like its cattle and when it was called by a corruption of the 
older Saxon name, Thewardetuna, we are led carefully down, step 
by step, to the recent date of 1850. The parish has changed very 
little, and that slowly, since the days it was mentioned in the 
Paston Letters. The old tower which was standing in 1066 is 
still part of the Church, and on its outskirts a portion of another 
venerable building (and both of these are included in the illustra- 
tions of this book), the Abbey of Leiston, exists also. Of this Abbey 
we are told much here, for, until the Dissolution, it possessed 
the advowson of Theberton which adjoined it, having acquired it 
in 1373 from Margaret Countess of Norfolk, and it occasionally 
upheld its rights vi et armis. The author puts the whole life of 
the parish in the different centuries before us, giving us details of 
the Church, the incumbents and their difficulties during the Tudor 
and Stuart times, the parish government, the folklore, and even the 
inns. He has much to say of the land owners, and the residents, 
one of whom in remembrance of his happy youth at Theberton 
carried the name of the parish to a suburb of Adelaide in South 

I Australia. He gives moreover extracts from the registers (which 
' date from 1 548) showing the names of the parishioners, and 
indicates by the prices and valuations which he quotes the gradual 
progress of luxury and comfort. When records of the parish have 
been wanting the writer has, from his local knowledge, been 
enabled to fill up the lacuncBhy illustrations from the history of the 
adjoining parishes, and this book, originally intended as the history 
of a small Suffolk community, will be found to be of special interest 
not only to East Anglians, but to all, far and wide, who wish to 
know how their forefathers have fared and carried on parish life 
from the time of the Norman Invasion. 



EXTRACT FROM INTRODUCTION 

By the Rev. PROFESSOR SKEAT 

The law of progress has always involved great and important 
changes. Many of these, especially as regards the pronunciation 
of our language and the history of our spelling, have been so slight 
and imperceptible at the time as to have usually escaped much 
observation ; but constant flux and steady movement produce 
important differences at last. One difficulty of watching events 
consists in the perpetual change of time and place ; and it is for this 
reason that it is a partial gain — because it affords us a steadier 
view — to eliminate one of these elements by making the place 
invariable. This is why it is often of much assistance to peruse 
the annals of a single parish, such as that of Theberton, in order to 
understand how it is fully subject to the general law, changing from 
day to day for the most part imperceptibly, yet not unfrequently 
even violently affected by the shocks of great events. It is extremely 
interesting to note, in the following pages, several instances in 
which even a quiet parish has passed through its trials. See, for 
example, the remark at p. 8, that "from that act of a pope, who 
died seven centuries ago, our rectors have still to suffer ! " The 
"first prosecution of a poacher" goes back to 1299 (p. 10). In 
1 131 there was "a deadly pest amongst the animals, such as had 
never been in memory of man"' (p. 11). And it was ascribed 
to the appearance in the sky of an exceptionally beautiful exhi- 
bition of the aurora borealis. Much interest attaches to the prices 
of wheat and bullocks in 1281 and 1288 (p. 22). A pheasant cost 
as much as a goose. In 1348-9 came the terrible Black Death, 
when " harvests rotted upon the ground " (p. 24). Few of us realise, 
even in a slight degree, the many comforts of life which we moderns 
enjoy. Even the peasant may now protect his windows with glass ; 
but the medieval noble, who knew but little privacy, often had to 
dine in hall, protected only by a clumsy hood, or not at all, from 
the horrible draughts pouring through apertures in the cold stone 
wall. " How women got on without pins is hard to imagine " 
(p. 30). There is a strange story about the arrest of the rector of 



Theberton in his own church, whilst he was celebrating divine 
service, on Ascension Day, 1445 (p. 55). In 1528, we have the 
trials of two " wise women," who pretended to effect cures (p. 63) ; 
and somewhat later, of a wizard who practised divination by help 
of a sieve and a pair of shears (p. 65). In 1514, the new hand- 
guns were challenging the use of the bow ; but the parliament 
decided in favour of the latter (p. 69). 

These are a few specimens of the multifarious kinds of inform- 
ation to be here found ; all within the first 70 pages. It would be 
easy to multiply them largely ; but I hope enough has been said 
to recommend to the reader a careful perusal of the whole volume. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

The Old Round Tower, Theberton Church. 
Church of St. Mary de Insula. 
A Survivor of the Old Deer Park. 
Framlingham Castle. 
'The Font, Theberton Church. 
Leiston Abbey in 1781. 
The Church Farm. 
"The Stone to sitt upon." 
George Doughty Esquire. 
Norman Door, Theberton Church. 
Theberton Hall. 

MAPS. 
Tylers Green. 
Winters Heath. 
The Commons of Theberton in 1824. 



London: MACMILLAN AND CO, Ltd. 



-riKi: 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/chroniclesofthebOOdougiala 



CHRONICLES OF THEBERTON 




Thk Old Round Tower, IHkbkkton Church. 



CHRONICLES 
OF THEBERTON 

A SUFFOLK VILLAGE 



BY 

HENRY MONTAGU DOUGHTY 

Author of ^^ Friesland Meres" &'c. 

With an Introduction and Notes by 
The Rev. W. W. SKEAT, Litt.D., &c. 

Professor of Anglo-Saxon in the University of Cambridge 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

1910 



Richard Clav and Sons, Limited, 

bread street hill, r.c, and 

bungav, suffolk. 



DA 



TO MY FRIENDS IN THEBERTON 



Theberton Hall, 

April, 1 9 10. 



825854 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

Introduction xiii 

Chapter I i / 

Theberton in Doomsday — Aspect of the Country — Our Round 
Tower — Death of William the Conqueror — The First Leiston 
Abbey — Slaves in Theberton — Forgotten Sites — Monastic Land- J 

owners in Theberton — Our Earliest Poacher — Superstition and 
Cattle Plague — Customs of the Manor — The Great House of Bigod 
— Edward II. Patron of the Benefice — Early Rectors — Devolution 
of the Advowson. 

Chapter II 17 

The Black Death— A XlVth Century Assessment— Theberton 
Jurors in 1341 — The Parish in the XlVth Century — Earnings and 
Cost of Living — Wages and Prices — Great Fluctuations in Prices — 
Suffolk Farming — Standards of Comfort — Homes of the Period — 
Has our Manhood Degenerated? — Mediaeval Manners — Domestic 
Industries — Home Defence — Ancient Local Place Names. 

Chapter III 33 

The Jenney Family — ^Word Pictures from Chaucer — Nature's 
Gentlemen — The Old Theberton Deer Park — Deer for Food and 
Sport — The Modern Park Tithe Free — Venison from Framlinghani 
Castle — A Park Keeper's Diary— The Frenche Quene and the 
Cardinal — Heveningham Park — Concerning Appropriations. ^ 

Chapter IV 45 . J ^^ . 

The Theberton Appropriation— The Pope's Usurped Power— Wb^^l}''^ 

The King presents Rectors — The Appropriation Invalid — How 
Invalidated? — Successive Rectors — Presentation of John Doonwych 
— Proceedings against Doonwych — An Affray in Theberton Church 
— Holy Thursday a.d. 1445 — Fifteenth Century Fashions — An " p 

Outrageous Abbot. ^^ hMLCti 4l^^A 

Chapter V . . .'TT?. 58 

Theberton Wills — A Church Ale and a Trental —Visitations of 
Leiston Abbey — Local Names of Leiston Monks — Courts Christian 
and Apparitors — "Wise Women" in the XVIth Century^ 
Drynkynges — A Clerical Wizard — A Monkish Conspiracy — The' 
Conspiracy Fails — A Rector's Testament — The Religious Renais- 
sance — Longbow versus Caliver. 









1^ 



viii CONTENTS 

Chapter VI 71 

" Tithes Forgotten "—Theberton in the Star Chamber— Abbot's 
"Assault and Grievous Affray" — Taxable Men of Theberton — 
A Great Change Impending — "Poverty their Captain" — After 
the Dissolution — ^John Grene the Hermit — The Paraphrase of 
Erasmus — Walking the Perambulation — The Soke of Leyston — 
Tenants of the Soke versus Browne — Claim for Common Rights. 

Chapter VII 85 

A Martyrdom at Yoxford — Our Earliest Parish Register — An 
Old Theberton Lawsuit — Concerning Theberton Hall — Parish 
Topography — The Ingham Family — Communicants and Recusants 
— Agricultural Prosperity — An Elizabethan Farmer's Belongings — 
The Church Farm — State of Highways A. D. 1 555 — The Eastbridge 
Inn A.D. 1589 — Our Old Church Bells. 

Chapter VIII 99 

Christmas Festivities — Holloaing Largesse— Suffolk Fair Maids — 
Theberton Christian Names — Old Theberton Surnames — Eliza- 
bethan Magistrates — Poachers and Game Preservation — Payment of 
Members of Parliament — A Theberton Parson's Will — Presentation 
of William Fenn — Troublous Times. 

Chapter IX in 

The Book of Sports— Bull-Baiting— Betwixt the Two Bundles of 
Hay — The Great Protestation — The Eastern Association — The 
Solemn League and Covenant — Scandalous Ministers — Parson Fenn 
Summoned — Sequestration of the Rectory — Fenn's Case Considered 
— Death of Parson Fenn — Commissioners Sitting at Eastbridge — 
A Wreck off " The Sluice"— Fenn's " Herbi^e Book"— The 
Rectory in 1635 — A Flood of Superstition, 

Chapter X 127 

Witches Hanged at Aldborough — Superstition at Theberton — A 
Digression about Weasels — The Directory — The Engagement — 
Profanity Expensive — The Rolls of the Manor — Marriage by 
Magistrates — Our Parish Soldier — Theberton Parish Accounts — 
The Plague Year — Bartholomew Confessors — Hue and Cry at 
Theberton. 

Chapter XI 141 

Our Man-of-War Parson — The Battle of Sole Bay — Noise of 
Battle at Theberton — Oboli and Quadrantes — Customs of Tithing — 
Attending the Generals — The View of Frank Pledge — The " Stone 
to Sitt Upon " — Contents of a XVIIth Century Cottage — Edmund 
Bohun of Westhall— Labourers' Wages in 1682— The " Pariter." 

fyit Chapter XII 154 






\^^ 



^ 



Repairs to the Church — Fees for Chirurgioning — Assessment for 
Poll Tax — The Archdeacon's Prandium — Tyler's Green — A Tax on 
Bachelors — The Last Jenney of Theberton — Parish Apprentices — 
"Noyful Fowells and Vermyn" — Concerning Briefs — The Moll 
House. 



CONTENTS ix 

Chapter XIII i66 

Primitias or First Fruits — Coronation Festivity — Linen Weaving 
— Parish Republics — Duties of Parish Constables — Phaba Booth's 
Penance — Appointment of a Parish Clerk — Phaba Married — 
Influence of Justices — Fuel for the Poor — Peat from the Common 
Fen — Herbs for Physic. 

Chapter XIV 179 

Dipping for Lameness — Purchase of a "Dog Wipe" — Pluralist 
Parsons — The Complaint of " Orthodoxus " — A Parish Doctor's 
Bill — Repairing the Tombs — The Bear Way — Hall and Park 
House— A Potash Office — The Bell Brook — Vitality of Whin Seeds 
— Crofts and Tofts — Incorporation of Blything Union — Riot at 
Bulcamp Workhouse — Theberton Rioters. 

Chapter XV 195 

A Forgotten Sport — Setting Partridges — How it was Done — 







\ \h 



Shooting, Old Style and New — Suffolk in India — The Brick House ft> \V V 
— A Theberton Empire Builder — An Australian Theberton — \lry v 



r 



Balloting for the Militia — Hard Times— Parish Topography — Con- 
templated Enclosure of Commons — Theberton Enclosure Act — 
Concerning Parish Rights — Tylers Green and Winters Heath — 
More's the Pity. 

Chapter XVI 212 

"Legalised Spoliation" — New Parish Roads — Who were Bene- 
fited? — Minsmere Level — Church Plate in 1801 — The Company of 
Singers — Our Last Parish Clerk — The Church of the People — Old 
Gravestones — Theberton House — Rules for a Holy Life — A 
Theberton Statesman. 

Chapter XVII 225 

The Last Parish Perambulation — A Parish Emigrant — Education 
Past and Present — Commutation of Tithes — Value of Theberton 
Tithes — Untrustworthy Terriers — A Poet Rector — The Church 
Restored— The Gleaning Bell— The End of the Story. 

Notes by the Rev. Professor Skeat 241 






LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



The Old Round Tower, Theberton Church Frontispiece 

Church of St. Mary de Insula . 

A Survivor of the Old Deer Park 

Framlingham Castle . 

The Font, Theberton Church 

Leiston Abbey in 178 i 

The Church Farm 

"The Stone to sitt upon" 

George Doughty Esquire . 

Norman Door, Theberton Church 

Theberton Hall 



MAPS. 

Tylers Green ..... 

Winters Heath 

The Commons of Theberton in 1824 



To face 


page 


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11 


11 


38 


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42 


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56 


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5> 


78 


5> 


5> 


96 


» 


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148 


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196 


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232 


Toface 


page 


208 


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210 
214 



ERRATA 

Page 26, line 6 from foot, for " Bedingfield " read "Beding- 
feld." 

Page 28, lines 2 and 4, transpose the words " hall " and 
•• bower." 



INTRODUCTION 

By the Rev. PROFESSOR SKEAT 

Our history is full of great events, and extends, since 
the time of Caesar, over more than nineteen hundred 
years ; but the more important part of it, considered as 
it affects us at present, is comprised within the modern 
period. Students of the history of our language usually 
consider this as beginning, for practical purposes, with 
the accession of Henry VII.; and it was near the 
beginning of the eighth year of his reign that Columbus 
discovered San Salvador. The events of the last four 
hundred years concern us therefore most nearly ; but 
there is also much that we cannot rightly appreciate 
without some acquaintance with the laws, manners, and 
customs of medieval times. 

The law of progress has always involved great and 
important changes. Many of these, especially as regards 
the pronunciation of our language and the history of 
our spelling, have been so slight and imperceptible at 
the time as to have usually escaped much observation ; 
but constant flux and steady movement produce import- 
ant differences at last. One difficulty of watching events 
consists in the perpetual change of time and place ; and 
it is for this reason that it is a partial gain — because it 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

affords us a steadier view — to eliminate one of these 
elements by making the place invariable. This is why 
it is often of much assistance to peruse the annals of a 
single parish, such as that of Theberton, in order to 
understand how it is fully subject to the general law, 
changing from day to day for the most part impercept- 
ibly, yet not unfrequently even violently affected by the 
shocks of great events. It is extremely interesting to 
note, in the following pages, several instances in which 
even a quiet parish has passed through its trials. See, 
for example, the remark at p. 8, that " from that act of 
a pope, who died seven centuries ago, our rectors have 
still to suffer ! " The " first prosecution of a poacher " 
goes back to 1299 (p. 10). In 1 131 there was "a deadly 
pest amongst the animals, such as had never been in 
memory of man" (p. 11). And it was ascribed to the 
appearance in the sky of an exceptionally beautiful 
exhibition of the aurora borealis. Much interest attaches 
to the prices of wheat and bullocks in 1281 and 1288 
(p. 22), A pheasant cost as much as a goose. In 
1 348-9 came the terrible Black Death, when " harvests 
rotted on the ground " (p. 24). Few of us realise, even 
in a slight degree, the many comforts of life which we 
moderns enjoy. Even the peasant may now protect his 
windows with glass ; but the medieval noble, who knew 
but little privacy, often had to dine in hall, protected 
only by a clumsy hood, or not at all, from the horrible 
draughts pouring through apertures in the cold stone 
wall. " How women got on without pins is hard to 
imagine" (p. 30). There is a strange story about the 
arrest of the rector of Theberton in his own church, 



INTRODUCTION xv 

whilst he was celebrating divine service, on Ascension 
Day, 1445 (p. 55). In 1528, we have the trials of two 
'* wise women," who pretended to effect cures (p. 63) ; 
and somewhat later, of a wizard who practised divination 
by help of a sieve and a pair of shears (p. 65). In 15 14, 
the new hand-guns were challenging the use of the bow ; 
but the parliament decided in favour of the latter 
(p. 69). 

These are a few specimens of the multifarious kinds 
of information to be here found ; all within the first 
70 pages. It would be easy to multiply them largely ; 
but I hope enough has been said to recommend to the 
reader a careful perusal of the whole volume. 

WALTER W. SKEAT. 



V 



CHRONICLES OF THEBERTON 



CHAPTER I 

It seems a far cry back to the days of William the 
Conqueror ; but thus deep must we delve to find the 
earliest notice of Theberton. 

When William felt himself secure in his saddle, the 
thought came to his mind to have a survey made of his 
new dominion. We learn from the most ancient book 
in the English language — the " Saxon Chronicle " — how 
the king spoke very gravely to his Witan, and that he 
sent scribes throughout England, to write what every 
man possessed in land and in cattle, and how much 
money it was worth ; " no single hide, no rood even of 
land, no ox, nor cow, nor pig, was omitted." All these 
accounts were collected, and together form what we call 
the " Doomsday Book." 

This old book — eight hundred years old — is still 
preserved ; and in it are entries relating to this our parish 
which the Normans called " Thewardetuna," The Saxon 
name had been Theod-beorhtes-tun, the " tun " or farm 
of Theod-beorht, whence Thebbert's-tun, and dropping 
the s Thebbert-ton. Theod-beorht was pronounced 
Tibert by the Normans, whence another form, Tibberton. 

B 



2 THEBERTON IN DOOMSDAY 

That corruption fell off, and Theberton, as now written, 
faithfully preserves the name of the " tun " as Thebbert " 
himself pronounced it a thousand years ago. ^ 

Mentioned too, in " Doomsday," is the manor, which is 
still in being. It was old even then, having come down 
perhaps from Theod-beorht. At the time of the survey, 
a man named Hubert held it under the great Robert 
Malet, of whom we shall read later on. In the days of 
Edward the Confessor, there had been one free man in 
Theberton, whose name was Suart Hoga, who held sixty 
acres under one Ulf, son of Maning Suart ; and there 
had been one plough, and two acres of meadow land put 
at £i a year ; but William's surveyor found the 
plough no longer ; .the land had dropped out of cultiva- 
tion, and the value had fallen to but los. a year. 

The plough, I think, implied as much " earable " land 
as a team of eight oxen and one plough could work in a 
twelve-month, which might perhaps be one hundred 
acres. The present area of Theberton, probably much 
the same as in the Conqueror's time, is something under 
two thousand acres ; so we must picture some nineteen 
hundred acres of natural country — wild heath, fen and 
forest, with, in the midst of it, about one hundred acres 
of clearing. 

And as was this, so were the adjacent manors ; each 
for the most part waste ; and the wastes together formed 
a vast wilderness, dotted with oases, cultivated like 
ours of Theberton. Good harbour was there for wild 
game — red, fallow,^ and roe deer, wolves, and wild boars, 
beavers, and perhaps bears. Herds of tame swine also, 
in the charge of Saxon swineherds like Gurth of Ivanhoe, 

' This on the high authority of Professor Skeat, for whose kind 
help I am greatly indebted. 

2 Fallow deer are supposed to have been introduced by the 
Romans. 



ASPECT OF THE COUNTRY 3 

battened on beech-mast and acorns, as swine do to this 
day, during the pannage months, in what was then in 
fact as well as name the New Forest. Rude huts there 
must have been for herdsmen and ploughmen ; and no 
doubt near the sea, and on the shores of the estuary 
now the Minsmere Level, were other cots for fishermen, 
who, in wicker hide-covered coracles, used to go fishing 
for herrings. 

Poor cabins all such dwellings then, though maybe 
neither cold, nor, judged by the barbarous standard of 
those days, quite comfortless. Bits of garden, yards 
they called them — we Suffolk folk call them yards still 
— were about them, and sheds, too, for cow or pony. 
Men built their own dwellings and sheds. Material was 
plentiful and nigh to hand, wood out of the forest for 
" house bote " and " hedge bote," clay under foot fit for 
daubing, and reeds from the nigh fen for their thatch- 
ing. No roads worthy the name then existed, only rutty 
tracks here and there, worn by solid cart wheels, and 
paths, mere forest trails, for foot people. 

There doubtless stood a church in our clearing, built 
by some Saxon lord of the manor, of rough logs prob- 
ably, and thatched with reeds ; and near it, perhaps even 
touching it, stood an ancient tower. 

Such towers were many in East Anglia, mostly 
placed either near the sea ; or by those first highways of 
an uncleared country the courses of rivers ; or near the 
great high roads, which the Romans during four 
centuries had driven through all obstacles. No quarri- 
able stone is found in these parts for corners, so copying 
Roman work such as the half-round bastions of Burgh 
Castle, our Saxon ancestors picked flints from off the 
land, bedded them in concrete, and built their towers 
round. " Rounde maad in compas " were they, like the 

B 2 



4 OUR ROUND TOWER 

" Tower of Jelousie," the mortar perhaps compounded 
like Chaucer's prescription : 

". . . Of licour wonder dere 
Of quykke lyme persant and egre 
The which was tempred with vynegre." 

At all events, one finds the mortar now as hard nearly 
as the flint stones. These round towers must have been 
the work of able craftsmen, so many of them still, after the 
storm and stress of centuries, standing strong as ever. 

Like most of its compeers, our round tower of Theber- 
ton stands on a conspicuous site, put there to serve 
not only for a stronghold against sea rovers, but as a 
landmark too, and a lighthouse to guide wayfarers 
through an intricate forest. Afterwards, when men 
needed a church for worship, and to serve as a store- 
house for treasures, they built it close to their tower, in 
which they then hung bells. Our Suffolk towers thus 
came to resemble in their usefulness the noble Irish 
Round Towers. 

Just when the primitive log church gave place to a 
better we cannot tell with certainty, but that the nave 
and the westernmost half of the present chancel were 
built not long after the Conqueror's time is probable ; the 
north door is a fine piece of Norman, and an accomplished 
architect, my late friend Mr. St. Aubyn, showed me 
good Norman work as far east as to half the length of 
the chancel. 

A church at Theberton, dedicated to St. Peter, was 
taken note of in "Doomsday " ; and there was then a house 
for the parson, and glebe, perhaps the selfsame fields as 
now, computed at fifteen acres ; acres were then uncertain 
quantities, there are twelve statute acres at the present 
day ; the benefice was put at 40 marks or ;^26. 13^. ^d- 
a considerable income at the then value of money. 



11 



DEATH OF WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR 5 

A year after his great survey, King William died in 
Normandy. In those days news travelled slowly, few of 
the laity could even read ; so our forbears in Theberton 
may have heard nought of the king's death till their n 
priest from the steps of the altar — there were no pulpits / 
then — announced to them that his son had been crowned / 
"aFWestminster, and that he had given sixty pennies to 
Theberton and every other country church, for his soul's 
sake. 

A masterful lord had been William, " mild " indeed 
" to those good men who loved God, severe beyond 
measure to those who withstood himself." " In his 
time," says the contemporary chronicler, " any man who 
was himself aught, might travel through the kingdom 
with a bosom-full of gold unmolested, and no man durst 
kill another, however grievous the injury he might have 
suffered." 

It helps to bring home to one how different an England 
our far-away ancestors lived in, and how different they 
were from ourselves, when one recalls that even the 
language they spoke would at this day sound foreign to 
our ears. English has been so changed in the course 
of long centuries that we have to learn the old words — 
Anglo-Saxon we call them now — as one learns Dutch, 
by the help of dictionary. The parish priest of Theberton 
was no doubt a Saxon— an Englishman — and made his 
announcement in good English to English folk, but we 
moderns could not have understood a word of it. 

One thing that old time priest, whose name even is 
forgotten, had in common with our modern parsons ; he 
was not forbidden to have a wife and family. Not long 
after it was ordered by William of Corboyl Archbishop 
of Canterbury and all the bishops of England, that 
priests should abandon their wives ; but the chronicler 



6 THE FIRST LEISTON ABBEY 

adds that they all kept their wives just as before, and 
that by the King's permission. 

Towards the close of Henry H's reign, in 1182, a 
house of religion made its first appearance on the 
borders of our parish among the swamps of the river 
Myssemeare. Now, the swamp is laid dry, but the walls 
of the Abbey church still stand upon an eminence rising 
above the green level as if still an island. Tidal waters 
did indeed ebb and flow round the desolate spot, when 
by a deed yet existing, William de Valleines gave land 
to the Church by the name of the " Church of St. Mary 
de insulel." The Abbey was founded by a Suffolk worthy, 
Sir Ranulph de Glanvil, a great lawyer to whom our 
earliest law book is attributed, a knightly warrior, captor 
of King William the Lion of Scotland, Justiciary, Regent 
of the Kingdom, one of King Henry H's executors. 
His supposed birth-place is the parish of Stratford near 
our market town, Saxmundham. He died doing his 
devoir under Cceur de Lion at Acre. 

By the twelfth century, the monastic virtues were 
mayhap declining, but Ranulph introduced a new order 
of special sanctity, a late graft upon the primitive stock 
of that father of monks St. Benedict. St. Norbert, 
founder of the new order, was Archbishop of Magdeburg, 
where travellers should visit his convent, spared by even 
Tilly. He settled his community first in the forest of 
Coucy, where a site was shown him by an angel, the 
pratum monstratum, from which, or from the Norman 
pr^montr^, comes the designation of his order. His 
Premonstratensian or Premontratensian monks who wore 
a white habit, were also known as white canons. 

This house, the first Leyston Abbey, and its two 
successors on a different site, all stood close upon the 
borders of our parish. I have tried to tell their story 




< < 



SLAVES IN THEBERTON 7 

elsewhere, but it is so interwoven with the story of 
Theberton, that I shall have to repeat a little ; and some 
further gleanings from its archives will, I hope, add 
interest to this narrative. 

In the barbarous days of old, we know our country 
was cursed with the blight of slavery. In our now free 
England, as in Russia but yesterday, and the day before 
yesterday in Mecklenburg, Christian men, women and 
children could be bought and sold like cattle. One 
class, the " villeins regardant," only indeed was attached 
to the soil, so that when land was sold they passed as 
part of it ; a lower class " villeins in gross " being 
saleable independently, like any other merchandise. 

Now for one document from the Abbey Chartulary. 
It is a deed whereby one Saer de Biskele granted to the 
church of St. Mary of Leeston ^ and the canons of the 
Premontratensian order serving there, two little woods 
in the parish of Theberton, and together with them one 
Roger the Carter with all his following — Roger and all 
his family, as " villeins regardant," thus passing with the 
land, like any other live stock upon it. 

Take another charter, whereby the same man, Saer de 
Biskele, granted to the same abbot and canons a house 
in Theberton, and certain lands, of which some were 
held by Bernard Herell, together with Bernard himself 
and his following. 

These charters give the names of the two little woods, 

and of the house of Saer de Biskele. The woods were 

called Uphalheg and Chiltre, and the house was known 

as Kaldham. And other charters deal with other lands, 

called Mikel Appeltun, and a wood Wimundesheg. 

^ Professor Skeat is of opinion that this place-name is derived 
from an A. S. form Leastun — "the meadows farm." Hence- 
forward, the several spellings of the name found in the several 
authorities for the time under consideration are used in the text. 



8 



FORGOTTEN SITES 



Would we could identify them ; I have found a wood 
called "Childer wood," in a royal grant of 1557, but 
it is exasperating that this, as well as the other old 
names, have now dropped out of memory. We read also 
in the charters, of land then lying " in mord" and of one 
acre described as "one very poor acre," in Theberton. 
Can it be that this moor of Theberton was the "dry 
common " of more recent times ? As to the " very poor 
acre," of such acres ploughable by two rabbits and a 
knife, there are too many still on the east side of the 
parish. 

The chief landlords in Theberton about this period 
were : — the famous house of Bigod, one William always 
referred to as the son of Alan, our friend Saer de 
Biskele, and lastly the Abbey and Convent of Leystone. 

In the year 1200, we find that Roger le Bigod 
conveyed to William the son of Alan half a knight's 
fee — equal to six plough lands (otherwise hides or 
carucates) for the life of William. 

In 1224, the Abbot of Leystone held lands in the 
parish, and, on an inquisition held in 1 274, his holding 
then seems to have been thirty acres. 

For Leystone Abbey lands no tithe was payable, as 
the estates of the Premontratensians had been then lately 
exempted by Innocent III ; and from that act of a 
Pope, who died seven centuries ago, our rectors still have 
to suffer! A statute of Henry VIII, having provided 
that persons who at the Dissolution should come into 
possession of dissolved Abbeys' lands should hold them as 
free of tithes as their old monastic owners had held them, 
has had this consequence : that 108 acres, 2 roods, and 
17 perches in the parish of Theberton, formerly property 
of the Abbey of Leystone, are now held tithe free by the 
present lay owners. There are yet other lands besides, 



vV^/J 



t;r!, rr, '} 



MONASTIC LANDOWNERS IN THEBERTON 9 

in the parish, exempt for quite other reasons as we shall 
see later, from which our parson draws no tithe rent 
charge. 

At that time, the law permitted religious communities 
to hold land, and estates had long been accumulating 
in their hands. The mischief of it was, that areas vast 
in the aggregate, became inalienable, a dead hand it was 
said laid upon them, which was against the interests 
both of the feudal lords and of the Crown. At last, 
the evil increasing, that great legislator Edward I 
determined to apply a remedy. A Parliament, 
summoned by him for that object in 1279, enacted 
that thenceforth none should sell, give, bequeath , ^"^ 

or exchange lands to any religious body without the \ 2^ f yt 
King's licence. This Act, the famous Statute of I 

Mortmain, however obnoxious to their cupidity, the 
monks had not dared oppose, lest some worse thing 
should befall them ; the mendicant orders had favoured 
it ; and on all his subjects, both lay and clerical, had 
fallen a great awe of the resolute King. This illustra- 
tion is historical : — When pressing on a further Act, 
it came to the King's ears that ominous murmurs were 
heard in the Monks' Hall at Westminster. Edward 
would brook no murmurers. A knight, one Sir John 
Havering, sent by the King, marched into the Hall, 
and thus spoke he : " Reverend Fathers, if any of you 
dare to contradict the King's command, let him stand 
forth that his person may be taken note of, as a known 
peace breaker of the kingdom." Silence fell upon all ; 
only one man, William Montfort, Dean of St. Paul's, 
so greatly dared as respectfully to request an audience. 
It was granted, but, entering Edward's awful presence, 
such terror overcame the dean that he fell dead, so the 
record tells us, at the grim monarch's feet. 



/> 



10 OUR EARLIEST POACHER 

Soon, occasion arose in this little parish of ours 
to put the law in force. In 1289, one John de Livermere 
and his wife Matilda desired to grant a messuage and 
thirty acres of land in Theberton to Nicholas the Abbot 
and the Canons of Leystone, and for this they had to 
obtain, and did in fact obtain, a licence from the King. 
Again, in 13 12, we find that the same John and Matilda, 
having, together with other persons, conveyed some 
lands to the Abbey without the King's licence, the royal 
pardon had to be sued for, and was, probably for weighty 
reasons, granted. 

In 1299, occurred the first prosecution of a poacher 
I have found recorded. The Abbot of Leyston im- 
pleaded a certain man John, for trespassing and driving 
off the hares from his manor — the manor of Leyston. 
That same John afterwards farmed Abbey lands in 
Theberton. Since John's time such " dampnacionis filii 
spiritu diabolico seducti" — as, ages afterwards. Bishop 
Rede called poachers, have never been wanting in 
Theberton. 

That abbot's successor, John de Glemham, acquired 
from John le Bigod de Stockton the right of free warren 
in the parish of Theberton, which enabled him and his 
monks, " lovers of venerye," to hunt beasts and fowls 
of warren — hares, rabbits, pheasants, partridges — over 
lands which did not belong to them. 

Parliament, by the Statute of Mortmain had thought 
to bind the religious orders ; but the fetters it forged, the 
monks snapped like pack thread. However strong the 
law, their ingenuity found means to evade it. Quite 
regardless of the Statute, they went on adding field 
to field, taking conveyances, not to themselves direct, 
but into the names of trustees for them. We are 
not without instances. In 1300 and 1305, one John 



SUPERSTITION AND CATTLE PLAGUE 11 

de Leystone, whose name we shall meet later, became 

such a Trustee (pro Abbate) of lands in our parish. 

And in 1345, Richard de Bunstede, and in 1357, William Cgt) 

Scarlett and others, became respectively trustees in like \a r i 

manner for the Abbey. At last Parliament put an end " [ 

to the practice by an Act of 1391. 

One often hears it said what good times our fore- 
fathers had in these early Middle Ages. It is an idle 
tale, inspired by ignorance. The truth is that oppression 
and cruelty raged ; battle, murder, and sudden death 
were too awfully familiar; agriculture was in its 
rudiments ; no grain for food was imported ; sanitation 
was not even thought of; and spectral shapes of 
famine, plague, and pestilence stalked through the land. 
Men lived in the darkness of ignorance, fear, and 
superstition ; they imagined baleful portents in the 
heavens, and real calamities too frequently followed. 

This by way of illustration : One night after Christ- 
mas 1 131, people were awakened from sleep by a 
portentous spectacle — the northern half of the heavens 
lit up with burning flame ! That same year brought 
a deadly pest amongst the animals, such as had never 
been in memory of man. It fell on cattle and on 
swine chiefly, so that in a township where ten or 
twelve ploughs had been kept (ploughing then was 
done by oxen), not one survived ; and a man who had 
owned two or three hundred swine, had not one left. 
After that, the hens died, and flesh meat became scarce, 
and cheese too, and butter. The whole country 
suffered ; Theberton cannot have escaped. " God mend 
the state of things when such shall be His will," prayed 
the devout old chronicler, a monk of the great Abbey 
of Peterborough. Simple, superstitious old monk ! 
Celestial aurora borealis, bright and beautiful " Merry 



1« CUSTOMS OF THE MANOR 

Dancers " — how could he have regarded them as 
portents of calamity ? I have met with no earlier 
case of swine fever and cattle plague. 

Those were the dark ages indeed ; yet through the 
mirk of them, and despite their distance, the concen- 
trated lights of history enable us to discern a slow process 
of development. True, there were constant reactions, 
waves advanced, receded, but the tide was rising. 

The status of the serfs was, from one cause and 
another, by degrees improving. The "villeins re- 
gardant " were commuting personal service for money. 
Their payments were recorded on the rolls of the 
manor, and, at last, copies of the rolls grew to be 
title deeds. One generation gained a bit, and the next 
a bit more. At first, the lord could at pleasure oust a 
villein who held, in the lawyers' quaint Norman French, 
" solonque la volonte le seigniour " — absolutely at will. 
But in time there came to be added, qualifying that 
formula, this other term, " according to the custom of the 
manor." The customs of the manor crystallised, pre- 
cedent followed precedent, till in the end, the copyholder 
could eject even his lord, if he trespassed on his holding. 
The " villein in gross " too, slipped more and more out 
of the yoke of slavery, and stood at last on his own feet 
as a free labourer. 

To each generation in our quiet village, change was, we 
may suppose, hardly perceptible ; things would seem to 
go on much as usual. There were the two time-out-of 
mind authorities, manorial and religious. There never 
failed to be a lord of the manor ; and one " person of the 
parish " succeeded another. 

The manor courts were held, no doubt, regularly by 
the steward ; for seldom would the lord himself preside ; 
the suitors would know only the steward. A non-resi- 



THE GREAT HOUSE OF BIGOD 13 

dent lord would be little more than a name. Of our 
manor the lord was non-resident and a foreigner to 
boot, but he — Robert Malet, Robert the Hammer, the 
Norman who had buried Harold by the sea-shore — was 
such a famous warrior, and so vast were his possessions, 
that when he tumbled from his high estate, his fall must 
have shaken the ground even of remote Theberton, 
Two hundred and twenty-one manors had he in 
Suffolk. A defeated rebel, he lost them all, they were 
forfeited to the King. 

How long this manor of Theberton continued in royal 
hands I do not know, but not later than King John's 
time ; for in his reign, and through the reigns of suc- 
ceeding Plantagenets, on to King Henry V's time, we 
know it was held by Bigods. 

They too, for a long period, were owners of the 
advowson. Probably, they held it as appendant to their 
manor ; but, on such evidence as is available, I cannot 
trace its devolutions in their hands before the fourteenth 
century. 

The earliest dealing with the advowson that I have 
found, was effected by an ancient charter, which is pre- 
served in our great treasure house the British Museum. 
By this charter the same William son of Alan whom 
we have met before, granted to the Leyston canons the 
church of St. Peter of Theberton, which was then in his 
fee. Charters in those days bore no dates, but Mr. 
Jeayes, of the MSS. Department of the Museum, tells me 
that the names of the witnesses (Hubert, bishop of 
Sarum, and Radulf archdeacon of Colchester) prove 
that the deed was made between 1189 and 1194. The 
words of William's grant would seem sufficient to have 
passed the entire advowson, but I conjecture that, in 
fact, it passed only some lesser interest, perhaps a next 



14 EDWARD II. PATRON OF THE BENEFICE 

presentation. If the grant had vested the advowson in 
the Abbey, what more unlikely than that monks would, 
unless under compulsion, divest themselves of it ; yet, 
though unluckily, there is a gap just here in our records, 
it is in evidence, that, not a century after the grant, the 
advowson of Theberton was in the hands of the Bigods. 
We know that in 1305, Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, 
presented one Richard de Dodyngtone to the Theberton 
Rectory; and from the inquisition, held in 1306 after 
the death of Earl Roger Bigod, it appeared he had held, 
besides half a knight's fee in the parish, "the church 
of Theberton." 

In 1307, the advowson was in King Edward II, who 
had it, so we learn, by reason that the estates late of 
Earl Roger were in his hands. 

The question arises — how they got into the King's 
hands. And this opens a window, out of our little parish 
into the world. 

The facts are these, Edward the First had called 
upon Roger Bigod, his Earl Marshal, to lead troops out 
to Gascony. He would go cheerfully, he said, if the King 
was himself going, and would march in the van as was 
his right by birth ; but if the King went not, he was not 
bound to serve in arms beyond the limits of England. 

"No! I am not so bound," the Earl hardily insisted, 
" and I will not go without you." 

" By God, Sir Earl, you either go or hang." 

" By God, Sir King, I neither go nor hang." 

The King did not hang him, but so heavy had been 
the cost of the quarrel, that it crippled the Earl ; and in 
the end wrought disaster for the house of Bigod, 
Exhaustion of his resources drove Roger to borrow ; he 
borrowed from his rich brother and heir presumptive, 
John Bigod. Whether the gossip is reliable that he 
planned to spite John for asking repayment we cannot 



EARLY RECTORS 15 

tell. But the fact is certain that the Earl did con- 
trive this compact with the King : the Earl would 
surrender to the King, as his feudal lord, all his 
castles, manors, and lands, and also his titles and 
dignities, upon this condition : that the King should 
defray his debts ; should provide him for life with a com- 
petent revenue — i,ooo marks ; should re-grant to him and 
the heirs of his body the titles and dignities of Earl and 
Marshal ; and, further, should re-grant all the castles, 
manors, and lands to the Earl and Countess Alice his 
wife, and their issue, with remainder to the King himself 
and his heirs. Roger and Alice never had any children, 
so the compact worked out, that when Earl Roger died, 
the dignities of Earl and of Marshal lapsed to the King ; 
and the castles, manors, and lands vested absolutely in 
the King also, subject only to a life estate in Countess 
Alice. The final result being that, not only was John 
disinherited, but the House of Bigod was stripped for 
ever, and beyond recovery, of all their great estates and 
dignities. 

Soon after Roger the Earl's death. King Edward I 
died, and his son Edward II reigned in his stead. 

In 1 306, one " Lebygod " was, it seems, presented to 
Theberton. I guess that this name should be le Bigod, 
and that Countess Alice as tenant for life of the advowson 
presented some member of her late husband's family. 

The benefice was soon vacant again, for in 1307, one 
John de Framlingham was presented, the patron now 
being Edward II, who again in 13 12 presented Laurence 
de Rustene. 

It must be presumed that not long after her husband's 
death Countess Alice had surrendered her life estate in 
the advowson to the King. 

Between de Framlingham and de Rustene, an 
incumbency intervened of John de Trydian a Cornish 



16 DEVOLUTION OF THE ADVOWSON 

man. I suppose that the King presented him, I 
cannot say. 

The rector who succeeded de RuStene was William 
de Neupert, who, in 1316, was presented by Thomas 
called de Brotherton, the then Earl of Norfolk. 

This Thomas, a brother of King Edward II, derived 
his surname of de Brotherton from his birthplace, a 
village in Yorkshire. The King had created him both 
Earl of Norfolk and Marshal of England, and endowed 
him with the estates, which had been surrendered, as we 
have seen, by Earl Roger Bigod, 

Thomas de Brotherton died in 1338, and was buried 
at Bury St. Edmunds ; and, his only son having died 
before him, his estates, which included the Theberton 
advowson, descended to his daughters Margaret and 
Alice, co-heiresses, subject however to the dower of their 
mother Countess Maria, part of which was half of a 
knight's fee in Theberton. Ultimately, these estates 
became the sole property of the eldest daughter Margaret, 
who married firstly John Lord Segrave, and secondly 
the famous Sir Walter Manny. Her seal bears the style 
" Margareta Marischalla, Comitissa Norfolciae." 

All this, I fear, is of the order dryasdust, but the 
facts have to be stated, to introduce personages who, 
Margaret of Norfolk in particular, will take leading parts 
later on in our story. 

It is on record that in 1339 an order passed, to deliver 
the advowson of Theberton to Lord Segrave and his 
wife Margaret the Countess of Norfolk. Lord Segrave 
exercised his rights, by presenting Bartholomew de 
Salle in 1349 and Roger de Eccleshall in 1351 to the 
Rectory of Theberton. 

Sir Walter Manny presented Robert de Iselham to 
the same Rectory in 1361. 



CHAPTER II 

In 1363, Robert Earl of Suffolk, then patron of 
Leyston Abbey, built for the monks a new convent on a 
site more healthful than their island of the Myssemeare 
— an undertaking which doubtless brought work and 
welcome wages to the men of Theberton. That structure 
only stood twenty-six years, being burned down in 
1389 ; and strong arms and deft hands from Theberton 
helped to erect, on the same site, a third Abbey, 
whose ruins we admire still. 

In the meantime, had occurred an event noteworthy 
for our parish — the passing of the advowson of Theberton 
into the hands of the conventual house of Leyston. It 
came to happen in this wise : — 

In 1372, Margaret Lady Segrave, Countess of Norfolk, 
then owner of the advowson, made a grant of it to the 
abbot and canons, in exchange for an annual rent of 
40J. to be paid to her and her heirs ; it being further 
provided that the Abbey should supply two chaplains to 
celebrate daily mass in the church of Theberton. 

These terms were varied ten years afterwards, by 
another charter, whereby the Countess re-granted to the 
Abbey the 40s. rent, and released them from providing 
one of the two chaplains ; in consideration of which, the 
Abbey on their part granted another advowson, that of 

17 Q 



18 THE BLACK DEATH 

Kirkley, to the Countess in tail, with ultimate remainder 
to the King in fee simple. 

From another charter of the same year, we learn the 
pious object of the lady's grant to the Abbey. Done 
into English the charter runs thus : — The Lady 
Margaret the Countess of Norfolk has given to the 
Monastery of Leyston in Suffolk the advowson of the 
church of Theberton ... for the souls of Thomas de 
Brotherton, late Earl of Norfolk g^d Marshal of England, 
and of Lady Alice formerly his consort — father and 
mother of the said Lady Margaret, and for the souls of 
the Lords John de Segrave, and Walter Manny — and so 
forth. 

The name of one rector I have omitted hitherto, 
I know not who presented him. This man, one 
Robert de Warham, became rector in 1330, and his 
next successor was instituted in 1 349 ; so it may be that 
de Warham died a victim to the Great Pestilence of 
1 348 — that awful plague known to after generations as 
the Black Death. In this one diocese alone there 
perished two thousand clergy ; two out of every three 
parishes lost their incumbents ; one- third, some say one- 
half, of the population of the kingdom was swept away. 
In London, no less than fifty thousand corpses were 
buried, in thirteen acres of ground called Spittle 
or Spital Croft, dedicated for that purpose by Sir 
Walter Manny.^ How poor Theberton fared, no record 

' Site afterwards of the Charter House. " John Stow saith that 
he had read this Inscription fixed on a stone cross some time 
standing in the Charter House churchyard: 'Anno Domini 
MCCC. XL. IX. Regnante magna pestilentia, consecratum fuit 
hoc cemiterium in quo et infra septa presentis monasterii sepulta 
fuerunt mortuorum corpora plus quam quinquaginta millia praeter 
aha multa abhinc ad presens quorum animabus propitietur Deus. 
Amen.' " (Weever). 



A XIVth century ASSESSMENT 19 

remains to tell us ; we know that many villages 
were depopulated. 

The year 1341 presents us with a record of much local 
interest. 

Parliament, at the King's request, had granted him a 
tax of the ninth sheaf and fleece and lamb throughout 
England. It was firstly arranged, that the ninths to be 
paid by each parish, should be taken to be equivalent to 
the value of the tithe paid to the Church ; and secondly 
(perhaps to avoid another assessment), that the assess- 
ment which had been made in 1293, the taxatio of 
Pope Nicholas IV, should be deemed the then value of 
the tithes ; except where cause should be shewn why it 
ought to be more or less. 

The taxatio of 1 293 had put the value of the tithes of 
Theberton at the figure they stood at in Doomsday, viz. 
40 marks. The ninths due from Theberton would 
therefore be £26. 1 3^. 4«a?. ; but assessors would have to 
make inquisition, to find what ought to be either added 
or deducted. All this is premised, to make clear what 
next follows : — 

" On Thursday, next before the feast of S.S. Perpetua 
and Felicitas, in the 15th. year of King Edward III 
from the Conquest," an Inquisition was taken at Dunwich 
before the Abbot of Leyston and his companions, 
assessors and collectors. Among the jurors we find 
local names, such as Payne de Halesworth, John de 
Donkwyk (query Dunwich), Jacob de Chediston, Richard 
de Denham, Alan de Henstede, John de Wangford, John 
de Thorpe; and witnesses to the Return were four 
parishioners of Theberton, whose names were : Richard 
Austyn, William Noble, William del Field and Robert 
Poer. The document, Englished, runs on : — " The 



C 2 



90 THEBERTON JURORS IN 1341 

jurors say upon their oaths that the ninths of 
sheaves, fleeces and lambs of the Church (Ecclesie) ^ 
of Theberton are worth ;^io no more; because 
there are in that place {items of clerical income 
which y not being tithes of sheaves^ fleeces or lambs ought to 
be deducted, viz.) 13 acres of land of the endowment 
of the Church, which are worth 13 shillings, at the rate 
of 12 pence per acre; also half an acre of meadow, 
which is worth 12 pence {this I take to represent the 
glebe) ; also oblations for the three great days, with 
other small tithes, which are worth £\ ; also tithe of hay 
worth ^os. ; also tithe of reed and rushes worth 66j. ; also 
tithe of milk and calves worth ^os. ; also tithe of flax 
and hemp worth 26s. 8d. ; also rent Ss. ; also gallin 
de apport {query hens paid as rent) worth i6s. ; also 
tithe of turbary {turf and peat) worth i6s. ^d.; also 
two hundred acres of arable land in the same town 
which used to be cultivated, submerged by the sea, 
whence a ninth is worth 20s." These items added 
together come to £16. i^s., which deducted from 
£26. i^s. 4d. leaves £g. i6s. 4^., the difference between that 
sum and the ;^io being due probably to some clerical error. 

Does not this old Return, apart from its intrinsic 
interest, help us to raise the veil drawn by time over 
fourteenth-century Theberton. 

Then, the Abbot of Leyston was evidently a respected 
personage, not only within, but without the walls of his 
Abbey. The rectory of Theberton was then, as now, 
a fairly good living ; for though £26. 1 35. 4^. at first 
strikes one as absurdly inadequate, yet when one 

* So it is written, but my own opinion, confirmed by good 
authority, is that the word Ecclesie was a slip of the scribe's pen, 
and that villae was really meant. The word " town " is used 
in the record of a similar Inquisition for Framlingham, also taken 
before the abbot of Leyston and others. Hawe's Framlingham. 



THE PARISH IN THE XIVth CENTURY 21 

remembers that £i then, would purchase as much as 
£1$ or ;^20 now,^ it is plain that the parson of 1341 
received much the same in value, as the rent charge 
fixed for his modern successor at the commutation in 
1838. A 14th century parson had " no incumbrances," 
and an income equivalent to ;^400 at least, besides a 
rent-free rectory, would suffice for his needs, with a 
margin over for works of charity and hospitality. 

Judging from the arable portion of the glebe, the 
arable land in our parish was worth about the same as 
now, 1 5 J. to 20s. the acre ; enough hay was grown to 
yield a tithe of ;^30 ; reeds and rushes yielded more than 
half as much tithe again as hay — there were then great 
tracts of reed beds and marshes ; there must have been a 
good head of cattle to produce £$y. los. in tithes of milk 
and calves ; enough flax and hemp was then grown in 
the parish to produce ^20 in tithe ; poultry was kept 
as it is now — perhaps, as now, it was the women's 
perquisite ; peat and turf were used for fuel then and 
long afterwards ; I suppose our marsh lands were always 
liable to floods ; but two hundred acres of drowned 
arable land implies an unusual irruption of the sea. 

So much we learn from this one local document. 
Let us try for a wider view of those far away times. 
Conditions widely prevailing may be safely applied to 
our particular parish. 

Five or six hundred years ago, men had of course, 
as they have now, to earn their bread either by labour, 
or by handicrafts, or trade, and what margin they 
realized between earnings and expenses was the measure 

^ Authorities differ perplexingly as to the purchasing power of, 
say, a fourteenth-century penny. Henceforward, modem money 
equivalents, arrived at, following Professor Skeat, by multiplying 
the ancient figures by 15, will always be used. 




IV 



^ EARNINGS AND COST OF LIVING 

of their comfort. We have therefore to look what 
wages were current, and what the prices were of the 
prime necessity, food. 

Readers will be surprised to find such variations, 
as are well nigh incredible, between districts, between 
successive years and even months, and between one 
harvest and another. Factors, strange to us now, 
governed both wages and prices at that far distant time. 
We moderns have telegraphs, newspapers, good roads, 
railways, steamers ; labour and merchandise can seek 
for and find markets at great distances ; communications 
are easy, and transport cheap. Quite otherwise were 
fourteenth-century conditions ; labour and products of 
labour were rooted to one spot, and there, any surplus 
was dammed up, and could not flow to supplement 
shortage in another locality. Another factor to be 
reckoned with was the system, then moribund but not 
yet dead, of villeinage, which kept workmen at home ; 
and their predial services affecting the price of labour. 
The following figures I offer for what they may be 
worth : — 

In 1 28 1, the price of wheat was 63.?. ^d. the quarter, 
of barley 53J. i\d., of peas, 355'. ^\d.\ a bullock sold 
for 63.?. 9^., the price of a quarter of wheat. Wages 
ruled as follows : for threshing wheat per quarter 3^. 9^^., 
barley \s. \o\d., peas half a crown, for cutting fire wood 
— coals were not in use then — the pay was half a crown. 
Land let as follows : arable land 5^. to lOi-., meadow 
or mowing land at the enormous rent relatively of 
;^3 the acre. 

Seven years afterwards, in 1288 — 1289, we find corn 
was cheaper, wheat 50^. the quarter — this in London ; 
in other parts — a good illustration of how difficult was 
transport — 25.?., 20J., 1$^., los. Barley was ys. 6d., and 



WAGES AND PRICES 28 

oats 5^-. the quarter. Prices of poultry and of game are 
remarkable ; a fat cock or two pullets fetched is. lo^d., a 
goose Sj-., a partridge is. lO^d, a pheasant — no artificially 
reared pheasants then, there are too many now — was 5^., 
a heron — thought not eatable now — fetched ys. 6d., a 
swan — a state dish for banquets — no less than 45^., a 
crane — one sees them in Germany but they are 
extinct here — i$s., two woodcocks is. lo^d. These 
game birds were all got by the sport of hawking, caught 
in ingenious nets, or now and then, perhaps, brought 
down by an archer's " bird bolt." ^ Early lambs were 
reckoned delicacies, for between Christmas and Shrove- 
tide a fat lamb fetched £1, but only 5j. at other times. 

Natural variations of seasons — bad seasons not 
mitigated by any skill of husbandry — wrought violent 
cruel fluctuations in the price of wheat. Happily for 
poor folk, mixtures of oats, tares, peas, rye and barley 
— bulmong, meslin and dragel, and not wheat, formed 
the chief part of their diet. In 131 5, 131 6, and 13 17, 
wheat sold for £1$, £24, £^i, the quarter ! In the last 
of those years when it stood at £2,Zi we read "wheat 
was excessive scarce " — It must have been ! 

In 1336, harvests were abundant, and as the King, 
Edward III, was then commandeering all the cash he 
could squeeze from his subjects, to pay for his wai:s in 
France and Scotland, buyers of wheat were few, and 
prices fell ; the grain sold in London at 30J. the quarter. 
That year, men bought a fat ox for £$, a fat sheep for 
ys. 6d. or los. at the highest, a fat goose for 2s. 6d.^ and 
a pig (weight not stated) for fifteen pence ! 

1 347 saw corn first imported into England. 

^ The earliest notice I have found of guns used for fowling with 
small shot is a Bill to regulate shooting with " hand guns and hail 
shot," passed in 1 548. Shooting flying was not practised, I think, 
before the first quarter of the 1 8th century. 



24 GREAT FLUCTUATIONS IN PRICES 

In 1348, there occurred, so we read, "such a conjunc- 
tion of Saturn with the other planets as could not be 
more than once in a thousand years — a prodigy 
portentous of calamity ; it actually was followed by the 
horror of the Black Death. During that dreadful year, 
a general panic prevailed ; the business of the world 
fell out of gear ; labourers would not work ; employers 
would not, could not pay ; villeins of both classes 
deserted their manors, and turned tramps and vagrants ; 
robbery and violence were rampant ; landlords were 
forced to abate half their rents. Things were sold 
for next to nothing, a horse worth £10 for but 
;^5, a good fat ox £'^, a cow 15^., a heifer or steer 
ys. 6d., a fat sheep 5^,, a ewe 3^. gd., a lamb 2s. 6d. 
Wool, principal produce of the kingdom, fell to i is. id. 
the stone ; it was thought that it carried infection, 
" men were not only afraid of the cattle dying but of 
their own deaths, for otherwise wool need not have been 
so cheap." Harvests rotted upon the ground, and sheep 
and cattle, Mr. Green tells us, strayed through the 
standing corn, and there were none left to drive them. 

Next year, the pestilence and panic were declining, 
and we read that corn and other provisions were already 
plentiful ; wheat again sold, as in the good year of 1336, 
at 30J. the quarter. 

Ten years later, 1359, the price per quarter rose 

to ;^20. 

In 1 36 1 when : 

" Beches and brode okas were blowen to the grounde " 
And " tomed upward ther tallies," 

and the spire of Norwich Cathedral was blown down, 
and the second great pestilence smote the country, wheat 
fell again to los. the quarter. 



SUFFOLK FARMING 26 

In 1369, there was so great a dearth that the grain 
sold at ^18 (another chronicler says ;^IS), barley at 
£12. <,s., and oats at £^ the quarter. 

For 1379, we find wheat at ;^3, a price which now 
would make both farmers and landlords happy. It was 
then thought so cheap, that the low price was urged by 
the Commons as a good argument for refusing Supply. 
Barley that year was 30^'. the quarter and peas i '^s. 

In 1389, wheat was quoted the same, but barley 
dearer at £2. 55-. the quarter, and oats were worth 305-. 

To show what Suffolk farming was like in the 14th 
century, Sir John CuUum's researches prove that in the 
years 1 386-1 388, upon a farm cultivated as well or better 
than the average, sixty-one acres sown with wheat pro- 
duced no more than seventy quarters ; how would that 
suit our modern agriculturists .-' The cost of threshing 
then, was for wheat 55-., and for other grain 2s. 6d. the 
quarter. The harvest wage of a reaper was $s. a day ; 
cutting and tying three acres of wheat cost ^i. Ss. gd., "per 
taskam" — by piece work. Meadows, in 1389, were 
mown for ys. 6d. the acre, and people weeding corn 
earned half a crown a day. 

1390 again was a year of great scarcity. At Hawsted, 
Sir John Cullum says, the yield for an acre was less than 
six bushels of wheat, twelve bushels of barley, the same 
of peas, and five bushels of oats. Prices rose, wheat 
fetched ;^io, barley £^. 2s. 6d., oats £$, peas £6 the 
quarter. Wool fetched 45^., 305-., and down to 2$s. the 
stone ; this, it is true, compares well with the Black 
Death year ; but the price was considered low, and the 
law blamed, by which exportation was forbidden. And 
we find these wages quoted : — for carters and ploughmen 
£j. los. a year, shepherds $s. more. 

Those of us who have passed say their half century, 



«6 STANDARDS OF COMFORT 

have seen the standard raised both of human comfort, 
and also, one regrets to note, of self-indulgent luxury. 
The change in one's own lifetime is quite apparent. 
Great then must be the difference between our standard 
now, and that of men removed so far from us as by 
twenty generations. What seems to us no more than 
ordinary comfort, would have been to our forefathers 
and foremothers of that old time unheard of luxury. 

To speak first of houses, and first of all, the houses 
of great folk. Before the 13th century, these were built 
of rubble, flints bedded in mortar. Some — the strong 
houses of the Jews, and others it is said copied from them 
— were of hewn stone ; the house of Aaron of Lincoln is a 
surviving example. After that, the fashion came in for 
timber-framed houses, and not until the 14th century 
did builders from the Continent initiate us into the art, 
forgotten since the Roman times, of brick building.^ 

In England, the first case of brick building 
I have read of was a wall which, Stowe says, Ralph 
Stratford Bishop of London built round that grave- 
yard which, as we have seen. Sir Walter Manny 
gave for the victims of the Black Death. Oxburgh 
Hall in the neighbour shire of Norfolk, ancient seat 
of the ancient family of Bedingfield, was built of brick 
in Henry the Fourth's reign. At our east country 
University, we first hear of brick building in 1449. 
Roof tiles Indeed are mentioned so far back as 11 89, 
when Henry Fitzalwayne, the mayor of London, ordered 
that houses within the city should be roofed with " brent 

* It had been practised earlier on the Baltic shores of North 
Germany, where there is no quarriable stone. For instances : the 
Dom of Liibeck dates from the twelfth century ; that age-worn 
house, the Alte Schule at Wismar, from 1300 ; the strange gates of 
Neu Brandenburg from 1306 ; and the art was known also in the 
Netherlands. 



HOMES OF THE PERIOD 27 

tyle," instead of straw or reeds. In country places 
however, few, even great, houses, whether of stone, rubble, 
or timber-framed, or of the early brick building, had 
other covering than thatch. 

In even great houses " chambers with chymneyes " 
were still uncommon ; " then we had none but reredosses, 
and our heads did never ake." The rooms were dark, 
cold, and draughty. In place of clean carpets, floors 
were littered with straw, or with rushes seldom removed, 
covering miscellaneous nastiness, spilled grease, and 
half-gnawed bones and scraps. Few, even good, houses 
could boast of inside staircases ; upper floors were reached 
by an outside step-ladder, protected only by a pent-house 
roof. The beds and the bedrooms of the lower middle 
classes were beneath the standard of our modern prisons. 
Harrison wrote generations later, in the civilized days of 
great Elizabeth ; his words may often need a grain of 
salt with them, but we cannot be very wrong in applying 
his description to the earlier ruder times that we are 
dealing with. " People," he says, slept on rough straw 
pallets, or " mats covered onlie with a sheet, under cover- 
lets of dogswain or hopharlots, a good round log under 
their heads instead of a bolster .... as for servants, if 
they had anie sheet above them it was well, for seldom 
had they anie under their bodies, to keep them from the 
pricking straws that ran through the canvas of the pallet 
and rased their hardened hides." 

The homes of poor folk were deplorable, damp and 
dark huts, the floors of earth, the walls of clay daubing, 
no upper rooms, oranches in the rough for rafters, roofs 
thatched with straw or with rushes, unglazed holes for 
windows — glass was too costly for any but rich houses. 
Chaucer — of East Anglian extraction — describes such a 
home from his own observation. It was divided into, 



28 HAS OUR MANHOOD DEGENERATED ? 

what with poet's licence, he calls " a hall " and " a bower." 
In the hall lived and slept a mother and her two 
daughters, and pigs and poultry made themselves happy 
in the bower. It disgraces our times that human lairs 
like that are yet found in remote corners — the cabins of 
Gal way, and the " but and ben " cots of the Western 
Islands, for example. 

Writers of mediaeval romances paint ideal pictures of 
mail-clad knights and men at arms, to whom they 
attribute not only a fanciful code of chivalry, but like- 
wise huge bodily strength and heroic stature. Fighting 
men, trained from youth upward in feats of arms and 
horsemanship, were doubtless both strong and agile ; 
they may have leaped, as it is said, to their saddles, 
sheathed in weighty armour, without putting foot in 
stirrup. A man of gentle birth would have lost caste, if 
not adept at such knightly exercises. To-day, of course, 
personal prowess is not essential, we are not trained for 
hand to hand fighting, and so, some people think the man- 
hood of our time has degenerated. My humble opinion 
however, is that the physique of Englishmen, except those 
born and bred in urban slums, is as good as ever. I once 
asked the hall-keeper at Penshurst, an ex-soldier of rather 
below average stature, if he could wear the old armour, 
and I have put the like question to a beefeater at the 
Tower. " No ! " was the answer in both these cases ; 
hardly any suit of armour was big enough. 

There was a barbarous show of magnificence, as 
witness old Froissart's delightful descriptions, but it is 
undeniable that domestic habits even of nobles and 
gentles were gross, and that manners, albeit ceremonious, 
were coarse. A man of the upper classes would take 
his own knife in a sheath to a dinner party, sit there 



MEDIAEVAL MANNERS f^ 

with his hat on, use his fingers for fork,^ and dip his 

unwashed spoon for each mouthful into a common dish. 

The diet of even wealthy people was unwholesome, too 

much salt meat, not vegetables enough ; while the food 

of our poorer folk was both bad and insufficient, and 

leprosy and scurvy were rife among them. 

The dress of the mediaeval rich was extravagant. 

Long beards heartless, 
Painted hoods witless, 
Gay coats graceless, 
Make England thriftless. 

was contemporary satire. The middle and lower classes 

were fretted by harsh sumptuary laws ; no working 

woman, for instance, dared to be seen at church wearing 

other headgear than a hideous cap of wool, on pain of 

her husband forfeiting half his week's wages. 

Society had not attained that stage of development 
which results in elaborate organisation and division of 
labour and function. A family did not then depend for 
its daily needs on purveyors, such as the butcher and 
baker, nor even on tailors or dressmakers ; each house- 
hold was, far more than now, self-sufficing, independent 
of outsiders. 

For the lord of the manor's house, his folds, and farm- 
yards, and gardens, furnished a plain table ; and deer 
park, dove house, and warren more delicate dishes ; 
fish ponds provided for fast days ; while woods, fen and 
heath lands supplied kindling, billets, peat, and turf for 
fuel. The farmer again, and his men made their own 
implements, and their wives and daughters baked bread, 

^ That forks had not come into general use even in the 
17th century, all who have seen a great picture in the Ryks 
Museum at Amsterdam have evidence. In the " Schutters 
maaltyd" (Civic guard banquet), painted in 1648 by Bartholomew 
van der Heist, the officers are shown eating without the aid of forks. 



80 DOMESTIC INDUSTRIES 

brewed beer, spun wool, wove cloth, made, not only their 
own garments, but also the smock frocks (worn from 
King John's days to our own) for their men folk. How 
women got on without pins is hard to imagine. They 
only had skewers of wood, bone, or silver, and tied their 
clothes with tags and laces. When pins came in, they 
were so much thought of, that a wife's allowance was 
called her pin-money. In Henry the Eighth's time " an 
acte for the true making of pynnes " ordained that the 
price of pins should not exceed 6s. Sd a thousand — 
more than a penny of our money for each pin. 

Our paid professional army relieves civilians now from 
personal service, but had we lived in the thirteen 
hundreds we should often have seen a man impressed 
from Theberton. 

In 13 15, Parliament granted to the King, in aid for 
his war in Scotland, from every village in England one 
stout foot-man. These men were armed with swords, 
bows and arrows, slings and lances, and every village 
had to pay for its own man's armour, and also for his 
expenses of getting to his rendezvous and of food for 
sixty days thereafter, at the wage of 4ti., or in modern 
money $s. a day. War in Scotland was then of course 
foreign service. 

For home defence, adequate means had long before 
been provided ; even the far distant 12th century show- 
ing, in that respect, a beacon, an example, to ourselves. 
By the Assize of Arms of 1181, all Englishmen of an 
age fit for war, were bound to serve in defence of home 
and country. Such vital matters were not then the 
shuttlecocks of partisan politicians. 

In the thirteen hundreds, surnames were slowly coming 
into common use ; it was a natural process, thus Jack 
the Smith, developed into John Smith, and the sons of 



HOME DEFENCE 31 

other Johns came to be called Johnsons, Welshmen 
concocting English names either prefixed a P, for ap — 
son of, as P-richard son of Richard, or affixed s for son, as 
Jone-s son of John, Evan-s of Evan. Our women 
workers too were the mothers of names ; a female 
brewer for instance was then called a brewster, a female 
weaver a webster, whence those surnames yet among us. 
A local example occurs from the rolls of the adjacent 
manor Fordley ; the grant of a house in 1354 from one 
Robert le Coupere to Geoffrey le Draper — Cooper and 
Draper are common names now. 

Though our language has altered much in the course 
of ages — not so much in Suffolk however as elsewhere — 
place-names of quite obscure localities have suffered 
little change. For instance the Packway, a narrow lane 
in Fordley, worn deep by the traffic of countless 
generations, bore the same name certainly in the 15th 
century, probably for centuries earlier. The Fordley 
manor rolls which are perfect, and in perfect preservation, 
from the thirteen hundreds, record that Robert Grosse, 
weaver by trade, held in the twenty-first year of Edward IV 
a piece of land called Fordeland, lying by " le Packewaye" 
in the same place, leading from Kelsale to Dunwich. Only 
one stretch of this old " pedders ^ way " is left, though it 
might perhaps still be traced along a " via chasea," a 
cattle driving way — we call them drift ways in Suffolk 
— which leads from the Fen Farm in Middleton to the 
marshes, and probably once crossed the old river, and 
led on over Westleton walks to Dunwich. 

My neighbours may perhaps identify other places in 
Middleton-Fordley, such as the Chapel Croft ; Magg's 
Bridge, seemingly not far from Stone Hill ; Slade Mere, 

1 Weever says, but his derivation is doubtful, that pedders ways 
were so-called '* quod pedes iter conficiunt." 



set ANCIENT LOCAL PLACE NAMES 

a parish boundary ; Ton Mere (Town Mere) another 
parish boundary on the Theberton side. The " pinfold 
domini," lord's pound, was probably on the same site 
as the pound I remember on Middleton Moor. The 
king's highway, " via regia,'" afterwards the turnpike 
between Theberton and Yoxford, was in 1367 known as 
Medow Lane. It traversed meadows then ; and its 
grassy margins must then have been wider, as, after 
the statute of Winchester of 1285, no brushwood was 
allowed to grow within two hundred feet on either side 
of roads , for fear of sheltering robbers. The lord of the 
manor had a park in Fordley, referred to on the rolls as 
" le parke " and as " parous domini." Upon the present 
Dovehouse Farm, perhaps, stood the manorial dovecote, 
whence the lord's tame pigeons were privileged to raid 
other men's crops. 



CHAPTER III 

For even slight parish sketches, we sorely need fore- 
ground figures. Without figures, almost any picture 
lacks interest, and for historical subjects they are not 
less than essential. Houses, habits, manners, language, 
all help us with, as it were, a background ; but we want 
life ; we want to see men and women, the " him and her," 
who, twenty generations back, lived, walked, and talked 
in this village of Theberton. This I could never have 
supplied, but happily, a word-smith, a poet, himself 
an eye-witness, has left us his masterpieces of 
.description. 

Geoffrey Chaucer, father of English Poetry, we are 
proud to claim for Suffolk, as descended from an 
Ipswich family ^ ; and it is very probable that his im- 
mortal characters, so fresh, so vivid in colour, so obviously 
likenesses, were drawn from Suffolk friends and relations. 
They may well stand at all events for types of such 
people as he might have met, any day at Theberton. 

In the days we are describing, no figures were more 
familiar in our parish, than the monks of Leyston. 
Theberton folk assisted at their choral services, and 

1 See " The Chaucers of Suffolk," an article by Mr. V. B. Red- 
stone in Memorials of Old Suffolk^ edited by him. I have to thank 
Mr. Redstone for friendly help. 



84 THE JENNEY FAMILY 

admired their frequent processions, saw work-a-day 
brothers labouring at harvest, and, now and then, perhaps 
a gay abbot, riding with hawk on wrist, or following 
hounds, over the unfenced open fields, privileged by 
his right of free warren. 

A canon of the church indeed, forbade clerics to hunt 
with hawk or hound ^^voluptatis causd" but — fine the 
distinction — it was permitted them if " recreationis aut 
valetudinis gratid" a bit of subtlety which monks would 
delight in, and not fail to take full advantage of. 

The neighbourhood was not without gentle families. 
In 1437, an Inquisition was held at Benhall, a 
neighbouring parish, after — and a strangely long time 
after — the death of one William Leyston, who had died 
in 1365. 

William Leyston had had a daughter Margery, married 

to John Bokele. They had a son William, whose son 

again was John Bokele. This younger John had a 

daughter named Maud. Maud Bokele married John 

Jenney,^ and they had a son named William. 

j^SJljIi The Inquisition found that William Leyston had 

died seised in tail of the Manor of Wadehalle, with its 

,1 f , appurtenances in Leyston, Theberton, Middleton, 

V x/f^ K*^ Fordley, Aldringham, Knoddishall, Buxlow ^ and Friston, 

by the gift of his father John de Leyston, who was I 

think the man who had acted as a trustee for the 

Abbey ; and it was further found that one of his next 

heirs was the above-named William Jenney ; son of Maud 

and John Jenney. 

* In Knoddishall Church near Leiston, Weever noted this 
inscription : "John Jenney Esquyer, Matylda (Maud) daughter of 
John Bokele Esquyer and Margery his wyves which John dyed 
Mcccclx." 

* Slight remains of the round tower of Buxlow Church may be 
found in the garden of a cottage near Knoddishall Red House. 






WORD PICTURES FROM CHAUCER 36 

Thus it appears that William Jenney inherited estates 
in Theberton from William Leyston, and through him 
from John de Leyston, who had been born in Edward I.'s 
time.^ 

The Bokeles we shall meet again later. For many 
years I shot with friends through a wood in Leiston 
called Buckles Wood, by which perhaps the ancient 
name is commemorated. 

Among the Leystones, the Bokeles, and the Jenneys, 
might doubtless have been found models for Chaucer's 
" perfight gentil knight " or for the jolly : 

. . househaldere and that a gret was he 



It snewed ^ in his hous of mete and drynk 
Of alle deyntees that men cowde thynke 

His table dormant in his halle alway 
Stood redy covered al the longe day. 

Some younger brother might have stood for the stout 
yeoman 

. . . clad in coote and hood of grene 
A shef of pocock arwes bright and kene 
Under his belte he bar ful thriftily 



His arwes drowpud nought with fetheres lowe 
And in his hond he bar a mighty bowe 

Upon his arme he bar a gay bracer 
And by his side a swerd and a bokeler 
And on the other side a gay daggere. 

Chaucer's art, like Rembrandt's, delights in strong 
contrasts of light and shade. Monks under rule, and 
priests out in the world, he paints as he saw them, 
always at enmity with each other. His typical regular 

* Among the Paston Letters is a letter from William Jenney 
to John Paston Esqr. written from Theberton. The date is 
uncertain, but is believed to be in the reign of Henry VI. 

2 We still say " it snewed " in Suffolk. 

D 2 



86 NATURE'S GENTLEMEN 

. . , loved venerye 



Greyhoundes he hadde as swifte as fowel in flight 
Of prikyng and of huntyng for the hare 
Was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare. 

How different his specimen of the secular priest, the 
beautiful original of many a later poet's description. 
Though but a poor country parson, 

. . , riche he was of holy thought and werk 
He was also a lemed man, a clerk 
That Cristes gospel gladly wolde preche : 
His parischens devoutly wolde he teche. 
Benigne he was, and wonder diligent, 
And in adversite ful pacient 



Wyd was his parisch, and houses fer asondur 
But he ne lafte not for reyne ne thondur 
In siknesse ne in meschief to visite 
The ferrest in his parissche. . . . 

This humble priest had a brother, good and worthy as 
himself, in another calling. He was a poor ploughman. 

A trewe swynker and a good was hee, 
Lyvynge in pees and parfight charitee. 
God loved he best with al his trewe herte 
At alle tymes, though him gained or smerte, 

And thanne his neighebour right as himselve. 
He wolde threisshe and therto dyke and delve 
For Cristes sake, with every pore wight 
Withouten huyre if it laye in liis might. 

I have in Theberton known just such Christian 
gentlemen of the ploughman's calling, and truly and 
well has it been written that " humble thoughts which 
smoake from a poore man's cottage, are as sweet a 
sacrifice unto the Lord as the costly perfumes of the 
prince's pallace." 

It is deplorable that the old manor rolls of Theberton 
are not available, we might have quarried out of them 
material of interest; but those we have only date from 



THE OLD THEBERTON DEER PARK 37 

1 64 1, Exhaustive searches have been made for the 
old rolls, but " non sunt inventi " — gone, it may be, 
stolen. Lawyers delight in precedents : — " Whereas " 
I quote from the city books of Lincoln, date 1520, divers 
documents " pertaining to the Gild Hall be embezzled 

and withdrawn if no person will acknowledge 

the having of them, then a monition shall proceed of 
mrsing against all such persons as keep any such books 

rolls or other writings." To follow this good 

precedent would afford the present writer, as their 
monition doubtless afforded the city fathers of Lincoln, 
a glow of real satisfaction. 

There was in ancient days a park in Theberton of 
about 1 88 acres. It seems to have been a long narrowstrip, 
extending east and west between the two water-courses 
which flow to the eastward, of which one bounds the 
parish of Theberton on the north, and the other, after 
running through the Church farm, passes the Wash 
Cottage, and crosses the road by the rectory corner. 
From the westward, the park seems to have stretched 
from within the next parish of Kelsale beyond the 
Ashen Spring Covert, to the marshes on the Hall farm, 
comprising such part of the now Hall park, as lies in 
Theberton. The whole of this area, however, could not 
have been included, as it covers more ground than 
188 acres, but we have no material for more accurate 
description. 

At what date the old park was formed there is no 
evidence ; ^ it may have been at any time between the 
thirteenth and the end of the seventeenth century. 
So many parks were made about the thirteenth century, 
that licences to impark brought considerable revenue to 

^ Doomsday enumerates thirty-one parks in all England, of 
which the Castle Park at Eye was the only one in Suffolk. 



88 DEER FOR FOOD AND SPORT 

the Crown ; for the law was that no man could 
make a park which was '■' quodam modo to appro- 
priate those creatures which are ferce natures and 
nullius in bonis to himself, and to restrain them of 
their natural liberty," without the king's permission. 
In Henry III.'s time the statute of Merton, and in 
Edward I.'s time the statute of Westminster, authorised 
lords of manors to impark, by enclosing portions of the 
common pasture, so as the rights of commoners were 
not interfered with. 

I think practical needs dictated the growing fashion 
for making parks. Fat venison is excellent meat, but, 
though there were both fallow and red deer in the 
wastes and forests, their nature is to wander far, and 
they could not be brought to hand always just when 
wanted ; landowners therefore found their advantage in 
making enclosures, into which the deer could be collected, 
and kept in good condition for the table. Venison 
was salted then for the winter. In the late Mr. E. P. 
Shirley's delightful ** Deer and Deer Parks " is found a 
record of 1298 which, put into English, is as follows : — 
" The King to the guardians of the bishoprick of Ely 
(the See was then vacant) we command that one hundred, 
fallow deer now in season in the episcopal park be 
salted, and dried, (smoked }) and so salted and dried be 
stored in tubs," &c. Sport also in a mediaeval sense, 
was promoted by imparking. The mode then was to 
drive the deer past fixed stands, " stable stands," whence 
sportsmen shot them with arrows; just as, with rifles in 
the place of bows, is done to-day by German potentates. 
An enclosed park was thus, in an old writer's words, 
" always ready to furnish you with those animals (deer) 
either for use or for pleasure." 

So the fashion of imparking grew, and more and more 




A SURVIVOK OK THE OlD DeKR PaRK. 



THE MODERN PARK TITHE FREE 39 

parks were enclosed, till the latter part of the sixteenth 
century, when Harrison estimated that no less than one 
twentieth part of the kingdom was used for deer and for 
conies. 

The beginning of the seventeenth century saw the tide 
of imparking turn. Parks brought " no maner of gaine or 
profit to the owners sith they comonlye give awaye their 
fleshe, never taking penny for the same, because venission 
in England is neither bought nor soulde by the right 
owner." And desirous of some profit, gentlemen threw 
down their park palings, and, as it was then quaintly 
said, made the deer leap over, to give place to bullocks. 

There is no evidence when the Theberton deer park 
was disparked ; only, we know it must have been after 
1 60 1, for which year Davy records this extract from the 
lost manor rolls : " Curia generalis cum leta tenia 
5 Aug. 43, Eliz. Juratores presentant quod parens 
dominihujus manerii fraetus est,sed per quern incognitum 
est'* The jurors present that the park of the lord of 
this manor was broken into, but by whom it is not 
known. 

It may be noted here, that the modern Hall park with 
some adjacent land, all part of the old enclosure, 
perhaps the original nucleus of it, is at this day tithe 
free, subject only to a trifling modus. It was never 
Abbey land. Can it be that deer, being wild animals or 
in legal phrase feres natures^ the ancient park, which 
produced nothing else, was never titheable, and was 
subjected, instead of tithes, to the modus .^ A case in point 
may be cited for this. Mote Park in Kent contains 
480 acres, of which 140 are free of tithe ; this is believed 
to be because those 140 acres represent the original deer 
park. 

There probably were deer in the park at Theberton of 



40 VENISON FROM FRAMLINGHAM CASTLE 

Sir Edmund Jenney, who had been knighted at the 
marriage of Prince Arthur with Katharine of Arragon ; 
but he accepted, as did other gentlemen in the like case, 
presents of venison. In " Deer and Deer Parks," are 
printed the accounts from 1515 to 1518 of the Duke 
of Norfolk's " parker " at Framlingham Castle. Among 
persons to whom the Duke sent venison are named 
both Sir Edmund, and his eldest son William who died 
before him, " one buk " each. The park keeper's ortho- 
graphy is strange, he seems to have been a north- 
country man, we Suffolkers never misplace H's. 
His list of names comprised, besides the two Jenneys, 
most of the prominent folk of the neighbourhood. 

Among them are " my lord (the bishop) of Norwich " ; 
"my lord Wylleby" (Willoughby of Parham) ; "the 
abbot of Sypton" (Sibton) ; "Sir Wm. Rows" (an 
ancestor of the Earl of Stradbroke) ; " The Abbas 
(abbess) of Brusyzard" (Bruisyard a convent of Poor 
Clares) ; " the Master of Metyngham " (Mettingham 
College) ; " Johan Henyham " (whose family, dating 
from the reign of Canute, ended with William 
Heveningham the regicide) ; " Sir Arthur Hopton " 
(who sold Henham to the Rouses) ; " The Prior of Hey 
(Eye), and the Scoell Mastyr " ; " The balys (bailiffs) 
of Ypswyche"; "the Abbot of Bery" (Bury); "the 
Prior of Butley " ; " the Prior of Seynt Petyrs " ; " the 
Prior of Woodbrege " ; " the Parson of framlyngham for 
tythe " (a voluntary gift in lieu of tithe not claimable >) ; 
" Sr. Richard Wentforthe" (Wentworth of Nettlestead) ; 
♦• Sr. Anthony Wingfield " (of Wingfield Castle) ; " Sir 
Richard Cawndysche" (Cavendish); "Sir Johan 
Glemham " (of Benhall, pronounced now as written 
in 9 Elizabeth, Benall) ; " the Priories (prioress) of 
Campsey (whose house was owner of the advowson of 



A PARK KEEPER'S DIARY 41 

Carlton by Kelsale) ; " the Parson of Orford " ; " the 
Prior of Thelforthe " (? Thetford); "Sr. Thomas Tyrell" 
(of Gipping, one of whose family is said to have 
murdered the princes in the Tower). 

Convents of monks and nuns were obviously plentiful 
as blackberries, or as squires' houses now ; strangely 
enough, the abbot of Leyston is not mentioned among 
the favoured heads of religious houses, to each of whom 
was sent " one buk." Of the family of Glemham, was 
later "that most famous and venterous gentleman, 
Edward Glemham of Benhall in Suffolk," whose " honor- 
able actions .... latelie obtained against the Spaniards 
and the Holy League in four sundrie fights," were 
published in 1591 "for an ^encouragement to our 
English Adventurers (gentlemen sailars and soldiars) 
that serve against the enemies of God and our 
country." ^ 

I cannot keep from my readers some quaint further 
extracts from the " parker's " accounts, which, though 
not directly concerning Theberton, are yet of interest, 
throwing light just where we want it, on the common- 
places of our forbears' life in the neighbourhood ; 
such for instance as : — 

" Balling of Laxfield Merser (Mercer) ij doggis of hys 
came in and kyllyd a doo and a fawne." 

" On holy rood evyn I found in the parke Sr. lohan 

^ H. R. wrote " in commendation of the right worshipful! and 
valiant Generall, Edward Glemham, Esquire " : — 

Brave men at Armes, England's Cheueleers, 
Let Glemham's honors, 'mongst you be of name 
Whose conquests gainde, 'gamst Spanish Cauiliers 
With goulden Trumpe, eternised is by fame : 
Tutkie, Spaine, and France reports the same, 
To England's honor Glemham gaines renowne 
In spite of those which at his weale dothe frowne. 

The little book from which these lines are extracted was reprinted 
in 1820. 



42 THE FRENCHE QUENE AND THE CARDINAL 

bowse parysch pryst of tanyston (Tannington parish. 
Priests being graduates were then called Sir) with hys 
bow bent and an arrow in yt, betyng (making ready 
to shoot) at the herd." 

" Item — Johan pulsham (Foulsham a Theberton 
family name) thelder (the elder) cam rydyng be the wey, 
and fowned a do without, and hys doge kyllyd hym — 
and he hyng hys dog ! " 

In 1 5 19, was killed "for Sr. lohan Rows, for syngynge 
of his first Messe (Mass), one bucke." 

" Item the Mundaye afore Mychaelmes daye, cam 
in a dogge of Johnsons of denyngtone the schoe maker, 
and kyllyd ij dooes, and then the dogge was take up, 
and I sende to hym to wete (know) wether he wold have 
the dogge agayne, and he send me word naye, and then 
I hynge him upon a tre." 

I transcribe a few entries more, which relate to 
historical persons in our county. 

Among the bucks killed, the "parker" accounts 
for : — " the frenche quene one buk, item ij fawnys item 
she sent to me for a fawne, item the quene cam 
agayne and kyllyd iiij bukkys." This was Mary Tudor, 
the young widow of Louis XII. She married "that 
martiall pompous gentilman," Charles Brandon, the 
Duke of Suffolk, of whom it is related that, at a grand 
tournament on the occasion of their wedding, he 
tilted with his horse in trappings half cloth of gold and 
half frieze, with these lines on them. 

Cloth of gold do not despise 

Though thou art matched with cloth of frieze 

Cloth of frieze be not too bold 

Though thou art matched with cloth of gold. • 

Again — " for the comyng of my lord Cardenall, one 
* He was interred at Bury St. Edmund's. 




Framungham Castle. 



HEVENINGHAM PARK 48 

buk. Item he cam trow the parke and kyllyd one buk 
and a do, item on the next day I was sygned to kyll 
for him xij bukkys." This was of course the " top 
proud cardinal " son of a grazier of Ipswich — Thomas 
Wolsey. 

Again — "to Wyndferdying (Winfarthing, near Diss, . 
where was an ancient park one mile in circumference) ^ 
was sent for my lord of Surrey 121 quyke (live) deer 
taken at seven different times." This was Thomas, V^* 
Earl of Surrey, afterwards third Duke of Norfolk, who '\/0^^'^^ 






In those days, gentlemen did not sell their venison ; P^\ a IWI 
and licence to kill deer in another man's park ^4-W*'. . - 



married Anne, daughter of King Edward IV. f^ *^ J^^ 

was a prized privilege to be granted in solemn 1\Jm^ 
form of law. The Sir John Heveningham above men- ^ 
tioned had a great park at Heveningham, where, at a 
later date. Queen Bess is said to have slain a fat buck 
with her own hand. Among his neighbours was Nicholas 
Bohun Esquire, of Westhall ; and in 1533, a Deed Poll 
was executed under the hands and seal of Sir John, 
Dame Alice his wife, and Anthony his son and heir 
apparent, whereby, Sir John, with consent of his wife and 
son, "graunted to Nicholas a yerly fee of oon buk in 
somer and oon doo in wynter, to be taken of my gifte 
within my parke at Heveyngham, in seasonable and 
convenyent tymes in the yer : to have and enjoye the 
said fee of oon buk and oon doo yerly, to be taken in 
such tyme and place as is aforesaid, to the said Nicholas 
and his assyns during his life naturall " : and it was pro- 
vided that it should "be lefull to the same Nicholas, at 
his own plesure, to kille yerly the said buk and doo in 
convenyent tymes of the yer, with hys houndys, grey 
houndys, or long bowe ; soo always the same Nicholas 
be there present in his own person ; and so that the said 



44 CONCERNING APPROPRIATIONS 

Nicholas do gif convenyent knowledge to the keper of 
the seid parke for the tyme being of his comyng their 
to hunte and kyll as is aforesaid ; or ellys the same buk 
and doo to be killed by the same keper, and delivered 
to the seid Nicholas or his assigns at the seid park." 






CHAPTER IV 

We have already traced the advowson of Theberton . i^ 

into the hands of the monks of Leyston, who, after 1372, ^-^MAJH (Itt 
had the right of presenting rectors to the benefice. Cui /- c^-^ 

They had not to wait long for their first opportunity. 
In 1374, they presented a priest, one Robert de Dersham 
(query Darsham) " confrater et concanonicus," to the 
then vacant church of Theberton ; and their presentation 
was followed, in due course, by the canonical institution 
of the same monk by Henry de Spencer, " the fighting 
bishop of Norwich," who was then residing at his 
episcopal house at Hoxne. 

This done, the canons set to work to gain a further 
step by squeezing out of Theberton advantages for 
the future, more tangible than their bare right of 
patronage. The law then permitted a process, known 
by an euphemism as " appropriation," whereby parish 
priests were plundered to aggrandize religious houses. 

When a spiritual corporation, a monastery for instance, 
was patron of a rectory, it could, upon a vacancy, make 
itself also the rector, and entitle itself in that capacity to , 
take the tithes of the parish. The cure of souls could be 7)ff 
vicariously served by a clerk, may-be a monk in priest's 
orders of their own house, as their vicar or deputy, who 
would be in the position of a modern curate — the rector 



% 



46 THE THEBERTON APPROPRIATION 

house taking the tithes, and paying the vicar-curate a 
stipend for his services. 

Monkish apologists raked in the ashes of antiquity 
for a justification of such robberies. Tithes, they main- 
tained, were originally divided into four equal parts — 
one part for the bishop, one for reparations of the church 
and priest's manse, one for the poor and for the exercise 
of hospitality, leaving only one fourth for the support of 
the parson. And why, if one fourth had then sufficed for 
that purpose, should it not suffice still. And as to the 
three-fourths — the bishop needing his fourth no longer — 
how could the money be applied more piously than to 
support the professed religious, holy devoted men such 
as themselves } 

This hypocritical iniquity, practised now for genera- 
tions, had become a great and crying scandal. It 
resulted that Rectorial hospitality was neglected, 
churches and rectory houses fell into disrepair, some- 
times not even any minister was provided. Monks kept 
"parsonages in their own hands, dealt but a twentieth 
part to the poor, and preached but once in the yeare to 
them that paid the tithes." Even a Pope, Alexander 
IV., had in the thirteenth century stigmatized the 
system, as " the bane of religion, the destruction of 
the church, and a poison that infected the whole 
nation." ^ 

Let us see how an appropriation was effiscted at 
Theberton. 

There is preserved in the Register of the Sacrist of 
Norwich, a document which gives a full account of it. 
The deed bears date, " The Chapter House of Leyston 

* Hooker wrote centuries afterwards of : " that which hath been 
taken from the church in appropriations known to amount to the 
value of ;^i 26,000 yearly." This, it will be remembered, 
represents a vastly larger figure according to the present value 
of money. 



THE POPE'S USURPED POWER 47 

Abbey, 15 April, 1381." From it, we learn that Henry 
Despencer the bishop of Norwich, had, with the consent 
of the Chapter of Norwich, " annexed and united and 
appropriated " (the actual appropriation was it seems 
effected in the previous year) the church of Theberton 
to the convent of Leyston ; and that the Abbot and 
Convent agreed to pay, during the appropriation, an 
annual pension of 4^. to the Sacrist, at the Michaelmas 
and Easter synods of the church. 

At that date, 1381, Robert de Dersham was still the 
Rector of Theberton ; and, till he vacated the benefice, 
the monks had not an opportunity to take advantage of 
the appropriation. He died, it would seem, in 1391. In 
the January following, one John, like his predecessor 
surnamed de Dersham and like him a monk of Leyston, 
was, in the capacity of a lawfully constituted " proctor 
of the religious men the Abbot and convent, instituted 
by the said father (the bishop) into the parish church of 
Theberton then vacant." The document effecting this 
is interesting enough to set out. It runs thus, translated 
from the Latin and omitting the merely formal parts : 
Henry by divine permission Bishop of Norwich to our 
beloved sons the Abbot and Convent of the monastery 
of the blessed Mary of Leystone of the Premonstraten- 
sian order in our diocese, who now are or at all future 
times shall be, salutation grace and benediction. As 
regards the parish church of Theberton in our Diocese 
now vacant by the death of brother Robert de Dersham 
the last rector there, of which you have obtained the 
right of patronage ; we, by the authority of our 
ordinary (jurisdiction) and by virtue of the privilege of 
the Apostolic See by Pope Celestine of blessed memory 
of old granted to you and your monastery ,1 do canoni- 

^ Referred to by Hooker as "the Pope's usurped power of 
appropriating ecclesiastical livings unto Monks." 



48 THE KING PRESENTS RECTORS 

cally unite annex and incorporate and appropriate it to 
your proper use for ever. And we grant the same, in 
the person of brother John de Dersham member and 
canon of the said monastery and your proctor legally 
constituted, according to the form and effect of our 
letters to you, as to the union annexation incorporation 
and appropriation aforesaid, made and sealed with our 
seal and the seal of the chapter of our Cathedral Church. 
And we admit and canonically institute you Rectors in 
the same. Saving to us and to our successors and to 
our Cathedral Church and also to the Archdeacon of 
Suffolk all rights, etc., etc. — as in the said letters of 
appropriation are more fully set out. 

Thus, the community of the Abbot and Canons of 
Leyston, hitherto only the patrons, were now constituted 
the incumbent rectors also, of Theberton. 

During the next few years, I suppose that the Abbey 
served the cure of Theberton by a stipendiary " vicar." 

In 1401, we find that King Henry IV. presented one 
Richard Herman priest to the "parish church of 
Theberton," to which he was in due course lawfully 
instituted. The words " the parish church " meant, of 
course, the Rectory. 

How the King obtained this presentation does not 
appear. 

Besides the evidence of the form of presentation, the 
fact that Richard Herman was in as rector, is shown 
aliunde. We have it, that, in the second year of his 
incumbency, one Mary daughter of Thomas Power of 
Theberton granted to him, together with other persons, 
certain lands situate in Theberton, describing him as 
" Richard rector of Theberton." 

In 1404, we find it recorded that the Sacrist of Norwich 
Cathedral had, for that year, received nothing in respect 



THE APPROPRIATION INVALID 49 



of his pension of 4s. from the Abbot of Leyston on /^nr^ it 

account of the church of Theberton, " by reason it is ^ *Gs./HA;. 

said that the church was then in the hands of seculars." f^L jtbA (^ 

Richard Herman seems to have been a secular priest. I ' ^^h A 

In 1408, the Abbot and Convent again presented 1 ^ yf/f ( 

to the parish church (rectory) a monk of their house ^""'^^ 



the parish church (rectory) 
one brother John Pethagh, who was instituted accord- 
ingly. 

Pethagh's incumbency was short ; and in 1409 the 
King again presented one Henry Leycestre who perhaps 
had Court interest. He was not even in Holy Orders : 
"primam habuit tonsuram clericalem " ; yet he was 
instituted the same year " in ecdesie parochiali " to the 
parish church. Perhaps this was not in canonical order, 
for another institution of the same man is recorded in the 
year following, by which time he had attained sub- 
deacon's orders. Now, there can be no room for doubt 
as to the rectorial status of Leycestre ; for when one 
Hugo Sprot — I think also a secular — from St. Andrew's 
Holborn, " a suburb of London " (how oddly it sounds 
now), exchanged livings with him, Sprot's institution was 
expressed to be on the resignation of Henry Leycestre 
" late rector " of Theberton. 

We have seen that the King had presented one 
turn, then the Abbot and Convent presented, and 
then the King again for the alternate turn, and that 
all the presentees were canon ically instituted to the 
rectory. 

Clearly, these facts do not consist with the validity of 
the appropriation. Had it been and remained valid, a 
Rector could not have been legally instituted ; for by the 
appropriation (to which moreover the King had con- 
sented) the Rectory had been "annexed incorporated and 
united " with the advowson, and thereby the Abbot and 

E 



\S 



50 HOW INVALIDATED? 

Convent of Leystone had become for ever the incumbent 
Rectors — " parsons imparsonees," to use the quaint old 
phrase — of Theberton. The Rectory was full, there was 
no vacancy to be presented to, either by King or by 
Abbey, yet the King did in fact, and so did the Abbey, 
present clerks to the Rectory, and their presentations held 
good, for their presentees were in due form instituted by 
the bishop of the diocese. 

But what had invalidated the appropriation ? How 
came the monks to lose such a highly prized spiritual 
possession ? Of course, for some reason we do not know, 
it may have been invalid ab initio ; or, if that could be, 
have been surrendered ; or again, this conjecture may be 
worth considering, it may possibly be that, having parted 
by grant to the King with a part of the organism of their 
advowson — a next or perhaps next alternate right of 
presentation to the rectory — and rectors having by 
virtue thereof been presented and instituted, the union 
^%5 , between rectory and advowson had been severed, and 
9/' >. ^iX being once severed, they could never be re-united ; and 
thus, the benefice had been irrevocably disappropriated. 
Or — there is another more likely alternative ; the monks 
may have concluded that it was their interest, not to 
appoint vicars, having regard to the restrictions of a 
statute passed in 1402. That Act provided that all vicars 
shojild be seculars, not members of any religious house, 
that they should be perpetual, not removable at the 
caprice of monasteries, be canonically instituted and 
inducted, and be sufficiently endowed at the discretion 
of the ordinary. This made it impossible for the Convent 
to provide pleasant berths for its monks, as vicars ; or by 
appointing them in rapid rotation, to arrange refreshing 
holidays. May it not be then, that they thought to 
evade the obnoxious act by an expedient } They might, 




SUCCESSIVE RECTORS 



51 



as patrons, regardless of the appropriation, present a 
monk to the rectory — the statute referred only to vicars 
— and might they not extort from him being under vows 
of obedience by the rule of their order, security for the 
payment to them of the bulk of his tithes, and, make 
him sign a bond besides, conditioned that he should 
resign after a prescribed period, or on demand of the 
community. Probably this had been devised — these men 
of religion were very sharp practitioners — when they 
presented brother John Pethagh. 

The invalidity or loss of this Theberton appropriation 
is the more remarkable, seeing that had there been 
many instances, no great number of vicarages would 
now be in existence ; whereas the fact is, that (as 
appears by the Diocesan Calendar for 1908) out of three 
hundred and fifty-five benefices in the Archdeaconry of 
Suffolk, no less than one hundred and forty-two are 
vicarages, nearly the whole number of which originated 
from appropriations and the Act of 1402. 

Sprot, after a four years' incumbency, was succeeded 
by a Leyston canon, Clement surnamed of Blythburgh. 
He was presented by his House ^ which of course was 
still the patron, and was in due course instituted to the 
rectory of Theberton, 

This monk retained the benefice for eighteen years, 
resigning it to become abbot of Leyston, which dignity 
he held till 1445. 

In his time it was, that the revolt in men's minds 
against monastic greed found striking expression in 
Parliament. The House of Commons petitioned the 
King " that all parsonages appropriated to some religious 
house not endowing vicars, might within six months be 

* In the bishop's register it is written that he was presented by 
the Abbot of Sibton, but this was evidently a clerical error. 

E 2 






l^lolxCvU 



V -r^ 




.§ 



-^ 



i^ 



^v. 



/ 



Fs: 



v 



v/ 



52 PRESENTATION OF JOHN DOONWYCH 

/ unappropriated." No legislation seems to have followed 
{ in the sense of the petition : luckily for Leyston Abbey, 
for the monks held other appropriate churches, and 
there is evidence that they worked them in flagrant 
defiance of law ; even as late as 1478, they had to make 
this return to Bishop Redman their visitor : " quinque 
habent ecclesias canonici, sunt airati in quibusdam^ 
sed non perpetui." 

When Clement resigned Theberton, the Abbot and 
Convent presented Nicholas Craton, another member of 
their brotherhood, and he again was instituted to " the 
parish church." 

To him after less than two years, succeeded another 
monk John Geyst, or Geyse ; he died after one year — 
in October, 1438. 

Then in November following, the Abbot and Convent 
presented John Doonwych, another member of their 
House, who was duly instituted. This was an eventful 
presentation. The monks' crafty expedient to evade the 
statute of 1402 was to have its seaworthiness tested. 

A time came, when for some reason, the Abbot desired 
to remove this monk from the rectory of Theberton. 
Possibly, having bound himself to hand part of his 
rectorial tithes over to his patrons, he may have failed 
in his payments. At all events the Abbot determined 
to eject him. Doonwych, beatus possidens^ refused to 
budge. He probably was a cunning unscrupulous 
fellow ; the convent had sailed near the wind, why should 
not he ? True, he may have agreed to resign on demand, 
but the unjust compact, designed to evade a plain Act of 
Parliament, had been forced upon him while under 
monastic duress. True, he had vowed vows, but what 
were vows to him, now that he was no longer an inmate 
of the cloister? 



PROCEEDINGS AGAINST DOONWYCH 53 

The Abbey had, on their part, a strong champion ; 
Clement the abbot was not a man to be trifled with. 

What the event was will be unfolded. 

It must be premised that the visitors of the Premon- 
tratensian order were, at this time, Thomas Abbot of 
Begham, and William Abbot of Radegunde, with joint 
and several powers. 

They made this petition to the High Court of 
Chancery ; I venture slightly to modernise the archaic 
spelling. 

" Right Mekely besecheth Thomas Abbot of Begham 
and William Abbot of Radegunde, visitors jointly and 
severally and by thair Commissaries, of the Premonstra- 
tensian order within the Roialme (realm) of Engeland, 
to have correccion, and duely to punisshe eny of this 
same ordre defectif or rebyll to it, within the said 
Roialme. But, gracious lord, for as muche as one John 
Doonwiche, one of the said ordre, and of the house of 
Leyston, was noised defectif and not rueled after the 
fourme of his said ordre, the forsaid Thomas committed 
power to Clement Abbot of Leyston, to cite and calle 
the said John to come afore hym, to answere after the 
forme of his seid ordre ; and so John, by the said Clement 
was lawfully cited, and it disobeyd, so that by due 
process he standeth accursed. Whereuppon the forseid 
Clement beyng Commissarie, came to Theberton a 
parissh belongyng to the said Abbey of Leyston, whare 
the said John was abiding against the will of his ordre, 
kepyng there the cure ; and there, required the Constable 
of the same Parissh, after the forme of our said souvrain 
lordes letters, to succour and support hym, in reforma- 
cion and correccion of the said John, to whiche the said 
Constable agreed and obeyd; but gracious lord, the 
forsaid John, of grete malice contrarie to his order, by 



54 AN AFFRAY IN THEBERTON CHURCH 

the grete supportacion of John Curteys and John Sturmy 
of Theberton, disobeid the said Clement and his correc- 
cion, and yit doth. Whereuppon, if hit please your 
gracious lordship to consider the rebellion of the seid 
John Doonwiche to his order, and howe that he, standyng 
accursid, kepith the cure of the said Parissh, ministryng 
there the sacraments of holy church, by the supportacion 
of the forseid John Curteys and John Sturmy, there- 
uppon of your good grace, to grant writtes subpena, 
direct to the forseid John, John, and John, to appere 
byfore you in the Chauncerie, uppon a cartain day, to 
be examined uppon the matter aforseid, for the love of 
God and in weyrk of charete." 

Compliant with this petition, a writ dated 28th June, 
1445 was granted out of Chancery, directing examina- 
tions to be taken. 

Accordingly, we read that on Tuesday the Feast of 
St. Bartholomew the Apostle, in the twenty-third year 
of Henry VI. (1445), John Doonwych, with John Curteys 
and John Sturmyn, appeared at Halesworth before Sir 
John Heveningham acting on a writ out of Chancery, 
and they, and twelve other persons, among whom were 
John Feld, Geoffrey Ulff, Ralph Cotyngham and William 
Andrewe, all of Theberton, deposed on their oathes as 
follows : 

They swore that Clement Abbot of Leyston had 
presented the said John Donewyche to the church of 
Theberton, to which church he was admitted by the 
ordinary, and lawfully instituted ; and by reason of 
being thus under obedience to the said ordinary, the 
said John was exempt from his order, and absolved from 
his oath ; and that he administered the cure of Theberton 
well and honestly. Also, that the said Abbot Clement, 



HOLY THURSDAY A.D. 1445 55 

with one William Fraunceys and many others to the 
number of twenty persons arrayed in warlike manner, 
came on Ascension Day last past, to the church of 
Theberton, and made an assault on the said John 
Doonwych while he was celebrating service there, and 
arrested him, and wanted to take him with them. 
Whereupon the said John Curteys and John Sturmey 
and other parishioners of Theberton, went and spoke to 
the said abbot and those who came with him, with 
civil and honest words, and induced the said abbot to 
release the said Doonwych. 

How strange this seems to us, here now in modern 
Theberton. The background of the picture we can 
easily bring before us. Our age- worn church, with its 
old round tower and long ridge of thatched roof, cannot 
be much altered, though whether the octagon top had 
then been added to the round tower we do not know. 
Again those crumbling walls, on the borders of our 
parish, suggest the then noble Abbey on the new site, to 
which, a century before, the monks had migrated, as 
" bees, which having first built in the ground and hollow 
trees, get them hives in gardens ; and leaving the deserts, 
gain them princely houses in pleasant places " ; their 
church was now cathedral-like, with choir and nave, 
aisles and transepts ; and a refectory, abbot's lodgings 
with other conventual buildings, covered a great space 
of ground. Between our church and the Abbey, the way 
was then a grassy track, a mile or more, through un- 
fenced woodland and pasture. 

Even the interior of our church we can well imagine. 
A rood screen then separated chancel from nave : perhaps 
the monastic patrons had already added to the chancel 
to afford space for showy ceremonial : our font looking 



56 FIFTEENTH CENTURY FASHIONS 

so ancient now, probably had not then taken the place 

of one yet more ancient ; ^ the roof was unceiled then, 

the thatch probably showing between the rafters. 

And now, let us try to picture the rustic congregation 

on that Holy Thursday 1445. The lord of the manor 

may have been there. Imagine him in a long gown of 

rich material, his hair falling down below his shoulders, 

purse and dagger hanging from his girdle : 

" An anlas and a gipser al of silk 
Heng at his gerdul whit as morne mylk," 

The toe points of his shoes, pikes ^ or beaks they were 
called, ridiculously long, and tied up to his knees with 
silver chains ; we may see the costume in kings and 
knaves upon our playing cards. And perhaps his lady 
was there also, dressed in the fashion of card queens, 
let the Queen of Hearts serve for her model ; and a crowd 
of more humble folk, the men with hair cropped close, 
clad in short coats with leather belts, worsted hose and 
broad shoes ; and on the opposite side of the church, 
their wives and daughters, in hoods entirely enveloping 
their hair, the older ones with " barbs " of pleated linen 
covering the chin like linen beards ; all the women in 
voluminous petticoats, and not deformed by then un- 
thought of stays — they were first worn in the time of 
Elizabeth. 

A hushed devout congregation we may not doubt ; 
kneeling on the bare earthen floor, perhaps for that great 
day strewn with rushes, there were no fixed seats then. 
The parish priest stood to celebrate mass at the altar. 
But what was that ? A hubbub, a sudden clatter of 
arms. From their places among the worshippers, two 

* The present font, I am told, dates from about 15 10. 

^ These pikes or beaks were some years afterwards, by 4 Ed. IV. 
c. 7, curtailed to two inches, under a penalty both to the shoemaker 
and the wearer. 




The Font, Theberton Church, 



AN OUTRAGEOUS ABBOT 57 

reputable men, John Curteys, and John Sturmyn a land- 
owner in the parish, rise from their knees ; to meet at 
the porch door a familiar figure ; it was their old rector, 
now father Abbot of Leystone, in very angry mood, and 
with him a menie of a score men " arrayed in warlike 
guise ; " who marched into the church and seized the 
priest ! Curteys and Sturmyn at last prevailed with the 
abbot to let the parson go ; and he concluded the 
service. 

Whatever may have been the offence of Doonwych, 
can the conduct of Clement the Abbot be judged to 
have been less than outrageous ? 

How the legal issue was decided I cannot say, but 
the fact is, that brother John Doonwych, only a few 
weeks after that scandalous scene, resigned the 
benefice of Theberton, exchanging it apparently for 
another living. 

His successor was one John Hert, I believe a secular 
priest, presented by the monastery, whose institution 
is described, as upon the resignation of John Doonwych 
" the late rector." 



CHAPTER V - 

It is not without interest to find the mere names of 
men who lived in our parish nearly five hundred years 
ago, but we are fortunate in knowing more than the 
mere names of some of them. 

We know that William Fraunceys, who supported 
the abbot, died in 1459 ; and his will is before me 
as I write. He dwelt in Theberton, a man it seems 
of some substance, and was, according to the standard 
of those days, a good churchman. He left to the 
high altar of our church one mark, and half a noble 
more for reparation of the church ; to the light of the 
Blessed Virgin in the monastery of Leyston half 
a noble; to the friars minor of Dunwich half a noble 
(these were Franciscans or Grey Friars, whose old wall 
pierced by two fine gates, yet surrounds the remains 
of their conventual buildings). To the Friars Preachers 
of Dunwich he gave 6s. 2>d. (these were Dominican or 
Black Friars ; their convent was long ago washed away, 
with their church which contained the bodies of 
" Richard Bokyl of Leston, and Alice, and Alice, 
his wives," together with other benefactors) ; to John 
Curteys of Theberton (defender of Doonwych), he 
bequeathed one noble. For a secular chaplain to 
celebrate (in the parish church, no doubt) for two years 
for his soul, he made due provision. And he provided 
for a potation, that curious mediaeval blend of festivity 
religion and charity called a " cherche-ale ; " and 

58 



THEBERTON WILLS 59 

Curteys (defender of Doonwych) was appointed one 
of his executors. 

John Sturmyn, the other defender of Doonwych, we 
find again as executor of the wills of two more inhabitants 
of Theberton. One testator was William Andrews — 
from whose estate he had to contribute : to make the 
tabernacle of St. Peter of Theberton, for a secular 
priest to celebrate in the church of Theberton for two 
years and more, and for the repair of a way at 
" Estbrugge " — Eastbridge ; this will was proved at 
Theberton on the 14th July, 1464. The other testator 
was Thomas Hervey, who bequeathed one quarter of 
barley to the altar of our church, and left to his son 
Thomas three acres of land called Jonefields (perhaps 
Johns' fields, but not now identifiable) when he should 
arrive at full age ; if he should die, then to his wife 
Alice, who seems to have been a Middleton woman. 
Hervey died on the 6th day of February, 1474. 

Geoffrey Ulff, another witness against Abbot Clement, 
was evidently a man of great trust ; we find him as 
executor for no less than six Theberton people, Ulff 
was in the 15th century a common name in Theberton, 
Kelsale, and Middleton. 

Of the will of John Feld or Field, another of the 
witnesses. Master William Jenney and Edmund his son, 
were supervisors. Field died on St. Mark's Day 147 1, 
leaving a widow Agnes. She died in 1476, and I quote 
shortly from her will. " To Joan Townysende of 
Knodishale an 'Almarye'" (I think an Armoire or 
cupboard ^) ; " to Godson William Townysende, if he 

^ In 1601, Sir Francis Hastings, in a speech in the House of 
Commons spoke of certain persons as worthy to be locked up in an 
"Ambery." Specific bequests of furniture were common; such 
things were then of greater relative value than in these days of 
machinery. 



60 A CHURCH ALE AND A TRENTAL 

wishes to be priested, 13 J. 4a?. and a sheep. ... I leave 
to the Rector of Theberton my green cloak for his 
trouble." That rector, with John Herberd, and Geoffrey 
Ulff were Widow Field's executors. 

We have also the testament of Ralph Cotyngham 
or Codyngham, which dealt with his house in Theberton, 
and lands in "Theberton, Medilton, Fordele and 
Westlylton," and provided, as did that of Fraunceys, 
for a " cherchale," — probably partaken of in the church 
itself, and also for a trental — thirty masses daily for 
thirty days — for his soul. 

For 1461, we have in a business letter from Richard 
Calle to John Paston, an interesting statement of prices 
which helps to gauge the real value of legacies that at 
first sight seem so trifling : — " They will not give a 
noble (6s. Sd.) nor even 6s. for a cow, . . . wheat i2d. 
a coomb, barley Sd., malt gd. and lod." 

The lord of the manor whose presence on that 
Thursday I have suggested, would have been the William 
Jenney who, with his son Edmund, was supervisor 
of John Field's will. He was afterwards M.P. for 
Dunwich, and then, as Sir William, one of the Justices 
of the King's Bench ; and having seen the Wars of the 
Roses, and those dark days for England of Jack Cade's 
rising, died in 1483. 

In Weever's time there remained in our church this 
inscription : — " Htc jacet Willelmus Jermey miles unus 
Justiciar Domini Regis de Banco suo et Elizabeth uxor 
eius, quiguidem Willelmus obiit xxiii die Decembris Anno 
Domini mcccclxxxiij. Quorum animabus propitietur Deus 
Amen" Jermey is evidently a clerical error for Jenney. 
The inscription has disappeared, no person knows what 
has become of it. 

The only bit of ancient brass now remaining is 



VISITATIONS OF LEISTON ABBEY 61 

a small plate let into a sepulchral slab in the floor of the 
nave inscribed in black letters " Orate pro anima 
K uterine Pays cujus Anime propicietur Deus. — Amen." 
No more is known of Katerine than that she died and 
was buried. The date of the brass is thought to be 
about 1500.1 

Dowsing, the ruthless destroyer of all ^^ orate pro 
animd " inscriptions, seems not to have come in person 
to Theberton, but to have sent one Francis Verden as 
his deputy. We of this "sweet and civil county of 
Suffolk," where it was his lot to be born, do not pride 
ourselves on Dowsing. 

We have, in duty bound, had to advert upon the 
craft of the monks of Leystone ; but they were no worse 
than were mediaeval monks in general. Indeed, there 
is good evidence which redounds much to their credit. 

At three years intervals, for many years, Bishop 

Richard Redman, on behalf of the Mother House of 

Pr^montre, made triennial visitations of the Abbey. And 

on every occasion this eminent bishop (successively of 

St. Asaph of Exeter and of Ely) speaks well of it. 

In 1482, he thanked God that, after diligent enquiry, he 

found everything well, and charity well observed. In 

1485, there seems to have been no visitation, it was a 

year of great dying — the Sudor Anglicus, the terrible 

Sweating Sickness. In 1488, the house was in an excellent 

state, and the church services were carried on in a better 

way than in any other house ; and to that, the bishop 

attributed the prosperity of Leyston in temporals and 

spirituals. In 1491, the bishop testified to the excellent 

rule of the abbot, and the state of the monastery, which 

^ At Dennington, in 1662, 51 J lbs. weight of brass "which had 
formerly been taken off the gravestones in the church and chancel," 
was found hidden in the vestry. 



62 LOCAL NAMES OF I^ISTON MONKS 

agreed, he said, with the belief of all, clergy and laity 
— only the canons wore too large tonsures. In 1494, the 
highest possible praise was accorded to the administra- 
tion of the abbot, the bishop found nothing to correct. 
In 1497, the excellent state of the house and the 
administration of the abbot was commended. Only at 
the last of the visitations in 1 500, do we find any word 
of blame : one of the canons had committed the pro- 
digious offence of going out of the enclosure — meaning 
no doubt without the abbot's leave. The bishop added 
the grave admonition that " the canons were to use their 
hoods over their cloaks when out, and never tassels ! " 

Many of the canons seem to have been drawn from the 
neighbourhood. Among the names are John Yoxford, 
William Woodbridge, John Leystone, John Halesworth, 
John Beccles. 

When there was but one form of religion in the 
country, and all admitted the supremacy of the Roman 
Pontiff, Church discipline for lay people, as well as for 
clerics, was a very real thing. In some ways, it worked 
good, touching a class of offences against morality, of 
which the common law did not take cognizance ; but on 
the other hand, the canon law, administered by " Officials 
of Ordinaries " and their Apparitors, was a foreign thing, 
which affronted the English sense of justice. Our 
English laws regard an accused man as innocent till 
proved guilty. The canon law took the contrary view, 
and the Church courts were as much prosecutors as 
judges. On mere common report, or on the word of an 
Apparitor, they would summon a man to appear before 
them, and, assuming his guilt, put him on his oath to 
admit or to deny it. 

The Apparitor acted as a social spy and common 



COURTS CHRISTIAN AND APPARITORS 65 

informer. His office was not only to execute the Church 
Courts' mandates and citations, but also to smell out 
offences among his own neighbours. Fees, it is needless 
to say, were exacted at each stage of the proceedings. 
The whole system was repugnant to our national tradi- 
tions, and lent itself to gratification of spite, to bribery, 
and all manner of abuses. 

Archdeacon Hale, in 1847 collected a series of cases 
heard by certain Courts Christian as they were called, 
from 1475 and, continuing after the Reformation, to 
1640. 

We may perhaps mention a few of the lighter sort, 
such as : — In 1497, a man was brought up for wearing 
the garb of a hermit, not having been professed a hermit ; 
a monk for wearing the vestments of a secular priest ; a 
rector for using arts of sorcery to defame his neighbours ; 
a layman for violating a bishop's park, by practising 
archery and playing games ; an aquae bajulus — a parish 
clerk — for defaming his priest with " Goo forth fole and 
set a cockes combe on thi crowne." All these were in 
Henry VII.'s time. 

In the next reign, 1528, we find the trials of two 
" wise women " — a race by no means extinct, even yet 
to my knowledge, in our homely Suffolk. One, Margaret 
Hunt, was put on her oath to defend herself, and 
confessed enormous iniquities : she " knelys downe " — 
these were her words — " and prays the blessed Trinite to 
save them (her patients) and hele them from all ther 
weked enemys ; and then she techeth them ix nights for 
to sey V paternosters, v aves, and a crede, and iii pater- 
nosters iii aves and credes in the worshyp of Seynte 
Spyrite ; and when they take ther chamber and go to 
bedde at night, to sey one pater, one ave, and one crede, 
in the worshypp of Seynte Ive, to save them from all 



64 " WISE WOMEN'' IN THE XVIth CENTURY 

envy. And then for them that lye seke of the ague, she 
techeth them to gether herbe-grace, peneryall, redde sage, 
redde fenell, and the barre rote, before the son downe, 
so that it be the last dryncke that the syke drincketh 
at night. And for them that hath ony sorys on ther 
bodys, she techeth them to gether herbe-grace, dyll, 
verveye, marygoldes, put a lyttill holy water to them, 
and sey sume prayers ; and when she stampethe to sey 
iii paternosters, iii aves, and a crede, in the worshyp of 
our Lady, yf it be a woman that stampeth ; and if it be 
a man he must sey iii paternosters, iii aves, and a crede, 
in the worshypp of Jesus." And this in Latin ; that she 
had learned the aforesaid doctrine in Wales, from a 
certain woman called mother Emet. The punishment 
of this poor creature is not recorded. 

The other wise woman, Elizabeth Fotman, practised 
upon horses as well as men. She was forced to confess 
that " she toke the mense rodd and put it to the horse 
bely that was syke of the botts, and made crosses on a 
caryers horse bely, and the horse rose up by and by ; 
and that the seid rodde did grow besyde the Rhodes " ; 
also, she said " she used to hele men of the tothe-ache, 
and the worms in chylders belys, and getheryng of 
herbs, yauyng over them." 

The following reminds us of a custom now long 
forgotten. So late as 1543, two men barely escaped 
excommunication, upon their own extorted confession, 
" that y* haith not maid ii mo torches, nor yet kepede 
the drynkynge in the parishe, accordynge the laudable 
use and custome of the same parishe. Whereupon, the 
judge decreed yt y* shall make ii sufficient torches, be- 
twyxt this dale and the feast of Saint John Baptiste next 
ensuynge, and delyver them unto the churchwardens, 
accordynge to the laudable usage and custome of the same 



DRYNKYNGES— A CLERICAL WIZARD 65 

parishe." With regard to torches, ever since " the 3rd 
century, when besides adopting other pagan ceremonies, 
they also h'ghted torches to the martyrs in the day-time 
as the heathens did to their gods, this use of torches and 
tapers in churches, both by day and night, has prevailed 
in Catholic worship." The decree did not deal with the 
"drynkynges." What a " drynkynge " was, is well shown 
by a will of 1527, of one John Cole of Thelnetham 
in our county. He left the rent of three acres of land 
" to fynde yearelie a busshell and halfife of malte to be 
browne (brewed), and a busshell of whete to be baked to 
fynde a drinkinge upon Ascension Even, everlastinge 
for ye prisshe of Thelnetham." 

Yet later again, in the second year of Mary's reign, 
occurred the case of a wizard, William Hasylwood 
clerk, accused of using art magic " wytchecraft or 
sorcery with a seve and a payre of sheeres," confessed : 
" that, in July was twelve mony ths last past, he the same 
Hasylwood, having then lost his purse with xiiii grootes 
(4J-. Sd.) in the same, and thereupon remembryng that 
he, being a chylde, dyd hear his mother declare that 
when any man hadd lost anny thing, then they wold 
use a syve and a payre of sheeres to bring to knowledge 
who hadd the thing lost ; and so, this examinante upon 
occasion thereof, dyd take a seve and a payre of sheeres, 
and hanged the seve by the poynte of the sheeres, and 
sayed thees wordes — by Peter and Paule he hath yt, 
namyng the partye whom he, in that behalf suspected : 
which thing he never used but ones, and also declared yt 
to one of his acqueyntaunce." Poor Hasylwoode had to 
do penance thereupon. 

Later, we shall meet with local apparitors, and with 
public penance suffered in our own parish church of 
Theberton. 

F 



66 A MONKISH CONSPIRACY 

John Hert was the last rector we have named. To him 
succeeded Thomas Joye in 1450. He was a secular, 
presented to our parish church by the abbey ; the monks 
we may suspect had taken fright at the escapade of 
brother John Doonwych. Plainly, it was not safe to 
arm one of their brotherhood with weapons he might 
turn against his own community. 

How they must have lamented the loss of the 
Theberton appropriation. From their other parishes 
still appropriate, the tithes, subject to a fixed allowance 
for the vicar, belonged to themselves as rectors by 
absolute legal title ; whereas from a rector of this parish 
of Theberton, were he a secular they had no claim ; and 
even were he of their own religious family, no hold, 
except perhaps upon paper possibly invalid, securities. 

There were, we may be sure, anxious debates in the 
chapter house of Leyston Abbey. Could only some 
ingenious plan be hit upon, might they not even yet 
recover their rectorial position, arid be able again to 
appoint a vicar to Theberton. They would be too 
glad to embrace the provisions, which they once thought 
so odious, of the Act of 1402. 

Now for the outcome of their deliberations ; we have 
a significant document which slightly abbreviated runs 
thus : — 

" On the penultimate day of October 1452, before 
Master John Selott, Chancellor of the bishop (Walter 
Leyhart) of Norwich, the vicarage of the parish church of 
Theberton then vacant was taxed at 40i'. for first fruits 
of the same vicarage, on all future vacancies to be paid 
to the bishop and his successors." The Chancellor 
proceeded to decree "the said vicarage to consist of 
altarages of the church (offerings and perhaps small 
tithes) reserving to the bisJiop and his successors power 



THE CONSPIRACY FAILS 67 

to augment the poi'tion of the vicar ; and an enquiry 
was directed as to the value of the altarages ; and Sir 
John Marche priest was personally instituted by the 
Chancellor, into the vicarage, on the presentation of the 
religious men the abbot and convent of Leyston, being 
the true patrons." 

The living hadbeen a rectory — certainly since 1408 ; and 
yet forsooth, in 1452, the monks hoped by help of the 
Chancellor — by what arguments persuaded we can only 
surmise — to recover their former rectorial rights ; and in 
future to present vicars, not rectors, to Theberton ! 

Audacity succeeds sometimes, but this silly attempt 
was too barefaced. John Marche could not be, and in 
fact was never, instituted. Neither he nor any person 
could lawfully have been made, or recognised as vicar 
of Theberton. 

1456 saw a fresh hand at the helm of Leyston. The 
new abbot was John Sprotling ; and in the first year of 
his abbacy, the Abbot and Convent presented one John 
Herberd or Herbert presbiter, to, of course, " the parish 
church — rectory, not vicarage, of Theberton." 

This was the rector to whom Agnes Field had 
bequeathed the green cloak. He died in 1488. By his 
will, written in Latin, he describes himself as rector of 
" Thebyrton " and thus proceeds : — 

" I leave my soul to God Almighty, the blessed Mary, 
and all the Saints, and my body to be buried in the 
church or chancel of Thebyrton. I leave to the aforesaid 
church, a missal, a vestment, a psalter, a processionary, 
and a surplice, upon this condition, that the parish shall 
find a secular priest to celebrate in the said church for half 
a year, and he to have for his salary five marks. I leave 
to Sir Thomas Grene a portifory,^ on condition that he 
* " Portiforium," a service book — breviary. 

F 2 



68 A RECTOR'S TESTAMENT 

shall celebrate in the said church for a quarter of a year, 
for my soul and for the souls of my benefactors. I leave 
to the said Thomas my best cloak. I give to Robert Man 
of Thebyrton a gown, and to Isabell his wife another 
gown. The residue not disposed of I leave to the disposi- 
tion of Edmund Jenney Esqre, and Sir Robert Rowc, to 
dispose as may best please God and my soul's health." 

In 1488, Henricus Guerdon, or Everdon, was, by the 
same patrons, presented to the rectory, and was there- 
after canonically instituted to the parish church. In this 
case, special care was taken to leave no crevice for doubt, 
for besides the words " to the parish church," the word 
" Rector " was used ; moreover, the vacancy was described 
as upon the death of John Herberd " last rector." 

The next rector was Thomas Went, priest, and canon 
of the abbey. He was admitted in 1504, by the some- 
what notorious Bishop Nix of Norwich, to the parochial 
church of Theberton, and the words of this institution 
again were nc, te Rectorem in eadem canonice insti- 
tuimus. Thomas Went died rector of Theberton. 

He, and those he ministered to, lived in a splendid 
period — the time of the awakening of a new world. Some 
rumours of the fame of it must have reached even Theber- 
ton, for one of the prophets of the religious renaissance 
was Colet, then rector of Dennington a parish but twelve 
miles distant, who was a friend of Erasmus. He after- 
wards became Dean of St. Paul's, and founded a great 
grammar school hard by his cathedral, which is St. Paul's 
School still. Dean Colet's plans must have fluttered the 
Pharisees, seeming to them. Sir Thomas More told 
the Dean, " like the wooden horse in which armed Greeks 
were hid for the ruin of barbarous Troy"; for his design 
was nothing less, than to teach boys rational religion and 
sound learning, and to discard the scholastic logic. 



THE RELIGIOUS RENAISSANCE 69 

Brother Thomas can hardly have failed to imbibe the 
narrow prejudices of the cloister ; but then again, his 
later life as rector of Theberton may have opened 
his mind to the true beauty of the new teaching. Colet 
had placed over the master's chair in St. Paul's school, 
an image of the Child Jesus, with the words " Hear ye 
Him." Pleasant it is, to imagine our parson preach- 
ing from that text to his flock at Theberton. 

It was indeed a time of wondrous growth and change ; 
and that not only in religious life. All works of 
man : literature, discovery, arts, handicrafts, sprang at 
a bound into maturity. 

Perhaps, our simple country folk would feel no inno- 
vation more nearly than the threatened revolution in 
their weapons. The bow, from immemorial time, had 
been the tried and trusted arm of Englishmen : now the 
talk was, that smoking gunpowder and leaden balls 
would supersede good yeomanly bows and arrows. The 
change was to arrive later, but as yet, it was an open 
question whether, the clumsy caliver would really be 
more effective in war, than the English long bow. Lord 
Herbert thus stated the relative merits of the two 
arms : — " When he that carries the caleever goes unarmed 
(without defensive armour) the arrow will have the same 
effect within its distance as the bullet, and can again 
for one shot return two. Besides, as they use halberts 
with the bow, (a man armed with a caliver could carry 
no weapon besides) they could fall to, to execute on the 
enemy with great advantage, I cannot deny but against 
the pike they were of less force than the caleevers." 

In 1 5 14, Parliament gave judgment, for the bow 
and against the caliver. It made perpetual an old 
statute concerning archery, and forbad the use of " hand 
guns " to all men who had not five hundred marks a 



70 LONGBOW VERSUS CALIVER 

year, an income considerable at that time, equivalent to 
more than ;C300 now.^ All men under forty, were by law 
to possess bows and arrows and to practise shooting, 
and butts were to be erected in every village. 

So there must have been butts at Theberton, at which 
men used to practise archery. If every young man 
now possessed a magazine rifle, and with it practised 
marksmanship, we should be freed from the degrading 
fear of invasion. 

* The qualification was reduced to ;^ioo the next year. 



CHAPTER VI 

To Thomas Went, succeeded as rector of Theberton 
" Robert Folkelynge capellanus," chaplain perhaps of 
some forgotten guild, it might be that of St. John at 
Kelshall. He was presented in 1518 by the Abbot and 
Convent of Leyston, and instituted as before. 

This rector's name appears in the last will dated in 
1523, of one of his parishioners. John Kylham willed 
that his body should lie in the churchyard of St. Peter 
of Theberton, he further willed "that Robert Folklyn 
have XXd. to pray for me and for my friends V masses 
of the wounds of our Lord." 

Probably John was a kinsman of another Kylham — 
Richard, who by his will of the same date, left '* XXd, to 
the High Altar of our church, for tithe negligently 
forgotten." Did he hope that this might save his soul 
from the evil smells of purgatory } Turchill, an Essex 
husbandman, had in a vision seen the entrance into hell, 
whence was exhaled a smoke of most foul stench ; 
which arose from tithes unjustly detained and crops 
unjustly tithed. 

Richard Kylham also bequeathed " a peyer of shalleys " 
to our church. Whether the church ever received the 
Chalices, or what has become of them, I have found no 
record ; they may have been sold since for parochial 
purposes. 

7* 



7« "TITHES FORGOTTEN" 

Church plate we know was sold from Middleton : for 
under date 1 547, we have the " true certificate " of four 
churchwardens there, that they, " with consent of the 
town, hathe solde ij peyer of silver sensors, ij peyer of 
Chalys, and i pax — price xill". Vll^" (say ;^I30 of 
our money) ; and that they bought with the proceeds 
" grownde for to enlarge the weys in the town," and paid 
for " kepyng of a pore chylde," and also for " settyng 
forth of certen soldgers," and further for " mendyng 
Medylton Brigge," (where was this bridge ?), and lastly 
for "mendyng a lane ledyng from Yoxforth to Theberton" 
— the " meadow lane " before alluded to. The sale was 
prudent and well-timed, for only six years after, in 
1553, churchwardens had to produce to commissioners 
then sitting at Ipswich, all their church plate and orna- 
ments and church bells, "grete belles and saunce 
(sanctus) belles in the steples, only excepte " ; to be sold 
" for God's glory and the king's honour " ; only the 
commissioners had authority to leave one or two chalices 
at their discretion. 

Robert Folkelynge held the benefice for twelve 
years, resigning it in 1530 in favour of another Robert 
Folkelynge, described as junior, who paid a yearly 
pension of 40s. to Robert Folkelynge senior for the 
remainder of his life. Farmers sometimes cheated this 
Robert the younger as they had his elder namesake ; one 
James Maihewe, in 1539, left Xlld. to the High Altar of 
Theberton for " tithes forgotten " ; and the same testator 
evidently a farmer, also gave three bushels of wheat and 
five bushels of malt for reparation of our church ; and 
after bequeathing live stock — " cows, stirks, and colts, 
neate, and cattell, calfe, and lamb," besides money, for 
benefit of his wife and children, directed " a combe of 
wheate to be baken, and the brede thereof to be distry- 



THEBERTON IN THE STAR CHAMBER 73 

butyde among the most needy persons in the parish of 
Theberton." " Robert Folkelyn parson of Theberton 
and Robert Gosse of the same town " were witnesses. 

This Robert Folkelyn was a frequent witness to the 
wills of his parishioners. In 1545, we find him, described 
as parson of Theberton, witness to the will of John 
Alyn of Theberton ; in 155 1, as witness to the will of 
John Carsey also of Theberton, whereby that testator 
directed that, failing bequests for his children, his 
property be disposed of " in dedes of charity to the most 
honour of God and comfort to his soul." 

In Robert Folkelyn junior's time, dispute arose con- 
cerning lands in Theberton, between two bodies of 
persons with both of whom he had intimate relations. 
On one side, a number of his parishioners, and on the 
other side, a religious house, who were influential neigh- 
bours and patrons of his benefice. 

In the Star Chamber proceedings of the reign of 
Henry VIII, we find the following: — 

To the King our Sovereign lord. Humbly complain 
unto your Highness your true liege men : John Grosse 
of Kelsale, John Ulffe of the same town, William Ulffe 
of Feberton (Theberton), Thomas Mannock of the 
same town, John Fryer, George Deer, John Grosse of 
Febyrton, Alexander Norman, Roberte Elmeham, 
Thomas Fraunceys, Richard Pecok, John Grey, John 
Byrde, John Gierke, and other inhabitants dwelling in 
the town and village of Theberton : that whereas they 
and their neighbours are seised of their several lands 
and tenements in Feberton aforesaid, and by reason 
thereof they and their ancestors have had free common 
of pasture appendant thereunto, in four several marsh 
land and hard land grounds, called the Fryth, and in 
other lands, marsh and heath, amounting to 700 acres 



74 ABBOTS "ASSAULT AND GRIEVOUS AFFRAY " 

or thereabouts in Leyston and Feberton aforesaid, for 
pasture of their cattle and for mowing of " thakes " ^ and 
rysshes for the covering of their said tenements and 
houses; that this so continued till 21 July 25 Henry 
VIII (1533-4) when John Fereby clerk, Robert Fyske 
of Leyston clerk, being a white canon, Thomas Browne 
of Feberton yeoman, William Okey of Leyston, Henry 
Kechyn, William Symson of the same town, William 
Trusse of Pesenale cooper, Thomas Pryce of Leyston 
barber, Robert Shanke of Aldryngham husbandman, 
William Cuthbert of Leyston white canon, William 
Crispe of Leyston labourer, George Kendall of Leyston 
white canon, Robert Dawys of Medylton labourer, 
Robert Wyllet of the same town labourer, William 
Gylberde of Leyston butcher, James Morce of Leyston 
labourer, William Cache of Leyston carpenter, with 
other evil disposed persons to the number of twenty- 
three, servants to George Carleton Abbot of Leyston, 
with swords and bucklers daggers and quarter staves, 
assembled at Therberton, and then and there, in riotous 
manner, did enter into all the said common pasture, and 
thereof wrongfully disseise your complainants to the use 
of the said Abbot ; and did make assault and grievous 
affray on the said John Ulff and others, and carried off 
two loads of rushes, the goods of the said Thomas 
Fraunceys and Thomas Pawston. That of this riot, all 
the said misdoers, except the said abbot, are lawfully 
judged by the verdict of twelve true men within the 
county of Suffolk. And, because the said misdoers 
are the said abbot's servants, and by his " extorte power " 
are very like shortly and untruly to be acquitted, unless 
the king's favour be shewn in that behalf, the com- 

* Thatch and thatchers are still "thak" and "thakkers" in Suffolk 
speech. 



TAXABLE MEN OF THEBERTON 75 

plainants beg a writ of subpcena to be directed to 
the Justices of the Peace in the county of Suffolk, 
commanding them to send up to the Star Chamber all 
the said indictments against the said misdoers ; and to 
summon the said Abbot, Thomas Browne, Thomas Perce 
(Pryce), Robert Fyske, and William Crispe, to appear 
there and answer in person. 

The abbot, by his answer, denied the truth of the 
complaint, and said that such matter would be determin- 
able at common law. Moreover, that he and his 
predecessors, time out of mind, had been seised of the 
marshes and grounds named in the bill, in right of their 
monastery, and that the complainants never had rights 
of common there. 

Concerning the merits of this dispute we cannot form 
an opinion, there is no evidence ; but it does not seem 
probable that costly proceedings would ever have been 
promoted on behalf of these poor people, unless upon 
advice that they had a case good enough to give hope 
of success. 

Mischievous was the precedent set by Abbot Clement 
for this his latest successor. George Carleton's chair 
was shaking under him, yet he could not refrain from 
violence. To make an " assault and grievous affray," 
with a force of twenty-three men — three tonsured canons 
among them — armed with swords and bucklers, daggers, 
and quarter staves, could not be deemed seemly for a 
father of religious. 

It is not without interest to trace the social position 
of the men who took part for and against Abbot 
Carleton. A subsidy return, which had been made in 
1524, enables us in that respect ; for each parish, it gives 
the names of all taxable men, and the amounts of their 
incomes, in either land or goods, whichever was highest. 



76 A GREAT CHANGE IMPENDING 

All those to be mentioned were taxed for goods : 
Among the Abbot's men Henry Kechyn of Leyston had 
;^3 a year, Robert Shanke of Aldringham £6, Robert 
Wyllet of Middleton £6, and William Trusse of 
Peasenale £2. The petitioners, against the Abbot, 
John Byrd, John Grosse, Thomas Fraunceys, John Fryer, 
Richard Pecok, John Gierke, had from £\, to, in one 
case that of Fryer, ;^4 a year, Alexander Norman, 
William Ulfif, Thomas Pauston, and John Grey earned 
£\ a year in wages. All these belonged to Theberton. 
Another John Grosse was richest of all with £\2 of 
income ; he belonged to Kelsale. 

Some indication of their relative positions is afforded 
by comparing these incomes with that of "John 
Jenney Esquyer " set down in the Return at £26. 13J. 4^. 
" in goods." 

I wish we had better knowledge of the topography. 
I confess I cannot, with accurate finger, point out the 
four marsh land and hard land grounds then called the 
Fryth — the name is unknown now — nor can I describe 
the 7CX) acres. 

The decrees of the court of Star Chamber are all 
missing, and we could never have known what was 
decided, but for a later suit in Edward VI.'s time, with 
which we shall deal later on. 

Abbot Carleton had been defending his claims by 
armed force. Only three years were to elapse, before 
his power, himself, and his abbey, were to be over- 
whelmed together by a final catastrophe. The great house, 
a thing of always, rooted in men's imagination as an 
immemorial oak, was to be uprooted. 

A revolutionary change for Theberton ! The familiar 
figures of the canons would be seen no longer about the 
lanes and paths of the parish ; the abbey church would 



"POVERTY THEIR CAPTAIN" 77 

no more re-echo their chants and litanies ; the poor 
and needy would lose the brethren's never-failing alms ; 
the sick would no more benefit by the medical skill 
and chanty of monkish leeches ; children would no 
longer be taught ; and tenants would lose their good 
old landlords, who had so often stood " between poor 
men and the devil " — it always had been " good living 
under the crook." There was ground for fear that their 
lay successors would raise the rents of farms, even of 
cottages. 

True it is, that the fate of the monasteries v/as 
inevitable — envied owners of one-fifth to one-third, so 
say the authorities, of all the land of the country, and 
patrons, appropriators, of countless rectories. 

Langland, in Piers Plowman, had in the fourteenth 
century foretold the fall of religious houses at the 
hand of a king ; and Erasmus seeing the shrine of St. 
Thomas a Becket, had declared that those who had 
heaped up such a mass of treasure, would one day be 
plundered. The air had long been full of mutterings 
presaging storms to come. Moreover, with this tempting 
wealth under his feet, Henry VHI. was now in sore 
straits for money ; his wars with both France and 
Scotland, and his reckless extravagance, had exhausted 
the hoards his thrifty father had laid up for him. 

He had had already to resort to unpopular expedients ; 
in 1524, all men worth ^40 had been required to pay 
in one lump sum a subsidy properly spread over four 
years ; which had proved so insupportable, Speed says, 
" to the poorer sort of subjects, that payment was, with 
weepings and cursings, utterly denied to collectors, 
almost provoking open rebellion." Suffolk indeed had 
taken arms, making "poverty their captain." In 1526 
again, when commissioners were sent to levy the sixth 



78 AFTER THE DISSOLUTION 

part of the goods of all laymen, and the fourth part of 
the clergy's, the discontent was so great, that the king 
had to disavow the tax, and despatch letters through 
England, that he would ask nothing but by way of 
benevolence. 

The blow no doubt had long been impending ; yet it 
can hardly be, that so fell an outrage upon the rights of 
property did not come like an earthquake shock at last. 

Royal commissioners, Sir Thomas Russhe, Richard 
Southwell, and Thomas Myldemay, had made an 
inventory of the plate and other valuables used for 
religious services, together with the household goods 
and farming stock — all the movable property — of the 
House of Leyston ; and had delivered these goods to the 
keeping of the abbot, for use and behoof of " the lord 
the King." That " advocate and kinsman of the poor " 
did not get very much. Only goods appraised (we have 
the inventory) at £^2. \6s. 3</., equivalent to say ;^420 
of our money, was secured for His Majesty from the 
clutches of lesser robbers. 

The first result of the Dissolution in country parishes 
was an outbreak of lawless violence. The honoured 
fabrics were given up to pillage. The King's command 
was, in all cases, to " pull down to the ground the walls 
of the churches, steeples, cloisters, frateries, dorters, 
(common sleeping rooms), chapter houses, and all other 
houses, saving those necessary for farmers ; " and faith- 
fully, too faithfully, alas, was it obeyed. I have no 
evidence concerning Leiston in particular, but we read 
that, throughout England, the mean folk gathered 
greedily about their prey, and that, so long as " door 
window iron or glass or lead, remained to be plundered, 
raingeing rabblements of rascals " could hardly be 
driven away. One can imagine the spoilers tearing up 



JOHN GRENE THE HERMIT 79 

" the seats in the choir, and melting the lead therewithal!, 
till all things of value were spoiled, carried away and 
defaced to the uttermost." 

The poor rector of Theberton, Robert Folkelyn had 
good reason, we cannot doubt, to blush with shame for 
his parishioners. 

Not much of either the original abbey which Glanvil 
built, nor of the third abbey, seems to have been thought 
" necessary for farmers," for little was preserved. 
Glanvil's old house, before (not long before) the Suppres- 
sion had been deserted by the brethren ; it only sheltered 
a hermit, a former abbot of Leyston, John Grene, who 
in 1 53 1 "of his own will relinquishing his Abbacy, was 
consecrated a hermit at the chapel of St. Mary in the 
old convent near the sea," And there tradition says he 
died and was buried. And of the third abbey little was 
saved, besides its walls, which for generations after 
served as a mine for highway surveyors. 

Of the later life of Robert Folkelyn we know little. 
In 1549, I find that he held land of the manor of 
Middleton-Fordley. In 1553, the year of Mary's acces- 
sion, a mandate was issued for the induction of one 
William Stephenson. Stephenson ought to have been first 
instituted, but I cannot find that he ever was, in fact, either 
instituted or inducted. Folkelyn seems to have resigned 
his living, or, possibly having married under the Act 
of 1548 was ejected in 1553 or 1554. In the Diocesan 
Registry of Visitations, marked in pencil " 1 554-1 566" 
we find his name with the description "presbiter," 
under that of his successor Johannes Maysteman de- 
scribed as " Rector," Perhaps, after vacating his living 
he stayed on at Theberton, as I find his name as a land- 
owner of the parish in 1561. This is the last we know 
of him, his death is not recorded in the register. 



80 THE PARAPHRASE OF ERASMUS 

Great alterations in churches and church worship were 
brought about during the brief reign of Edward VI. 
Henry VHI. had prohibited all under the degree of 
gentleman and gentlewoman from reading the Scrip- 
tures. Edward VI. ordered the bible of the largest 
volume in English, and the Paraphrase of Erasmus 
upon the gospels — in translating which it is noteworthy 
that both Queen Katharine and the Lady Mary had 
assisted — to be placed in churches, so that the parishioners 
might resort thither and read them. Happily our 
church's copy of the Paraphrase is preserved still. 
From time beyond men's memories there had stood a 
stone altar at the east end of Theberton Church ; no 
doubt the order to demolish it had been obeyed, and a 
wooden table, which the communicants sat round, was 
placed in the middle of the nave. All images were 
defaced under an Act of Parliament. The use of the 
Protestant liturgy, and attendance at the new services, 
were enforced by law. The holy Sacrament was to 
be ministered to the people in both kinds, bread and 
wine ; this " being more comformable," as the Act ex- 
pressed it, " to the common use and practice of the 
Apostles and primitive church by the space of five 
hundred years after Christ's Ascension." 

Confusion and irregularities were general for a long 
time, of which parishes adjacent to Theberton supply 
some evidence. In 1597, one Deyntery the curate of 
Leyston, not appearing at a bishop's visitation, was 
excommunicated, because "he weareth not the surplis, 
he doth not catechize the youth, he hath not walked the 
perambulations." In the same year, at Middleton, a 
" meere laye-man readcth Divine service." At Kelshall 
(now corruptly called Kelsale), they "had not moneth 
(month) sermondes," The rector — Brood by name — 



WALKING THE PERAMBULATION 81 

" doth not catechize the yowth, he went not the peram- 
bulations." Brood said he was ready to catechize, " but 
for that they come not to him " ; he was warned to 
amend his faults. At Westleton, Elizabeth Bedingfield 
widow and Master Francis Bedingfield, not having 
received the communion there for twelve months, were 
excommunicated ; and may be were prosecuted afterwards 
as recusants. 

It was then a parson's duty to " walk the perambu- 
lation." The Rogation Day's processions, with banners, 
bells, lights and so forth, had been discontinued at the 
Reformation, but parish perambulations were now 
required by law. Elizabeth had enjoined the people, 
once in the year, with the curate to walk round their 
parish as they were accustomed, and at their return to the 
church, to make there their common prayers. And the 
curate was, at certain convenient places, to admonish the 
people, and give thanks to God, as they beheld His bene- 
fits, and for the increase and abundance of the fruits of 
the earth. The 104th Psalm had to be said, and the 
minister was to inculcate such sentences as : " Cursed be he 
which translateth the bounds and dolles of his neighbour." 

1554, John Masterman, or Maysteman, or Mayster- 
man, was instituted to the Rectory of Theberton ; 
Robert Browne, described as one of the barons of the 
Lady Queen, having presented him. How Browne 
acquired the right is rather interesting. It seems that 
George Carleton last abbot of Leyston had granted his 
next presentation to one John Compton ; Compton had 
died leaving Thomas Whight his executor, and Browne 
had acquired this presentation from Whight. It may 
be that with the break up of his House in prospect, 
Carleton, during the last years of his abbacy, had made 
friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, and sold the 



82 THE SOKE OF LEYSTON 

next presentation to John Compton, and that the crown 
had recognised that sale, and was content to take subject 
to it. At all events, the title, neither of Browne nor of 
Masterman, was ever, so far as we know, brought in 
question. Browne was a lessee from the Crown of the 
site of the ancient abbey by the sea, of a warren of 
conies of two miles' compass, and of five hundred acres 
of marsh land, all late the property of the community ; 
and he was also owner, as purchaser from the Crown, 
of the site and the demesne lands of the great third 
abbey. 

It was against this Robert Browne, lessee from the 
Crown and owner of Abbey lands, that certain " poor 
tenants of the soke of Leyston " commenced in Edward 
VI.'s time, the later suit that has been referred to. 

The soke of Leiston ! " Manor and lordship " are 
familiar expressions, but not so familiar now is the word 
"soke." Until its forced surrender to the Crown, the 
abbots had been lords of the manor or lordship of 
Leyston, and their jurisdiction, for a long time — at all 
events from 1327 when it was rated for a subsidy under 
that name — had been known also as a soke. There 
were and are other Ecclesiastical jurisdictions called 
sokes : great sokes for example of Peterborough and 
Southwell, and of the Bishops of Winchester and 
London, and nearer home there was one at Thetford. 
Peterborough was under no county Lord Lieutenant, 
but had its own Custos Rotulorum and separate Com- 
mission of the Peace. To the soke of Southwell twenty 
" touns " were subject, and the Archbishops of York 
appointed both its Custos Rotulorum and justices. 
Thetford had, I think, its own magistracy distinct from 
the county. 

I know of no such special privileges of this soke of 



TENANTS OF THE SOKE VERSUS BROWNE 83 

Leyston. The abbot as lord of the soke, had his own 
court in which his bailiff presided, and his own constable, 
his own stocks and prison, and his own gallows. He 
would, independently of the Hundred Court of Blything, 
appoint in his Court Leet an ale-taster, who would see 
that the ale sold in his Liberty was " fit for man's body," 
and likewise that the bread was of good weight. All 
freeholders within the soke were bound to attend the 
Courts Leet held once a year, and so also were all 
persons who, the term was, were " commorant," — usually 
sleeping — therein 

The soke comprised one hundred and ninety-one 
tenants and tenantries, besides the " hanborowes " ^ who 
had been accustomed to come to the manorial courts ; 
and it extended into our parish, in which there are still 
many tenements holden of the Leyston manor. Some 
of the " certain poor tenants " therefore must have been 
parishioners of Theberton. Among the matters of 
complaint were alleged acts of waste in woods of the 
lordship described as within a mile of the sea, out of 
which, in the six or seven years last past, it was said that 
over four hundred oaks meet for ship timber had been 
taken. The complainants then referred to the former 
suit in the Star Chamber, concerning rights of pasture, 
over, it was now said, five hundred acres. They stated 
that it had pleased the late King Henry VHI. to appoint 
certain gentlemen to sit in commission, to set an indif- 
ferent end upon the matter in variance ; that the com- 
mission sat accordingly, and that it was agreed that the 
inhabitants of " Feverton " should have the use of sixty 

* This curious word " hanborowes " is, as Professor Skeat has 
kindly pointed out to me, a variant of " handborowes " ; fully 
explained in the New English Dictionary, which has : " lit. hand- 
pledge or security, a name for one (or each) of the nine sureties 
associated with the ' head-borow ' in a frank-pledge." 

G 2 



84 CLAIM FOR COMMON RIGHTS 

acres only, whereas from time immemorial they had 
enjoyed a moiety of the said five hundred acres, the 
tenants of Layston enjoying the other moiety. That 
now, the tenants of Layston and Feverton enjoyed 
between them only about one hundred and forty to one 
hundred and sixty acres, and that the said Robert 
Browne kept the residue in his own hands. 

The answer of the defendant Robert Browne was 
that : — As for the claim of the tenants of Theberton to 
pasture over five hundred acres of what had been the 
demesne of the Monastery ; as far as he could learn they 
had no title in law, nor had ever had any right. In the 
abbot's time, the tenants were allowed to send certain 
of their cattle on to the soft or marsh grounds belonging 
to the Abbey, and to take rushes from the marshes for 
their thatch. If any of the inhabitants' beasts happened 
to feed on the hard lands of the Abbey, the abbot used 
to distrain for damage. Browne further stated that the 
Commissioners, Sir John Jerningham knight, and 
Edmund Rous Esqre., had examined both the ground 
and the witnesses, and, by agreement, set stakes and 
marks where the inhabitants should make a ditch in the 
said marsh, thereby enclosing a parcel thereof to them- 
selves. 

Of what happened further in this matter we have no 
knowledge ; but it will be seen later on that the poor 
folk of Theberton exercised common rights in a large 
area of marsh and fen down to a recent period. 



CHAPTER VII 

In 1606, there was a tragedy in the Browne family. 
Agnes the wife of John Browne son or grandson of 
Robert Browne, murdered her husband ; and, Suckling 
says that one Peter their servant was gibbeted for the 
crime. What happened to Agnes we do not know ; we 
have depositions, taken upon an enquiry as to the King's 
right to her goods, which shows that she had been con- 
demned as a felon. The gibbet on which Peter was 
executed was the manorial gibbet of the manor of 
Leiston, the site of which according to a perambulation 
of that manor, made in 1620, may be found : — by follow- 
ing " the brook between Thorpe and Haslewood manors, 
until you come unto Friday Market Heath, and then, 
leaving the water-course, following the hedge south-west 
until you come next a green way," which will be 
"beyond the gibbet." I hope this may make the 
position clear to my local readers. It is not at all clear 
to me. 

John Masterman lived all through Mary's reign, that 
bloody time of inhuman persecution in the desecrated 
name of our holy religion. It was in the first year 
of his incumbency that, most likely he as well as others 
from Theberton, trudged the three miles along the 
" meadow lane," to see the martyrdom of Roger Coo, 

85 



86 A MARTYRDOM AT YOXFORD 

who, " an aged father," was " cruelly committed to the 
fire at Yoxford where he most blessedly ended his years 

in 1555." 

Conceive it, now in these good days of religious 
equality when all Englishmen are free to obey their 
consciences, that Christian folk could have stood tamely 
by, to see an innocent old man burned to death at the 
stake, with horrible torments ; only because he refused 
to admit the doctrine of the Real Presence. 

Whether Masterman was at heart a " bitter Papist," 
we do not know, but we know this, that he read 
the Liturgy in the vulgar tongue, did not oppose the 
again taking down of images, and when the oath 
of supremacy was in the first year of Queen Elizabeth 
tendered to him, he did not refuse to take it. De- 
privation would have followed refusal ; the fact is, 
however, that he held the living until his death, for in 
1570, we find the institution of his successor, Robert 
Page clerk, per mortem ultimi Rectoris sive Inaimbentis. 
Why the last words sive Incumbetttis were used, I am 
not able to expain. 

It was during Masterman's time, that in a letter 
to Archbishop Parker, signed by " Robert Wingfield, 
Wyllyam Caundysh, Wym. Hopton, Thomas Colbyn 
of Beckles (who built Roos Hall) and Thomas Playter," 
all persons of eminence in Suffolk, it was alleged that 
there was not one preacher (query licensed preacher) 
in a great circuit, viz, : from Blythburgh to Ipswich which 
is twenty miles distant and ten miles in breadth along 
the sea coast ! 

Thomas Cromwell well-named malleus monachorum, 
a blacksmith's son, had succeeded the Ipswich grazier's 
son, and was now the King's Vicar General. In 1538, 
he commanded that all parishes should keep registers 



OUR EARLIEST PARISH REGISTER 87 

of christenings, marriages, and burials ; but not till 
ten years after was this done at Theberton. Our first 
register dates from 1548. In 1597, registers having 
been kept carelessly, Convocation issued an injunction 
confirmed by Queen Elizabeth, that copies into new 
books should be made of the existing registers, and 
that each page of the new books should be attested 
by the signatures of incumbents and of churchwardens. 

The first book of our register, which is a copy made 
pursuant to the injunction, begins thus : — " M"" y* this 
Register Book was maid in the yeare of our Lord God 
i598,and y* Conteyneth the Christeninges, marriages, and 
burialles from the yeare of our Lord God 1548, which 
were in this toune of Theberton in the Countie of Suff." 
And the subsequent pages were duly signed at foot by 
the then incumbent " Reighnald Plumer as minister 
or parson there," who will be referred to later. 

I have myself, with help for the oldest and most 
crabbed hand-writings, read all our parish registers, but 
cannot ask readers to follow me through tedious lists 
of names, to which no possible interest attaches. There 
are a few such entries as : — 

In 1559, "a certaine travellinge man which died 
at Eastbridge," was buried. 

In 1563 " Robert Adams, son of Nycholas was drouned 
in a pit and hurried." 

The original book had indeed been negligently kept. 
For some years no entries at all were made ; and in the 
copy is now and again written : — Such a year " is 
wantynge in the ould Regester booke." 

In 1574, occurs the first entry relating to the Jenney 
family : — " M"^ Anne Jenney, the doughterof Arthur 
Jenney Esquier, bapt. 18 Aprill." Arthur Jenney was 
to inherit the manor of Theberton, and to hold his first 



88 AN OLD THEBERTON LAWSUIT 

court in 1 590. He had been preceded by ancestors of 
whom some have made their appearance already. Sir 
William, of Doonwych's time, a judge of the King's 
Bench, and Sir Edmund the donee of " one buk " from 
Framlingham, will be remembered. 

Arthur Jenney was buried here in 1604, and Christopher 
his younger brother in 1609, but no monuments of 
either remain. The family continued to hold the manor 
till the last years of the seventeenth century. 

At this time, the Jenneys were an unhappy family. 
In 1584, when Arthur Jenney was living at Theberton, 
his father Francis Jenney of Knoddishall a parish three 
miles off, was an old man of seventy-four. Against 
him and one Thomas Okeley as co-defendant, Arthur 
instituted a suit in Chancery. He stated that his father 
was tenant for life, with remainder to himself, of a certain 
park and grounds adjoining, called Theberton Park, with 
divers other lands and tenements ; that his father being 
very aged, and the house and buildings at Theberton 
very ruinous and in great decay, his father induced him 
to take the premises on lease ; and that he, upon hope 
of the fatherly good-will and liking of his father, had 
upon entreaty been content to remove his dwelling from 
Norfolk, and to take the said park and lands on lease for 
twenty-one years should his father so long live, at a rent 
of ;{^220, the lease being dated in 1 566. Arthur, and one 
John Jernegan (his wife's name had been Elye Jernegan) 
had become bound in ;C400 for payment of the rent. 

Francis Jenney the father, by his answer, said that all 
Arthur's statements were most false and untrue, devised 
only to vex and trouble him, and thereby to shorten his 
days if that were possible ; that Arthur advised by the 
Duchess of Suffolk and other friends, had solicited the 
lease ; and that, though dissuaded by his own friends 



CONCERNING THEBERTON HALL 89 

as it would be committing the greatest part of his living 
into his son's hands, he did in fact make the lease as 
stated ; that his son did not pay the rent ; that he had 
gently sought to obtain it, but would not put the matter 
in controversy in his old age ; and further, that the 
surety Jernegan had fallen into great decay, and was not 
of ability to satisfy his bond. 

The other defendant Thomas Okely in his answer 
alleged that the suit had been devised by Arthur and 
his father on purpose to put him to vexation ; and that 
they also had " set towards him Christopher Jenney," the 
younger brother, " a very malicious person." 

Arthur filed a replication, stating that for eleven or 
twelve years he had endeavoured to get the matter 
peaceably settled by reference to friends ; that he had, 
since his years of discretion, always been as dutiful to his 
father as any son he had — which was not saying much, for 
he added that the extremities he endured at the hands 
of his father came not of his father himself, but by evil 
counsel, lewd advice, and practices, of Christopher his 
own younger brother. 

I find other references of about the same date to the 

old park, and mention of the hall, of Theberton. In a 

Particular of the Manor, is described " the Seate of the 

Manor called Thebarton Halle with the Parke lying in 

Theberton and Fordlye,^ beinge well builded, with a 

gardine, orchard, meadowes, pastures, and earable (arable) 

lands, woods, timbers, and underwoods." Besides the 

" halle " there is mentioned, among other lands occupied 

by the lord of the manor on the farm then called Park 

Closes, " one close called Whinney Close containing 20 

* Can this be the park in Fordley, before referred to as described 
on the rolls of that Manor ? There is presumptive evidence that 
at this time the Theberton park contained no deer, but was under 
tillage. 



90 PARISH TOPOGRAPHY 

acres," also " one Mansion House with a brickell (brick 
kiln) and house, with the close called More Close." The 
road now the " hall road," was then known as More or 
Moor Lane. It is probable that the wood now called 
the " Whin covert " occupies part of Whinney Close, and 
that the " Mansion House with a brickell " stood on 
the site of the wood now " Kiln or Kell Grove." The 
Particular bears no date, but it refers to the reign of 
Mary as seemingly recent, and to acts as lord of the 
manor, of Francis Jenney, who I take it was the Francis 
of Knodishall defendant in the Chancery suit. 

We read also of a " Park House " in Theberton. 
There is this entry in our Register for 1587: "John 
Neele, which was slaine by ye cavinge of the grounde 
in Mr. Jenney's well at the parck house in theberton, 
was buried the 21 Dale of Auguste." This Mr. Jenney 
must have been Arthur, who was living upon the property 
demised to him by his father. 

The Moor lane or Hall road had then wider grassy 
margins than now, for " the several feadings of the 
Highways leading from Theberton Hall to the Kelshall 
closes and meadows " appertaining to the manor, were 
put at five acres. 

The " rents of assize free or bond of the manor, with 
daies works, rente henns, and other services by the 
yeare " were set at £^. is. lod. The present lord of 
the manor has never received either the days' works, 
rent hens, or other services, or any part of the ;^3. is. lod.^ 
and fears that they are gone beyond recovery. 

In 1574, Robert Page then rector, quaintly described 
as "old parson of Theberton," and Margaret Hooe were 
married the last day of March. Page's successor Reignald 
Plummer, the copyist of this part of the register, must 
lie under suspicion of having added the " old." 



THE INGHAM FAMILY 91 

In 1578, we find the first mention of the Inghams — 
inhabitants of Theberton for centuries — " Katharaine 
Ingam the doughter of Thomas was baptized ye 2nd 
of March." In later years, both this name and the old 
name of Jenney recurs in the register too often to be 
repeated. 

In 1584, "Thomas Smith curate of Theberton was 
buried." Either he was a curate of Robert Page, or, 
which I think more probable, was, on the death of Page, 
the date of which I do not know, serving the cure pend- 
ing a new appointment to the Rectory. 

In 1585, Reignald orReighnald or Reginald Plummer, 
M.A., was instituted to the parish church, vacant by the 
death of the last rector. 

About this incumbent I have gleaned a few notices. 

At the Easter visitation of 1597, the outgoing wardens, 
whose names are in the register, Robert Beare and 
Roger Clemence, presented that " the parsonage howses 
are somewhat decayed " adding, however, that " he 
(Plummer) preacheth everye Sondaye." Plummer ap- 
peared, and objected that the houses had been repaired 
in part, adding, rather superfluously, one might think, 
that he was a master of arts ! ^ One Thwayte swore 
that all the " decayes " had been repaired by him, but 
there had been some " decayes " since, by reason of a 
" tempest and bigg wynde." 

The churchwardens were themselves presented, for 

^ He evidently desired to make it clear that he was not what 
Fuller called a " mean minister." Mr. Ditchfield, in his " Old 
Time Parson," says that in the Archdeaconry of St. Alban's, 
ministers not preachers (I think he means licensed preachers) or 
masters of arts, had to be examined periodically as to their 
competence by the archdeacon, or the judge of his Court. One 
.vicar was dull and " not competent," but he afterwards improved, 
obtained a licence, and was reported to be preaching " painfully 
and diligently in his parish." 



n COMMUNICANTS AND RECUSANTS 

that a silver cover for the communion cup was a-wanting ; 
and they, not appearing, were then and there excom- 
municated. Beare appeared afterwards, and was ordered 
to provide a cover before Christmas, and that was done. 
The church still possesses a chalice, said to date from 

1574- 

In 1603, the Bishop (Jegon) of Norwich, in pursuance 
of directions from the Archbishop, required a return 
from each parish in his diocese, of the number of com- 
municants, the number of recusants and non-receivers of 
communion, and as to any other benefice held by the 
incumbent. According to Plummer's return, there were 
one hundred and twenty communicants, no recusants, 
no non-receivers of communion in Theberton ; and he 
added that he served an impropriation — another cure, at 
the stipend of ;Cio a-year. 

As communion was compulsory, the return proves 
that one hundred and twenty was then about the adult 
population of our parish. 

It was the impropriate church of Middleton that 
Plummer, certainly from 1603 to 1606, and I think 
during other years, was serving as curate. In 1606, he 
was presented for baptizing the child of a woman, a 
stranger in that parish, which he denied (why should not 
he have baptized it), and was warned for not " catechizing 
on Sondaye." 

Good Parson Plummer need not have indulged in 
sarcasm on his predecessor for marrying — Reighnold 
himself and his wife Issabel had seventeen children 
whose names are in the register. Fortunately for them 
agriculture and all the country trades which feed upon and 
are fed by that great mother of industries, were just then 
prosperous ; for though out of the seventeen only seven 
survived, those seven had to be clothed and educated 



AGRICULTURAL PROSPERITY 93 

and put out in the world. Thomas Tusser, who farmed 
for a time at Cattawade on the Essex edge of our county, 
though a professor of detail, and as a Solomon to teach 
others, and careful and prudent withal, found that his 
own sad lot was as he wrote 

In Suffolk soil 

For hope of pelf like worldly elf 

To moil and toil 
To cark and care and even bare 
With loss of pain to little gain. 

He failed — perhaps too much the gentleman, but the 
home-bred farmers, sons of the soil, were generally- 
prosperous. It is the fact that rents had risen ; but 
still Harrison says that whereas " they were scarce 
able in former times to live and pay their rent without 
selling of a cow or a horse or more," now, although " four 
pound of old rent be improved to forty or fifty pound, 
yet will the farmer think his gain very small toward the 
midst of his term, if he have not six or seven years rent 
lying by him therewith to purchase a new lease." 

Striking too was the improvement about this date in 
the standard of living. " So common," we read, " were 
all sorts of treene (wooden) vessels in old time, that a 
man should hardly find four pieces of pewter in a good 
farmer's house"; whereas, in this his own time, Harrison 
tells us, the farmer would have " a fair garnish of pewter 
on his cowboard (cupboard), three or four feather beds, 
so many coverlets and carpets of tapestry, a silver salte, 
a bowle for wine — if not a whole nest — and a dosen of 
spoons, to furnish up the sute." 

Here is an actual list of all the belongings — furniture 
implements and stock — left by a small farmer of our 
parish of Theberton in 1582, with the value set upon 
every article. 



94 AN ELIZABETHAN FARMER'S BELONGINGS 

"AnSDml 1582 

" An Invetorye of the goods and chattals of Wyllam 
Geads of ffeaberton in the Countye of Suff. husbondman deciseassed, 
made the thirde daye of november in the yere of the Raigne of our 
Soveraigne Ladye Elyzabethe Queene of Inglond ffraunce and 
Irelond Defendor of the faythe &c, 24th. prised by us Thomas 
Syer, Robertt ffrenche, Robert Baker, Henry Hill, and Thomas 
Base. 

In primis his aprell 

I tin one payer of tongs, two cobirons, a gridiron, a 

fierpane, and two hayles (a) 

Itfh fower chaiers, one dresser and forme, and a little 

stole 

Itra one table planke (i>) 

I tin m pewter 15 peces, fyve saults, one morter and a 

pestle, two canstacks (c) and a grater 

Itiri 6 chossens {d) 

Itiii in brase 7 kettles, one pott, towe skelletts (e) a frien 

pane, a skomer (e) and a spiett (e) 

Itin one flock bed as it stand ther, one covering with 

hangings therto 

Itiri two ould Koffers 

Itin another flockbed as it stand w*** a coveringe and 

hangings therto 

Itfn 6 pillows 

Itiii 2 Koffers 

Itin in ale vessells thre, two potts, treninge (/) dysshes, 

treninge spones, and treninge platters, and 

trenchers 20 

Itin one featherbed as it stand in the chamber, wth the 

hangings therto belonging and two coverings . . 25 8 

Itin in chese thre qrters 20 o 

Itin 14 payer of shetts 6 pillowberes (;?•), fower table 

clothes, fower table napkings, wth the rest of the 

other Linninge 40 o 

Itin half a come (A) of Wheat 40 

Itin 40 pound wole 50 

Itin 8 li. hempe o 16 

(a) An iron contrivance to hang a pot over the fire, from the 
Dan. ^le originally a tail — see Eng. Dialect Dictionary. 
(d) For trestles. 

(c) Candlesticks. 

(d) Cushions. 

(e) Small kettles or boilers. Skimmer. Spit. 
(/) \yooden. 

(V) Pillow cases. 
(n) Coomb. 



s. 


d. 


13 


4 


3 





2 





2 





10 








20 


26 





10 





2 





10 





6 


8 


2 


6 



THE CHURCH FARM 95 

s. d. 

Itm 2 potts of buttur 20 

Itm in mathocks, sides, pick forks, hoks, hatchetts, 

and wimbles (/), wth other iron 6 8 

Itm one chese prese, 9 bowles, 4 kelers {j), one charne 

{k), thre fatts, and a tube 20 o 

Itm two fanes, two skepes 30 

Itin a payer of querns, one towcome (/), a passhell im) 

and thre payles , 3 4 

Itm in gysse, duxe and henes 80 

Itm the corne in the Barne, with the Haye ther ... 10 o o 

Itin one haye stake 134 

Itin the wheat one the ground 30 o 

Itm one cartte, one plough e, the carte trayse {n) wth 

counters and sheres therto, collers and Dudfens {o\ 

two panejls, one cart sadle, one bridle, and a payer 

ofharrous 20 o 

Itiri the hempe unpilled 50 

Itrn two sythes, one iron Rake 40 

Itiri thre of the best mylche neat (/), the w'^'' are gyven 

to the children 500 

Itiri fyve other mylche neat 613 8 

Itiri two buds {q) • 30 o 

Itin one kalf 50 

Itin thre mares 400 

Itin thre Lambs 7 o 

Itin two hogs, one sowe, and sijxe Shotts (r) . • , . 33 4 

li. s. d. 
Some totalis 44 126. 

Possibly Wyllyam Geads lived at the Church Farm 
house, the greater part of which certainly dates from 
Tudor days. The old messuage is yet little altered, nor 
can there be much alteration in its surroundings. It stands 
just off the road ; and from its windows, perhaps in Geads' 

(?) Augers. 

{j) Shallow wooden tubs for washing up. A word still used in 
Suffolk. 

{k) Churn. Spelling characteristic of Suffolk pronunciation. 

(/) For combing or dressing tow. 

\m) Query pestle. 

{n) Cart harness, the expression still used. 

\d) Cart-horse bridle, word still in use. 

\p) Milch cows. A cow stable is still called a neat-house. 

{q) Young bullocks about a year old. 

(r) Young pigs. 



96 STATE OF HIGHWAYS a.d. 1555 

time latticed with thin strips of wood like dairy windows 
now, or filled with oiled linen, for glass was expensive, 
overlooks the three cottages across the road, as old 
possibly as itself; and is looked down upon by the 
ancient round tower of the church. 

The now good road from Leiston to Yoxford, was 
then a " wikkede wey," deserving the statement in the 
Act of 1555 whereby the first surveyors had been 
appointed, that highways generally were "both very 
noisome, tedious to travel, and dangerous to passengers 
and carriages." 

By carriages, of course was meant wheeled vehicles of 
every kind, farm carts for example ; private carriages 
had but just come into use, and there were few of them. 
The Earl of Arundell is said to have owned the first coach 
two years before Geads' death in 1580. 

In the village street southward of the church, no very old 
houses remain. Most prominent is the modern inn, the 
Lion. I find no record of an older inn on the same site ; 
but the register for 1589 mentions an Eastbridge inn : 
— " Duncane Agnisse, a saylor of Southold which died 
at Eastbridge Inne, was buried the 22 of Marche." 
As this was the year following the Spanish Armada, 
and as Southwold had fitted out thirteen armed ships to 
fight the invaders, it is not unlikely that poor Duncane 
Agnisse had fought for his country in one of them. 

With our parish accounts, as with our manor rolls, we 
are unfortunate. Had early accounts ^ been preserved, 
we should have found, no doubt, entries of charges for 
food and clothes and arms for soldiers ; even with- 
out evidence, however, we may assume that men were 

* All the parish accounts, not lost stolen or strayed, have lately 
been sorted, repaired, and bound in books, and are now in custody 
of the Parish Council. 



THE EASTBRIDGE INN, a.d. 1589 97 

trained here, as we know they were in neighbouring 
villages. Suffolk did what it could. One hundred and 
thirty-one Suffolk gentlemen contributed ;^3625. From 
Kelsale, one Lambert Nolloth subscribed £2$, and 
Thomas Rivett of Brockford, an ancestor of mine, gave a 
like sum. No money was, so far as we know, sent from 
Theberton ; but when, some years later, 1599, " authority 
called footmen and horsemen out of the shire into the 
parts of Essex near London for defence of the court 
against secret purposes intended," we find our acquain- 
tance Arthur Jenney contributing one horse for service 
of Her Majesty. 

I wonder whether the old Eastbridge inn displayed a 
sign in the fifteen hundreds ; and, if so, how the painter 
depicted a thing so strange as an eel's foot, which 
the present beer-house is named after. In those days, 
when an inn-holder brewed the liquor he sold, surely 
the sign of an eel's foot in it would have been too 
significant of adulteration. 

To adulterate the Englishman's barley wine — the 
" ryght goode ale which God sent us, a myghty drynke 
for the commune people," has always been held as sinful 
as sacrilege ; and has ever been punished by publicity. 
At the present day, an offender's name, upon a second 
conviction, is printed in the newspapers. In mediaeval 
times, publicity was secured by means as effectual and 
more nasty. A brewer who tampered with ale, we 
had no hops then and no beer, was made a shameful 
spectacle — driven about public places in a dung cart. 
So far back as the thirteenth century this had been the 
practice, and it followed a yet more ancient precedent. 
The law was in the Conqueror's time, that Malam 
cerevisiam faciens ift cathedrd ponebatur stercoris. 

The earliest but one of our former church bells was 

H 



98 OUR OLD CHURCH BELLS 

dated 1594, and bore the arms of France and of 
England, the royal initials E. R., and the words nos 
sumus instructi ad laudem Domifii. The late Dr. Raven 
told me that there had been an earlier bell dated 1553 ; 
and he records the dates of three others, two of 1614 and 
one 1663 by John Darbie. 



CHAPTER VIII 

Good old Tusser, who got no pelf from his Suffolk 
farming, has yet left us debtors for the treasures of his 
experience. His notable old saws, in doggerel rhyme to 
hold the memory, afford a life-like view of Elizabethan 
husbandry and housewifery. We see not only the year's 
work of such a husbandman as Wyllyam Geads, but 
also the wise indoor management of such a housewife 
as we may believe was Mistress Geads. Let me refer 
my readers to the book itself — the famous " Five 
Hundred Points of Good Husbandry," of which the 
best edition is the reprint of 1812. A few slight 
quotations must suffice here. 

Among the goods in Geads' inventory, as in most in- 
ventories of the time, was a parcel of hemp. In 1533, it 
had been enacted by Parliament, that all persons occu- 
pying sixty acres of arable land, should grow a quarter 
acre of hemp or flax every year. Under this Act, to all 
the larger holdings were attached " hemp lands " ; and 
the word survives still as a field name, though its origin 
is almost, if not quite, forgotten, v 

Flax was harvested in July, for which month Tusser 
advises : 

Now pluck up the flax for the maidens to spin ; * 

^ According to Brother Bartholomew, who wrote in the twelfth 
or thirteenth century, there was much and "divers work and 

99 H 2 



100 CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES 

And the " fimble " or female hemp at the same time : 

Wife pluck fro' thy seed hemp, the fimble hemp clean, 
This looketh more yellow, the other more green, 
Use t'one for thy spinning, leave Michell the t'other, 
For shoe thread, and halter, for rope, and such other. 

The " carle " or male hemp was not harvested till 
Michell (Michaelmas), when we are told : — 

Now pluck up thy hemp, and go beat out the seed, 
And afterward water it as ye see need ; 
But not in the river where cattle should drink, 
For poisoning them and the people with stink. 

With the last lines, no person who has tied up his 
boat in a Friesch canal, to leeward of retting hemp, can 
fail to sympathise. 

Often, a Suffolk field bears the name " camping close," 
from a rough kind of football once played there — a 
game quite obsolete now in these parts. The more 
grass is trampled in winter the better. Tusser accord- 
ingly advised : 

Get campers a ball 
To camp therewithal. 

And, 

In meadow and pasture — to grow the more fine, 
Let campers be camping in any of thine. 

How such people as Master Geads and his jolly neigh- 
bours feasted at Christmastide is told with great gusto ; 
those old-fashioned yeomen did indeed enjoy high 
feeding : 

Good bread and good drink, a good fire in the hall, 
Brawn pudding and souse, and good mustard withall, 
Beef, mutton, and pork, shred (mince) pies of the best. 
Pig, veal, goose, and capon, and turkey well drest. 
Cheese, apples, and nuts, joly carols to hear, 
As then in the country is counted good cheer. 

travail," before the flax reached the maidens' hands. After being 
taken out of the water and dried in the sun, it was " knocked, 
beaten, and brayed and carfled, rodded, and gnodded, ribbed and 
heckled — and at the last spun." 



HOLLOAING LARGESSE KH 

The roasting spit was then turned by a dog, a turn- 
spit or turnbroche, 

Good diligent turnbroche and trusty withall 
Is sometimes as needful! as some in the hall. 

Field sports for farmers, Tusser, rather to one's 
surprise, did not approve of; fowling-pieces had not 
been invented, and hawking was a sport considered meet 
only for " gentlemen and persons of quality." Our 
sage's reflection is : — 

Though some have a pleasure with hawk upon hand, 
Good husbands get treasure to purchase their land. 

And though we read elsewhere that, about that time, 
"the cheife sport of the yeomanry most delightful for 
their chace " was hare hunting, Tusser does not allude 
to it. 

Saffron, used for bleaching linen, and for cooking, was 
commonly grown in Suffolk, particularly in the Wood- 
bridge district. In August : 

When harvest is gone, 
Then saffron comes on ; 
A little of ground 
Brings saffron a pound. 

We still, in remote places, call the leading man in 
the harvest field, the " lord " ; and the ancient custom of 
" holloaing largesse " is not yet forgotten ; I have heard 
it myself It was the same in Tusser's time, as Tusser 
himself witnesses : 

Grant harvest-lord more by a penny or two, 
To call on his fellows the better to do, 
Give gloves to thy reapers a largess to cry. 
And daily to loiterers have a good eye. 

The wonderful machines, which are the reapers now, 
do not need gloves. 

Turnips and mangold were then unknown in England, 



102 SUFFOLK FAIR MAIDS 

and when hay ran short in winter, there were hard times 
for sheep and for cattle : 

If snow do continue, sheep hardly that fare 
Crave mistle and ivy for them for to spare. 

Young people now have found more interesting uses 
for mistletoe. Were not the maids of Suffolk always 
fair ? Old Fuller certainly thought so, when he wrote 
" The God of Nature hath been bountiful, in giving them 
beautiful complexions." 

For cattle, the old farmers cut down boughs of 
trees : 

From every tree, the superfluous boughs 

Now prune for thy neat, thereupon to go browse. 

Suffolk has always been famous for its butter, which, 
as Fuller again oddly observed, was half our Saviour's 
fare in infancy — " butter and honey shall He eat " ; and 
likewise for its cheese, which Camden accounted good 
as that of Parma ; but which, made by more modern 
methods, of skimmed-milk, has been ofttimes flung into 
the hog trough, and there, our Suffolk ploughboy poet 
says, it long remained, defying even the pigs' teeth : 

in perfect spite 

Too big to swallow and too hard to bite. 

Tusser says that "Good dairy doth pleasure"; can 
we not fancy our smiling " fair maids " in the dairy, 
their faces bright with health and happiness ; or again, 
with their sleeves turned up, their dimpled arms in 
the wash tub, singing his quaint old rhyme : 

Dry Sun Dry Wind 
Safe Bind Safe Find. 

Go wash well saith Summer, with Sun I will dry. 
Go wring well saith Winter, with Wind so shall I. 



THEBERTON CHRISTIAN NAMES 103 

Ewes were milked in those days for the dairy, as they 
milk them now in Holland, and it seems, produced more 
for the grass they consumed than cows. 

Five ewes to a cow, make a proof by a score. 
Shall double thy dairy or trust me no more. 

Davy gives another extract from the lost Manor Rolls 
of Theberton, which must have been lost therefore since 
his time. It bears date in the 42nd year of Queen 
Elizabeth. I venture to transcribe the clerk's jumbled 
Latin : Curia cum leta tenia 14 Oct. 42 Eliz. capitales 
plegii super sacramentum dicunt quod Inhabitantes ville 
Theberton non utunt piliis — Anglice doe not were 
capps — secundum forman statuti in hujusmodi casu 
provisi. Ideo villata de Theberton penatur ad 6d. ad 
reformandum. 

This, perhaps, purported to be under a statute of 1 3 
Elizabeth, which provided that all persons above the 
age of seven years (some of worship and quality excepted) 
should wear upon Sabbaths and holidays caps of wool, 
knit thicked and dressed in England, upon pain to forfeit 
ten groats for the omission thereof.^ The instance is 
remarkable, of a Manor Court retaining its magisterial 
jurisdiction down to so late a date. 

Returning to our i6th century registers ; there is little 
more worth quoting : but some old Christian names may 
be available for future Theberton babies. Parents, tired 
of Gladys, Phyllis, and such like, might do worse than 

^ The clerk was probably not aware that the Act had, in fact, 
been repealed three years before, in 39 Elizabeth. The industry, 
designed to be protected thereby and by the previous Acts of 
Edward IV. and Henry VIII., was of importance, maintaining 
before the invention of fulling mills, fifteen distinct callings of 
handicraftsmen. The best caps were made at Monmouth. 
" Wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps," said Fluellen of the 
Welshmen, in K. Henry V. 



104 OLD THEBERTON SURNAMES 

call their girls — Beteriss, Damaris, Annice, Amyce, 
Ancilla, Faith, Fyonet, Mirable, Sythe, Finet, Apphia, 
Tryphena or Jeronomye — names all borne by their 
female predecessors in our parish. 

Among the surnames in the register, few are familiar 
now, — Syle, Smyle, Slith, Sylbarte, Semicraft, Hellouse, 
Erys, Boutatout, Wagylgoose, are among them. Bouta- 
tout reads like a Huguenot name. One comes across it, 
too, in naval history. John "Buteturt" was by King 
Edward II. appointed "Admiral captain of sailors and 
marines " (of the East coast) and also " of our knights and 
other faithful subjects who are about to proceed with the 
same John against our Scottish enemies and rebels " — 
this in 131 5. Some of the late surnames are pretty, 
Marjoram we have still, and there was Flowerdew. 

Early in the 17th century, matters of social interest to 
country folk seem to have been much in the air. In 
Queen Elizabeth's last Parliament we find such subjects 
debated in both houses. In 1601, a bill was brought 
into the Commons House against profane swearing ; it 
never matured into an Act ; but it interests us, because, 
in the course of debate one member took occasion to in- 
veigh against holders of the office of Justice of the Peace, 
which even then was respectable for antiquity. So far 
back as 1332, it was, that the "lords and great men" 
had advised King Edward III. "that he should ordain 
Justices in every County for the conservation of the 
peace, with power to repress and punish offenders." 

The member, one Mr. Glascocke, related to the House 
this tale about a Justice whom he knew : — A poor neigh- 
bour coming to him, said. 

Sir, I am very highly rated in the Subsidy Book. 

I know thee not, said the Justice. 

Not me Sir, quoth the country man, why your worship 



ELIZABETHAN MAGISTRATES 105 

had my team and my oxen such a day, and I have ever 
been at your worship's service. 

Have you so Sir, quoth the Justice, I never remem- 
bered I had any such matter, no, not a sheep's tail : 

" So," continued Mr. Glascocke, " unless you offer 
sacrifice of sheep and oxen to the idol Justices they 
know you not " — and so forth. 

In defence of the Justices, Sir Francis Hastings said : 
" I never in my life heard Justices of the Peace taxed 
before in this sort. For aught I know. Justices of the 
Peace be men of quality, honesty, experience, and 
justice." And again, another speaker : — " I much marvel 
that men will dare accuse Justices of the Peace, Ministers 
to Her Majesty, without whom the Commonwealth 
cannot be." 

There were about this time, particularly in parts of 
London, numbers of corrupt magistrates, for whom no 
good word can be said. Glascocke, later, pretended by 
way of apology, that his diatribes had been aimed 
against that class alone, men then commonly known as 
Basket Justices. 

Parliament had always been anxious that Justices of 
the Peace should be above suspicion. In 1439, it had 
been enacted that County Justices must possess land 
worth ;£'20 a year — equivalent to some ;^300 now ; and 
the reason assigned was that some persons had been 
appointed, who, "on account of their meanness and 
incapacity could not govern or direct the people." 
There can be no doubt that independent position, a 
liberal education, and some enabling acquaintance with 
law, must be more solid grounds for confidence in the 
dispensers of justice, than the wearing of badges of 
political parties, whatever their colour. 

In the same Parliament, the House of Lords also had 



106 POACHERS AND GAME PRESERVATION 

social legislation before them. They passed a bill 
intituled " Against Drunkards and common haunters of 
Alehouses and Taverns." Drunkenness was then 
prevalent, as it always had been, the statements of 
Camden and of Fuller notwithstanding. Camden's 
opinion was that the vice had recently been brought 
to England out of the Netherlands; that before 1581, 
of all Northern nations, the English had been the most 
moderate, and were much commended for their sobriety; 
and that our soldiery had only learned in the recent 
Dutch wars " to drown themselves in strong liquors, and 
by drinking others' healths to impair their own." Fuller 
quotes Camden and asserts that "before the midst of the 
reign of Elizabeth there was neither general practice nor 
legal punishment of that vice in this kingdom," and goes 
on to say : — " We must sadly confess that since that time, 
many English souls have taken a cup too much of Belgic 
wine, whereby their heads have not only grown dizzy in 
matters of less moment, but their whole bodies stagger 
in the fundamentals of their religion." 

A bill was also introduced into the Lords which 
attained a second reading, for preservation of pheasants 
and partridges. It was, in due course, referred to a 
special committee, on which sat very grave and reverend 
Signiors : — an archbishop, four bishops, three learned 
judges. 

Poaching had for centuries been a subject of legisla- 
tion. More than two hundred years before, in 1389, a 
statute had made illegal the use of " rabbit nets, heyes 
and hare pipes." In 1536, a proclamation was made by 
Henry VHI. prohibiting the slaughter of partridges, 
pheasants, and herons, from — how strange it sounds 
now — the Palace of Westminster to St. Giles' in the 
Fields, and thence to Islington, Hampstead and Hornsey 



PAYMENT OF MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT 107 

Park. I think, however, that this debate in the House 
of Lords was the first time that not only poaching, but 
actual preservation was under discussion in Parliament. 
That pheasants, so "fair in feather and dainty in the 
flesh," were, not long after this, even hand-reared, I infer 
from Fuller, who writes, " whether these tame, be as good 
as the wild pheasants, I leave palate men to decide," 

In those days, constituencies paid their Parliament- 
men, whose " wages," since Edward I., had been levied 
by the sheriffs on the counties. The " wages " of 
knights of the shire were 4s. a day — equivalent to, say, 
jC^ now — and of the burgesses, borough members, half 
that at least ; with besides, in both cases, charges of going 
and coming, fees for writs, and so forth. And to make 
sure of fair work for fair pay, it was ordered that, when 
absent without the Speaker's leave, the legislators should 
lose their wages. 

Plummer's work, in his later years, seems to have been 
many sided. We know he preached " everye Sondaye " 
at Theberton, and that he also served the cure of 
Middleton ; and, besides this ministerial work, an Act of 
Parliament had thrust other strange duties upon him : 
he was to be present to aid the constable when rogues 
were whipped, and register the same, on pain of five 
shillings for every default ; he had also to register the 
testimonials of servants leaving their places, for which 
last duty, a munificent two pence was to be allowed 
him. 

The two old bells, impressed with the date 1614, were 
hung it is likely in Plummer's time. 

1625 saw the close of our parson's life. That year, the 
register records " Reighnald Plummer minister of this 
Towne was buryed the 30th of Aug." 



108 A THEBERTON PARSON'S WILL 

Plummer had lost his first wife Issabel in 1617, and 
had married again. During his last illness, he made his 
will which is not without interest, as suggesting the 
plenishing of a country parsonage of the period. 

After bequests to the poor of Leiston, Westleton, 
Middleton and Fordley (the parishes of Middleton and 
Fordley were not united till 1657) of Ss. to each parish, 
he gave " his loving wife Ann ;^20, a bedstead 2 bolsters 
2 pillowes 2 blanketts i coverlett, as it standeth in the 
parlour (beds stood in parlours then of even great houses^) 
with the cartings, and sixe payre of sheetes the best att 
her choyce, all her apparell lynnyng and wollen, all her 
ridinge geare with her syde sadle and other furniture 
(Ann seems to have been an equestrienne) one letherein 
trunck, one joyned box, another little painted boxe, one 
dossend (dozen) of table napkins, all the hempe, towe, 
and (illegible), her gould rings, her bible, her boxe of 
banketting dishes, my bearinge clothe, fower greate 
peaces of pewther the best att her choyce, sixe pewther 
porringers, one bosen (basin), one joyned chayre, her 
lookinge glasse." Also he gave her £6 i^s. ^d., on 
condition she should make no claim to thirds in his 
free lands, but should release, "according to lawe in 
that case provided, att the chardges in Lawe of John 
Ingham of Theberton yeoman, soe as she bee not driven 
to travell further then the cittie of Norwich." To the 
said John Ingham and his heirs, he left all his free lands 
in Theberton (he had bought lands of Robert Barnes in 
1610, and had sold lands called Harts to John Ingham 
for ;^230 but had not conveyed the freehold portion of 
them), but — the will continued — if his wife should refuse 
to release her dower in them, then he gave the said 

1 Vide inventory of Sir John Rous, at Henham, 1603, set out 
in Suckling's Suffolk. 



PRESENTATION OF WILLIAM FENN 109 

£6 I3i-. 4^. to said John Ingham, towards the com- 
pounding with her for her thirds. To Mary his daughter 
;^20, Dorithie his daughter £i^, Ambrose his son ;^20, 
WilHam his son ;£^20, Elizabeth his daughter ;^20, Jaine 
his daughter ;£"20, at 2i. All residue of goods and 
chattels he gave unto Tymothie and John his two sons 
towards payment of their portions, and he appointed 
them his executors. The will was witnessed by Zacharie 
Starke and Robert Beare. 

Neither in church nor in churchyard is found any 
memorial of this worthy rector ; for three hundred 
years his name has been forgotten. That these words, 
written during his lifetime, may be applied to him, 
it will not hurt us to believe : — " The Lord hath vouch- 
safed many singular benefitts, as proper to this country 
(Suffolk), among which this one is nott the least, the 
great number of religious, grave, reverend, and learned 
ministers of God's Holy Word, which are planted in this 
shire, travelling (travailing) in the Lord's harvest, 
with sound doctrine and upright life." 

The good man was succeeded by one William Fenn, 
who was presented by Charles I., one of the earliest acts 
of his reign. Our register has this entry: — "1626, 
memoranda that Wille ffenn Gierke, uppon the 
seconde day of Aprill, in the yere of our Lorde 1626, 
beinge lately inducted into the church of Theberton in 
Suff., did then and there in the tyme of Divine service 
openly reade the forty articles ^ intituled Articles 
agreed Upon by the Archbishops and Byshops in the 
Convocacon holden at London, Anno Domini 1562, 
without eyther addinge or detractinge, and with the 
declaracon of his unfeined assent and consent unto 

^ An evident mistake. The real number of articles was the same 
then as now — thirty-nine. 



110 TROUBLOUS TIMES 

the same and every of them, in the presence of us whose 
names be here under written : — Thomas London, John 
Ingame, Thos. Bradstreet, Edmond Whincopp, Robert 
Backler, Robert Beare, Godfrey Trelonde, Robert 
Coding, John (illegible), and many others. 



CHAPTER IX 

Fenn's tenure of his benefice nearly coincided with 
his royal patron's tenure of the kingdom ; and no time 
more troublous and distracted has ever been known in 
England. 

It is not for a local chronicler to launch out from 
his backwater into tempestuous seas ; the nation's 
history too high for him, he does not dare to touch 
in these pages, save, when needs must, to explain the 
story of his parish. Differences had long agitated the 
minds of Englishmen, and clefts were opening now in 
many directions ; firstly, in the domain of religion ; 
and secondly, in the realm of society and politics. In 
religion it was, that the earthquake was most severely 
felt in our little community. There were, no doubt, both 
Puritan and Roman Catholic sympathizers in Theberton. 
The restoration of Communion Tables to the east end 
of churches, the calling them altars, indeed all the 
church ceremonial and discipline inculcated by Laud, 
had scandalized the Puritans ; while, on the other hand, 
to the eyes of high church people, the Puritans were 
hypocritical bigots, dour and sour themselves, and set 
upon denying enjoyment to all others, Sundays, 
formerly happy holy days, were to be as Jewish 



112 THE BOOK OF SPORTS— BULL-BAITING 

sabbaths. " The vanityes of the Gentiles, which were 
comprehended in a Maypole, were to be battered down," 
and indeed, all recreations, however innocent, were 
reprobated, and if possible repressed. 

James I. saw that the common people clung to the 
old, more cheerful religion ; and turned his astute 
mind to win their affections for the reformed Church 
of England. He issued the Declaration we call the 
Book of Sports, and thereby notified his pleasure to 
his good people, that after the end of Divine Service 
they should not be letted from any such lawful recrea- 
tions as dancing either men or women, archery, leaping, 
vaulting, nor from having May games, Whitsun ales and 
Morris dances, and the setting up of Maypoles ; and 
that women should have leave to carry rushes for the 
" decoring " of churches according to their old custom.^ 
And the professor of kingcraft laid a bait for noncon- 
formists by providing that to those only who attended 
church were the sports to be permitted. 

His Majesty's efforts notwithstanding, religious bicker- 
ings and civil dissensions raged throughout Fenn's 
incumbency. 

Our churchwardens were presented in 1627, because 
they had not, as the law required, " Bishopp Jewell's 
Apologie " ; Mr. Bradstreet, a witness to Fenn's 
reading in, appeared, and promised to supply the 

' The ancient sport of bull-baiting was expressly excepted from 
the king's list of lawful Sunday recreations. The brutal amuse- 
ment had been enjoyed by Queen Elizabeth ; during Puritan times 
it was prohibited altogether, but it revived with the Restoration ; 
Pepys says of the good sport he saw at the Paris garden : " the 
bulls tossed the dogs into the very boxes." Long afterwards in 
William III.'s reign, it was still a fashionable amusement, as a 
French witness M. Misson wrote, indulged in by "butchers and 
gentlemen." In 1802, a Parliamentary majority refused to put 
it down : and not till 1835 was a law enacted to make it illegal. 



BETWIXT THE TWO BUNDLES OF HAY 113 

same. The Bradstreet family had for some time been 
resident in the parish ; the name occurring in the 
register in 1594. It may be, that the Rev William 
Bradstreet, our rector from 1865 to 188 1, descended from 
this old Theberton stock. 

In 1633, the Book of Sports not having been widely 
promulgated, Charles I. had it republished ; and strictly 
commanded that it should be read in churches by the 
clergy. Parson Fenn, we shall see, read it in his 
Theberton church, and no doubt with unction, as 
also without doubt, to the disgust of Puritans in his con- 
gregation. 

Some parsons, like Buridan's ass, halted betwixt 
two opinions ; one minister of a church in London, 
after reading the King's Declaration, immediately went 
on with the Ten Commandments, adding : — " Dearly 
Beloved, you have heard the Commandments of God, 
and of man, now obey which you please." 

The bulk of the people of Theberton must, I think, 
have been Puritans, detesting the high church and 
royalist proclivities of Fenn, and bitterly opposed to 
any such changes as should " put on their church the 
shape and face of Popery." 

In 1639-40, writs had come down into Suffolk to 
collect " ship money " ; and the overseers and the con- 
stable had to assess the charge upon the ratepayers of 
Theberton. Throughout Suffolk, feeling against this 
fateful tax rose very high, "people abounding," so we 
read, ** in remissness and obstinacy." " Innumerable 
groans and sighs," the sheriff reported, " were daily 
returns, instead of payment." It is significant of the 
remissness and obstinacy of our stiff-necked parish, 
that, though neighbouring " towns," Middleton and 
Kelsale, were certainly rated, and we must suppose 

I 



114 THE GREAT PROTESTATION 

paid their rates, no return was obtained from 
Theberton. 

The folk of Theberton, as those of other parishes, had 
in 1 64 1 to become parties to the great Protestation. 
The form was : — 

" I, A. B. do in the presence of Almighty God, 
promise, vow, and protest, to maintain and defend as 
far as lawfully I may, the true reformed Protestant 
religion expressed in the doctrines of the Church of 
England, against all Popery and Popish innovations 
within this realm." 

It seems that this was not signed in each separate 
village. From Bennington for example, the minister 
and churchwardens and constable went to Laxfield 
to sign. 

Fenn still clung to his rectory, although his position 
must have been perplexing to say the least of it. One 
day, parsons were commanded by Parliament to read 
certain Proclamations to their people. Next came a 
King's Proclamation, enjoining them on their allegiance, 
not to read the proclamations issued by Parliament 
And then again, from Parliament came injunctions, 
forbidding them to read what had been sent them by 
the King. 

In 1642, under two Acts of Parliament a sum of 
£20y6og. 17s. was charged upon Suffolk, of which Theber- 
ton was assessed at ;^20. 8j. 4d. We have, for our parish, 
the names of all the persons charged, with the amount 
each had to pay : the list contains sixty-nine names, 
some of which are mentioned later. 

In December of the same year, the Commons passed 
an Ordinance, to set on foot the famous Eastern 
Association. Suffolk and the other eastern counties 



THE EASTERN ASSOCIATION 115 

accepted it warmly. At first, contributions poured in of 
arms and of money ; but before long, free gifts having 
been exhausted, loans had to be asked for, to be 
secured by the " Propositions for the defence of Parlia- 
ment," and bearing interest at the abnormal rate of ten 
per cent. How Theberton took up the loan we have no 
evidence. In Bennington, we find that two inhabitants, 
Bartholomew and Edward Rafe, lent ;^io "upon the 
Propositions." Cratfield contributed money and plate 
and also two nags and a mare, and these were sent in 
for collection to Yoxford, as probably were any loans 
from Theberton. 

Happily brother had not to fight with brother here 
in Suffolk ; but such entries as these in the Bennington 
books, help us to realise how civil war afflicted other 
districts of England : 

" 26 Jan. 1643, Given to a poor distressed man and his wife and 
children, being plundered by the King's forces of all their estate 

5/-." 

" 1644 Laid out to young Lionel Nickolls being maimed in the 
Parliament's service 17/-." 

" Given by consent of the town to two maimed souldiers, the one 
having his leg shot off, and the other shot in the arm, 4/-." 

In 1643 again, an Ordinance was made by Parliament, 
directing, among other things, that altar rails were to be 
taken down, and communion tables moved from the 
east ends into the bodies of churches. Under this 
Ordinance, crucifixes, images, and pictures of saints, and 
superstitious inscriptions, were also to be removed and 
done away with ; and from it originated the commission 
of the iconoclast Bowsing. 

In some venerable German churches — Hildesheim may 
serve for an example — not only the fabrics themselves 
in their integrity, but likewise the ancient church 

I 2 



116 THE SOLEMN LEAGUE AND COVENANT 

furnishings, and precious objects treasured in their 
sacristies, have been preserved, as witnesses from age to 
age of a hoary antiquity. In England, on the other 
hand. Dowsing or barbarous soldiers, ignorant incum- 
bents or modern architects, have worked their wicked 
wills, and stripped most of our churches bare of things 
historical, and vulgarized others with machine-made 
sham Gothic ornaments. 

In our own parish church, almost nothing remains to 
carry our minds back to past ages. True, the old walls 
yet stand ; but there is little else, to suggest the scenes 
which, within those walls, have during long ages 
succeeded each other. 

Not the least striking of such scenes was enacted in 
1643 or 1644. Members having themselves sub- 
scribed the Solemn League and Covenant, Parliament 
directed it to be sent to the Justices of the Peace and 
other men of influence in all parishes of England, and to 
be taken in churches by all congregations. The 
minister was, upon a Sunday, to read the entire Covenant 
from the pulpit ; and during the reading, the congrega- 
tion were to uncover (men wore their hats then in 
churches); and, at the end of the reading, all were to 
stand, and, holding up their bare right hands, to promise 
that they would sincerely, really, and constantly, through 
the grace of God, endeavour in their several places and 
callings the preservation of the reformed religion. 
-Afterwards, all had to subscribe the Covenant, by affix- 
ing their names or marks to a roll of parchment, which 
was to be preserved as a record in the parish. 

No parchment roll has been preserved in our parish 
of Theberton ; but probably, most of the residents 
named in the assessment list of 1642 signed it, for 
instance: Sir Arthur Jenney, "Mr. Claxton," Thomas 



SCANDALOUS MINISTERS 117 

Ingham, Daniel Hygate, Robert Beare, and John 
London. Parson Fenn too, described as " William Fenne 
Curate for tithes and Glebe," appears in the assessment 
list. He was still the parson of Theberton ; but 
whether he obeyed the Parliament by reading and 
signing the Covenant, or obeyed his own conscience 
and refused, thereby giving his enemies cause to blas- 
pheme, we have no evidence. 

Just at that time. Parliament was passing an Ordinance, 
whereby, after reciting that complaints had been made 
by the well-affected inhabitants of Suffolk among other 
counties, that the service of Parliament was retarded, 
the enemy strengthened, peoples' souls starved, and 
their minds diverted from the care of God's cause, by 
their idle ill-affected and scandalous clergy ; it was 
ordained that the Earl of Manchester should appoint 
county committees ; of whom any five members were to 
sit in any place selected by the Earl, and were to call 
before them ministers that were scandalous in their 
lives, ill-affected to the Parliament, or fomenters of the 
unnatural war then raging, or that should wilfully refuse 
to obey the Ordinances of Parliament, with power to 
send for witnesses and examine them upon oath. 

A Suffolk committee was appointed pursuant to this 
Ordinance comprising : Alexander Bence M.P., and 
Squire Bence, William Bloyse M.P., Francis Brewster. 
Robert Brewster of Wrentham M.P. for Dunwich, Sir 
Edward Duke, William Heveningham, Sir William 
Playter, Edward Read, William Rivet, and Sir John 
Rous, each of whom was paid 5^. per diem for his 
services. 

The Ordinance was soon to be applied to our parish. 
On Christmas Day 1644, a warrant was issued directed 
to the inhabitants of the town of Theberton, or any two 



118 PARSON FENN SUMMONED 

of them, requiring them to summon William Fenn 
parson of the parish, and three witnesses who were 
named in the warrant, to appear at Beccles on 
Wednesday the 17th day of January, "att the signe 
of the Kings Heade," to make proof of the articles 
exhibited against the said minister ; . . . . and that the 
said Mr. Fenn should be given notice, that he should 
come prepared to give in his answer in writing, and to 
produce any witnesses who might conduce to the clearing 
of himself, on the dismal charge of the witnesses that 
should testify against him. This warrant was signed 
by a sub-committee of five : Sir Robert Brooke, knight, 
William Hyningeham and Robert Brewster, esquires, 
and Edward Reade and Francis Brewster, gents, who 
described themselves as Deputy Lieutenants and Com- 
mittee of Parliament. 

The case was heard by the sub-committee, and, in the 
result, the Articles were held proved. The evidence for 
the prosecution was to the effect, among other things : 
that Fenn was a common frequenter of alehouses as a 
common drunkard, that he was a common swearer, that 
he was grossly and shamelessly immoral, that he had 
given out in speeches that he had a licence from the 
devil to send souls to hell, and power to save whom he 
would, and that he had threatened to murder one of the 
witnesses. And furthermore, it was in evidence: that he 
was a great enemy against the proceedings of Parliament, 
and had frequently drunk healths to Prince Rupert, 
and rejoiced that the great parliament-man Sir William 
Waller had been routed, that he did not observe Sabbaths 
and Fast days as commanded by Parliament, that he had 
frequently bowed towards the font and communion table, 
and had read the books of liberty for Recreation on the 
Sabbath day — meaning the Book of Sports. 



SEQUESTRATION OF THE RECTORY 119 

Among the witnesses to prove the articles were 
the three who had been summoned, viz., Daniell Hygate 
gent, Gabriell Battman and Richard Worledge, and also 
thirty-three others, all of Theberton, thirteen of whose 
names appear in the assessment list of 1642 ; among 
them, Robert Beare and his wife, John London, and 
William Dowseing. 

In February 1644, the report of the sub-committee 
having been sent up to the Commons' Committee of 
Plundered Ministers ; that Committee ordered that the 
Rectory of Theberton be forthwith sequestered from 
William Fenn for great misdemeanours, and that some 
godly and orthodox divine be recommended to the 
Assembly of Divines, to examine his fitness to have the 
said sequestration ; and that John London, Thomas 
Ingham, Robert Beare, and one John Fasset whose 
name I do not find elsewhere, were to take care and 
provide for the service of the said cure, till this Committee 
should take further order in the premises, and the said 
William Fenn was thereby commanded to forbear to cut, 
fell, or carry away, any of the timber or other trees, or 
wood, standing, or growing upon the glebe of the 
Rectory. ^ 

What judgment should be passed by us on parson 
Fenn. It is notorious that the judicial honesty of 
the Plundered Ministers' Committee, and likewise 
of county committees, is open to the gravest suspi- 
cion. The bias of the class which supplied their 
members, is betrayed by the use of such epithets as 
" scandalous," " malignant," " delinquent," to designate 
men, whose greatest offence, perhaps, was disagreement 
with the views political and religious of the faction in 

^ This information was taken by Mr. Davy from papers which 
were in the possession of my grandfather in 1810. 



120 FENVS CASE CONSIDERED 

power. " White's Century " written by a member of 
Parliament was a much esteemed work ; " Scandalous 
Malignant Priests" were among the first words of its 
lengthy title. The County Committees in general were 
thus described by an eye and ear witness cited in 
Walker's " Sufferings of the Clergy " : — " Mine ears still 
tingle at the loud clamours and shoutings there made 
.... in derision of grave and reverend divines, by that 
rabble of sectaries, which daily flocked thither to see 
their new pastime ; where the committee members, out 
of their vast privilege to abuse any men though their 
betters, without control, have been pleased to call the 
ministers of Christ brought before them by jailors and 
pursuivants and placed like heinous malefactors without 
the bar, saucy jacks, base fellows, brazen-faced fellows " 
— and so forth. Walker says that so notorious were the 
dealings of these committees, that it long remained a 
common saying in Suffolk, that Mr. Playters of 
Uggeshall was deprived for " eating custard after a 
scandalous manner," he being known to keep a good 
table. 

Moreover, in favour of Fenn, one cannot but observe 
how many of the charges against him bore a political 
colour ; such as being an enemy to proceedings of 
Parliament ; rejoicing at Waller's defeat ; not observing 
Sabbaths and fasts as commanded by Parliament ; read- 
ing the Book of Sports — it had been his plain duty to 
read it, in obedience to a lawful government — and the 
like. 

We have not before us the evidence — if any was 
adduced — for Fenn's defence. Whether he put in a 
written answer, or tendered witnesses, we do not know. 
It is possible that answer and evidence have been 
suppressed. And there is this further observation : — 



DEATH OF PARSON FENN 121 

out of five hundred beneficed clergy in Suffolk, it is 
stated, and I do not doubt the statement, that one 
hundred and twenty-nine were at this same time 
sequestered. Is it at all likely that of ministers of 
religion so large a proportion, more than one-fourth, 
could have been guilty of such moral or ecclesiastical 
offences, as merited this severe punishment ? 

Against Fenn on the other hand, it is to be noted that 
his judges were not ignorant men, of a low class such as, 
according to Walker, composed the committees in general, 
but on the contrary, that they bore names highly respected 
in Suffolk ; and there is the testimony concerning 
his moral conduct, of no less than thirty-six witnesses 
out of his own parish, to the effect that Fenn was not fit 
to live with decent people, and was a disgrace to his 
sacred profession. Whether their evidence was tested 
by cross-examination we do not know — probably not. 

One of Fenn's last ministerial acts, was to baptize 
" Elizabeth Jenney daughter of Sir Robert Jenney and 
Elizabeth his lady, on 25 January 1644." 

After his deprivation, Fenn does not seem to have left 
Theberton ; for there is an entry in the parish register : 
165 1, "Willyam Fenne, Minister of Theberton, deceased 
this liffe Apelle the 28." Some friend of Fenn's, the parish 
clerk perhaps, not willing to admit his successor's title, 
may have thus described him. In point of fact, John 
Gary was the minister of Theberton in actual possession 
of the benefice. 

Even our " rusticals " must have heard of that star of 
the first magnitude, George Villiers then Marquess of 
Buckingham. He was now to become of special interest 
to our parish and neighbourhood. That grotesque 
sovereign, his dear " Dad and Gossip," had been loading 
the "dogge Steenie" with extravagant gifts. One of 



122 COMMISSIONERS SITTING AT EASTBRIDGE 

them was the lordship of Leyston manor, then valued at 
£114. ys. I i{d. a year.i 

In 1620, the Marquess held his first court for Leyston 
at which, on the homage, sat Robert Beare and Thomas 
London both of Theberton. 

Also, a perambulation was made of the manor, which 
marches on one side with the manor of Theberton. By 
words alone without a map, the boundary can hardly be 
followed, and no ancient map is in existence. My 
readers, however, may recognise a few place names, such 
as "the West House," and "the Harrow" — whence I 
suppose comes Harrow Lane ; and possibly Higbones, 
Heme's Grove, and Hangman's Close, might be identified. 

Buckingham sold the manor to Richard Miller a 
mercer in Cheapside ; and, in 1633, we find an action in 
the court of Exchequer commenced between Miller and 
others co-plaintiffs, and John Claxton, Esqr., whose 
name we know, as defendant. 

The court sent down commissioners ; and they — 
Henry Coke, and Edmund Harvey Esquires and John 
Cary and Francis Burwell, gents, sat at Eastbridge, may 
be at the redoubtable Eel's Foot, to take the evidence. 
Claxton was a copyhold tenant of Leyston manor, and 
traced his title on the rolls, from a surrender made in 
Edward IV.'s reign, by John Sturmyn. This John 
Sturmyn was probably the man, or a like-named son 
of the man, who in 1445, as will be remembered, 
withstood the irruption of the Abbot Clement, 

The question now litigated was the right, whose it 
was, to fell timber upon the copyholds. Among the 
witnesses were John I ngam( Ingham) who ten years before 
had witnessed the reading in of parson Fenn, Henry 

^ In the Lords Journals, Proceeding on the impeachment of 
Buckingham in 1626, Leyston is spelt Lagston. 



A WRECK OFF "THE SLUICE'' 123 

Rackham, and John Baker of Theberton, Sir Hurstone 
Smith a knight of Huntingfield, and William Buckenham 
who had once been bailiff of the manor of Theberton. 
The land, on which grew the trees in controversy, was 
thirty-five acres, described as situate in Moorfield. 
Claxton owned other copyholds also, among them eight 
acres in Theberton, and also freehold land adjacent to 
lands of Arthur Jenney. The timber was valued at £i 50 
or thereabouts. 

In the same year 1633 we meet with Miller's name 
again, this time more closely associated with that of 
John Ingham of Theberton. A small craft, called 
a "pink," had been wrecked off the mouth of the 
Minsmere river near what we call the Sluice ; and, 
while on a sand bank, where only boats could get 
to her, had been seized for the King. It seems, she 
afterwards drove up on the foreshore, and cargo 
was there taken out of her, and laid upon the beach. 
Miller then claimed the property, in his capacity of 
the lord of Leyston manor, and owner of the soil on 
which the wreck and the goods lay. Ingham was the 
bailiff of the manor, and was zealous to enforce Miller's 
rights. No doubt swarms of would-be wreckers had 
been attracted to the beach, Leyston copyhold tenants 
among them, and it was said that at Ingham's instiga- 
tion, the tenants would not suffer the Admiralty Marshal 
to see the goods. Thereupon, complaint against Ingham 
was made to Mr. Secretary Coke, and a warrant was 
issued from the Admiralty, to bring him up from 
Theberton, to answer in London such matters as should 
be objected against him on behalf of his Majesty. 

Our present pulpit was erected in Fenn's time — 1628, 
The sermons preached by him are, perhaps happily, 
unremembered ; and thousands more emitted from the 



124 FENNPS "HERBIDGE BOOK'' 

same platform of eloquence — some good seed, fruit of 
reverent study, to grow in the hearts of devout congre- 
gations ; some pithless thistledown, listlessly blown 
about, while sleep crept round from pew to pew — are 
all alike utterly forgotten, 

Fenn kept what he was pleased to call a " herbidge 
book" — tithe book, in which, in 1634, he entered "the 
customes belonging to the Towne of Theberton." They 
are not too long to transcribe : 

Meadowe the acre 4</. 

Cow with calf. Lactage 3</. 

Cow calfe paid Lactage 2d. 

Agastbeast \d. 

A cohs fall id. 

So many odd lambs — so many id. 

So many odd geese — so many id. 

or to be accompted next yeare. 

So many odd piggs — so many , . . id. 

or to be reckoned the next fall. 

We have also: "Anno 1635, a terrier contayning the 
Edifices and Lands belonging to the Church and Rectory 
of Theberton, made by the Rector and Churchwardens 
there." 

There was then : — " Imprimis, a Mansion House 
contayneing a Hall, Parlor, and Kitching, with a 
Backehouse, a Barne, stable, and Gate house " ; which 
was, I take it, the rectory house, much as it was 
before the modern addition in Mr. Bradstreet's time. 
Then, there was : — " One oartch yarde (orchard), two 
gardens with other yards enclosed, and one Hempland 
conteyneing by estimation half an acre." This is repre- 
sented by the lawn and garden between the house and 
the high road. " Item one peece of land an acre and a 
halfe lyeing between the lands of Mr. Jermyn (Query 
Jenney) towards the north, and ye way leading from 
Theberton church into Moor Lane towards ye S." 



THE RECTORY IN 1635 125 

This is evidently the field between the shrubbery 
called the church walk appertaining to the Hall, and the 
Hall road, then called Moor Lane. 

A description of the rest of the glebe follows, but 
there is no further matter of interest. It seems to 
have been assumed that there were loa. 2r. 6p. in all, 
besides the site of the " mansion " orchard, yards, 
and gardens. The terrier is signed by Willm. Fenn, 
rector, and Thomas Whitcock, and Wm. Dowseing, 
the churchwardens. 

Once more, we find John Ingham's name ; and upon 
the same document, that of a member of the Jenney 
family. They both were witnesses of the will, made 
in 1636, of Jeromomye Ingham who died in 1639. This 
Christian name seems to have been a favourite one in the 
Ingham family ; a daughter and a grand-daughter bore 
the name after her. 

John Ingham died in 1639, at the age of fifty-seven. 
By his will, he devised to his son Thomas, "the 
messuage in which he dwelt, being on the north west 
part of the common way leading from the parsonage 
of Theberton towards a place or hill called Stone Hill, 
and all his barns and stables on the south east part." 
This dwelling was the present Hall Farm house, of which 
the plastered walls and long thatched roof now look, 
I think, much as they looked then. The farm buildings 
are more modern ; Ingham's barn and stables stood on 
the opposite side of the lane, in the meadow now known 
as the paddock. 

Fenn's living had been sequestered, as we have 
seen, in February 1644. Messrs. London, Ingham, 
Beare, and Fasset, had to find casual preachers ; 
till, in the month of May, 1645, John Cary or 
Carey, B.A., was referred to the " committee of Divines 



126 A FLOOD OF SUPERSTITION 

for the ordination of ministers," and was by them duly- 
ordained, as a godly and orthodox divine, to the living 
of Theberton. Fenn had been twice married ; his first 
wife's name was Dorithie, and the second Elizabeth, 
Elizabeth had died before the ejection of her husband, 
so Gary came into possession of the benefice, free from 
the deduction of one-fifth of the profits, which the wives 
of sequestered ministers could claim. He was the 
incumbent, in whose time, notice was entered upon the 
register of the death of ex-parson Fenn, by the 
strange description " minister of Theberton." 

John Gary held the benefice all through, and beyond, 
the Gommonwealth period. It is recorded in our 
registers that on "13 Feb. 1666, John Garey the 
rector of ffebruarie (sic) was buried." 



CHAPTER X 

I WONDER whether Gary allowed bells to ring 
or the passing or soul bell to be tolled, during his 
time. In some places we know they were silenced. 
At Newcastle, for example, it was ordered by the 
Vestry in 1655, that the church bells be used again, 
" we having had," the vestry minuted, " the judgment 
of our minister concerning any superstition that might 
be in it " — by " it " meaning the passing bell. 

It is strange as true, that the high tide of Puritan 
ascendency brought with it an access of gross supersti- 
tion. Trials and killings for witchcraft had grown 
frequent and more frequent, during James I.'s reign : 
till at length, a frenzy of injustice and cruelty swept 
through the land. It was not doubted by ministers, 
or even judges, that witches committed crimes by help 
of Satan. Could then beings so depraved be suffered 
to live among mankind ? It followed that hundreds, 
aye thousands, of forlorn creatures were done to death 
under sanction of religion and law. 

Persons put to death for witchcraft in the one year 
1645, were more numerous than the Protestants 
martyred in any year of the bloody reign of Mary. 

As I have said elsewhere all that I had to say on this 

127 



128 WITCHES HANGED AT ALDBOROUGH 

subject,^ I now only transcribe, with the compiler's 

permission,^ an account culled from the books of our 

neighbour town of Aldborough : — 

l 5. d. 
1645. To Goody Phillips for her pains in searching out 

witches 100 

„ To Widow Phillips the search woman for giving 

evidence i 50 

„ To John Paine for hanging seven witches ... no 

„ To William Dannell for the gallows and setting 

them up • 100 

„ For a post to set by the grave of the dead bodies 

that were hanged and for burying of them . 6 o 

„ Received of Mr. Newgate in part for trying a 

witch 400 

„ Received of Mr. Richard Browne by the hands 

of Mr. Bailiff Johnson in part for trying a 

witch 400 

„ To Mr. Hopkyns in the town for finding out 

witches 200 

This Hopkyns or Hopkins, a sordid wretch, was the 
self-appointed " witch finder general," who it is said, I 
hope with truth, was at last swum himself, having, as 
related in Hudribras : — 

Proved himself at length a witch 
And made a rod for his own breech. 

It was in the same year 1645, that the magistrates of 
the adjoining county of Essex, sentenced eighteen 
women "poore mellencholie, envious, mischevous, ill 
disposed, ill dieted, atrabilus constitutions," to be hanged 
for witchcraft. 

Superstition is not wholly extinct even now in 
our neighbourhood. 

A medical man of eminence in Suffolk has told me 

* " Witchcraft and Christianity," Blackwood^s Magazine^ 
March, 1898. 

* I have here again, and for much besides, to thank Mr, Red- 
stone. 



SUPERSTITION AT THEBERTON 129 

that patients often ask him to " take it off them." A 
farmer's wife, about ten years ago, said she knew who the 
woman was, who had put it on herself and her son. 
They had heard, when in bed, a " whiff, whiff, whiff," 
above them, and then it was being put on. My friend 
always told his patients that though he could not take 
witches' spells off, he could no doubt put them through 
them — with a dose of medicine. Such superstitions, he 
believes, are much more common than we know, ignorant 
people being ashamed to disclose them. 

I have myself come across, in our own parish, a more 
than commonly interesting superstition. The wife of a 
labouring man had a child ill. She consulted 
a wise woman, who advised her to put milk into a 
saucer, and " stand it out abroad " at night. Should a 
weasel drink of the milk, she was to give what it left as 
medicine to the child. 

The interest is that weasel superstitions derive from 
remote antiquity ; and are found to this day with 
few variations in countries far removed from each 
other, indeed wherever almost in the world there 
are weasels. The matter, I hope, justifies a moment's 
digression. 

To go back to antiquity : — The Romans thought 
it was unlucky to meet a weasel, and had a common 
expression Mustelam habes — you have a weasel in 
your house, applicable to an unfortunate, whom luck 
seemed always to pass by. 

In the time of Constantius, it is clear that there were 
poor folk to whom the cry of a weasel presaged evil ; we 
know that such persons were hunted down, and con- 
demned for holding heathen superstitions. 

In a Penitential of Theodore : "If food had been 
contaminated by a mouse or a weasel having been 

K 



130 A DIGRESSION ABOUT WEASELS 

drowned in it ; should there be a small quantity, it 
must be thrown away ; but if there be much, it would be 
enough to sprinkle it with Holy Water." 

And by a Confessional of Egbert whoever should 
give to another liquor in which a mouse or a weasel 
had been drowned was, if a secular, to fast three days, 
if a monk, to chant three hundred psalms. 

In mediaeval days, "the weasel which constantly 
changes its place," was taken for "a type of the man, 
estranged from the word of God, who findeth no rest." 
And it was also associated with that mythical serpent, 
hatched from a cock's egg — the cockatrice. Brother 
Bartholomew described the cockatrice, as "of so great 
venom and perilous, that he slayeth and wasteth him 
that nigheth him without tarrying ; and yet the weasel 
overcometh him, for the biting of the weasel is death 
to the cockatrice." 

And now, for the present day, in lands widely parted 
" by shadows of mountains, and roaring of the sea." 

Lady Wilde says of the west of Ireland, that weasels 
are held to be spiteful and malignant, and that old 
witches sometimes take this form. It is extremely 
unlucky to meet a weasel the first thing in the morning: 
still it would be hazardous to kill it, for it might be a 
witch and take revenge. 

In the north-east of Ireland, whitteritts, as weasels 
are called, are considered eerie. 

In modern Greece, the legend is that the weasel, once 
on a time was a bride, and is now envious of brides, 
showing her envy by making havoc among wedding 
gifts and provisions. Therefore, sweetmeats and honey, 
called "the necesssary spoonfuls," are put out to appease 
her, and a song is sung, inviting the weasel to partake 
and to spare the wedding array. 



THE DIRECTORY 131 

In North America, an aboriginal legend relates how 
two sister demons commonly take the forms of two 
weasels. 

In the central parts of Asia — the forbidden land of 
Thibet — we read of a temple where, amongst the images 
behind the grating, the yellow king of the genii of riches 
carries a weasel in his hand. 

Yet farther east, the Manchus regard a stoat or weasel 
as a mischievous elf, but yet of great power of healing ; 
and with the Jupitatze tribe who are fond of the chase, 
three spirits — of the stag, the fox, and the weasel, stand 
highest in public estimation. 

And lastly, in the farthest East, the Japanese have a 
demon called the Sickle Weasel. When a man's clogs 
slip from under his feet, and he falls and cuts his face 
upon the gravel, the wound is referred to the malignant 
invisible weasel, and his sharp sickle. 

I fear digression has been tedious ; let us settle on 
our line again : 

In 1645, appeared under the title of " Directory for 
the Public Worship of God " directions for the conduct 
of Divine Service, together with an Ordinance of Parlia- 
ment for the taking away the Book of Common Prayer. 
And later in the year, a second Ordinance making the 
use of the Prayer Book by clergy or by laity penal. 
First and second offences were punishable by fine ; for 
the third, one whole year's imprisonment without bail 
or mainprize ; all prayer books had to be delivered up ; 
and a fine was imposed on persons writing or preaching 
against the Directory, of which a copy was supplied to 
every parish constable. 

In 1646, there was ordered to be set up in all parish 
churches, " A Declaration of the Commons of England 

K 2 



132 THE ENGAGEMENT 

assembled in Parliament, of their true intentions 
concerning the antient and Fundamental Government 
of the Kingdom; the Government of the church ; the 
Present Peace ; Securing the People against all 
Arbitrary Government." 

No doubt it was set up in our own church by the then 
churchwardens, but so long and verbose was it, that per- 
haps few, even of those able to read, ever got to the end 
of it 

In 1649, after that direful tragedy the execution of 
the King, parson Carey received notice of an order of 
Parliament, which he could no doubt conscientiously 
obey : He was not to preach or to pray against the 
Parliament. In preaching or praying, he was not to 
make mention of Charles Stuart or of James Stuart 
the sons of the late King, otherwise than as enemies 
of the Commonwealth. He was to observe the days 
of public humiliation or thanksgiving appointed by 
Parliament, and publish the Acts, Orders, and Declara- 
tions thereof. All this, on pain of being adjudged a 
delinquent within the orders and acts touching sequestra- 
tion of benefices and stipends. 

A statute of the same year enacted that all men over 
eighteen years were to take and subscribe " The 
Engagement " : — " I do declare and promise that I 
will be true and faithful to the Commonwealth of 
England as it is now established without a King 
or a House of Lords." The Act was repealed in 

1653. 

In 1650, the King's arms, which had adorned our 
church, were taken down, and the State's arms 
substituted. 

Parliament set its austere face against profane swear- 
ing ; and made the habit expensive, by enacting in 



PROFANITY EXPENSIVE 133 

1650, that every person styling himself Duke, Marquis, 
Earl, Viscount, or Baron, should for the first offence 
forfeit 30J'.; a Baronet or Knight 20s.; an Esquire 10s.; a 
Gentleman 6s. 8d.; and all inferior persons 3^-. 4^. A 
double fine was payable for every succeeding offence up 
to the ninth ; and for the tenth, offenders were to be 
bound to good behaviour. One is forced to infer 
that ladies were suspected of swearing ; for the Act 
provided, that wives and widows were to pay according 
to the quality of their husbands, single women of 
their fathers. Penalties were to be recovered by distress ; 
and, in default thereof the party if above twelve years 
of age, to be set in the stocks, or if under that age to be 
publicly whipped. And the Act was to be published, on 
the first market day in every market town after receipt 
thereof Broad, no doubt, were the grins of our jolly 
farmers as they read this precious statute at Saxmund- 
ham market. 

A name, now connected by property with Theberton, 
occurs about this period. One Edmund Peckover, from 
1646 to 1655 served as a " solger " in a troop of Colonel 
Fleetwood's regiment ; and after his nine years' service, 
" during which he behaved himselve fathfulley and 
honesly as becoms a solger," went into retail trade. His 
descendants, now represented by Lord Peckover, have 
long owned the Grange farm in our parish. 

The rolls we have of the manor of Theberton begin 
in 1 64 1, with the first Court Baron of Sir Arthur 
Jenney. Among the homage are familiar names : 
Robert Beare, John Backler, Thomas Ingham, George 
London and Gabriel Reve. One, Thomas Cory, 
is described as Esquire — Armiger ; and three, John 
Bishopp, George Fermor and Thomas Screvenor, as 
Gentlemen. 



134 THE ROLLS OF THE MANOR 

The customs of the manor are stated: — The youngest 
son is heir ; the eldest brother is heir — inheritance thus 
following in the case of sons, but not of brothers, the 
custom of Borough English, of which the very name 
bespeaks Saxon antiquity. Widows, are entitled by the 
custom, to one-third for dower. 

Out of the manor books little of present interest is to 
be gleaned. A few place-names which I cannot 
identify, others may recognise, such as " Cottingham 
Field " ; " Cottingham Green " — these somewhere near 
Stonehill ; " Overwakers " ; " Harveys att Fen " ; " Leff 
Fen " ; " Church Meer " — meer in the sense of boundary ; 
** a certain stagnum called Hartes Pond." 

I find in 165 1 the first mention of a windmill in 
our parish. In that year, Richard Usher made his will, 
entered upon the rolls, whereby he disposed of his lands 
in Theberton, and his " windmill, and the stones, going 
gare (gear), furniture, and appurtenances whatsoever 
thereto belonging." 

In August 1653, was passed an Act of Parliament 
concerning marriages. A " Register," whose office was 
created by the Act, had to publish at the close of 
the morning exercise in church, or, should the 
parties so desire, in the next market place, on three 
successive market days, the names and places of abode 
of both parties, and of their parents or guardians or 
overseers. The parties next had to present themselves 
to a " Justice of Peace," and the ceremony was to pro- 
ceed thus : The man, taking the woman by the hand, 
should distinctly pronounce these words : 

" I, A. B. do here in the presence of God the 
searcher of all hearts, take thee (C. D.) for my 
wedded wife ; and do also in the presence of God, 



MARRIAGE BY MAGISTRATES 135 

and before these witnesses, promise to be unto 
thee a loving and faithful husband." 

And then, the woman taking the man by the hand, 
should also distinctly pronounce these words : 

" I, C. D. do here in the presence of God the 
searcher of all hearts, take thee (A. B.) for my 
wedded husband ; and do also in the presence of 
God and before these witnesses, promise to be unto 
thee a loving faithful and obedient wife." 

And thereupon, the Justice was to declare them to be 
husband and wife. The Act moreover provided that 
no other form of marriage should be valid. 

Pursuant to this Act, in October 1653, "Thomas 
Ingham was chosen Register for ye towne of Theberton, 
and sworn in before Justices R. Brewster and Sam. 
ffa wether." 

Little more than a year after, it became the duty of 
Thomas Ingham to publish a marriage between Henry 
Burford of Theberton " singill man," and Mirable Ingham 
of the same place *' singillwoman." It was published 
" ye 26 daye of November, and on the third and tenth 
dayes of December 1654, by and with the consent off 
Margery the wiffe of Wm. Hadenham (who had been the 
widow of John Ingham) mother of her ye sad Mirabell 
and overseere for her the said Mirabell. And the said 
Henery and Mirabell weare married by and with the 
consent of the aforesaid Margery, on the one and 
twentieth day of December aforesaid, by Samewell 
ffaierwether Esquire." 

In another case, the publication of an intended 
marriage was " att Halesworth markett." 

In 1657, the mode of publication remaining the same, 



136 OUR PARISH SOLDIER 

marriages were no longer solemnised by Justices of 
Peace ; but, for instance in Theberton, by John Gary 
" rector of the parish." 

I know nothing of Mr. Fairwether, whose signature 
docs not suggest clerkly accomplishments ; but his 
brother Justice, Robert Brewster, came of a well-known 
Suffolk family the Brewsters of Wrentham. Robert, 
and likewise a brother of his, Francis, were, we have seen, 
of the committee which sequestered parson Fenn. In 
1654, Robert was elected a member of the Convention 
for Dunwich, He was member for the county (and 
Francis member for Dunwich) in Cromwell's second 
Parliament of 1656, when he voted for making the Lord 
Protector a King ; and in the Parliament of 1658 he 
represented Dunwich, We shall often meet with the 
name again. 

Our Theberton parish accounts speak from 1661 — two 
hundred years later than those of some neighbouring 
parishes, of Walberswick for example, which begin in 
145 1. The first rate recorded for Theberton was made in 
September 1662 — a churchwardens' rate for ;^4i. 14s. 
Certain purchases by the churchwardens indicate that, 
since the Restoration, the Puritan end of the religious 
see-saw had come lowest. We find : " For the 
service book 10/-," and " To Master Maswell for the 
Booke called Jewell's appolligie i/-" — a High Church 
publication disapproved of by the Puritans. Again, " a 
booke for the keeping the King's birthday." 

We had a parish soldier in those days ; Gabriel London 

underwent "severall daies Traynings," for which the 

parish paid him ys. Sd., with allowance for " pouder " 4s., 

and " tinning of the head peece " 2s. 

The repair of the Church must of late have been 



THEBERTON PARISH ACCOUNTS 137 

neglected, for needful work that year cost ;^33. is. 2d. ; 
and "ye said London" was paid £\. 17s. " for serving 
the thatcher, plumer, and carpenter," besides some- 
thing more for " pulling the yvye of the steeple," 
The account is signed by "John Gary clerk" and 
others. 

In 1664, the overseers credit themselves with lOi-, "of 
Daniel Newson for suffering men's servants to tipple in 
his house contrary to the statute," They had to lay out 
on account of a poor boy : " For a new Suite, Dublett, 
Brittches, westcote, cap, linings, (linen underclothes), 
Pocketts, claspes, eyes, and Buttons, and the making 
and mendinge of all his clothes ;^i, 2, 11," And the 
town house (poor house) had to be thatched. This house 
has disappeared ; but old men can remember it, upon 
the east side of the road between Gipsy Lodge and 
Leiston, opposite Buckles Wood. John Gary clerk 
and John Ingham signed this account and it was 
allowed by two Justices Thomas Scrivener and John 
Bedingfeild. The name of Scrivener survives in the 
person of Commander Levett-Scrivener of Sibton Abbey ; 
Mr. John Bedingfeild, of a younger branch of an ancient 
family, then lived in an old mansion in Halesworth, 
of which the curious interior decorations are described in 
Suckling's "Suffolk." 

In 1664, we learn from the Archidiaconal Act Book 
that the sound windows of the steeple were decayed, for 
which the churchwardens were presented. Also two 
persons were presented for absence from church, and one 
for not having received the communion at the previous 
Easter. 

And not only the steeple but the bells hung in it, now 
needed reparation ; ;^I2. 15^. had to be expended for 



138 THE PLAGUE YEAR 

"riming of the bell," and mending the "boule" of the 
bell. The bell was sent to Darbie of Ipswich (a famous 
name of bell founders) ; and the " worke and tymber for 
the fframe of the bells " was supplied by John Fenn 
son of the deprived parson Fenn, who was a wheel- 
wright in Theberton. John Fenn signed the account 
together with John Gary and Thomas Ingham. 

This was the direful year of the Plague of London. 
It attacked Ipswich and Yarmouth ; there is no record 
of its having come to Theberton, but in a neighbouring 
parish " A Book and Proclamation to keep a fast to 
stay the Plague," was purchased and paid for. 

How Gary contrived to keep his living after the Act 
of Uniformity we cannot say. Under that Act, passed 
in 1662, the thirteenth year of Gharles II. — his reign was 
officially reckoned, not as from his restoration but from 
his father's death — it became law that the then lately 
revised Book of Gommon Prayer should be substituted 
for the Directory in all parish churches ; that no person 
should thenceforth be capable of holding any ecclesiasti- 
cal promotion or of administering the Sacrament until he 
should be ordained priest by episcopal ordination ; and, 
with respect to ministers who then held any benefice, 
that they, within a prescribed period, should openly read 
morning and evening service according to the Prayer 
Book, and declare before the congregation their unfeigned 
assent and consent to the use of all things therein con- 
tained, on pain of being ipso-facto deprived of their 
spiritual promotions. The Act was to come into force 
on the 24th of August, the day of St. Bartholomew. 

Gary may already have been an ordained priest — we 
find him described " clerk," and he was as we know a 
University graduate. I suppose that he must have used 
the Prayer Book ; but the presumption is, as no record 



BARTHOLOMEW CONFESSORS 139 

of it is entered in the register, that he never made the 
Declaration the Act required. No less than two thousand 
beneficed ministers were driven to resign, or else were 
ejected, for conscience' sake.^ Cary, however, did not 
march in that army of "Bartholomew Confessors," 
The then Bishop of Norwich was the good and wise 
Dr. Reynolds, who had himself professed Presbyterian 
views ; and it may be, that holding Cary to be a worthy 
pastor, he shrank from taking extreme measures against 
him. 

Up to this time, the Puritans had been able to continue 
within the fold of the Church of England ; this maleficent 
Act drove them (now to be styled Nonconformists), out 
of the Church ; and there, unhappily, remain their 
successors. 

In 1665, a rate of £2. 2s. lod. was collected in 
Theberton towards the payment of inferior oflficers, and 
for furnishing and other necessaries, for the use of the 
Militia. Thomas and Gabriel Ingham's share was 
gd. lob. \qr. 

In 1668, one Underwood, in office as an overseer that 
year, had to pay £\ to the churchwardens, " for drawinge 
of beere without licence " ; and the fine was distributed 
among the poor. The overseers' account was allowed 
by Sir Robert Kemp. Sir Robert was then living at 
Ubbeston Hall, the home of his second wife Mary, nee 
Sone, whose daughter Mary married Sir Charles Blois of 
Cockfield Hall. 

For " carryinge (the orders for) three hewinge 

cryes" the churchwardens paid 18^. This hutesium 

et clamor^ to use the old law term, was the ancient 

1 Theberton was perhaps fortunate in retaining its minister. 
In the Middleton registers, I find that in 1665, one Harry 
Dummett had to be buried without a minister, by his wife and 
son. 



140 HUE AND CRY AT THEBERTON 

process of pursuing felons with horn and voice. Any 
person joining a hue and cry, could apprehend the 
fugitive without warrant, and even break open a door, 
should he have run into a house. 

From John Gary's death till his successor was 
inducted, the living was under sequestration, as is shown 
by 4s. having been collected " of the Rector or Seques- 
trator, for six months' collection ended at Our Lady, 
1668." 



CHAPTER XI 

In 1668, one John Racket clerk, petitioned the King, 
that he might be presented to the Rectory of Theberton. 
He had, he said, served during the late wars, as chaplain 
in the Yarmouth^ and in other ships. He stated that 
the true value of the benefice was not above £70 
a year. 

His petition was successful, for in December 1668, 
we find that he was instituted to the Rectory, " on the 
death of John Gary clerk last incumbent." 

In January following, he complied with the Act of 
Uniformity ; there is this entry in our register : — 

" Memorando that John Hacket clerke. Rector of the 
church and Parish of Theberton, being inducted into 
the same church and Rectorie, the fiveteenth day of 
Januarie anno Dom. 1668 (it was 1668 till Easter 
1669) on Sunday declared his unfeigned assent and 
consent &c., and produced a certificate, under the hand 
and seal of the Lord Bishopp of Norwitch, by which 
it appeared that, before his institution into the said 
Rectorie, he had subscribed to the declaration .... 
that it is not lawfull upon any pretence whatsoever 
to take armes against the King." 

On Sunday the 14th of February, Hacket read the 

141 



142 OUR MAN-OF-WAR PARSON 

thirty-nine Articles agreed upon by Convocation 
in 1562, and declared his assent and consent to the 
same ; and on the next Sunday, in the church at the 
time of prayers, he declared his assent and consent 
to the use of all things in the Book of Common 
Prayer. 

In 1668, was proved the will of Sir Arthur Jenney, 
by which he disposed of the manor of Theberton, with 
the mansion house called " the Parke House." 

I find in 1669 the first mention of "Tylers Green," a 
property then evidently belonging to the parish ; the 
churchwardens received ioj. rent for it. 

This year, a " Regester of Breiffs " is first noticed. 
One brief, on which money was collected in Theberton, 
was "toward the ransome of captives in Algier and 
Sally," the nests of wasps known as Sallee Rovers, 
whose existence then disgraced Christian Europe. 

In 1670, fen reeves were appointed. About these 
parish officers we shall have more to say later. 

And that year, for a girl, two yards and three quarters 
of red cotton had to be bought, " for to apparrell her," 
and " a payre of uppbodyes " whatever they might have 
been, were added. 

In 1672, it may be that Hacket, rector of Theberton, 
was for a time serving again as a naval chaplain ; for 
against his name at the Easter Visitation that year, we 
find in the Archdeacon's book, the note, " apud mare " 
— at sea ; and it is not improbable that he took part in 
the great fight of May 28th. Hume gives a good account 
of the battle, which from the shore may have been seen 
by many folk of Theberton. Two great fleets lay at 
anchor in Sole (Southwold) Bay, the French under the 
Mareschal d'Etr^es, the English under H.R.H. the Duke 
of York and the Earl of Sandwich. 



THE BATTLE OF SOLE BAY 143 

They were lying in a negligent formation, and a 
great Dutch fleet commanded by the gallant de 
Ruyter, and with Cornelius de Wit on board, had come 
out to seek them. Sandwich warned the Duke of the 
danger of his position, but received a reply which he 
deemed a reflection upon his courage. Leading the van, 
he sailed out of the bay to meet the enemy. The 
Hollands Admiral, Baron van Gendt, was killed,^ his 
flagship beaten off, another ship which had ventured to 
lay Sandwich aboard was sunk, and also three Dutch fire- 
ships. Though his own ship was torn in pieces with shot, 
and out of a thousand men near six hundred were laid 
dead on the deck, Sandwich continued still to thunder 
with his artillery in the midst of the enemy. Another fire- 
ship laid hold on him, and the end was imminent ; but, 
though warned by his flag captain Sir Edward Haddock, 
he refused to escape, and bravely embraced death as a 
shelter from that ignominy which the rash expression of 
the Duke had, he thought, thrown upon him. De Ruyter 
attacked the Duke of York, and engaged him with 
such fury for about two hours, that, of two and thirty 
actions in which he had been engaged, he declared 
this combat to be the most obstinately disputed. The 
Duke's ^ship was so shattered that he was obliged to 
shift his flag to another. In the event, the action 
having continued till night, the Dutch retired. The 
French our nominal allies, had sailed away, having 
taken small part in this great sea battle. 

The thunder of great guns must have set all windows 

* His monument I have seen in the cathedral of Utrecht. An 
effigy in complete armour lies on a sarcophagus ; in front below, 
a sea fight is carved in full relief; and a long Latin inscription 
commemorates this : "Vir strenuus prudens invictus Hostium mari 
terraque tremor et terror celeberrima in Thamesin expeditione per 
totam Europam." 



144 NOISE OF BATTLE AT THEBERTON 

shaking at Theberton, and made many timid hearts 
quail. 

There h'es now before me a time-stained document 
written with faded ink, in a cramped and difficult hand 
— probably of John Fenn. It is endorsed " A rate to 
make rates by, at the highest proportion or valuation " 
. . . rate made at ob : qr. in the £. and 2d. in the score ; 
and it is headed " Theberton, a rate made the 13th. day 
of April 1672 by John Fenn Churchwarden " etc. I 
subjoin a few lines to show the form of it : — 

Evidently 
rental value. 

£, s. d. s. d. ob. qr. 

600 Mr. Hall's or Hull's manor 00 00 

60 o o John Hackett for Rectory 00 00 

60 o o Richard Hall Esqre. for Park House 

farm 39 00 

24 o o Benn Jenney Gent for Gardiner's farm 16 00 

600 John Fenn for his farm 04 ob. o 

70 o o Thos Bellward 4 4 ob. o 

26 o o Thos Ingham's two farms 17 ob. o 

700 John Bedingfeild 05 o qr. 

300 Zachary Fella 02 o qr. 

Out-dwellers. 

8 o o Sir Daniel Harvey Knt. for Bushy 

grove 06 00 

Underneath is written : — 

Value of the town at this valuation is ;^i022, besides the 
Parsonage and Mr. Hall's manor, which are to be added. 

The rate aforesaid is \d. in the £, which comes unto altogether 
£,1. 13J. bd. ob. qr. 

i s. d. 
at \d. in the £, it comes unto 311 4. 
z.x\d. in the 2 » » » i I5 8. 
at \d. m the £, „ „ „ 17 10. 

It will be noticed that a Mr. Hall, not a Jenney, 
was then rated for the manor. Sir Arthur Jenney 
had died in 1667, leaving widowed his fourth wife, 



OBOLI AND QUADRANTES 145 

whose maiden name had been Hall, It will be noticed 
too, that at that time Mr. Hall occupied " the Park 
House Farm." 

Sir Daniel Harvey then lord of Leiston manor, was 
the person referred to by John Evelyn, who in June 
1666 wrote in his Diary: "Came Sir Dan Harvey from 
the generall, and related the dreadfull encounter, on 
which His Majesty commanded me to dispatch an extra- 
ordinary physitian and more chirugeons." This was 
the great four days' battle with the Dutch fleet, when 
the event was " rather deliverance than triumph," in the 
Straits of Dover. 

The four columns of figures in the rate account wear 
an odd appearance, shillings^ pence^ oboliy and quadrantes. 
As late as 1707, I find the accounts of rates drawn in 
this fashion, oboli and quadrantes associated with Arabic 
numerals. After 1707, fractional parts of a penny are 
written half pence and farthings, in the way we are 
now accustomed to. 

We find that in 1672, the overseers paid Francis 
Connop £1. ^s. " for setting Robert Thompson's bones," 
— had he broken many .? — and 18 pecks of rye were 
given to Thompson. Rye seems to have been largely 
grown, rye bread is good for food, and rye straw the 
best for thatching. There had been so much rye and so 
much buckwheat too produced in 1627 and 1634, that 
the farmers about Woodbridge petitioned for leave to 
export both grains. 

At the Archdeacon's visitation (known as the 
" Generals ") of 1673, at which John Hacket attended, 
much fault was found with the repair of both the chancel 
and the body of the church. It was required to " repaire 
the roofe of the chancell ; to playster and white the 
same ; to repaire the seates in chancell ; to provide a 

L 



146 CUSTOMS OP TITHING 

white cloth for the communion table ; to mende the 
butteries (buttresses) about the church ; to destroyc the 
Ivy about the church steeple ; to lyne the pulpit and 
reading deske; to mende the seates about the churche; to 
mende the chancell doore ; to remove the rubbish out of the 
church yardc. These to be certified at the next Generals." 

At the Generals in 1674, Hacket appeared, but John 
Fenn and Robert Usher the churchwardens were ex- 
communicated for non-appearance. The court required 
that these things among others should be done : " to 
provide a hoode ^ ; to repaire the chancell in ye thatch- 
ing ; to white the same where it is decayed ; to provide 
locks and keys for the great church chest ; to white the 
south ile of the church." 

In that year 1674, an agreement was made between 
John Hacket the Rector, and his parishoners, that the 
customs should be settled as under : 

" For every acre of mowing meadow being made into hay or 
mowen, ^d. 

For the lactage of every cowe by the yeare, 2d. 

For every gast (barren) beast, and every yearling bud (calf), and 
foal falling, id. 

For every gast cow giving milk yearly, 2d. 

For calves and lambes under seven, id. Then to have a tenth 
calf or lamb, id. 

Every tenth or seventh pig. 

For scumming (roughly mowing) of pasture grounds, 2d. yearly. 

If any crop of turnips shall be drawn to sell or to feed fat 
cattle, tithe in kind ; but if spent only in feeding milch cows, 
nothing." 

This very early mention of turnip culture as a farm 
crop is noteworthy. It has been said by good authority, 
that the root was first used for winter sheep feed, ten 
years later. 

* Now, I suppose graduate clergy themselves supply the hoods 
proper to their degree and University ; and Literates their fancy 
tippets. 



ATTENDING THE GENERALS 147 

We have the names of the parishioners who were 
assessed for hearth tax in 1674. The largest payers 
were William Mitchells for thirteen hearths, a " Mr. 
Tompson " for ten hearths ; Thomas Ingham had four, 
Gabriel Ingham five, and John Fenn only three. In 
which houses these persons lived, we have no means now 
of ascertaining. 

In 1675, for a poor funeral, a cheerful charge was 
made " for beer, cakes, and a winding sheet, ^s." 

That year, both Racket and his churchwardens were 
again admonished ; the ivy about the steeple was to be 
forthwith cut ; the Bible had two or three leaves loose ; 
the register book was to be kept in the church chest ; 
the chancel thatch was exceedingly decayed, in so much 
that it lay open to the weather in a great part thereof, 
and the vermin thereby got in and very much " annoyed 
the church and chancel " ; and the walls thereof were 
exceeding green and foul ; the seats were decayed ; the 
windows were decayed ; there was a linen communion 
cloth, but, it was added, Mr. Hackett kept it from the 
churchwardens. 

Racket did not attend the Generals in 1676. The 
monitions of the year before had not been obeyed yet ; 
they were now repeated with additions, among which was 
an order to " cleere ye churchyard of bryers, brakes, 
and thornes, and to certifie the Court after Christmas." 

In 1677, a rate was made at Theberton, under an 
Act of Parliament, for the building of thirty ships of war 
for the defence and honour of His Majesty and his 
kingdom. In that year too, a fee was paid to Mr. 
Bedingfeild for advice about a pauper, " Mr. Beding- 
feild's Worship's " home was at Benhall. 

On the 9th of October 1677, two men were chosen 
for constables, "at Ris Matis Courte Leete kept for the 

L 2 



148 THE VIEW OF FRANK PLEDGE 

Soake of Laiston for the yeare to end at St. Michael 
1678." We have seen that a yearly Court Leet had 
been held by the Abbots as lords of the Soke ; but 
these old English tribunals date back to ages before 
abbots or abbey. Another name of the same ancient 
Court was the " View of Frank Pledge " ; it being 
its province to view the Frank Pledges, that is the 
freemen of a Liberty, who under the Laws of Alfred 
the Great were pledges for each other's behaviour. 
From the parish of Theberton, a " soake fee " has been 
paid down to quite recent times. It ceased however 
before living memory ; the present steward of Leiston 
manor knows nothing about it. 

In 1666, an Act had been passed which, with a view 
to encourage the manufacture of woollen, enacted that 
all dead bodies should be wrapped in woollen only ; and 
by a later Act of 1678, the clergy were required to enter 
in the register the receipt by them of affidavits that the 
law had been complied with. 

The first entry we find under the latter Act is as 
follows : — For the year 1678 : " John ffenne wheele- 
wright was buryed 24 Octobris in woollen in Theberton 
Churchyard. Jane Thompson widdow, and Margaret 
the wife of Henrie Bruce being both of the Parish of 
Theberton, on the 29th day of October, made affidavitt 
thereof before Thomas Eliot Esquire Justice of Peace 
for Suff, two witnesses being then present, which by the 
said Justice was then accordingly certified." 

John Fenn seems to have been well respected in 
Theberton, having served all the parish offices : church- 
warden, overseer, surveyor, and fen reeve ; he was buried 
by the great porch door of the church, where, over his 
brick tomb a flat covering stone bears this quaint 
inscription : — 



THE "STONE TO SITT UPON" 149 

" HERE IS A STONE TO SITT VPON 
VNDER WHICH LIES IN HOPES TO RISE 
TO YE DAY OF BLISSE AND HAPPINESSE 
HONEST JOHN FENN THE SONN 
OF WILLIAM FENN CLARKE AND 
LATE RECTOR OF THIS PARISH 
BEING TURNED OUT OF THIS 
LIVEING AND SEQVESTRED FOR 
HIS LOYALTY TO THE LATE 
KING CHARLES THE FIRST 
HEE DEPARTED THIS LIFE THE 
22 DAY OF OCTOBER ANNO DOM. 
1678." 

When we had fair congregations at Theberton, one 
might, any Sunday, see men sitting upon the stone, 
before the afternoon service. 

One wonders who composed the inscription — perhaps 
John Fenn himself in his lifetime — a loyal son desirous 
of clearing his father's memory. 

Rates were made in 1680, for "ye disbanding the 
Army," — that army which, three years before, had been 
raised on pretence of war with our contemptible King's 
secret patron, Louis XIV. of France. 

The overseers had, in 168 1, to pay the widow Hansell 
IS. 6d. a week for keeping the " Moather London," 
elsewhere called " London's girle." Suffolk folk still 
call a girl a " mawther." 

By an inventory of " goods wich weare the widow 
Tompson's" — Mrs. Tompson having died indebted 
to the parish — we gain a peep into a poor Theberton 
cottage of the seventeenth century. 

"A Invtory of the goods wich weare the widow Tompson's who 
departed this life the 15 day of June, Ano Dominij 1681." 

l.s. d. 
Imprimis one bed and bedsteds mat and line ten 

bousters 3 pilowes and a Couvlet and a blanckett . i 16 6 

Ite one cubert and a keepe 060 

Ite fouer tabels and 2 formes o 10 6 

Ite fouer befott stewls 020 



150 CONTENTS OF A XVIIth CENTURY COTTAGE 

£ s. d. 

Ite 3 Chayrs and 3 cushens and 2 other stewls .... 018 
Ite 4 peauter dishes 3 sausers and 2 poringers one 

Candilstick and a saltsiler 029 

Ite Scales and waights o i 6 

Ite 2 Citels 4 skilets ^ 2 Brasen candelsticks and a fring 

pan and a warming pan and a laten dripping pan - o 12 4 

Ite 2 larne pots poot hoocks and leds (lids) o 10 6 

Ite a pair of cobandoms and a gridiom and a fire pan 

and tongs and a pesell and a ould Chafing Dish 

and 2 hacks a smelkost a box iron o 3 10 

Ite 3 treving platers and 11 dishes and one dusen of 

trenchers o 1 2 

Ite 2 Earthing pans and a earthing sauser 004 

Ite 2 Cuppes and a tunell (funnel) 002 

Ite one Chist and a Cofer and a desk and trunck and 

2 ould boxes 070 

Ite one spise boxe and a pesell and morter 007 

Ite for seurall Boocks 020 

Ite 2 wescots 2 petcots and a hatte 090 

Ite 4 napckins one bord cloth 034 

Ite for 3 shetts and 4 pilowbers o 17 o 

Ite for 2 saupans 022 

Ite for ij neck hanckirs 060 

Ite fouer piners with the rest of hir wearing lining . . 040 

Ite one scarfe and 3 hoods 030 

Ite for 3 ould Cors sheets one shifning 2 pilowbers . . 040 

Ite one loocking glase 003 

Ite one bed more bedsteds and line on o 

Ite 2 ould Gofers and one ould desk 016 

Ite one Courlett belong to this bed 020 

Sum of Totis £t ii 1 

Thes things weare prised by Thomas Belward and Thomas 
Weller. 

How the " sum of totis " was dealt with we have 
no record, perhaps nought remained after reimbursing 
the parish. In another account, a surplus was applied 
in " redeeming a poore townesman out of prison." 

The accounts that year were allowed by Justices 
John Bedingfeild and Edmund Bohun. 

Edmund Bohun of Westhall Hall is an interesting 

^ Small kettles or boilers. 



EDMUND BOHUN OF WESTHALL 151 

study. "Bred a dissenter from the religion," which 
was established in the Church of England ; he grew to 
be a royalist of royalists, a church-man of church-men. 
The Bohuns were an old family, but Edmund's fortune 
did not match his birth. An ambitious, honest, clever, 
contentious man ; sometimes a magistrate delivering 
charges at quarter sessions ; twice if not thrice, left out 
of the commission ; a treasurer for maimed soldiers ; a 
learned and rather voluminous author ; licenser of the 
press ; persecuted by political enemies ; brought to the 
bar of the House of Commons ; a friend, then not a 
friend, of the non-juring Archbishop Bancroft who was 
born and died in the near parish of Fressingfield. His 
life passed in eventful times ; and in 1699 he died, 
aged 56, "the upright and free spoken, but persecuted 
and unfortunate. Chief Justice" of South Caro- 
lina. 

To his diary, edited with accurate notes, by the late 
Mr. Rix of Beccles, I am much indebted. In May 
1677, he jots down, " I went to our nearest gaol — at 
Blythborough — to give bail for Mr. John Hacket, 
a clergyman long and wretchedly oppressed " ; and the 
following month he wrote, " with some astonishment, I 
have seen and watched the horrible and base conduct of 
G. E. towards Mr. John Hacket clerk." Who G. E. 
was we do not know. Probably John Hacket was our 
parson of Theberton. If so, why he was in prison 
we have now no means of ascertaining. There is 
ground for surmise that he was impecunious, and 
he certainly was engaged in litigation. The 1675 
parish accounts state that the churchwardens paid " for 
ten journeys, to Yoxford court and Halesworth, about 
Mr. Hackett's suits, &c., 14$"."; and again in 1683, we 
find : " Paid to discharge the charges of suit commenced 



152 LABOURERS' WAGES IN 1682 

by John Racket against severall of the parishioners 
£2. 15^. ody 

But even were he by his own fault wretchedly 
oppressed, yet, if he served in that good fight, the battle 
of Sole Bay, we surely may take pride in our one 
man-of-war parson of Theberton. 

Having mentioned for earlier times, the wages of 
servants in husbandry, it may be useful, for purpose 
of comparison, to state them for the time now under 
consideration. 

Sir John Cullum tells us what the Bury quarter sessions 
(acting under a statute of Elizabeth) settled in West 
Suffolk for 1682, Wages for East Suffolk were no doubt 
much the same. 

The West Suffolk wages were as follows: — 

By the year: — 

I s. d 

A bailiff in husbandry 600 

A chief husbandman or carter 500 

A second hind or husbandman a common servant 

above 18 3 10 o 

A fourth under 18 2 10 o 

A dairymaid or cook 2 10 o 

The best hired servant with meat and drink for harvest 120 

An ordinary harvest man • 180 

Wages by the day : — 

A man hay maker with meat and drink 5 

A woman hay maker 3 

A man reaper in harvest 10 

A woman reaper 6 

A common labourer at other times : — 

In summer 6 

In winter 5 

Women and such persons weeders 3 

Without meat and drink their wages were doubled. 

In our parish accounts, an ordinary annual charge is 
for " Bill indented." Bills indented were copies of the 
register for a year past, handed in at the "Generals." 



THE "PARITER" 153 

Another item occurring regularly is Christmas box for 
the " pariter " — apparitor. In the days of power of 
Courts-Christian, apparitors — "so called because their 
duty was to summon persons to appear," their older 
title having been sompnours or summoners — had been 
substantial nuisances ; they were now little better than 
shadows, seldom becoming visible, unless in the sun of 
Christmas boxes. 



CHAPTER XII 

The exact date of Racket's death I do not know; 
as in our register there is no entry of his burial, I 
presume that he did not die at Theberton ; it may have 
been at sea ; I hope not in the gaol at Blythburgh. 

In 1683, came his successor Robert Witchingham or 
Wychingham, presented to the benefice by the King. 

The year after, we see that the new rector attended 
the " Generals ; " when the Court, finding that its former 
monitions had not been effective, ordered that "the 
wholes in the roofe of the chancell " be stopped ; a new 
" cushing board " for the pulpit be provided ; that a hood 
be provided ; that the pulpit and reading desk be lined ; 
that a green cloth be provided for the communion table ; 
and that the churchyard be fenced. 

And two years after that, the churchwardens were 
further admonished to get a new cushion for the 
pulpit ; and to " stopp the hole out of the steeple 
into the church, to keepe the doves from annoying 
the church."! 

* We read in the third Homily of the second Book, published at 
the accession of Elizabeth " On the repairing and keeping clean 
of Churches," that " Churches were formerly defiled with sinful 
and superstitious filthiness, but though they had been scoured 
and swept clean from that, they were then defiled with rain and 
weather, with dung of doves and owls, stares, and choughs, and 
other filthiness, as it was foul and lamentable to behold." 

154 



REPAIRS TO THE CHURCH 155 

Wychingham and the churchwardens were evidently in 
the mind to be obedient. The monitions of 1684 had 
been in some part obeyed already ; some needful repairs 
had been done ; the lift gate, by which the churchyard 
was then entered, had been put to rights ; the pulpit had 
been heightened ; and both pulpit and reading desk 
been bound and fringed. Now, the poor pulpit of good 
oak was coloured ; the thatch of the church was mended 
with straw ; and the whole church whitened inside — this 
at a cost of £2. 5^. od. ; a new cushion was bought for the 
pulpit at ^i. 4.y. od. ; and the hole was stopped up in the 
steeple. 

In 1686, we had another valuation of the town of 
Theberton. The whole rental value was set at ;^920. 
The rectory was now again assessed at £(x^ ; Edmund 
Jenney had regained possession of the manor, and for it 
was set down at £(> a year ; Thomas Ingham for 
Theberton Hall at £60 per annum. The Eastbridge 
inn must then have been a better hostelry than the 
present cottage, for its value was set down at ;^30 a 
year. 

For 1686 also, we find a deed of settlement of the 
Jenney estate in Theberton ; in which it is stated that 
Edmund Jenney was then seised in fee of the manor or 
lordship of Theberton, and of the capital messuage, 
Theberton Hall. 

In 1687, the overseers had to pay, on behalf of a 
poor person, a charge for " hearthmoney." This tax, 
imposed in Charles II.'s time, has come down to 
our day in the unwelcome form of Inhabited House 
Duty. 

A Justice who allowed the overseers' rate for this 
year was — Leman. The Christian name is not legible in 
his signature, but he was Thomas Leman of Wenhaston 



156 FEES FOR CHIRURGIONING 

whom Bohun describes in his diary. Bohun says that in 
1677 he was "a young man of very great promise, and 
of ample patrimony, fond of learning and already imbued 
with it, sedate and courteous." There is a gracefully 
worded inscription to his memory in Wenhaston Church. 

Our churchyard was paled round in 1688, at a total 
cost of £2. I4J'. 6d. 

There is no more to tell about our parish for that 
year, but the year was memorable in the annals of the 
kingdom. On December nth, King James II. fled; 
and a few days after, our Suffolk diarist, Bohun, was 
present in London, when the Prince of Orange was met, 
he says, " with such transports of joy as I have never 
seen." 

In 1689, the Rectory was assessed at one-third of the 
valuation of three years before, viz : ^^20. 

That year, Sir John Playters of Sotterley allowed the 
overseers' rate. In this account, occur charges for beer 
and cake at a poor woman's funeral ; two racks of veal 
for a widow ; and ys. lod. to one Mr. Thorne " for 
chirurgioning a man's sore legs." Butchers do not cut 
racks of veal now in Suffolk, but they are common joints 
still in Ireland. 

In 1690, the church thatch had again to be mended; 
a " hurry " of thatch, broaches and binding, were charged 
\\s. A "hurry" is, or was, a local expression for a 
small load. 

In 1 69 1, Thomas Ingham was rated for the Hall, and 
paid ^. 4d. churchwarden's rate. 

One William Raine agreed, that year, with the 
parishioners of Theberton, that he would " keep Robert 
Heasell with meat drinck apparrell lodgeing and 
washing a yeare," at 30J. f The Justices who signed 
that year were " J Rous " and " Thomas Neale." The first 



ASSESSMENT FOR POLL TAX 157 

was Sir John Rous of Henham, a neighbour and friend 
of Bohun the diarist ; and the second, Thomas Neale of 
Bramfield, the same, I think, who dying in 1701, left 
money to build Almshouses still occupied in that village. 
He was one of the first trustees of the old Dissenting 
Chapel founded at Lowestoft in 1695. 

Thomas Ingham was again, in 1692, rated for "Ye 
Hall." When, that year, a warrant was issued to assess 
a poll tax, there was in it this direction: "you are hereby 
further required to give notice to all such persons as are 
assessed as gentlemen within yr town, that they come 
before some of the Commissioners before the Generall 
day of Appeals be out, and take the oathes to their 
present Majesties (William and Mary), or otherwise they 
must be assessed double according to the Act." Thomas 
Ingham was not too proud to describe himself as 
" malster." 

At an archdeacon's visitation in 1693, Wychingham 
being incumbent of Theberton, we learn that, of church 
plate there was a silver cup and patten, with a pewter 
flagon ; that the church then wanted thatching ; the ivy 
to be cut ; and the chancel to be paved. The valuation 
of the town was stated to be ;6^5oo per annum, the 
Rectory being put at ;^30 per annum communibus annis, 
one year with another. There was only one service each 
Sunday, so it seems probable that Wychingham had 
another living, and had his residence elsewhere. He 
was, later at all events, the rector also of Buxlow. 

That whoever lived at our Rectory was not given to 
hospitality, the Archdeacon's itinerary bears witness. 
On the fourth day of his visitation, the 3rd. of August, 
1693, his earliest visit was arranged for Knoddishall ; 
thence on to Aldringham, Leiston, Theberton, Middleton 
Darsham, Westleton, Dunwich, ending with Walbers- 



158 THE ARCHDEACON'S PRANDIUM 

wick. A good day's work ! The hours fixed for 
Theberton were lo o'clock to noon ; and there the 
dignitary looked for his dinner ; for opposite that 
appointment, had been written " ad prandium " ; but 
that the prandium was not to his liking, is shown by a 
later note against Theberton " not to dine next time." 

In 1694, the warrant for Poll Tax to be sent up from 
Theberton, was signed " C. Blois, Geo. Fleetwood, Jo. 
Rabett." Sir Charles Blois was the first baronet, and 
the first of his family to possess Cockfield Hall ; Geo. 
Fleetwood was of Chediston, a younger son of the Lord 
Deputy of Ireland ; and John Rabett was, I take it, a 
member of an ancient family, the Rabetts of Bramfield. 

Towards a poor rate in 1695, I find " Hangman's 
Acre " was assessed at an obolus. Where this ill-omened 
acre was, or who had been hanged there, is not known 
to this deponent. 

The silver coinage having been robbed by clipping, it 
became necessary in 1696, to provide for a new coinage 
by Act of Parliament. Under that Act we find that 
Thos. Wright and Thos. Foulsham had to assess the 
parish of Theberton, for duties " for making good the 
deficiency of cliped money." This involved a statement 
of the taxed windows of every house in the parish. 
Not a house, it appeared, had more lights than the 
rectory, which had twenty. Of seven other houses 
one, that of Edmund Jenney, had twenty also ; and of 
six remaining, I suppose farm houses, one had nineteen, 
one sixteen, three had ten, one nine. 

We get a rough idea of the state of education in 
Theberton from a list made that year of men who took 
the oath to King William III. The list contains fifty- 
five names of male inhabitants of the parish ; twenty- 
nine were marksmen, and among these illiterates were 
persons holding lands valued at ;^43, ;^24, and .^20 a year. 



TYLER^S GREEN 169 

On Easter Monday 1697, the townsmen let to Richard 
Cheston "Tylers Green," The page of the account is 
very imperfect, one can only make out that the rent 
was lOi'., and that the said Cheston was to clear the 
green of bushes. 

In 1698, the rateable value of the parish including 
rectory and manor was £478. los. 

Another assessment was made in 1702, for grants to 
Her Majesty by dues and subsidies and a land tax. 
The point of interest to us is the insight it gives into 
the domesticities of some of the persons of our story. 
We find that parson Wychingham had a wife and 
three children and two servants ; Edmund Jenney 
gent, a wife and likewise three children, with three 
servants ; Thomas Ford, I think a farmer, the same ; 
John Foulsham the same family and number of servants 
as the rector ; and Thomas Ingham " malster " had a 
wife, four children and three servants. Personal property 
was then assessed, as in justice it should be still, for the 
tax misleadingly called land tax. 

I find a curious account concerning a parish pauper. 

The goods of one John Haggudday were sold for 

}C^. ys. \\d.\ with which the overseers credit themselves, 

and add the produce of forty weeks' collection £,4. 

Against this are set these items of charge : 

£ s. d. 

Paid to Dr. Peake for cutting of John Haggiidday's leg 500 

To John Thome for healing it 5 5 ° 

Item — for removing of his goods twice 50 

Item — for his nurse 12 o 

Item — for beere for his doctor and the tounesmen at 

2 severall times 5 ^ 

Item — for a quart of butter for him ....•...: 10 

Item — bread for him 23 

Item — For wooding legg for him 7 o 

Item — His half years rent 13 o 

The balance was of course a charge upon the rates. 
John Thorne is in the accounts described as apothecary ; 



160 A TAX ON BACHELORS 

but in the manor book, I find a devise by one Philip 
Thorne of land in the parish, to John Thorne of 
Theberton " chirurgion," 

When Dutch William was on the throne, his Parlia- 
ment spread such a net for taxation, that no man 
escaped its meshes. We all have to be born, to die, 
and then to be buried, and all men living are either 
bachelors, or married, or widowers. An ingenious act 
swept them all in. A tax was imposed upon bachelors 
and widowers, on marriages and births ; dead men had 
to pay too, for there was a tax upon burials. The rate 
was on a sliding scale in proportion to rank — from is. to 
;^I2 a year for bachelors and widowers, from 2s. 6d to 
;^5o on marriages, from 2s. to £$o on births, and one 
could not be buried under is. rising to ;^I2. los. In the 
1705 accounts, I find "For duty for Brissingham's burial 
4s. 6d." The tax only lasted five years. When women 
get their votes, will bachelors and widowers have to 
suffer again ? 

The 19th of January 1704 was at Theberton and 
throughout all England, observed, in obedience to 
Queen Anne's proclamation, as a day of public fast and 
humiliation, for " the terrible and dreadful storms of 
wind " of 26th and 27th of November 1703, when it was 
computed that eight thousand persons perished. The 
loss in London was said to have been more serious than 
that caused by the Great Fire of 1666. " Houses were 
mostly stripped and appeared like so many skeletons ; 
the lead which covered one hundred churches, and many 
public buildings, was rolled up and hurled in prodigious 
quantities, to distances almost incredible." In Kent 
alone, one observer numbered seventeen thousand trees, 
all torn up by the roots. Most of our men-of-war were 
safe at sea ; but fifteen or sixteen were cast away, and 



THE LAST JENNEY OF THEBERTON 161 

more than two thousand seamen perished. A squadron 
under Rear Admiral Beaumont was then lying in the 
Downs ; the flagship and several other ships were wrecked 
on Goodwin Sands. Eddystone Lighthouse was des- 
troyed ; and the architect Winstanley, who was in it, 
perished. Fortunately for shipping at sea off our East 
Coast the gale was from the westward ; the effects on 
the opposite coast of Holland were disastrous. No note 
remains of damage done at Theberton. 

For 1706, the overseer's rate was allowed by John 
Bence, Esqre, owner from 1700 to 17 19, of the Heven- 
ingham Hall of that day. Mr. Bence served in his time, 
as member for Dunwich, and for Ipswich. 

Now was severed the ancient connection of the 
Jenneys with Theberton. Edmund Jenney in 1704, 
had sold the manor and the Theberton Hall estate 
to John Fuller. Mr. Fuller held his first court in 1705. 
In the record, we find mention of two place names, Lott 
fen, and Golibau fen, which I cannot identify. 

The Ingham of the time was the Thomas Ingham 
whose mural monument is in the chancel of our church. 
Like others of his family, he seems to have been an 
active and thriving man. He was steward of the manor 
of Theberton. In 1703, he hired the rectorial rights of 
Aldringham. He was also bailiff of the Leiston Abbey 
estate, in which capacity his accounts show that he 
"paid for seven dayes workes of three men to take 
down part of the tower and cleane the bricke." Among 
our church plate a flagon bears the words " ex dono 
Thome Ingham!' The mural monument is thus in- 
scribed : — 

" In the church yard, near this place, lye interred the 
bodies of Thomas Ingham gentleman late of this parish, 
and Milicent his wife. The said Thomas departed this 

M 



162 PARISH APPRENTICES 

life the 19th day of March 1720, in the seventieth year 
of his age, and the said MiHcent departed this life the 
ninth day of June 1708, in the fifty-sixth of her age." 
Upon it is emblazoned the arms of Ingham, impaled 
with those of his wife. 

There are three stones outside the south aisle door 
one inscribed " Thomas Ingham and Milicent his wife " 
on another can just be deciphered " William Ingham " 
of the third the inscription is weathered away, and is now 
undecipherable. William is described in the manor 
book as William Ingham of Theberton "gentleman." 

We have the will of Thomas Ingham. He seems to 
have lent money on mortgage, and foreclosed mortgages, 
and picked up land whenever the price suited him. He 
devised land in ten parishes besides Theberton, and 
bequeathed nearly ;{J^4000 in legacies, some to pay 
expenses for schools and for universities and apprentice- 
ships for his grandchildren. 

In 1705, clothing was purchased by the overseers for 
apprenticing a "town boy." Persons to whom parish 
apprentices were allotted, were compellable to take 
them, often an unwelcome duty. A few years later, 
John Foulsham paid £$ to our parish rather than take 
an apprentice. Such bargains were formally recorded. 
For example this from the town book of an adjoining 
parish — ** Whereas the parish of Middleton with Fordley 
have allotted Ann Courtnell as an apprentice to me, I 
hereby promise to pay to ye overseer of the Poor of ye 
said parish two pounds ten shillings per year for four 
years, at four quarterly payments yearly and every year, 
the said parish excuseing me an apprentice, till the said 
child be twenty one years of age — witness my hand, 
Charles Ingham." 

Posts and pales were, as they are now, an expensive 



"NOYFUL POWELLS AND VERMYN" 163 

sort of fencing — boys will be boys. A new fence of 
that kind round the churchyard, cost £8 in 1705. 

Foxes were at this time common in our district. In 
1708, was paid 6s. for six foxes' heads, and such pay- 
ments for vermin become more common later. 

It had been enacted in the reign of Elizabeth, that 
two honest and substantial persons in each parish, should 
be named " dystributors of the provision for the destruc- 
tyon of noyful fowells and vermyn," and they were 
authorised to pay : 

For three crows, choughs, pies, or rooks heads id. 

For every six eggs or young birds id. 

For every twelve starlings eggs . • id. 

For the heads of other ravenous byrds and vermyn as or 

hereafter in this acte mentioned that is to say : — 
For everye head of martyn, hawke, furskett, mold kytte, 

busard, schagge, cormorant, ryngtayle 2d. 

For every two eggs of theirs id. 

For everye yron (erne) or ospre^s head ^d. 

For the head of every woodwall,^ pye, jay, raven, or kytte . id. 

For the head of everye byrd which is called the kyngfisher . id. 
For the head of everye bulfynche, or other byrd that devour- 

ythe the blowthe or frute id. 

For the head of every fox or gray (badger) 12 d. 

And for the head of everye fytchene, polcatte, wesell, stott, 

fayrebode, or wylde catte id. 

For the head of everye otter, or hedgehogg 2d. 

And, for the heads of three ratts, or twelve myse id. 

A small payment was also to be made for heads of 
moles. 

All owners of lands and tithes were chargeable for 
these payments : they were made by the churchwardens 

^ The editor of Be/Ps Chaucer says that the " woodewale " is the 
oriole or golden ousle, a bird of the thrush kind ; and quotes from 
the ballad of Robin Hood and Guy of Gisbome : " The woodweele 
sang and wolde not cease, sitting upon the spraye." Chaucer him- 
self writes of " Alpes fynches and wodewales " — we call bullfinches 
" alpes " in Suffolk. Could it have been such a harmless bird as 
this which was doomed to destruction as a " noyful fowell," 
associated with pies, jays, ravens, and kites ? 

M 2 



164 CONCERNING BRIEFS 

out of their rate. The scale appears to have been 
punctiliously adhered to. 

In 1708, an abstract of an Act about Briefs was paid 
for by the parish. What we of Suffolk now know as a 
brief, is a private appeal for help, to compensate some 
poor person for a disabling loss. These statutory briefs 
were very different. Under the Act, to a person desirous 
of raising money, called the undertaker, a brief was 
issued out of Chancery. Copies were printed by the 
Queen's printers. The undertaker got these stamped, 
and distributed to ministers and churchwardens. 
Ministers read the brief to their congregations next 
before the sermon. The money collected was handed 
with the briefs to the undertaker, who had to render an 
account to the master in Chancery. 

How expensive this cumbrous machinery was, may be 
seen from this account concerning another county : 

For the parish church of Ravenstondale : — 

£: s. d. 

Lodging the certificate . . . • . 076 

Fiat and signing 19 4 2 

Letters Patent 21 18 2 

Printing and paper 1600 

Teller and porter ....... 050 

Stamping 13 12 6 

Copy of the brief 050 

Portage to and from the stampers 050 

Matts &c. for packing 040 

Portage to the waggons .... 040 
Carriage to the undertakers at 

Stafford in 6 

Postage of letters and certificate . 048 

Clerk's fees 220 



76 3 6 
Salary for 9986 briefs at bd. each 249 13 o 
Additional salary for London . . 500 

ilio 16 6 



THE MOLL HOUSE 165 

Collected on 9986 briefs 614 12 9 
Charges 330 16 6 



Clear collection 283 16 3 



Collections 9986 
Blanks 503 



Total 10489 



It is evident that more than half the receipts were 
devoured by unconscionable fees and piled up expenses. 

A house called the Moll House was assessed for 
window duty in 1710. If it exists, the house is known 
by that name no longer. 

In 171 2, Robert Wychingham was rated for twenty- 
nine windows in his rectory. One other house in the 
parish had twenty-nine also, and two were rated for 
thirty. That year the church was paved with brick, the 
bushes were stubbed up in the churchyard — they con- 
stantly had to be stubbed — and a new *' surpliss " was 
purchased for the parson. The year after, the church- 
wardens paid £4. 10s. for the Queen's arms, Lord's 
Prayer, and Commandments. 



CHAPTER XIII 

Queen Anne's reign lasted but little longer, she died 
in 1714 ; and then, our first King " George, in pudding 
time came o'er " from Hanover. 

That year, the churchwardens' account charged the 
parish with a proclamation to alter ye service book on 
the death of the Princess Sophia 6d. ; another pro- 
clamation on the death of Queen Anne ^d. ; and three 
others for the Prince of Wales, the Princess and Royal 
Family, and for the clergy 6d. each ; and the ringing on 
ye Thanksgiving, 2s. ; and a proclamation to prevent 
profaneness. 

In the fifth year of Queen Anne's reign, an Act had 
been passed at her instance, which conferred a great 
boon upon the Church in general, and on our Rectory in 
particular. 

An oppressive burden upon benefices had been the 
imposition known as First Fruits, of old payable to the 
Pope, and since the Reformation to the Crown. Its 
origin was in this wise : By ancient feudal law, a superior 
lord was, on the death of a tenant-in-chivalry, entitled to 
" primer seisin " : that is to enter into seisin or possession 
of the tenant's land, and to enjoy its profits, till the heir 
should, within a year and a day, appear to claim investi- 
ture. Analogously, the Popes claiming to be feudal 
lords of the church, had extorted in that usurped 

166 



PRIMITI^ OR FIRST FRUITS 167 

capacity from English incumbents a year's profits of 
their livings, as primiticB or First Fruits. Now, by this 
generous Act of the Queen, poor livings under ;^5o a 
year were exempted and discharged from First Fruits ; 
the bishops were to inform themselves, by the oaths of 
witnesses or other lawful means, of the value of all 
livings whereof the clear proved annual value did not 
exceed ;^5o, and were to certify the same into the 
exchequer. 

The Archbishop of the Province, as guardian of the 
Spiritualities of the See of Norwich then vacant, 
appointed commissioners to take evidence. Mr. Wyching- 
ham had to appear before them, with two or more 
credible witnesses, and with his "terrars," books of 
account, and other needful documents. The com- 
missioners gave notice that voluntary gifts and contribu- 
tions would not be reckoned, but only such things as 
were perpetually annexed to the living, and which an 
incumbent could legally demand ; and on the other 
hand that taxes, poor rates, repairs, charge of curate, 
would not be allowed. In the result, the clear 
improved yearly value of the living of Theberton was 
returned at ;^3i. 13^". 4^. ; and it was accordingly dis- 
charged from first fruits. 

In 1715, occurred an outbreak of smallpox, and 
charges for poor sufferers swelled the overseers' rate. It 
was a deadly disease then, when not even such protec- 
tion as inoculation could afford, was available. 

The rate of 17 16 was allowed by Thomas Betts, Esquire, 
of Yoxford ; he was son of the " Justice Betts " often 
referred to in our parish books, who possessed property 
in Theberton, and to whose memory there is a handsome 
monument in Yoxford church. He came of a junior 
branch of an old Suffolk family — Betts of Wortham. 



168 CORONATION FESTIVITY 

Miss Hannah Fuller, upon whom the manor of 
Theberton had devolved, held her first Court in 17 19. 

In 1720, the v;ay from Theberton church to " le 
common de Theberton " is mentioned in the manor 
book. 

The rate of 172 1 was allowed by Robert Jenney, Esquire, 
born like so many of his ancestors in Theberton, but then 
described as of Leiston. Of Knoddishall would have 
been his proper description. 

In 1722, William Bradley held his first Court as lord 
of the manor ; he had married Hannah Fuller. In the 
overseers' bill that year, an entry of 5j. for " 2 Duble 
Cats " puzzled this investigator, till at last it dawned 
upon him that " 2 duplicates " of some document, must 
have been intended. 

In 1723, Thomas Carthew, Esquire, allowed the rate ; 
he was, I think, owner of Benacre Hall and Woodbridge 
Abbey, but seems to have been then resident at Leiston. 

Robert Wychingham having resigned the living, his 
son and namesake was presented and instituted to succeed 
him in 1724. This younger Robert Wychingham had, 
in 1718 or 1 7 19, married Elizabeth daughter of the 
Thomas Ingham before mentioned, who left her land 
which he had purchased from Daniel Harvey Esqr. and 
a legacy of ;^ioo. 

Foxes' heads were still brought in, and paid for, 
weasels too, and " poulcatts " and " roks " ; one item of 
payment was for sixty five "roks." In 1725, a man 
who had had his tongue cut out by the Turks got 2s. 
from the parish ; and, at the bishop's visitation at 
Beccles that year, the churchwardens paid " to ye Bishop 
gs. to ye Minister $s. and to ye Apparitor is." 

In 1728, the parish officers " spent at the Coronation 
the sum of one guinnie." Cannot one see the convivial 



LINEN WEAVING 169 

old fellows in those " bushes of vanity " their wigs, broad 
skirted coats, big-flapped waistcoats, their stockings 
rolled above the knee, sitting round a table in the cosy- 
parlour of the Lion, having hung their three-cornered 
hats on pegs about the walls, drinking King George's 
health, with all the more gusto that they had not to pay 
for the liquor. Wychingham may have been of the party ; 
but there was difference betv/een him and the overseers 
— see this entry!in their account : " lost by ye rate which 
Mr. Whittingham (Wychingham) paid short 4^". 4^." 

A poor man's goods inventoried that year, included 
three spinning-wheels, and " i Lomb " meaning I think a 
loom. The man's settlement was in Theberton, but he 
had been living in Norfolk where the woollen manu- 
facture had its principal home. He may, however, have 
been a linen weaver, for this was an industry of our 
neighbourhood. The reputation of Halesworth market 
ten miles from Theberton, was in 1720, due chiefly to 
" its plenty of linen yarn which the women spun, partly 
for the use of families and partly for sale, which being 
readily bought was esteemed a good commodity for 
trade." 1 

In 1729, a new church window was paid for, £^. ^s. ; it 
was no doubt inserted in one of the ancient openings. 

In that year's overseers' account, charges occur which 
at first glance do not explain themselves : — 

£ s. d. 
" For a lycence and marrying Tho. Scarlett 170 

Two orders and his examination 60 

Eating and drinking at my house 186 

Expenses and carrying away 46 

Going to ye Justices about ye orders ... 10" 



^ We find a man described as a " linnen weaver " on the rolls of 
the Manor of Middleton Chickering in 1779. In another inventory 
is noted a powdering tub. 



170 PARISH REPUBLICS 

Scarlett, not belonging to Theberton, was persuaded 
to wed a pauper girl, and so take a burden off the parish ; 
and paupers could not be removed without a justice's 
order. The parish was the poor man's Providence ; in 
this case, it provided Scarlett with a wife ; and in 
another we find it paying a heavy doctor's bill 
— " Doctor Manning's bill for ye cure of John Clarke 

Parishes were then indeed small republics, not as 
now mere geographical expressions ; they made and 
levied their own rates, and expended their own monies, 
they maintained the one church in which all the people 
worshipped, they relieved their own poor and provided 
their own poor house, repaired their roads, managed 
their common lands. The " occupiers " served each 
parish office in its turn ; of churchwarden place of most 
dignity, of overseer the " father-in-law of the parish," of 
surveyor, of constable, and, in Theberton, of fen-reeve. 
The duties of these officers were more important than is 
often recognised, and were wholly unpaid. But they 
brought humble men into relations with social superiors, 
the bishop, archdeacon, parson and justices ; trained them 
in independence of thought and of action ; and initiated 
them into, at least the elements, of municipal law and of 
public business. The system had of course many draw- 
backs, which writers have held up to ridicule ; but I 
venture to think that in these bureaucratic days of 
Boards and paid clerks and paid inspectors, we do not 
hear enough of its advantages. 

At Easter town meetings, discussion would perhaps 
wax warm on occasion ; but, adjourning to the Lion, 
merry-go-downs of sparkling ale would cool heated 
tempers. In 1731, I find a coomb of malt was "brewed 
against Easter," costing the parish los. That year 
perhaps, a good object justified the extravagance, for 



DUTIES OF PARISH CONSTABLES 171 

the health of a new rector had to be properly 
honoured. 

Robert Wychi'ngham the younger, after a short 
incumbency, had died in 1730, and Robert Hacon now 
reigned in his stead, having become also vicar of 
Westleton. There had been an interregnum, when the 
" Rev. Mr. Revett " carried on the duty, and the living 
was under sequestration, for we find that Mr. Peter 
Ingham paid ys. 6d. to the Chancellor "in 1730, for ye 
sequestration of Theberton." The Chancellor then was 
Dr. Tanner, author of "Notitia Monastica" and after- 
wards Bishop of St. Asaph, who presented his great 
collection of MSS. — how obtained no one knows — to 
the Bodleian Library. 

Mr. Hacon lost no time before beginning at his own 
expense alterations to his rectorial property. What 
" the ancient gate house belonging to the parish of 
Theberton " was like, I cannot tell, but he converted it 
into a threshing floor, and also enlarged the tithe barn — 
this in his first year of office ; and, the next year he put 
in a new chancel door, and beautified and adorned his 
chancel with sentences ; also he laid reed on part of the 
roof, and repaired the walls of the chancel. Both the 
gatehouse and barn had been mentioned in the terrier 
of 1635, which has been already referred to. 

We now find the first notice of a " warrant to watch 
and ward," for which \s. was paid to the constable. 
Blackstone tells us that men refusing to keep watch by 
night and ward by day, to apprehend robbers and rioters 
on the highways when ordered by the constable, might 
be presented at Quarter Sessions. 

The presentment of constables to a court of Quarter 
Sessions in 1736, shows the various duties of such officers 
succinctly : — " The poor are provided for, the stocks and 
whipping post in good repair, hues and cries duly 



172 PHABA BOOTH'S PENANCE 

pursued, highways and bridges in repair, warrants 
executed, watch and ward duly kept, and all things 
belonging to my office are in good order, to the best of 
my knowledge." 

We have also an item of charge for " Marshall money," 
properly Marshalsea money, a statutory tax then levied 
upon parishes by High Constables of Hundreds, for relief 
of the poor prisoners in the Marshalsea. Bridge money 
was also among the constables' charges. 

Much has been made of parish officers expending 
public money on private festivities. I have not found a 
trace of dishonest expenditure in Theberton. The 
brewing of a coomb of malt on a rare occasion has been 
noticed ; only one other case I think of like extravagance 
appears in the parish accounts ; it was then for a 
perambulation. 

In 1732, a sum of Ss. was paid for " Phaba Booth's 
pennance," and also a payment to "the Spiritual Court, 
for charges and citations in order for Penance and for 
sending Penance." 

In an interesting account of Wenhaston, a parish a few 
miles from Theberton, we find the schedule of a like 
penance suffered in this same year by one Priscilla. 

I quote a part of the schedule : 

" The said Priscilla. . . . shall be present in the 
parish church of Wenhaston on some Sunday before 
the first day of December, standing penitently in the 
middle alley before the minister's seat or pulpit, 
clothed in a white sheet, holding a white rod or 
wand in her hand, having a paper pinned upon her 
breast describing her fault or sin ; and then and 
there, in such sort, to continue during the whole 
time of divine service and sermon j and at the end 



APPOINTMENT OP A PARISH CLERK 175 

of the same, before the congregation is dismissed 
and the blessing given, shall upon her knees make 
her humble confession, repeating every word after 
the minister as followeth " : 
I need go no further. 

Poor Phaba Booth ! Like Priscilla's, no doubt, was the 
penance she underwent at Theberton. How cruel and 
how pitiful ; heads craning from each pew to stare at 
her a figure of degradation in her white sheet trying to 
hide her face in her long hair. And this in our own 
familiar church, less than two hundred years ago. On a 
like occasion in another parish, it is upon record that the 
cries of a poor penitent girl melted the hearts of the 
congregation, and raised so great a storm, as to put an 
end, once for all, to such inhuman spectacles. 

In 1732, I find the earliest notice of a name yet 
surviving among us — " Thomas Bailey for a weesell 3^." 

In 1733, a new parish clerk and sexton had to be 
appointed. In Roman Catholic times, this inferior 
minister used often to be a clerk in orders, who " aquae- 
bajulus " as he was called, ministered to the priest with 
the holy water ; and still he was an official of parish 
consequence ; useful, and capable as Doctor Johnson 
said, " to make a will, or write a letter for anybody," 
and a universal father to give away the brides, and 
stand godfather to new born bantlings. 

In the parish books I find this memorandum : 

"Aug. ye 21, 1733, Agreed then at a general 
Towne Meeting, holden in ye parish Church of 
Theberton (public notice being first given thereof 
in ye said Church on ye Sunday foregoing) that 
Thomas Pask, Housholder in ye said parish, shall 



174 PHABA MARRIED 

succeed John Turner deceased in ye office of parish 
clerk and sexton, till cause be shewed and reason 
given to the contrary, and that he the said Thomas 
Pask shall have and receive ye usual fifees belonging 
to the said office according to ye custom of ye said 
parish, and further yt he the said Thomas shall be 
paid twenty shillings per annum by ye church- 
warden of ye parish aforesaid for ye time being. 



' R. Hacon, Rector. 
John Foulsom, Church- 
warden, 
above written, I Richard Blomfeild, 

I Overseer." 



Witness our hands 
the day and year 



Mr. Hacon always added after his signature a very 
complicated monogram. 

Poor Pask, or Pasque, got later into low water, and 
had to accept aid from the parish. 

In 1735, ;^22. 9^. 5^, was laid out for new lead for the 
roof of the aisle ; and a year after we have it that the 
south side of the porch was " new cast." 

Phaba Booth was married in 1735, and Mr. Hacon 
charged the parish i8s. for tying the knot. Neither his 
infliction of the penance, nor his taking a fee, even from 
the parish, for marrying the poor girl, inclines one to 
credit this cleric with the grace of charity. 

Hacon did not enjoy his living long. Upon his 
death, Benjamin Taylor was, in 1737, instituted to 
Theberton Rectory, and at the same time to the 
vicarage of Darsham. 

A family of the name of Hacon, maybe the parson's 
relations, were settled in our neighbourhood : a James 
Hacon in 1760, Thomas in 1764, Philip in 1766, John 
in 1798, Susan in 1803, are registered as having been 



INFLUENCE OF JUSTICES 175 

buried at Theberton. In Middleton were buried an 
Elizabeth Hacon in 1766, a Thomas Hacon innholder 
in 1768, a William Hacon farmer in 1774, and in 1775 
no less than five Hacons who died probably during an 
outbreak of smallpox. 

In 1738 Charles Long, Esquire, of Hurts Hall signed 
an act for removing a pauper out of our parish. 

" Paid for varman " is still quite a common entry. A 
certain Danbrook, an apparitor, seems to have trapped 
animal as well as human vermin. In 1739, his bag 
was one fox, seven polecats, one weasel. Polecats have 
not survived modern game preserving, and foxes are 
nearly extinct now in this district of Suffolk. 

In 1740, the overseers journeyed twice to Justice 
Purvis for an order to remove a pauper. The Purvis 
family sold their Darsham estate in my recollection. 

Justices in old times had more personal power than 
our modern magistrates ; for instance a single justice 
could, on his own view, fine any person for using pro- 
fane oaths, or being drunk in an alehouse, and commit 
him to gaol in default of payment, or order him to be 
put in the stocks ; and could impose fines on persons 
not attending their parish church, or attending a bull 
baiting. Much of the comfort of a neighbourhood 
depended on his personal disposition. An ignorant 
tyrannical Justice would have been a curse to any parish ; 
while, on the other hand, such a parish king as Black- 
stone tells of " maintaining good order by punishing the 
dissolute and the idle, protecting the peaceable and 
industrious, and above all, healing petty differences and 
preventing vexatious prosecutions," would have been a 
blessing to a village. 

The rector, as chairman by right of the Easter vestry 
of 1741, signed a minute that persons "convected" of 



176 FUEL FOR THE POOR 

wood stealing, or fowl stealing, or any other act of theft 
whatsoever should be prosecuted at the cost of the 
town. 

That year, the churchwardens gave 2d. each " to six 
men who had been taken by the Spainyards," and the 
next year \s. " to ten men that had been taken by ye 
Turks." Plausible liars it is likely every one of them. 

A poor girl, in 1742 had a gown, two shifts, an 

apron, and a pair of pattens provided for her. A village 

damsel of to-day would turn up her nose at pattens. 

This probably was her outfit for service. A paper in 

the parish chest shows how such a girl could be relieved 

from service, by order of a magistrate : 

To be remembered December ye 16 1734. John Fulsham of 
Theberton master, and Priscilla Kit servant, came before me 
desiring they might be discharged from each other. The master 
complained she was not fit for his service. I allowed of ye cause 
and do discharge ye said Priscilla Kitt from his said service 

Robert Jenney. 

Another poor girl was provided with a " stumitcher." 

In 1743, "blocks" were carted by the parish from 

Tyler's Green, this was billet wood for firing ; also 

loads of whin (furze), heath and broom were provided 

for poor people. A yearly gift likewise was " flags." 

In 1744, for example, twenty loads of "flaggs" were 

carted for the poor. For these, groundage 6d. per load 

was paid — I take it to the lord of the manor. The flags 

were surface parings from the heath, such as are set out 

for commoners now, in the New Forest. We find that 

a " flagg shodd " was built by the parish. 

Turf also was distributed. This year we have : — 

i s. d. 

To John Chapman for cutting twenty loads of Turf i 10 

Turning the turf 3 

Carrying the turf i^ days to the poor 12 

Landing the turf one day's work . 16 

No groundage seems to have been paid for turf. The 



PEAT FROM THE COMMON FEN 177 

turf or peat was " graved " (dug) as from Irish bogs ; a 
plantation upon the Lower Abbey farm is now known 
as Tuffpits, an evident corruption — according with 
Suffolk pronunciation — of turf pits. Both flags and 
turf came from the commons of heather and fen, then 
managed by fen reeves for our parish. 

In 1745, 6s. 4d. was laid out "for stoping the burds 
out of the church " — perhaps sparrows, not doves, this 
time. Sparrows had become a nuisance — they make 
havoc of thatch — and the thatched roof of the church 
had no doubt suffered. In three successive years, sixty- 
six dozen, fifty-four dozen, and eighty dozen, of the 
mischievous birds were paid for by the church- 
wardens. 

On Coldfair Green, a fair under a franchise of the 
abbots of Leiston used to be held in cold weather, whence 
the place name ; and that business was done there in the 
1 8th century, is shown by this entry in the overseers' bill 
for 1 748 : — " Laid out at Colfayer for Hubbard and the 
girl Turner 5^, Sd." On the Grange farm in Theberton, 
is a field called the market field, scene probably of the 
ancient market held under a grant of 13 12 to the Abbey. 

Among receipts for 1748, is "rent of Winter's Heath 
£1. igs., and for timber sold £1. iSs." That year John 
Puttock or Putthawke (buzzard) was churchwarden ; 
another Theberton name was Sparhawke or Sparrahawke. 

Beneath the Communion Table in our church is a flat 

stone inscribed : — 

The Revnd. Benjamin Taylor 

Rector of this parish 

died June 19 1748 

aged 54 years 

On the North side 

The remains of EHzabeth 

his wife died Jan. 9 

1747 aged 43 

Also of his mother 

Aged 8 . 

N 



178 HERBS FOR PHYSIC 

To Benjamin Taylor succeeded James Benet, M.A., 
instituted to Theberton in 1748, and at the same time 
to the living of Aldborough. 

"To gathering herbs, and a lb. raisons for Edney's 
child" was an item of charge in 1749; sad to say, the 
herbs and raisins failed of success; the next entries 
are : " to a pint of brandy and winding for ye child 
2s. of ^.," " for laying her forth and cakes 2s." and " to 
Pask for burying ye child." 

There is a reference, that year, to Yew-tree house. 
A hundred years later, this cottage was burned down ; I 
remember being taken as a small child to see the 
spectacle of its burning. 



CHAPTER XIV 

The manor book of Theberton has this entry : " This 
book was thus far transcribed from the old book in the 
year 1750, being same year that John Ingham gent 
purchased this manor and the estate thereto belonging, 
of William Bradley Esqre." 

John Ingham held his first court in 175 1. 

This entry for 1752 reminds us of the improvement 
effected by the alteration of the calendar — " N.S. (new 
style) year begins i Jan." The words of the Act by which 
the alteration was made read quaintly now. After recit- 
ing ** that the legal supputation of the year . . . according 
to which the year beginneth on the 25 day of March, 
had been found by experience to be attended with 
divers inconveniences, it was enacted that the said 
supputation should not be made use of from and after 
the last day of December 175 1, and that from thence- 
forth the first day of January every year should be 
reckoned the first day of the year." One can now 
hardly realise that the year used to begin on March 25, 
so that New Year's Day and Lady Day were the same. 

At the Easter meeting in 1753, it was agreed that 
Elizabeth the daughter of William Newson should be 
"cloathed with a pair of shoes, a shift, a jacket, and a 

179 N 2 



180 DIPPING FOR LAMENESS 

petty coat." Happily for Elizabeth summer was coming 
on. 

An odd minute occurs in the minute book for 
13 November of that year 1753 : 
" It was agreed that James Goleby the overseer, provide 
a place to dip Ann Clark in order to recover her of her 
lameness ; and that he provide her with such necessaries 
as are needfull during the time of diping ; and that he 
give an account of the success thereof to the Parishioners 
as soon as occasion require." 

I suppose that occasion did not require, for there 
is no account of the success or non-success of the 
"diping." 

In August 1754, it was agreed that an "article" 
(presumably a lease) be made to Henry Newson the 
elder and Henry Newson the younger, for Tyler's Green, 
and Winter's Heath with the green near thereto — which 
was, I think, known as the Little Green — for nine years 
from Michaelmas then next at a rent of £^ a year. 
And in the following December, *' that a load of top 
wood be cut on Tyler's Green for the widow Randal." 

As to the Common Fen, fen reeves were elected each 
year to manage it, just as were other parish officers. 
Here is a minute of April 21st, 1755 : Agreed "that 
notice be given on Sunday next for the commoners to 
turn (their cattle) into the Common Fenn at eight o'clock 
on Monday morning next . . . the poor to be allowed 
flaggs as last year." Again 1757, " that we turn into the 
common ffen the 30th instant." 

One other entry from the minute book is too charac- 
teristic to be omitted. Observe how we in Suffolk 
conjugate our verbs, and the vestry-like turn of thought 
and expression. ..." The said overseer also inform the 



PURCHASE OF A « DOG WIPE " 181 

said Parishioners that Robert Lion labourer have made 
complaint for relief; but we, being sensible that he and 
his wife have had their health as well as any of the Poor, 
and that he have not lost a days work by illness for a 
year past, and his wages being equal with other labourers, 
and that his wife has no other illness than her lying in 
which is no otherwise than common, . . . and that we 
do adjudge it neither charity nor reasonable to allow him 
anything." 

That it is the custom of Theberton, for the parish — 
not the rector — to appoint the clerk and sexton, is proved 
by the election already mentioned of Thomas Pask in 
1733, and by this minute of the town meeting held at 
Easter, 1754 : "Thomas Pask was appointed sexton and 
dark for this parish in the room of his father late 
deceased until further order of the parish " — signed by 
three principal parishioners. 

That year, a " dog wipe " was purchased at the price 
of 4</., perhaps for Thomas Pask to use, or possibly the 
duty of whipping stray dogs out of the church may have 
been put upon the " parriter." 

A new rector again in 1756, when John Whittington, 
A.M., was instituted to the rectory of Theberton upon 
the death of James Benet, and contemporaneously to the 
cures of Sudbourn and Orford. 

These were the halcyon days of clerical apathy and 
do-nothingness, when, moreover, clergymen were either 
pluralists or very poor. This pluralist rector evidently 
lived elsewhere ; and his curate at Theberton had to 
make both ends meet, on a pittance which could not 
enable him to appear like a gentleman, or to afford 
charity to the poor and needy. 

Once maybe, there had been some excuse for the 
bad system of pluralities. In the fifteen hundreds there 



182 PLURALIST PARSONS 

was a sad scarcity of clergy. In 1560, the Bishop of 
London was driven to ordain "artificers," until forbidden 
by the Archbishop " as those persons had not behaved 
themselves to the credit of the Gospel " ; and thirty years 
later, Convocation advocated the system, on the ground 
that out of 8800 and more benefices, there were not 600 
which were sufficient for learned men, and that were 
they all sufficient, not a third of that number of men 
could be found to supply them. 

But it worked wrong and injustice. The land of each 
parish was subject to a heavy charge for tithe. In the case 
of a rectory the entire tithe, or of a vicarage such portion 
of the tithe as former robbery had left, was due to provide 
a resident incumbent. Could it be right for that provi- 
sion to be diverted into the pocket of some unsympathetic 
stranger whose only interest in the parish was the income 
he drew from it, which he would spend elsewhere. 

The system happily has been put an end to. It was 
as immoral, dishonest, and harmful to the interests of 
religion, as the old conventual appropriations. 

On the brown paper lining to the back cover of the 
volume of registers from 1748 to 1782, the following 
strange lines have been written. The ink is much 
faded and some words have been inked over with blacker 
ink.i 

"Theberton" 
viz. 
"Hie quondam vixit curatus quidam pa[uper] q[ui] per certos 
annos (propterea quod Evangelium predicavit, ad quod comissus 
est a Steph[ano] Weston [Exoniense] episc[opo] apud S". 
Michaelis 1734 & 1736) neque jent[aculumj nee prandium nee 
caenam, nisi suis impensis per totara paroehiam eomedit 

Orthodoxus 

* Davy has a version of it, eopied, he says, " from a paper inter 
cartas Revd. G. Doughty 1810." The words or letters in square 
braekets [ ] are suppUed from Davy's version. 



THE COMPLAINT OF "ORTHODOXUS" 183 

Vah (Davy has Vale) CEvum 

Quseris an Jussus ? OvSe Tev Non equidem N.B. Quorum 
per spatium duorum Rectoream inhabitavit domum Pauperum o 
Finistrarum census baud parvos taxatus minas prasterea quinque 
atque solidos totidem pro inhabita[tione] reddens per annum Cui 
stipendium ibi minae 20 haud decimas decimarum." 

I find that " John Taylor curate " signed our register 
for 1760, so he was probably the Rev. Mr. Taylor who 
Davy says wrote this in 1762. We learn, by the way, 
from " Orthodoxus " that the benefice of Theberton 
was worth more than ;^200 a year in the time of his 
curacy. 

Our parish constable must have wielded a gorgeous 
staff. In 1758, ys. was laid out for adorning it. 

Funerals were quite festive occasions ; in a bill of 
Thos. Watling a charge is made for " 5 gallons of 
beer at Ann Hollis' burial." Poor Ann, in her lifetime, 
had caused expense to the parish: — 

s. d. 
" For things Bout for Ann Holey 

to cloth For Five shiffings .... 50 

to a par of stocksons 2 

to the Dockters Bleeden of har . . 6" 

Payment is acknowledged : " Receved the Hool 
Contents of This Bill By me 

John Willson." 

In 1759, a medical man named Manning practised at 
Middleton, and attended poor folk in our parish. In the 
parish chest is a "Theberton town bill" of his, "for 
looking after John Hurrard." 

s. d. 

To a bleeding and a blister for his neck i o 
Journey and a half pint mixture against 

convulsions 3 o 

Box of nervous pills i 6 



184 A PARISH DOCTOR'S BILL 

s. d. 

Glass of cordial drops 6 

A journey and a vomit i 6 

Bleeding him twice 6 

A small glass of smelling drops for his 

wife 4 

Poor "goodmen" and "goodies" could not allow time 
for the treatment of those best of physicians, Dr. Diet, 
Dr. Quiet, and Dr. Merriman ; and parish practitioners, 
one suspects, inclined to follow the practice of that 
medical eccentric, Dr. I. Lettsom : — 

" When patients come to I, 
I physicks bleeds and sweats 'em. 
Then if they choose to die, 
What's that to I, 
I Letts 'em." 

The rental of the parish was assessed at ;^889 in 
1763. That year, either the lead roof of the aisle, or 
else the church windows, or both, needed repair ; for 
;^20. 14J, \\\d. was paid to a plumber — Threedkin 
Cable by name — with 13^'. 5</. for board, and %s. gd. 
for beer. The carpenter's work cost £2. iSj. iid.; 
and Mr. Foulsham got "a mattros for his seat," paid 
for out of the rates. 

The "clarjiman's" dinners at the "Generals" each 
year were always paid for — from 2s. to 3^. 

In 1766, the "dog wipe" had perhaps worn out, and 
other means became needful to keep curs from conse- 
crated places ; we find a bill for communion rails 
£7. gs. 8d. The ancient rails had probably been pulled 
down and destroyed during Puritan times. Those now 
supplied were, probably, the same balusters I can 
remember, set quite close together so that the dogs 
could not get through to the Holy Table. The rector 
contributed a part of the cost — "Received from 



REPAIRING THE TOMBS 185 

Mr. Whittington towards communion rails last year, 
£2. 2s." is an entry for 1767. 

The parish realised £'^. 6s. 8d. by sale of trees on 
Tyler's Green. 

An outlay we find made with pious regularity is 
" repairing the tombs " — a lesson for after generations. 

Repairs were constantly needed in the church and 
churchyard. In 1767, ;^io. 5^. 6d. was expended, part 
of it for whitening the church. In 1769 again, the 
churchyard had to be re-paled, with wood brought 
from Yoxford, costing £6. ^s. iid. In 1772, "brick- 
layers, mending end of church" earned ;^io. Ss. ^d. ; 
and Thomas and Robert Bailey — whose descendants 
still live in the same house and are still the parish 
blacksmiths, had £1. ^s. 6d. for mending the bells. Next 
year, thatching came to ;^I2. 9^. lod. 

In those days, good in that respect, such charges 
levied by a legal rate, fell equitably upon all. Now, 
when asked for a voluntary rate. " No ! " grumbles 
Mr. So-and-so, " Mr. Somebody else won't pay, why 
should I.?" 

During the last half of the eighteenth century, not 
only the name of Bailey, but many other names now 
familiar in this and the adjacent parishes, appear upon 
the register, e.£:, Rouse, Lumpkin, Ford, Todd, Canham, 
Brown, Block, Free, Gilbert, Mayhew, Marjoram, 
Shepherd, King, Paul, Legget, Folkard. Naturally 
some have dropped out — Ide, Alp, and Goose, among 
others. 

In 1754, Mr. John Ingham had a " survey or particular " 
made and written in a book, of his manor and estate of 
Theberton Hall. The book refers to a " mapp " drawn 
on parchment now sadly mutilated. In the margin is 
a rough coloured drawing of "the east prospect; of 



186 THE BEAR WAY 

Theberton Hall " ; it represents a small Tudor house of 
E shape, in appearance much like a house of about 
the same period, now a farm house, the present Leiston 
Hall. 

I think Mr. Ingham must have altered the house ; for 
into the fly-leaf of his book of survey, under an emblazon- 
ment of his arms, I find pasted another rough sketch on 
paper, which shows a house apparently the same 
building, only both the gables and the attic windows are 
hidden by a parapet, and the red brick is painted white. 
A porch looking like a front door appears in both 
drawings ; but as the parchment drawing is entitled 
" east prospect," and as the front of the old Hall, in fact, 
looked down the avenue ^ towards the south, it must be, if 
both the drawings represent the same house, that either 
it had two fronts, east and south, and two front doors, 
or that the legend "east prospect" is wrong. I think 
the last alternative is probable, for to the artist on 
parchment no error is too bad to be attributed ; he 
gives us a sketch also of the church, obviously from a 
tracing, but he must have used the back of the tracing 
for his copy, with the result that the tower appears 
at the east end, and the whole picture is reversed. 

The several farms are described by the survey in 
detail. First, comes the Pike Hill now the Peak Hill 
farm. The house and four acres of land then abutted 
on " the park gates " towards the east ; which is of 
interest, as the western boundary of the ancient park of 
Theberton is thus indicated. The strange place-name, 
" Bear Way," is referred to ; and, as the boundary 
between the parishes of Theberton and Kelsale also 
divides the Hundreds of Blything and Hoxne, the line 

* Not many of the old elms are left. They used to be crowded 
with rooks' nests. 



HALL AND PARK HOUSE 187 

of division was described as the Hundred Mere. The 
watercourse below the Peak Hill cottages, was called 
the Marfard brook, a name now forgotten. 

Next, Theberton Hall farm. — It consisted of " the 
capital messuage of Theberton Hall," with outbuildings 
and " 1 88a. 3r. ip. of land and marsh, being the demesnes 
of the manor of Theberton " ; which " lands were all, or 
the greater part of them, an enclosed park, and are all 
freehold ; and 77a. o*". 37p, part thereof, and which was 
formerly part of the said park, are tythe ffree, paying 
only a yearly modus of ten shillings to the rector of 
Theberton in lieu of all tythes." This farm was then 
let at ;^8o per annum, which, as the surveyor remarked, 
was only eight shillings and sixpence per acre. 

It would thus seem that in 1754 the Hall was occupied 
as a farm house, and that part of the ancient park went 
with it as a farm under tillage. 

Where, and what, was the house we have read of called 
Park House } At one time, I thought that it was the 
" mansion with the brickell " ; but further research has 
led to another conclusion. What I have satisfied myself 
of, is that the Hall was sometimes called the Park House, 
and that these were merely two names for the same 
house. We have already seen that Sir Arthur Jenney, 
by his will of 1668, devised with the manor of Theberton, 
the mansion he called the Park House ; and that at the 
date of a settlement some eighteen years later, Edmund 
Jenney was seised in fee of the manor, with the capital 
messuage called Theberton Hall. Both will and settle- 
ment were plainly intended to pass all that testator and 
settlor had to dispose of. Neither purports to deal with 
more than one mansion or capital messuage, which each 
mentions in connection with the manor. 

In 1750, it is clear from the careful description of the 



188 A POTASH OFFICE 

manor and estate in the survey, that there was then 
only one mansion or capital messuage — which at that 
time was called the Hall. 

It will be remembered also, that in 1672, Richard 
Hall, lord pro tempore of the manor, was assessed for 
the " Park House farm " ; and that in 1750, John 
Ingham bought the " Theberton Hall farm." That 
these two names referred to one and the same farm, I 
am convinced. Some of the Jenney family may have 
preferred the name " Park House," as commemorating 
the old deer park, to the more ancient name of the 
" immemorial seat of the manor " — the Hall. 

It is a strange thing, that the "mansion with the 
brickell" has vanished from sight and even tradition; not 
a trace of it can be discovered, unless some pits and 
trenches in Kiln Grove — from which it is more likely 
that clay for the brick kiln was digged out — may in 
fact indicate its foundations. 

The Church farm consisted of a messuage, a malting 
office, two barns, stables, and a "potash office," with 
ninety-one acres and thirty-one perches of land. The 
malting office stood on the green between the farm house 
and the high road. What the use was of a "potash 
office " I am not sure ; but the name recalls an old 
industry. More than a century before, a patent had 
been granted for a then new method of making saltpetre. 
All persons were required to save liquid material, which 
in these cleaner days we are too glad to get rid of, for the 
use of the patentees. The patentees too, were, till pro- 
hibited by Act of Parliament in 1656, empowered to mine 
under other folk's dove houses, stables, and cattle sheds, 
for soil saturated with precious filth ; and to this sweet 
compost, wood ashes were applied in order to produce 
potash. Whether this "potash office" was still a 



THE BELI BROOK 189 

receptacle for wood ashes, or whether the manufacture 
of saltpetre had been carried on there, I do not know — 
nor indeed do I think it worth knowing. 

The cottages now called the Ivy Cottages, were 
•* letten with this farm " ; they were then in two tene- 
ments, and in that farthest from the church, there was a 
grocer's shop. The run of water from the Wash Cottage 
was then called the Beli or Belis brook. For the farm 
and the cottages the rent was £80. 

The Common farm, it is stated, was so-called because 
it bordered on Theberton Common. Since being used as 
a home farm by my great grandfather, it has been known 
as the Hall farm. There was a messuage or farm house — 
the same no doubt as stands there now, a bake house, a 
stable, and four small barns. From a marginal note, we 
learn that one barn was taken down in 1756, and two 
others in 1767 when a large barn was built. The 
cottage called the Yew Tree house — which has been 
before referred to — went with the farm. There were of 
land and marsh, 135a. ir. 

A piece of glebe belonging to the rectory of 
Theberton, containing i rood and 20 perches, lay in a 
field, not now to be identified, belonging to this farm ; 
it was then marked " with posts or dooles." The tenant 
of the farm was John Foulsham, and the rent ;^8o. 

The survey tells us how many " topp oaks " each en- 
closure contained : on Pike Hill farm were forty-three 
in all — eleven of which stood close about the Ivy cottage 
at the Peak Hill ; the other two cottages had not then 
been built. 

On Theberton Hall farm, were four hundred and ten 
" topp oaks " — two hundred and thirty-seven upon the 
site of the Great Wood, seventy-three in the Kiln Grove 
and the small meadow north of it, and twenty-nine in 



190 VITALITY OF WHIN SEEDS 

an enclosure which the imperfect map does not enable 
me to identify. 

On the Church farm, and on the Common farm, 
were thirty, and sixteen "topp oaks " respectively. The 
Whin Covert does not seem to have been planted ; the 
site probably was then over-grown with whin ; for a few 
years ago a crop of seedling whin came up in spring 
upon bare spots where woodmen's fires had been. How 
long must the seeds lying in the ground have retained 
their vitality ! 

The survey book sets out the then existing customs 
of tithing, which had hardly altered since 1674. They 
were: 

For a milch cow, in lieu of milk 2d. 

For every calf, lamb, pig, and goose, above the number of 

ten, and under seven 2d. 

For every acre of meadow, being mowed in lieu of hay . . . ^d. 

For every acre of pasture, being mowed 2d. 

For every gast beast and budd * pastured there id. 

For the fall of every colt id. 

All other tithes were payable in kind. 

Part of the land being situate in Kelsale, the customs 
of tithing for that parish are set out too. Items perhaps 
worth noticing are : 

For fruit . • ^d. 

An hearth hen, in lieu of wood as well sold as burnt .... 
Tyth eggs on Good Friday, in lieu of chickens ducks and 

turkeys 

For a peck of hempseed sowing -. id. 

And, among tithes in kind are hops, which have long 
ceased to be cultivated in this part of Suffolk. 

The rector of Kelsale, fortunate man, was also entitled 
to " offerings at Easter and to Mortuaries according to 
law." 

* A young bullock about a year old. 



CROFTS AND TOFTS 191 

The survey book supplies details of all the various 
purchases, which that acquisitive race the Inghams had 
made between 1615 and 1720. They number thirty- 
five, lying in Theberton or just over the parish boundary 
— small plots mostly, of from half an acre to two or 
three acres, on some of which stood cottages. Most of 
these must have been old cottages dating from before the 
time of Elizabeth ; for, under an Act of her reign until it 
was repealed in 1775, no new cottage could have been 
built with less than four acres of ground, and few of 
these had as much. There had been many petty land- 
owners, and these purchases are examples of how in- 
evitably, small properties gravitate to, and are absorbed 
by greater. 

From cottage to cottage, from small holding to small 
holding, the country was, in days of old, intersected 
by many communes vice most of which, in the course 
of time, have been done away with. One of such ways 
led from the rectory towards Stone Hill ; its course 
being from the high road just north of what is now the 
garden plantation, past the Common farmhouse ; and 
on this way some of the holdings abutted. Years ago I 
found in the garden plantation, an ancient well, lined 
with rubble, which no doubt appertained to one of the 
cottages described as " since wasted," or " since taken 
down." Most of the crofts and tofts, as held by John 
Ingham of the manor of Theberton, became, when he 
bought the manor in 1750, ipso-facto freehold. Some 
however, holden by copy of other manors, retained 
their copyhold status. One of these — a cottage with 
six acres and a few perches of land was holden of 
Leiston manor, " by service, and three and sevenpence ; 
with twenty pence thereof and six days work in harvest 
to be paid in money " — interesting as showing the ancient 



192 INCORPORATION OP BLYTHING UNION 

villein tenure, and how, in later times, the old services 
had been commuted. 

One last quotation from the survey book, of words 
copied therein from an earlier source : " The lords have 
always had a right to a royalty and of taking game 
extending over the whole parish of Theberton." This 
need not arouse alarm among my neighbours. 

In the year 1764-5 and for many years afterwards, 
one John Thompson was churchwarden of Theberton. 
It seems he was tenant of the Church farm ; for on the 
inner side of a window in the farm house is scratched 
with a diamond : 

" John Thompson 
Mary Thompson 
Came to Theberton Oct : 1 764." 

On the outer side of another window pane are scratched 
these lines of doggerel : 

" O that I was war I would be 
Then should I be ware 
But ware I am theare must I be 
Because weare I came " 

The rest of the last line is covered by the lead in which 
the pane is set, and the charm of the poetry has not 
tempted me to uncover it. 

In 1764, the existing system of poor relief was 
inaugurated in our district ; by the incorporation of all 
the parishes within the Hundred of Blything, except 
Dunwich, for the maintenance of the poor in a House of 
Industry at Bulcamp. At the first meeting at Hales- 
worth of the Directors and Guardians, Mr. John Ingham 
attended as an acting guardian. The House was not 
opened till the autumn of 1766, when fifty-six paupers 
were admitted. 

A cause of the delay had been, that the partly built 



RIOT AT BULCAMP WORKHOUSE 193 

house and the collected building material, had been 
greatly damaged by a riotous mob. The old Ipswich 
Journal, in its number of loth of August 1765, inserted 
this extract from a letter of a Halesworth correspondent 
dated the previous day : 

" You may depend upon the truth of the following 
account of what happened in our neighbourhood last 
Monday. About 5 o'clock in the evening, the 
rioters to the no. of about 200, went through this 
town to Bulcamp, where the workhouse was building, 
about 5 miles from hence. A few of them mounted 
the works, and climbed to the top of the poles of the 
scaffold, waved their hats and huzza'd : In about 
I hour there was a much greater number of people 
and by 9 o'clock at night the whole building was 
levelled to the ground. The joists of the chamber 
floor were laid, and the whole damage is computed at 
;^20oo. After doing this mischief they went to Sir 
John Rous' house at Henham, where upon their 
demand for refreshment they had plenty of beer and 
victuals given them ; from hence they went to Geo. 
Goldings Esqre. at Thorington, who was not at home, 
but they called up the steward who was obliged to 
give them what provision the house afforded. They 
went off very quietly from thence to the Rev. Mr. 
Buxton's at Darsham, so through Yoxford to John 
Scrivener's Esqre. at Sibton, and demanded further 
refreshment, and then returned to Yoxford, and 
desired to speak with Mr. Ingham of that place, who 
was not at home. They began to pull down his 
house, but were prevailed on by some people present 
to desist — What these rash people will attempt further 
time will discover." 

O 



194 THEBERTON RIOTERS 

We cannot acquit Theberton of participation in this 
riot. The next weekly number of the Journal has this 
further information. 

" Yesterday Dan : Manning and Benjamin Preston 
of Theberton labourers, and James Strowger of 
Westleton carter, were brought to our gaol by a small 
party of light horse, charged with having been feloni- 
ously concerned in pulling down a building at Bulcamp 
called a House for the Poor. The excuse offered by 
the mob was that the poor should have been allowed 
to work in the fields. The soldiers had been obliged 
to use force in quelling the riot and one man was 
killed." 

No mention of the House occurs in our parish papers 
till 1 78 1, when we find a receipt by the Treasurer for 
a quarter's assessment ;^i6. I2s. g\d. from the parish 
of Theberton. 

The register for 1769 records the baptisms of six 
children of John and Martha Lord. This note must 
surely have been written by an Irishman: "These six 
children were born quakers and christened afterwards " ! 

In 1 77 1, on the death of John Whittington, a second 
James Benet became rector of Theberton : he was also 
vicar of Aldborough, and for four years rector of 
Bennington. He seems to have kept house at 
Aldborough, and there he was buried. 



CHAPTER XV 

In 1775, John Ingham made his will, directing his 
executor Richard Crowfoot to sell his property at 
Theberton ; and in 1776, the testator having died, 
Mr. Crowfoot sold the estate and the manor to George 
Doughty Esquire. 

The purchaser pulled down the ancient Hall, and 
nearly on the site of it, built the oldest part of the 
present house, with very hard white bricks made upon 
the estate. He was one of the earliest officers of the 
Loyal Suffolk Yeomanry. We have a jug of earthen- 
ware, which must have once belonged to the Yeomanry 
mess. Pictured on it is a Yeoman in the old uniform, 
holding his sword at the carry, with the legends : 

" Loyal Suffolk Yeomanry," and " God save the King," 
and at the back, the names : 

Sir John Rous, Captain. 

Lieut : Geo : Doughty, 'i ^ 
Cornet, John Clayton, J 

I think Mr. Doughty resigned his commission in 1793 
at the time he became High Sheriff. When I was a small 
boy, an old man one Bridges of Middleton told me he 
had served as one of his javelin men, and described him 

»95 o 2 



196 A FORGOTTEN SPORT 

as " a fine gentleman on a black horse." We have a 
good pastel picture of him in the shooting dress of the 
period, just about to shoot a woodcock put up by a spaniel. 

He had perhaps bought the spaniel from a neighbour, 
the Rev. Barnabas Symonds, who had a school at Kelsale, 
after 1758 was rector of Thorington, and who was famous 
for his kennel of sporting dogs. Symonds was the 
author of " The Suffolk Sportsman," which went to a 
third edition. The quaint little treatise purports to 
show " the nature of the various kinds of dogs in use for 
gun and net, with the most rational method of training 
and breaking them . . . also other matters of great 
nicety and utility in the sporting way." 

Perhaps, the most interesting of the contents are 
scattered references to the old sport of setting partridges, 
which in Mr. Symonds' time, and for years afterwards, 
was a common and daily rural diversion. Not more 
than seventy years have passed, since on any day after 
harvest, sportsmen with nets over their arms and setting 
dogs at heel, might have been seen about our fields in 
Theberton ; and it is strange and surprising, how in so 
short a time, the sport can have been absolutely 
forgotten. 

The book opens with a dissertation on setting dogs. 
To the setter it was, that our forbears were indebted 
for what Symonds thought " the neatest and genteelest 
diversion of the field," which moreover, could be "pursued 
with that easy and polite attention unknown to votaries 
of the severer exercises." 

Setting, our writer tells us, is of ancient extraction. 
He dates it back at least as far as Solomon : — " Surely 
in vain the net is spread in sight of any bird." And 
even at that remote time, it must have been, he points 
out, not a new, but a "usual practice that every one 



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SETTING PARTRIDGES 197 

was well acquainted with, and might receive an instruc- 
tive lesson and admonition from." It may indeed, have 
helped to amuse the poor sage's seven hundred wives, 
for among its advantages, our sporting parson claims 
that it has " this singular pride that it can entertain " 
ladies. 

He had — sly old parson — " known a sporting female 
spread a net not in vain .... No noise was to be 
made, yet not such peremptory silence was enjoined, but 
that soft things might be said tete-a-tete." 

Solomon and his menagerie we may leave with 
Mr. Symonds. The history of setting in Christian 
England goes quite far enough back for us. To begin 
only at James I.'s accession — we might begin centuries 
earlier: — In 1604, by an Act of Parliament, which dealt 
with " those vulgar sort of men who make a living by 
breaking the laws in regard to the taking of game by 
means of ... . nets, .... and other instruments," it 
was provided that persons with £\q per annum freehold, 
or ;^200 personalty, might take "pheasants and 
partridges in the day time with nets " on their own lands, 
"betv/ixt the Feaste of Sainte Michael the Archangel 
and the Feaste of the Birthe of our Lorde God." 

Five years later, his verbose Majesty, in a speech of 
preposterous length to both Houses of Parliament, 
delivered himself thus : — " As for partridges and 
pheasants, I do not deny that gentlemen should have 
their sports, and specially on their own ground, but I do 
not think such games and pleasures should be free to 
the base people. And I could even wish that gentlemen 
should use it in a gentlemanlike fashion, and not with 
nets or guns." James, lover of hunting, the sport of kings, 
did not approve of such inferior pastimes as setting and 
shooting. 



198 HOW IT WAS DONE 

In Dutch King William's time, society was no longer, 
if it had ever been, of Scotch King James' opinion ; at 
least if we may judge by what was popular upon the 
stage. " What is a gentleman ? " was a question asked 
in a comedy written by George Powell, and acted at 
Dorset Gardens in 1694. " What is a gentleman without 
his recreations. . . . Hawks, hounds, and setting dogs, 
and cocks, are the true marks of country gentlemen." 

Symonds naturally assumed that his readers would be 
familiar with the sport, and so does not describe how 
taking partridges with setting dogs was actually effected. 
An earlier book however, " The Gentleman's Recreations," 
aptly supplies the want. The article on the subject is 
short, and a pleasant antique flavour hangs about it. 

"There is no art of taking partridges so excellent 
and pleasant as by the help of a Setting-Dog. You 
are to understand that a Setting Dog is a certain lusty 
Land Spaniel,^ taught by nature to hunt the partridge 
more than any chace whatever, running the fields over 
with such alacrity and nimbleness as if there was no 
limit to his fury and desire ; and yet by art under 
such excellent command, that in the very height of his 
career by a Hem ! or sound of his master's voice, he 
shall stand, gaze about him, look in his master's face 
and observe his directions, whether to proceed, stand 
still, or retire. Nay, when he is even just upon his 
prey that he may even take it up in his mouth, yet his 
obedience is so framed by art, that presently he shall 
either stand still, or fall down flat on his belly, without 
daring either to make any noise or motion, till his 
master comes to him, and then he will proceed in all 
things to follow his directions. Having a dog thus 

' In Symonds' opinion none had a just claim to the appellation 
but the English spaniel. 



SHOOTING, OLD STYLE AND NEW 199 

qualified by art and nature, take him with you where 
partridges do haunt ; there cast off your dog, and 
by some word of encouragement with which he is 
acquainted engage him to range, but never too far 
from you, and see that he beat his ground justly and 
even. ... If in your dog's ranging, you perceive him to 
stop on the sudden or stand still, you must then make 
in to him (for without doubt he hath set the partridge), 
and as soon as you come to him, command him to go 
nearer him : but if he goes not, but either lies still, or 
stand shaking his tail as who would say here they are 
under my nose, and withal now and then looks back, 
then cease from urging him further, and take your 
circumference, walking fast, with a careless eye look- 
ing straight before the nose of the dog, and thereby see 
how the covey lie whether close or straggling. Then 
command the dog to lie still, draw forth your net, 
prick one end to the ground, and spread your net all 
open and so cover as many of the partridges as you 
can ; which done, make in with a noise, and spring up 
the partridges, which shall no sooner rise but they will 
be entangled in the net. And if you shall let go the 
old cock and hen, it will not only be an act like a 
gentleman, but a means to increase your pastime." 

One can hardly look at the portrait of my great grand- 
father, his eye on the woodcock his gun ready to 
leap to his shoulder at the exact moment, without 
drawing comparisons between sport in his days and in 
ours. A great change has come even in my time, due 
mainly to changes in environing conditions. Stubbles 
are sheared off by reaping machines, and modern farming 
is intolerant of weedy fields and good cover. Birds 
which in his day would lie close, to be netted, will not 



200 SUFFOLK IN INDIA 

suffer approach within even the long range of modern 
weapons. Hence the necessity of driving partridges, and 
of resorting to driving early in the season. Shooters 
moreover are now vastly more numerous and more 
plutocratic, whence the rearing of enormous numbers of 
tame pheasants, and our monster battues. Our old 
sportsman and his friends enjoyed their quiet wood 
shooting over spaniels ; but could they see our great 
hosts of beaters, our three guns each, and our loaders, 
our shooting stools, and our luncheons, our massacres 
of hand reared birds, what would they think of it } 
Mr. Symonds wrote: — "Gentlemen it must be presumed 
shoot for diversion and exercise, not for the sake of 
abundance of game, or the reputation of destroying it." 
Would that this were so now : yet, after all, in these 
decadent days of shoots rivalling shoots, and keepers 
competing with keepers for fame of slaughter, there are 
some good men left, who in their heart of hearts despise 
artificial caricatures of sport. 

George Doughty was a man of worthy memory — 
trustee for many friends, guardian of their children. 
Among his early intimates was one whose name is con- 
nected with Theberton. Francis Light had founded 
the colony of Penang or Prince of Wales' Island, and 
become its first Governor ; and loving his home land 
as all Suffolk men do, had given to a tract of ground, 
which has been described as " the most beautiful spot of 
the kind in India," the name of Suffolk. 

Captain Light wrote to his friend from Prince of 
Wales' Island, under date ii Sept. 1792: 

" Dear George — Trusting to the sincerity of our 
loving friendship, and your genuine goodness of heart, 
without waiting for permission, I have consigned one of 



THE BRICK HOUSE 201 

my children to your care and authority. . . . He is now 
six years of age. ... I shall take care to send you 
supplies of cash as well for the boy's maintenance, as the 
purchase of Goldsberry Farm. Wall says it is so con- 
tiguous, that I have a longing desire to become the owner 
of it, so make sure of it, I shall then think of returning 
in good earnest. . . ." 

Next year, another warm letter : " I have consigned 
my son William to your care." The writer further 
explained that he had not been able to send the money 
for the purchase of Goldsbury's farm, the expenses of 
his Governorship being twice the amount of his salary. 
"Dear George" he concluded "give ten thousand wishes 
to your wife, daughter and sisters, and tell them I am 
never so happy as when I am thinking of them. Adieu 
my dear friend, continue to plough your fields it is a 
thousand times preferable to governing." Captain Light 
died in 1794. 

The farm house on " Goldsbury's Farm," afterwards 
known as the " Brick House," was the property of a Mr. 
Goldsbury, who later sold it to Mr. Wootton as we shall 
see. 

William Light's youth was spent at Theberton Hall 
and at Martlesham Hall an estate of Mrs. Doughty, " a 
most amiable lady," who after her husband's death in 
1798 acted as guardian of the boy. His after life was 
a romance.^ 

His career, like his father's before him, began in the 
navy, as a midshipman, in H.M. Frigate Clyde. He was 
taken prisoner by the French. Then, leaving the naval 

^ The lives of Francis and William Light are written in The 
Founders of Penang and Adelaide, by Mr. A. F. Steuart, a great- 
great-grandson of Francis, from which, by its author's kind per- 
mission, the few facts given here have been gathered. 



202 A THEBERTON EMPIRE BUILDER 

service, he became a cornet in the 4th Light Dragoons, 
and served with high distinction throughout the Peninsu- 
lar Campaign, as an aide-de-camp to Lord Wellesley, 
fighting in no less than forty-three actions without even 
a scratch. -The war over, he published an account of 
his travels in France and Italy, illustrated from his own 
sketches by Peter de Wint. Later, a colonel in the 
Spanish constitutional army under General Sir Robert 
Wilson, he was severely wounded, and found himself 
stranded without means at Corunna, but " through the 
timely assistance of his old friend and guardian Mrs. 
Doughty," he was enabled to come home. He married 
in England, and having become a member of the Royal 
Yacht Club, cruised with his wife for some years about 
the Mediterranean, travelling much in southern Europe 
and in Egypt. On the establishment as a British 
Province of South Australia, Sir Charles Napier who 
had refused the Governorship, proposed that the appoint- 
ment be offered to his friend Colonel Light. " I advise 
you," he wrote to the Colonial Secretary, " to try and 
get Colonel Light appointed Governor ; whether he 
would accept it or not I cannot say, but his great 
accomplishments and his character being so generally 
known, not only for »his distinguished services in the 
Peninsula under the Duke of Wellington, but also in 
Spain at the time Sir Robert Wilson was there, would 
give an iclat to the appointment, which might be useful 
to the colony, and at the same time secure an able man 
for the work." 

But the office of Governor had been filled up, and 
Colonel Light was offered and accepted the appointment 
of Surveyor General, As an old sailor, he himself took 
command of the ship in which he and his staff sailed to 
Australia. 



AN AUSTRALIAN THEBERTON 203 

Having arrived in South Australia, he proceeded in 
the face of much opposition to select the site and to lay 
out the ground plan of the city of Adelaide. And 
there he died in 1838 — founder, " father of Adelaide " as 
its grateful citizens have since styled him. Light 
Passage, Light County, and the River Light bear his 
name ; and in Light Square, a statue of him has lately 
been placed to commemorate his services. At each 
election of a new mayor of Adelaide, takes place a 
picturesque ceremony. A silver loving cup filled with 
colonial wine is handed round, and " The Memory of 
Colonel Light" is solemnly toasted. Colonel Light 
deserves to be remembered in Theberton. A man he 
was of " extraordinary accomplishments, soldier, seaman, 
artist, and good in all," ^ " a gentleman, a brave soldier, 
and a man of learning." ^ That he on his part never 
lost affection for his early home is quite certain. His 
house in Adelaide he christened " Thebarton," spelling 
the name after an old fashion, and a suburb of the 
Queen City of the South now bears the name of our 
little parish. 

In the last quarter of the eighteenth, and in the 
early years of the nineteenth century, though the value 
of land was abnormally high, times were hard for 
labouring men. There were more hands than were 
needed, wages therefore were low, while at the same 
time wheat and other prime necessaries were exorbi- 
tantly high. The stress of poverty was great, and work 
had to be found somehow for the poor folk, if they were 
to be kept from the workhouse. 

It then came to be remembered that the high road 
north of Theberton Rectory had two sharp bends in it 

* Life of Sir Charles Napier^ by Sir William Napier. 

=* Bulletin, July i6th, 1820, of General Sir Robert Wilson. 



204 BALLOTING FOR THE MILITIA 

like the curves of the letter S, and that to straighten 
them would be a public advantage, and at the same 
time provide some much needed employment. The 
business was taken in hand accordingly ; and, among 
our parish archives, we find a document dated 
24th February 1769, under the hand and seal of George 
Doughty, whereby, in consideration of the old highway 
when stopped up and enclosed being vested in him and 
becoming his property, he consented to the making of a 
new highway through land of his (as shown in a plan 
annexed to the document) ; and to give the parish of 
Theberton as much land, as would suffice to make a 
new road twenty feet wide between the fences. This 
document was attested by one Robert Flamwell ; and 
the alteration, having been approved by the Justices, 
was duly carried out. 

The old road, of which the soil became Mr. Doughty's 
property, lay west of the present highway ; its course 
was from the Rectory corner, over and along the strip of 
land now a plantation, between the Rectory lawn and the 
present road, on across the church walk, and making 
a sharp curve towards the west through the Hall park, 
it joined the line of the new road, near the north end of 
the garden plantation. The improvement effected was 
slight, but one may hope that it brought help to a few 
needy families. 

At that time. Militia-men were balloted for, and wives 
of men serving had to be supported by their parish. 
Parishes sometimes bought substitutes ; we read of £^, 
;^9, ;^io, ;^I2, ;^I4, having been paid. I find a letter 
dated 1781, from the overseers of Bungay to the 
Theberton churchwardens and overseers, requesting the 
reimbursement of forty-two weeks' pay at is. 'j\d. per 
week for Robert Farrow's family. The Theberton 



HARD TIMES 205 

people are reminded that " Farrow served as a substitute 
for a person balloted for by lot in your parish." Service 
in the Militia was unpopular ; no less than £$0 was paid 
by one farmer for exemption. 

In 1795 and 1801, scarcity almost amounted to famine 
all over England. A remedy thought of, was to limit 
the consumption of wheat ; and in some counties, magis- 
trates summoned meetings of officers and principal 
inhabitants of parishes, to discuss the expediency of 
restricting the use of wheat flour. The times were 
bitterly hard for poor people. Prices of other necessaries 
besides wheat-flour had been forced up by taxation. 
The petition of Cobbett's labourers cannot be greatly 
overdrawn ; they stated that more than half their wages 
was taken from them by taxes ; that owing to taxes, 
they had to pay 6d. for a pot of worse beer than they 
could brew for a penny ; that they paid ten shillings for 
a pair of shoes which would have cost but five shillings ; 
sevenpence for a pound of soap or candles which would 
have been threepence ; sevenpence for a pound of sugar 
they could have had for threepence ; six shillings for a 
pound of tea which would have cost two shillings ; and 
that the prices of both bread and meat had been doubled. 

Many an aged labourer has said to me that young 
working people have no notion what their parents and 
grand-parents had to suffer. Perhaps, it may be that 
these survivors were the pick of their own generation ; 
but this I know, that the old men I remember, born to 
self-denial and nurtured in hardness, strong, gentle and 
patient, have compelled my sincere respect — exemplars 
of an admirable strain of Englishmen. Cannot those of 
us who have known intimately Suffolk labourers of 
the old type, agree with him who wrote : " many times, 
wee see there lyeth more worth under a threadbare 



ft06 PARISH TOPOGRAPHY 

cloake and within a thatched cottage, than the richest 
robe or the stateliest palace." 

Lord Huntingfield has a rough map, or " Eye Sketch " 
as it styles itself, made about this same date which he 
kindly lent me. It shows, with other lands in Theberton 
the then farm of " Mr. Flemwell " who I think was the 
witness (R. Flamwell) to Mr. Doughty's signature. 

The site is shown also of the house then called the 
Brick House, and occupied by " Mr. Goldsbury." ^ From 
opposite the end of the road continued from Potters 
Street, the way is shown from the highway to Tyler's 
Green ; and on the west side of the same highway, 
opposite Fishpond Hill, stood a barn described " Mr. 
Peckover's," the earliest mention of land of that family 
that I have found in our parish records. Honour Lane is 
shown on the map. It is an ancient way but nine feet 
wide in many parts, winding, and deep below the level of 
the fields ; there was then a gate across it. Flash Gate 
west of the corner now called Flash Corner. The marsh 
between the cottage now known as Frog Hall, and the 
road called Dark Trees, was then a part of Theberton 
Common ; the land, as well now as at the date of the 
map called New England, had at an earlier period 
been known as Wrens Park and Hospital Lands, place 
names whose origin I cannot discover ; and the lane 
from Flash Corner to Eastbridge then ran through a 
piece of open common. 

During the eighteenth and part of the nineteenth 

centuries, the aspect of rural England underwent great 

changes. A prominent feature of the country had 

been its unenclosed wastes and commons. Now, the 

In the assessment of 1799, "Mr. Goldsbury" was set at 
£2- ^i'. S^d. per quarter. The only larger payer was " George 
Doughty Esquire," at £,4. 17s. 8d. per quarter. "Mr. Pickover" 
was third, at £2. y- 9^d- per quarter. 



CONTEMPLATED ENCLOSURE OF COMMONS 207 

high price of corn stimulated a rage for enclosing. 
Hundreds of thousands of acres were taken in, as well 
it was supposed, to the advantage of owners of land, as 
of the state ; but whether justice was in general done to 
the peasantry is very open to question. 

In Theberton and Leiston the commons were exten- 
sive — about four hundred and fifty acres ; and the 
question of enclosure began to be agitated in those two 
parishes. 

In 1 79 1, we find that a meeting took place in 
Theberton, not of parishioners according to ancient 
custom, but of the copyhold tenants, whether of the 
manor of Theberton, or of that of Leiston, or of both the 
manors, does not appear. Those present purported to 
elect unanimously two men, Thomas Wigg and Henry 
Cabbald, to be fen reeves for the year then next ensuing. 
Never before, so far as our records tell us, had any such 
proceeding by copyhold tenants been attempted. Fen 
reeves for Theberton, had for time out of memory been 
appointed by town meetings of the parishioners. It 
certainly looks like a scheme, in contemplation of an 
enclosure, to oust the rights of parishioners, and to lay 
a foundation for claims by copyhold tenants. 

The regular preliminaries were no doubt in due course 
complied with. A meeting of all persons interested in 
rights of commons had to be held ; a majority of two- 
thirds, or of three-fourths in value, had to be obtained ; 
and notice had to be affixed to the church door, that ap- 
plication would be made to Parliament for a private Act 
appointing commissioners to make the division. Such the 
preparatory nest building. In 1810, the egg was laid in 
the shape of a private Act of Parliament, " for enclosing 
lands within the parishes of Leiston and Theberton in 
the county of Suffolk," which is before me as I write. 



208 THEBERTON ENCLOSURE ACT 

The Preamble states among other things : 

" That there were within the parishes of Leiston and 
Theberton, divers common fens and marshes and other 
commonable and waste lands " ; those in Theberton 
being known as Theberton Bogs, Theberton Dry 
Common, Little Green, Stone Hill, Tylers Green, and 
part of the common called Wynters Heath (in all 
156a. or. 2 1 p.) 

That Joshua Lord Huntingfield was lord of the 
manor of Leiston, and as such, claimed the soil of the 
said commonable and waste lands. 

That Anne Doughty (widow of George Doughty who 
had died in 1798) was lady of the manor of Theberton, 
and as such, claimed the soil of such of the said com- 
monable and waste lands as lay within the parish of 
Theberton. 

That the said Joshua Lord Huntingfield, Anne 
Doughty, and divers other persons, owners of certain 
ancient commonable messuages and cottages, and tofts 
being the sites of ancient commonable messuages and 
cottages with the lands thereto belonging, claimed in 
respect thereof to be entitled to the whole depasturage 
and produce of the said common fens and marshes 
and other commonable and waste lands. 

And, that the said commonable and waste lands 
in their then open and uncultivated state yielded very 
little profit, but if divided and allotted unto and 
amongst the several persons having rights of common 
thereon, might be inclosed cultivated and improved ; 
and that such division inclosure and improvement 
could not be efifected without the aid of Parlia- 
ment. 

Of any claims on behalf of the parishioners of 
Theberton no mention is made in the Preamble. 



TYLERS GREEN 



From the Enclosure Award Map of 1824 




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CONCERNING PARISH RIGHTS 209 

The great egg took no less than fourteen years 
to hatch. The duty of incubation was entrusted to 
three local commissioners who made their award in 
1824. 

The claim of Anne Doughty, in her capacity of the 
lady of the manor of Theberton, though it had been 
admitted as a claim by the Parliamentary committee, 
was silently ignored by the award. 

If any claims were argued before the Commissioners 
for the parishioners of Theberton they are not recorded. 
Points of law were involved which only trained con- 
veyancers would be competent to deal with ; yet no 
counsel were members of this Commission. A solicitor 
was, it is true, a Commissioner, but the solicitor branch 
of the legal profession do not profess to be masters of 
abstruse law. 

The points of law which may or might have been 
raised, for or against our poor folk are too technical to 
be discussed here ; but a few words may perhaps be of 
interest. Our records set out in former pages, show 
that time out of memory the Theberton parishioners had 
enjoyed rights of common of pasture over the common 
and waste lands. Fen reeves had been elected every year 
by " town meetings " to regulate the exercise of those 
same rights — fixing the period for turning in the cattle 
and so forth. It will further have been noticed that the 
award itself treated the fen called " the Theberton Com- 
mon Fen " though situate in another parish, as belonging 
to Theberton. All this goes to found a case on custom 
or prescription. 

The lord of Leiston Manor may have relied upon 
documentary evidence. In the old complaint to the 
Star Chamber, the complainants claimed "common 
appendant." Strictly that would exclude claims as 

P 



210 TYLERS GREEN AND WINTERS HEATH 

parishioners, inasmuch as " common appendant " could 
only attach to lands of tenants of the manor." 

For the parishioners, it may have been replied, that 
" appendant " might have been used by some careless 
draftsman, in mistake for " appurtenant " ; and that 
" common appurtenant " might consist with their claims, 
as it is capable of attaching to lands outside of a 
manor. 

It may have been pointed out against Theberton that 
the Chancery suit in Edward VI.'s time was instituted, 
not by parishioners, only by tenants of the soke 
of Leyston. But any objection that the parishioners 
had not been parties to the suit could have been 
disposed of I think without difficulty. 

As to the two commons, Tylers Green and Winters 
Heath, it is indeed astonishing that no mention at all 
is made of them by the award. We have seen that the 
parish officers had exercised not mere rights of common, 
but actual ownership in both cases, granting leases, re- 
ceiving rents, selling timber and underwood, without, so 
far as we can find, any trace of opposition by lords of 
the manor or any one whomsoever. An objection might 
possibly have been thought of ; that parish officers, or a 
mere assemblage of individuals such as parishioners, not 
incorporated, were not capable to be landowners ; but 
the point is so purely technical, that doubtless means 
would have been found to avoid doing injustice. 

With respect to the turf digging, it must be admitted 
that the poor folk might have had a hard fight ; the 
conclusion of law that a right of common of turbary, 
can only exist as appurtenant to a house in which the 
turf is burned, might have been difficult to get over. 

Enough has now been said to show that our parish 
had claims at least good enough to argue, and as to 



LITTLE GREEN and WINTERS HEATH 

From the Enclosure Award Map of 1824 







StamArdi BtogyZnaJb^L^nijm. 



MORE'S THE PITY! 211 

some of them with reasonable chances of success. 
But we cannot get behind the award by any means. 
More's the pity ! Common rights are not only a boon 
to labouring men but they are also of value to the 
community, tending to attach men born and bred on 
the land, skilful in all branches of a difficult craft, to 
their native parish. 



P 2 



CHAPTER XVI 

Whether the labourers of that generation were sensible 
of any loss by the award, may be doubted ; work then 
was slack and wages low, and a long spell of employ- 
ment on drainage and enclosure works must have been 
alluring. But when the works came to an end as they 
were bound to do some day, the position must have 
come home to them — common rights irrecoverably gone, 
and gone too their accustomed employment. 

Clearly, the poor generally have lost by enclosures. 
Half a century after the Theberton enclosure, when 
moving for leave to bring in a General Inclosure Bill, 
the Earl of Lincoln said : " This I know, that in nineteen 
cases out of twenty, Committees of this House sitting 
on private enclosure bills, neglected the right of the 
poor. I do not say wilfully neglected their rights — far 
from it. But this I affirm, that they were neglected, 
because of the Committee being permitted to remain in 
ignorance of the claims of the poor man, because by 
means of his poverty, he is unable to come up to London 
to fee counsel, to produce witnesses, &c." 

John Stuart Mill spoke of enclosures as " legalised 
spoliations." 

Such legalised spoliations had come to be epidemic, but 



"LEGALISED SPOLIATION'' 213 

from times long before, there had been sporadic cases ; 
we have this story from James I.'s time. 

The king riding through a certain village, noticed a 
fellow in the stocks, who, seeing the royal party, kept 
shouting Hosanna ! His Majesty asked what it meant, 
and learned that he had been put in the stocks because 
he had stolen geese from off the common, " I beseech 
your Majesty," said the prisoner, " which is the greater 
thief, I for stealing the geese from the common, or his 
worship for stealing the common from the geese." 
King James, who loved a pleasant wit, exercised his 
royal prerogative — by not only releasing the man from 
the stocks, but by commanding that the common be 
restored to the poor people.^ 

As no rights of theirs had been admitted, there could 
be no compensation for our poor folk. We know, 
however, that some parishes, which had good friends 
perhaps to fight for them, were given fair compensa- 
tion. In one case, the commissioners for enclosure 
were directed by a clause in their private Act, to set 
out land to be known as "the poor estate," to be 
vested in the lord of the manor (whose influence had 
procured the clause) the rector and the churchwardens 
and overseers, as trustees, to let it by auction, and apply 
the rents in providing fuel for the cottagers. For another 
parish, a clause in their Act gave to every cottager, 
without regard to common rights, half an acre of 
land. In other parishes again, recreation grounds were 
provided. 

1 In days of yore, and for long centuries, no village was without 
its " pair of stocks," and, in fact, after an Act of 1405 no town or 
village was permitted to dispense with them ; yet I have found no 
note nor any trace of the repressive instrument in our parish. 
Perhaps the first pair rotted uselessly, and may we assume that 
in " happy Theberton " no need arose to replace them. 



214 NEW PARISH ROADS 

But enough of what the award did not do. What it 
did was : — First to set out new public roads over the 
lands enclosed. Such roads set out in Theberton were: 

The road marked No. i in the map opposite 
"beginning at the South- West corner of Theberton 
Dry Common, and proceeding along the then present 
track in nearly a North-East direction over the said 
Dry Common, towards East Bridge." 

Another road marked No. 2 in the same map 
" branching out of the last described Road opposite a 
Cottage then belonging to Zachariah Kett, and pro- 
ceeding in nearly N.W. and W, directions over the 
said Dry Common, and the Common called the Bogs, 
passing over Tun-bridge (Town bridge) towards 
Theberton Church." 

Another road marked No. 3 in the same map, 
" branching out of the last described Road at about 
the distance of one hundred and twenty yards East 
of the said Bridge called Tunbridge, and proceeding in 
nearly a South direction towards Potters Street." 

Another road marked No 4 in the same map, 
"being the present Road leading from East Bridge 
over the Common called the Flash towards Theberton 
Church." 

Another road marked No, 5 in the map facing 
page 210, "being the present Road leading over 
Tylers Green along the South Side thereof from 
Leiston Abbey to Saxmundham." 

And one other road marked No. 6 in the last 
mentioned map, " branching out of the last described 
road and proceeding in nearly a North direction 
over Tylers Green to Theberton Church." 

That part of road No. i which runs north and south 



Map OF Plan 

cftU \ 

m Fen Grounds and^^i&ste 
tiTj, the Par^Kof 

BE IH, T © H 

the Conunarv caJLed. 

irton Common Fen 

f in. <1A^ Parceh cf 

; E S T OM 

t <l^ County ^ 




JEast Biidje. 




Jhe. 
Map or Plan 

Commons , Commcai Fen Grounds and^Vkste Lands 
within, the Pocr^K^ 

Thebeetoh 

(tnd^ the CommoTv caJled 
Theberton Common Fen 

fyin^ in, the Parish of 

Ll 2 S T 0N 

in, tha CourUy ^ 
Us referred &> iy our (brarvi ------ 





Lon<doii: JVfacoaadnaii. & Co.Lt^ 



StanArdi (nagyZnabf-l 



WHO WERE BENEFITED ? «16 

has since been stopped, by what authority I do not know ; 
it could not have been of much use to the public. Tylers 
Green had been a haunt of gipsies, whence no doubt the 
name Gipsy Lodge of now adjacent cottages. 

The award then proceeded to make allotments. It 
would be tedious to particularise them here. 

The only allotment made, with any colour of com- 
pensation to the parish, was the gravel pit at Eastbridge. 
This scrap of land, 2r. 6p. in extent, upon which the 
chapel has since been built, was given to the parish 
surveyor, for "the use and convenience of the proprietors 
of lands and estates within the parish ... for the improve- 
ment of their lands and grounds " ; it was also to serve 
" for the formation and repairs of roads belonging to the 
parish." 

Thinking of this Theberton Enclosure, one cannot but 
be curious as to whom it benefited. 

It may be admitted, that as enclosed and drained land 
is capable of carrying a greater head of stock than boggy 
unenclosed commons, the nation gained by an increase 
of food supply ; but we, concerned only with our par- 
ticular parish, would like to know whether any and 
which of our parishioners were the better. 

The Act contemplated an allotment to the rector of 
Theberton in lieu of tithes. No allotment was made 
to him, with the result that all the lands enclosed became 
subject to tithe. The rector was thus a gainer. Who 
else was in that happy position ? Of allottees of plots 
by virtue of land ownership one may take my ancestot 
as a fair sample. Before the award was promulgated, 
Mrs. Anne Doughty died, and to her son the Rev. 
George Clarke Doughty it was, that an allotment was 
in due course made. Well, how stands his account } 
On one side, let us credit him with the plots he acquired 



216 MINSMERE LEVEL 

— i6a. 3r. 38p. in all. On the other side, debit him 
with his share of the costs and expenses. These came 
to ;^I45. i2s. 6d. The result was that he had to pay 
for his allotment at the rate of £>%. \os. the acre ; and 
this for land in the condition of wet bog, which — a 
portion of the Minsmere Level — was saddled with a 
further charge for embanking and draining, by another 
Act of Parliament. 

Had not land been — in fact it was just then — at a 
quite abnormal value, the operation could not have 
advantaged him. As it was, I suspect that his allotment 
cost him quite as much as it was worth. And so no 
doubt with other allottees. The only persons, besides 
the rector, to whom clearly enclosure brought profit were 
professional men, who had no part or lot in Theberton 
— commissioners, surveyors, and lawyers. The three 
commissioners, during the fourteen years' incubation of 
their award, were paid three guineas each for every 
meeting ; there were surveyors' fees ; and the legal 
charges for procuring the private Act, drawing up the 
award, and much besides, were of necessity heavy. 

Outsiders enjoyed the oyster ; shells only were left 
for the persons entitled to allotments ; not even shells, 
for either the lord of the Theberton manor in his 
capacity of lord, or for the parish and parishioners. 

The other Act of Parliament above mentioned was a 
private Act of like date with the Enclosure Act : " For 
embanking and draining the level of marsh and fen 
land called Minsmere Level." This level included all 
the wet land in Theberton affected by the enclosure. 
The assessment made by the valuers — one of whom was 
also an enclosure commissioner — was delivered in 1813. 
The drainage scheme was no doubt a necessity ; before 
the cuts — ditches — were made, men had to jump, I have 



CHURCH PLATE IN 1801 217 

been told, from tussock to tussock, it was a veritable 
swamp. 

A terrier of 1801 describes the Rectory, as it was 
during Mr. Wyatt's time : " one messuage with a back 
house adjoining under the same roof, built of timber 
and plastered, covered with thatch, in length sixty feet 
in breadth fourteen feet. A barn built of timber boarded 
and covered with a thatch, in length forty-five feet 
and in breadth eighteen feet. One stable and malt- 
house under one roof, built of timber, and partly clayed 
partly boarded, covered with thatch, in length twenty 
feet and in breadth thirteen feet." The Rectory lawn 
was then " one piece of land surrounding the aforesaid 
messuage and barn, situate between the lands of Anne 
Doughty late George Doughty Esq. on the part of the 
north, and the common way leading from Theberton 
towards Kelsale on the part to the south." 

The terrier contains a list of the church plate : " one 
silver cup, one chalice weighing about nine ounces, one 
silver platter weighing about one ounce and a half, and 
one silver flagon." In 1706 there had been, according to 
that year's terrier, one flagon and that of pewter; in 
1725 and 1729 one flagon described as of silver ; in 1735 
the flagon was said to be pewter, and in 1740 to be of 
silver one pound in weight. 

One can never rely upon a terrier ; sometimes they 
were just transcribed from their forerunners. In one, 
made in the eighteenth century, a book is entered under 
the name of " Jewish Apology " ; an obviously careless 
mistake for " Jewell's Apologie " ; the mistake is 
continued in several later terriers. 

How the church looked about that time, the Davy 
MSS. tell us. In 1806, the pulpit stood under a sound- 



218 THE COMPANY OF SINGERS 

board in the south-east angle of the nave. It was the 
same pulpit that we have now, made of oak in 1628, 
but it was then painted yellow. The communion table 
was encompassed with a rail and "banister." The 
church "was very irregularly seated and pewed with 
deal and oak." The floors were chiefly of white brick, 
except the raised part in front of the communion rails, 
which was of small square tiles formerly glazed black 
and yellow. The beautiful Romanesque north doorway 
is referred to as " a very handsome ornamental Saxon 
arch." This door was stopped up in 1826; and, since 
then, a vestry has been stuck on outside, and the fine 
mouldings of the arch coloured jaundice yellow. The 
roof, both of church and chancel were then unceiled. 
I think that at that time, there was a raised platform 
or so-called gallery, where the organ now stands, which 
was used by the singers and " musicianers," and that the 
various implements used in the church and churchyard 
were kept under it. 

I find a bill of 18 18 for "a new door to gallery," 
which probably was to shut in the space beneath the 
platform ; and for the next year, a bill " self and lads 
matting up gallery," and " splines for hanging up hats in 
gallery " ; and examples of other bills are, for 1818 again, 
"strings for viol"; for 1819, "candles for singers"; 
for 1824, "G. Garrod for one years singing bill" ; and 
for another year, the same Garrod for " attending at the 
church for the purpose of singing," and " with the 
company of singers." So far back as 181 3, there is a bill 
for making and fixing a shelf for use of psalm-singers. 

The old metrical psalms were sung, of some the words 
noble, of others it might be almost grotesque, I think 
they were more often noble than grotesque. 

There is a bill of 1815, for "psalms written," which, I 




Norman Door, Theberton Church. 



OUR LAST PARISH CLERK 219 

take it, means copies of scores for instruments as well as 
for voices. There were nine books written. John Pipe 
seems to have been leader and conductor. His book 
contained twelve tunes, besides an Easter hymn a 
Christmas hymn and an anthem ; John Brown, Thomas 
Nunn, Thos. Pipe, A. Ayton, Wm. Smith, James Brown, 
Thomas Manning, and Wm. Brown had each a book, 
with from four to nine tunes in each. 

Next year, two books less were charged for ; John 
Pipe had but six tunes, and his son William Pipe now 
takes his place with the greatest number eight tunes, 
besides an Easter ode and an anthem. 

William Pipe was then twenty-two years old. He 
became parish clerk in 1823 in succession to his father, 
and held the office till his death — a grand specimen he 
was of a parish clerk, of fine presence, with a musical 
voice, skilled in music and in bell ringing. He, like 
his father before him, carried on the trade of a shoe- 
maker, and with many other avocations, was a farmer 
in a small way, hiring some scattered fields, doing 
most of the work himself, even his own harvest 
the last year of his life, at the age of eighty-nine. A 
tall, thin, active man, the best pedestrian in the district ; 
I remember his telling me, how, having walked to 
Ipswich on business, and having intended to come back 
in the old Blue Coach, as far as Saxmundham, the coach 
overtook him soon after he had left Ipswich, but " No, 
thought he, he might as well walk on, and save the fare." 

He did walk home. Even then he had attained middle 
age ; his feet had carried him fifty-four miles, and the 
walk did not at all fatigue him he told me. 

Upon his Jubilee, the completion of half a century in 
the clerkship, we presented him as a token of our 
respect, with a marble clock for his chimney-piece, an 



220 THE CHURCH OF THE PEOPLE 

inscription on it recording that for fifty years he had not 
once been absent from a church service ; he was for 
sixty-nine years parish clerk, and died in 1892 at the 
age of ninety. These words are inscribed upon his 
gravestone : " This stone has been erected to his memory 
by his friends and fellow parishioners as a mark of respect 
for his worth." 

Our old friend's grave is near his father's. On John 
Pipe's stone, it is inscribed that he died in 1823, having 
served as clerk and sexton more than twenty-five years. 
Thus, father and son together held the office of clerk in 
our parish nearly a century. 

The music of the self-taught company of singers may 
not have been of the highest order, but it is worth 
considering that the musicians and their friends, with 
their and their friends' families, were led to take an 
interest in the services. 

Now, churches in too many country villages are 
ceasing to be what they ought to be, churches of the 
people ; the humbler classes do not feel at home in 
them ; parsons treat congregations as merely passive 
buckets to be pumped into, and then wonder that they 
drift away into non-conformity. To chapel a welcome 
is given them, and they are encouraged to take an 
interest in chapel government. Some people seem to 
think our church exists only for well-to-do people ; 
whereas, in truth, it is the birthright of all Englishmen ; 
and all of us both small and great are entitled to a 
voice in its ordering. It is, moreover, the plain duty 
of its ministers to minister to all alike, in sacred things 
— to be neither "working men's parsons," nor, as a 
clergyman put it, " ecclesiastical butlers " of their richer 
parishioners. 

Our own parish church, like many others, is all 
too large for our attenuated, steadily diminishing 



OLD GRAVESTONES 221 

congregations. East Anglia was once both populous and 
prosperous, and means were forthcoming in abundance 
for building great churches. Now, many of those 
churches stand almost empty ; alms bags go round in- 
cessantly, but the yield is scanty, and the burden of 
maintenance on incumbents and impoverished land- 
owners, is unduly heavy. 

The register for 1 803 records the burial of four young 
sailor men from a Danish West Indiaman, wrecked upon 
Sizewell beach ; Hans Hansen, Christen Christensen, 
Olla Petersen, and Julius Lehus, No pious hand was 
found to place in God's acre any memorial to these 
poor seafarers. 

It has, no doubt, surprised many persons that there 
are so few old gravestones in our Suffolk churchyards. 
In other parts one finds much older incised inscriptions ; 
in the Scottish Highlands for example ; but there they 
have imperishable slate ; whereas we use a softer 
stone from which the lettering is soon weathered 
away. 

I think the earliest gravestones in our own churchyard, 
on which inscriptions can be read, besides Fenn's " stone 
to sitt upon," are to the memory of: Ann wife of 
Charles Foulsham 1761, Thomas Broom 1770, Elizabeth 
Watling 1779, Thomas Watling 1780, Mary Wilson 
1780, John Bidwell 1784, John Wilson 1785, John 
Robertson 1788, Ann Dickerson 1794 and Phillis 
Canham 1797. I put these on record as the inscriptions 
will soon have become illegible. 

But indeed, gravestones anywhere are not very ancient. 
According to Weever " it was the use and custome of 
reverend antiquitie, to interre persons of the rusticke or 
plebeian sort in Christian buriall, without any further 
remembrance of them either by tombe, gravestone, or 
epitaph." 



222 THEBERTON HOUSE 

In 1805, the "Brick House," and some two hundred 
acres of land with sundry cottages, were put up and 
sold by auction, the purchaser being Mr. Thomas 
Whiting Wootton. Among the items referred to in the 
particulars, I find the " Mount, or Prospect House." 
The mount or mound remains, but the prospect or 
summer-house, which then stood upon it has disap- 
peared. The origin of the little mound is unknown ; 
but parish wiseacres " know it for sure " that from it 
Cromwell bombarded Leiston Abbey ! The house was 
sold by Mr. Goldsbury as has been said, but had 
belonged to the Jesups, an old Theberton name.^ It 
was quite a small place till about 1834, when Mr. 
Wootton built to it and made the present house, to 
which he gave the name Theberton House, and from 
two fields, Backhouse Field and Brick-kiln Piece or 
Brick-kiln Walk, he formed the present park. Another 
field was called " Honours," from the name perhaps of 
some old proprietor, after whom Honour Lane also 
may have been called. 

Our next rector was John Carleton, D.D., Chaplain-in- 
Ordinary to the King, instituted in 18 14 on the death 
of Mr. Wyatt. Dr. Carleton did not reign long, his 
passing bell was tolled in 1819, and the ringers had 
three shillings for tolling it. Two bells are used for 
passing bells in Theberton ; for the greater is charged 
eighteenpence for an hour, and for the smaller, one 
shilling. For a rector, it seems to have been the custom 
to toll the greater bell for two hours. 

In 1832 died the Rev. George Clarke Doughty of 
Theberton Hall ; he had long survived his wife 

* A tomb in the churchyard near the chancel door is inscribed 
to the memory of Samuel Jesup, who died in 1788 aged 23, and of 
William, son of Daniel Jesup, wlio died in 1796 aged 19. 



RULES FOR A HOLY LIFE 223 

Catherine heiress of the Brockford branch of the old 
family of Revett ; he was vicar of Hoxne and Denham, 
rector of Martlesham. This is extracted from a con- 
temporary Norwich newspaper: "On Monday last the 
remains of the Rev. George Clarke Doughty were 
interred in the chancel of Hoxne Church. His loss 
will be long lamented by his numerous friends and 
connexions, to whom he was in the strictest sense the 
sincere friend, the good landlord, the kind patron of 
the poor, and the most philanthropic of men. The 
parish of Hoxne will long remember their old Pastor 
who acted as the friend, the brother and the adviser, 
of every inhabitant of the Parish." 

George Clarke Doughty 's great-grandfather, another 
George born in 1655, had also been rector of Martles- 
ham. His quaint " Rules for a holy life " are in my 
possession, and it is evident from his letters that his own 
life was ruled by them. 

These are the lines ; — 

Apparel sober, neat, comely. 
Conversation little, honest, heavenly. 
Diet temperate, convenient, frugal. 
Manners grave, courteous, cheerful. 
Prayers short, devout, frequent. 
Recreations lawful, brief, seldom. 
Sleep moderate, quiet, seasonable 
Thoughts divine, awful, useful. 
Will constant, ready, obedient. 
Works profitable, holy, useful. 

George Clarke Doughty inherited the estate of 
Martlesham Hall and the advowson of Martlesham 
rectory from his mother, heiress of the Goodwins of 
Martlesham. 

The Rev. Thomas Strong M.A. was instituted to 
the Rectory of Theberton in 18 19 on the death of 
Dr. Carleton. 



2S4 A THEBERTON STATESMAN 

About this time, we first find the name, Thomas 
Gibson, in our parish documents. The step-son of Mr. 
Wootton who died in 1844, he inherited Theberton 
House, and entered political life as Tory member for 
Ipswich. Later, having assumed the additional surname 
of Milner and joined the Liberal party, he became a 
member of Lord Palmerston's Cabinet of 1859 as Presi- 
dent of the Board of Trade. Of Mr. Milner-Gibson, who 
was a good neighbour and a kind friend of the writer, 
one son survives, Mr. G. Milner-Gibson-Cullum of Hard- 
wick House, near Bury St. Edmunds. 



CHAPTER XVII 

In 1820, John Pipe tolled the bell for the funeral of 
King George III. His trade of shoemaker was for a 
small village quite extensive, he employed some five or 
six journeymen. He seems to have kept school also. I 
find a bill of his among the parish documents : " to half 
a year's schooling £1. i8j. 6d." which may perhaps 
have been the parish subscription on behalf of pauper 
children. 

A bill dated 1822 was not at the first glance easy to 
interpret " To 3/4 day of myself and lad putting up pool 
on the steble oak plank for bottom of pool." One had 
to call to mind that there is a flagstaff upon our church 
tower. 

" A bell for Majesty " was tolled on the death of King 
George IV. in 1830. 

In that year, occurs the last account I have found with 
the item " Pd. Apparitor." It was high time indeed that 
those " moral police " of the Church of England should be 
disestablished and disendowed. 

Some thatching to both church and chancel roofs, 
was done in 1830, we find payments by the parish, and 
by the Rector Mr. Strong respectively. 

The Rev. Charles Montagu Doughty, son of George 
Clarke Doughty, held his first court for the manor of 
Theberton in 1834. 

Q 

aas ^ 



226 THE LAST PARISH PERAMBULATION 

And a white stone should mark that year for the last 
perambulation of our parish — which an old friend of 
mine who died but a few years ago, could remember. 
It seems indeed to have been a most festive occasion. 
A certain Tom Waller was then mine host of the Lion. 
Of his name I retain a childish remembrance ; for our 
four church bells chimed, so we were told, " Come Tom 
Wal-ler, come Tom Wal-ler." Whether they brought 
him to church " regular " I cannot say. Here is Tom 
Waller's bill : 

"The Parish of Theberton Dr. to Thomas Waller at the 
perambulation of the boundary of the above parish May lo 
1834." 

s. d. 

Beer 8 8 

Biscuits 26 

12 to tea 180 

16 ditto 16 o 

Beer no 

Brandy 23 

Brandy and water . 2 6 

Gin and water . . 36 

Rum and water . . 20 

ditto and ditto . . 20 

Beer and tobacco . i o 

Mr. Smy day work. 7 6 

2 leading men . . 40 

Mr. Waller was not good at his addition, for the total 
is wrong by two shillings — against himself. Discreet 
obscurity veils the last two items. Was it Mr. Smy's 
well paid work, to pilot the procession through the 
intricacies of their perambulation } And the two leading 
men } Had they to lead the field, over the hedges and 
ditches.^ or was it their office, after the beer, the brandy, 
the gin, and the rum, had been imbibed, to lead the 
weaker brethren to their homes } It was a roaring day 
at all events for the Lion and for Mr. Waller. 



A PARISH EMIGRANT 227 

Tom Waller must have been a jolly soul, with great 
power of social attraction. While he was innkeeper, 
our parish meetings were more thirsty than of old. In 
1827 a " Churchwarding's meeting" drank Ss. ^d. worth 
of beer at the Lion. Sound stuff no doubt, bad for 
neither the heads nor feet of the parish fathers. ;^i was 
spent, while he was still landlord, on a subsequent 
occasion. 

Tied up with a bundle of bills endorsed " Church- 
wardens bills to Michaelmas 1835," I find a bill headed 
"Emigrant's expenses." The law was then that rate- 
payers could direct money to be raised to defray the 
expense of the emigration of poor persons settled in 
their parish, with consent of the Poor Law Board. This 
bill shows that the Act was brought into operation 
at Theberton, and that in no illiberal spirit ; it ran thus : 

Emigrant's expences 

£ s-d. 

Paid William Cable conveyance 110 

Toll Gates 10 

At Wangford eating and beer 20 

At Lowestof .... do 10 

Shop and flour bill i 18 2 

Carriage of luggage by coach 24 

Butchers bill i ig 2 

Small cash and padlock 19 

Baker's bill for bread and bags i 10 o 

Bill at the Bear Inn 2 o 10 

Give Cable to buy liquors 50 

Expenses at Gorleston day and night . . 46 

Give Cable 400 

The Captain for Cable 600 

Mr. Preston for passage 10 o o 

Expenses coming home 50 

Postage of a letter to and from Yarmouth . i 5 

£■29 13 2 



Cable seems to have been well provided. The shop, 
and flour bill, the butcher's and the baker's bills were 

Q 2 



228 EDUCATION PAST AND PRESENT 

I suppose, for food on the voyage. He was given ^s. to 
buy liquors, besides £4 in cash, and the captain was 
entrusted with another £6, to be spent no doubt for his 
advantage. Where our emigrant went does not appear ; 
wherever it was, may he have prospered. His escort 
seems to have made a blissful sojourn at the Bear Inn. 

The church was visited by competent observers in 
1836. The Davy MSS. mention that the structure had 
then lately been repaired, and the roof ceiled. The pulpit 
had been moved to the north side, near the eastward 
end of the nave. 

We have the original faculty, dated 1837, authorizing 
the building of the little red brick school, which some of 
us can remember, upon a piece of the churchyard. The 
small room — only thirty-one by thirteen feet — served 
its modest purpose till 1 871, when it was replaced by 
the present school, which I hope may long grow in 
usefulness. The words of the faculty show that the 
churchyard was then much larger than there was need 
for ; yet, though the site of the old school was thrown 
back into it, a cemetery has had of late years to be 
provided, upon land given by the late Mr. Jasper 
Milner-Gibson. 

The ignorance of our poor folk was formerly deplor- 
able. Now, it may be that teaching is too ambitious, and 
tends to be superficial — too many subjects attempted ; 
and the children leave school so young, that inevitably 
they forget most of what has been painfully taught 
them, so that teachers' time and talents and the over- 
taxed means of ratepayers produce no adequate results. 
But, in old days, things were much worse ; there was 
nothing worthy of the name of education. Inefficient 
dames' schools afforded the sole opportunity to acquire 
even the sound foundation of the three R's. How few 



COMMUTATION OF TITHES 229 

could either read or write, is disclosed by our registers 
of marriages. From 1754 to 1781, I find that out of 
one hundred and forty-four persons married in Theber- 
ton, one hundred and five could not write their names ; 
from 1 78 1 to 1 8 14, one hundred and thirty-nine persons 
out of two hundred and eight were unable to sign ; 
from 18 1 3 to 1836 out of one hundred and fifty-six 
persons, ninety-six were illiterate-^ 

In 1837, a wall was built on the south side of the 
churchyard — the wall which we have now. It cost, with 
foundations, coping, and the piers to the gate all told 
£2^. 13J. 8|</. To meet this outlay, £'>f> was lent by 
John Ablett, the then tenant of the Church farm ; to 
whom the repayment, with interest at 5 per cent, in 
annual instalments of £^^ was secured by a promissory 
note of Henry Plant, a churchwarden. This document, 
endorsed with Mr. Ablett's receipts for all instalments, 
is in the parish box. 

That year the bell was tolled again "for Majesty" 
— the death of King William IV. ; marking also the 
accession of our late venerated Queen Victoria ; and 
there is a charge for the needful alteration of the 
Liturgy. 

The year 1838 brought a great change in relations 
between farmers and the parson. Not again was the 
rector or some one on his behalf, to enter the fields at 
harvest, and stick a green bough for a sign of ownership 
in each tenth stook or shock ; no more would the tithe 
barn of the rector be stored with tithes in kind. Collec- 
lection of those tithes had caused endless friction, not 
conducive to the good influence of clergymen, and now 
a better system was to be substituted. Under the 
provisions of the Tithe Act of 1836, an agreement was 
1 See also p. 158. 



230 VALUE OF THEBERTON TITHES 

made between Mr. Strong as rector of Theberton, on 
the one part, and certain owners of not less than two- 
thirds of the titheable land in the parish on the other 
part ; and by this statutory compact the tithes were 
commuted for a yearly rent charge of ^^430. los. How 
this sum of rent charge was arrived at, evidence might 
perhaps be raked out of the dust of some Government 
office, but I have not made any search for it. In cases 
not settled by agreement, the Act prescribed that the 
average value of the tithes for the seven years which 
ended at Christmas 1835, should be the basis of com- 
mutation. This principle may, or may not, have been 
adopted here. If it were, six out of the seven must have 
been bounteous years indeed, for assuming a terrier of 
1834 to be reliable, the income from the tithes and 
glebe that year was no more than in 1820, viz., ;^200. 

Looking back through preceding terriers and other 
documents available, for evidence of the value of the 
living, quite surprising are their discrepancies. We know 
that in the first year of Elizabeth, the value was assessed 
in the King's Books at £26. 13^. 4<t More than a 
century later in 1668, we have seen that John Hacket's 
petition stated the yearly value as " not above £70." In 
I706, 1709, and 17 16, Robert Wychingham's terriers put 
it at ;^30. In 1720, the living had under the Act of 
Anne been exempted from First Fruits, on the ground 
that it produced less than ;^5o, viz. £^i. 13J. 4d. In 
1723, a terrier sets the value at ;^40. For 1725 and 
1729, the terriers of Wychingham junior returned the 
old value of ;^30. Likewise that of Robert Hacon for 
1735. In 1740, the value rose to £60. From 1747 to 
18 1 3 both inclusive, during incumbencies of Benjamin 
Taylor, James Benet, John Whittington, James Benet 
the second, and William Wyatt, their terriers repeat the 



UNTRUSTWORTHY TERRIERS 231 

accustomed figure of £^o. Yet, as it will be remembered, 
John Taylor — ah'as Orthodoxus — testified that in 1762, 
the Rectory was worth quite ;^2CX) a year. And in 
Bacon's edition of Liber Regis dated 1786, we find two 
figures of value, the one ;^3i. 13^. 4^. plainly copied 
from the bishop's return under the Act of Anne — and 
the other £iSO, of which no explanation is given, but 
which must have been intended for the then actual 
value.i Again for 1808 and 1809, 1 find that Mr. Wyatt 
then rector, was assessed for property tax at ;iC20 — I 
think for glebe, and ;^240 for tithes. 

Such is the evidence : the reader will form his own 
conclusion. My own view is, that terriers, as before 
said, used to be copied carelessly from each other ; 
and that no reliance can be placed upon them. This 
view is strengthened by another consideration. During 
the ;^30 terrier period, at all events from 1748 to 1813, 
a regular succession of curates in charge represented 
non-resident rectors. Following poor Orthodoxus, who 
starved on ;^2o a year, came S. Foster, W. Smith, 
N. E. Smith, W. Bradley, D. E. Davey, W. Cole, 
C. Brown, and F. H. Groom. That such a poor milch 
cow as a living of ;^30 a year, could supply its rectors 
with cream worth the skimming, and their curates with 
skim milk enough to keep them alive, is quite incredible. 
We may, I think, believe the evidence of John Racket ; 
of " Orthodoxus " ; of the Liber Regis ; and of the 
assessment of 1808 ; and discard the tales of the terriers 
as utterly untrustworthy. 

As to the period after 18 13, terriers tell us that ir|- 
1820 the yearly income was ;^200 ; in 1834 the same ; 
in 1835 Lewis' Topographical Dictionary gives the net in- 

** I have to thank my friend Mr. Herbert M. F. White for kind 
assistance here. 



232 A POET RECTOR 

come as ;^354; and in 1838, the tithes were commuted we 
know, for ;^430. los. With regard to the rise from ;^i50 
in 1786, to ;C200 in 1820 — if we may accept the former 
figure — it is explainable by the fact that, though the 
enclosure award had then not yet been published, new 
tithes were created by the operation of the Enclosure 
and the Drainage Acts. As to the jump from ;^20o 
to £3S4, and thence to the commutation value 
;^430. lOi-.: "that I must leave," as we say in Suffolk. 
I have no explanation to offer. 

The Commutation Agreement sets out the same 
customs of titheing as are recorded in the survey of 
1754. They of course went the way of tithes in kind, 
and after 1838 ceased to be payable. 

In 1 841, the Rev. Henry Hardinge was instituted to 
the Rectory on the resignation of Mr. Strong ; he was a 
man of cultured taste, an accomplished linguist, and 
author of a poem "The Creation" published in 1863; he 
had for some years been curate for Mr. Strong, in charge 
of the parish. The bad system of pluralist parsons and 
poor starveling curates, was not to endure much longer ; 
but so late as 1837, there were still no less than five 
hundred non-resident beneficed clergy — Mr. Strong 
among them — in this diocese of Norwich. 

Two alms plates or patens which he presented to the 
church keep Mr. Strong's name in our remembrance. 

This year saw the erection of a gallery supported by 
wooden arches, across the west end of the church, 
in place of the former platform. I find only one bill 
relating to this work, dated 1841 : "to George Ward 
for building the gallery, ;£"io." 

The baptism of the present writer is registered in 
1841 ; and in 1843 the register records the baptism 
of his brother Charles Montagu Doughty, author of 



THE CHURCH RESTORED 233 

" Arabia Deserta " and " The Dawn in Britain " ; and 
also the burial of their mother, Frederica Doughty, 
daughter of the Hon. and Rev. Frederick Hotham, 
then rector of Dennington. 

The Davy MSS. describe the church in the year 
1848. Pews then nearly filled the chancel, but the nave 
had been re-seated, and the aisle completely restored by 
my father, at a cost of nearly ;^2,ooo. The author of the 
MSS. noted with some disapproval the stencilled walls 
and pillars of the aisle. He did not know, perhaps, that 
Mr. Cottingham the eminent church architect, had but 
followed a practice of the period to which the aisle 
belongs. There are original examples in England and 
in some ancient churches of North Germany which I 
have seen. The gallery was not touched at this time ; 
remaining till Mr. Bradstreet succeeded to the Rectory 
on the death of Mr. Hardinge ; it was removed, I think, 
in 1866. Afterwards, an organ, and a choir of good 
intentions, supplanted the " company of singers." 

There was granted in 1846, a faculty for seats in the 
then restored aisle, to compensate Mr. Doughty for 
"the ancient pews which had belonged to his Hall by 
prescriptive right." My father did not live long after 
his work of restoration ; he died in 1850. 

The pulpit had been moved, I think, during these 
works; it had undergone former migrations in 1822, 
and in 1841. In 1882, it was proposed once more to 
remove it, and I remember well, how at a vestry meeting 
we all laughed at the suggestion of a worthy church- 
warden that it be put upon casters ; he had, he told 
us, known three Reverends, and each wanted it in a 
different place. If it had been upon casters, they 
might have pleased themselves, without expense to 
the parish. 



234 THE GLEANING BELL 

Till about halfway through last century, one interest- 
ing custom still held its own among us at Theberton — 
the gleaning bell. Blackstone's opinion was, that the 
Common Law of England allowed the poor to enter on 
any man's ground to glean after harvest. That opinion 
was over-ruled by legal decision, but the practice held 
on under kindly favour of the farmers. It happens that 
many parish bills of the time have been preserved ; 
and they show that, from 1815 to 1849, a gleaning bell 
was paid for every year. It was rung for two or three 
weeks, according to circumstances ; in 18 15, for instance, 
"from 1 2th August at Mr. Heath's, to 31st at Mr. 
Ablett's." I think that at one time all persons belonging 
to our parish, and perhaps also outsiders, after sound 
of the morning bell, were at liberty to glean where they 
pleased, but that latterly this licence was restricted, and 
each farm became a preserve for the families of the men 
employed on it. At the present time, self-binding and 
reaping machines, and horse rakes following close behind 
the wagons, leave but few ears upon the ground ; 
and, moreover, the price of corn has not for many years 
been high enough to attract the women — now, happily, 
so much better to do — to a petticoat harvest in the 
fields. 

The following lines I quote from a little volume — 
" Suffolk Largess," kindly given to me, soon after it 
appeared in 1865, by the author. He was a police- 
constable stationed at Theberton, who preferred to veil 
his identity under the pseudonym of " Quill." Our good 
old Suffolk speech is fairly well rendered : — 



(Morning) 
Why ! listen, yow be quiet, bo' — the bell is tolling eight 
Why don't yow mind what you're about? We're allers kind o' 

late! 



THE END OF THE STORY 285 

Now Mary, get that mawther dressed — oh dear ! how slow yow 

fare 

There come a lot o' gleaners now. Maw, don't stand gawkin' 

there ! 

(Evening) 
Dear me ! there goo the bell agin — 'tis seven I declare 
And we don't fare to have got none : — the gleaning now don't fare 
To be worth nothin' ; but I think — as far as I can tell 
We'll try a coomb somehow to scratch, if we be live and well. 

And now my work may end. The story of nearly 
eight centuries has been brought down to 1850, within 
old people's memories. Some day perhaps, another 
pen may care to carry on these simple Chronicles of 
Theberton. 



Among Authorities consulted for this book may be 
mentioned : — 

" The Doomsday Survey." 

" The Saxon Chronicle." 

Chaucer. " Prologue to the Canterbury Tales." 

" Collectanea Anglo Premonstratensia." Gasquet. 

" Abstracts of Charters from the Register of Leiston Priory. 

British Museum, Cotton MSS. Vespasian E. XIV. 
Jessop's " Diocesan History of Norwich." 
Suckling's « Suffolk." 
" Deer and Deer Parks." E. P. Shirley. 
Davy's " Suffolk Collections." Add. MSS. British Museum. 
Stephen's " New Commentaries on the Laws of England." 
CuUum's " History of Hawsted." 
" Suffolk Records and MSS." Copinger. 
"Parliamentary History of England" (23 volumes). 
Raven. " History of Suffolk." 
Tanner. " Notitia Monastica." 1787. 
Gamier. " Annals of the British Peasantry." 
Gamier. " History of the English Landed Interest." 
Hawes' " History of Framlingham." 1798. 
Rolls of Manor of Middleton cum Fordley. 
Rolls of Manor of Middleton Chickering. 
Rolls of Manor of Theberton. 

*' Diary and .Autobiography of Edmund Bohun." Rix. 
"The East Anglian Rising, 1381." Powell. 
" The Founders of Penang and Adelaide." A. F. Steuart. 
" Memorials of Old Suffolk." V. B. Redstone. 



238 AUTHORITIES CONSULTED 

" Wenhaston and Bulcamp Suffolk." Rev. J. B. Clare. 

"Thorington Registers." Rev. T. Hill. 

Wise. " History and Scenery of the New Forest." 

Tusser. "Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry." 

Edition of 1812. 
"The Old Times Parson." Ditchfield. 
Fuller's "Worthies of England." 

" Leaves from the Note Book of Lady Dorothy Nevill." 1907. 
Stebbing's " History of the Church." 
Walker's " Sufferings of the Clergy." 

Kingston's "East Anglia and the Great Civil War." 1897. 
" Poems of Bishop Richard Corbet." 4th Edition. 
Cobbett's " Rural Rides." 
Disraeli. " Curiosities of Literatui-e." 
Disraeli. " Miscellanies of Literature." 
Shaw's " Parish Law." 
"Suffolk in 1674 : Hearth Tax Returns." 
Ecton's " Thesaurus." 
" The Clerical Guide." 1829. 
" Index Villaris." 1680. 
Walter Rye. " History of Norfolk." 
Capper. "Topographical Dictionary of United Kingdom." 

1825. 
Reyce's " Breviary of Suffolk." Lord F. Hervey. 
" MS. Collections for Dennington," by Edward Dunthorne. In 

possession of the author. 
Cox. " Magna Britannia Suffolk." 
Ecton. " Liber Valorum et Decimarum." 171 1. 
Webb. " English Local Government." 
Hone. " Every Day Book." 
Bacon's " Liber Regis." 1 780. 
" Suffolk Sportsman." Symonds. 
"Taxatio Ecclesiastica" of Pope Nicholas IV. 
Taylor's "Index Monasticus, Diocese of Norwich." 1821. 
" Valor Ecclesiasticus." Circa, 1535. 
Lewis' "Topographical Dictionary of England." 
" Tract on the Commodities of England." Sir John Fortescue. 
" Sportsman's Dictionary." 1735. 
Strutt's " Sports and Pastimes." 
Brand's " Popular Antiquities." 



AUTHORITIES CONSULTED 239 

Burton's " Anatomy of Melancholy." 

"Excursions through Suffolk." 1818. 

" Paston Letters." Gairdner's Edition, 1908. 

*' Suffolk Feet of Fines." 

Suffolk Institute of Archaeology, &c., Publications. 

Bishop's Registers, Norwich. 

Acts of Court Books, Norwich. 

Bishop's Visitation Book, Norwich. 

Cal. Dom. State Papers. 

Calendars of Wills, Norwich. Probate Registry. 

Sacrist's Register, Dean and Chapter of Norwich Records. 

Prior's Register, Dean and Chapter Records, Norwich. 

Archbishop of Canterbury's Registers, Lambeth. 

*' Victoria History — Suffolk. 

Mandates to Induct, Suffolk Archdeaconry Register, Ipswich. 

Visitation Books, ditto. 

Act Books, ditto. 

Parish Registers, Theberton. 

Parish Accounts, ditto. 

Parish Registers, Middleton. 

Parish Accounts, ditto. 

Calendars of Patent Rolls. 

P.R.O. Rentals. 

Sign Manual Warrants. 

Exchequer Depositions. 

Early Chancery Proceedings. 

Star Chamber Proceedings. 

Chancery Inquisitions post mortem. 

Domestic State Papers, Ipswich. 

"Ship Money Returns, Suffolk, 1639-46." V. B. Redstone. 

Return of Rates (Suffolk) collected pursuant to Act of 

Parliament, 16 Charles I, 1642. Original in Bury St. 

Edmunds Museum. 
Jortin. " Ecclesiastical History." 
Gasquet. " Parish Life in Mediaeval England." 
East Anglian Daily Times Miscellany. 
"Gleanings after Time." G. L. Apperson, 1907. 
" Piers the Plowman." Professor Skeat. 
Lecture on Chaucer. Professor Skeat. Times Report, 

June 2, 1898. 



240 AUTHORITIES CONSULTED 

" Anglo-Saxon Britain." Grant Allen. 

" Precedents in Criminal Causes." Archdeacon Hale. 

Ranke's " History of the Popes." 

Foxe's " Book of Martyrs. " 

Weever's " Funeral Monuments." 

" History of Hampshire." Shore. 

*' North Wales." S. Baring Gould. 

Green's " History of the English People." 



A FEW NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS 

By the Rev. PROFESSOR SKEAT 

I TRUST I may be allowed to add a few notes, on my own 
account, upon a few points which have come under my special 
notice. 

With regard to the footnote on p. 2, I do not feel sure that I 
have expressed myself clearly. I mean that the present name of 
Theberton has resulted from the old name by regular changes, 
and in this sense has been preserved. The pronunciation of 
Theod-beorhtes tun can only be fully appreciated by such as have 
learnt a little Anglo-Saxon. Theod-beorht is composed of two 
elements ; the former, " theod," means " people," and the latter 
means "bright." Most of our old names are thus strangely com- 
pounded. Each element must have its meaning ; but the whole 
compound is usually nonsensical. A large number of Old English 
Christian names still survive as surnames ; and Theodbeorht is the 
source of the modern Tebbut, Tebbott, Tebbit, and Tibbert. 

At p. 31 occurs "le Packeway." The word "pack" is first 
recorded in 1225. The word "pedder" is derived from "ped," 
which meant " a basket," and is equivalent to " pedlar " ; they 
hawked things (originally fish) about in baskets. The Latin 
" pedes " could only have yielded " peder " ; so that Weever's guess 
is impossible. 

At p. 99, the best edition of Tusser is noted as being that of 
181 2. A newer edition was printed for the English Dialect Society 
in 1878, with notes and a glossary ; it leaves little to be desired. 

At p. 130, the passage is as follows : " Qui alteri dederit liquorem 
in quo mus vel mustela fuerint submersi, si secularis homo sit, tres 
dies jejunet ; si monasticus sit, trecentos psalmos cantet." — 

t4i R 



242 A FEW NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS 

Confessionale Ecgberti, § 40. This Ecgbert was Archbishop of 
York. The Confessionale is printed in Thorpe's Ancient Laws, 
vol. ii. 

A " whitteritt," at p. 130, is the same as a "whitrack," otherwise 
called a " whutthroat," />., white-throat. "Whitrack" means 
" white neck," from " rack," a neck. See Whitrack and Rack in 
the English Dialect Dictionary. The throat of the weasel is 
white. 

At p. 142, there is no difficulty as to "a payre of uppbodyes." 
It means a pair of stays, to keep the bodies up. 

P. 163, note. The wood- wale is the green woodpecker ; see the 
English Dialect Dictionary. It is so explained in my Glossary to 
Chaucer. 

Where the Suffolk man says "an alpe," meaning a bull-finch, 
the Shropshire man says " a nope," shifting the n from the article 
to the substantive. The origin is unknown, but "alpe" is certainly 
the older form. 



Richard Clay and Sons, Limited, 

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