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in Norfolk. He is said to have been a Norman related to William, Earl
de Warrenne, and came with him into England at the conquest. He had
three sons, the second of whom, Reynold or Rauulf, was lord of Bacons-
thorpe, and took the surname of Bacon.

Roger his grandson, succeeding his eldest brother Thomas, who died
without issue, was in arms -vvith the barons against King John, and had
his estates seized, but was restored to favour by Henry HI., and had his
lands again in 1216.

His sou, Robert Bacon, or Bacon de Baconsthorpe, inherited the estate,
and in 1227 separated the manors and settled the manor of Woodhall upon
his brother Roger de Baconsthorpe aliaf< de Ilingham and his heirs.
From him descended the Bacons of Baconsthorpe, who became the lords
of the place about the beginning of the twelfth century. We find little
more recorded of this ancient family than that they continued there 480
years, that they were married and given in marriage, that they had sous
and daughters, that they bought and sold, lived well, and died happy.



fHE Plantagenet Kings, Henry II., Richard I., and John, had
^^ been engaged in many wars in the twelfth century which were
continued by their successors in the thirteenth century. In the latter
period we may observe the hold o£ Norman tyranny relaxed and some
slight manifestations of the spirit of liberty. We see our rude ancestors
shake off the yoke of bondage, the commencement of the emancipation
of the serfs and the rise of the yeomanry of England.

EEIGN OP KING JOHN, 1199 tO 1216.

John, who was born at Oxford in 1166, was the youngest son of Henry II.
He was surnamed Lackland, because, unlike his brothers, he held no fiefs
before his father's death. He married first Hadwissa, heiress of the
earldom of Gloucester, whom he divorced shortly after his accession on
the plea of consanguinity ; second, Isabella, daughter of the Count of
Augouleme and already betrothed to the Count De la Marche, whom she
married after the King's death.

King John, soon after he was crowned in May, 1199, went to Nor-
mandy, which the French King had invested, but the citizens of
Norwich found means to apply to him for a confirmation of their Hberties,
and he granted their request on their promising to pay 300 marks, which
they did next year. The charter is word for word the same as that of
Richard I., only in the style the King had the new additional title of Lord
of Ireland. The charter is still extant in the Guildhall, Norwich, with
the King's seal in green wax appended, and it bears date Caen in
Normandy, Anno Domini 1199.

In 1199 King John granted the first charter to the town of Ipswich,
conferring on the inhabitants important privileges, some of which
strikingly illustrate the oppressions under which the mass of the people


groaned in those ages of misrnle. By this charter, the King granted to
the burgesses the borough of Ipswich, with all its appurtenances,
liberties, &c., to be held of him and his heirs, by the payment of the
usual farm of £35 and 100 shillings more at the Exchequer. He exempted
them from the payment of all taxes under the denominations of tholl,
lastage, stallage, passage, portage, and all other customs throughout his
land and seaports. The other privileges granted to the people of Ipswich
by this charter were as follow : That they should have a merchants' guild
and house of their own ; that no person should be quartered upon them
without their consent, or take anything from them by force ; that they
might hold their lands and recover their just dues from whomsoever they
were owing ; that none of them should be fined or amerced but according
to the laws of the free borough ; and that they might choose two bailiffs
and four coroners out of the principal men of the town.

Ipswich was not the scene of any of the vi(jlent commotions which arose
from the quarrels between King John and his barons ; but the inhabitants
quietly contributed to the tax which he levied in the seventh year of
his reign. In 1215, the duty levied on woad (used in dyeing) amounted
in Suffolk to £50, in Yorkshire to £96. Thus it appears that Ipswich
enjoyed a share of the woollen manufactures which the Flemings had
introduced, and which were fostered by royal charters.

King John, in the first year of his reign, in consideration of 120 marks,
granted to the townsmen of Cambridge the same privileges as the King's
free and demesne burgesses. In the year following he granted them a
mercatorial guild, with extensive privileges ; and in 1207 the liberty of
being governed by a provost to be chosen annually by themselves. In
1208, Fulk, son of Theobald, gave King John 120 marks and three
palfreys for the farms of the castles of Cambridge and Huntingdon, and
the custody of Cambridge Castle.

King John granted charters to the towns of Yarmouth, Lynn, Bury
St. Edmund's, and Ipswich, in consideration of contributions from those
towns and their supposed loyalty. Yarmouth was created a free borough,
and many liberties and immunities were invested in the burgesses, who
were to hold the town in fee farm for ever, paying to the King and his
heirs an annual rent of £55, which they Avere to raise by the customs
arising out of the port, and not by any goods sold on shore in their
market, as appears from the original Latin text of the charter.

Bj the charter of King John, it is obseiTable that Yarmouth was still
to be governed by a provost, and so probably continued till the reign of
Henry III., in whose fifty-sixth year we find the burgesses laid before
that King, under their common seal, a set of articles or bye laws by which
they solicited to be governed, and which he confirmed by his letters patent


dated October 26tli in tliat year. By tliese articles tliey were to elect for
their magistrates four wise meu of the town, or in other words four
bailiffs, as appears by the sixth article. Yarmouth was thus brought into
notice, created a free burgh, and invested with certain privileges, on
payment to the King and his heirs of an annual fee farm or rent of £55
for ever. This era is by far the most important in the annals of the
town, for from this time its importance was derived and its interests
advanced. The town became very popular, made considerable progress
in commerce, and according to custom the inhabitants formed themselves
into guilds or associations for the protection of trade, or rather to main-
tain some monopoly.

After the charter granted by King John, Yarmouth began to rear its
head, and acquired a more respectable aspect. The burgesses were
invested with so many privileges, that their trade and commerce began to
flourish and assumed an importance which excited the jealousy of their
neighbours in Gorleston and Southtown. This led to various contests
concerning the rights and privileges of the town, but the burgesses were
ultimately successful. Little Yarmouth, consisting then of West town
and North town, must have contained many inhabitants, and these joined
to the people of Gorleston, equally envious of the good fortune of Great
Yarmouth, and apprehensive of its future power, soon proved themselves
to be no less formidable rivals than implacable enemies, and accordingly
omitted no opportunity of attacking their privileges and endeavouring to
turn some of their rights to their own account.

John de Grey became Bishop of Norwich in 1200. He was secretary
and chaplain to King John, over whom he had great influence, of which
he made good use for the benefit of the Church. He lent large sums of
money to the King, receiving in pledge the royal regalia. He was Lord
Chief Justice of England, and for some time Lord Deputy of Ireland.
In 1205 he was made Archbishop of Canterbury, which not suiting the
designs of the Pope, he appointed Stephen Langton, which gave rise to
the subsequent troubles. This prelate was one of the Keepers of the
Seal ; he went on an embassy to Rome, and died on his way home at St.
John de Angelo, near Poictiers, October 18th, 1214, whence his body was
brought and interred in Norwich Cathedral.

According to Matthew Paris, " On St. Edmund^s day, November 20th,
1214, the earls and barons of England met at St. Edmund's Bury.
Archbishop Langton, who was the guiding spirit of the assembly, camo
among them. The Primate of All England stood at the high end of the
altar, and thither advanced each peer according to seniority, and laying
his hand on the altar, swore solemnly that if the King would not consent
to acknowledge the rights which they claimed, they would withdraw their


fealty aud make war upon him^ till by a charter under his own seal ho
should confirm tlieir just demands. And at length/' says the old
chronicler, " it was agreed that, after the nativity of our Lord, they should
come to the King in a body, to desire a confirmation of the liberties
before mentioned, and that in the meantime they were to provide them-
selves with horses and arms, in the like manner, that if the King should
perchance break through that which he had specially sworn (which they
well believed), and recoil by reason of his duplicity, they would instantly
by capturing his castles compel him to give them satisfaction.'^

The King's misgovernmeut and licentious conduct had so alienated
the goodwill of the nobility, that they were anxious to obtain some
pledge that they should not be subjected to further grievances, and the
low condition to which the King's affairs had sunk, furnished a convenient
opportunity for the barons to demand a redress of their grievances. The
new archbishop, Stephen Laugton, led the movement. At a meeting of
the barons, held at Bury St. Edmund's on November 20th, 1214, pro-
fessedly for religious duties, he placed before them the charter of Henry
I., which contained certain laws and inmiunities, granted to the church as
well as to the nobles, and it was unanimously agreed that after Christmas
they should go to the King and demand the confirmation of the liberties
which they required ; and that meanwhile they should collect arms so as
to compel his assent in case of refusal. \VTien they presented their
petition, he solicited a delay, promising to give a satisfactory answer after
Easter, by which time nearly all the nobility joined the confederation.
They met at Stamford at the time appointed, and at the King's request
laid before him their demands at Oxford, on hearing which he said they
were vain or visionary, that they might as well have asked for his king-
dom, and that he would never grant such liberties as would make him
their slave. The barons then adopted such measures as soon compelled
the King to sign Magna Charta, at Runnymede, on June 19th, 1215. It
soon became manifest, however, that he was waitmg for an opportunity for
revenge on his triumphant barons ; and he was assisted in his difficulties
by the Pope, who absolved him from tho oaths he had taken, on the
ground that all concessions made without the sanction of the lord pai*a-
inount were void. He began to collect mercenaries from the continent,
and to provision and garrison his castles. He advanced to St. Alban's,
and dividing his army into two parts, gave the command of one to the
Earl of Salisbury, who was ordered to devastate Middlesex, Essex, and
the adjoining counties, while he himself advanced to Nottingham, burning
on his march the residences of the barons and plundering their estates.

In 1215 King John appeared in arms before FramHngham Castle against
Roger Bigod, who with other powerful barons were confederated against


their sovereign elsewhere^ when not being able at the moment to concen-
trate their forces, the castle if not then besieged, those who garrisoned it
had to show a flag of truce (if they had one) and to capitulate on the
best terms they could obtain. It was surrendered at all events into the
hands of the King, as appears by an entry in the close rolls. The
confederated barons, being driven to extremities, resorted to the perilous
expedient of ofiPeriug the kingdom to Lewis, son of the King of France,
who notwithstanding the prohibition of the j^apal legates, accepted the
promised crown and landed in England on May 21st, 1216. John retired
to the west, and all the counties in the neighbourhood of London submited
to his rival, with the exception of the castles of Dover and Windsor.
While these castles were being besieged, John advanced northward and
reduced Lincoln; thence he proceeded southward through Spalding to
Lynn, ravaging the country iuhis progress.

During the turbulent reign of John, in 12L5, Salier de Quincy ha^dng
collected an army of foreigners, laid siege to Colchester in Essex, but on
the approach of the barons, who were advancing from London to its relief,
he drew off his forces, and retired to Bury St. Edmund^s. He afterwards
got possession of Colchester, and having plundered it, he left a garrison
in the castle, which having been invested by the King, was compelled to
surrender. It was subsequently besieged and taken by the troops of
Prince Lewis of France, whom the barons had invited into England to
their assistance, and who hoisted the banner of France upon its walls,
but he was soon after expelled by the barons.

In 1215 Eoger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, joined the rebellious barons,
and was one of the most active in comjDelling the weak King to sign that
great bulwark of British liberty, Magna Charta, which was afterwards
frequently confirmed. He Avas expelled by the King from Norwich
Castle, and the Earl of Pembroke and John Fitz Robert were appointed
Constables of the Castle of Noi-wich and other places. During these
intestine wars, Lewis the Dauphin of France, who had obtained a grant
of the kingdom from the Pope, brought over an army, ravaged Norfolk
and Sufiblk, took Norwich Castle, and plundered the citizens in 1216.

In the year 1216, the war between King John and his barons being at
its greatest height, the King appointed Falcasius de Brent Governor of
Cambridge Castle. The Isle of Ely was now again doomed to desolation.
Walter Bunck, with a party of Brabanters, entered the island, opposite a
place called Herebie, and plundered the monasteries, carrying away the
monks, and extorting great sums for their release. Soon after the Earl of
Salisbury, Falcasius de Brent, and Savory de MuUo Leone, entered the
island at Stuntuey Bridge, spread devastation as they went, and robbed the
churches of what had been spared by Bunck and his party. They entered


Ely Cathedral with drawn swords, threatening to burn it to the ground, a
fate which, by the payment of 209 marks, the prior with some difficulty
averted. Many persons of all ranks were taken prisoners, but most of the
richer residents made their escape over the ice, or either concealed them-
selves in the neighbourhood of London.

About this time, the barons who were in Loudon went with some
cavalry into Cambridgeshire, laid waste the whole country, took the castle
at Cambridge, and carried away prisoners twenty of the King's servants,
whom they found there. The King shortly afterwards quitted Winchester
with the intention of v^reaking his vengeance on the estates of some of the
rebellious barons, and for this purpose he marched into Cambridgeshire,
where he did "hurt enough." From thence lie passed into Norfolk and
Suffolk, which counties he ravaged.

King John, after punishing the revolted barons of Norfolk, assembled
his forces at Lynn, and, during his stay, on the petition of John de Grey,
Bishop of Norwich, granted the town a charter to be a free borough for
ever, and the burgesses to choose themselves a provost on condition that
he should be subject to the bishop and take an oath early to that end,
at the bishop's palace at Gaywood, whence he was called the bishop's man.
At the same time the King presented to the Corporation a large elegant
drinking cup and cover weighing seventy -three ounces, and holding a full
pint of wine. It has been well-preserved, and it is used upon all public
occasions and entertainments with some uncommon ceremonies, at
drinking the health of the King or Queen ; and whoever goes to visit the
Mayor drinks sack out of this cup. The King also gave them a sword
from his own side, and it is said the weapon having a silver mounting to
be carried before the Mayor, but Bishop Gibson asserts that the sword
was really the gift of Heniy "S'^III., when he granted the town certain

Leaving Lynn, King John turned his face towards the north, and
marched to Wisbech, from whence he proceeded to a place called the
Cross Keys on the northern side of the Wash, which he resolved to cross
by the sands. At low water this estuary is passable, but it is subject to
sudden risings of the tide. John and his army had nearly reached the
opposite shore called the Fossdyke, when the returning tide began to
roar. Pressing on in haste and terror he escaped the tide, but on looking
back he beheld all his carriages, with all his money, lost in the waters.
The surge broke furiously over the carriages, and they soon disappeared ;
horses and men w^re swallowed up by the impetuous ascent of the tide.
In a mournful silence, broken only by curses, the King ti-avelled on to
the Cistercian Abbey of Swinestrand, where he rested for the night. He
went on to the Castle of Sleuford, where he rested another night.


Thence lie proceeded to the castle at Newark^ where he died on October
18th, 1216, aged forty -nine, and in the seventeenth of his wretched reign.

King John, in his first year, granted to the abbot and convent of West
Dereham, in Norfolk, a weekly market on Wednesday, and an annual fair
for four days — viz., on St. Matthew and the three following days, with toll
stallage, and all liberties belonging to a market or fair, dated at West-
minster June 10. King John, by his charter dated at Rouen in France
on September 7th, same year, at the request of the founder of West
Dereham Abbey, confirmed to this abbey all their lands, rents, services,
and advowsons, which had been given by the founder of his own fee.
Hubert Walter, the founder, being afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury,
all his successors in the see of Canterbury had the title from him, and in
times of necessity were applied to as founders or patrons.

In the reign of King John, Jeffrey Fitz Piers was created Earl of Essex,
and held many great, lordships in Norfolk. He was a person of great
power and authority in that age, and Chief Justice of England. He
founded the priory of Shouldham, Hundred of Clackclose, in Norfolk,
and, dying on October 2nd, 1212, he was buried in the priory,
where on the foundation of it he laid the body of his wife. Who
died in childbed. His character in history is worthy of his high
station. His death was said to be the general loss of the whole
nation, he being a firm pillar thereof, generous and skilful in the laws, and
allied to all the great men of England either by blood or friendship, so that
King John feared him above all mortals, for it was he that held the reins
of government, and after his death the realm was like a ship tossed in a
tempest without a pilot.

EEIGN OF HENRY III., 1216 tO 1272.

Henry III. was the eldest son of King John by Isabel his third wife,
and was born at Winchester, October 1st, 1206. On the death of John,
being elected by the barons in opposition to Prince Lewis of France, he
was crowned at Gloucester, by Josceline and Peter, bishops of Bath and
Winchester, on October 28th, 1216, so that the young King was only ten
years of age. He married Eleanor (daughter of Berenger, Count of
Provence), and had by her several children.

Soon after he was crowned, Lewis and his forces made a military
progress through Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk, and wasted those counties,
taking the castles of Hevingham and Orford. Then Hubert de Burgh
sent to Thomas de Burgh, his brother, who was Keeper of Norwich Castle,
requesting him to defend it as well as he could ; but he was not in a con-
dition to resist for want of forces, and fled. Lewis seized the castle, put
a garrison into it, and made William de Bellemont constable thereof.


Lewis reduced the city to a poor condition, and plundered the citizens ;
but in 1217, he was compelled to quit the realm.

The famous or infamous Pandulph, surnamed Musca, an Italian and the
Pope's legate, became Bishop of Normch in 1221. He is said to have
been the chief instrument in persuading King John to resign his crown
to the Pope, who in return excoimnunicatcd the King and his subjects,
and instigated Philip, King of France, to invade the realm and to usurp
the crown. Pandulph was rewarded for his exertions by the gift of the
see of Norwich. He did not live long to enjoy the dignity, as he died in
Italy on September 16th, 1226. His body was brought over and buried
in Norwich Cathedral. There is a figure of him on the north side of the
west window in the habit of a cardinal.

Thomas de Blunder\-ille succeeded, and after ruling the diocese ten
years, died on August 16th, 1236.

Eadulph, or Ralph, was the next Bishop of Norwich, and ho died in

King Henry III., in the fifteenth year of his reigu, granted the first
charter to the University of Cambridge, which grants the privilege of
appointing persons called taxers to regulate the rent of lodgings for the
students. This was about fifty years before the foundation of Peter House,
now called St. Peter's, the fii*st endowed college. This college was founded
in 1257 by Hugh de Balsham, then sub-prior, afterwards Bishop of Ely,
who purchased two hostels belonging to the Jesuits, and the Friars of
Penance united them, and appropriated the building for the residence of
the students; but it was not till 1280 that he endowed the college with
revenues for the support of a Master, fourteen Follows, two Bible clerks,
and eight poor scholars. After his death, a new coUege was built on the
site of the new hostels, for which purpose the bishop gave by will the
sum of 300 marks ; he gave them also the Church of St. Peter. Among
the principal benefactors in subsequent times were Simon Langham,
Bishop of Ely, who gave the rectory of Cherry Hinton ; Bishop Montacute,
who appropriated the Church of Triplow, and gave the Manor of Chewell
in Haddenham ; Margaret, Lady Ramsay, who founded two fellowships
and two scholarships, and gave two advowsons ; Dr. Hale, one of the
masters, who gave the sum of £7000 and two rectories.

Henry III., by letters patent dated at Woodstock, June loth, 1231,
granted to all men, women, boys, and girls, born or to be bom in his
village of Coltishall, that they should be free from all villainage of body
and blood, they and their families, in all parts of England, and that they
should not be forced to serve any offices for any one unless they liked it,
and that all frays and transgressions of bloodshed, bargains, and all
quarrels and suits concerning the town of Coltishall, should be determined


twice every year, before the King^s officers at tlie leets there ; and the
natives of Coltishall shall be free from toll, by water and by land, in all
fairs and markets throughout England, and from all stallage, pannage,
and pieage, being the King's tenants, and as such they were to pay to
him and his successors twenty shillings to the aid to make his eldest
son knight whenever it happened, so that the King's officers demanded
it in the village, and if then not demanded, it was not to be paid, and
they were in like manner to pay twenty shillings percentage as often as
it was raised on the newly -acquired royal demesnes, of which this town
was part, and that they were to pay one shilling every Michaelmas for
the fee of those demesnes.

At the Assizes in 1247, the then Dean of Norwich was prosecuted for
taking holiday toll (probably toll paid by the bakers for the liberty of
exercising their profession on Sundays or holidays) of the citizens, but on
his pleading that it was an immemorial privilege enjoyed by his prede-
cessors the action was discharged. A suit was also commenced against
the citizens of Norwich, the burgesses of Yarmouth, and the inhabiLants
of Acle for selling by unsealed measures ; and another against the city for
taking toll on every bushel of corn, and these being innovations the said

Online LibraryA. D BayneRoyal illustrated history of eastern England, civil, military, political, and ecclesiastical .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 62 of 70)