Institute of Historical Research



Alfred Suckling

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'Kirkley', The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: volume 1 (1846), pp. 260-269. URL: Date accessed: 23 November 2014.


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Kirkley occupies the north-eastern angle of the Hundred of Mutford, being bounded on the east by the ocean, and on the north by Lake Lothing, an arm, or inlet of which runs to the southward, and is known as Kirkley Ham. It probably afforded a very secure anchorage to the small vessels of ancient days during the prevalence of eastern gales, at the period when the sea entered the lake by a broad unimpeded channel.

Kirkley was never a place of importance, notwithstanding the ancient assertions of the inhabitants of Lowestoft, and is very briefly noticed in Domesday Book: it is remarkable, therefore, that it should have given its name to a portion of the adjacent ocean, while so near the more populous and wealthy towns of Yarmouth and Lowestoft. In the time of Edward the Confessor, the principal estate here was the property of Gurth, the brother of Harold, which being forfeited at the Conquest, was retained in the hands of the King, under the stewardship of Roger Bigot. Hugo de Montford had also a farm in this village, valued by the Saxons at 2s., which he raised to 3s., and a payment of two hundred herrings. The smallness of this latter impost proves that the fisheries here were then of limited extent. The chief support of this village at the present day, as well as that of the contiguous parish of Pakefield, arises from this branch of trade, which is considered to have declined of late.

In the fifty-fifth of Henry III., Alan de Wymundhale obtained a license for a market and fair, with free-warren in his demesne lands here; (fn. 1) and in the fourteenth of Edward I., Edmund de Wymundhale claimed the same. (fn. 2) The manor was soon after transferred to the family of Fastolf, for in 1378, Hugh Fastolf, Esq., granted it, with other estates, to John Fastolf, his brother. In the seventeenth of Henry VII., it was the property of John Fastolf, Esq., (fn. 3) and went afterwards to Anthony Rouse, Esq., who conveyed it to Henry Hobart, of Loddon, Esq. He died in 1560, seized, inter alia, of the manor of Kirkley, with the advowson of the church, (fn. 4) which latter appears to have been previously held by the Norfolk family. In the will of this gentleman, proved May 3rd, 1561, the lordship is called the manor of Kirkley Hall, though in the Mutford rentals, temp. Henry VIII., it is styled Fastolf's manor. James Hobart, Esq., was lord in 1642, and Robert Richmond in 1680. It passed from the Richmonds, by marriage, to the Garneys of Hedenham, in Norfolk, and on the extinction of that branch of the family, early in the present century, fell by heirship to the Irbys. There is now no manor-house.

The number of inhabitants amounted, in 1841, to 433, though from an account of the parish, taken in 1676, in pursuance of the penal laws then in force against religious dissenters, it appears that they then amounted to only 103, from sixteen years of age and upwards, of which number eighteen were dissenters.

The Church,

which is dedicated to St. Peter, and valued in the King's books at £15. 10s., is, like that at Kessingland, a modern erection of nondescript architecture, built out of the ruins of a larger and more elegant structure, of which a square tower, about seventy feet high, alone remains. It is open to the elements, and contains only one bell, of most lugubrious tone. The old church consisted of a nave and north aisle: on the site of the former portion is erected the present building. The north wall of this is entirely of brick, but the south is composed of the flints and freestone collected from the ruins of the older fabric. The old church probably fell into decay about the year 1640, for there is the following entry in the Kirkley register books, copied from an ecclesiastical visitation record.

"September 14, 1663. Kirkley. The church there is, and hath been, for more than twenty years past, ruinous and in exceeding great decay in the roofs, walls, pillars, pavements, pulpits, seats, and the steeple. The charge to the making good all which will amount to 3 or 400 £, by common estimation; and the whole revenues of the town are not worth above £ 100 per year. The ornaments and books are wanting. The people resort to Pakefield Church."

"Mr. Bacon, sen., Mr. Bacon, jun., and Mr. Richardson, who were rectors of Kirkley as well as Pakefield, from about the Restoration to a. d. 1748, read prayers and preached in Pakefield Church, both parts of the Lord's day, instead of officiating one part of the day at Pakefield, and the other at Kirkley, as they must have done if Kirkley Church had been fit for use: so that the parishioners had then little or no disadvantage by the decay of this church, but that of going a little further for divine offices; but when upon Mr. Richardson's decease, in 1748, Mr. North became rector of Pakefield, and as such only thought himself obliged to officiate but one part of the Lord's day; and Mr. Hall, the rector of Kirkley, thought himself excused from all publick duty, because the church could not be officiated in; the parishioners, both of Pakefield and Kirkley, soon found great inconveniences from the want of that divine service they used to have, and thereupon thought themselves obliged to endeavour to rebuild Kirkley Church. Mr. Fowler, merchant in Kirkley, encouraged them greatly, by offering them £ 20 towards it, tho' he was then in a bad state of health, and not likely to live long. Mr. Tanner, of Lowestoft, gave them further encouragement, by promising them not less than Mr. Fowler had offered, and all the assistance in his power. By his means, several contributions, and a faculty from the bishop for selling the bells towards it, were soon obtained; and Mr. Benjamin Ellis, then churchwarden, contributed handsomely; took great pains, and was at much trouble, both in soliciting contributions far and near; putting out the work and overlooking the workmen, who began about Lady Day, 1750: finished the walls, put on the new roof, and thatched it before winter. The next spring the seats and inside work was begun, and so far finished, at Michaelmas, 1751, that on October 6th, 1751, Mr. Tanner read prayers, and preached in the new church, to a very numerous congregation, and there hath been prayers and sermons in it every fortnight in the afternoon (except on Sacrament days) ever since. But not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name, be the praise, who worketh in us, both to will and to do, of thy good pleasure." (fn. 5)

It appears that Mr. Hall, whose unconscientious refusal to perform divine service, brought about the rebuilding of Kirkley church, had been long solicited so to do, by Mr. Tanner, who was at that time Vicar of Lowestoft, and commissary and official in the archdeaconry of Suffolk. This worthy man "failed not to use all the mild and persuasive arguments in his power, to prevail on the incumbent of Kirkley to make an allowance (to the minister of Pakefield for officiating in his stead), but to no purpose; so that finding him inflexible in his resolution he left him with this threat, 'Sir, if you will not officiate in Pakefield church, I will build you a church at Kirkley, and in that you shall officiate.'" (fn. 6)

I venture to print the following list of contributors to the rebuilding of Kirkley church, as it may prove interesting to many of their descendants who are yet resident in the neighbourhood.

An Account of the Contributors towards rebuilding Kirkley Church.

In Kirkley and Pakefield.
Mr. Fowler2000
Rev. Mr. North220
Mr. Ellis, Churchwarden600
" Edward Mason220
" Collier200
" Thomas Love220
" Aldred220
" John Wright200
" James Harman200
" David Mason110
" Thomas Munds110
" William Munds110
" Jermany110
" Grice110
" Shelly100
" Joseph Stanford100
" Charles Garwood110
" Smith100
" John Halsworth110
Mr. Chamberlayne220
" Wigg200
" Bell110
Mrs. Wright106
Mr. Machin106
" Settaway106
" Ferrier106
" Thomas Coniers106
" William Barnard106
" Thos. Love, jun.106
" James Meen106
" Will. Halsworth106
" James Forman106
" Robt. Barber106
" John Ayres106
" Chapman106
Mrs. Bell50
Mr. William Barber50
" John Nichols26
Mr. Robert Nichols26
" John Badley26
£ 64.1.6.
In Lowestoft.
Rev. Mr. Tanner gave4200
and obtained10100
Dr. Tanner, of Hadleigh2100
Mr. Thomas Mighells550
Mrs. Dorothy Mighells220
" Grace Symmonds220
Mr. John Peach220
John Jex, Esq.110
Dr. Davy110
Capt. Richman110
Mr. Mat. Arnold110
" Samson Arnold110
" Hayward106
Widow Barry106
Capt. Barlow106
Mr. Bales106
" Aldous Arnold106
" Saml. Barker106
" Buffham106
Capt. Landifield106
Rev. Mr. Davy106
A friend of his106
Mr. Brown, blacksmith106
Rev. Mr. Shewell50
" Mr. Belward50
Mr. Reeve50
" Copping50
" Brice50
" Hayward, jun.50
Widow Soans50
Mrs. Warwick, widow50
Mr. Robt. Barker26
" Saml. Skoulding26
" Henry Durrant26
" James Curtis26
Mrs. Long, widow26
Mr. Saml. Farrer26
" Thomas Smith26
" Robt. Francis20
Mr. John Press20
" Charles Bains16
" Samuel Dew16
Seventeen persons, 1s. each170
one gave6
£ 100.3.6.
Hewling Luton, Esq.106
Mr. Walker110
Oulton, &c.
Rev. Mr. Page, Rector110
Mr. Will. Woodthorpe106
" Thos. Woodthorpe50
" John Yonell50
Widow Hunt26
Five persons, 1s. each, one 6d.56
Sir Thomas Allin, Bt.220
H. Missenden, Esq.220
Rev. Mr. Allen110
Yarmouth, &c.
Saml. Killet, Esq.220
Mr. Thomas Martin220
" Thomas Fowler220
" Milles110
" John Morse110
" Dover Colby110
" John Morris110
" John Fowler110
Rev. Mr. Turner106
Mr. David Mason106
Another David Mason106
Mr. Ward, Collector106
Capt. Palling106
Mr. William Manning106
" Thomas Manning106
" Ramey, Attorney106
" Eldridge106
" Pexal Foster50
" John Norfor50
" Lancaster50
" John Mason50
Mr. John Crispe50
" Robt. Battley50
" John Reeve26
" Timothy Lodge26
" Jacob Masters20
" John Marsh20
Three persons, 1s. each30
Mr. Jeffery Killet110
" John Killet106
Rev. Mr. Killet, of Bradwell106
Mr. Harris, of Burgh Castle50
Carlton Colville.
Mr. Ham. Pearse660
Mrs. Welham, widow110
Rev. Mr. Wolmer106
Mr. Woodthorp106
" Guild50
" Brooks50
Widow Shien50
" Cheny50
Mr. Middleton30
" Hemmings30
Widow Critton26
Five persons, 1s. each50
Mr. Woodthorp106
" Button106
" Downing106
" Henry Cheny26
" John Wily20
Saml. Proctor, Esq.110
Mr. Cunningham106
" Fairweather106
" E. Durrant106
" Thos. Durrant106
" Colman106
Mr. Cooper106
" Adams106
" Brandson106
" Brown76
" Bokenham50
" Harling50
" Charles Welsh26
" John Burket26
Benacre and Wrentham.
Thomas Gooch, Esq.110
Mr. Aldus50
" Nelson50
Philip Brewster, Esq.110
Rev. Mr. Baylie110
Mr. Bardwell50
Henstead and Sotterley.
Mrs. Howes, widow110
Miss Bence50
Mr. Lawson50
Miles Barne, Esq.550
Sir John Playters, Bt.220
Rev. Robt. Lemon106
Rev. Mr. Carter, of Worlingham100
Mr. N. Baxter, of N. Cove220
" Gibson, of Willingham50
" Dalbe, of Mutford50
Henham, Southwold, &c.
Sir John Rous, Bt.220
Rev. Mr. Smears106
Mr. Robt. Thompson106
" Will. Thompson50
" John Thompson26
" Nun26
" Wales26
" Smith26
" Ewen, of Reydon50
" Jermy, of Reydon50
" Reeve, of Wangford50
" Wilkenson, Att. of Halesworth106
" C. Harling, of Frostenden10
Rev. Justice Page110
Mr. Farr106
" Schuldham106
" Leman106
" Price50
" Le Grys50
" Crowfoot50
" Harbar50
" Isaac Blowers50
" Edward Blowers50
" James Elmy50
" Will. Elmy50
" Will. Bendy50
" Rede50
" Keable50
" Bilby, glazier150
Mrs. Bohun26
Mr. Edward Brook26
" Debnam26
Seven persons, 1s. each70
Rev. Mr. Morden, of Weston110
" Radcliff, of Ringfield106
" Athow, of Gillingham106
Mr. Padnal, of Wheatacre106
" Alexander, of Toft Monks110
" John Sayer, of Thurlton
Rev. Mr. Tweedy, of Trimley170
" Stebbing, of Nacton110
" Baynes, of Stonham106
" Hewitt, of Bucklesham106
" Canning110
" Cornwallis106
" R. Hingston106
" Close106
" Bishop106
Mr. Collet, Attorney, of Woodbridge106
William Windham, Esq.110
Rev. Mr. Baker106
Mrs. Baker106
Rev. Mr. Wilson106
Mr. Van Camp106
Mr. Barnham106
" Hen. Williams50
" Nelson50
" Manning, sen. and jun.100
" Cooper50
" Meen50
" Prentice50
" Lamb50
" Lumley26
Mrs. Webster and Son50
" Arrowsmith26
" Gamble26
Mr. Schuldham26
" Will. Kingsbury26
" Botwright26
" Plowman26
" Winck26
" Robt. Williams26
" Ashby26
" Pell20
" Lagden16
Eleven persons, 1s. each110
Ilketshall St. Laurence26
Mr. Chancellor Nash220
" Archdeacon Goodal110
Counsellor Preston110
" Buckle110
Mr. Bacon, Apothecary110
Mrs. Britiffe110
Mr. Lindsay, of Trowse110
John Playters, Esq., of Yelverton110
Rev. Mr. Frost, of Topcroft106
Rev. Mr. Brooks50
Mr. Coggeshall50
Small sums50
Rev. Mr. Bence, of Kelsale106
Mrs. Bence, of Saxmundham106
Rev. . . . . of Darsham106
" Carter, of Sibton106
" Blois, of Yoxford106
Mr. Copland, of Yoxford26
Rev. Mr. Maborn, of Bramfield90
" Ellershaw, of Ubbeston50
Rev. Mr. Foster, of Halesworth26
Mr. Sparrow, Attorney, of Woodbridge90
Received, by sale of the reed that was left220
" by sale of bells103136

Disbursed on account of rebuilding Kirkley Church.

To Thomas Love, jun., for removing the dirt and rubbish between the old church walls142
To Mr. Roxwell, for plans, advice, and assistance, in settling the dimensions and putting out the work550
To John Halsworth, bricklayer, for work and stuff, as by agreement13090
" more, for additional work61011
" more, for altering the south windows600
" more, for altering the floor at the east end100
For drawing articles, stamps, &c., relating to Mr. Halsworth's work140
To James Chamberlayne, to roof as per agreement7000
" more, for a treat at putting on the roof300
" more, for additional work520
" more, for a loft for the bell, bell-wheel, &c.9156
For a lattice for the steeple window180
To expenses and assistance in buying the reed40
To six hundred reed at £ 2. 8. per hundred1480
For carting it from Benacre to the churchyard4100
For drink for carters at 1s. per load120
For recovering reed when dispersed by a flood40
To thatchers, for laying on the reed, broaches, &c.10172
To straw for the roof1100
To the glaziers, as per bills and receipt9140
To John Wigg, blacksmith, as per bill7156
" more, by a second bill, for a clapper for the bell, &c.598
To Mr. Bell, joiner, for the desk, pulpit, seats, and communion table6574
To Mr. Smyth, joiner, for measuring joiner's work50
To Fuller, mason, for repairing the steeple576
More, to said Fuller, as by two bills3156
To Mr. Lindsey, for lime120
To the Chancellor's Office, for a faculty to sell the bells2134
To charge for shipping the bells for London176
To commission for selling them, and other charges at London360
To Mr. Horth, for the greater weight of the bell he delivered, above the weight of the bell he had of us326
To the churchwardens of Gillingham for the font110
For fetching it, and help to load and unload it70
For a lock for the church door106
For a Bible, £ 2. 2. 0., and folio Common Prayer book, 16s.2180
For a quarto Common Prayer book for clerk, and Act against Swearing56
For the surplice, £1. 12. 6., and hood, 14s.266
For pulpit cushion, desk cloth, communion table-carpet, and making1116
For a silver paten, £1. 15. 0., and hard metal pewter flagon, 10s.250
For a linen cloth, and napkin for the communion table70
Towards making good the church way110
Towards Mr. Ellis' expenses in getting contributions220
Total receipts380186
Due to balance1461

Which balance was paid by Mr. Tanner, and by him made an addition to his former gift.

There is also due to Mr. Ellis, churchwarden, about forty shillings expended by him in soliciting contributions, more than he had yet received.

July 2, 1756. Mr. Walford, of Woodbridge, brought 20s. to Mr. Tanner, which he said had been some time ago collected towards the rebuilding Kirkley Church, but by some accident retained from being sent before. The donors were—

Mr. Carter, Rector of Tunstall5s.
" Briggs, Rector of Alderton5
" Clarke, Minister of Woodbridge5
" Thomas Folkard5

Ten shillings of which were given to Mr. Ellis, towards what he had disbursed more than he had received, and the other ten shillings the said John Tanner kept towards what he had disbursed on account of this church, more than he had received.

On the 5th of December, 1749, when the workmen began to clear away the rubbish from the ruins of the old church, they discovered, at the distance of eighteen feet from the east wall, and six feet from the north, a stone with a brass label thus inscribed:

and on another label, found in the north aisle, a like legend for John Boodhurd, who died in August, 1486.

The font of the old church was broken by the falling in of the pile, and the one now in use was brought, as we have seen, from a ruinated church at Gillingham. It is octangular and plain. The present fabric contains no monumental record. There was formerly a rectory in this parish, of which no vestige remains. It was near Kirkley bridge, for the second piece of land, mentioned in the perambulation book, is an acre of marsh belonging to the Rector, lying next Kirkley bridge, and the fifth piece is that whereon the parsonage stood. (fn. 7)

The number of acres in the parish amounts to 514, of which 19 acres, and 3 perches, are glebes. The living is augmented with 12 acres of land lying in Sprowston, in Norfolk, and the amount of its commutation is £137. 10s., exclusive of £ 5 charged for the tithes.

The earliest resister bears the date of 1701. It appears by old parish papers that the Rector is entitled to a payment in lieu of the tithe of fish caught by the boats of this parish, called Christ's half dole.

Rectors of Kirkley.

Oliver Beneyt, de Gernemuth1308Will. of Tyvetshall, Clemencia, his wife, and Alice of Herryngflet.
John of Loudham1344Clemencia, relict of John of Loudham, Knt.
John Gerard, of Theberton1349Abbot and Convent of Leiston.
Thomas de Marlesford1361The same.
John Tradesham1382Margaret Mareschall, Countess of Norfolk.
Richard Wetherlee1383The same.
John Guerard1416John, Earl Mareschall and Nottingham.
John CatherooThe same.
Robert Banyngham1421John Lancaster, Richard Stevesacre, and Robert Southwell, Feoffees and General Attorneys, by letters patent, of John Moubray, E. Marshal.
Robert Hay, of Carlton1422John, Earl Marshal, &c.
William Holden1436Katherine, Duchess of Norfolk.
Simon DolfynJohn, Duke of Norfolk.
Thomas Maundevyle1453John, Viscount Beaumont.
John Loft1469John Wodevyll.
Robert Anderle, alias Cann1484John, Duke of Norfolk.
John Custance1489The Bishop, by lapse.
Edward Lenney1490The King.
Henry Gert
John Warmall1505The Bishop, by lapse.
Thomas Mille1511
Henry Geffraye1526Thomas, Duke of Norfolk.
Robert Taylor1539The same.
John Gayton1555The Bishop, by lapse.
Edward MultoneThe same.
Robert Nudde
John Towne1570William Roberts, Gent.
Thomas Yeowle1589James Hobart, Esq.
William Wyncopp1597The same.
William Girling1613Edward Hobart, Esq.
Edward Bonn1634The same.
William Hinton1642James Hobart, Esq.
William Bacon
William Bacon1680Robert Richmond, Gent.
Philip Richardson1697The same.
Charles Hall1748His own petition.
William Temple1770Charles Garneys, Esq.
William Temple1798The same.
Robert Parr1809Robert Reeve, Gent.
Robert John Francis1812The same.

Estimatio ejusdem vij marc.


1 Rot. Pat.
2 Plac. Cor. an. 1285.
3 Jermyn MSS.
4 Reg. Norwic. Bircham.
5 Parish Registers.
6 Gillingwater, p. 84, note.
7 Jermyn MSS.