Lords of the Manor of Mulbarton
According to Francis Blomefield's 'History of Norfolk', (Vol. 5, 1802 pp.74-83):
'MOLKE-, MYKIL-, or MUCHE-BARTON was owned by:
Ordinc, a thane of Edward the Confessor (c.1004 - 1066)
Roger Bigot and Ralf de Beaufoe in the Conqueror's time (after 1066)
Hubert de Rhye... at the latter end of the Conqueror's time (William died in 1087) c.1184 (a misprint for 1084?) he gave it (bequeathed it?) to the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury.
Henry de Rhye in King Stephen's time (1135 - 54)
'accordingly it was held of the baronry of Rhye, as of the manor of Hingham'
Around this time, Sir Bartholomew de St. Omer had lands here but was not Lord
William de Sancto Audomaro, Omero - or St. Omer - in the time of Henry III (1216 - 72)
The king granted him entitlement to a 'free-warren' and fair here and at 'Brundale' (Brundall) in 1253.
[The manor then passed to his son. Thomas de St. Omer.]
Thomas de St. Omer, married Petronella
She was daughter and co-heir of Thomas Malmains (= left-handed!) and widow of Ralf de Tony, and thus acquired land in Grimshow and Saham.
Thomas married twice and had a daughter by each wife. These two half-sisters, Elizabeth and Alice, were his heiresses. At his death, Thomas left money for the 'pittancer' of Norwich Cathedral 'to keep his anniversary for ever and to treat the convent on that day'. It was Thomas de St Omer who is credited with (re)building the church as a penance, as told on the Church & Chapel page.
Alice, daughter of Thomas, bought full control of 'the manors of Mulbarton, Keteringham and Brundale'. She was married to Sir William de Hoo, Knight, who became Lord of the Manor from 1367. Sir William was a well-known warrior in his day. He fought against the French, was captain of the castle of Oye in 1386, during which time he probably visited the Holy Land. In Mulbarton, he built (or restored) the present church and tower and he and his wife, Alice, were buried in the chancel. Sir William died in 1410, aged 76; Alice died in 1456.
Blomefield's volume (dated 1802) claims that their portraits were in a stained glass window in the north wall of the church up to c.1800, along with pictures of Sir Thomas de St. Omer and his wife, and the coat of arms of both families. Did this disappear when the church was 'repaired and beautified in 1815'?
Thomas Hoo Esq. (son of Sir William and Alice)
He became Sir Thomas around 1434, and was sent to Normandy to suppress a rebellion around Caux. Elected a Knight of the Garter in 1445, returned to France and was honoured for his efforts by being made a baron, Lord Hoo and Hastings, and thus a member of parliament. He was made a chancellor in France.
He had three wives - (1) Elizabeth Felton bore him a son, Thomas, who died before his father; (2) Elizabeth Wichingham bore him a daughter, Anne; and (3) Eleanor Wells bore him three daughters and a son, named Thomas.
Thomas de Hoo Esq. (son of Sir William and Eleanor)
In his will, dated 1454, 'he settled 20 marks per annum on Battle Abbey for two monks to sing perpetually for him and his ancestors at St. Bennet's altar in their church'. He bequeathed Mulbarton manor to his half-sister Anne, eldest daughter of Lord Hoo (by his second wife, Elizabeth).
Anne de Hoo was the second wife of Sir Jeffrey Boleyn, who was Lord Mayor of London in 1457, and a wealthy mercer who bought Blickling Hall.
Thus, through Anne de Hoo's marriage the Manor of Mulbarton came into the hands of the Boleyn family. It passed to her son, Sir William Boleyn of Blickling. His will is dated 1505.
It then passed to Thomas Boleyn, who became Earl of Wiltshire, Ormond and Rochford. Thomas married Lady Elizabeth Howard (eldest daughter of the Duke of Norfolk), and their daughter was Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII.
Thomas Boleyn moved in loftier circles than Mulbarton, and in 1535, he sold the Manor to....
Sir Richard Gresham - He had been Lord Mayor of London in 1537
Sir Thomas Gresham - lord of the manor in 1575
A financier, founder of the Royal Exchange, founder of Gresham College near Holt in 1555. He was also Lord of the Manor of Keningham, which he joined to Mulbarton, but in 1570 he sold Keningham to Mr. Turner. Sir Thomas died in 1579.
William Gresham Esq. of London, lord of the manor 1579 - 1599
He almost certainly never lived here, but mortgaged (rented) the Hall to Francis Cuddon, Gent. Blomefield includes heraldic details of a coat of arms in tapestry hanging in the parlour.
1599 - sold to Sir Edwin Rich
He was a descendant of Richard Rich of the Middle Temple (London) who was Lord High Chancellor of England under Henry VIII and Edward VI. He married Honora Worlick, and had four sons and three daughters. According to Sir Edwin's monument at the back of Mulbarton church (in the corner above the door, where it was moved from the north wall in 1875), he was knighted at the 'Cadiz voyage'. This was an expedition to seize Cadiz and its treasure from Philip II of Spain in 1596 and included Sir Walter Raleigh among its members. This Edwin Rich is buried in Hartlepool.
Robert Rich (eldest son of Sir Edwin) - Died 1651, buried in Swardeston, but his brother Edwin arranged for him to be re-interred in a family vault at Mulbarton.
Sir Edwin Rich (son of Sir Edwin, brother of Robert)
This Sir Edwin 'lov'd the poor' as his monument on the west wall of the church says. He died in 1675, aged 81, and the inscription begins, 'Our Lyef is like an Hower Glasse, and our Riches are like Sand in it....' and there was a large hour-glass above the monument until recently. He left money and land for a charity to benefit the poor of Mulbarton - and the Rich Charity still makes grants today and rents out allotments on what remains of Rich's land. He also left money for the poor of Thetford, where he was born, and to repair the road between Wymondham and Attleborough, where a monument to him exists today. He married Jane Reeve but had no (surviving) children.
Richard Rich (3rd son of the first Sir Edwin, brother of Robert and the second Sir Edwin) who died in 1676.
Charles Rich Esq. (4th son of the first Sir Edwin, brother of Robert and the second Sir Edwin)
He was made a baronet under Charles II. He married Elizabeth Cholmondley and had two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, who each inherited one of his manors. Sir Charles was only Lord of the Manor of Mulbarton for a short time as he died in 1677 and is buried in Enfield, Middlesex.
Elizabeth Rich married Peter Cevill, a French gentleman
Charles Rich Cevill (son of Peter and Elizabeth), He sold the manor to....
Mr. James Balls of Norwich - His monument in the chancel of Mulbarton Church tells us (in Latin) that James Balls, Lord of the Manor and Patron of this Church died in 1748 aged 70.
John Balls (son of James) - Described on his monument in church as citizen of Norwich - indeed, he was an Alderman. He commissioned a map of the manor in 1724, copies of which still exist. He died in 1755, and the monument put up by his wife Susannah (nee Spendlove) describes him as 'best of husbands'. Above the monument are the Arms of Balls impaling Spendlove.
James Balls of Norwich (presumably son of John) - Given as 'the present lord and patron' when Blomefield's book was published in 1802.
Quite when and how the Lordship passed to the Steward family is uncertain.
1845 Whites Directory lists Rev. J H Steward as Lord of the Manor
1883 Whites Directory lists John Steward, Esq. as Lord of the Manor
John Henry Steward of East Carleton Manor, who died in 1913.
Mrs. Eleanor M Steward his widow, who moved to Gowthorpe Hall, 1913 - 1952
Major J. G. Steward, 1952 - 1980 who was very supportive of the efforts to clear the Common after grazing had stopped.
Mrs. Steward, his widow, 1980 - 1984
Their daughter, Mrs. Rosemary Watkinson (nee Steward) is the current Lord of the Manor. She continues to be consulted about events on the Common and, like previous Lords of the Manor, is also Patron of the Living of the Benefice of Mulbarton.