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Beccles Parish

British Isles Genealogy | County of Suffolk

Beccles or Becles

In or about the year 956, King Edwin, eldest son of King Edmund, of the Saxon race, gave the lordship of this parish to the Abbot and Convent of St. Edmund's, Bury; and it continued in that house until the dissolution of Monasteries, when it was granted, by King Henry VIII., to William Rede, Esq. In the Confessor's time it yielded 30,000 herrings to the said house.

The Redes, of this parish, were a family of respectability, and became early seated here. John Rede, Mayor of Norwich in 1496, was buried in Beccles church, in 1502. William was his son and heir; whose second son, William Rede, merchant of London, married Anne, daughter of William Fernley, of West Greeting, in this county, by Agnes his wife, daughter of Robert Desney, of Ipswich. This lady re-married Sir Thomas Gresham, Knt., founder of the Royal Exchange, London.

She died in the 39th of Queen Elizabeth; and Sir William Rede was her son and heir, aged 50 years. He married Gertrude, daughter Erasmus Paston, Esq.; whose son and heir, Sir Thomas Rede, Knt., married Mildreda, second daughter of Thomas Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, and died without issue.

Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Richard, son of Sir John Rede, of this parish, and Rougham, in Norfolk, married John Yelverton, Esq.; who had by the said Elizabeth, his second wife, Sir William Yelverton, Judge of the King's Bench in 1444.

This estate passed from the Redes, to the Yallops, of Bowthorp, near Norwich; and subsequently to the Bence family. Lawrence Bence, only son of Robt. Bence, of Henstead, Esq., by Mary his wife, daughter and heir of the Rev. Lawrence Echard, of the same parish, died in 1746, without issue: his youngest sister died unmarried, in 1792; the elder, Ann Bence, married in 1740, Robert Sparrow, Esq., of Worlingham; and by him, who deceased in 1 764, had issue a daughter, Mary, who married Archibald Acheson, 2nd Earl of Gosford; the present owner of this manor, and patron of the living.

The Garneys family became very early possessed of Ross Hall manor, in Beccles. Robert Garneys, who deceased in 1411; Peter, in 1413; Thomas, in 1527; and Edward, in 1535; were interred in that parish church.

In the time of Queen Elizabeth, this manor was in the Colby's (misprinted in Kirby, "Tolby"); when see a suit in Chancery, between Sir Thomas Gresham, Knt., and Anne his wife, lord of the manor of Beccles, plaintiffs; and Thomas Colby, Esq., lord of the manor of Rose Hall, defendant.

It subsequently became vested in the Suckling family; from whom it passed to that of Rich, by the marriage of Sir Edwin Rich, of Lincoln's Inn, Knt., with Jane, daughter of Reeve, Esq., of St. Edmund's, Bury, and widow of Sir John Suckling, Knt., Comptroller of the Household to King James I.

He was second son of Sir Edwin Rich, of Mulbarton, in Norfolk, Knt. He died in 1675, and was buried in that parish church; where a singular inscription remains to his memory, of his own composition. Sir Edwin gave 200 towards the repairs of the roads between Wymondham and Attleburgh, in Norfolk; where-upon, by an order of sessions, the Magistrates of that county ordered a pillar to be placed by the road side, as a grateful remembrance of this benefaction, which still remains. He also gave 100 towards the erection of a bridge; and 20 per annum out of this manor, for the relief of the poor of Thetford, his native town.

Sir Edwin left no issue; and the estate descended to Charles Rich, Esq., his younger brother, who was advanced to the dignity of a Baronet, the 27th of King Charles II.; with remainder, for want of male issue, to Robert, second son of Colonel Nathaniel Rich, of Stondon, in Essex; who married Mary, second daughter and co-heiress of the said Sir Charles; who inherited this estate in her right, and appears to be the first of this family who resided here. He deceased in 1699, aged 51 years; and was interred in Beccles churchyard.

Sir Robert Rich was one of the Lords of the Admiralty, and M.P. for Dunwich in the reign of William III. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir Charles Rich, Bart.; who died unmarried, when Robert, his brother, succeeded. He was a Field Marshal, Colonel of the 4th Dragoons, and Governor of Chelsea Hospital: he represented Dunwich in Parliament, the 1st of King George I., and sat afterwards for Beeralston and St. Ives. He married one of the daughters and co-heirs of Colonel Griffin, one of the Clerks of the Board of Green Cloth to Queen Anne; and had issue, Robert, his successor; George, who deceased unmarried; Elizabeth, the second wife of George, 1st Lord Lyttelton; and Mary, who died single.

He deceased in 1768; when Robert, his eldest son, succeeded: who, in 1756, was appointed Governor of Londonderry and Culmore Fort, in Ireland; and in 1760, made a Lieutenant General. Sir Robert married Mary, sister of Peter, 1st Earl of Ludlow; and had an only daughter, Mary Frances, who married in 1784, the Rev. Charles Bostock, LL.D., of Shirley House, Hants.

Sir Robert deceased in 1785; when, in default of issue male, the Baronetcy expired. This estate devolved upon his only daughter, whose husband assumed, in consequence, the surname and arms of Rich; and being created a Baronet in 1791, became Sir Charles Rich, of Shirley House, in the county of Hants. Charles Henry, his eldest son and heir, the present Baronet, is now owner of Rose Hall, in Beccles.

The manor and principal estate was, sometime in 1801, purchased by Thomas Rede, Esq., of St. Mary's Hill (a house built on the site of the chapel mentioned by Kirby); and at his death, it came to Robert Rede, Esq., who erected a mansion in the parish of Barsham, nearly opposite the old manor house of Rose Hall. It came, under his will, after the decease of his widow, to his nephew, the Rev. Robert Rede Cooper, a younger son of the Rev. Samuel Lovick Cooper, of Yarmouth, by Sarah, second daughter of Thos. Rede, Esq.; who has assumed, by Royal license, the name of Rede.

In the "Gentleman's Magazine," for 1808, some enquiries are made respecting a portrait of Oliver Cromwell, formerly hanging at Ross Hall, in Beccles; and afterwards presented to the British Museum; of which the writer observes: "I am told it was always highly valued by the Rich family, as a most striking likeness of the Protector. "Tis very easy to account for its finding a place amongst the numerous paintings formerly at Ross Hall, when we consider not only the great confidence and friendship which existed between the Rich's and Oliver, but the connexion being further united and confirmed by a marriage between the two families."

The church is a handsome fabric, and, with the steeple built a small distance from it, a great ornament to the town. The former appears, from a will in the Bishop's Registry Office, to have been founded about the year 1369. The steeple was probably begun about GO years afterwards, for there is no legacy bequeathed to it until 1515; but from that time to 1547, there are various bequests towards the erection of the same. The arms of Bury Abbey, and those of the families of Garneys, Bowes, Rede, &c., mark the individuals who contributed towards the charges of building this tower. The south porch is a beautiful specimen of the highly ornamented Gothic style of architecture: this is a building of later date, the first legacy given towards it being dated 1455.1

ARMS. Rede: azure; on a bend wavy, or, three moor-cocks, sable, in a bordure engrailed, of the same, bezanty. Yallop: gules; an orle between eight billets, or. Rich: gules; a chevron between three crosslets, botonee, or.

Mr. Joseph Sparshall died at Beccles in 1810, aged 86 years. He was one of the Society of Friends; and, during the whole of his long life, devoted almost every moment he could spare from the avocations of business, to the acquirement of useful knowledge. Of natural history, in its various branches, he was passionately fond; but botany, chemistry, and electricity, were his most favorite studies. He wrote some essays on philosophical subjects; one of which, giving an account of a remarkable Aurora Borealis, appeared in a volume of the "Philosophical Transactions," and procured him the offer of becoming a member of that learned body, the Royal Society; an honor which he had the modesty to decline.

Joseph Arnold, M.D. and F.L.S., was born at Beccles, in 1783, and was fourth son of Mr. Edward Arnold, an opulent tanner in that town. He was apprenticed to a surgeon and apothecary, in 1799; and at the same time was placed under an eminent classical tutor, to receive instruction in the learned languages. At the end of five years he proceeded to Edinburgh, where he pursued his professional studies; and in 1807, received the honor of a diploma.

Upon leaving Edinburgh, he made several attempts to settle as a Physician, but in none succeeding to his wishes, he was induced to try the naval service, and entered as an assistant surgeon on board the "Victory," a flag ship, appointed to the Baltic, in April, 1808; and in the month of March, in the following year, he was promoted to the surgeoncy of the "Indostan," then under orders for New South Wales. After this he served on board different ships of war, and in various stations on the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, to the period of 1814, when many vessels were dismantled. At this crisis, he obtained an order to join the "Northumberland," a convict ship, taken up by Government for Botany Bay.

In this voyage he united the office of supercargo to that of surgeon; but his grand object was the prosecuting his studies in natural history, and to enrich himself and his country with the productions of another hemisphere. On his passage from Port Jackson, his hopes and expectations were in a great measure defeated; for the natural curiosities which he had collected in New South Wales, were destroyed at Batavia, by the vessel taking fire, when she had nearly completed her cargo.

In 1816, he arrived in England, and remained some months at his brother's, in Suffolk; when his friend, Sir Thomas S. Baffles, late Governor of Java, was sent, in the year 1817, to the island of Sumatra; and, upon the recommendation of Sir Joseph Banks, the Doctor accompanied him as Naturalist, under the patronage of the Honorable East India Company.

From the date of his departure, no letters were received by his family; the first intelligence they had was from Sir T. S. Baffles, announcing the melancholy tidings of his death; which took place at Padang, on the island of Sumatra, July 26, 1818, in the 35th year of his age.

Dr. Arnold published, besides his Inaugural Thesis, several detached subjects, in the Physical and Philosophical Journals; and left to the Linnaean Society a large collection of fossils and shells, to be deposited in their museum. His abilities as an attentive observer, are best exemplified by his papers, addressed to the Linnaean Society; and his industry and application, by the numerous manuscripts he left behind him.

A very elegant monument, executed by Chantery, has been placed in Beccles church to his memory, agreeable to the directions contained in his will.

CHARITIES. The town lands have, for a long period, been vested in feoffees; the ancient trusts or uses being, for the payment of tenths, fifteenths, aids, and subsidies, chargeable on the poorer inhabitants, and the profit and common utility of the inhabitants of the town; and consists of the following particulars: A building called the Guildhall, used for meetings of the trustees, and for a national school: a small part of the site of the White Lion Inn, in Beccles, which is demised on a building lease, at 6 6s. a year: the Assembly Room in Beccles, the site whereof is demised to the Portreeve, Surveyors, and Commonalty of Beccles Fen, for 200 years, at an acknowledgment of 1s. a year: four tenements in Puddingmoor Street, used as almshouses, and occupied by eight poor widows: the yearly sum of 5 5s. is paid by the County Treasurer, as interest for the price of a piece of ground on which part of the House of Correction is erected: an acknowledgment of 1s. a year is paid by the owner of a premises in Ballygate Street, but for what particular property or easement is unknown: sundry parcels of land in Beccles, containing in the whole 97 A. 2R. 2p., let to several different persons, at rents amounting together to 250 17s. a year; and a piece of land containing 6 A. 2R. 6p. in the adjoining parish of Gillingham, at the annual rent of  9. The income is now applied to different charitable purposes, for the benefit of the poor inhabitants of Beccles.

A marsh, or pasture, containing by estimation 1,400 acres, called Beccles Common, or Beccles Fen, which had formerly belonged to the dissolved Monastery of St. Edmund's, Bury, and had been used by the inhabitants of Beccles for de-pasturing their cattle, was granted to the inhabitants, as a body corporate, for the same use or purpose, by letters patent of King Henry VIII.; and on the surrender of those letters, Queen Elizabeth granted new letters patent, in the 2nd year of her reign; whereby the inhabitants were incorporated by the name of the Portreeve, Surveyors, and Commonalty of the Fen of Beccles, in the county of Suffolk: and the Fen was granted to them for the de-pasturing of the cattle of the inhabitants.

The two following charities are under the management of this Corporation: The Hospital Lands, which consist of certain lands and a chapel, since wasted, and another building, reputed to have been an ancient hospital, adjoining the highway from Beccles to Ringsfield, granted by letters patent dated the 26th of King Charles II., to the said Corporation; which, by indenture of lease dated in 1788, became leased to Thomas Rede, Gent., as the ground called Hospital Hill, for the term of 200 years, for the purpose of the said Thomas Rede building upon the premises a Mansion House, for the residence of himself and family, and improving the ground, by planting and otherwise, at the yearly rent of 13 4s. 8d., clear of all deductions; the said Thomas Rede having agreed to engage, that at the expiration of the said term, there should be left upon the said premises, buildings which should then be of the value of 200. The income arising from this property is appropriated, by the Corporation, for charitable purposes, for the general benefit of the poor of Beccles.

Sir John Leman, Knt., by will, dated 8th July, 1631, devised to his executors a messuage, used for a schoolroom, in Ballygate Street, in this town; and a messuage and lands, called Willowbye's and Girdler's, in Gillingham, Geldeston, &c.; and certain parcels of land, containing about 30 acres, in Barsham; with other lands in St. Andrew Ilketshal, Ringsfield, and Barsham, upon trust, to convey the same lands and premises to the Portreeve and Corporation of the town of Beccles; to the intent that the messuage used as a schoolhouse, with the garden and appurtenances, should be employed for a Free School, for the educating and teaching 48 scholars and children, 44 of them to be of the inhabitants of Beccles, two of the inhabitants of Ringsfield, and two of the inhabitants of Gillingham, in writing, ciphering, casting accounts, and learning and in catechizing and instructing them in the religion established in this realm; every of the scholars to be eight years of age and upwards, and be able to read English perfectly, before he should be admitted; and every scholar to continue there four years, and no longer: and he willed, that certain rules by him given to the said school, should be duly observed; and that the Portreeve and Corporation should be Governors of the school, and that the rent and profit of the land should be disposed of in the payment of 18 thereof yearly to the Usher, and the residue to the Master of the school; and that the charges of repairs he deducted out of the rents and profits; one third part thereof out of the Usher's part, and the residue out of the Master's part. The whole of the property produces a gross rental of about 196 per annum; and the same, after deducting expenses, and the sum of 30 a year, which is paid to the Usher, are retained by the Master of the school.

Dr. Henry Falconberge, by his will, dated 3rd May, 1712, reciting that he proposed to make a provision to encourage learning, and instruction of youth, in the town of Beccles; devised all his real estate in Gorton, and the towns adjoining, after the decease of the persons, and subject to the life annuities therein mentioned, upon trust; and so settled and conveyed the said estate, as that the rents and profits thereof, after reparations deducted, should for ever be applicable as after mentioned: and he desired, that whenever a person should be nominated to teach school in Beccles, being well learnt and experienced in the Latin and Greek tongues, so as. to capacitate youth fitting for the University, such person to have the rents and profits of the said premises, after repairs deducted, during his teaching school in Beccles; and so from time to time for ever. The estate was conveyed or settled pursuant to the testator's direction, and consists of a house, outbuildings, and 77A. 2R. 14p. of land, in Gorton, rented at 123 15s. a year; and a cottage, with 55A. 1R. 16p. of land, in Gorton and Flixton, which lets at 60 per annum. The rents, after deducting land tax, and the expense of repairs, are paid to the Rev. Hugh Owen, D.D., who was appointed to the office mentioned in the will, in 1815, and has since become rector of Beccles.

There are two or three other minor charities for apprenticing poor boys, and bread doles, belonging to this town.

Mem. In 1556, Thomas Spicer, laborer, John Denny, and Edmund Poole, were burnt here in the same fire, for their adherence to the protestant faith; and about the same period, 120 men and women suffered many vexatious troubles, for the same offence, in this neighborhood.

A dreadful fire happened in this town, November 29, 1586; which, besides consuming 80 dwelling houses, greatly injured the roof and seats in the church, though probably not the walls.

Some curious specimens of fossils found in this vicinity, are engraved in the "Gentleman's Magazine," for 1804, p. 305; also the tower of this parish church, see ib. for 1817, pt. ii., p. 105.

1. Mr. Davy has a view of the same, and also of the church and tower, in his "Architectural Antiquities of Suffolk."

County of Suffolk

Topographical and Genealogical, The County of Suffolk, 1844, Augustine Page

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