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