Earl Soham, or Saham
This parish in Doomsday is called Saham, afterwards Sahara Barres, to
distinguish it from the adjacent parish of Soham,, which Alfricus, Bishop of the
East Angles, gave to the Monastery of St. Edmund, whereupon it was called Monks'
It was purchased by Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, in the time of King Stephen, of
Hubert de Munchensi, descended from Munchensi, a Norman Baron, lord of
Edwardston, in Babergh hundred, in the time of William the Conqueror. Gradually
losing its ancient name of Soham Barres, and continuing, with Framlingham,
parcel of the estates of the Earls of Norfolk and Suffolk, it acquired the name
of Earl Soham, which it still retains.
Roger Bigod, the founder of Thetford Abbey, and Alice his wife, gave to that
Monastery all the right that he had in the churches of his demesne; namely, that
of this parish, with Kelsale, Earl Stonham, Yoxford, and the two Bradleys, with
all the lands belonging to the same; all which Bishop Herbert appropriated to
the said Monastery, after their next vacancies, reserving canonical obedience
from the clerks that should serve them.
In the 7th of King Edward II., Thomas de Brotherton, Earl of Norfolk, obtained
of that Monarch, license for a market in this parish every Thursday; and free
warren in all his demesne lands in Framlingham, Hoo, Stonham, and Hacheston. He
died seized of the manors of Earl Stonham, Hollesley, Dunningworth, and Hoo;
which he left to his second wife, Mary, daughter of William Lord Roos, and was
buried in the Abbey at St. Edmund's Bury.
A grant of this lordship from the Crown, was made to Frances, relict of Henry,
Earl of Surry, son and heir of Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, in the 1st of King
Edward VI. She was daughter of John Vere, Earl of Oxford, and remarried to
Thomas Steyning, of Woodbridge, Esq., and afterwards of Earl Soham, by whom she
had issue a daughter Mary, who in 1575, married Charles Seckford, Esq., M.P. for
Aldeburgh in 1572. Mr. Steyning was steward of the manors of Framlingham and
Saxted, from 1563 to 1577. In 1554, he and lady Frances1
presented to the rectory of this parish church.
John Cornwallis, Esq., purchased of the Earl of Suffolk, the manor, advowson,
lodge, and park, of Earl Soham, and removed to this parish, from Badmgham, in
Hoxne hundred. He was trustee to Thomas Howard, only son and heir of Philip,
Earl of Arundel: was twice married, 1st. to Catherine, daughter of John
Blennerhasset, of Barsham, Esq.; she died in 1584, and was buried in Baddingham
church. His second wife was Elizabeth Wolsey, relict of William Tuthill, Gent.,
by whom he had no issue. Mr. Cornwallis deceased in 1615, and was buried at
Cretingham,, in this hundred.
Thomas Cornwallis, Esq., his eldest surviving son, succeeded. He was M.P. for
this county in the 21st of King James I., and married Mary, daughter of Edward
Grimstone, of Bradfield, in Essex, Esq., by whom he had no issue. By his will,
dated in 1625, he devised his estate in this parish, to Elizabeth his sister,
the wife of Thomas Corderoy, of Hampshire, Esq. Mr. Cornwallis was also buried
at Cretingham. Elizabeth Corderoy afterwards married to Edward Nynclion, of
Whittle, in Essex, who sold this estate to John Cotton, of London, Esq.
He was the second son of Sir Alan Cotton, Knt, Lord Mayor of London in 1626, and
served the office of High Sheriff for this county in 1644. Mr. Cotton had four
wives, but had no surviving issue, except by the last, namely Anne, the daughter
of Nicholas Revett, of Brandeston, Esq., by whom he had several children. He
died in 1655, much in debt, from having disbursed large sums in support of the
Royal cause, that were never repaid; which obliged Alan, his eldest surviving
son, to sell this estate to Leicester Devereux, Viscount Hereford.
The executors of his son, Price Devereux, Lord Viscount Hereford, sold it to
John Boyfield, Esq. It was lately the property of John Ayton, Esq., of Missenden
Abbey, in Buckinghamshire.
In the time of Queen Elizabeth, Philip, son of Robert Stebbing, of Kettleburgh,
resided in this parish; whose descendants afterwards settled at Wisset and
Framsden, in this county. Oliver Stebbing, a grandson of the above Philip, lived
here in the time of Charles I., and took the covenant.
The Rev. Francis Capper, M.A., died Nov. 13, 1818, at the rectory house in this
parish, in his 83rd year, and in the 60th of his incumbency. He received the
early part of his education at the school at Westminster, from whence he was
removed to Christ Church, Oxford. In Oct. 1759, he was presented to the rectory
of Monks' Soham, and in December following to that of Earl Soham. He was highly
esteemed as a sound and conscientious divine; and in private life, justly
endeared to his family, his parishioners, and his friends.
Mr. Capper was probably the oldest incumbent in the diocese. He bequeathed money
to purchase so much stock in the four per cent, annuities, as with the dividends
thereof, would purchase twelve loaves of bread, of 3d. each, to be distributed
to the poor every Sabbath day.
ARMS. Cotton: azure; a chevron between three cotton hanks, argent.
CHARITIES. The parish estate here consists of two cottages, in five
tenements, which together let for £.9 10s. a
year; and 46 acres of land, lying dispersed in the parish, which a- e let to
yearly tenants, at rents amounting to £.62
4s. per annum. These are applied for the benefit of such poor persons of the
parish as the trustees think most necessitous and deserving. Robert Wyard, by
will dated in 1G77, charged his lands, called "Hersewell, "in Worlingworth, with
£.5 a year, to be paid as follows: For a
sermon at Earl Soham, on the 25th Feb. 10s.; to the poor of ditto, present at
the said sermon, £.1 5s.; to the person who
ring the bell, 5s.; for an entertainment to the parish officers, and ringers of
the bells, 10s.; and a like sum to be applied in the same manner and
proportions, April 23, the feast day of St. George the Martyr. Joseph Kersey
bequeathed by will, in 1816, the sum of £.800,
to be applied in the purchase of bank stock, the yearly interest thereof to be
distributed in bread and coals, to the resident industrious poor of the parishes
of Dallinghoo, Charsfield, Marlesford, and Earl Soham, for ever. The sum of
£.8 6s. 7d. a year, is received, and
expended in the purchase of coals, which are distributed to the poor; being
their portion of the dividends payable for this parish.
1. Her death is thus recorded in the register of Earl Soham:
"Anno Domi 1577, Item the Ladye Ffrancis Countys of Surrye dyed the last of June
in the year aforesaid, and was burryed at Fframlyngham. "No corresponding entry
appears in the Framlingham register of burials.
Topographical and Genealogical, The County of Suffolk, 1844, Augustine Page