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Orford Parish

British Isles Genealogy | County of Suffolk


This town and castle still continues the estate of the Marquess of Hertford, hut has ceased to send representatives to Parliament since 1832; by an act to amend the representation of the people in Eng-land and Wales, passed in that year, whereby this borough became disfranchised.

The Austin friars appear to have settled here about 1294, for in that year, Robert de Hewell gave them the ground whereupon to erect their convent; and Mr. Taylor names the. following benefactors: in 1313, John de Engayne; Walter de Hewell, in 1336; Richard Valence, and others, in 1350. Robert Lord was the grantee, in 1544.

All that is known of St. Leonard's Hospital is, that in the time of King Edward II., A.D. 1320, such an institution existed here as an hospital and chapel for a master and brethren, and that it continued till after the year 1586.

It is said to have stood near the park, and the lands belonging to it are thought to be enclosed within the park, now the property of the Marquess of Hertford, from whence a yearly payment of 30, as a rent charge, is made to this town. (See charities.)

Orford Castle stands a small distance west of the town. Neither the builder, nor the time of its construction, are positively ascertained; but that it is of Norman origin seems evident, from its being coined, and in some places cased, with Caen stone.

The spot whereon the castle stands was, it is said, formerly the centre of the town. This tradition has the appearance of being founded on truth, from the great quantity of old bricks, stones, and other remains of buildings, constantly turned up by the plough in the fields, west and south of that edifice: besides several of them retain the name of street, annexed to their denomination of field, such as West- street-field, and the like, all alluding to streets formerly there situated; and it is further confirmed by the charter of the corporation, and other authentic records. Certainly Orford was once a large and considerable trading town, till the sea, throwing up a dangerous bar at the harbor's mouth, it fell to decay. It is a corporation and manor, although no parish, its church being only a chapel of ease to Sudborne. The style of the manor court is, "Sudborne cum capella de Orford"

Of the castle there remains at present only the keep; its shape, a polygon of eighteen sides, described within a circle, whose radius is twenty-seven feet. This polygon is flanked by three square towers, placed at equal distances on the west, north-east, and south-east sides; each tower measuring in front nearly twenty-two, and projecting from the main building, twelve feet. They are embattled, and overlook the polygon, whose height is ninety feet, and the thickness of the walls, at bottom, twenty: at the lower part they are solid, but above are interspersed with galleries and small apartments.1

In the year 1204, Hugh Bigod and John Fitz Robert were appointed joint governors of this and Norwich Castle; and, upon their removal, in 1215, the command of both were given to Hubert de Burgh. In the 45th of King Henry III., the office of Governor of this Castle was conferred on Philip Marmion; and three years afterwards, when the Barons had taken that King prisoner, at the battle of Lewes, they intrusted it to Hugh le Despencer.

Sir William Dugdale says, that the descendants of Peter de Valoins, who came over with the Conqueror, made the Castle of Orford the capital seat of their Barony; which probably must have been in the time of Edward II.; for the 4th of Edward III., Robert de Ufford, who married Cecilia, the daughter and co-heir of Robert de Voloins, had a grant for life, of this town and castle. William de Ufford died seized of it, the 5th of Richard II., and it was port of the dowry of Isabel his wife. Upon her death, the 4th of Henry V., Robert, Lord Willoughby de Eresby, whose ancestor married Cecilia, daughter of Robert de Ufford, had livery of the town and castle. William, Lord Willoughby, died seized of the lordship of Orford, the 18th of King Henry VIII., and assigned it to his wife for life. It probably came afterwards, with the estate at Sudbourne, to Sir Michael Stanhope; and descended, as that did, to the Right Hon. Pryce Devereux, Lord Viscount Hereford, of whose executors it was purchased, in 1754, by the Right Hon. the Earl of Hereford.

CHARITIES. The town estate consists of a workhouse, with a small garden, used for the reception and habitation of paupers, with a piece of ground near the same, let at 3 a year; also another piece of ground, near the assembly room, let on a building lease, at the yearly rent of 40s. A piece, of marsh land, containing 6A. 1R. 20p., adjoining Orford Quay, let at a yearly rent of 21 10s.; also a rent charge, of the yearly sum of 30, paid by the Marquess of Hertford, in respect (as supposed) of land in his possession. The income derived from these sources is received by the overseers of the poor, and applied by them, with the funds raised by rate, for the general relief of the poor of the parish. There is also a payment for poor persons of Orford, under Sir Michael Stanhope's charity, of 10 a year, which, subject to a deduction for land-tax, is distributed among them.

A list of those burgesses who represented Orford in Parliament, from 1768 to 1832, is annexed:

King s Reign A. D. Members for Orford
George III 1768 Francis Viscount Beauchamp, Edw. Coleman. Vise. Beauchamp. Hon. R. Seymour Conway
  1774 The same
  1780 The same
  1784 Viscount Beauchamp, Hon. Geo. Geo. Conway
  1790 The same. Hon. Wm. Seymour Conway, Lord Robert Seymour, Hon. Robt. Stewart.
  1796 Lord H. Seymour, Francis, Earl of Yarmouth
  1801 Imperial Parliament. The same
  1802 Lord Robert Seymour, James Trail
  1806 Lord Robert Seymour, Lord Henry Moore
  1807 The same
  1812 Right Hon. C. Arbuthnot, E. A. Macnaghten
  1818 John Douglas, Edm. Alex. Macnaghten
George IV 1820 Edm. Alex. Macnaghten, Charles Ross
  1826 Sir Henry Fred. Cooke, Quintin Dick
William IV. 1830 The same. Spencer Horsey Kilderbee
  1831 The same

ARMS. Town of Orford: a castle in an hulk, supported by two lions. Another coat is: a tower enclosed in a triple trench.

1. A south view of the ruins of the chancel of Orford church, i given in the "Gentleman's Magazine," for 1788, p. G6'7; and of the castle, in Mr. H. Davy's 41 Architectural Antiquities of Suffolk," in two views.


County of Suffolk

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

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