Suwald, Suwalda or Southwaud
Is pleasantly situated on a cliff, or point of land, near a fine bay, at the
mouth of the river Blythe, which here discharges itself into the sea. From the
labors of Messrs. Gardner and Wake, the early and modern historians of this
town, we collect the following particulars concerning the same.
Southwold is a sea port, and town corporate, but never sent representatives to
Parliament: it has a weekly market, and two fairs annually. In the 5th of King
Henry III., the Abbot of Bury, had a grant for the market, and in the 11th of
the same reign, he had a charter for a fair, upon the eve and day of St. Philip
and St. Jacob.
Alfric, Bishop of the East Angles, was possessed of this lordship; which he
gave, with other estates, to the Abbot and Monks of Bury St. Edmund's; but in
the 24th of King Henry III., Theobald, Abbot of Leiston, laid claim to the same;
upon which an action ensued, when the right thereof was decided in favor of the
In or about the 43rd of the same reign, a fine was levied between Simon, Abbot
of Bury, and Richard de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, on the manor of Mildenhall,
in Lackford hundred, in exchange for this of Southwold; who, in the following
year, obtained a license of the said King, to make a castle of his house here.
This estate Richard gave to his son Gilbert, who resigned the same, and all his
other property in England, into the hands of King Edward I., in order to obtain
Joan de Acre, the King's daughter, in marriage; which being consummated, his
estates were restored, but with an entail upon the issue of such marriage; and
in default of such, to her heirs and assigns, if she survived him. By the said
Joan, he had issue Gilbert de Clare, who in 1314, was slain at Banocksbourn, in
This Joan remarried to Ralph Mortimer, who was created by Edward I., Earl of
Gloucester and Hertford, and had wreck of the sea from Easton-stone to
Eye-cliff. In the 12th of King Edward III. some portion of this manor was
annexed to the Priory at Wangford, and so continued until the dissolution of
that house, when it was granted, with the Priory, to Thomas, Duke of Norfolk;
and is now held, by the Corporation of Southwold, of the Earl of Stradbroke, who
is the present proprietor of the site of Wangford Priory.
Southwold was made a free burgh by King Henry VII., who granted the lordship,
called Queen's Demesne Revenue, with other privileges; and King Henry VIII.,
confirmed all his father's grants to this town, which gave great encouragement
to trade and navigation.
A chapel was first erected here in the time of King John, by the Prior and Monks
of Thetford, and their dependants at Wangford, upon the decision of John Grey,
Bishop of Norwich. This was entirely subordinate to the church of St. Margaret,
at Rissemere (or Raydon), to which Southwold was only a hamlet, and which
belonged to the Prior and Convent at Thetford, as patrons. This building was
destroyed by fire about 220 or 280 years after its completion.
The present splendid erection was probably begun soon after the destruction of
the former, the outward work being finished about 1460. The architectural
features of this church are carefully discussed by William Bardwell, Esq.,1
the "Westminster Improvement Architect," and author of "Temples, Ancient and
Modern," who is a native of this parish.
This second church, or chapel, was made parochial; and the inhabitants had the
privileges of having the sacrament administered here, and of the burial of their
dead; but yet not otherwise than as a chapel of ease to Reydon, to be served by
the vicar of that parish. In 1752, a deed of severance was obtained, under the
provisions of which the church became endowed with grants from Queen Anne's
Bounty, and is now served as a separate and distinct cure.
In this parish register are the following entries: "1609, July 30; Thomas
Jentleman; he lived above four-score years in perfect sight and memorie, and in
his flourishing time for building of ships, and many other commendable parts; he
continued in his place unmatchable."
"1616. July 25. The names of those that drowned and founde againe. They were
drowned in the haven comeing from Donwich fayer, on St. James's daie, in a Bote,
by rason of one cable laying over warf the haven. For by rason the men that
brought them downe was so negligent that when they were redie to come ashore the
Bote broke lose; and so the force of the tide carried the Bote against the
cable, and so it was overwhelmed. The number of them were xxii. But they were
not all founde. "Then follows the names of those who were found, and the dates
of their interment: signed "Ed. Yonges, Vicar and Minister," who lost a son and
a daughter by this unhappy event.
Mem. On the 25th of April, 1659, in the short space of four hours, this
town suffered a most dreadful devastation by fire; which consumed 238 dwelling
houses, with many public edifices, besides corn, malt, coals, and various
merchandize, to the value of upwards of 40,000, and to the ruin of more than 300
On the 28th of May, 1672, Southwold-bay was the scene of an obstinate and
sanguinary naval engagement, between the combined fleets of Great Britain and
France, against the Dutch fleet, under De Ruyter. The commanders of the combined
squadron being James, Duke of York, Count D' Stress, and the Earl of Sandwich.
The total amount of the combined fleet was 101 ships of war; hands, 34,530;
pieces of cannon, 6,018. Dutch men of war, 91; fire ships, 54; yachts, 23; total
168. Number of hands and pieces of cannon not known. This victory was dearly
purchased by the loss of many brave officers and men, amongst whom the Earl of
Mr. Thomas Gardner, the author of an "Historical account of Dunwich," &c.
published in 1754, was Deputy Comptroller of this port at the time of his
decease, in 1769. His remains are interred near the south wall of the chancel of
this parish church, between those of his two wives, with this distich:
Between Honor and Virtue here doth lie,
The remains of old Antiquity.
CHARITIES. The poor and town estate consists of nearly 20 acres of land,
situate at Reydon, near Southwold; this land is let at the annual rent of
£18: a moiety of the same is received for
the use of the poor, and applied with other charitable funds, after mentioned,
in the purchase of bread and coals, which are distributed among poor persons and
families; the other moiety belongs to the town of Southwold. In 1810, John Sayer
bequeathed, by will, the sum of £200, 4 per
cent. Consols, in trust, to pay the dividends thereof to the treasurer of the
Burgh School, in this town; and in case the said school should be discontinued,
then the dividends should be applied among poor widows of Trinity pilots, and
masters of vessels. The school referred to having been given up, the funds are
applied for the benefit of poor widows, of the description above-mentioned.
Captain John Steele gave, by will, the sum of £150;
and the interest accruing from the same, is distributed annually, to the widows
of pilots and masters of vessels. There is a sum of
£144 12s. 3d., held by the bailiffs and commonalty of Southwold, for the
use of the poor; the interest upon which is applied with the rent of the poor
1. This description, with an accurate plate of
the church, drawn by the same gentleman, and engraved by Mr. G. Hollis, are
inserted in "Wake's History of Southwold," published in 1839, in 8vo.
Topographical and Genealogical, The County of Suffolk, 1844, Augustine Page