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THE MUNDEFORDS OF FELTWELL.  As printed in January 1976.
(article five in the Moundeford sequence)


THE fascination for local history has spread, within the last few decades like a locust through the countryside. Societies, groups and archaeological digs claim followers from all professional ranks.

Perhaps more intensively interested than most is Brandon bank manager, Mr. A. J, Orange, known as "Pip," who carries out dedicated research.

His work has already produced two booklets on the history of. Feltwell, his birthplace, where he also founded the Archaeological and Historical Society in the 1960s. The detailed nature of his research is astonishing.

At his home in Victoria Avenue he has created and built his own laboratory, where meticulous copies of wills, manor rolls, tax returns and birth and death registers are filed and bound. Copperplate and transcribed copies of letters from Queen Elizabeth I commanding her squires in this district to carry out a shipping survey of the ports in Norfolk show the depth of his study. The room also contains shelves of glass cases where flints found locally, spearheads, axeheads and a variety of historical finds are stored.

Mr. Orange manages to fit in this comprehensive study with his full time work as manager at Barclays Bank and running two sub-branches at Methwold and Feltwell. He has recently produced a study of the Moundeford family, tracing family history from the birth 500 years ago of Francis, son of Osbert and Elizabeth Moundeford.


Mr. Orange writes, "The family name was originally de Mundeford, obviously from the parish of Mundford, seven miles from Feltwell. In 1208 Adam de Mundeford held lands in Letton and Shipdham and, his son, Osbert, held the Manor of East Hall, Mundford in 1234.

"In the early 14th century the family moved to Hockwold, dropped the 'de' and amended the surname to Moundeford, holding lands during that century in various parts of Norfolk and one Manor (Barrow) in Suffolk

"Francis' grandparent, Adam (born circa. 1383) and Esselina left Hockwold about 1410 and founded the Feltwell branch of the family. The Hockwold branch ended when Osbert (alive 1468) died leaving two daughters, Elizabeth (who died without issue) and Mary who took the Hockwold estate in marriage to Sir William Tyndale K.B.

"About 1500 Francis married Margaret, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Thoresby of Lynn. Margaret bore him one child, Osbert (1503-1580), who inherited his, father's estates.

On March 26th, 1520, when her son was 17, Margaret died. She was buried in St. Mary's Church, Feltwell, near the stone staircase which led to the old rood loft." After describing Margaret's resting place Mr. Orange returns to Francis.

"Francis, a lawyer, was elected Member of Parliament for Lynn on January 7th, 1509-10 and again January 28th, 1511-12. In 1520, the Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council of the City of Norwich agreed to create a new post - Steward of Norwich and to select a discreet lawyer to fill it. The Steward's duty was to sit as chief justice of the Sheriffs Court and to be a member of the council for the city. In 1521 they found and appointed Francis the first Steward of Norwich. By custom the office was held for life until it was abolished by the Municipal Reform Act of 1835.

"About two years after Margaret's death, Francis married Gertrude Smewen, a widow and daughter of Robert Hoting, a London merchant. It was customary to draw up a financial arrangement prior to marriage and before marrying Gertrude, Francis settled on her. For life, the profits of two messuages, Dytton's in Methwold and Rebeckend in Hilgay, 320 acres of land, 30 acres of meadow and pasture and 200 acres of marsh in Methwold, Hilgay and Southery.

"Gertrude, who was considerably younger than Francis, had two daughters by her first marriage, Jane and Margaret Smewen who each inherited ten marks (then a considerable sum) from their stepfather. Osbert, son and heir of Francis, was 18 when his Father remarried so Gertrude, who gave Francis three more sons and five daughters, could not have been much older than her stepson because she was still living (at Wereham) in 1580.

"When Francis made his will on July 21st, 1536 Gertrude was again pregnant. He died two or three weeks later so he may not have seen his youngest child if indeed it lived. There is no record of it.

"During most of his life Francis served as a commissioner appointed to assess, levy and collect the taxes' granted to the sovereign by Parliament. He was appointed Commissioner for Gaol Delivery for Lynn, February 13th, 1510, for Norwich on November 13th, 1513, and Commissioner for the Peace for Norfolk on May 28th, 1514. In 1523 he paid 8 8s in taxes and on April 1st, 1524 made a loan to the king for the war with France. The total value of the Norfolk Loan was 3438 6s 3d.

"On November 20th, 1525 {Feltwell Fair Day) he was commissioned to assess taxes on holders of land to the value of 50 and over in the hundreds of Wayland and Grimshoe and the town of Thetford his own tax was 2 13s 4d.

"On July 13th, 1530, he was commissioned, with others, to make inquisitions into the Norfolk possessions of Wolsey (after the Attainder of the Cardinal), and in the following month (August 3rd) to make inquisitions into certain lands given by Wolsey before his attainder to the College of Oxford and leased out to certain farmers."

After noting Francis' appointment as a Commissioner for Tenths of Spiritualities, Mr. Orange writes that Francis died on August 8th, 1536.

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