Genuki Logo Norfolk Welcome

Norfolk Hundreds

White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk 1845


Freebridge-Lynn, one of the largest divisions of Norfolk, lies at the west end of the county, and extends from 12 to 15 miles in length and breadth, stretching east, north, and south, from the borough of King's Lynn. It extends southward to Setch and Pentney, eastward to Castle Acre, Massingham, and Harpley, and northward to Dersingham and Anmer; and lies east of Marshland, with which it was formerly comprehended under the name of "Freebridge Hundred and a Half," an appellation said to be derived from St. Germain's Bridge being toll-free, and then the only bridge that crossed the Great Ouse river, between the two districts, which, in ecclesiastical affairs, constitute the Deanery of Lynn, in the Archdeaconry of Norwich.

Freebridge-Lynn is bounded on the north by Smithdon Hundred; on the east by Gallow and Launditch Hundreds; on the south by the river Nar and the parish of Watlington; and on the west by the Borough of Lynn, the Great Ouse river, and that broad estuary of the ocean, called The Wash, or Metaris AEstiarium, which receives on this side the waters of the Ouse from Lynn, and on the other, the river Nene from Wisbech. The mouths of these rivers are distant nearly ten miles from each other, and the coasts of Norfolk and Lincolnshire, branching from them in a northerly direction, form the largest bay on the eastern side of England, except the estuary of the Thames; but at low water, immense tracts of sand and silt are left bare, and many thousand acres have, at various periods, been recovered from the influx of the tides.

On the Lincolnshire side of the bay, about 15,000 acres have been warped and cultivated since the construction of the embanked road across that part of it called Cross Key's Wash; and an Act of Parliament is about to be obtained for constructing a new outfall for the rivers Nene and Ouse, and reclaiming from the Norfolk side of the Wash 32,000 acres of valuable land, more than half of which will adjoin this Hundred, and the rest will be added to Freebridge Marshland. This is part of the grand scheme, noticed at page 517 [History of King's Lynn section]. Freebridge-Lynn affords a pleasing contrast to the flat district of Marshland on the opposite side of the Ouse, having an undulated surface, rising, in picturesque swells, from the marshes on the coast, and on the rivers Ouse, Nar, and several smaller streams. The soil is of different kinds, being in some parts rich and loamy, and in others a light steril sand; indeed, the latter prevails either on the surface or as a substratum, throughout the whole district, and much of it is of a whitish colour, well adapted for the manufacture of glass, for which purpose large quantities are regularly shipped at Lynn. Many of the commons have been enclosed during the last forty years, but there still remain here several extensive sandy heaths, in a state of nature, or partially planted; and one of them, between Castle-Rising and Dersingham, forms a prolific rabbit warren of 1,900 acres; and the abrupt acclivities by which it rises from the marshes, bear evident marks of having been, at some distant period, the boundary of the ocean, the tides of which once flowed up to the decayed borough of Castle-Rising, from whence a small but once navigable stream still flows westward to Lynn Deeps.

Indeed, marine productions are found in the gravel pits, in various parts of the Hundred; and the rounded cobbles, pebbles, flints, and other stones got in them, for the reparation of the roads, are similar to those thrown up by the tides, on the beach near Hunstanton, Brancaster, and Wells. At the Norman Conquest, this Hundred was a fee of the Crown, but was granted by the Conqueror to his butler, William de Albani.

The Hundred Court was anciently held at Flitcham, on a remarkable hill or tumulus, surrounded with a ditch, in the form of a square; but it was afterwards held under an oak tree, at Gaywood, whence it was removed to Fitton Oak, in the parish of Wiggenhall St. Germain, where it was continued till 1710, when the Duke of Norfolk was lord paramount.

Petty Sessions are now held at Hillington, on the 1st and 3rd Mondays in every month, before the Magistrates of the Hundred, to whom B. Aldham and Son, of Lynn, are clerks.

The Hundred contains many large and well built villages, and 34 parishes, of which the following is an enumeration, shewing their population in 1841, the annual value of their land and buildings, as assessed to the County Rate in 1843, and their territorial extent, exclusive of wastes and roads.

PARISHES. Pop. Annl.
Anmer  1751,1041,257
Ashwicken    781,0161,157
Babingley    54  698  755
Bawsey    28  464  603
Bilney (West)  2982,0702,202
* Castle-Rising  3581,7642,028
Congham  3262,5922,455
Dersingham  6763,3022,951
Flitcham & Appleton  4283,2144,108
Gayton %  7893,8383,143
Gayton-Thorpe  1791,1261,911
Harpley  3762,4302,176
Hillington  3211,7642,437
Leziate  1721,3261,140
Massingham (Great)  9054,3724,108
Massingham (Little)  1522,1162,028
Middleton  8674,6822,984
Mintlyn    36  886  720
Newton (West)  2421,0801,177
Pentney  5922,5742,534
Roydon  174  792  526
Runction (North) +  2892,9001,329
Sandringham    53  5361,110
Setchey or Setch  1001,248  790
Walton (East)  1961,6022,107
Westacre  4902,7923,338
Winch (East)  4402,6822,410
Winch (West)  4152,8601,184
Wolverton  1652,0522,569
Wootton (North)  2101,8761,535
Wootton (South)  1511,4961,106

TOTAL @13,43177,65668,366

[There is more information about individual parishes]

* Castle-Rising is an ancient disfranchised Borough, and a Peculiar Jurisdiction, including the three parishes of Roydon and North and South Wootton.

+ North Runction includes Hardwick hamlet, which has 23 souls.

% Gayton included 57 persons in the Union Workhouse, in July 1841.

@ In 1831, the total population of the Hundred was 12,227. It is mostly in Castle-Acre Police Division.

The Annual Value of the Hundred, as assessed to the Property Tax, was £69,631 in 1815; and £88,422 in 1842.

  FREEBRIDGE-LYNN UNION comprises all the parishes in the foregoing Table, except Anmer and Dersingham, which are in Docking Union. These 32 parishes had 12,580 inhabitants in 1841, and extend over an area of 111 square miles. Their average annual expenditure for the relief of the poor, &c. during the three years preceding the formation of the Union, was £8,952. In 1838, it was £5,149; and in 1839, £5,369. These sums include salaries, &c. In 1842, the sums expended solely for the relief of in and out door poor, amounted to £3,833.

The UNION WORKHOUSE is at Gayton, and was built in 1836, at the cost of £5,146. It has room for 150 paupers, but has seldom more than from 70 to 100. Thirty-six guardians are elected yearly, viz: two each for Castle-Acre, Gaywood, Grimston, and Great Massingham; and one for each of the other parishes.

B. Aldham & Son, are Clerks to the Board of Guardians; W. C. Hotson, Esq., is Auditor; Mr. John Barrett, Governor of the Workhouse; J. G. Etches, of Gaywood, and W. R. Dawson, of Leziate, Relieving Officers; and Messrs. J. Headley, R. B. Overton, T. Bullen, J. B. Whiting, and C.B. Rose, Surgeons. Boys Aldham, Esq., of Lynn, is SUPERINTENDENT REGISTRAR; and Mr. J. G. Etches, of Gaywood, is REGISTRAR OF MARRIAGES. The Districts and Registrars of Births and Deaths are, Castle-Rising, J. G. Etches; Gayton, J. Headley; Hillington, J. Fisher; and Middleton, James Wake.


Some placenames in the transcription (of pages 583 to 585) above are given below together with their standard spelling :-
Bilney (West)/West Bilney,  Massingham (Great)/Great Massingham,   Massingham (Little)/Little Massingham,  Newton (West)/West Newton,   Roydon/Roydon (near King's Lynn),  Runction (North)/North Runcton, Walton (East)/East Walton,  Winch (East)/East Winch, Winch (West)/West Winch, Wolverton/Wolferton,   Wootton (North)/North Wootton,   Wootton (South)/South Wootton

For more information see :-

These pages are for personal use only. They may not be copied, and the links within them may not be harvested for use on your own web pages. Please see the Copyright Notice.
If you use this information in your research, please say that it is from Genuki Norfolk.

Copyright © Mike Bristow.
April 2006