This record is held by East Sussex and Brighton and Hove Record Office (ESBHRO)

Details of NOR
Reference: NOR

The most complete groups of documents in the archive are the manorial records of the manor of Iden, purchased by Ralph Norton in 1718, and the manor of The Mote in Iden, which Thomas Owens bought in 1765.(NOR 13, 15.)


Richard Kilburne of Hawkhurst acted as steward of both manors in the 17th century, and his detailed surveys of them survive. In addition, the draft maps and comments of the bailiff Thomas Russell, who mapped and surveyed Mote manor in 1672, shed considerable light on the challenges which faced the 17th-century cartographer.(NOR 13/75 15/62-92.)


But the outstanding documents in the archive are the manorial accounts of the Scott family of Mote, which include very detailed payments for the erection and furnishing of a brick mansion at the manor in the 1460s and 1470s. Those portions of the accounts which relate to the building works have been transcribed and appear in Sussex Topographical Surveys -Iden Parish (1993) 2, 37-81, available in the searchroom.


When Owens bought The Mote in 1765, several documents were passed to him which relate to other parts of the Sussex estate of the Powell family of Ewhurst and Wierton in Boughton Monchelsea, Kent; they are listed as 17 and 18. They include extensive chancery proceedings from a suit between the Ashburnham and Fiennes families for the possession of the manor of Ewhurst in the 1440s, and an account book recording the removal of building material from the site of the great Scott mansion to Wierton.

Date: 1329 - 1788

The documents were listed by the Sussex Archaelogical Society in roughly chronological order, with very little attention to detail. An opportunity has been taken to re-list them, bringing together documents concerning the same business and grouping personal papers, conveyances and manorial records.


Family and personal papers


1 Ralph Norton as administrator of his cousin Nicholas Amhurst of Maidstone, 1696-1735


2 Ralph Norton as trustee of property at Yalding in Kent, given by Elizabeth Alchorne to endow a school at Yalding, 1712


3 Ralph Norton as administrator of John Inman of Iden, 1714


4 Catherine and Elizabeth Norton as executrices of their father Ralph Norton: tithe and burial dispute with the Rev Edward Wilson, 1750-1751


5 Business papers of Thomas Owens, including the loss of Catherine of Hastings in 1762; 1752-1762


Deeds of property purchased by the Norton and Owens families


6 Cottage at Iden Cross in Iden, purchased by Anthony Norton in 1626


7 Barn and land called School Land at Cadborough in Rye and Udimore and fields called Pavis Garden and Paradise in Playden, purchased by Stephen Norton in 1645


8 Cadborough Marsh in Rye, purchased by Daniel Norton in 1668


9 The manor of Iden, purchased by Ralph Norton in 1718


10 Marshland at Brenzett, Kent, purchased by Ralph Norton in 1735


11 House and marsh at Burmarsh Kent, intended to be conveyed to Ralph Norton in 1740


12 The manors in Broomham and Mote, and a drowned rent of £ 2 19s 3½d, purchased by Thomas Owens in 1765


Manorials records - Norton and Owens manors


Manor of Iden


13/1 Court book, 1586-1751


13/2-9 Draft court entries for enrolment, 1724-1758


13/10 Original surrenders, 1677-1754


13/11-29 Rentals and lists of tenants, c1610-1779


13/30-47 Accounts of receipts of quitrent, 1671-1779


13/48 Duplicate receipts for quitrent, 1727-1751


13/49 Notes concerning individual tenements and disputed rents, c1710-c1750


13/50 Summonses to attend court, 1730-1754


13/51-69 Correspondence concerning heriots, 1728-1766


13/70 Separation agreement acknowledged in court, 1731


13/71-74 Documents concerning game, 1753-1766


13/75-80 Analysis of court-books by stewards and lord,c1643-1766


13/81 Survey of land-use in the hundred of Goldspur, 1568


Manor of Iham


14/1 Beadle's account, 1403-1404


Manor of Mote in Iden


15/1-5 Court rolls, 1442-1668


15/6-11 Copy and draft minutes and presentments, 1673-1743


15/12-41 Rentals, c1475-1764


15/42-57 Stewards' and beadles' accounts of receipts of quitrent, 1724-1774


15/58-61 Extracts from court rolls, notes and drafts concerning individual tenements, c1640, c1515, c1580 and 1612


15/62-63 Richard Kilburne's court-roll analysis of 1648


15/64-97 Thomas Russell's survey, map and notes of 1673


15/98-102 Lists of tenants, 1502-1523, c1575


15/103-122 Accounts of receiver, rent-collector, bailiff, servant, 1464-1481; accounts for billetwood at the Flote, 1481-1484; estreats, 1526


15/123-128 Disputed heriot on the death of Thomas Frewen of Northiam, 1767-1768


15/129-130 Documents relating to the manor of River, 1518-1526


Manor of Broomham


16/1 Rental (with Bodiam), 1640


16/2 Index to court rolls, 1645


16/3 Extracts from court rolls to demonstrate heriotability, c1645


16/4 List of arrears (with Bodiam), 1647


16/5 Warrant to seize Downland in Catsfield for failure to pay fine, 1669


Papers relating to the administration of the Powell estate in Ewhurst, Bodiam and Iden


The Mote Place Estate, purchased from William Scott in 1646


17/1 List of fields in Lossenham Level, c1630


17/2 Map of Mote Marshes in Wittersham Level by William Boycott, 1634


17/3 List of demesne farms in Ewhurst, Bodiam and Mote manors, c1640


17/4 Accounts of the Mote estate with inventories, 1646-1650, 1662


17/5,6 Valuation of the Court Lodge and Priory estate [?in Newenden]


17/7 Receipt from Henry Muddiman for intelligence, 1674


Documents relating to the manors of Bodiam and Ewhurst


18/1 Manor of Bodiam: Chancery bill concerning the tenure of Bugsell in Salehurst, 1608


18/2 Letter concerning a replevin concerning a tenement in Ewhurst, 1672


18/3-6 Manor of Ewhurst: accounts of the farmer, 1386-1388; beadle, 1426-1427; rent-collector, 1444-1445


18/7-10 Pleadings, depositions and papers in Ashburnham v Fiennes in Chancery, c1445-1452


18/11 Draft pleadings in Fiennes v Brickenden and others in King's Bench, 1454


18/12,13 Estreats, 1588, c1669


18/14 Copy of Robertsbridge manor survey for the estate of John Tufton, c1600

Related material:

Lloyds Bank occupies a building formerly owned by the attorneys Jeremiah Curteis and John Woollett, whose partnership acted for the Norton family. Bank Chambers is still (1993) occupied by the firm's successors Heringtons. As Dawes, Son and Prentice they have made extensive deposits at ESRO, including material relating to the Norton family which is so closely related to that listed here as to leave no doubt about their common source. That material, which includes a map of Ralph Norton's estate at Rye in 1735, has been listed in outline only as DAP box 108; a copy is available in Preliminary Schedules.

Held by: East Sussex and Brighton and Hove Record Office (ESBHRO), not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Norton family of Rye, East Sussex

Owens family of Rye, East Sussex

Physical description: C.400 items
Immediate source of acquisition:

Documents deposited with the Sussex Archaeological Society by Lloyds Bank, Rye, 1952, listed by the Society as HC 175-271 and transferred by the Society to ESRO 21 Jun 1982 (ACC 2154)

Custodial history:

These documents were found at Lloyds Bank in Rye and passed to the Rye antiquary Leopold Amon Vidler, who deposited them with the Sussex Archaeological Society in September 1952; they were transferred by the Society to ESRO in 1982. The documents were listed by the Sussex Archaeological Society as HC 175-271; a concordance of references appears at the end of this introduction.


Concordance of old references


SAS/HC 175; NOR 15/58


SAS/HC 176; NOR 12/1


SAS/HC 177; NOR 14/1


SAS/HC 178; NOR 15/110


SAS/HC 179; NOR 15/111-120


SAS/HC 180; NOR 15/103-109


SAS/HC 181; NOR 15/12-39, 41, 55; 17/4


SAS/HC 182; NOR 15/121


SAS/HC 183; NOR 18/3, 4


SAS/HC 184; NOR 18/5


SAS/HC 185; NOR 18/6


SAS/HC 186; NOR 16/1


SAS/HC 187; NOR 13/12-27, 81


SAS/HC 188; NOR 13/28


SAS/HC 189; NOR 13/45-47


SAS/HC 190; NOR 15/1


SAS/HC 191; NOR 15/5


SAS/HC 192; NOR 15/2


SAS/HC 193; NOR 15/62, 65


SAS/HC 194; NOR 15/70, 71


SAS/HC 195; NOR 15/3


SAS/HC 196; NOR 15/6-11


SAS/HC 197; NOR 15/129


SAS/HC 198; NOR 15/130


SAS/HC 199; NOR 6/1-4


SAS/HC 200; NOR 13/10


SAS/HC 201; NOR 13/1, 11


SAS/HC 202; NOR 13/80


SAS/HC 203; NOR 13/2-5


SAS/HC 204; NOR 13/6


SAS/HC 205; NOR 13/7


SAS/HC 206; NOR 18/10


SAS/HC 207; NOR 18/7-9


SAS/HC 208; NOR 18/11


SAS/HC 209; NOR 15/98-102


SAS/HC 210; NOR 15/59


SAS/HC 211; NOR 15/60, 61, 67, 69; 18/12-14


SAS/HC 212; NOR 18/1


SAS/HC 213; NOR 8/1


SAS/HC 214; NOR 7/2


SAS/HC 215; NOR 7/3


SAS/HC 216; NOR 7/4


SAS/HC 217; NOR 7/1


SAS/HC 218; NOR 16/3


SAS/HC 219; NOR 16/4


SAS/HC 220; NOR 16/5


SAS/HC 221; NOR 18/2


SAS/HC 223; NOR 17/5, 6


SAS/HC 224; NOR 15/94


SAS/HC 225; NOR 13/10, 48, 49


SAS/HC 226; NOR 1/1-9


SAS/HC 227; NOR 17/2, 3


SAS/HC 228; NOR 16/2, 6


SAS/HC 229; NOR 15/78, 86-89


SAS/HC 230; NOR 15/79-87, 93, 96


SAS/HC 231; NOR 15/95


SAS/HC 232; NOR 15/42


SAS/HC 233; NOR 13/79


SAS/HC 234; NOR 12/3


SAS/HC 235; NOR 13/70


SAS/HC 236; NOR 1/10


SAS/HC 237; NOR 12/4


SAS/HC 238; NOR 12/5


SAS/HC 239; NOR 4/1, 2


SAS/HC 240; NOR 5/1, 2


SAS/HC 241; NOR 5/5-7


SAS/HC 242; NOR 12/6


SAS/HC 243; NOR 12/8


SAS/HC 244; NOR 12/9


SAS/HC 245; NOR 15/127


SAS/HC 246; NOR 15/57


SAS/HC 247; NOR 2/1


SAS/HC 248; NOR 7/5


SAS/HC 249; NOR 2/2


SAS/HC 250; NOR 17/1


SAS/HC 251-253; NOR 10/1-3


SAS/HC 254; NOR 10/6


SAS/HC 255; NOR 10/4


SAS/HC 256; NOR 10/5


SAS/HC 257; NOR 10/7


SAS/HC 258; NOR 10/8


SAS/HC 259; NOR 3/1


SAS/HC 260; NOR 10/9


SAS/HC 261; NOR 10/10


SAS/HC 262; NOR 10/12


SAS/HC 263; NOR 10/11


SAS/HC 264; NOR 10/13


SAS/HC 265; NOR 10/14


SAS/HC 266; NOR 10/15


SAS/HC 267; NOR 10/16


SAS/HC 268; NOR 11/1


SAS/HC 269; NOR 11/2


SAS/HC 270; NOR 12/7


SAS/HC 271; NOR 10/18

  • Rye, East Sussex
Administrative / biographical background:

The Norton family


Anthony Norton first appears in Rye in 1615 when he married Helen Appleton; in 1617 he took a lease of St Mary Marshes from the corporation. The family seems to have originated at East Farleigh near Maidstone in Kent, where Anthony's brother Stephen lived. By 1646 Anthony owned the site of the former Austin Friars inside the Landgate, and he and his descendants continued to acquire property in that area. He seems to have been a vociferous member of the royalist minority in Rye, and in 1654 was heard to say that 'they be none but rogues that fight against the king'.(PAR 465/1/1/2; RYE 128/1; DAP box 108; RYE 47/151; his appointments are usefully summarised in L A Vidler, A New History of Rye (Hove, 1934), 78-79.)


Anthony managed Stephen Norton's property in Iden and Rye and, on his death in 1652, took possession of it. Anthony died in 1659, and his widow Jane Norton released her rights in his estate to her stepson Richard Norton in return for £300, a £40 annuity and exemption from taxes, liability for seawalls and repairs. In January and February of 1662 Richard Norton consulted Samuel Jeake the elder in a dispute concerning his father's estate, and Jeake was again involved in September 1663 when a commission sat at Appledore to examine witnesses concerning his stepmother's estate. The cause came on in the Prerogative Court in May 1664, when Norton begged Jeake to come to the Cross Keys Inn in Holborn 'to prevent my ruin'.(Norton v Amherst in chancery, 1653 (PRO C9/13/106); FRE 4239, 4267-69, 4273-75, 4288, 4325-26 and 4353 are all letters to Jeake the elder from Richard Norton of from others concerning his affairs.)


By April 1662 Richard Norton was the king's gunner at Rye; he had presumably been appointed at the restoration. A petition from the mayor and jurats to the Duke of York requesting gunpowder from the Tower of London was sent to Sir John Robinson, lieutenant of the Tower. The covering letter names Norton as the bearer, and his report to Samuel Jeake as town clerk survives.


In February 1665 an action was brought in chancery against Richard Norton by Daniel Norton of Bermondsey, who had inherited Stephen Norton's estate by marrying Elizabeth Amhurst - Stephen had left his whole estate in trust to 'whichever daughter of Nicholas Amhurst as should marry with a Norton'. The case must have been compromised as in 1665 Richard Norton made over the property at Iden to Ralph Norton of Bermondsey, citizen and leatherseller of London, who immediately transferred it to his son Daniel Norton; it seems probable that Anthony's own estate was similarly transferred, since nothing more is heard of Richard Norton.(Norton v Norton in chancery, 1665 (PRO C8/244/31); DAP/box 108; Sussex Archaeological Society, Iden Tenement Analysis, P27/27.)


The relationship of Ralph and Daniel Norton to the Nortons of East Farleigh and Rye is not clear. Although there is no evidence for Richard Norton's assertion, in his chancery answer in 1665, that Daniel had changed his name from Horton in order to obtain the estate, Daniel's two uncles were described as of Chilswell and Wallingford in Berkshire in 1662, and no connection with the Kent family has been found. The possibility cannot be discounted that they took advantage of a coincidence of surname to make an opportunistic marriage and acquire the property.(PRO C8/244/31; PRO, PROB 11/308, f53; Lambeth Palace, Court of Arches register A4, f122.)


Daniel Norton, a glue-merchant of Bermondsey, consolidated the holding by purchase and died in 1696; his son Ralph Norton, then of East Farleigh, was living at Hill House in Crowhurst, the property of his Alchorne relatives, by 1703, but returned to Rye in 1711. He was elected a freeman in 1712, and in 1716 was chosen as mayor.(For a letter from Daniel Norton to Samuel Jeake the elder concerning his litigation with Mr Tufton in Nov 1671, see FRE 4584 and 4555; his will is PRO PROB 11/430 f36; DAP box 108; ROHAS tenement analysis, P12/9; Vidler, 91.)


Norton's mayoralty proved to be the last occasion for many years on which the office was not held by a member of the Grebell and Lamb families or their nominees. Although he continued to attend the assembly as a jurat, Ralph Norton was clearly at odds with the all-powerful Lambs and their adherents, and was excluded from further political influence.


The attempts of the town's controlling faction to harry the Norton family were set out at length by Ralph Norton's daughter in a letter to her sister in 1753. He died in 1750 at the age of 84, leaving his daughters Elizabeth and Catherine as his heirs, but was still pursued by his opponents. His daughters exhumed their mother's body from the chancel of Rye church after the rector had demanded a fee of ten guineas to allow her husband's burial in the same grave. A case in the ecclesiastical court was eventually compromised.(NOR 13/60; NOR 4/1, 2; for slightly acrimonious correspondence with Barbara Howard, possibly a former companion. 1744 and 1748. see FRE 5408 5410; the latter letter mentions a trip to Rottingdean.)


The Owens family


Catherine Norton married Thomas Owens of the Inner Temple, a barrister with offices in Red Lion Square, as his second wife on 30 December 1751; the marriage took place at Playden (although it was entered in the Rye register), perhaps on account of the family's continuing dispute with the vicar of Rye and the Lamb family. Thomas was probably a member of the Owens family of Camarthenshire, although the details of his relationship to known members of the family, which included many lawyers, remains obscure. Morgan Owens of Holborn, the son of Henry Ownes of Glasallt in Myddfai, Carmarthenshire, was admitted to the Middle Temple on 24 Jun 1698, called in 1704 and admitted to Grays Inn on 25 Jan 1722. He became a bencher in 1728 and served as treasurer in 1744.(PAR 445 1/1/2; PAR 467 1/1/5; Register of Admissions to the ... Middle Temple (HAC Sturges, ed), 244; Register of Admissions to Gray's Inn, 1521-1889 (J Foster, ed), 365; The Pension Book of Grays Inn 2 (RJ Fletcher ed), 205, 246, 252.)


Morgan's career at Grays Inn was followed by his son Charles Owens, who was admitted in 1748, matriculated at Jesus College, Oxford, in 1753, called in 1756, became a bencher in 1770 and served as treasurer in 1772. Thomas Owens was admitted to the Inner Temple from Lyon's Inn, an inn of chancery, in the year of his marriage, on the same day as Samuel Jeake, almost certainly of Rye. Thomas Owens was called to the bar in June 1754, and in 1763 was nominated as reader by Clifford's Inn. The notice of his death in The Gentleman's Magazine refers to him as 'of the King's Bench', and he was almost certainly the secondary of that name referred to in the Annual Register.(Alumni Oxonienses (J Foster, ed), 1049; A Calendar of the Inner Temple Records 5 (RA Roberts ed), 9; Gentleman's Magazine 1769, 271; ex inf Prof J H Baker.)


Catherine Norton's sister Elizabeth married Captain George Weller of Rye in 1752. A deed settling their interests in 1761 was drafted by Charles Owens, in practise at Tokes Court.(DAP box 108.)


Thomas and Catherine Owens rebuilt Tower House, the Norton mansion inside the Landgate in Rye; he served as a county magistrate and was chosen as mayor of Rye in 1766. A few of his personal and business papers survive, the most interesting of which concern his share in a ship the Catherine of Hastings, lost in 1762, whose master Charles Hayes was chosen as mayor's freeman in 1766. An insight into his character can be gained by a copy of his letter concerning a dispute with the Frewen family over the seizure of heriots in 1767: 'I could not stifle my resentment ... I am apt to be too warm where so apparently ill used and did indeed swear if it would cost me £500 I would file a bill in the exchequer against your uncle'. By a codicil to his will he left the manor of Mote and his residuary estate to Catherine and Broomham to her sister Elizabeth Weller. He died aged 62 on 12 May 1769 and was buried at Bath Abbey on 16 May. The will, which includes a bequest of a house in Reigate to the attorney-general Charles Yorke, and chambers in Lyons Inn, was proved in PCC on 27 May 1769. Thomas habitually signed his name Owen, although most other documents in which he is mentioned use the form Owens, which was consistently used by his wife.(DAP box 108; OJO 1; RYE 1/18 f110; NOR 5; NOR 15/124; a copy is in DAP box 108; Harleian Society)


Thomas Owens had ended his will 'I hope so valuable a woman will not entrust her happiness in the hands of a second husband'. Catherine was true to his word, and lived as a window for almost 30 years; her will was proved in PCC on 16 February 1797. She left her estate to John Bradbury, a clerk in the Secretary of State's office, who took the name Norton. The Norton documents in DAP box 108 include the PCC probate of the will of John Bradbury of St Saviour's Southwark, apothecary, 13 Jun 1749, and a commission of Thomas Bradbury as a 2nd lieutenant in the 43rd Marines in 1790, but neither document clarifies John Bradbury's relationship to Thomas Owens or Catherine Norton, although John Bradbury's will is witnessed by a John Norton; L A Vidler, who was in touch with a Canon C H Norton of Bristol, states that he was a descendant of Ralph Norton's sister. Bradbury resettled his estate in 1805. An extensive correspondence between him and his solicitors survives (DAP box 108), from which it is clear that he lived consistently beyond his means, and relied for his income on the disposal of farms from his estate and the sale of land for building. The manors of Iden and The Mote were sold to Thomas Pix in 1820 and the mansion in Rye to the tenant George Thompson in 1821.(A copy is in DAP box 108.)

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