Liston Miscellany

Foxearth & District Local History Society

A collection of historical documents about Liston

Liston and the Peasants' revolt

On the day that the Kent insurgents were encamped at Blackheath and the Essex men were at Mile End a previous vicar of Ringsfield, near Beccles in Suffolk, gave the signal for the revolt in East Anglia.

John Wrawe was the former priest and he put in his first appearance at Liston near Long Melford with a band of of rebels drawn mostly from Essex. Liston is only three miles from from Wrawe's native town of Sudbury and it was to Sudbury that messages were dispatched with a proclamation that Wrawe was come"to right the grievances of all men". All that is known of Wrawe is that he was discontented, ambitious and poor. He showed by his acts in the following days that he was also cruel, greedy and a coward. He filled his own pockets during his short period of command but when it was all over and he was captured he turned King's evidence and provided information which was to hang many of his own lieutenants in the uprising.

Suffolk and Norfolk in the fourteenth century were the most thickly populated counties in England and Norfolk was the most wealthy of all counties, though Suffolk was rather poorer. The chief towns, Norwich, King's Lynn, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Yarmouth were large commercial centres and many of the smaller villages had a high proportion of artisans. As far as economic conditions were concerned, this part of East Anglia was probably better of than other parts of the realm. But this was a mixed area, towns like Yarmouth and Norwich had charters and a great deal of independence, others such as Bury St. Edmunds were still in the grip of the church and with little municipal independance. Norfolk in the poll tax returns of 1377 showed 97, 817 inhabitants which made it top of all the counties in England except Yorkshire. Suffolk came fourth in the list, next to Lincolnshire. It was the same in the villages-some existed where the preponderance of freemen had never disappeared since Norman times but there were many others where every due and service of the manorial system were rigidly imposed. The letting of farms, however, was more common in Norfolk than in any other counties because the land owners were finding it more and more difficult to work them profitably by the labour of the villeins.

Leaders in the East Anglian rising were drawn from many ranks in life. In Kent and Essex most of them (with the prominent exeception of John Ball) were artisans and peasants but in East Anglia a large number of priests and men from the governing classes took command.

Certainly it is clear that they were not forced to take part in the the risings and as it would seem unlikely that they had a genuine interest in the lower classes it is more probable that they took advantage of the unrest to pay of some old grudges and do a little plundering. It was certainly not just a rising of the poor against the rich.

First move of John Wrawe was to march to the Manor House of Liston, wreck it and burn all the records. This was not a haphazard choice, for the Manor belonged to Richard Lyons, wine merchant, financier and lender of money to the royal family. Lyons was not liked by the East Anglians as he sat in Parliament for Essex during 1379-80 he had achieved little for his constituents. And before that, in 1376, he had been impeached by Parliament for fraud and for other misdemeamours and his goods and land taken away from him-to be given back to him a little later through, it is thought, the help of Alice Perrers.

On the following day, Corpus Christi, Wrawe led his men (which now included a squire, Thomas Monchensy of Edwardstone and three priests from Sudbury) to the village of Cavendish beside the Stour about six miles north east of Sudbury.

Here they were met by a dyer, Ralph Somerton, who had the keys to the church and proceeded to take the rebels to the belfry where they were informed (correctly) that goods belonging to Sir John Cavendish, former Chief Justice to the King and Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, were hidden. Sir John was disliked because he was a man who earned part of his living by enforcing the Statute of Labourers. (1352) (The main aim of this Statute was to enable an employer to obtain labour as cheaply as possible - rates were not to be more than those which had prevailed before 1348). From the belfry they took a silver candlestick, a velvet jacket and other valuables articles which Wrawe proceeded to divide up among his followers. There was no sign of Sir John himself and no damage was done to the church.

Melford green was the next stop and where Wrawe's men dined and rested at a tavern before attempting the seventeen miles to Bury St Edmunds.

Bury was the largest town in Suffolk, though not its county town, which was Ipswich. It was ruled by the monastery having failed so far to secure municipal rights and liberties. It had not failed for want of trying, for the townsfolk had risen against the clergy domination on four or five seperate occasions during the previous sixty years.

In 1327 they achieved a charter from Abbot Richard de Draughton, but as soon as he returned to London he repudiated it, causing more riots to break out in May. On 18th of October the monks made an armed attack on the townsfolk while at worship in their parish church, presumably St. Mary's. In retaliation the monastery was almost destroyed.

The sheriff of Norfolk descended on the town and proceeded to hang or outlaw most of the leaders of the revolt as well as sending thirty cart loads of prisoners to Norwich for trial. He also imposed a fine of 14, 000 on the burgesses. However some of the remaining outlaws managed to kidnap the Abbot and take him to Brabant in Flanders and held him as a hostage against a remission of this very heavy fine.

Essex Archives-Society New Series. Vol. XX1 pp. 257-8

Will of William Smyth

28 Nov. 1503. (PCC Blamyr 31).

To be buried in Liston. To the high altar 6s. 8d. ; money to three parishes of Sudbury; to "Freres" of Sudbury 4os. and one of the priests to sing a trentall of Masses. Other monetory bequests for people to sing for his soul. Also

"I will that all such money as hath been paid for the workmanship of the Tabernakill of our Lady at Liston and shall be for the kerving and gildyng, myn executors shall pay theym and content for everything therto belonging. To the makyng of the batilment of the stepull ther 3. 6s. 8d.

His wife to have his house

"fast by Allhalowen Church in Sudbury called Reynolds".

His son John to have a tenement in Sudbury called John Clarows. The tenement called Gromes in Liston to his son William and all lands etc. except the tenement by the church gate late John Wellys on condition that he bestows yearly"whiles the world endureth" 12d. in bread, cheese and ale among people in the Rogation procession at Guggys Green.

A cross to be made and set up on the said Green by his executors- 20s.

Proved 4th January 1503/4.

Whites Directory 1848- Liston.

A small parish on the southern side of the Stour opposite Long Melford and three miles from Sudbury. There are only three hundred inhabitants and six hundred and thirty acres of land which belongs to various free holders. Sir Hyde Parker Bart. is Lord of Manor. Liston Hall is a fine red brick Mansion in a beautiful park belongs to Richard Lambert Esq. , but is at present occupied only by servants. It was built about fifty years ago by the Hon. William Campbell, brother of the Duke of Argyl. Lyston, Leyston and Lisson. Ton, the latter part of the name, is a comtraction of town;but from whence the former part is derived, we can not easily find out, unless it is from the Saxon word hrc, a border.

Some freemen were possessed of this place in Edward the Confessor's reign;but at the time of the general survey, it belonged to Hugh de Gurnai, IIbodo, and Roger Bigot, Gefferey Talibot was Gurnaoi's under tenant.

In this Parish are three maners, or reputed maners.
1. Liston Overhall
2 Liston Netherhall; so named from their higher and lower situation.
3. Liston Weston.
The two former are supposed to have belonged to Hugh de Gurnai and IIbodo, and the latter to Roger Bigot.
I cannot well treat distinctly of these several maners, because they became soon united in the family of Liston, uder the title of the maner of Liston in general, and have continued ever since in one hand;but I shall take proper notice when they appear under different owners.

Liston Hall. --Stands near the church, Hugh de Gurnai or Gornny the ancient owner of it was a military man; had assisted William before the conquest in a battle against Henry 1. King of France and attended him in his expedition here. At length he became a monk in the Abbey of Bec in Normandy, to which he had been a benefactor; and dying there, left by Basilia his wife, daughter of Girald Fleitell, two sons; Girald and Hugh, the eldest was likewise a military man; but he, his wife Editha, sister of William Earl of Warenn, accompanying Robert Curthose to the Holy Land, he died there. Hugh, his son and successor had care taken of his education by King Henry 1, as it had been his own son and trained up by him in military exercises;but he proved rebellious and ungrateful to his benefactor. He married Maud, sister of Ralph de Peronne, Count of Vermandios;and dying in 1285, left Hugh his son and heir, who attended King Richard 1. at the siege of Acon in the Holy Land;and, when taken, was made Governor of the part which belonged to the King of England. In the year 1331, John de Liston, holding this whole parish as the manor of Liston, had with it the advowson of the rectory;but some time about the 1370, it was attached to the manor of Nether Hall, in which it has remained to the present time.

The parish of Liston, in 1821, contained seventy three, and in 1831, eighty eight inhabitants.

Kelly's Directory 1897

Liston is situated on the river Stour

--------------The church, (dedication unknown)is a small and ancient edifice of stone, in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, nave, a mortuary chapel erected by Col. Frederick Palmer, south porch and embattled western tower containing two bells;there are 120 sittings. The register dates from from the year 1599, the living is a rectory, net yearly value 147, including 18 acres of glebe, with residence, in the gift of John Campbell Lambert esq. and held since 1893 by the Rev. Steward Travers Fisher M. A. of St. Mary Hall, Oxford.

Liston Hall is a modern mansion of brick, seated on an eminence in a well wooded park, is the residence of the Misses Palmer.

John Campbell Lambert of Foxearth Hall, is Lord of the Manor and principal land owner.

The soil is clay and gravelly;subsoil gravel. The area is 617 acres of land and 10 of water. Rateable value, 798. 13s. ;the population in 1891 was 129.

Letters through Long Melford arrive at 7 and 11 a. m. and are delivered by foot post.
The children of this parish attend the Board school at Borley.
Rev. Fisher, Rectory.
Misses Palmer, Liston Hall
George Matthew Gostling, Hatsbuckle Farm, (manager of English Fibre Industries flax factory.