The Foxearth and District Local History Society
White's Description of Sudbury 1841

William White


Sudbury is an ancient borough and well-built market town, pleasantly situated on the east bank of the navigable river Stour, which separates it from Essex, and sweeps in a semicircular reach, round the western skirts of the town, and is crossed by a good bridge. It is the capital of the Archdeaconry, Deanery, and Union, to which it gives name, and is distant 56 miles N.E. of London; 17 miles S. of Bury St. Edmund’s; 22 miles W. by S. of Ipswich miles W. of Hadleigh; and 7 miles E.S.E. of Clare. Its population amounted, in 1801, to 3283 ; in 1811, to 3471; in 1821, to 3950 ; in 1831, to 4677 ; andin l841, to 5085 souls, living in 1051 houses, besides which here were 56 dwellings unoccupied and 9 building, when the census was taken in the latter year. Its parishes of All Saints, St. Gregory, and St. Peter, comprise about 1250 acres of land, (see page 537,) and were incorporated for the maintenance of their poor, as one township, by an act of Queen Anne, under the management of a number “governors and guardians,” constituted a body corporate, of which the mayor and aldermen are members; but Sudbury now forms one of the members of a large Union under the new poor law, as noticed at page 537. Besides the three united parishes, the old borough comprises an extra-parochial house and 204 acres of land, on the north side of the town, called St. Bartholomew, being the site of a priory, and now the property of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. By the Parliamentary and Municipal Reform Acts of 1832 and 1835, the Borough of Sudbury has been extended to the township or parochial chapelry of Ballingdon-cum-Brundon, which lies on the opposite side of the Stour, in Hinckford Hundred, Essex, and comprises 730 acres, and 843 inhabitants. Sudbury gives the title of baron to the Duke of Grafton, by creation in 1675. (Vide page 687.) It first sent two members to parliament in 1559, and its government, previous to 1835, was vested in a mayor, recorder, six aldermen, a bailiff, town clerk, 24 common councilmen, and two serjeants-at mace. Under the new municipal act, the borough is included in schedule A. amongst boroughs, to have a commission of the peace and a court of quarter sessions; and in section I. of that schedule, amongst those the parliamentary boundaries of which are to be taken until altered by parliament. Under the same act, the Town Council now consists of a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors. It is not divided into wards. The income of the corporation, in 1840, arising from rents, tolls, and dues, was £146. 2s. 6d., and the expenditure £315,19s. 10d., of which the principal items were, salaries £96, rents, taxes, &c., £87; public works, £33'; and police and constables, £23. 13s. Prior to the passing of the Reform Act of 1832, the elective franchise was enjoyed only by the freemen, of whom there were upwards of 700, but many of them being resident in distant places are now disfranchised. The number of voters, registered in 1841, was 603, consisting of 133 occupiers of houses of the yearly value of £10 or upwards, and 470 freemen. Some of the latter are also respectable householders, but the poorer part of them are sufficiently numerous to swamp the remainder in a contested election. Inconsequence of corrupt practices at the last general election in 1841, the two members then elected were unseated, and proceedings have since been in progress in parliament for the disfranchisement of the borough, for which purpose, a bill passed the House of Commons in May, 1843, but on being brought before the Lords on the 19th of that month, it was moved and carried that it should be read “that day six months.” After this, a motion was made in the Commons for the issuing of a new writ, but it was lost by a majority of 113, “for leave to bring in a bill for effectually enquiring into the bribery and corruption alleged to exist at Sudbury.” This inquiry is still in progress, (Dec., 1843,) and Sudbury is, in the meantime, virtually disfranchised, but has some hopes of recovering its former privilege, as its corruption has not been greater than that of Stafford and some other boroughs, which have been allowed to retain the franchise, after the grossest cases of bribery had been proved against them. The Town Hall and Borough Gaol form a neat and commodious range of buildings, on Market hill, erected about sixteen years ago. In the former, the quarter and petty sessions, assemblies, and public meetings, are held. The old Town Hall was taken down in 1843. The Borough Magistrates are Col. Addison, Alex. Duff, Branwhite Oliver, Wm. Bestoe Smith, and John James, Esqrs. The Town Council and Officers are Thos. Jones, Esq., mayor ; Jas. Manning, Esq., recorder ; G. W. Andrews, Thos. Goldsmith, Thos. Fox, and John Purr, Esqrs., aldermen; Messrs. W. Hill, T. Meeking, A. S. Syer, H. T. Jones, W. C. Adams, T. Jones, J. Jones, W. B. Smith, G. Lambert, W. Mus- grave, R.G. Tovell, and J. Parsson, councillors ; Messrs. Wm. Spooner and J. Bridgman, assessors; Edm. Stedman, Esq., town clerk and clerk to the magistrates; Wm. Dowman, Esq., clerk of the peace and coroner; Messrs. B. Pratt and W. Warner, auditors ; W. R. Bevan, Esq., treasurer; S. Scott and G. Herbert, serjeants-at-mace; Mr. Jas. Parsson, sen., chief constable and bailiff; Jas. French and Thos. Albury, rangers of the commons and conservators of the river; Peter Richards Cross, gaoler ; Wm. Strutt, crier ; and Mr. Geo. Williams Fulcher, inspector of corn returns. On Dec. 3rd, 1836, fifteen Charity Trustees were appointed to manage the numerous charities vested with the corporation.

Sudbury was incorporated at an early period, and was anciently denominated South-burgh, in contradistinction to Norwich, then called North-burgh. It was one of the first places at which Edward III. settled the Flemings, whom he invited to this country, to instruct his subjects to manufacture their own wool. Various branches of the woollen manufacture continued to flourish here for some centuries, and afforded subsistence to a great number of the inhabitants, but they declined many years ago, except that of bunting, for ships’ flags, of which here are still four manufacturers. Here are also four large establishments employing a considerable number of hands in the manufacture of silk, velvet, satin, &c. This trade was introduced here in the early part of the present century, by the London mercers, on account of dearness of labour in Spitalfields. In 1838, there were about 600 silk looms in the town and neighbourhood, but half of them were Out of employment, in consequence of the general depression in that year. The Stour was made navigable to Sudbury in 1706, by a body of commissioners, who levy tolls for the support and improvement of the navigation. Here is a commodious quay, where a number of barges are employed in the transit of corn, malt, coals, &c. The Town has two highly respectable banking houses, several corn mills, and a number of malt kilns. It is neat, clean, and well-built, and is lighted, paved, and watched, under the powers of a local act, obtained a few years ago for its improvement. The Gas-works were erected in 1836, at the cost of £5000, raised in £20 shares. The Market, formerly held on Saturday, is now held on Thursday, and is an extensive mart for corn, sold by sample. The Corn Exchange, on the Market hill, is an elegant and convenient building, which was erected in 1840, for £1620, but the builder is said to have lost several hundred pounds by the contract. Three fairs are held here on March 12th, July 10 th, and Sept. 4th.

The three Parish Churches of Sudbury are spacious and handsome structures. All Saints’ has a tower and six bells, and is a vicarage, valued in K.B. at £4.11s. 5|d., and in 1835, at £123. J. Sperling, Esq., is patron and impropriator, and the Rev. T. W. Fowke incumbent. The trustees of the late Rev. C. Simeon have purchased the next presentation. All Saints' Parish had 1262 inhabitants in 1841, exclusive of the chapelry and township of Ballingdon-cum- Brundon, which was formerly a separate parish, and lies on the opposite side of the Stour, in Essex, as noticed at page 571. The church, which stood at Brundon, went to decay many years ago, and the sinecure rectory is in the impropriation of Admiral Wyndham, who allows the vicar of All Saints’ a yearly stipend of £13. 6s. 8d., in consideration of which, the inhabitants here have the use of that church. St. Gregory’s and St. Peter’s, the former having eight, and the latter six bells, are united perpetual curacies, valued, in 1835, at £160, and now enjoyed by the Rev. Henry Watts Wilkinson. Sir Lachlan Maclean, Kt., is patron, and has a considerable estate in the two parishes. He has long been a distinguished physician here, and was knighted in 1812. Here are two Independent Chapels, one built in 1830, and the other erected in 1822, in lieu of the old Presbyterian Meeting-house, which was built about 1710, by a congregation formed in 16G2. The latter has an endowment for the minister and the support of a school. Here is also an old Friends' Meeting-house, and a Baptist Chapel, erected in 1834.

Simon De Sudbury, who was Archbishop of Canterbury in 1375, was a native of this town, and was beheaded by the populace in Wat Tyler’s insurrection. His family name was Theobald. lie built one end of St. Gregory’s church, and on the spot where his father's house stood, he founded and endowed a College for six secular priests, dedicated to St. Gregory, and valued at the dissolution at £122 per annum. The same prelate, in conjunction with John de Chertsey, is said by Leland to have founded an Augustine Priory here, but Weever ascribes it to Baldwin de Shimpling and Mabel, his wife, who were both interred in the priory church. This priory was valued, at the dissolution, at £222.18s. 3d. per annum. The last remains of it were pulled down in 1821. In the reign of King John, Amicia, Countess of Clare, founded an Hospital here, dedicated to Christ and the Virgin Mary; and here was a Lepers' Hospital, dedicated to St. Leonard. A chapel, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, was built near the former hospital, by Wulfric, master of the mint to King Henry II., and given to the abbot and convent of Westminster, who founded near it a subordinate priory of Benedictine monks. This priory was pulled down in 1779» and its site belongs to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, as noticed at page 571. Thos. Gainsborough, one of the most eminent English painters of the 18th century, was born here in 1727, and at a very early age, manifested a remarkable propensity for the art in which he was destined so highly to excel. He fixed his residence in London in 1774, after residing some years at Ipswich and Bath, and was soon afterwards patronized by George III., of whom, as well as of many other members of the royal family, he painted excellent portraits. He died in 1788, and was buried at Kew. His brother, a dissenting minister at Henley- upon-Thames, possessed as strong a genius for mechanics as he had for painting, and one of his sun-dials, of ingenious contrivance, is now in the British Museum. Wm. Enfield, L.L.D., an eminent Unitarian minister, was born at Sudbury in 1741. He was for some years tutor and lecturer at Warrington Academy, and compiled many useful books, one of which is the “Speaker,” composed of pieces for recitation, from the best English authors. He published in quarto, “Institutes of Natural Philosophy,” and undertook the arduous task of abridging Buckler's History of Philosophy, which appeared in 1791, in two volumes quarto. He died in 1797, at Norwich, where he had been twelve years minister of the Octagon chapel, in that city. The numerous list of subscribers to his posthumous Sermons, in 3 vols. 8vo., attest the general estimation in which his writings were held. Sudbury has a Dispensary, and other institutions, supported by subscription; several school endowments, and many Charitable Bequests, for the relief of the poor.

GRAMMAR School.—In. 1491, Wm. Wood, master or warden of tie College of Sudbury, bequeathed a messuage and croft, and the enclosures adjacent, in the lane leading from the house of the Friars Preachers to the church of St. Gregory, to sixteen feoffees, in trust that the warden of the said college, and his successors, should hire and place in the said messuage a good and honest man to teach grammar, and daily teach boys and others resorting to him for instruction. On the dissolution of the religious houses, the possessions of Sudbury College became vested in the Crown, and Henry VIII., by letters patent, in the 36th year of his reign, in consideration of £1280, granted to Sir Thos. Paxton, Kt., and his heirs and assigns, the house and possessions of the said college, and the rectories of St. Gregory and St. Peter. Since the date of these letters patent, the successive appropriators of the said rectories have appointed the master of the Grammar School who has usually been perpetual curate of the parish of St. Gregory. The school property derived under William Wood’s will, consists of a dwelling-house, school, garden, and 1|a. of pasture ground. In addition to this property, the . late Rev. W. Finley, who died in 1817, and his predecessors, the masters of the school as far as can be traced, received the rents of a farm of 95 acres, at Maple- stead, in Essex, now worth £90 a year; but some doubt as to the actual right of the masters of the school to this farm, has been raised since that period, in consequence of there being no means of discovering how such right originated; and also because the farm is not specifically described in the conveyance deeds of the rectory, etc., as part of the school property, though it is enumerated in the parcels of property, etc., immediately after that clause which gives the right 01 appointing the master of the free school to the impropriate rector. Sir Lachlan Maclean, M.D.)., the present lay rector, and consequently patron of the school, did not appoint a master to the school, after the death of Air. Finley, in 1817, till 1827, When he nominated his son, then a minor, and at college. Since 1817, Sir L. Maclean has retained the rents of the farm at Maplestead, but has expended about £700 in rebuilding the master's house, and enclosing the school-ground, and has allowed the premises to be occupied at a small rent, by a person whom he required to teach six free scholars. The Commissioners, after enquiring into the state of this school, in 1828, recommended the aid and directions of a Court of Equity for establishing or determining "its right to the farm at Maplestead, which is still the subject of a suit in Chancery.

National and Charity Schools, in North Street. —In 1724, Susan Girling devised to five trustees her messuages, lands, and hereditaments, in Hitcham and Wattisham, and her share in a real estate at Preston, on trust, to apply the rents and profits in teaching and instructing poor children of Sudbury, such as the trustees should think fit. The property described as being at Hitcham and Wattisham consists of a house, barn, and 10a. 3r. 29p. of land, in the parishes of Hitcham and Brettenham, and is now worth about 201. a year. The real estate at Preston was given up for land at Pentlow, in Essex, let for '7l.. a- year. In 1747, a subscription was entered into for building a school, and extending Mrs. Girling’s charity; and the money raised was laid out in the purchase of premises in North street, which are vested in trust with the perpetual curate of St. Peter's; as to part thereof, for the use of a master and mistress, to be appointed by Girling’s trustees, for teaching poor boys and girls; and the other parts to be let, and the rents applied for placing out two or three boys, from the school, apprentices to trades in any place except Sudbury. The premises have been partly rebuilt, and comprise a house tot the master, and a large school-room and garden; a house for the mistress, and a school-room for girls; and three tenements, with a quarter of an acre of land, let for 137. a-year. In 1775, the Ren. Wm. Maleham left 50l. to these schools, and it was laid out in the purchase of 607. Is. 2d. three per cent, consols. Both schools are now conducted on the national system, and they are attended by about. 150 hoys and 50 girls. Here is also an Infant School, supported by subscription.

Charity Schools, &c., in All Saints. .—In 1722, John Fenn left a house in All Saints, and two acres of land in Friar’s Meadow, in trust, to apply 4l 10s. yearly in schooling poor children of Sudbury, and to pay the residue of the rents to the minister of the Presbyterian Chapel, towards his maintenance. In 1738, Thos. Gainsborough left a sufficient sum of money to be laid out for paying 10l. a-year to the Presbyterian or Independent minister of Sudbury; 2l.10s. a year for supporting the charity school there; and 20s. a-year for the trustees. An estate was purchased at Westley field, near Bury St. Edmund’s, for the benefit of the minister, subject to the two last named annuities. The schoolmistress receives 8l. per annum from the two charities, tor which she teaches ten poor children to read. In 1719, John Littel conveyed to six trustees a house, stable, and garden, in Sepulchre street, in trust, to apply the rents in schooling three poor children of All Saints parish, and three of Ballingdon hamlet. The premises are let for 10l. a year, out of which the trustees pay 9l. to a schoolmaster, for teaching 12 poor children to read. In 1790, the Rev. Henry Crossman left the dividends of 390l. three per cent, stock towards the support of three Sunday Schools, at Sudbury, Little Cornard and Little Bromley ; 5s. to be expended yearly out of the share of each school, in the purchase of the testator’s Explanation of the Catechism. In 1712, John Jessup left a yearly rent-charge of 20s. out of the Bear public-house, to be distributed one year in Bibles and Common Prayer Books, and another year in the “Whole Duty of Man” among the poor of Sudbury, attending the church.

St. Leonard’s Hospital was founded by John Colneys, in the reign of Edward III.; and certain statutes were made for its regulation, in 1372, by the Bishop of Norwich, with the consent of the founder, whereby it was provided that it should consist of three infirm or leprous persons, —viz., a master and two fellows, —and that the mayor of Sudbury, and the spiritual father of the church of St. Gregory should be visitors. The estates of the hospital were vested in feoffees in the 24th of Henry TIB but no subsequent feoffment can be found. The hospital is situated near the town, on the road to Long Melford, and contains three separate dwellings, with a garden adjoining. The only endowment consists of nearly five acres of land, in two fields, near the hospital. For a long period before and after 1813, the vacancies in the hospital were not filled up, and the charity was grossly-abused. In 1822, there being only one person living in the hospital, (a man named Rayner,) and he being driven to apply for parochial relief, the governors and guardians of the poor of Sudbury (who are a body corporate, created by an act of the reign of Anne) prevailed on him and the tenant of the land to execute a deed of feoffment, conveying the hospital and land to them, and they have since let the hospital in tenements to poor persons, at low rents, which, with the rent of the land, they have applied with the poor rate. The income which they derive from the hospital and land is about 18l. per annum.

 Charities. In 1662, Richard Firman left 4a. of land at Windmill hill, to the mayor and aldermen, in trust, to divide the rents yearly as follows: one moiety among the poor of St. Peter’s, and the other among the poor of All Saints and St. Gregorys parishes. The land is let for 8/. per annum. In 1620, Martin Cole bequeathed out of Sbemford Mills, in Henny, and two meadows in Lamarsh, in Essex, a yearly rent-charge of 14/. to certain trustees, upon trust, to pay 10l for linen cloth, and 1l for making it into shirts and smocks, to be distributed, on the Monday after Ascension day, among the poor of the three parishes of Sudbury—one-half to those of St. Peter’s; 6s. 8d. each to the ministers of St. Peter’s and All Saints, for sermons; 6s. 8d. for the town clerk ; and 2l. to be spent in a love-feast, by the two ministers aud the corporation, in remembrance of the testator. In 1668, Nathaniel King bequeathed to the corporation the George Inn, in Sudbury, in trust, to pay yearly out of the rent thereof, 50s., to be distributed in 6d. loaves to the poor men and women receiving shirts and shifts from Cole’s charity ; 2s. to be spent in wine at. the love-feast; and the remainder of the rent to be laid out in coats of grey cloth, to be distributed by the churchwardens and overseers of St. Peter’s, among the poorest aged men of that parish.

The inn is now let for 32l. a year, op a 21years’ lease, which will expire in 1847- Thomas Carter, in 1796, charged his houses and lands, at Pebmarsh, Gestingthorpe, and Little Maplestead, in Essex with the yearly payment of 60/., to provide 50 coats and 50 cloaks for 50 poor men and 50 poor women of Sudbury, on St. Thomas’s day ; 10s. for a sermon at St. Gregory’s church ; and 20s. for a love-feast for the minister and trustees, on the day of distribution. The estate charged is now the property of Mr. Carter, of Lowestoft. In 1718, Roger Scarlin charged his house and land, at Boxford, with the yearly sum of 10/., to be distributed in stockings and shoes amoug the poor people receiving Carter’s charity. _ In 1724, Susan Girling devised to five trustees her tenements and gardens in Sudbury, and an acre of land in Friar’s meadow, upon trust to provide yearly 50 shirts and 50 shifts, of hempen cloth, for the poor people partaking of Carter’s charity; and to allow 10s. yearly for a dinner for the trustees, on the dav of distribution. The tenements having fallen into decay, were let with the land in 1819, on a 31 years’ lease, to R. P. Witts, at the yearly rent of 341., the lessee covenanting to expend 3501. on the premises, which has been done. The funds of this charity being more than adequate for its purposes, it has been recommended that the surplus (about 10/. a year)should be applied in aid of the charity given for education by the same donor, as already noticed. The recipients of Carter’s charity have also divided among them 4/. per annum, given by the corporation, perhaps in lieu of several “ lost charities." About 26s. per annum is distributed in each of the three parishes of Sudbury, among the poor, from Carder’s Charity, (See Glemsford.) In 1718, John Cradock bequeathed to the poor of the parishes of St. Gregory and St. Peter, the interest of 100/., which, * with some interest thereon, was laid out in the purchase of 200/. new four per cent, annuities. The dividends are distributed at Cbrirtmas, by the incumbent of St. Gregory’s and other trustees. A yearly rent-charge of 71. 16s., left by an unknown donor, out of Outfield near Boxford, is applied in a weekly distribution of Is. worth of bread in each of the three parishes. The following yearly rent- charges are distributed in doles of bread by the mayor and corporation, on Ascension days viz., 16s., left by Wni. in 1564, out of a house adjoining the Rose and Crown; 30s. left by Robert Paternoster, in 1591, out of a farm at Pentlow; 20s. left by Henry Pilgrome, in 1592, out of the site of a house adjoining the White Horse; and 20s. left by Thos. Jervis, in 1631, out of a timber yard, belonging to Mr. Hawkins. At the same time, 6s. 8d. in money is distributed in each parish from an annuity of twenty shillings charged by an unknown donor on five houses in St. Peter’s parish. Several charities, left to Sudbury by persons named Polley, Andrews, Crowe, and Newman, are lost; and nothing has been received for many years from the charity of John Hunwick, who, in 1593, gave 300/. to the corporation of Colchester, to the intent that they should pay certain annual sums for charitable purposes at Colchester, Malden, and Ipswich, and also 10/. once every five years to the Mayor of Sudbury, for the poor there.

Among the provident institutions of Sudbury are several Friendly Societies and a Savings Bank. The latter was established in 1822, and had deposits amounting, in 1842, to 20,979/., belonging to 611 individuals, 19 charitable societies, and 30 friendly societies. It is open every Tuesday, from eleven to one c’clock, and Mr. B. Pratt iudhe actuary. Here Is a Mechanics Institution, established in 1834, and now having a Museum, commenced in 1841.

Those marked

and the others in Sepulchre st., or where specified.




( + take Boarders.)



Bakers, &c.

 Basket Makers.

Beer Houses.


Booksellers, Printers, &c.

Boot & Shoe Mkrs.

Braziers & Tnrs



Cabinet Makers.

Chemists & Drgs.

Coal Merchants.



Com Dealers.

Corn Millers.


Fruiterers & Fishmongers.

Furniture Brks.







Linen & Woollen Drapers.


Milliners, &c.

Painters, Plumbers, & Glaziers.


Perfumers and Hair Dressers.

Saddlers, &c.




Stone Masons.

Straw Hat Mkrs.


Tailors & Drprs.

Turners in Wood.

Watch and Clock Makers.


Wine and Spirit Merchants.