Rectors appointed by Dr William Buttes and his son Thomas Buttes to St Andrew's


There is precious little information about any of the Rectors or "Clerk Parsons" perhaps with the exception of  Thomas Waterman (1576-1624), but it is at least fortunate that some of their wills have been preserved in the Probate records of the Norwich Diocese. These, together with documents located in the National Archives, British Library and the Norfolk Record Office help to bring substance to a fascinating but otherwise lifeless list of names inscribed on the Vestry screen in St Andrew's North Transept.




Roger Overy

Roger Overy was Great Ryburgh's first "Church of England Rector" who had been appointed by Thomas Buttes's father, Dr. Sir William Buttes, on his purchase of the Ryburgh Manor and advowson in 1543. Five years later, Overy's marriage to Margaret Walle on 15th October 1548 was one of the first entries in the new registers of 1547. The absence of Overy any further in the record of Ryburgh burials could mean that he either died and was buried elsewhere or he was perhaps unable to continue in post for unknown reasons on the accession of Mary Tudor to the throne and had to move on....... perhaps simply because he was now married? A search of the list of Cambridge University Alumni compiled by John Venn shows us that he entered as:
“Scholar of Gonville Hall in 1519; B.A. 1520-21; M.A. 1524 Fellow, till 1541. R[ector] of St Michael Coslany, Norwich, 1540-54, deprived. [the] R[ectory] of Gt Ryburgh Norfolk, 1543-54; C[urate] of St Andrew, Norwich,1556-9 R[ector] of Sloley, 1557-8”
The Norfolk Record Office holds a grant of administration issued to Roger Overy in 1558 that has yet to be consulted.

NCC administration act book 1558-1560, fo. 79

Overye, Roger, rector of Sloley, Norfolk


The National Archive holds the following Court of Chancery record that has also yet to be investigated:




William Stertweyte

buried at St Andrew's February 8th 1558/9



William Stertweyte,was the first appointment to the Great Ryburgh Rectory made by Thomas Buttes in 1554.

The will of William Stertweight, Incumbent from 1554-1559 is catalogued as NCC will register Veysye 122 in the Norfolk Record Office from whose microfilm this has been transcribed. With the exception of the small abreviation after his name at the head of the will and at the end, the contents give no clue whatsoever to the beliefs he held with regard to serving the Church through the reign of Catholic Queen Mary l. The will, which could otherwise have been made by any gentleman of the age, might lead one to speculate that he was unmarried, widowed or not particularly old when he died? He would seem to have held a great respect for Thomas Buttes who was possibly, as is said in modern parlance, "watching his back":  Buttes in 1558 on behalf of Queen Mary was required to make the following loan:

By the Queene..............So our pleasure is you shall cause the said some of Tenne
Poundes to be  furthered uppon the survynt  hereof payed unto our use to our trusty and well beloved
Richard Fulmerston Esquier whome we have appointed to recyve the some at your hand

under our pryvey seale at our Manor of St James


Thomas Buttes however, in his evidence for the suit in chancery with Thomas Waterman circa 1582, states the following:  that he has in his custody "certen acquitannces w[hi]ch warre deliv[er]ed him by the wife of one Wm Startwite sometime p[ar]son of greate Ryburgh whose executor he was"  We may now speculate that "Startwite" was widowed at somepoint between 1554 and 1558, although there is no burial record for his wife at St Andrew's during this period, or indeed before or after.

The other persons mentioned, possibly all family names, do not appear in the Church registers and his mother Agnes Bonnuey (a name I keep revisiting to check my transcription) possibly was of French or Low Counties origin. His brothers, William and Henry's surname was Halle or Halles and his sister is named only as Johan /Joan. A magazine article reproduced on the Mattishall village website concerning Wool Broggers shows a trading link with Ryburgh in 1558 as a wool producer to the worsted-weaving trade at this time and amongst the Mattishall "Brogger" families named are the Halls, so there may be a further connection there.

The other surnames are both Rightup,  Katherine and Thomas of Mattishall whether siblings or married is yet to be dicovered but there is an existing will of Thomas Rightup of Matteshall from 1566 that might shed more light?

William Stertweight willed that he be buried in the Chancel of St Andrew's. There is no obvious evidence that his burial took place in the Chancel or where it might have been,  since all floors have been excavated at times since and nothing, if ever recorded as to his placement, survives.

As any further information comes to light, it will be added to this page.


I William Stertweight


In the name of god so be yt  The xxixth
daye of December in the yere of our Lorde
god A thousande five hundreth fiftie and
                                          29th December 1558
eight And in the firste yere of the Reign
of our Sovrign lady Elizabeth by the grace
of god Quene of Englande France and
Irelande defender of the fayeth &c I
Will[ia]m Stertweight Clerke parson of
greate Riburgh being holle in mynde and
of p[er]fyct Remembrannce praysed be
god considering the state of the worlde
to be a pilgrymage and uncerteyn jerny
and th’ende though unknowne I therefore
make this my last will and testament
in Maner and f[o]rme Followinge First
I bequeathe my Soule to god by the
merightes of whose passyon and fayeth   
therin I trust to be saved and my bodie to
be buryed within the Channcell of great
Riburgh also I give and bequeathe unto
The poore Inhabytanntes dwellinge
within great Riburgh but only poore

howseholdes there xijd Item I will to be given
unto the poore people at the day of my
buryall xxs to refreshe them withall Item
I give unto my mother Agnes Bonnuey of
Magdalen briyges xxs Item I give unto my 
                                      Nr. Acle?
brothers Willm and Henry Halles  children
xxs Item I give unto my Sister Johan hir
children xxs Item I give unto Katherinye
Rightup xls Item I freelye give and
bequeathe unto my mother Agnes Bonnuey
of Magdalen Bryges aforesayed all suche
                                       Nr.  Acle?
my freeholde londes as I am entyteled unto
lyinge and beinge in Runton Holme Item I
give and bequeathe unto Katherinye Rightup
of Matteshalle aforesayed all my beddinge
my greate coffer and my best gowne Item
I give unto my brother Willm Halle my
short gowne Item I give unto Johan my Sister
my mantell furred gowne Item I give
unto my mother my frese furred gowne
Item I give unto Thomas Ryghtup of
Matteshalle my Mantell frese gowne &                                             "frese"
is a woolen cloth with frizzy nap
my frese Jackett The Resydewe of all 
my goodes not afore givnn or bequeathed I
frely give and bequeathe unto myn Execu-
ter whome I d’ordeyn and make myn espe-
cyall good Mr Thomas Buttes of great
Riburgh aforesayed Esquier unto whenne
be his paynes takinge therin I do give xxs
Item I give unto Elizabeth Lease iijs iiijd
and also I give unto Anne Sheringham
iijs iiijd Per me William Stertweight
Clericum Wytnessed herof Willm
Browne Stephen Cooper Magnus Heyward
Thomas Whitred Richarde Gardyner
Christofer Meers Robert Peers and

Other Persons

(chiefly local witnesses to the will)

identified from the St Andrew’s Registers:


William Stertweight:

buried 8 February  1558/9

Elizabeth Lease: 

23 May 1563 Elizabeth Leedes married Magnus Heyward


Willm Browne : 

buried  12 June 1560

Magnus Heyward: 

buried  5 July1567


Richarde Gardyner:

Johan Gardiner wife of Richard Gardiner  buried 26 May 1571: John Gardiner son of Richard Gardiner  buried  26 May 1571:
Baptised on 8 August 1574 Richard Egmer: Richard Gardiner his father and Alice [Egmer?]servant of Richard Gardiner his mother. Thereafter we have Grizell Gardiner daughter of Richard baptised 23 March 1577/8 :Robart son of Richard baptised 21 January1579/80: John  son of Richard and Alice baptised 23 September 1582: Augustine son of Richard and Alice baptised 19 March 1585/6


Christofer Meers: 

Elizabeth Tompson married Christofer Meers 21 July 1559: Winefrade Meeres daughter of Christofer Meers buried 19th Oct  1565 :Elizabeth Meeres wife of Christofer Meers buried  3 May 1567


Robert Peers:

Maut Manfeeld alias Peers wife of Robart buried 16 Jan 1577/8: Robart Manfeeld alias Peers buried 22 Dec 1579


Anne Sheringham: Not present

Stephen Cooper: Not present

Thomas Whitred: Not present






William Seton


William Seton was the second of Thomas Buttes’ appointments to the Ryburgh living and the first in the reign of the new Queen Elizabeth. It is very possible  that Seyton’s brother John, a significant beneficiary of his will, was none other than the chaplain to Archbishop Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor of England during the reign of Mary Tudor. In  Volume lV of Oxford Alumni published 1888-1892 we find the following entry for John Seton:





It was Stephen Gardiner who placed the Crown of England on Mary’s head at the coronation and sat in judgement on the  soon to be  Protestant Martyr, Bishop John Hooper. Whether or not this was a factor in the subsequent appointment of  Richard Harris by Queen Elizabeth I can not at this point ascertain, but if they were brothers, the appointment of William Seton was probably not the best way to ingratiate oneself with the new monarch. John Seton died in at the English College in Rome in July 1567.

William Seton was buried on October 4th 1566 at St Andrew's



The will of William Seton, Incumbent from 1559-1568 is catalogued as NCC will register Folklin 222 in the Norfolk Record Office from whose microfilm this has been transcribed. Not untypically punctuation is is virtually entirely absent which can lead to possible ambiguity in places




Willm. Seton

In the name of god Amen

The xxv daye of September in the yeare of

ower lord god one thousand and ffyve hundred

threskore and syxe and in the eyght yeare  September 25th 1566

of the Raigen of ower Soveraigen ladye

Elizabeth &c I William Seton Clarke

the unprofytable servant of god weeke in

bodye and not with standing stronge in

mynd to Allmightye god do willingly and

with a free harte rede render and gyve

agayne into the hande of the Lorde my

god my spryte w[hi]ch he of his fatherlye

goodnes gave unto me when he fashioned

this my bodye in my mothers wombe by

this meanes makinge me a lyvngye

Creatur nothinge doubtinge but that this

my Lorde god for his martyres sake sette

forthe in the precyous blud of his derlye

belovid sonne Christ Jesu my onlye

Savior and Redemer will Redeyme my

Sowle into his glorye and place yt

in the Companye of his heavenly An-

gelles and blessyd Saintes and as con-

cerninge my bodye ever with a good

will and free harte I gyve it ever

Comendinge it unto the earthe agayne

frome whence




frome whence it came nothinge doubtinge

but that acordinge to the article of ower

Christian faythe at the greate Daye

of the generall Resurrection when we

shall appeare before the Judgment seate

of Christ I shall retryve it agayne

by the myghtye power of god where with

he is Able to subdue all thinges unto hyme-

selfe not a corruptyble mortall weake and

vyle bodye as this is nowe but as uncorrup-

table mortall stronge parfight and in all

poyntes lyke unto the glorious bodye of my

Lorde and Savior Jesus Christ to whome I

gyve unto the poore mens boxe of great

Riburghe iij s iiij d Item I gyve to my bro-

ther John Seton Clarke my ffloke bedd                             ffloke = flock ie stuffed with course tufts of cotton & wool

my next best coverlight my best pyllowe

of downe one blanquit that I boughte

of Christofer Meares* one payer of my

best shettes and an other payer of my

seconde shettes Item I gyve to my sayd

Brother my Damaske Chiste w[i]th the    Damaske chist = Damascened (decorated steel) chest

Locke and keye there on Item I gyve

to hyme also beste gowne my beste

Clocke my woorstyd Jackett my beste   Cloke = cloak

Dublytt my Spanyshe Jerkyn and all my

bookes that are myne one of my newe

Gaytres and a Cuishon my tunell                                     tunell, bottell = funnel, bottle

bottell and my tryndell bedd with the                                 tryndell bedd = bed on wheels or castors

Cordes Item I gyve to my Syster mar-

gerye Barker my Calfe that was of



fo. 226v


The Cowe that I ffearmyd of Goeryde?

Of Stybbard two payer of nexte beste

shettes and eyther my donge or my lyttell  donge = matress

flock bedd and one (^of)my Redd Couvringes

one newe pewter dyshe I gyve to hyr one

combe of wheate one combe of myxlen a seame             myx[t]len = mixed rye and wheat ground for flour

of Barlye I gyve to hyr one Swyne shottlinge    seame= to 8 bushels 

one Cocke and too hennes Item I gyve more to

hyr one stone of hempe Item I gyve to marga-

rett Shefeld my Systers daughter one pewter

Dyshe one combe of Rye and one seame

of Barlye one Swyne shotling and one

payer of Course shettes Item I gyve to

Margerye Sumpter my wyfes daughter one

combe of Rye one seame of barlye one swyne                 swyne shotlinge  =piglet

shotlinge and a payer of Sheattes Item I do

gyve unto Martyn Sumpter my beste clothe

Cote Item I gyve to Beatryx my Wyffe my

brandyd Cowe my ffether bedd with too

ffether pyllowes Item I gyve unto my sayd

Wyffe three Combes of wheat three combes

of myxlyn fyve Combes of barlye one seame

of oates one Seame of peasen and fytches                       peasen and fytches = peas and vetch

Item I do gyve unto my sayd wyffe my

white Ambling nagge uppon condycon

that she doo gyve and paye unto my bro-

ther John Seyton xx s. within one halfe

yeare next after my decease Item I gyve

to the sayd Beatryx my wyfe all and




fo 227


singular my goodes ungyven and not before beque=

thed bothe movable and unmovable and brasse

pewter bedinge hedstockes lynninge woolen tables

stoles chayers counter cobbard chystes hempe

haye woode and all other thinges that were

myne as swyne fowles or any other thinge of

what name so ever it or they be I gyve them

Clearly to Beatrix my wyfe she to

fineyd it and the some with owt lett or

interuption of myne Executor or anye other

excepte the Resydew of my Corne ungyven

and not before bequethed which I leave to

paye and dyscharge my debtes and lega-

cyes owt of the withe corne I gyve xx s

of currant monye to William Halmonde

and xx s to Wylliam Mydleton providid

that If I lyve and spende of the sayd

Corne so that there be not suffycyant to

paye theyre gyftes of corne before gyven

then I will that yt shalbe qualyfyed and

moderatyd by the good discretion of myne

Executor whome I do make and ordayne

Thomas Buttes of great Ryburghe esquire

onely he requringe hym to take the pay=

nes to se this my last wyll and testament

fullfyllyd and parformyd accordinge to

the trewe meaninge hereof and unto the

prayse and glorye of Allmightye god

amen Item I gyve more unto my fower

godchyldryn iiij s Item I gyve unto my godson

Watson ij s those beinge witnesses Thomas

Buttes esquier John Seyton Clarke.



*Christofer Meers: 

Elizabeth Tompson married Christofer Meers 21 July 1559: Winefrade Meeres daughter of Christofer Meers buried 19th Oct  1565 :Elizabeth Meeres wife of Christofer Meers buried  3 May 1567




more to follow



Richard Harris


From whence Richard Harris came to Great Ryburgh, except by appointment of Queen Elizabeth, is otherwise not known.

The new register tells us that he had a wife, a daughter and a son by the following entries:


Anne daughter of Richard Harris parson of Great Ryburgh and Anne his wife xxiiij April 1569


Thomas son of Richard Harris clerici was baptised the second daye of September 1571


All else that is known to us can be gleaned from documents in the accounts of Thomas Buttes Esquire found in B.L. Add. Mss. 39227. Here

we find Harris as a man eager to record every last penny owing to him throughout his incumbency. Some of them sealed with his particular

“en placard” seal as here on fo.30 and dated 1570:



detail of seal found on folio 30 of British Library Add. Mss 39227 reproduced by kind permission.


The full text of these bills can be found HERE.



In B. L. Add. Mss. 39221 however we see another side of the coin and the reason perhaps that the record of Harris'

bills and acquittances remained in Buttes’ files.


A note of suyche debttes as ys well knowen that

Rychard Harrys dothe owe unto dyvers persons

at thys present day beyng the vijth of July A[nno] 1572.



Fos.68 and 68v.contain the names of no less than 16  "dyvers persons" to whom Harris owed substantial amounts



Item he doothe owe unto one Margarett Harrys Wyddowe Of Greate Ryburgh  -----viij s[hillings]


Was this his mother or another Harris?  The register records the burial of Widdow Harris on April 27th 1573 by

Christopher Wilson the next incumbent. It has to be said that Mr Harris managed to rack up an enormous debt

during his 4 years in Ryburgh which according to the Bank of England’s calculations would amount to the better

part of £33,000 today. We have yet to find a given reason for Richard Harris moving on, though his financial

predicament would not have done him any favours in the vicinity, but he did go, though we know not where.





Christoper Wilson


In the Volume lV of Oxford Alumni published 1888-1892 we find the following entry for a Christopher Wilson one time Rector of Hethersett:



Although no other apparently likely candidates have surfaced in searches so far, he was not our Christopher Wilson. The Norfolk Record Office holds the will of Christopher Wilson Clerk of Hethersett dated 1573 which rather rules him out. There are few other sources of information regarding our man save the appearances of his signature and hand writing in the church registers and also his signature and “en placard” seal (a simple letter W possibly with another motif around) appear on a bill witnessing a payment of Ten pounds paid to John Farrowe in 1575 found on folio 41 of B. L. Add, 39227. Also signing as witnesses are Nicholas Gottes of Little Ryburgh, John Catton and Thomas Browne of Great Ryburgh:





What we do have is the record of the date of his burial at Ryburgh found in B.L.Add. Mss. 39221 fo 41:




Christopher Wilson clerk rector of Great Riburgh was buried

the last day of October 1576 in the

eighteenth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth.  “from the dethe

of Seyton to the decease of M[aste]r Wilson x yeres".


Below is the will of Christopher Wilson, Incumbent from 1572-1576 is catalogued as NCC will register Cawston 125 in the Norfolk Record Office from whose microfilm this has been transcribed.

Not untypically, punctuation is is virtually entirely absent and the quality of the microfilm makes some words very difficult to decipher.



I Christopher Wilson
In the name of God Amen

The xviiijth day of Marche in the yeare of our lord
God a thousande fivehundred three score and fourteene  and 
19th March 1574
in the Seventene yeare of the raygne of our most graci-
ouse sovereygne ladie Elizabethe by the grace of God of
England France and Ireland quene defender of the faythe
I Christopher Wilson Clark p{ar]son of great Riboroughe
within the dioc[ese] of Norw[i]ch being sicke in bodie but in
h{olle a}nd perfect remembrance thankes be to god doe make
this my testamente and laste will in manner and forme
[followin]ge viz firste I bequeathe my soule into the
ha[nds of Almighty] god and my bodie to the earthe Item
I geve to twentie poore of the poreste householders  of great
Riboroughe vjs viijd to be equallie devided and to such
of the poreste of them & everie of them a peck of mixtelyn
and a peck of maulte  Item I give to Mr Butts my Cow[pers]
dictionarie  Item I geve to Mr Heathe vicar of Little
Riboroughe my concordances Item I give to Mr Fenton parson  
of Booton my book called opuscula Calvini Item I geve
to John Map***  the sonne of John M****  parson of Br**
son my Englishe grammer Tullies offices withe a c***
Mantuan Horace Juvinall Satires and all Ov[id’s]
workes a latten grammer called Dispantearius a Gre[ek]

gramer Item I geve to my brother Simon Wilson  Most likely to be Wilsons own Mss copies of lute repertoire then in circulation as lute
my lute and luten booke and vjs viijd Item I geve   music printing in England did not get properly underway untill William Barley in 1596
Henrie Neeve  my booke called Skelton The r[esidue]
of all my goodes & chattells moveable and unmoveable [I]
geve them hollie to Catherine Hare my L[awful]
wife whome I doe make my sole executrixe of [my]
testamente & laste will She to see my bodie buried
my laste will performed In witnes hereof I he[reby]
my laste will set my hande and seale the daye
above written per me Christopherus Wy[lson]
Teste me Augustino Ranewe Teste me J[ohn]. 
Heathe cl[er]ico. 
                                                  John Heath was Vicar of All Saints Little Ryburgh 1561-1607



The same day as his burial, Christopher Wilson’s widow Catherine effectively gets her notice to quit. This document (fo 49 of BL Add Mss 39227) is headed:

The Last daye of October 1576

I[mprimis] That Caterine Wilsone Widowe is to paye to Master Thomas
Buttes Esquier at the natevete of Christ next for the fearme
Of iij Accres of Lond. The wiche the forsaide M[aste]r Buttes hath
bowght of Roger Andrewes gent ……xxvj s viij d

Also  the saide Catherine shall have the persuedy howssis
Of great Ryborow w[I]th the churche yarde there all the
Homstall clossis (and all the iij accars aforsaid for the 
Wiche the fearme is all redy payd) and v accars in
Two severall clossis until the Annonciacion of owr
Ladye next comyng. Payeng then for same xxv s vj d

At this point in the margin Buttes has added:

All this bill is payde
unto M[aste]r T. Waterman
parson of Greate

And underneath:
W[hi]ch some of xxv s vj d is payed unto my handes & vij sp& vj d for fearme land

Ffarder the saide Caterine shall have xiiij accars & a half
Of areable lond wherof part is sowne with winter coarne
Alredy & part is to be sowne with barlye for the wich
The forsaid Caterine must paye at the annunounciacion of owr Lady
Next coming. Vij s & vj d and also at the feast of St myghthill. 
St Michael-the-Archangel
The arcangell next folowing this vij s in full contentacion

between the above two lines Buttes adds:  W{hic]h I have also preaved

Of the hole yeares fearme for the said areable lond. So the
Hole some of the fearme of the howssis churchyard hom-
Stalles clossis & areable comythe to ……………xl s

Buttes adds:  payde to Thomas Waterman clarck parson of Greate Ryburgh

And fferder the said Caterine shall leve the
Howssis and ffencsyes in as suffycient Reparacion
As ytt is at this present w[it]h Locks keays & windows
Doares & gates.

In witnes herof John Scalon
Edward Ffenton & John Heath


Edward Fenton clerk of Booton died c 1610 will and inventory in NRO  dated 1610-11

1555, John Skaloon and Clemence Holkam were married the xjth of November at St Andrew's





Thomas Waterman





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