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Piecing together the history of the Clippesby family



Obviously we can never know what awaits us around the corner and this week’s surprise was an email from a metal detectorist in Yorkshire who had unearthed an ancient bronze armorial seal with Clippesby connections.  .


The finder, Darren, said that at one and thee quarter inches in diameter “It is big for a seal, and the engraving of the name in French is very fine which would suggest a pretty high status man. It dates from the early 1300s; the use of French died out in the C14. Armorial seals are a precious thing, not something you would toss away into a field”.


So why was a seal belonging to John Clepesby found in a field in North Yorksire? Was his wife a Yorkshire lass? Had it been stolen? Did he go North to engage in the wars with Scotland? Did one of his descendents lose it? . . . Who knows?!


The probable owner of the seal was a John Clipsby born around 1336 in Norfolk; he married Alice de Longstrother in about 1362 their daughter Elizabeth de Clippesby was born in Norwich and son John was born at Clipsby in 1366.


The coat of arms on the seal is the same as the arms of Clippesby of Norfolk which can be seen on the splendid brass memorial, in the Chancel of St. Peter’s, to John Clippesby who died in 1594. Would he have been his great grandfather? Rodney Pointer is helping to trace this back.

Clippesby Family brasses copy

This 1813 engraving of a mediaeval memorial brass in the chancel of Clippesby Church is by John Sell Cotman.

It shows John Clippesby (d.1594) and Julian his wife; baby son William deceased (in shroud)

Three daughters Audry, Francis and Julian.

Shields: Clippesby impaling

(top) Jerningham, Woodhouse

(below) Knightly, Ellis, Spelman, Paston


Below is pictured a facsimile of the

Will of William deClippesby who was the father of

John whose memorial brass is pictured on the



We are indebted to Jane Clayton for providing us

with the photographs of the Will and also the

transcription. Jane has kindly added a commentary

which we will be including and which is a great

help as we try to get back to the generation of the

John Clippesby who owned the Seal above.

Will of William Clippesby 1540

will william clippesby page 1 enlarged
will william clippesby 1541 page 2 enlargement

Will of William Clippesby 1540


In the name of God amen.  In the xxviij te daye of November, in the yere of o(ur) lorde god m ccccc xl tie, and in the xxxij tie yere of the reigne of o(ur) soverayn lorde kynge henry the eight, I, Will(ia)m Clippesbye of Obye, esquyer, beynge hool of mynd and in good remembrance, lauded be god, make this my testamente and last wyll in the forme folowynge.  

Ffyrst, I bequethe my sowle to almyghtie god and to o(ur) blessed lady sayncte Mary and to all the holy company of hevyn, and my body to be buryed in the church of sayncte Peter of Clyppesby, on the North syde of the Chauncell, before the ymage of sancte Peter, there where the sepulcre is vsed to be sett,  gyvyn to the curat there vj s. viij d.  

It(e)m, to the rep(ar)acons of the sayd church I gyve half a come of wheate, and a combe of malte to make a drynkinge therwith.  

It(e)m, I gyve to the rep(ar)acons of the church of Owbye, vj s. viij d.  

It(e)m, to every laser sowle [leper] in Norwich, one busshell of malte.  

It(e)m, I gyve to the lasar sowle in Yarmowth, on(e) busshell of malte.  

It(e)m, I wyll that every poor howse that is in Owby, Clyppesby, Byllockesby, Thyrne, Reppes and Bastwyk shall have ij d. for every howshold that is poor.  

It(e)m, I wyll that all my stuff of howseholde be equally devyded betwene Letice, my wyef, and John, my [son], when he comyth to the age of xxj tie yeres.  

It(e)m, I wylle that all my shepe, netes, borse, greyn and the berne [sheep, cows, purse, grain and the contents of the barn], except such as my wyef must nede occupye for the mayntenuces of hir howse all the tyme that she be vnmaryed, shalbe prysed and solde and the money therof comynge shalbe evynly devyded betwene my iij dowghters, Elysabeth, Alice and Margaret, and Thomas, my son, and also the chylde that my sayd wyef is great with all, at the makynge herof, if god send it lyef. And every of them to be others heir, if any of them dye before the sayd money be delyvered, and the dowghters to have the sayd money at the daye of their maryage, and the other male chyldren to have it at the age of xxj tie yeres.  And the resydue of all other my goodes and cattelles vnbequethed I put to the dysposycyone of myn executors, whom I make Letice, my wyef, and John, my son, to dyspose and order this my testamente and last wyll.

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