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Dates of existence
The Harbord estates:
The creation of the Harbord estate in Norfolk began with the purchase of the manor of Stanninghall in 1663 by Sir Charles Harbord (c 1595-1679) from the Waldegrave family; the property comprised the manor and manor house, the advowson, and an estate at Stanninghall, Horsham St Faith, Newton St Faith, Horstead, Frettenham, and other parishes. In 1676, he purchased the manors of Gunton Overhall and Netherhall from the Jermy family, which included Gunton Hall and the advowson, and an estate in Gunton, Thorpe Market, Antingham, Suffield, Bradfield, Roughton, Hanworth, Aldborough and Alby. Sir Charles's son and heir John Harbord (1639-1710) added land in Frettenham, Felmingham, Crimplesham, Hanworth, Alby, and Northrepps. In 1705 he bought an estate in Colby, Banningham and Erpingham, which had belonged to Revd Dr Benjamin Whichcot, Provost of King's College, Cambridge. On his death in 1710 he left his estates to his nephew Harbord Cropley, who took the surname of Harbord. Harbord Harbord had inherited his father's estate at Shelland, Suffolk, and by his marriage in 1710 with Jane, younger daughter of Sir William Rant, he acquired lands in Morley, Attleborough, East Ruston, Cantley, Wicklewood, etc. He added to the Harbord estates by purchasing additional lands in Suffield, Gunton, and Bradfield, etc. He died in 1742 and his estates passed to his nephew William Morden, who also took the name Harbord and became a baronet in 1746.
Sir William Harbord (d 1770) had married Elizabeth Britiffe in 1732. She was a considerable heiress; her mother was the elder daughter of Sir William Rant, who inherited his estate which was centred on Thorpe Market and included properties in Gunton, Hanworth, Roughton, Northrepps, Cromer, Antingham, Bradfield, etc. Elizabeth Harbord also inherited further property in these and other parishes under the will of her father Robert Britiffe, who died in 1749.
This is a much simplified description of a complex process by which a great estate was built up over a century. In addition to the large estates mentioned, the deeds reveal the steady purchasing of small farms and pieces of land, and the exchange of properties with other landowners.
By 1751, Sir William Harbord had a vast and sprawling estate which stretched from Suffolk to the north coast of Norfolk. To consolidate this estate, he was obliged to obtain a private Act of Parliament because his wife Elizabeth's jointure was secured on many of the remoter properties, which included Morley, Plumstead, Cantley etc., which were part of Jane Rant's inheritance, and the Shelland estate in Suffolk. The Act empowered Harbord to sell these and to purchase properties of the same value for Elizabeth's jointure.
Sir William now bought a considerable estate in North Walsham and Felmingham from Meux Rant, a distant cousin of his wife's, an estate in Bradfield from Bozoon Brigge, the Kemp estate in Antingham, and a number of smaller properties in Suffield, Roughton, Southrepps, Antingham, and North Walsham, all of which consolidated his original holdings.