Great Fransham: the Cases in the 18th century

“The family of Case was formerly of great respectability and opulence in Norfolk, some of which resided at Great Fransham for nearly two centuries.”

So it says in the obituary for Philip Mallett Case published in The Gentleman’s Magazine in 1834. Philip Mallett Case was first cousin once removed to Philip James Case (my Norwich great grandfather), and I’ll return to him briefly, but first to Great Fransham, which I tracked down on a fairly large-scale map, near Swaffham, about 25 miles west of Norwich.

There is no longer anything great about Great Fransham. It is a tiny village, perhaps marginally bigger than Little Fransham, which you would miss if you blinked. It’s in the heart of farming land in West Norfolk. It has a small and quite old church, about a mile out of the present-day village. My research told me that several Case ancestors were buried in the churchyard, and there were also monumental inscriptions on the floor of the church itself. But when I got there, the church was under scaffolding and the entire churchyard was fenced off. The “keep out” notice told me that the heritage church was being restored and was now a dangerous construction site. It was hit by a flying bomb during the war, and painstakingly repaired soon after, so the current work must be for other problems.

All Saints, Great Fransham, 2009

All Saints, Great Fransham, 2009

So I couldn’t get into the church to see the inscriptions – a disappointment – and I couldn’t find any Case tombstones in the churchyard: but as they date back to the early part of the 18th century, it’s quite possible they had been moved or discarded – or possibly destroyed in the bombing.

The earliest Case I have on record at Great Fransham is William Case, born in 1560. The line of descent is unclear, but comes into focus with Thomas Case, born in 1663, and recorded as a freeholder of Great Fransham. Late in his life he moved to Saham Toney (yes, coincidentally where my mother was born 200 years later) leaving his second son, Thomas (b 1695) in charge at Great Fransham. The family stayed at Great Fransham for another three generations. Our line of descent comes from this Thomas, through his second son Edward (1735), and Thomas Henry (1773) to Philip Case (1815) who moved toNorwich, and founded Case and Steward in 1860. By 1854, White’s directory ofNorfolkshowed there were no Cases living in Great Fransham, although the 1883 directory showed 16 farmers called Case scattered acrossNorfolk.

Part of Testerton Hall, 2009

Part of Testerton Hall, 2009

It was the older Thomas Case’s other sons who did especially well. The eldest, Edward Case, built Fransham High House, but then went to Toftrees, a few miles to the north (close to Testerton Hall) where his family lived and farmed for several generations. Young Thomas’s daughter Esther married Daniel Burslem, a vicar from Staffordshire, who settled in the district. Their son Tommy was also a local vicar (of several parishes). One of the younger Thomas’s other grandsons (Philip Mallett Case, who we’ve mentioned before) built Testerton Hall a few miles to the north, but left no children. The estate, which the Gentlemen’s Magazine tells us “comprised the entire parish”, was passed to his niece Mary. Testerton Hall is still there, but only one wing of the original mansion remains.

Finally, the youngest son, Philip Case (born 1712) was really the success story of the Norfolk Cases. To follow his story, I drove north to Kings Lynn, a charming market town and port near the mouth of the Great Ouse where it flows into The Wash. I had booked into the Globe Hotel, at the corner of an enormous square known as Tuesday Market. It wasn’t Tuesday, so it was easy to park in the square. In the morning, while leaving my car to have a tyre replaced (the result of clipping an unseen kerbstone where a country road suddenly narrowed), I set out to find the traces of Philip Case: my fourth great grand uncle.

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John Case on January 31, 2011 at 7:49 PM

    Tracing family lines from Edward Case b.1637 I would be interested in any info re Case family of Great Fransham. Thanks

    Reply

    • Posted by Stella Herbert on August 21, 2013 at 8:56 PM

      Hi there,
      I would be interested to hear from you. I am descended via Esther Case who was married to Daniel Burslem the vicar of Gt. Fransham. But amazingly following my London Huguenot relatives I found de Caux’s settled nearby in Foxley for generations, some being married & christened by the curate Thomas Burslem, son of Daniel, & my 5 x gt. granddad!!

      And then discovered that Daniel had christened Thomas Henry in 1773 who married Martha de Caux!!
      Best wishes,
      Stella

      Reply

  2. Posted by Stella Herbert on August 21, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    Hi there,
    I would be interested to hear from you. I am descended via Esther Case who was married to Daniel Burslem the vicar of Gt. Fransham. But amazingly following my London Huguenot relatives I found de Caux’s settled nearby in Foxley for generations, some being married & christened by the curate Thomas Burslem, son of Daniel, & my 5 x gt. granddad!!

    And then discovered that Daniel had christened Thomas Henry in 1773 who married Martha de Caux!!
    Best wishes,
    Stella

    Reply

  3. Posted by Peter Cramer on October 10, 2013 at 6:39 AM

    Hi there Case relatives
    My grandfather was Philip George Case (born 1885), son of Rev Philip Henry Case,(born 1856) son of Philip James Case (born 1813).

    Kind regards

    Peter Cramer, Cape Town, South Africa

    Reply

  4. Posted by Stella Herbert on October 11, 2013 at 2:36 AM

    From another Case descendant!! Since I was last in contact with Dominic things have moved on!
    There is a wonderful exhibition of paintings at Houghton Hall, near Kings Lynn. After Robert Walpole’s death (First British prime minister, who built the house in the 18th c. which held his old master collection) the pictures were sold to Catherine the Great of Russia. Those lovely Russians have just loaned many of them back & they are on the walls where they used to hang!
    It just so happened that Philip Case, Mayor of Lynn, was in contact with the Walpole family and so I was very keen to see the paintings on the wall as he very likely would have seen them.
    There is an app ‘Houghton Revisited’ which you can download and you too can see them!!
    If you look on the Norfolk Record Office website there are so many of Philip Case’s papers indexed, which give a pretty good idea of his incredible activities.
    My ancestor was his sister Esther Case, married to Daniel Burslem who was the vicar of Gt. Fransham where the Cases originated. I have just had 2 trips to Norfolk as I don’t live too far away.
    Went into Gt. Fransham church – open for once! – and photographed the various Case memorials.
    And did you know that from ‘Family Search’ you can view all the Norfolk parish registers – Free!
    There you can see Dan Burslem filling in the register for over 50 years, christening, marrying and burying many Cases.
    Dan had a son Thomas who was also a vicar, at East and West Rudham – which is so close to Houghton. The vicar there let me hold the ancient communion silver Thomas would have used – 250 years previously! Philip Case got him the Rudham livings describing him to the patron, Lord Townshend, as a poor weak unhappy man – but honest!!
    But earlier Thomas was curate at Foxley where he christened a couple of his own children & then I noticed he was also christening and indeed marrying, some De Cauxs!!
    What a co-incidence, as I put in an earlier post!
    On a totally unconnected part of my family tree some Spitalfields Huguenot ancestors of mine were named De Caux. So I pricked up my ears so to speak. Some of the De Cauxs settled in Norwich and although I haven’t made the direct connection to my own, there are some co-incidences which make it very likely that they are the same extended family. And it is the grandchildren of that first De Caux who went to Norwich who are then in Foxley.
    And then to add to the amazing co-incidences I saw that one of the Cases actually married a De Caux!!
    Met myself coming back!!
    The Case family and their connections are so interesting. Thomas, the Rudham vicar, married a Mary Baynes in Cley in the 1750s. I have been trying to track her parentage for a long time but it seems most likely that she is the daughter of Lieutenant Robert Baynes. And if you Google ‘The Wager Mutiny’ you will find a riveting bit of history about Robert!!
    Best wishes one and all!
    Stella Herbert,
    Essex, UK.

    Reply

  5. Posted by John Baly on January 7, 2015 at 10:35 AM

    Found your info really interesting as I am directly descended from Edward Case born 1691, builder of Fransham High House. The Case and Baly families became closely linked through marriage in that part of Norfolk. There are a lot of details to be uncovered if you visit the churches in that area and read the inscriptions on the various tomb stones …..

    Reply

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