Ancestral Searches


Looking towards The Old Vicarage from the A30

Are you researching a family history which has connections to Yarcombe?  We can post your enquiry on this page.   Many local residents have an interest in the history of our village and may be able to help.  All enquiries are welcome, as is any historical information about our village and its past residents.  Please send details by email to the Administrator.  You are especially encouraged to include photographs.  Kindly inform us of any communication and/or findings so that we may follow and document your progress,   Thank you.

Here is the record of Burials at Yarcombe Church.  Our History and World Wars pages may also be of interest,

Helpers:   Click on photographs to enlarge in a separate window.   To reply, click on enquirer's name.

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Ancestral Search 45

September 2020


This modification to the brickwork above one of the ground floor windows at The Old Vicarage in Yarcombe becomes clearer when enlarged (click on photo).   It was presumably sculpted by the author, LESLIE SPARR or SPARK in JANUARY 1945.

Can anyone identify him?   Was/is he a relative, friend or neighbour?   A wartime evacuee?   A builder perhaps?   It would be interesting to find out.   (The owners are not seeking compensation!)

Reply to the Administrator



Ancestral Search 44

August 2020

Hello,  I've been researching my family tree for several years now, but have never managed to get past the block on one branch of my 2GG - OTTO PIKE.   As it's such an unusual name I had hoped this wouldn't be the case, but I can find no birth record from him.   The 1841 census indicates a birth year of 1821.   I know his father was WILLIAM PIKE from Otto's marriage certificate to Ann Bazley in 1846.   As far as I can tell Otto spent his whole life from 1841 census onwards in Lyme Regis, passing away there in 1888.   The reference to Yarcombe is in all of his census entries from 1841 to 1881 - they clearly state 'Yarcombe, Devon'.   I would appreciate any assistance that you could give as this has been a 'blocked' branch for so long!   Thanks,    Judi Tomlinson

Steve Horner replies:   We are in course of preparing a list of all burials in Yarcombe through the ages.   The work is not yet complete but here are some entries that may help:

Ann Pike 1747 1814 67
Eliz Pike 1808 1834 26
Elizabeth Pike 1772 1842 70
Henry Pike 1767 1855 88
John Pike   1568  
Julian Pike   1696  
Rich Pike   1690  
Robert Pike   1807  
Robert Pike   1808  
Sarah Pike   1791  



Ancestral Search 43

August 2020

Having just viewed your superb website, I wonder if you could help me with my research into the Dimond family; in particular William Dimond who married Jane (Jenny) Clark in 1770, both from Yarcombe.   Also, their offspring John b1773, Robert b1771 (married Rachel Hurford 1798), and any others?!     Many thanks,    Tony Dymond

Steve Horner replies:   This is the first time I have heard the name Dimond in Yarcombe - there is no mention of this name in Ruth Everitt's book "From Monks to the Millennium" which is the definitive history of this parish and its people.   Might there be another spelling of this surname ?   Hurford is a name that has been associated with the parish over many years.

We are in course of preparing a list of all burials in Yarcombe through the ages.   The work is not yet complete but here are some entries that may help you

Eleanor Dimond 1795  F
Levy Dimond 1782 M
Richard Dimond 1710 M
William Dimond 1794 M

Tony Dymond writes:   Many thanks for your efforts.   Much appreciated.


Ancestral Search 42

July 2020

Good day, Hoping someone can help with my mysterious 2nd g.g.mother, and her mother.   Hannah Foster married Joseph Cooper on 3rd Mar 1850 at Preston Plucknett, she is a minor and gives her father's name as Thomas Jennings, a Yeoman.   Census 1851/81 she gives Yarcombe as her birth place.   I don't know if she's the illegitimate daughter of Miss Foster or her mother remarried, as burials for Thomas Jennings are at Yarcombe during the 1830s, yet, a Thomas and family are living at Odcombe who comes from Membuy/Yarcombe, I think this is her father.   No baptism can be found for Hannah with either surname at Yarcombe.   She gives Chard as her last residence on her Goal Admission of 1849, I'm sure she's the 10 year old Ann Foster at Chard Union Workhouse on the 1841 census.    Regards,    Janice Dennis

Steve Horner replies:   This is a really fascinating enquiry and I would appreciate some more information.   You have obviously spent many hours researching your long lost great great grand parents.   As you correctly state there was clearly a Thomas Jennings resident in Yarcombe who might well have been Hannah`s father: Thomas Jennings born Yarcombe 1803 died Yarcombe 1873.   I would be interested to find the census record for the Chard Union Workhouse for 1841, which I cannot find on Ancestry.   I mention this because there was an offshoot of the Chard Workhouse here in Yarcombe at that time.   It was a building in what is now known as Plague Lane Marsh, and despite the fact that Yarcombe is in Devon, the records for the Chard workhouse, which is in Somerset, are kept in Taunton.   I know very little about this institution and I am anxious to learn more.   One final point please, can you clarify the reference to Odcombe and the Jennings family.

Janice Dennis responds:   I found the 1841 census on Ancestry, enumeration district is Chard Union Workhouse.   If you try entering the info "Ann Foster, born 1830", it might bring it up.   I tried many searches for Hannah and Anna using both surnames, Ann was my only find.   As for Thomas Jennings, he's the man who married Sarah Chaffey at Stoke Sub Hamdon in 1830, living there in 1841, not from Somerset and a dealer.   Living at Odcombe in 1851, a cattle dealer and farmer (occupational upgrade could be why Hannah's father is a Yeoman on her MC).   Membury is his birth place.   Still at Odcombe in 1861, a farmer, from Membury.   He's a farmer on the 1871 census living at Odcombe, but gives his birth place as Yarcombe - not far from Membury.   Seems his children have a problem with their hearing.   8 have died young and all of them childless, the 9th has disappeared from the radar.   He was buried in Odcombe in Dec 1872 aged 67.   Sarah is a widow in 1881.   Odcombe isn't far from Yeovil, it's where Hannah and Joseph Cooper live.   Joseph's grandmother is Joan Chaffey - possibly a relation to Sarah.


Ancestral Search 41

July 2020

HI,  I have been reading the website about your book on the history of Yarcombe.   I would be interested in a copy of your book if that is possible.   I am researching our ancestors whose surname is Perham.   John Perham b 1812 and died 24 June 1891 aged 79.   According to the 1861 census they lived on Colly Farm, Yarcombe, Devon.   John married Mary Vine on 5 Apr 1836.   She was born in 1812 and died 29 November 1905 aged 93.   She is buried at Buckland, St Mary, near Yarcombe.   The farm was 248 acres and John Perham employed 3 men.   They had 9 children.   One of their children is Richard Perham who was born in 1839.   We think he emigrated to New Zealand on the ship “Egmont” when he was 23.   He died in 1879 in New Zealand.   The other children were:

• Susan Perham Born 1838 and died 1929
• Richard as mentioned above
• Mary Vine Perham Born 1840 and died 1906
• Thomas Perham born 1842 and died 1931
• John (Archdeacon) Perham born 1844 and died 1928
• George Perham b 1848 died 1938
• Samuel Edwin Perham b 1850 and died 1903
• Emma Jane Perham b 1851 and died 1929
• Frederick Perham b 1853 and died 1924

Any information about the family or Colly Farm would be appreciated.     Kind Regards,   Leonie

Steve Horner replies:   I had a quick think about your enquiry, there is no mention of the Perham family in Ruth Everitt's book, however I do know there is a Colley farm in Buckland St Mary which just touches Yarcombe Parish at one point.   In the 1861 census John Perham, his wife Mary and son Richard are resident there.   However as you correctly state John and Mary both record their birthplace as Yarcombe.   I have copied Rosanna Barton who has a very good knowledge of Buckland St Mary and she may be able to help you with this contact.   I have also copied Miranda Gudenian who is the Editor of Yarcombe Voices, she owns the copyright to From Monks to the Millennium, which is the book to which you refer and contains many details of the history of our Parish.   I hope this is a useful start for you, however please keep in contact.


Ancestral Search 40

July 2020

Hello, I have been researching my 3x great grandfather, Luke Denslow (born 1842 and passed 1919) for some time now.   From what I have managed to find from multiple censuses, he lived in Yarcombe from around 1871 to around 1911 (most likely for longer as well).   The address was Cornhill/Cornhill Cottage, Yarcombe.   He married Elizabeth Hooper and they had around 8 children together.   He worked as a mason and played the fiddle.   A piece of information I found on the internet stated that he was mentioned in the Times newspaper, played the fiddle throughout pubs in Devon and was known to some as "the Fiddler of the South".   However, I haven't found the sources to these statements and hope to confirm these are really true.   I would love to learn more about him and his fiddle playing!   Below is a photo I found of him and his fiddle uploaded on Ancestry.   With best regards,    Alia Buafra



Luke Denslow   (1842-1919)


1901 Census

Peter Tarrant replies:   There are several references to Cornhill in Ruth Everitt's book, including this detailed description.   Steve Horner has unearthed evidence of the gentleman's fiddling exploits and photographs and news clippings follow the extract on Cornhill.   There is a picture of the cottage at the very bottom of Photograph Page 1 - since this was taken (around 2010) the building has changed hands and together with the surrounding land has been extensively renovated.   There are two points to possibly follow up – firstly, one of Ole Luke’s obituary notices mentions he died in Bishopswood, perhaps you might have an answer to this anomaly?   Secondly his son Harry Denslow continued the family tradition of playing the fiddle and we are trying to find out more about the tune The Stockland Breast Knot mentioned in the cuttings!

CORNHILL (also known as Cornehyll)

Originally a much larger property, probably a hall house (see foreword) dating from the sixteenth century, the chimney stack and upper floors being added in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. On the plank-and-muntin screen which divides the two major rooms is a carving of a large fish (25 inches), possibly caught (or poached) in the Yarty, with an inscribed date 1773 and initials not quite decipherable. In 1600 Cornhill is shown as a tenement and cottage. The tithe is 8d, with William Marricke as the occupier, and the cottage is named "Morehan‟. Later, in the 1727 Land Tax Survey, the occupier is Benjamin Bright, who also owns or rents Moorhayne, Underdown and Sellwood. By 1794 the Drake Estate owns the property, as there is £26. 19s. 9d of saleable timber growing on the land; again a cottage at Cornhill is listed. The Land Tax Survey of 1798 gives Henry Spiller the ownership, but this cannot be, as it is on the earlier Estate Survey, so it was probably mortgaged or let on lives or years. The tenant is Thomas Hockey. Early on in this century Cornhill was occupied by the Sweetland family, father, mother and several children. Father William was a stone mason by trade and was employed by the Drake Estate. They occupied Cornhill as a tied cottage. The story is told that Lady Eliott Drake was out in her horse-drawn carriage one day when the horse bolted. William Sweetland was working nearby and managed to stop the runaway carriage. As a reward for his quick action Lady Drake allowed him to live in Cornhill for the rest of his life, and his wife after him should he die first.

In 1958 the Estate sold the cottage, which had deteriorated badly, to Mr. and Mrs. Selmes for £735. 0s. 0d. They completely renovated the cottage. Mrs. Selmes, who was for a time a teacher at the village school, lived on in the village after her husband died in 1973, eventually selling it in 1980 for £35,000. A further oddity is the existence of an air raid shelter in the garden. It was built by the Sweetland family at the time of the bombing of Exeter during World War II. It measures about 5ft x 5ft by 6ft high, is let into the hillside and is built of local stone, with walls about 8 inches thick. The roof is of asbestos and lined with roofing felt. There were planks to sit on around three sides, with a flimsy wooden door taking up most of the fourth side. A drain pipe up through the back wall supplied fresh air in the unlikely event of the door being blocked by bomb damage. The shelter now provides good storage space for rusty mowers and other rubbish that "might come in useful one day‟!


Luke Denslow

Various Bews Items

Alia Buafra responds:   Thank you for taking the time to write and share this information to me!   I read through the update you posted and was pleased to be able to learn so much!   Unfortunately, I know nothing of Luke’s death in Bishopswood nor where he could be buried.   The death certificate I found with his mention broadly states Honiton.   I went back to the censuses and it seems the last place I have known him to live was with his son, Samuel Denslow.   The address is written as (possibly) Hamperland, Yarcombe, Chard.   This was found on the 1911 census (below).  

A book I found titled “English Fiddle”, written by Christ Bartram, seems to briefly mention Luke Denslow and how he taught his kids, Harry and Bessie, how to play the fiddle.   Up until this point I was unsure whether this was referring to the Luke I am related to, but now I believe it is.   I went through the censuses I could find and have always seen the names Henry and Bessie Denslow.   I hope it’s safe to assume Harry was a nickname for Henry?   Bessie did indeed marry an Alfred Newbery, which explains why she is referred to as Mrs Newbery in one of the articles.   Below is a photo of her with some of her children that was uploaded on Ancestry.   Harry/Henry is actually my 2x great grandfather.   He married Bessie Long and had around 11 kids with her.   I believe he moved to Stockland as the 1911 census states he lived at Longbridge, Stockland, Honiton with his family.   Do let me know if I could help with anything else. I appreciate the time and effort that has been put into this so far!     Best regards,    Alia




Bessie Denslow/Newbery & children


1911 Census

Steve Horner adds:   We have now been able to track down and rescue a recording of some local fiddle music played by Fred Pidgeon that was recorded in Stockland in 1954, which parish adjoins Yarcombe.   These tunes include The Ladies Breast Knot and we feel certain some if not all of these would have been known to Luke Denslow.   Please enjoy the music and the local Devon accent.   Thank you for bringing this to our attention, it has proved to be a well worthwhile exercise in researching and finding this music.
    Ladies Breast Knot (Fiddle)   Ladies Breast Knot (Chat)  


Alia Buafra replies:   What a great find!   I had heard of Fred Pidgeon but was unaware there were recordings of his music from 1954.   Thank you for putting time into this.   It’s nice to hear that such a merry part of local history won’t be forgotten.   Many thanks,    Alia

Archie Needs writes:   Steve, I've identified 23 Denslow graves to date.   Crucially I've identified Great Grandfather Ernest George Denslow who is buried in Stockland (his parents Henry & Bessie are in Yarcombe).   The sticking point is Luke (1842-1919).   As far as I can tell he's not in Stockland, Dalwood or Membury, so that suggests he's in Yarcombe Churchyard without a gravestone?   If you could confirm that, by looking at the Church Burial Register, we'd be really flying as I've identified Luke's parents and grandparents in Membury.   Luke really is the missing link in more ways than one!   Let me know how you get on and hopefully I can pull all the strands together.

Alia Buafra writes:   This sounds quite interesting and I would love to give you information on my ancestors.   I'm from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.   I have been raised here and have lived here my whole life.   My father, who is Emirati, met my English mother, Clarissa Jane Buafra (nee Denslow) in England while pursuing his studies and eventually she settled down in Dubai in 1989.   I believe our family connections to Yarcombe actually began with Luke Denslow, my 3x great grandfather.   I cannot confirm much that goes back further than Luke Denslow, but census evidence suggests that Luke's father is a John Denslow who was born in Membury around the year 1808.   Luke's mother is Jane Down/Downe who was born around the year 1812.   They had around 5 children together:   Elizabeth Denslow (b 1830),   Selina Denslow (b 1837),   Job Denslow (b 1841),   Luke and Sarah Ann Denslow (b 1846).   It seems that John Denslow died quite young in 1855.   He must have been in his late 40s or early 50s.   Jane then remarried to a Samuel Trim (b 1811).   The 1861 census shows them living together in Membury with an 18 year old Luke and his brother.   Jane has a brother, Samuel Down (b 1805) who had 5 children with an Elizabeth Moor (1809).   I found that 3 of Luke's siblings married their cousins from this uncle of theirs:   Selina married Simeon Down,   Job married Marina Down,   Sarah Ann married William Down.

Luke himself was born in Membury around 1849 and passed in 1919 (I am unaware of where he is buried).   In 1861 he married Elizabeth Hooper (b 1841).   The 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 census show them living in Yarcombe.   I imagine they moved to Yarcombe together after their marriage.   Together they had around 8 children:   Emma Matilda Denslow (b 1861),   Sarah Ann Denslow (b 1864),   Samuel Denslow (b 1865),   Mary Denslow (b 1868),   Jane Denslow (b 1871),   John Denslow (b 1875),   Henry Denslow (b 1879),   Bessie Denslow (b 1888).

Henry Denslow, also known as Harry, is my 2x great grandfather.   He was born in Yarcombe in 1879 and passed in 1961 (there is a very blurry photo of his grave uploaded on Ancestry but with no location attached).   He lived in Yarcombe until his marriage with Bessie Long in 1902 that was registered in Axminster, after which I believe they moved to Stockland and had 11 children together:   Gladys May (b 1903),   Ernest George (b 1904),   Agnes Maude (b 1905),   Charles Luke (b 1906),   Elsie Olive (b 1908),   Lillie Bessie (b 1909),   Beatrice Lucy (b 1911),   Walter Henry (b 1913),   Winifred Irene (b 1917),   Major Sidney (b 1921),   Kenneth Peter (b 1925).

Out of these children, my great grandfather is Ernest George Denslow who was born in Yarcombe in 1904 and passed in 1990.   My mother tells me he is buried at the cemetery in Stockland.   He married Ethel Laura Huggins (b 1914 in Surrey) in 1936.   Their marriage is registered at Honiton.   The 1939 census shows he lived in Axminster, but he later moved to Stockland as my mother recalls.   Together with Ethel they had 8 children (most of whom are still alive and have their own children and grandchildren):   Donald Ernest Denslow (b 1937),   Marian J Denslow,   Brian A Denslow,   David P Denslow,   Geoffrey L Denslow,   Irene M Denslow,   Norman J Denslow,   Richard C Denslow.

This brings me to my grandfather, Donald Ernest Denslow, who was born in 1937 (registered at Honiton).   He married a Maltese woman, Mary Doris Portelli, in 1969 and they moved to Bournemouth, Dorset.   This is where they lived until his passing in 2009 and her passing in 2014.   They had 3 children together, one of whom is my mother.Clarissa Jane whose married name is Buafra.

Steve Horner adds:   We are in process of listing all the burials in the churchyard and have found Luke lying here peacefully at rest.   See details.

Alia Buafra writes:   Wonderful news!   I’m so happy that you were able to find him and am very thankful for your efforts regarding this search.   Best wishes,   Alia


Ancestral Search 39

July 2020

Hello,   My great grandparents, George Chick and Lucy Frances (nee Summers) lived in Membury most of their lives where George had worked as a farm carter until the spring of 1922 when they lived at Birch Cottages, parish of Yarcombe, but so far I cannot find where Birch Cottage or Cottages are.   I assume perhaps they are gone or named something different by now.   I was hoping someone could help please.   Kind regards,   Mervyn Tims

Peter Tarrant replies:   There are many references to Birch in Ruth Everitt's "From Monks To The Millennium - A History Of Yarcombe", and the most relevant is shown below.   There is mention of an Old Thatch in Marsh and a map in the publication places it just south of the A303.   I have alerted Steve Horner who has access to further information and may be able to provide an answer for you.

THE OLD THATCH (also known as Birch Cottages and Mill Cottages)

This house was formerly two cottages and was probably built in the early nineteenth century, with a major renovation in 1970 merging the two. There are some narrowly chamfered cross beams in the main rooms and the fireplaces have chamfered oak lintels with run out stops. The property was in Membury Parish until 1884, and was probably originally built to house workers for either the agricultural or milling industries that were operating close by. In the 1891 Census the tenants at 'Mill Cottages' were George Spiller and George Farrant, both agricultural workers.

Steve Horner replies:   This is a most interesting enquiry because it involves changes in parish boundaries.   Below (left) is a copy of the 1891 census which shows George Spiller and his wife Jane living in Mill Cottage and George Farrant and his wife Rhoda living in the adjacent building also called Mill cottage which seems to confirm Ruth Everitts suggestion that these buildings were semi-detached to use a modern expression.   You will note the comment at the bottom of the census form “End of the Ecclesiastical parish of Membury" although the Civil parish is Yarcombe.   This small group of buildings lies just south of the hamlet of Marsh on the A303 and the enumerator started at the bottom of the hill, Birch Mill lying on the right and Mill Cottages on the left hand side.   Farther up the hill we have the school house now private residence and at the top lies Birch Oak farm.   Mill Cottages are now called the Old Thatch which name was applied to the building after a major refurbishment in the 1970s.   This building has recently been re-thatched.   I would be pleased to send you a photograph.   Please see the screen print below (right) of Birch which lies at the centre.


Mervyn Tims responds:   Many thanks for your help on my query re: Birch Cottages.   Of all the places my great grandparents had lived during their lifetime this one was a new one for me thanks to the Electoral Registers.   As this was 1921-22 it must have changed a lot since that time. I appreciate your help very much.   Thank you.

Steve Horner replies:   Thank you for your prompt reply.   You are obviously quite an expert researcher, would it be possible to let me have a copy of the electoral register for that date please, this is a new one on me.   In return I would be pleased to send you a photo of the building.

Mervyn Tims responds:   Here is the 1922 polling record, with my great grandparents George and Lucy Frances Chick at Birch Cottages, Yarcombe.   Many thanks for the photos.   My great grandfather always kept a good garden of vegetables and always kept chickens.   They left Birch cottage and lived at Beer until he was aged 94.   He had an allotment there with fruit and veg, plus his chickens.   One of his sons Bert Chick spent much of his married life at Yarcombe, and is now buried there.   The photos will now be part of the family history story.   Again, many thanks.   Kind regards,   Mervyn


Ancestral Search 38

July 2020

Not strictly an Ancestral Search, but this is a photograph of Yarcombe residents gathering outside the Baptist Chapel around the mid-1950s, followed by a key showing known names, and may be of interest to future researchers.   We would love to hear from anyone who may be able to supply any missing names: Yarcombe.Website

  1 Mrs Edwin Spiller
2 Mrs Baker
3 Rev Baker - preacher
4 Connie Rich
5 Arthur Bailey
6 Dulcie Rich
7 Marjorie Warren
8 Mr Wide
9 Charlie McCarthy
10 Mrs Wide
11 friend of Charlie!
12 Mrs Rosie Clarke
13 Luta Newberry
14 Mrs James Doble
15 Rose Bond
16 Janet Arscott
17 Clifford Arscott
18 Mr Warren
19 Robert Rich
20 Rev Stanley Jordan Newhouse
21 Page Rich
22 Mr Pavey A Mason
23 Kitty Boyland
24 Mrs Bishop Baptist Chapel
25 ?
26 Little Emmie Salter
27 Lilly Bailey
28 Cousin of Lilly Bailey
29 Emmy Salter
30 ? Lived at the Foundry
31 Rev Bishop The Chapel
32 Arscott child
33 Mrs Warren
34 Arscott child
35 Miss Bibbs
36 Arscott child
37 Connie Bibbs
38 ? Lived at the Foundry
39 Nellie Rich
40 Dorothy Bond nee Spiller
41 Mr Carol Clarke
42 Raymond Warren

Thelma Clarke adds:   We do have that one displayed in our Sunday School Room.   I think the Reverend gentleman is Frank Cripps and his wife Maisie who are both laid to rest in the churchyard.   Also, in the photo are the late Dulcie and Nellie Rich and Robert Rich.   I am also guessing that Samuel Warren is present along with his son Raymond.   Members of the Baker family are also there, you will remember George Long and his wife Emily?   Emily was a chapel member as were all her family who in those days lived at Moor Pit Farm.   Emily worked at our house when it was the village shop.
Thelma Clarke


Ancestral Search 37

July 2020

Hello,   My great grandmother was Mary Wiscombe, born in Yarcombe on 21st February 1855.   This is how I came to possess some old photos of Yarcombe dating from before WW2.   Some of these are already posted on your website but in a couple of cases I can add some information:  (1) On  Photograph Page 6, Postcard of Harding shop supplied by Steve Horner, the postcard in my possession has overleaf some notes written by Mary Wiscombe, as follows: "This photo of the shop & Post Office was taken more than 20 years ago [annotated by my mother "Approx. 1918"].   The Mr Harding you knew is standing in front of the shop, & the present Mrs Harding is by the gate."   (2) On Photograph Page 9, the postcard with legend "A good quality postcard picture from the early 1940s".   The card in my possession has overleaf some notes written by Mary Wiscombe, as follows: "This is the village as it is today [annotated by my mother "1938"], with the present Mr & Mrs Harding standing outside the shop."   (3) I also have the next postcard showing the school.   Postcards 2 & 3 are from the same publication series, as overleaf both are printed identically saying "Published by F.L. Harding, Yarcombe, Devon".   By implication both should be dated to approx. 1938.   I have two more old postcards for you:  (4) Postcard showing the shop with lady and dog in the street.   My great grandmother has written overleaf: "This is the village as it used to be, before the shop & Inn were altered."   (5) Postcard showing the interior of the church.    No writing overleaf.   Postcards 1, 4 & 5 are from the same publication series, as they are printed identically overleaf.   It's reasonable to assume that all three date from approx. 1918.   This would fit with the style of dress in postcard 4.   I hope you find these of interest.   If there are any Wiscombes still living in Yarcombe, please let them know that I have some information on the family tree and would be very willing to share what I know.   Andrew Duff

Peter Tarrant replies:   Thank you so much for visiting the website and for all the information and photographs which have now been incorporated into Photograph Pages 6 & 9.   We are always keen to publish any historical snippet about our village here, not just for our own benefit but also to help others who may be researching their personal family history.   I am sure your family tree would be of interest and we would appreciate a copy to post here if you agree.   I know there are some Wiscombes in Chard (6 miles feast of Yarcombe) and others further afield in Devon and Dorset, so it would be a very useful item.   Thanks.

Andrew Duff responds:   Thank you for your speedy response and for posting my photos and comments.   The key person in my family tree is my great grandmother Mary Wiscombe, born at Pithayne Cottages in Yarcombe in 1855 (second photo).   She married a man called William Weston Downs, a general labourer from Farnham, Surrey, and they moved to West London where I was born.   Mary's father was William Wiscombe, a farm labourer, also born in Yarcombe, in 1828.   William married Elizabeth Dimond who was from Membury but they settled in Yarcombe and had seven children between 1855 (Mary was the eldest) and 1867.   I have a photo of him as well (third photo), looking quite the gentleman in his later years.   William's father Thomas was born abt. 1797 in Wambrook, Somerset and seems to have settled in Yarcombe on his marriage to Elizabeth Cottrell on 27th March 1828.   He was also an agricultural labourer and they had five children of whom my great great grandfather William was the eldest.   My grandmother and her sister visited Pithayne Cottages in 1938, where their mother was born.   My mother also had a good look round the village in May 1971, again visiting her grandmother's birthplace (Pithayne Cottages, fourth photo).

Mary Wiscombe's pedigree is here (left) in PDF format.   I'm still researching her ancestry, but as some of these surnames were common at the time it may be impossible to work out who was related to whom.


 I hope you find this of interest, and please feel free to pass on this information to anyone locally who may be researching their family tree.   Best wishes,    Andrew.



Downs sisters at Yarcombe

Mary Wiscombe

William Wiscombe

Pithayne Cottage in May 1971

Ancestral Search 36

July 2020

Hi, My daughter's mother-in-law is adamant that her grandfather William Miller from Croakham Farm served in Alexandria during WW1.   Are you able to shed any light on this?    Many thanks,     Archie Needs

Steve Horner replies:   Thank you for your enquiry, most fascinating.   I have had a quick look at the records.   There is no mention of a William Miller from Yarcombe having served in the armed forces in World War I, at least his name is not on the plaque in the Baptist chapel.   I have done a search in the 1911 census and no William Miller is shown as living in Yarcombe.   Also I believe the tenant of Croakham farm at that time was James Loosemoor.   However oral family tradition is usually right, therefore can you give me details of William Miller, his approximate age would help.   Also details of your daughter's mother-in-law, her name and date of birth and her parents name and dates of birth would enable me to track this William Miller.

Archie Needs writes:   William Miller was born in 1896 and died in 1988.   He is buried in Yarcombe Cemetery (details here).   I don't think he purchased Croakham Farm until just after the war.   His son Arthur James "Jim" Miller (1922-1998) was living there with his parents (William & Charlotte) in the 1939 Register.   Jim is also in your WW2 Home Guard photo and is buried in Yarcombe Churchyard as well.   William Miller's daughter Brenda May Miller was born in 1955 and grew up at Croakham Farm.   Let me know if you need any more info.

Steve Horner responds:   In 2011 I met with Dorothy Miller who at that time was living in Marsh and she permitted me to copy all her photos of the Home Guard, one of which hangs in the village hall.   Dorothy Miller (nee Hatcher) married Jim Miller and she told me that her husband`s family came from Croakham and it was her daughter Brenda who you mentioned in your last e-mail to me.   May I therefore assume that Brenda is your daughter's mother in Law ?   Dorothy`s father lived at Foundry farm James lane in Membury, just a stone`s throw from the Yarcombe Parish boundary.   I have now found some more information about Croakham farm which was sold by the Yarcombe Estate in 1931 (see below, click to enlarge).   The tenant at that time was Mr W Miller under a lease dated March 18th 1920, so that fixes the date of his arrival in Yarcombe.   Thus it is entirely possible that his service history is not mentioned on the memorial in the Baptist Chapel because he did not arrive in the Parish until well after the war was over.   I would very much like to find out if indeed William Miller was in the armed forces in World War 1, but I cannot track him down as yet.   Do you know where he was born or indeed where his family came from?   I hope this is helpful.

Archie Needs replies:   It was indeed Brenda (my daughter's mother in law) who asked me to find out about William Miller's war record.   As far as I know William was born in Upottery on 10th Feb 1896.   He married Charlotte May Mitcham in 1920 which was around the time he bought or leased Croakham Farm.   In 1911 William was at Luxton Farm Upottery with his step father Charles Tucker.   In 1901 William was at Keenslease, Upottery with his parents Edward and Georgina.   Brenda is convinced William Miller served in Alexandria during WW1.   I have asked her son to try and get any more details from his mother and I'm awaiting a response.   Do you have a better scan of the Yarcombe Home Guard photo? I'm amazed so many people were in the Yarcombe Home Guard.   I'll let you know if I get any more information.

Steve Horner responds:   In fact I have six different photos of various sections of the Yarcombe Home Guard.   I had the originals professionally scanned, I am not certain what I did with the CD but I do have some good photos which were printed off.   You would be very welcome to borrow these to make your own copies.   "4" above has Dorothy and Jim Miller on the RHS of the front row.   I did get a lead on Charlotte May Mitcham who in the 1901 census was living with her parents at Barefield farm Upottery.   Do you have access to Ancestry and the WW1 Medals cards ?   I suspect William may have served with Devons as he was from that county.

Archie Needs replies:   Sorry, it's a bit remiss of me not to introduce myself properly.   I'm retired and live in Taunton.   I've helped out a few local groups & churches with identifying people on their war memorials etc.   A couple of years ago I was approached by the Imperial War Museum and asked if I would help them on their Lives of the First World War Project.   There were about 20 of us and we created 7.7 million life stories of people who served.   It was an immensely rewarding project which ended abruptly when the funding ran out.   The database is still available to use but is frozen in time as such.   I was allowed to concentrate on Somerset Soldiers which was ideal and I've kind of carried on trying to trace the soldiers on my spreadsheets and upload their details onto the Find a Grave website.   I have 2 main spreadsheets.   The first one contains the details of approx 12,000 Somerset soldiers who died in WW1 and I've tracked down 99% of those.   The second spreadsheet currently has nearly 20,000 Somerset soldiers who survived WW1 and is growing daily!   I've created this by referencing the 1918 Absent Voters list but I've only done the western half of the County so far.   I've also been doing some user-testing for my local Council who are trialling an on-line grave enquiry system for their Municipal Graveyards - that has been very helpful to me.   I thought trying to trace William Miller would be a pleasant distraction!   I can find no signing-on papers for William Miller (I assume they were destroyed by German incendiary bombs in WW2 as a lot of the WW1 were ironically).   I've also been through the medal cards for all the William Millers in the Devons Regiment and the Somerset Light Infantry - none of them served in Alexandria as far as I can tell.   Coming from a farming background he may well have served in the Army Service Corps or Labour Corps.   I was hoping you might have been able to give me a clue as there are 1935 William Millers on our IWM database for WW1.   According to Brenda, William's medals are with a distant cousin who now has cancer and they're reluctant to bother him.   Many thanks for the photos. I'm open to suggestions as to where to go next.



Ancestral Search 35

June 2020

Hello, I wonder if you can help me.   My 8th great-grandfather Robert Rowland was born in Upottery Devon (as were all his children).   It is thought that his wife was named Susannah Mather, but I have no confirmation of this.   He was baptised at St Marys Church Upottery 28th July 1633.   I have a copy of the parish record for his baptism.   He MAY have been married a number of times as it is understood his children were born between 1666-1688, all in Upottery Devon.   His Father was named as Edward Rowland.   To date I have been unable to trace a birth for Edward Rowland circa 1600 – 1605 in the St Marys Church Upottery baptism records.   I have been communicating with other researches and there is a thought that Edward Rowland MAY have been in the Yarcombe area 1600 – 1605 but we have not been able to locate any documentation to confirm this.   Do you have any information on this or if not can you maybe point me in the right direction?   Thanking you in advance,   Regards,   Mr Les Fitzgerald

Steve Horner replies:   I have a great interest in the history of our parish and I do try to help solve questions such as you have posed - as you know this is a really tough one.   The standard work on the history of our parish is From Monks to the Millennium written by Ruth Everitt and there is no reference to Edward Rowland mentioned therein.   I do have in my office a hard copy of a document to which Ruth did not have access when she wrote her book and this document is the pleadings of a court case, Drake vs Major, filed 23 November 1600 – it’s a transcription made by a historian I suspect was working for the Drake family.   The case is a claim by the then vicar of Yarcombe against the Drake family in respect of a dispute over Tithes.   This is a fascinating document listing all land holdings, the names of the owners / occupiers / tenants and the name of the holding.   Almost all the names of fields / farmsteads / meadows remain the same today.   I have looked for the name Rowland in the document but it does not feature.   It is entirely possible that your ancestor moved between Upottery and Yarcombe which are adjoining parishes in the county of Devon.   I did have a quick look on Ancestry where there is mention of Edward Rowland born in 1603, but the tree on which he is displayed does seem to be rather uncertain.   Please do not hesitate to come back to us if you have any further questions, and good luck with your researches.

Les Fitzgerald writes:   Thank you for the information.   The Ruth Everitt books sounds fascinating.   The name Drake is also in my Family ancestry.   A John Drake 1784 to 1839 was born in Topsham.   His father was Robert Drake of Sandford, near Crediton.   He married a Mary Clash.   Edward Rowland was her 2 x Great Grandparent!   As you say it is quite possible that he moved between Upottery and Yarcombe which as the crow flies is about 2 ½ miles.   I am aware that there are a few trees on Ancestry.   One of them links him to William Rowland both in London 1570 !!!   Not sure that I will ever resolve this but will keep plugging away.   Once again thank you for your time.

Steve Horner adds:   It is always gratifying to receive a prompt reply which demonstrates your appreciation of our work.   Ruth Everitt's book is indeed a wonderful record of our parish, Miranda Gudenian was a good friend of Ruth who sadly passed away about five years ago, however Miranda has an electronic version of her book and I know she is pleased to let anyone who applies to her to send out a copy in exchange for a donation to our local magazine which Miranda edits.   However your reply indicates your family are related to Drake family and illustrates the value of our ancestral search web site.   If you look at Ancestral Search 34 you will see a photo of the diamond wedding celebrations of Robert Drake Rich which was held in Upottery in 1951.   Robert Drake Rich farmed here in Yarcombe until he retired to Upottery.   Robert Drake Rich (1865-1952) was the son of Charles Rich (1824-1893) and Lydia Drake (1838-1921).   I am not certain if there is a connection between the Drake family who have long associations with Upottery and your family who seem to have come from Topsham.   This parish has a proud association with Sir Francis Drake who died without issue, although Sir Francis was born near Tavistock so there may be a connection way back to his family and yours.   Please keep in contact and may I wish you every good luck in tracing your family tree.

Les Fitzgerald writes:   Thanks for the information.   There used to be a family myth that there were people related to Sir Francis.   So much so that my 1st cousin 1x removed has the name Drake as a Middle name.   He in turn gave one of his sons Drake as a middle name as well!   As you say we may be some connection somewhere within his family.   56 people at the diamond wedding celebrations was a very good gathering indeed!   What is also great is that everybody has been identified.   Unfortunately I have several old family pictures, with no indication of name on them.   Some people I have managed to identify and other I cannot.   Regrettably the people who may well be able to identify them are no longer with us!   I have a further lead on Edward Rowland.   I have a baptism for what MAY be our Edward Rowland baptised in 1603 in Runnington Somerset.   This is only about 12 miles as the crow flies from Yarcombe and about 10 miles from Upottery.   The search continues.

Ancestral Search 34

June 2020

I have found your excellent site and wanted to say how good it is.   I am currently researching my son-in-law's family, who seem to have come from Yarcombe and surrounding area for many many generations.   Amongst the family names are Spiller, Drake, Rich, Satterley, Gollop and Knight (to name a few).   I wish to purchase a digital copy of Monks To Millennium.   Could you please let me know what I need to do.   Thanks in advance,
Helen East

Miranda Gudenian replies:   Thank you for your message.   Your family names have deep roots in Yarcombe.   I would be most willing to send you a copy of Ruth Everitt's book "From Monks to the Millennium".   I always ask for a donation, however; Ruth was a dear friend of mine and on her death a few years ago her family gave me the the rights to the book.   All donations go to Yarcombe Voices, the village magazine which I started nearly twenty years ago and produce each month.   I look forward to hearing from you.

Steve Horner writes:   I was pleased to read that you have found our Yarcombe web site of use to you in your researches into your son in laws family tree.   I hope by now that you have received a copy of from Monks to the Millennium and in that book I feel certain you will find many references to your family , certainly the surnames you mention are very familiar here in Yarcombe.   The web site essentially carries on the researches carried out by Ruth and which are recorded in her book, and thus any information about your family that you can feed back to us will be recorded for posterity and available to others who are also researching their roots.   If we can help in any way please let us know.

Helen East replies:   As soon as I receive the copy of the book, I’ll be back to you with more enquiries.   In the meantime I’ve wandered off into Otterford and Churchstanton in search of Willies and Loosemores.

Steve Horner responds:   The surname Willie is also of interest to me because Henry Willie (died 1792) owned the farm where I now live

In those days it was called Woodend (see doc, right).   In the Otterford village hall there is a massive chart on the wall which provides a huge amount of detail of the Willie family.   Keep working at your tree, and please keep us informed of your researches.

Helen East adds:   Thank you so much for the will, I think you may have given me a clue in the next line of my research.   Also have read through the ancestral searches on the site.   With the Willies, I am at John Willie (son in laws 6 x GG) 1737-1822, his Daughter Elizabeth who marries Peter Loosemore then Francis Drake is the direct line down.   I am having trouble finding a baptism record for John Willie.   But having read his will and the one you sent me today , and reading one of the queries on the website I see that John Willie is the son of Henry.   Would love to see the rest of that family tree in Otterford village hall, I will have to send the son in law over there when lockdown is lifted.   I am loving researching this family as they all seem to have stayed nearby, only wish my own was as good.   Poor old William Willie, I wonder if he gave up drinking !!

Steve Horner replies:   Undoubtedly we are both on the same track, you for the Willie family tree, whilst I am searching for the history of my house, which certainly has its origins in the 15th century but over the years has been repaired and altered by its various owners.   In my researches I have photographed various parts of the Willie tree which is displayed in the Otterford village hall and I am sending a selection of the best of my working papers that may give you some further leads.   The scanned copies are not good but will indicate to you the sort of information that I have on the Willie family.    In return if you do notice any reference to Woodend please send this to me.   You are lucky because the Willie family seem to have based themselves in Somerset and the Somerset Wills have been preserved whereas Devon Wills were destroyed by the Luftwaffe when the County Records office was bombed.

Helen East writes:   I will most definitely let you know if I come across any other references to Woodend.   I am constantly amazed at how many members of this family come from Yarcombe, and I will definitely visit Yarcombe when we are down, our daughter and son in law are in Melksham.

Just got the book from Miranda and think that Nellie Rich & Dulcie Rich (in the acknowledgements) are the daughters of Page Robert Rich, (my son in laws 2 x Gt Uncle).   If they are I have a family group photo of their parents Robert Drake Rich & Sarah Longs (from Upottery) wedding anniversary in 1952 (see below, click to enlarge).   Have included the list of names as well -all identified.   My son in law is a Hutchings, his Father & Grandmother still live in the area.   Son in law most Happy.


Steve Horner replies:   What a most wonderful photo which records a very happy event in the lives of all these people; indeed what care someone has taken to preserve the names for posterity.   Interestingly the Denning family and the Rich family are all related and the Dennings were the last tenants of this farm before it was sold by the estate in 1970 to meet a death duties.   Phyllis Denning (#16) has often visited us here at Woodhayne and sent us photos and written letters to us describing the family`s happy memories when they lived here.

I received one letter (a transcription, right) from Phyllis which in the first sentences provided me with more information about the evacuees

who were billeted here in the war, however it goes on to describe her maternal grandfather Robert Drake Rich whose Diamond wedding she attended and is shown the photo. The letter puts into context how the family moved from Yarcombe to New Barn which is Upottery and I hope you will find this useful in your researches.

Some years ago when I was researching the Home Guard in the parish a lady produced some formal group photos of the unit which I copied and one of these now hangs in the village hall with all the members identified by name (also on the World Wars page here).   Perhaps the Rich Diamond Wedding may similarly be featured, its such an important event in the history of our parish and its people.

Incidentally it is notable that not one person in the photo is overweight, probably as a result of war time austerity and hard work on the farms.

Helen East adds:   The photo and an email of memories of various relatives was what I started with in February this year, 2020.   My son in law is a Hutchings and his dad and grandmother came up with the photo a collection of as many relatives that they could remember.   I have been working on it since, lockdown has been very handy.   If you're on Ancestry you might want to take a look, they are certainly a family that is interwoven into Yarcombes past.   Let me know I’ll send a link if you like.   The reference in Phyllis’s letter to Drake is interesting, of course everyone wants to be related to someone famous, strangely the family legend of being related to Francis Drake, had turned itself into Sir Walter Raleigh in this branch!!, but hey ho you never know.   I have no doubt that the family would be proud for the photo to be featured, social history is so important, didn’t you just hate as a kid being lined up for those family photos!!, only now we wish we had more.   Thanks for the letter, it's putting a lot of this into prospective.


Ancestral Search 33

June 2020

I have been researching my ancestry during lockdown and discovered numerous links to Yarcombe through Broom and Newbury families.   I am very interested to obtain the book written by Ruth Everitt ' From Monks to the Millenium' which I have noted from your website.   I grew up in Axminster but had no idea of my roots in these local villages.       Kind Regards,    Lesley Crook

Steve Horner writes:   I was delighted that you have found our web site and I hope by now that you have received a copy of Ruth Everitts excellent history of our Parish.   The name Newbery Is very familiar to me, one John Newbery sided with the Duke of Monmouth being part of his rebellion in 1685.   The family were substantial land owners in the south of the Parish and I believe one branch of the family headed off to the fledgling colonies in North America.   I did not recognise the name Broom so I found reference to Henry Broom who lived at Blackhall in 1832.  I traced Henry in the 1841 census when he was still living at Blackhall with his wife Grace and their three children Thomas, William and Elizabeth.   Henry and Grace are recorded as being aged 40 in that census ,which may give you some leads for your tree.   In any event it would be very helpful if you could feedback to us any further information you unearth about the history of our parish so we can record it for posterity.   Please let me know if we can be of further assistance.

Lesley Crook
replies:   The day after I discovered the website, I discovered your excellent section of ancestral posts and recognised one or two names.   Thanks to the lockdown I have been able to access the Ancestry library edition via my local library link, and also to obtain free PDF copies of wills for the Broom and Newbery families which have been very enlightening from the National Archive website at Kew.   The furthest ancestor I have discovered is Thomas Broome who died in Yarcombe in 1645. His will left property to Moses Broom, his grandson.   He was married to Thomasin Richard who he married at Upottery 1590.   Their children were Josiah, Thomas,Grace, Richard and John.   Thomasin is also listed as dying in Yarcombe in February 1645.   Their son Thomas was born in 1593 and married Anne Beade at Yarcombe 7/11 /1616.   Their children were all born in Yarcombe :- Elleyn 1617, Edward 1619, Moses 1620, Swithin 1621, Marie 1623, Adrian 1625, Thomas 1630.   His wife Ann died in Yarcombe in 1645.
  Edward married Elizabeth Hussey 11/05/1641 at Stockland and their children were Moses 1642, Mary1643, William 1647 and James 1656 all born at Yarcombe.   Edward died in 1670 and Elizabeth in 1670 at Yarcombe.   Their son Moses married Joan Quick at Stockland in 1675 and they appear to have had only one son Moses born at Broadhembury in 1682.   Moses died 1708 in Yarcombe and Joan in 1712, also in Yarcombe.   Their son Moses married Susanna (Broom) and their son Amos was born in 1714 at Upottery.   I believe they had other sons called Moses and Aaron and a daughter called Margaret but I have not confirmed this.   Moses (father) died in Upottery in 1723.

Amos has proved to be a very interesting character as he had 2 children, Mary 1738 and Moses 1739, born prior to his marriage to Mary Newbery in Honiton in 1739.   I have been unable to establish which branch of the Newbery family she belonged to but the most likely contender seems Mary born in Cotleigh in 1712, father Richard.   Amos and Mary had 4 children born in Yarcombe -John 1742, Amos 1744, Robert 1746 and Mary 1747.   Their daughter Jenny was born at Dunkeswell in 1752 and their son William born at Sheldon in 1779.   They obviously moved to Dunkeswell between 1747 and 1752.

I then have a gap but Amos left his will in 1779 showing he was a wealthy yeoman, although not owning any property.   He left his wife £1 but most was left to 4 children of a Joanna Richards who moved on to change their names to Broom and become prominent gentlemen in Uffculme and surroundings thanks to their links with other members of the Richards family.   In the 1841 census the family are farmers at Sheldon Grange and Abbey Farm Dunkeswell.   William -the Dunkeswell farmer was then farming and living also at Sheldon Grange with his family in the 1851 census, and the 1840 Tithe apportionment lists William Broom as Occupier of Sheldon Grange.   I believe the infamous Amos was my 6x Grandfather and William as my 4xGrandfather.

I purchased all the available Parish registers for Yarcombe from Devon FHS but found virtually no entries for the Broom family.   Obviously most of mine were before these published records and I cannot get to the Archives at present so the search continues.   I have however also enjoyed reading the numerous wills of the prominent Newbery family which must be linked to Mary somehow.   It clearly illustrates how the estates were divided up until none seem to remain in the 1840's tithe apportionments.   I even came across a bankruptcy sale in the 1800's for a Newbery sheep and cattle dealer so I guess they had all moved on - some to Stockland, Membury and surrounding villages.

My grandparents moved to Axminster in 1925 in an apparently random move from an estate in Rockbeare (my grandmother was from South Devon and had been a servant on the estate prior to marrying the Yeoman's son).   It has since come to light that the Brooms and the Chapples (my grandfather Broom's mother) are all deeply rooted in East Devon and I myself was born in Honiton, although we lived in Axminster.   My grandparents had 9 living children most of whom settled in the same area and were very prominent in the town and especially the football team.   Many still live in Axminster.

I would be very glad to hear if you can tell me where any more of the older records are to be found.   By the way I believe the Henry you mentioned is from Amos's Richards connection as I found a will from a Henry in Yarcombe which suggested that.   I look forward to receiving the digital book very soon to flesh out the bones of life in the village during these times.

Steve Horner writes:   Wow!   You have been working hard, how long has it taken you to accumulate all this information?   I do have in my office a hard copy of the pleadings of a court case Drake vs Major filed 23 November 1600 – it’s a transcription made a historian I suspect working for the Drake family, the case is a claim by the then vicar of Yarcombe against the Drake family in respect of a dispute over Tithes.   This is a fascinating document listing all land holdings, the names of the owners/occupiers/tenants and the name of the holding.   Almost all the names of fields / farmsteads / meadows remain the same today.   I have looked for the name Broome in the document but it does not feature, perhaps from the Wills you can give me a farm name occupied or owned by the Broome family.   Keep up the good work and I hope you keep fit and well during the lockdown.



Ancestral Search 32

May 2020

Hi, I just came upon the website and have been delighted with the history and ancestral searches!   I have established, through a combination of hard digging through parish registers and DNA connections that I descend from Samuel Matthews (b. 1751/2 & baptized in Yarcombe) and Mary Flood (b. 1753 & baptized in Yarcombe).   I first found Samuel & Mary in Liskeard Cornwall, and it was their granddaughter Mary Chapple who emigrated to Canada where I live.   There were no Matthews in Liskeard before the birth of Mary's mother Susanna Matthews so I set out to find where the Matthews family came from originally.   I tracked Matthews families all over Cornwall, but eventually came to the conclusion that perhaps they originally came from Devon.   Susanna's older son ended up working in Devon and she died in Devon in Ullfcumbe so it seemed likely there were family ties.   I traced all the couples with the name of Samuel & Mary Matthews who baptized children between 1770 and 1800 and came up with the couple from Yarcombe.   They appear to have been an adventurous couple as they married in 1776, had several children baptized in Membury, then moved to Ashcombe for 10 years before moving north and having several more children in the Holsworthy area before they landed in Liskeard.   My 3x great grandmother Susanna was the last child born in Liskeard in 1796.   Samuel settled in Liskeard and the tax records of 1798 show that he ran an Inn called the White Horse and leased a number of fields and farm buildings.   Although all the dates and names lined up I was not sure that I really had the right family or if it was all wishful thinking.   However the Ancestry DNA test now appears to confirm the paper trail as I have had matches with descendants of Mary Flood's sisters and from descendants of the older children of Samuel & Mary Matthews.   This was exciting as it confirmed many long hours of work.   Last year my husband & I stopped in Yarcombe, visited the church, and had a quick look around at the beautiful area on our way to Cornwall.   We were very impressed, but unfortunately the Inn wasn't open that day or we would have stayed longer.   I have no idea exactly what status the Matthews, Bonds and Flood families had - although it seems they were of the yeoman class. I have been reviewing wills and Charles Flood (d. 1751) Mary's grandfather left a wonderful will (Prerogative of Canterbury) that confirmed all the members of that family.   Unfortunately most of the Matthews wills were Devon wills and I don't think they exist anymore.   The Bond family (Samuel's mother was Susanna Bond) seems to have farmed in the Crawley area, and if I have the right family Susanna's father was John Bond Esquire on the burial record in Combe St. Nicholas in 1728.   I have been through the National Archives Discovery Catalogue to see if there are any references to the Matthews, Bonds and Floods and have seen some transactions which might relate to my ancestors.   I have read every Bond, Flood & Matthews will I can get hold of but I would be interested to know if anyone has any other suggestions for research into my families.   I am currently working with Miranda to obtain a copy of the History.       Best regards,     Jane Briant, Toronto Canada

Steve Horner writes:   Jane,  This is very exciting.   I firmly believe that you are on the right track.   Please look closely at Ancestral search 18 which includes many references and photos of the Matthews family who lived at South Waterhayne farm which is close to Crawley.   There are members of the Matthews family still living in the parish and there is a known connection between the Bond family and the Matthews family.   Please come back to me with your observations once you have had time to digest this information.

Jane Briant replies:   Thank you so much for getting back to me.  I have spent some time looking at the various Matthews families including the family from the South Waterhayes Farm.   I don’t think my Matthews family is directly related to that family.   My 4x great grandfather Samuel Matthews (b. 1751) seemed to have ties to the Matthews of Membury.   He and his new wife, Mary Flood (m.1776), moved to Membury for 5 years after their marriage, as that is where their first 2 children were born.   Samuel’s brother William married Bridget Warry Wyat in Membury (m.1773).  I have combed the parish records back as far as they go and built up a family tree for the Membury Matthews.   I have made one major assumption, which if it is not right means the entire tree is wrong.   I have assumed that Samuel’s father William Matthews was married twice.   I have a William Matthews from Membury who married Sarah Newbury in 1725 at Yarcombe.   I do not see any children for a couple named William & Sarah, but I see a Sarah Matthews buried at Yarcombe in 1743.   Then I have a William Matthews who married Susanna Bond in 1750, and both of their sons had ties to Membury.   So I am making the assumption that this William is the same person and Susanna was a second wife.   Alternatively, there could be a missing generation.

In the National Archives there is a record of William Matthews of Membury taking on an apprentice for his property in Upottery in 1711.   It seems likely this William was Samuel’s grandfather.   William Snr. was married to a lady named Grace and they had 5 children baptized in Membury.   They farmed at Luggs Estate.   It looks like son Henry stayed and took over the family farm at Luggs Estate in Membury and lived with his mother Grace (d. 1760), while his brother William may have moved to the Upottery property.   Henry of Membury was found hiring apprentices and prosecuting a court case over property (National archives) in 1750.   Samuel’s brother William stayed in the Yarcombe area.   He and his wife Bridget Warry Wyat moved to Stockland to farm.   At least 2 of his sons, Richard & John also farmed in Stockland.   John & his wife Mary Hellier had 10 children, and Richard & his wife Mary Hounsel had 8 children.   I looked at the 1841 census and found Mary Hellier Matthews as a widow in Stockland with 4 of her children: Samuel, Elizabeth, Gladwise & Henry.   By 1851 none of them were there.   I did not find any of Richard’s family on the 1841 census or after.   I did find Gladwise Matthews in Canada, where she married in 1846 in Kingston Ontario, having come to Canada in 1829.   A number of the family may have come to Canada as well.

I am attaching my draft of the family tree of the Matthews of Membury (right).   If you are interesteed I also built trees for the Matthews of Upottery, and started on the Matthews of Watchford Yarcombe.       Best regards,    Jane

Steve Horner responds:   I am delighted to work with you on this search for your ancestors, it is very rewarding when we are able to help someone who has contacted us and receive back well researched replies.   It all helps piece together the history of our parish and neighbouring parishes here in East Devon.   Although I am not an expert I feel certain that William Matthews (b 1706 d 1755) married 1st Sarah Newbery (b 1705 d 1743) in 1725 without issue.   William married 2nd Susanna Bond (b 1727 d ? ) in 1750 and produced Samuel in 1750.   The facts and places fit perfectly.

I had an almost exactly similar situation in my own family tree.   Charles Wallington, an Inn Keeper near Berkeley in Gloucestershire, married twice - Mary Fryer in 1724 and Ann Fowler in 1767, Ann being much younger than Charles when they married.   Certainly the Newbery family were prominent in the southern part of Yarcombe at this time.   You also mention Luggs farm which lies just over the southern border of Yarcombe in Membury Parish.   This property came on the market about five years ago, here is a link which will enable you to view the house where your ancestors lived and the beautiful Yarty valley where we now live:   5 bedroom detached house for sale in Membury, Axminster   I hope this is helpful.   PLease keep in contact.

Peter Tarrant adds:   Your family trees would certainly be of interest - we would gladly make them available on the website if you would send copies.

Jane Briant replies:   Thank you for your note.   What a gorgeous house!   If my ancestors lived in that house they were doing pretty well for themselves.   I would really love to learn to read the Manner Rolls as it must be really interesting to see how the property moves from 1 family to another.   Thanks for your thoughts on the 2nd marriage for William Matthews.   I have had that scenario before as well, and in that case we were able to prove it with a will.   Poor Devon without its wills.   So frustrating.

As I said in my first note my husband & I stopped at the Yarcombe Church last October and had a look around.  It is such a beautiful area, and one day I hope we can come back.   However the world has changed and we may have to stay home a lot more now.   Maybe the world will be open for business again in the not too distant future.    We can only hope.

I would be delighted to pass over my family trees, which I am still working on .   At the moment I am tracing from older records forward and also now looking at the 1841 & 1851 censuses and working back.   I haven't yet met in the middle but getting much closer.   I'm afraid I get a bit obsessive when I am searching and I build large data bases of BMDs.   When I started looking for my Matthews family of Liskeard I checked as many surrounding Cornish parishes (and input all that info to an excel spreadsheet), but after getting nowhere I decided to try Devon and finally found my Samuel Matthews & Mary Flood in Yarcombe.   DNA has now confirmed my work!   All to say that my data base is huge as I am currently collecting BMDs for the parishes surrounding Yarcombe.   There are several wonderful village websites - including yours - which have been very helpful with parish records.   Yesterday, with the help of the 1851 census I traced the Waterhayes Matthews family back to Otterford and a couple of generations back.   The Matthews Family in Membury in 1841 go back to Upottery for about 4 generations I think.   Once I have done a bit more work I will gladly send you my family trees.

Steve Horner responds:   I am certain we would very much like to receive the other completed trees when completed, Peter and I very much work together on this project.   I take your point about the lack of Wills in Devon, we have to blame Herr Hitler and his Luftwaffe for the terrible destruction that they wreaked on Exeter during the blitz.   However we are lucky in Yarcombe, as you may know Sir Francis Drake first acquired land here in the parish in 1582, and his family (not direct descendants) steadily increased their land holdings over the centuries.   The records of the land holdings were carefully deposited in the Exeter County Records office by the land agents and lawyers so we have some very detailed records available for inspection.   Some 30 years ago I was sorting through a deed box and came across the Great Seal of Elizabeth 1 attached to a deed!   I suspect these have now been more carefully catalogued.   Have you read – or obtained a copy of - Ruth Everitts history of our parish “ From Monks to the Millennium”?   The source of much of her work was found in the Records Office.

Jane Briant adds:   I am attaching an Excel file I put together which includes several tabs (right).

On the first tabs I have identified the individual Matthew families in Yarcombe, Membury, and Stockland on the 1841 - 1911 censuses, and followed as each individual appears and disappears.  My notes on the families are down below the date.

On the second tab I put together family trees of those appearing on the censuses, with a bit of added information from the civil registration info on Find MY Past & Family Search.

The 3rd tab contains much more comprehensive Family Trees for the various Mathews families in the area.  This information is taken from a much larger Excel file where I have gathered BMDs for as many Matthews as I could find in the area. I use the sort function to find the family groups by date and place.  That was how I found my Matthews Family that appeared in Liskeard Cornwall and tracked them back to Yarcombe & Membury.  My paper trail has been confirmed by DNA so I am very pleased to know I was on the right path.

Anyway - this might be of interest to other people who have Matthews Ancestors from the Yarcombe area.  On my larger spreadsheet I also track the extended families - in particular the family of my ancestor Susanna Bond who married William Matthews of Membury & Upottery in 1750.  There are lots of Bonds in the area too.  The other family names include Cook, Flood, & Pinney.  This data is not as complete as the Matthews data.  This worksheet is always a work in progress, which is why I have just sent a copy of my Matthews Family Trees as opposed to sending you the whole file.


Ancestral Search 31

May 2020

Hi,  I am based in Scotland, and picking up the threads of family history research that I started 40 years ago - lots of spare time on my hands for the last few weeks!   Technology is making such a difference and I have discovered so much using sites like   I have also come across the Yarcombe website's Ancestral Search page and was particularly pleased to read some correspondence concerning the Spiller family, particularly with Clare Evans in Ancestral Search 13.   We share the same ancestor in Robert Spiller and Margere Colliar.   I’ve located Robert’s father John Spiller 1528 - 1582 married to Elizabeth Ricarde.   And John’s father John Spiller b 1495 - all this from   The Spiller family moved to Netherbury by 1830s, and then to Boxworth in Dorset from mid 1800s.   If you could kindly indicate how I may purchase a digital copy of any local history books that you have referred to and let me know how I can transfer the payment.   Secondly, I noted that Clare Evans was making enquiries of Huguenots in France, and wonder how I can link up with her regarding this?   Any help you can offer would be appreciated.             Kind regards,   Fiona Gillespie

Peter Tarrant writes:   Thanks for your enquiry.   I have passed your request for a copy of "From Monks to the Millennium - A History of Yarcombe" to Miranda Gudenian and you should hear from her soon.   In Ancestral Search 13 you can click on Clare's name at the foot of her enquiry to follow up your Huguenots lead.



Ancestral Search 30

April 2020

I'm currently researching the history of our house, Mount Pleasant Cottage (at the top of Yarcombe Hill), and I'm wondering whether any of the local residents could help me?   I'd like to find out more about who lived here and what the house looked like over time. I've been able to find out snippets of information such when the house was built, and think it was sold by the Yarcombe Estate in 1931 but could have been later.   I have found records of a Simon Pavey who lived here in 1881 and was recorded as a Woodsman on Manor.   In 1913 there was a sale at the house after the death of a Mr Pavey, which included various poultry.   The Monks from the Millennium book has been very helpful researching the area (as has the Yarcombe website), but there is little information relating to the cottage in the book.   I know it's a long shot, but any old estate maps or tithe maps that might show the cottage and grounds and any photographs would be great!   I would love to find out more and would be most grateful if anyone can help me.   I'm wondering if it would be possible to post my message on the Ancestral Search part of your website or send around in the e-version of the Yarcombe Voices bulletin?      Thanks in advance.    Mrs Taylor

Steve Horner writes:   I've had a look at the catalogue of the Estate Sale of 1931, which Barbara Salter kindly permitted me to photocopy.

The only mention of Mount Pleasant is a reference to your water supply, (see page 2 of the particulars of Livenhayes farm. right), so I doubt it was included in the sale of 1931.   The Pavey family appear to have been long-time residents in Yarcombe, Simon Pavey was born in June 1839 in Yarcombe, his father, Simon, was 43 and his mother, Elizabeth, was 21.   He married Mary Ackland on 22 December 1859 in the church of St John the Baptist, Yarcombe.   They had eight children in 16 years.   He died on 19 October 1913 in Yarcombe at the age of 74.   In the 1861 census Simon was living in one of the Cottages up on the Beacon, by 1871 he was living at Mount Pleasant with his family where he remained until his death in 1913.  Interestingly he was able to read and write as his signature appears on both his marriage certificate and the 1911 Census records.   His estate valued at £46.18.10p in 1913 would be worth about £6,000 in today's money.   We would be grateful if you would keep this web site updated with any further information that you discover about your home.

Sienna Taylor replies:   The document mentions reference to OS map numbers and a number 2 plan.   Would it be possible to see these as well (if they exist?)   A really interesting document, thanks to Steve.

Steve Horner writes:   The Plan attached to the 1931 sale particulars does not exist in the copy I have.   Ordnance Survey maps for the late

1880s thru 1909 can be found on line (see the example, right, for Marsh which we needed for the Affordable Housing Project).   In this example fields each have a three digit number followed by field size in acres.   There is much useful information on these OS maps.   Your next step will be to visit the Devon County library where you can view the 1840s Tithe maps.   I hope this helps.


Ancestral Search 29

April 2020

Hi, I’m researching my family history and have traced some of my ancestors to Yarcombe. In 1756, Betty Wale married Samuel Bond (my 5th great grandfather) in Yarcombe by Banns. Whilst I have been able to trace Samuel lineage further back, there are three possible Betty Wales in Yarcombe as follows:

  Betty Wale born to William and Sarah in 1731
Betty Wale born to Robert and Ann in 1733
Betty Wale born to John and Ally in 1740.

I have discounted the 1740 birth as this would put Betty at 16 when she married and so she would have required parental consent under the Marriage Act of 1753 and this is not recorded marriage Banns of 1756.   I haven’t found any burial records for Betty Wale between 1731 and 1756 so cannot rule out either the 1731 or the 1733 Betty.   In addition to the Betty Wale/Samuel Bond marriage of 1756, there is a marriage between a Betty Wale and John Bastable in 1761 in Yarcombe, which could therefore be any of the three Betty Wales. I haven’t been able to find a burial for Betty Bastable.   The only possible burial record I have found is for Elizabeth Bond in 1809 (no age given).

I wondered if there are any monumental inscriptions in the church yard which might help me determine which Betty Wale married Samuel Bond (or John Bastable).   Any assistance you could give would be very much appreciated.     Kind regards,
  Chris Sane

Steve Horner writes:   Chris. you have clearly spent much time puzzling over this part of your family history and I suspect there is little I can add. Both Bond and Wale are familiar local names, and so far as I am aware, local gravestones and monumental inscriptions in the early 18th century no longer exist in our church or churchyard.   It may be worth your while in extending your search into the neighbouring parishes of Churchstanton, which was transferred from Devon in 1896 and Otterford, both in Somerset, and Stockland in East Devon.   I did spot one burial in Churchstanton that may fit, Betty Bond buried December 11 1785.   I am sorry I cannot help further, however if you do find an answer please let us know we are always keen to record local history on our web site.

Ancestral Search 28

March 2020

I would like to access your digital version of the book, FROM MONKS TO THE MILLENNIUM- A History of Yarcombe.   Angela Lane, a volunteer at SDFHS, suggested that I find this book, as she had found references to Spillers in it.   I'm Jane Arni, & my Mother was a Spiller.   Her family immigrated to the US in the early 1800s.   I have now traced them back to Somerset/Devon area.   I'm hoping to find a tidbit or two that would make my ancestors come to life.   While factual, only dates are soo boring!     Thank you for your help,  Jane Arni

Miranda Gudenian replies:   The Spiller family have very deep roots in Yarcombe and the surrounding area.   Steve Horner, our village historian would be able to tell you much more than I can, and you will find references to the family in Ruth Everitt's book on the history of the Parish.   I should be delighted to wing you a copy of the book; Ruth, who was one of my dearest friends, died a few years ago and her family have given me the rights to the book.   Ruth wanted any donations from sales to go to the non-profit making village magazine, Yarcombe Voices, which I produce.   If you would be willing to donate a small sum I should be very grateful.

Steve Horner writes:   We are always pleased to receive queries from descendants of those who once lived in our Parish, it adds to our store of knowledge about our history.   May I assume you live in the USA?   Can you give me the full details of the acronym SDFHS which may give me a further clue as to your location.   If you provide me with the full names and any dates of your family members who emigrated to the USA in the early 1800s I may be able to provide a more detailed answer, indeed in some instances in reply to queries I have been able to send photos of where ancestors lived in the village.

Jane Arni replies:   Thank you for your quick reply.   Yes, I live in the USA.   I contacted the Somerset & Dorset Family History Society (SDFHS) when I had researched enough to believe that my ancestors were from Wellington, Somerset.   A society volunteer, Angela Lane, has been doing her own research to verify my conclusions.   She came to the same conclusions without me revealing who I believed to be my ancestor.   I wanted confirmation before I continued researching.

My immigrant ancestor was Joel M Spiller (the M was believed to stand for Morris).   He & John Spiller (whom I believe is his brother) came to New York City ca 1824.   He married Mary Adaline Savoie in the 2nd Presbyterian Church in NYC.   She was listed in the census as being born in Dominica.   They had four sons, Charles Henry, Robert Joel, John A & George Washington Spiller.   His naturalization papers dated 30 Oct 1840 stated he was born in England.   The NY City Directories from 1828-1842 state that Joel & John worked in several occupations including hairdresser, clockmaker, & bell hanger. In early 1840s they had moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, & were working as clockmakers.   They also started the first Masonic Lodge in Ohio in 1842 according to a newspaper article commemorating it’s 50th anniversary in 1892.   Joel moved to a small town in southern Illinois between 1850 & 1859.   He died in 1860 of typhoid fever at the age of 59 so he was probably born about 1801-2.   His occupation was listed as Masonic Lecturer at that time.   His possessions at death did not exhibit opulence, but were certainly more than most would have in a small fruit growing community including 78 books.   Yes, he, his wife & sons all could read and write.

Would you like for me to suggest who his parents might be, and from where? Or would you like to take this information and come to your own conclusions?   Please feel free to ask questions as needed as I may have omitted information that I have inadvertently.   Thank you for your willingness to search & share any information you may have about my Spiller ancestors.

Steve Horner responds:   I am delighted at your prompt response, as you will have seen from our website we always try to answer Ancestral Queries however on occasions we do not get a response which is disappointing.   I had a quick look at Ancestry and noted a Joel Spiller christened 21st March 1802 Yarcombe died 4th April 1802.   Parents were Henry Spiller and Mary Hall who had many children including a John.   If you look at the Index extract of the book on Yarcombe in Ancestral Search 6, you will note that there are very many Spillers recorded in Yarcombe, if there is a connection to our Parish you should buy an electronic copy from Miranda.   I am also interested to learn Joel was a very active Mason.   Are your family still connected to a local Lodge?   Many of the founding fathers of your nation were masons and masonic symbolism is much in evidence in your country, and has links back to the British Isles.   Have you approached the Grand Lodge in Ohio who will in all probability have detailed records of your ancestor?   My own family have long connections with the Craft going back generations.

Finally I have spent much time on business in the USA and on one visit to Houston I travelled down to Galveston where I spent a few happy hours looking over a tall ship, a barque involved in the cotton trade if I recall correctly.   In any event I look forward to helping you find your family roots which I strongly suspect lie here in Yarcombe, just give me a few more leads please.


Jane Arni replies:   Thank you for the information on the index for the book on Yarcombe.   Miranda’s has winged a digital version to me and I’ve have scanned it finding many Spiller possibilities.   I’m trying to be methodical and take my research one generation at a time.   Angela has purposed Joel’s parents as being Robert Spiller & Hannah Morrish.   They are the same as what I had thought without suggesting them to her, so it is nice to now have them verified.   I know nothing of Joel’s siblings, S(L)illian 1799, Mary 1801, Joel 1804, John 1806, Henry 1814.   These are found in the Nonconformist Records.

Thank you, also, for the suggestion of contacting the Grand Lodge in Ohio.   I have called, left a message and hope to hear back from them soon.   Many of my grandfather’s 14 siblings were involved as well as my Mother’s brother.   I’ll have to ask the question at our next Spiller Reunion to see if my generation is involved.

You certainly pegged my location quickly.   I was born in Galveston & raised in the area.   After university, I took a teaching job in Denver, Colorado where I’ve lived for over 50 years.   We now summer in Colorado, and winter in Texas.   The tall ship you mentioned is the Elissa.   Galveston is proud to museum a tall ship from that era.

Steve Horner writes:   I believe you and your friend Angela have already dug deep into the records and have gleaned as much information as is possible.   I was interested to discover that Robert Spiller and Jane Morrish were married in July 1798 in the Church of St John the Baptist in Wellington, which would have been a Church of England ceremony, perhaps because Jane`s family were members of the Church of England.   However their four children Lilliana born 12th January 1799 (!) Mary born 25th May 1801 Joel born 11th January 1804 and John born 30th July 1806 were all christened on 15th February 1809 in the Independent Lower Meeting House in Wellington, which was undoubtedly a Non-Conformist place of worship although I have a feeling a Meeting House describes the place where Quakers worship.   I recall you told me that Joel was later married in a Presbyterian ceremony in New York so he followed the pattern of religious practice later in his life (click to see scan).   Our local Baptist Minister Thelma Clarke is quite an expert on such matters and I could ask her more about the Meeting House in Wellington if you so wished.   One point fascinates me, how did you make a connection to Yarcombe (County of Devon) which lies about ten miles to the South West of Wellington ( County of Somerset)?   I hope this exchange of information has proved useful to you, in any event please keep in contact and let us know any further local connections to your family.

Jonathan Spiller writes:   Thelma Clarke included me into some correspondence you have been involved in with Jane Arni regarding a Joel Spiller.   I do have a couple of Joels in my tree….one died in infancy the next was born about 1738.   I have been having some difficulty identifying some of the people being referred to eg Robert Spiller as there are several people with the same name.   Perhaps if their dates (b. d.) were added it may be possible for me to see if they are indeed the same people in my tree.   Perhaps Robert that is referred to is one of those.   Nellie Rich did a good job of researching ancestors including some Spiller tree and I have managed to get this into an ancestry Tree that I am willing to share if you wish.    Regards,    Jonathan Spiller

Steve Horner writes:   Very many thanks for your reply, I will leave it to Jane Arni to reply.


Ancestral Search 27

February 2020

I have been researching my family history and have found I am directly descended from an Abraham Knight b.1764 Yarcombe and May Loosemoore b. 1769 in Yarcombe.  Also with direct links to the Spiller family, which I believe has had a connection with the parish for many centuries.  I came across the Yarcombe website and reference to the book 'From Monks to the Millenium - A History of Yarcombe'.  I would be very interested in receiving an electronic copy of the book if available and would be willing to make a donation.  I look forward to hearing from you.   Many thanks,  Paul Gebbett

Miranda Gudenian writes:   Thank you for your most interesting message. I am copying in to my reply our village historian, Steve Horner, who may be able to assist your further with your quest regarding your family history.  Yes, the Spiller family have very deep roots in Yarcombe.  I would be most willing to send you a copy of Ruth Everitt's book "From Monks to the Millennium".  It is very kind of you to offer a donation - I now hold the rights to the book and all donation go to Yarcombe Voices, the village magazine which I started nearly twenty years ago and produce each month.


Ancestral Search 26

March 2020

Hi, I would be very interested in acquiring a digital copy of the book From Monks to the Millennium – A History of Yarcombe.   On researching my family history recently I’ve discovered my Welsh ancestors actually originated from Yarcombe.  My Gt Grandfather Thomas Northam who died in WW1 was born in Cotleigh, Honiton in 1886 before moving to Wales as a young boy.  His father, Thomas was born in Yarcombe around 1861 (though died in 1909 in Wales from injuries sustained in a pit accident).  Records show that Thomas’ father Eli was born (around 1838) and lived in Yarcombe as did his father Thomas Northam (born around 1791).  It would be interesting to see if there’s any mention of the Northams in the book but if not, I would enjoy reading some more background history on Yarcombe.  Many thanks.  Alison Redfern

Miranda Gudenian writes:   Thank you for your most interesting message.  I am copying in to my reply our village historian, Steve Horner, who may be able to assist your further with your quest regarding your family history.  Yes, there is most certainly mention of Northams in the book - indeed, a farmstead called Northams Farm.  I would be most willing to send you a copy of Ruth Everitt's book "From Monks to the Millennium".  I always ask for a donation, however - Ruth was one of my dearest friends and her family have given me the rights to the book; all donation go to Yarcombe Voices, the village magazine which I started nearly twenty years ago and produce each month.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Ancestral Search 25

January 2020

Hi, I was in Yarcombe yesterday and was looking for the plaque put up from the evacuees of Lambeth Walk. Just wanted to know where it is, as my Dad was the one who paid for this.   Peter Sullivan

Steve Horner writes:   Peter, delighted you have contacted us.  I have sent a photo of the plaque that you enquired about (right, click to enlarge) which is to be found in the Yarcombe Village Hall .  If you visit our World Wars pages, within are photos of the evacuees, amongst whom are mentioned Patrick, Nellie, Michael and Peter Sullivan.  I would be interested to learn which one was your father.  Many of these children went to St Anne's Roman Catholic Primary school in Lambeth.  I have written to the school to see if they have an interest, but I have never received a reply.  I look forward to hearing from you.



Ancestral Search 24

January 2020

I have a copy of Ruth Everitt's book, but also want to praise you for all your ongoing local history research and the support you offer others.  The web pages are something of which Yarcombe should be proud.  I have family roots in Yarcombe but they are some way back.  The first thing I discovered was the 5th January 1789 marriage at Yarcombe of Anna VINCENT and Elias CARTER (from Harpford).  Question 1 - How might they have come to meet?  I think Elias CARTER may have been living in Yarcombe a few months but after marriage the couple settled in Harpford where they had 10 children, all of whom survived infancy.  Elias became a yeoman farmer, churchwarden, overseer etc.  Interestingly Anna had an illegitimate daughter, Rachel VINCENT who was baptised at Yarcombe in 1787.  I have never found any mention of the child's father but when Anna left Yarcombe with her new husband, it would appear Rachel VINCENT remained in the care of her maternal grandparents, John VINCENT b1727 and Hannah.  Question 2 - Have you any idea who might have been Rachel's father?

I know a lot about John VINCENT b1727 of Dennington and have a copy of his will.  He died in 1812 and left money to both his married daughter Anna CARTER of Harpford and to his grand daughter Rachel who had married Francis WYATT at Yarcombe in 1810.  She had a big family and died a grand old lady (formally a cow keeper!) in 1875 at Smeatharp, Upottery (aged 88yrs).  I don't think it a coincidence that one of her sons Thomas WYATT b1826, married Sarah Hare CARTER, a grand daughter of her mother (Anna CARTER nee VINCENT.)   With a fair degree of reliability I can go back several generations with the VINCENT family to the marriage of James VINCENT and Prudence DARE c 1680.  However I have never been able to validate this marriage in any parish register.  The DARE family that Ruth Everitt wrote about at Clifthayne, Yarcombe are my ancestors and I believe came from Kilmington/ Axminster in the late 16th century/ early 17th century.

Question 3 - My BIG QUESTION - There are two babies named John VINCENT baptised at Yarcombe in 1727.  I believe they were cousins!  I have always gone with John, son of Benjamin VINCENT and Rachel, only because Anna VINCENT called her illegitimate daughter Rachel.  I would love to have some collaborating document of this.  The other John VINCENT was son of James VINCENT and Elizabeth nee TURNER.   Question 4 - How come in John VINCENT's 1812 will did he have property (Simpson's Court) in Thurlbear? I know his wife came from Pitminster but I've never worked out the Thurlbear connection.   Sorry this is so long but when I get on to talking about family history, I find it difficult to stop.  I am happy if you wish to add my comments on the Yarcombe webpage or to share anywhere else that you fancy.  If you know others, I would love to make contact with people researching the same names.   With kind regards, Anne Speight, Loughborough, England

Peter Tarrant writes:   Thank you for your enquiry and kind comments about the Yarcombe website.  I added the Ancestral Searches page nearly 2 years ago thinking it may perhaps encourage a couple of enquiries, but have been pleased to see them arriving at a steady pace ever since!   We are very fortunate to have someone in Yarcombe as dedicated as Steve Horner and much of this would have been impossible without him.   Having said that I suspect some of your questions are a little deeper than the average.   I await Steve's response with interest!

Steve Horner writes:   I was of course delighted to receive your kind wishes and the information about various local families with whom you have a connection.  As you know this information will now be out there on the world wide web and be collected by powerful search engines such as Google so your names may well be picked up by others researching the same names.  I am afraid I cannot answer any of your detailed questions, however one question for you please.  Over the years starting in 1582, the Drake family gradually acquired much of the land in the parish of Yarcombe.  My house now called Old Woodhayne Farm adjoins Clifthayne Farm where the Dare family lived.  Old Woodhayne Farm was sold by the estate in 1970, and I am writing a history of the house which has its origins in the 15th Century.  As Ruth suggests in her book, Clifthayne was probably purchased by the Drake estate between 1786, when it was owned by John Willie, and 1794, when it is mentioned in the Estate timber survey.

Now here comes the tricky part - my farm, then called Woodend, was owned by Henry Willie who died in 1792, and I suspect John Willie and he were related.  I am almost certain that the Drake family acquired Woodend upon the death of Henry Willie.  The dates of late 1790s might well indicate a sale of both properties to the Drake family (Lord Heathfield).  Do you have any record, perhaps in a will, as to when the ownership of Clifthayne passed from the Dare family to John Willie?

I am sorry I cannot help more with your questions, however perhaps others will have some clues for you.

Anne Speight writes:   Thank you for your reply. I realised my questions were difficult ones.  By several centuries this is the furthest back I have got on any of my family history branches.  I have attached the Dare wills that I have but this there may be others.

Joan Dare Will 1626 John Dare Will 1636 Robert Dare Will 1590 Robert Dare Will 1667

Steve Horner writes:   You are quite right, yours is a difficult tree to work out.  However, I spent about an hour on the web site and there are several trees there for the Dare family of Yarcombe, although I am not certain these are complete and correct in all detail as there are inconsistencies for the information as shown.

It is the Will of John Dare, died 1637, whose wife was called Prudence in his Will, that is of interest to me as in it he bequeathes "all my estate of lease of my tenure of Clifthayne" to his son his eldest son Robert, born 1621.  There is no doubt that John Dare was of some stature in the parish describing himself as a Yeoman.

I have one further clue for you which relates to a Court Case filed 23rd November 1600 called Drake vs Major.  Thomas Drake was the brother of Sir Francis Drake who inherited the estates of his late brother and Major was the Vicar of Yarcombe 1579-1627.  The Vicar claimed his entitlement of tithes from Drake and in his pleadings show all the holdings in the Manor of Yarcombe farm by farm and the name of the person who held the land.  A Robert Dare is shown as holding both Clifthayes and land in Dennington.  This leads me to the conclusion that this Robert Dare was the son of Robert Dare* whose will was dated 23rd July 1590.  BUT by 1637 the holding of Clifthayne was in the ownership of John Dare so your hypothesis that Robert Dare* died and thus the estate went to his brother John may be correct.

Anne Speight writes:   Thank you.   I received the photo of Cliffhayne.  Looks a place full of history!  Many thanks.  You also asked for my family tree as it pertains to Yarcombe.  There are 2 interconnected parts - the DARE tree and the VINCENT tree:


Hannah VINCENT was the person who left Yarcombe and moved with her new husband to Harpford in the Lower Otter valley.  All dates given are from registers at Yarcombe (unless described differently).

Hannah Vincent b. 13 March 1768 and m. 5 Jan 1789 to Elias Carter (before this marriage Hannah had an illegitimate child Rachel b.1787 but when Hannah married, Rachel remained with her Vincent grandparents. I know a lot about Rachel. One of her son's married a grandchild of Hannah Carter. The families must have kept in touch). Hannah Carter d 1852 Harpford.

John Vincent b.1727 and m. 12 Feb 1765 Hannah Beer, widow. John Vincent was described of Dennington, he made a detailed Will, d.1812. Hannah died 12 Jan 1822.

Benjamin Vincent b.5 Feb 1700 and m. 21 Sept 1725 Rachel Denham at Pitminster. Their children baptised at Yarcombe. Benjamin died 16 Dec 1764 and Rachel died 13 March 1769.

James Vincent b.22 Jan 1636 and m Prudence Dare (no record found of this marriage) but they had a large family baptised Yarcombe. James died 1721. Prudence died 3 Feb 1724

Robert Vincent b.1 Oct 1587 and m. 27 November 1625 Jane Way. They had many children. Robert died 21 Jan 1669. Jane died 4 Jan 1662.


Prudence Dare b. 5 March 1658 married James Vincent about 1680.

Robert Dare b.24 Jan 1618 (son of John & Prudence). Married Ann? (Ann is noted in baptism registers as mother of his children but no marriage found, probably c1657. Maybe her surname was Titus???). Possibly Ann died c1668 and Robert had a 2nd wife. In his Will, Robert describes his wife as Agnes. Robert died 1667.

John Dare - no idea when or where born, but his father was Robert Dare and John was only the 2nd son. (The elder son was Robert Dare who as a bachelor died sometime after 1600, but with no heirs). John married Prudence Mathew, possibly at Yarcombe. Their children born 1616-1630. John Dare died 1636. His wife outlived him but I don't know when she died.

Robert Dare of Clifthayne. No idea when or where born or who was mother of his children - Agnes, Joane, Robert, John. Robert Dare snr died at Yarcombe in 1590. Will.

I hope you can put together a tree from all this.  It does get confusing when the same names are used over and over again.  As you will notice there are several places where I lose track of people but the records are patchy and difficult to read this far back.  The Vincents are known to move around local parishes and just possibly the Dare family originally came from Kilmington / Axminster.

Many thanks for all your interest.  Please let me know if you find any new 'leads'.


Ancestral Search 23

December 2019

Hi, Have just been browsing your excellent site; I am looking into my wife’s ancestor, a John Wiscombe (or Wescombe) who was born in Yarcombe around 1775.   I think he married Anna Mutter in 1805 and had 3 or 4 children, then married Mary Brewer in 1815 with whom he had a further 10 children!   I can only find a single birth record so it looks like he married twice, although I am not sure what the circumstances were.   I believe his parents were Robert and Jemima, who I assume also lived in Yarcombe.   He was in the 1841 census in Yarcombe but I cannot decipher the address given as the image quality is very poor. Any help would be gratefully received.   Thank you.   Allan Bicknell.

Peter Tarrant writes:   Thanks for visiting the Yarcombe website.   I have scanned the publication 'From Monks To The Millennium'  and Wiscombe/Wescombe drew a blank, but there are references to Mutter and Brewer reproduced below.   Much may be irrelevant, for example the second extract for Mutter refers to a property rather than a surname, but I have included each paragraph in full for completeness:


This is probably the mill at Dennington that is mentioned in early documents. In 1600 there is a mill listed as Dynyngton Mill, occupied by John Mutter, paying tithes of 12d. to the vicarage.  In 1782 there is dual ownership or a mortgage arrangement between the Drake Estate and widow Spiller.  Occupiers of the mill include John Spiller, Robert Willie, John Wilce and William Manley.  The ¾ acre mill pond was fed by a stream rising on Brown Down.  The machinery consisted of an overshot wheel 12` in diameter and 3` wide that drove a shaft which not only powered the mill, but also passed into the house to assist with the mixing of dough for bread making.  The electoral roll of 1832-3 shows that it was a rented Estate above £50.  The Estate kept the mill and bakehouse in good repair, T.Trott repairing the oven and replacing bricks, and Hockey & Co. providing new mill stones for £12 in 1897 as well as repairing arms and bearings in 1899.  A flour machine was supplied in 1901 and more repairs were undertaken on the water wheel and machinery costing £81. 10s.  In 1931 the mill was sold and the sitting tenant, Mr.F.Quick, became the new owner. By 1953 the water wheel required extensive repairs and the mill closed.


The first documentation of this property that could be found was dated 1784, when a Peter Toller bought a freehold estate of 23 acres from William Hill.  Prior to this date the property had been known as May‟s tenement at Marsh. Peter Toller left Toller‟s Marsh to Stephen Gollop, subject to payment by Gollop of £100 to his sister, Mary, wife of Ben Hurford, at the age of 21 years.  The property was actually inherited by George Gollop, (Stephen‟s brother), Stephen having died before he could claim his inheritance.  Peter Toller had another property known as Toller's Mutters. This was sold to the Yarcombe Estate sometime before 1810 and it was added to New Barn. George Gollop retained Toller‟s Marsh, using it to raise money by leasing and releasing and mortgaging. A Samuel Wyatt of Buckland St. Mary paid George Gollop £300 for a release in 1844. This was the era of coaches and coaching routes, and land at Marsh, being on the London to Exeter coaching route, would have been much in demand. Part of the estate near Clifthayne, a small field of just over an acre called Marshment Down, was sold to Mr. John Kerly, a gamekeeper on the Yarcombe Manor Estate.  A poultry enterprise was operated for a while at Toller‟s Marsh during this century and it is now a privately owned small-holding.

HAY (also known as Higher, Middle, Little and Haines Hay)

It is difficult to decipher with any accuracy the exact history of the remaining Hays from the available documents. It is probable that Higher Hays either incorporated Haines Hay or was once known as "Haines Hay‟.  Little Hays is shown on the Enclosure Map of 1817 as Middle Hays.  In 1600 it was an important area as there are four Hays listed:- Haye - occupier Richard Newberie, tithe 6d, Haye and Adam‟s Meade - occupier Elizabeth Mathew (widow), tithe 8d, Hayes and Rodlands Meade - occupiers Brigett Turner and John Soper, tithe 8d, and Hay and Hynxwell - occupier Charles Pavey, tithe 10d. Hynxwell is described as barton land. In the 1727 Land Tax Survey there are three properties listed as Hay.  They are as follows:- For Hay, John Strickland, tax £1. 19s. 11¾d, For part of Hay, David Pay (perhaps Pavey), tax 12s. 7½d, For Hay, Susanna Trott, tax 8s. 5d.  Also shown are Hinkswell, John Strickland, tax 14s. 8¾d. Adams and Willmore, William Matthews, tax 17s. 10½d.  The Estate Timber Survey of 1794-5 shows a small property called Middle Hay and two larger holdings, Higher Hay and Haines Hay.  The Land Tax of 1798 shows John Strickland as owner and tenant of Hay (leased for lives from Estate); he is also the tenant of Haines Hay, for which he paid a tax of £1. 15s. 9½d.  This is almost exactly the total of tax paid for the properties of Pay, Trott and Strickland (Hinkswell) in the 1727 Land Tax Survey.  By 1810 Higher Hay is no longer listed, but there is a Mrs. Strickland shown as a tenant of Lord Heathfield‟s at Haines Hay as well as Haykins and Wellsmead.  The Enclosure Map of 1817 reintroduces Higher Hays, with John Matthews junior as the occupier, and Middle Hay (Little) is shown with no land, and the occupier as Richard Mutter. Hearsay from reliable sources tell of a fire at Higher Hays and the existence of another fine older building between the two existing Hays, which was pulled down.

The references to Brewer follow:

BEACON HOUSE (formerly site of Yarcot)

Beacon House has recently been built on the site of Yarcot. The skilful use of local stone in its construction has helped the house to blend into the surroundings.  There were probably three cottages on this site, although none of them remains today.  The first documentation is a schedule of deeds relating to a cottage and two pieces of garden.  In 1827 Robert Brewer gifted it to his grandson John Pike, who in 1831 transferred the cottage and land to Robert Spiller (Panshayne) for 2,000 years.  He received £20 plus interest and moved to Stockland.  The two pieces of garden referred to are probably the site of Beacon House (Yarcot) and Emmet‟s Farm.  In 1877 R.Pavey sold the property to the Yarcombe Estate.  In 1931 the Yarcombe Estate sold Yarcot, a stone-built thatched cottage, and not even the walls remain of what had once been known as "Brewer's Cottage‟ to the north-east of Yarcot.

PETERHAYS (also known as Petershegh or Great Peterhays)

Peterhays, recognized as one of the best farms in the Parish, was for many years the property of Exeter Cathedral.  In 1326 Bishop Walter Stapledon‟s tenant had the following stock on the farm:- 2 sumpter beasts (draught horses) valued at 10s., 16 oxen at 6/8d. per head (£5. 0s. 8d.), 1 bull 6/8d., 1 yearling 1/6d., 180 sheep at 12d. per head (£9. 0s. 0d.).  In the grange the corn was worth £9. 6s.  The dead stock of timber, lime, laths and cut stone for the new buildings was valued at £10. 1s. 0d.  There was also timber worth 10s. at Madeford.  Bishop Stapledon was murdered in London and his successor was James de Berkeley, whose very brief episcopate was of 14 weeks!  “Death overtook him on June 24th., 1327 while on a visit to Peterhays, an episcopal manor in the Parish of Yarcombe, on the north-east border of his diocese”.  His death was registered at Newenham Abbey at nearby Axminster.  In 1600 the three occupiers of Peterhays, William Bennett, Jasper Brewer and John Symes were required to pay a tithe of 4s. 9d., the highest in the Parish.  There was a valuation of the property in 1647.  Rents and profits per annum were £10. 0s. 0d., improvements above per annum, £108. 10s. 0d., timber and wood valued at £66. 13s. 4d.  Reprizes were to be paid to Sir Francis Drake (impropriator) out of Peterhays at a rate of 10s. 10d. per annum.  During the eighteenth century Peterhays was leased to Stephen Weston of London and for a time the farm became known as Weston Lands.  Weston sub-leased it in 1728 to Jonathan Newman, a merchant from Salisbury, Wiltshire.  By 1798 Lord Heathfield had obtained a long lease on the property and John Seward was his tenant.  The Land Tax Surveys of 1810 and 1832 show Robert Smith was followed by John Smith as tenant of Peterhays.  The Electoral roll of 1832-3 states that it was an Estate worth more than £100 per year.  There was probably a fire that destroyed part of the farmhouse, as it was rebuilt in the 1860s. One of the buildings was unusually named 'Spillers Hall'.  (Robert Spiller was a tenant in the nineteenth century).  The present owner was unable to shed much light on the subject, but did confirm that there was a large building which some time ago had been used occasionally as a dance venue.  The Yarcombe Manor Estate intermixed its freehold estates with the leased Peterhays holding and in 1931 sold a small dairy farm known as Part Peterhayes, which comprised 35 acres and a thatched cottage.  Great Peterhays was sold in 1961 by the Church Commissioners.

Steve Horner adds:   Many thanks for your enquiry and we are always pleased to try and help with such enquiries, it all adds to our pool of knowledge about the history and people of our village.   I looked at the 1841 census and as you know it is possible to decipher that John Wiscombe was living with his son Walter aged 12 and his daughter Charlotte aged 21 - his occupation is shown as a Cobbler.   The location is perhaps Mannings Common and this fits with other properties in the area which would have been covered  by the enumerator walking or perhaps riding from door to door in the area.   If you look at Ancestral Search 1, you will find more information about the cottage(s) at Mannings Common which no longer exist.   You will probably have noted at this time there were other families in the parish with the name Wiscombe, doubtless progeny of your prolific ancestor!   Good luck with your continued research, we always appreciate feedback.


Ancestral Search 22

December 2019

Hi. My great, great grandfather, William Lentell (b.1829) came from Yarcombe and he and his father before (Matthew Lentell) lived at Williambeer Farm on the parish border of Yarcombe and Upottery.   I wondered if you might have any information on the farm in the village book ‘From Monks to the Millennium’.   Many thanks,   Clare Foss

Peter Tarrant writes:   Thanks for your enquiry.   A scan of 'From Monks To The Millennium' reveals 15 references to Williambeer Farm over 7 pages.   There is no mention of the Lentell surname but a John (or J) Lental is mentioned twice, in connection with Knapp Farm and Williambeer Farm (see below).   If you would like a digital copy of the book I believe a modest donation to our village magazine, Yarcombe Voices, would suffice - please contact the editor, Miranda Gudenian.

Knapp is listed with Crokam in 1600. Christian Vincent (widow) is shown as dwelling at Crokam and having the tenure and occupation of Knapp. She died in 1606, leaving her estate to her son, Symon Vincent. The tithe payable was 7d. In the Land Tax of 1727 Mary Paris paid a tax of £1. 7s. 4d. for Knapp. By 1794-5 there was a large amount of saleable timber, worth £58. 12s. 8d, comprising 52 oak and 10 ash; the house is noted as needing repairs. There was a boundary stone marking the extent of Yarcombe Parish with Upottery placed in the River Otter in 1864. Tenants of the Estate included John Lental and Edward Webber. Knapp, with Knight‟s Mill and Rackley, making a total of 76 acres, were sold in 1931.

WILLIAMBEER (also known as Williambeare)
In 1600 this farm is listed with Pipenhays. Williambeare has Thomasine Vincent as the occupier and Pipenhays has Joane Vincent (widow) as the occupier. The combined tithe is 12d., so it is one of the more important properties. The 1727 Land Tax shows a Mr. Gifford as the owner of Williambeer and Richard Stevens occupying Pipenhays. The Timber Survey of the Drake Estate in 1794-5 states that there were 20 oak, 20 ash, 7 beech/sycamore, 7 elm and 1 fir of saleable timber at Williambeer, worth in toto £46. 17s., and 10d, and 18 oak and 36 ash at Pipenhays. The 1798 Land tax shows Lord Heathfield owning Williambeer, with J. Lental as a tenant, and Widow Westlake (with mortgage or lease on years or lives to Lord Heathfield) as the owner of Pipenhays, with J.Loosemoore as the tenant. Williambeer must have had water meadows as the Estate renewed the hatches in 1870. Pipenhays no longer exists as a separate holding. Williambeer with Farthings included was sold in 1931. The sale catalogue shows that Williambeer then consisted of 84 acres and one of the buildings was a pound house with a granary above..

I note that Ancestral Search 8 refers to a similar surname (Lenthal) and was wondering if you have any evidence of a connestion..

Ancestral Search 21

October 2019

My name is Heather and I live in Appleton Cheshire, my Gt Gt Grandfather was John Lee who I believe lived according to the 1881 census at Axiviney cottage and then later at the Rising Sun Inn as both the landlord and also a bootmaker.   Do either of these premises exist, and are there any Lee family still in Yarcombe?   I also have Childs, Sartin and Spiller in my family tree, wondered if you could help at all.   Heather Coulson

Steve Horner writes:   Many thanks for your enquiry.   You are correct, I have located your great great grandfather John Lee (aged 29) on the 1881 census living at Axviney cottage with his wife Emily aged 25 and his daughters Blanche aged 6 and Mabel aged four.   This cottage no longer exists, although we have reason to believe was located just below Whitehorns on the scanned map (click here).   As for mention of the Rising Sun public house this set us scratching our heads as there are/were several pubs of that name in the area.   However I have located John Lee as landlord of the Rising Sun in Stapley which is in the neighbouring parish of Churchstanton:

1889/John Lee/& Shoemaker/../../Kellys Directory **

1893/John Lee/& Shoemaker/../../Kellys Directory **

1902/John Lee/& Shoemaker Asst Overseer & Parish Clerk/../../Kellys Directory *

I am not certain if this pub still exists as a licensed premises, but I feel certain the building will still be there.   In the 1901 census he is shown as living in the Rising Sun with his family, Emily his wife and their children, Lucy Mary (12), William George (9), Herbert Jack (9) and Margaret Gillian (3).   In the late 1890s there were several families with the surname Lee in this area but to my knowledge the name has died out.   The family name Spiller crops up very often in the records and a branch of the family still live in Yarcombe.   I hope this is of help to you.   If you give me a few more clues perhaps I can answer more specific questions.

Heather Coulson writes:   Thanks for that information.   My Spillar connection is Mary Bromfield Spillar who married Joseph Board.   They were the parents of Emily, John Lee's wife.   I am sure they were from Churchstanton but could they have relatives in Yarcombe?

Steve Horner replies:   The Spiller family are very much part of Yarcombe history and there are still members of the family in the parish.   I carried out a quick check on and you are correct, your branch of the Spiller family (note spelling) were residents of Churchstanton and Mary married Joseph Board on 23rd August 1852 in the parish church in Churchstanton.   Mary and Joseph (a blacksmith) later in their lives lived in Marsh which is a hamlet of Yarcombe Parish.   I hope this is helpful.

Heather Coulson writes:   Thank you Steve for that, it's amazing there are still members of the family still in the parish.   Would be interesting to find out what branch they are from.

Steve Horner replies:   That is a very difficult question to answer without constructing the whole Spiller tree!   In the Bishopswood village hall there is a very large tree almost covering one wall which amongst others shows a large number of Spillers.   If you are ever in the area it's worth obtaining the key and having a look.   Great to work with you.

Ancestral Search 20

September 2019

I have been tracing our ancestors, the Spiller family back to Yarcombe.   They were living there in the 16th century, if not before.   I understand that there may be some information about them and about the village in the book ‘From Monks to the Millenium’.   I understand that you may be able to put your hands on a copy of the book.   If you can I would love to purchase one or borrow one.   Perhaps I could make a donation to a local charity.   Please let me know if this would be possible.   Kind Regards,   Andre Evans

Miranda Gudenian replies:   Yes, your family has deep roots in Yarcombe, and there is a lot of historical information (here) on the village website.   Local historian Steve Horner may be able to answer a number of your questions about the Spiller family.   Hard copies of the book 'From Monks to the Millennium' are no longer available, though occasionally a second-hand copy does come up for sale.   However, a pdf is available for a donation to Yarcombe Voices, the village magazine.   Do let me know if you would like it.

Andre & Clare Evans respond:   Thanks so much for your help.   This is of great interest to us.   We did find a number of Spillers in the churchyard.   We would like to have a copy of the pdf.   We will make a donation to Yarcombe Voices.

Miranda Gudenian replies:   Thank you so very much.   From Monks to the Millennium was written by a dear friend and neighbour of mine, Ruth Everitt.   Her research continued after its publication in 2000.   Ruth died in 2014 but her historical research is continued by Steve Horner who I have copied in to this email.   I have also copied in Yarcombe Voices' Treasurer, Maggie Tomkinson, who will send you bank details.   I will send the pdf in a separate email today.

Steve Horner adds:   As Miranda has explained I would be delighted to assist further, I assume that you are the same Clare Evans whose initial queries are covered in Ancestral Search 13 here in our Yarcombe website.   Please let me know if you do uncover more of your families connection to our village so that we may add to our pool of knowledge.   Good luck.

Andre & Clare Evans reply:   Thank you Steve, yes this is one and the same Clare Evans.   Clare’s mother was Heather Spiller whose father RG Spiller ran a building business in Chard.   I believe that you can still see the RG Spiller vans running around the area.   We have got as far back as Robert Spiller who lived in Yarcombe between 1579 and 1617.   His father was John Spiller.   We understand that the Spillers were originally Huegenots who came over from the continent for religious reasons.   So far we have no more information than that, but we will keep trying.   I will send a copy of the family tree over.   If my IT skills are up to it, I will do a screenshot.   We are now happily settled in Cornwall having moved around quite a lot. Will be in touch.

Steve Horner writes:   Many thanks for your reply, it is a pleasure to work with you to find out more about our Parish and its history.   Indeed I can remember when RG Spiller had a builders yard and building business in the centre of Chard, although that land now has been built over, the business is now based on servicing and selling kitchen ranges such as Aga and Rayburn they have a very good reputation in the area.   I believe Eagle Plant was also part of the RG Spiller Group but is now a separate business – coincidentally I am about to visit their premises in Chard to hire an excavator for use here next week!    Good luck with your researches into the early origins of the Spiller family.   I might just add that it is a pleasure to work with you, we have responded to several queries in our Ancestral Searches section of the website, never to receive any further response!

Ancestral Search 19

September 2019

Hi, I have recently been doing some research into my family's history and have come to find that my mother and two uncles were evacuated from London to Yarcombe.   In fact, I found a picture that has the three of them in, Jean, Fred and David Crump, on your brilliant website.   I have really enjoyed finding this website and reading about Yarcombe and how it treated its evacuees.   It has left me yearning for more information - would you be able to recommend any other websites or museums, or anywhere I could find more information from, please?   Somerset must have left an impression on my mother as she returned when I was a child and it is where I live now, and only an hour away from Yarcombe.   Lorraine Clements

Steve Horner replies:   I was delighted that you have located our website.   It certainly has attracted a lot of attention and interest over the past year or so.   First may I assume that you have identified your Mother Jean and Uncles Fred and David from the photo of the evacuee class of school children – on our World War II page:   Fred Crump second row first on LHS and your Mother Jean second row last on RHS  - Is this correct please ?   Can you spot them in any other of the photos we have on the website?   I understand David and Fred were twins and were billeted with the Venicott family here in Yarcombe - I need to find out the exact address.   Your Mother was billeted with the Moore family at Four Elms.   The entire class came down from London from St Anne`s Roman Catholic School Lambeth London, with their teachers, Miss Stringer and Miss Marsh.   I have written twice to the school secretary asking for more information but have not had a reply – perhaps this might be another source of information for you.   I may be able to dig up some more information if you can give me more background, for example dates of birth and possible street address where your family lived in London.   Do you have any reminiscences or stories that they told you about their time in our village?   I look forward to hearing from you.

Peter Tarrant adds:   I have posted a random collection of links, primarily intended for local residents, on the Internet Links page, although they often become out of date when the website owners make modifications which are out of my control.   Simply doing a Google search for Yarcombe produces good results, too.   You can also find back issues of our local magazine on the Yarcombe Voices page.   If you have specific questions let us know - Steve Horner, our local expert, is very good at digging out fine detail.

Steve Horner adds:   Almost by accident, certainly a coincidence I have found more information about your uncles Fred and David Crump - see 1939 Register of households.   This register was compiled at the start of the Second World War, 29th September 1939 to be precise, to form the basis of a national identity register.   Fred and David Crump were billeted with Blanche Vellacott at Broadley which is at the top of Yarcombe Hill on the A30 on the way to Honiton.   You will note Fred`s date of birth is shown as 23rd December 1930 and Dave`s as 15th August 1932, so I was wrong - they were not twins!   I have a suspicion that they may have settled down in this area after the war was over.   I hope this is helpful.


Ancestral Search 18

August 2019

Hi, I came across your website about the Yarcombe World Wars which I found very interesting.   My family has very close links to the village.   My father's, my uncle's and my aunt's ashes (respectively Gordon Hayne, David Hayne and Sheila Hayne) are interred in the Baptist churchyard as well as those of my grandmother's cousin and her mother (respectively Lily Salter and Hattie Bailey).   I'm writing because, with my cousin, I shall be visiting my great Uncle's tomb in Ponte Sur Sambre in France (Ernest Bibbs), who was my grandmother's elder brother (Ada Jesse Bibbs).   I notice you have some details of his campaigns in France on the website, do you have any more details of these?   And I was wondering too if the photo you mention of all the family at Waterhayne farm is visible anywhere, or whether you can get hold of a copy?   Nice to think he was remembered by the village last year with a bonfire!   Thanks for any help or details.   Dr Jeremy Hayne

Reminiscences of Hays Farm, written by Jeremy's father Gordon in December 1995 (above)

Steve Horner explains:   Dr Jeremy Hayne contacted me from Milan, he is a relative of Ernest Bibbs, Sergeant in the Machine Gun Corps who was killed on the last day of the war and whose family are descended from John Matthews ( 1798-1879 ) who farmed South Waterhayne.   John Matthews' children were John, Harriet (Hettie) Henry and Mary (Polly) and lived at Hay farm.   Polly married Robert Henry Bibbs and moved to Birmingham where they had one son, Ernest and 6 daughters, Alice, Laura, Ada, (Jesse) Doris, Hettie and Constance.   Ada married George Hayne and their children were Gordon, Peter David and Joyce.   Gordon is the father of Dr Jeremy Hayne.   Although John Mathews senior farmed at South Waterhayne, this family were farming Hay farm, but I await comment from Elaine Munt on this point.

Steve Horner replies:   I was delighted to receive your e-mail explaining your close connection to Yarcombe.   I had a quick look at the website as I am not certain how much information is to be found there.   I have much more information on Ernest Bibbs in my filing system and I am almost certain that the photo of South Waterhayne came from Elaine Munt whom I see regularly, as she is related to the Mathews family.   I shall give you every assistance possible and I wish you well on your trip to Belgium.   I look forward to hearing from you!

Jeremy Hayne responds:   In your first email you said you had more information on Uncle Ernie Bibbs.   When you have a moment perhaps you could send something on, I'd be very grateful.


Referring to above photos, here is a list of all the people.   Matthews, of course, was my Great grandmother's maiden name and I always like the photo of her two brothers looking very dapper (John and Henry - who died young).   John, as you can just see, had a missing left forearm and was, according to my grandmother (Ada Jessie) a bit of a scamp, teasing his nieces.   In the second photo:  Adults from the left: Lily, her mother Hattie, Auntie Dolly (Doris), Auntie Connie, behind Connie there is Auntie Laura though we can't see her very well, Auntie Olive is next to her.   At the back is Uncle Billy Cox (Doris's husband), Grandma Jessie and Cousin Ernie (Laura's eldest), Joyce (my father's eldest sister) is on the end and next to her Joan (Laura's second) - I think she has Gordon (my father) in a head-lock, Connie is holding on to Laurie (Olive's youngest), then Peter and David (my father's elder brothers).

What relationship does your friend Elaine have to the Matthews?   I guess we are related somewhere along the line.

Going back to Ernest and Evelyn it's interesting that my grandmother named my father Gordon Ernest and his elder sister Joyce Evelyn.

Ernest's fiancé Evelyn Ernest Bibb's mother & sisters

Lily & Arthur Salter. Lily took over the running of Hay Farm with her mother Hattie, they are both buried in the Baptist churchyard there. My father and his family spent all their summers there with their mother. I think my aunt Sheila was evacuated there during the war.



Aunty Polly with sister and brother -.John Matthews, Hettie Matthews and Great Grandma Polly


Uncle Ernie


Ernest and mum Polly

 Steve Horner adds:   Some years ago, when I was researching those men from Yarcombe who gave their lives in the great war Elaine Munt kindly permitted me to copy the attached photo (below, left) of the Matthews family who lived at Hay farm.   The photo includes Ernest Bibbs who was killed in action on 10th November 1918.   The key person in this photo is John Mathews (3rd from left in back row) who was the tenant of Hay farm at this time; he was born in 1840 and died in 1921 aged 61.    I have been able to date the photo as being 1910 or thereabouts from the baby, Constance Annie Bibbs who was born in 1908 and I guess she is about 2 years old.   Previously Jeremy Hayne sent us his father’s reminiscences of Yarcombe and in that he explained that John Matthews daughter Mary Jane (Polly) married Robert Henry Bibbs and they moved away to Birmingham, however at every opportunity the family headed back on the train to Yarcombe.   The children of Robert Bibbs and Polly were Ernest*, Alice, Laura*, Ada*, Doris*, Hettie*, Constance*.   Those marked with * are all present in the photo.   (See Jeremy Haynes' comment below.)


Back Row left to right:

Laura May Bibbs married Harold James
Ernest John Benjamin Bibbs Killed in action 10th November 1918
John Mathews Hay farm Died 1921
Ada Jessie Bibbs married (George ) Hayne
George Salter married Emma Helena Hurford Birch Mills
Lily Salter married (AG ) Bailey +
Frank Salter married Emma Summers
Lily Berry married Jones
Olive Kathleen Bibbs married Evan Thomas

Front Row:

Mary Jane Matthews married Robert Henry Bibbs (Polly) holding Connie *
Harriet Darby Matthews married George Salter of Hemyock (Hattie)
Jane Joan Clarke Brought up by Frank Spiller
Julia Anne Matthews married Alfred Berry a Policeman ( from Worcester)


Doris Emma Mary Biddle married Cox
Hettie Lilian Bibbs died 05/01/24 aged 24


*Constance Annie Bibbs on Aunt Polly`s lap died 05/01/1977 aged 6
+Lily Bailey last survivor of this group



In this smaller photo are an elderly couple who I have been able to identify as John and Elizabeth Matthews (nee Newton) at Mount Cottage Yarcombe on 25th March 1845.   This identification is again thanks to Elaine who enlarged the inscription for me.   This is a very early example of a photographer's work and it is certainly the oldest photo we have which was taken in Yarcombe.

The above information came to us from two people Elaine Munt and Jeremy Hayne who are obviously related through the Matthews line and it has taken me some time to work out the relationship.   The key ancestor is John Mathews who married Elizabeth Newton born in Otterford in 1796 and died in 1879, during which time he and his family farmed at South Waterhayne, they had three daughters Mary, Hannah and Elizabeth and two sons John Junior (born 1828) and Henry (born 1835).   John junior was a tenant at Hay farm and he married Mary Jane Darby whose photo was sent to us by Jeremy Hayne, and is already up on the website; it is John Junior's son, again called John, who is shown in the photo and who died in 1921.

Elaine is descended from the second son Henry born 1838, whose photograph Elaine has kindly provided to me (right), as well as manuscript extracts for her family Bible which permitted me to put together the tree (below), which is in my own hand writing.

Finally the piece de resistance:

A portrait of John Matthews which I believe is still hanging in a house in Combe St Nicolas:

It is really quite amazing what can be found on the web !

Jeremy Hayne responds:   Thanks for this.   As you know I visited Ernie Bibbs grave at Ponte Sur Sambre with my cousin and it was a moving experience.   This information is very interesting and it's great to be able to fill in details of the family.   There are just a couple of errors. Ernest Bibbs was killed on the 10 November not the 11. Ernest's next youngest sister was called Olive (Olive Kathleen Bibbs).   I think the Alice you have written (children of Robert Bibbs and Polly) must be a misreading, so all the Bibbs children are in the photo.   It's nice to be able to pick up on another branch of the family, namely that of Elaine (hello!) and I've added all the info onto my family tree.   I attach a couple of photos (below) from my recent trip to France.   One shows me and my cousin Catherine Eddy (second daughter of Joyce Hayne).   Thanks for all you work and interest!


Steve Horner replies:   Many thanks for your prompt reply, it really is a pleasure working with you.   I am also pleased and deeply moved that you paid your respects at the grave of Ernest Bibbs and that his memory lives on.   If we find out any more information about the Bibbs/Matthews family I will pass this on to you.


Ancestral Search 17

August 2019

Hi, I’m wondering if you can give me more information on the Popes who lived in Yarcombe in the 1700s and 1800s and appear to be my ancestors.   My 5th Great Grandparents appear to have been John Pope (born c1767) and Ann Thomas (born c1766, died c1797).   My 4th Great Grandparents Joseph Pope (born c1792) and Ann Cooke (born c1795) married in Yarcombe (Aug 1816).   My 3rd Great Grandmother Anne Pope (born c1822).   The 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses have various family members living in Axviney, Pithayne & Grovewell Cottages.   I’ve been reading Ruth Everitt’s Book which mentions the arrival (or rearrival??) of the Popes to Yarcombe on page 14, presumably after the death of Ann Thomas, but I’m wondering if there’s any more information on them or their parents.   Any help you can give would be very much appreciated.   Regards,  Dave Johnson

Steve Horner replies:   Many thanks for this information about the Pope family who lived in Yarcombe in the 18th and 19th Centuries, it certainly adds to our store of information.   Apart from the mention in Ruth Everitt's book I have little information to add to that which you have already accumulated.   If you so wish I can take photos of the cottages where your family lived, although from memory Axviney no longer exists.   However perhaps we have a family connection although it’s a long shot.   My great aunt Maria Horner born Lyme Regis in August 1850 and died in Chagford on 22nd February 1923 married Henry JJ Pope who was born in Seaton on 30th December 1839.   Maria owned a haberdashery shop in East Street Taunton and had two children Maria Beatrice Pope and James John Horner Pope who was a photographer in Taunton. 

Dave Johnson replies:   From my reading, I also believe Axviney no longer exists but any photos of Grovewell and Pithayne Cottages would be very welcome.   I’m currently unaware of any links to Chagford, Seaton or Taunton but have found links so far to Charmouth, Tiverton and Crediton, more through the descendants of John Pope and his 2nd wife, Elizabeth Dolling.   I haven’t gone far down those links so anything is possible.   Overall, I’m looking to firm up some of the information I have gleaned as I can’t find multiple firm sources though I do appear to have DNA links through John Pope.   Any information or photos will be gratefully received.

Peter Tarrant adds:   There are photographs of Grovewell Cottage on Photograph Page 8,  obtained from Mary Copp's collection.   Pithayne Cottage is also referenced in Ancestral Search 12.

Steve Horner replies:   David, thanks for the prompt response, Peter Tarrant has directed you to a photo of Grovewell Cottage.   There are two Pithaynes, Higher – which is quite high status building and Lower Pithayne.   If you have a copy of the census record which shows the entry for your ancestor and his family I might be able to identify the dwelling more readily.   If you ever find a link back to my “Popes” please let me know.    Charmouth, Lyme and Seaton are all coastal villages not far apart.


Dave Johnson replies:   Here is the 1871 Census record with Joseph Pope (4th Great Grandfather) at aged 80 living with his daughter and family in what I assume is a lower Pithayne Cottage.   Earlier censuses have him living in Axviney Cottage and 5th great grandfather John Pope in Grovewell.    Peter, thank you for the link to the photo.   Funnily enough, the photo was how I found your website in the first place.   I was searching for the various addresses I’d found on the various 19th century censuses and found the photo which then brought me to the wonderful website.


1871 Census record


Peter Tarrant writes:   Thank you for your comments.   Steve and I are very pleased that the website, and the Ancestral Searches page in particular, is proving so useful.   On Photograph Page 8 I have posted a few shots of Lower Pithayne, firstly from a southerly aspect, then from the east.


Ancestral Search 16

July 2019

Hello.   I am asking if you can help with a bit of tracing on the maternal side of my family tree.   As you see my name is Angus Passmore.   My maternal grandfather was Alfred Samuel Lawrence born it appears in Yarcombe around 1883/84, his father was Alfred Richard Lawrence and his mother Rhoda or Rodha (as it appears on the 1861 Census).   It would seem that my grandfather may have been born outside marriage as the birth is registered in both names?   Rodha was born in Yarcombe around 1850/51.   Her mother (my GGGGM) was Charlotte Spiller born 1820/21 again in Yarcombe, she is listed as widow in 1861 Census.   Rodha it appears had two sisters and one brother.   In addition there are three other males listed on the Census, two of their job descriptions would indicate farm workers.   Unfortunately the address is unclear but the last word could be “farm” but that is only an educated guess.   Any information would be gratefully received.   Regards,  Angus Passmore       (07834 547406)

Steve Horner writes:   Your enquiry on the Yarcombe website is most interesting and I am certain we can help you.   The entry in the 1861 census can be read as follows:

Livenhayes farm:


Charlotte Spiller aged 41 Widow farmer of 20 acres employing I man and 2 boys born Churchstanton

  Rhoda daughter aged 10

Thomas son aged 4

  Thomas son aged 2
  William Locke  aged 77 Boarder (in fact Charlotte`s  father)
  William Pavey  aged 18
  William Locke  aged 20 Cattle man

Please see this extract from Ruth Everitt`s history of Yarcombe “From Monks to the Millennium“:

LIVENHAYES (also known as Levenhays or Livehayne)

This is one of the oldest surviving properties in the Parish, dating from the early sixteenth century and constructed of local stone and flint rubble with Beerstone ashlar chimney shafts.  It began as an open hall house, (see foreword), heated by an open hearth.  The hall was probably floored over in the late sixteenth - early seventeenth centuries and the partition in the original jettied chamber includes the ladder access doorway, which is a two-centred arch with moulded surround.  The high standard of modernisation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was probably ordered by the owner/occupier Samuel Newbery.  A plaque dated 1662 with his initials carved on it can be seen in the chimney shaft at the service end of the house.  Was this the same Samuel Newbery who had been seen in Monmouth‟s Camp in 1686? He was eventually pardoned, but at what cost?

In 1600 there were two Livenhayes.  Alice Helliar, (widow), lived in one and John Pullen and Maude Browinge were the occupants of the other.  Both properties paid a tithe of 8d.  The 1727 Land Tax Survey shows Robert and Susanna Newbery as the two owner/occupiers.  By 1794-5 the Yarcombe Estate owned Higher and Lower Livenhayes.  The will of Robert Newbery made in 1748 doesn't show either of the Livenhayes - but perhaps the Newbery support for Monmouth led to impoundment of property or large fines.  The Livenhayes were valuable property, the saleable timber being worth a total of £362. 16s. 9d. and comprised of 146 oak, 186 ash and 23 elm.

Lord Heathfield is shown as the owner of the "Two Livings‟ in 1810, and John Burrow is the tenant.  There was a change of tenant by 1832, when Abraham Spiller was farming the two Livenhayes and Broadley.  In the 1850 White's Directory Charlotte Edwards (widow), was the tenant.  She took in a lodger, one of the under-steward/gamekeeper's sons, who was handicapped with a "gammy‟ leg.  The Estate paid Mrs. Edwards 3/- per week for his keep.  In 1896 Thomas Spiller was the tenant and it was during his tenure that 5 acres of land slid away.  The Estate gave him an allowance of 5s. per acre on his rent.

The Yarcombe Estate sold the property in 1931, when it was described as "a Choice Dairy and Stock- Rearing Farm of 84 acres 3 rods 1 perch‟.   The Farmhouse had an entrance lobby, living room with open hearth, sitting room with a fine oak mantel, together with a beamed and quartered ceiling and a cool dairy.  Upstairs there were 4 Bedrooms and a Cheese Room.  The sitting tenant was Mr. P.R.Rich.  It remains with the Rich family and provides one of the best examples of a medieval house in the area.

Livenhayes farm house is a most wonderful old building which has recently been sold.   At that time it was owned by Lord Heathfield and thus Charlotte was a tenant farmer.   Charlotte seems to have been a most redoubtable lady who lived to a great age and who married on several occasions.   There are still several Spillers living hereabouts.   She was born on 21st May 1820 in Churchstanton Devon - a neighbouring parish to Yarcombe - daughter to William Locke and Betty?   I think her first marriage was to ? Sparke in Honiton in the 1st quarter of 1846.   However her first husband must have died quite soon after this marriage and she then married Thomas Spiller on the 3rd June 1851 in the Parish of Wilton Somerset. 

We can then deduce from the 1871 census she was married to Robert Edwards aged 70:            She was still living at Livenhayes in 1891 with Robert's three children and two of her own, Naomi and Thomas.   I suspect that this marriage to Robert Edwards took place in Exeter in the 2nd quarter of 1862.   She was still living at Livenhayes in 1891.   She possibly died in 1894. 

Now turning to the Lawrence side of the family, Alfred Richard Lawrence married Rhoda Spiller in 1871 and in the 1871 census they were living in Combe St Nicholas.   In the 1881 census they were living in North Common Cottage Yarcombe (just below my farm) with three children, Pamela 7, Elizabeth 5, and Ernest 3.   In the 1891 census only Alfred is mentioned (I assume Rhoda had died by this date) with his children Pamela 17, Ernest 13, and Samuel aged 7, a perfect fit with your suggestion.   He was born in about 1883 but I would warrant he was not born outside the marriage!   Do you have a copy of his birth certificate for me to examine please? 

Altogether a fascinating part of our village history.   I do hope that this is helpful.

Miranda Gudenian adds:   Livenhayes was mentioned in Pevsner; a most beautiful ancient house.

Angus Passmore responds:   Thank you very much for your detailed response, you have filled in a lot of blanks in regards to my ancestors.   I think it may well warrant a visit to Yarcombe in the near future.   Incidentally a long time ago we lived in Dunkeswell without being aware of how close it was to the family history.   Alfred Lawrence my grandfather married a Seaton girl Alice Stembridge who was the daughter of Sam (Long Service RN) and Emelia (Nee Bull, a Crewkerne family).   Alfred went on to fight and survive WW1 as a Royal Engineer in Mesopotamia, after which he became a builder in Seaton and constructed several properties that still exist in Seaton.   He eventually died of Addison’s disease potentially triggered we think by Malaria contracted during WW1.   Thanks again for all you help.


Ancestral Search 15

May 2019

Hi, very impressed with your site and your ancestry pages.   My great grandparents x 4, Hugh Pavey and Joan Trenchard were married at Yarcombe on the 23rd June, 1797.   They had two children William and Frances Pavey (my great grandmother x 3).   Frances was baptised in Yarcombe on the 3rd August, 1800.    Any information that you may have about Hugh Pavey or his family would be greatly appreciated.   I have already been considerably assisted by Michael Haynes with the Trenchard family following his earlier post on your ancestry pages.  Many thanks,   David Thomas

Steve Horner writes:   I will be very pleased to help you in any way possible with your researches.   Let me begin by explaining that we are very fortunate in Yarcombe because much of the land in the parish has been in the hands of one family since the time of Sir Francis Drake who started accumulating land hereabouts since 1582.   The estate records were deposited in the Devon County Records office in about 1950 and thus remain as a source of our knowledge, and from which my dear departed friend Ruth Everitt was able to compile her book "From Monks to the Millennium".  

I therefore attach a scan (below) of the relevant pages of this history which contain references to the Pavey family and their land holdings. The first mention is of one Charles Pavey who was occupier of Broadley in 1600 so your family have been well embedded in this area for many generations.   Let me know if I can further assist you, sight of your tree might give me some more clues.



  Document 1   Document 2  

David Thomas replies:   Thank you so much for the very prompt response and the useful information provided. We have a lot to be grateful to Ruth Everitt for and people like you who are happy to share the knowledge of past records with others.


Ancestral Search 14

February 2019

Hi what a great site, thank you.   I'm currently researching Pattimore and Dommett.   I have a marriage certificate for James Pattimore and Caroline Dommett, married in 1892 in Yarcombe church.   Any information regarding either would be fantastic thank you.   Mandy Trimby

Steve Horner writes:   Thank you for visiting the Yarcombe website.   Like you, we are keen to learn more about those who have lived in our village.   I can immediately provide you with two documents (below) that will help trace your ancestors.  

  Document 1 Document 2  

The first is an extract from the record of Baptism in Otterford church.   Caroline was baptised 16th July 1871, daughter of Thomas (a cobbler) and Louisa (? poor writing) Dommett.   The second is a copy of the 1881 census for Yarcombe.   Caroline is shown as living in Marsh - a hamlet in the parish of Yarcombe - with her mother, Louisa (now a widow) and her five siblings.   Her father Thomas must have died within the previous two years - James her brother is aged 1.   Her mother Louisa is shown as having been born in Buckland St Mary, an adjacent Parish in Somerset to Otterford.   Yarcombe is also adjacent to Otterford but across the border in Devon.   At this stage I cannot find any more about Caroline.   However if you can scan and send her marriage certificate to me  I can carry out more research for you into her husband James Pattimore.   Incidentally how are you related to Caroline ?

Mandy Trimby replies:   Thank you so much for that.   Caroline was my great grandmother.   I know she died at the young age of 43 in Taunton and James her husband was a coal porter in Taunton.   Not sure how they ended up here though.   I believe the witnesses were Fowler.   Can't seem to find a birth certificate for James although he is in the workhouse in 1871 and 1881.   Thank again for all your help.   (Marriage Certificate below.)

  Document 3  

Steve Horner responds:   Yes, you are correct - James was in the Union workhouse as a child in Chard in 1881 (Document 5).   The mention of Union confirms that Caroline who lived in Union no5 in Marsh, that this was also a workhouse.   In 1871 (Document 4) he was living in Crewkerne with his mother Sarah Jane Pattimore.   He was aged 4 at the time and was born in Crewkerne.   No sign of his father Simeon who perhaps had died?

I thought you may be interested to see the 1911 census  (Document 6)

I guess you know the rest of your tree.   If I find any further record of the Dommett family in Otterford I will let you know.

  Document 4 Document 5 Document 6  


Ancestral Search 13

December 2018


My name is Clare Evans. I am descended from the Spiller family in Yarcombe and more recently in Taunton.   My mother’s name was Heather Jean Spiller.   I have started researching the Spiller family history and have got as far back as Robert Spiller, 1579-1617 of Yarcombe.   His wife was Margere Colliar, 1583-1614.   If you have any more information on this family, I would be very grateful to receive it.   There is a family story that indicates that the Spillers may have come from the Low Countries as Huguenots, for religious reasons.   I would like to find a copy of the local history book, if this is available.   Clare Evans

Steve Horner writes:   The Spiller family are one of the prominent names in the history of our Parish and there are still members of the family living hereabouts.   I had a quick look in the book "From Monks to the Millennium" for early references to your family and below is an extract for your information which shows Zachary Spiller  who left his properties of North Waterhayne and Crimshayes to his wife Alice.   This suggest to me that the author of the book Ruth Everitt must have found a copy of his will in the Devon County Records office or in the National Archives in Kew, I am not certain if there is a connection to your branch of the family.

I also looked on - of which I am a member - and noted that your family tree is there on open access.   The father of your Robert Spiller (1579-1617) was  John Spiller born Yarcombe 1528. married in 1578 and died in Yarcombe 1582.   From this it is obvious to me that the Spiller family were classed as Gentry in those far off days and must have taken a important  part in the development of our community.   You may also be aware that Sir Francis Drake has a very close connection to our parish so your ancestors were alive when Queen Elizabeth rewarded Sir Frances with land in the parish in 1582.

I would be delighted to assist further with your researches, however it will need a stroke of luck to go further back than the birth of John Spiller in 1528.   The book I refer to "From Monks to the Millennium" is now out of print but does occasionally show up on Amazon.   I hope this helps, however if you do find yet more information about the Spiller family please post this on our website.   Good luck!

North Waterhayne once belonged to Zachary Spiller (gent). In his will he left his wife, Alice, his tenement at North Waterhayne and Crimshayes for life and afterwards to his son, John. In 1600 North Waterhayne is shown as two tenements occupied by Robert Spiller. It is combined with Farm Ground, whose occupants were John and Alice Spiller (widow). North Waterhayne Farmhouse is a Grade II listed building, constructed in the early sixteenth with later sixteenth and seventeenth century improvements. The original early sixteenth century house was of three-room and through-passage plan. Originally the house was open to the roof from end to end, divided by low partitions and heated by an open hearth fire. Around the mid sixteenth century the small inner room was floored over and a chamber added above; this was probably reached by a ladder. There is a fine intersected beam ceiling with richly moulded beams. The bedroom in the East wing had a built in toilet (garderobe) cupboard. The seat remains to date, although the floor has been made up underneath. Originally the waste dropped down through a cavity (still inside the wall) to the ground floor and into a pipe that went through the garden. This bedroom could be reached via a stone circular staircase leading up from beside the inglenook fireplace in the room below.

In 1727 Sarah Spiller (daughter of Zachary) was the occupier of Crymeshays. This was probably the site shown on the 1817 Enclosure Map in a field known as „Grimsey‟ on the left hand side of the driveway, just before the turning to the main farm yard. Thomas Bovett (-the Bovett family supported Monmouth-) was the occupier of the larger Estate, but by 1794 the Drake Estate owned all the properties at North Waterhayne; the saleable timber was 88 oak, 62 ash and 54 elm. The Land Tax of 1798 shows Bowyer‟s Waterhayne tenant as William Jennings, who paid a tax of 2s. ½d, Smythe‟s Waterhayne, tenant William Wale, who paid a tax of £4. 16s. 9½d. (this was the present day North Waterhayne) and Cross Waterhayne (Crymeshays), tenant John Seward, who paid £2. 14s. 8½d. By 1810 Cross Waterhayne and Smythe‟s Waterhayne have been combined and William Jennings is the sole tenant. Bowyer‟s Waterhayne is separately listed, but has the same tenant, William Jennings. The North Waterhayne driveway used to continue towards Crisland, bearing left half way along the drive and joining with what was once a larger road starting near Four Elms. The Estate still owns North Waterhayne and it was substantially modernised in the mid twentieth century. Waterhayne Cottage is on the left hand side of the entrance to North Waterhayne and was formerly a farm worker‟s cottage; it is now privately owned.


Clare Evans replies: Thank you so much for your very informative e-mail. This has been of great interest to me and my family.   I will try to pursue this further and intend to contact the Huguenot Society in order to try to establish whether the family came from the Low Countries originally.   If I find out anything further, I will let you know.   I would also like to visit Yarcombe and to see the house that Zachary Spiller left to his wife Alice.

Steve Horner responds:   Delighted that we are able to help you.   I have just looked up the derivation of the name Spiller:

English: occupational name for a tumbler or jester, from an agent derivative of Middle English spill(en) ‘to play, jest, or sport’ (Old English spilian). English: nickname for a destructive or wasteful person, from an agent derivative of the homonymous Middle English spill(en) ‘to spoil, waste, or squander’ (Old English spillan). German and Dutch: occupational name for a spindle maker, a variant of Spille with the addition of the agent suffix -er. In some cases a variant of German Spieler.

North Waterhayne farm, which Zachary Spiller left to his wife Alice, now belongs to the Sheafhayne Estate and the tenancy is due to change at the end of March which may give you an opportunity to look over the house at that time - if I can help please let me know.   I also strongly recommend that you obtain a copy of the Will of Zachary Spiller from the Devon County records office.   I set out below a copy of the Index of Wills held in Exeter - if you do obtain a copy I would be most interested to make a copy for my own records.











Vol. 31

AJP Skinner bequest 1934



Honyton [Honiton]











Type of Document: 'W' - Will, 'A' - Administration, 'I' - Inventory, 'O' - Other

Form of Document: 'or' - Original, 'co' - Copy, 'ab' - Abstract or Extract, 'tr' - Transcript, 'le' - List Entry 

Please let me know if I can help further.

Also see Ancestral Search 20 and Ancestral Search 31.


Ancestral Search 12

August 2018



I stumbled upon your excellent site whilst researching the Mullett family tree.   They were resident at Whitehorns and Beacon farms.   I see there was a Mullett mentioned in the memorial to those who lost their lives in WW1 in the Baptist church on the site.   My father is registered as being born 3rd June 1919 at Beacon farm Yarcombe.   My grandfather William Mullett (married to Grace Wakley) is registered as resident Beacon farm in 1911 census.   The 1891 & 1901 census shows the Mullett family as registered at Pithayne Cottage.   The 1861 shows my great grandfather Charles Mullett (married to Sarah Miller) registered at the Mill in Yarcombe.   Evidently the Mulletts were long term residents of Yarcombe but I cannot figure out the relationship between the people and all these different residences.   I have tried to track down a copy of the book, "From Monks to the Millenium" but it is out of print.   I hope you can help.   Kind regards,   Chris Mullett


Steve Horner writes:   Here is a map (click to enlarge) of our Parish identifying the various house/cottages where your family lived in Yarcombe.   Yes you are correct, there is a W Mullett mentioned on the Baptist Chapel memorial, however this is an indication he served King and Country, he is not recorded as “Our Brave Dead”.   This may be your Grandfather William Mullett ????   Can you check the spelling of Grace Wakley please, it is confusing there are two  families with different spellings Wakley and Wakely in our records.   Just out of interest do you know when your family left the village ?

Steve Horner adds:   Let me start with some historical background for you; a large part of Yarcombe parish was and still is  held by one family, which started when Queen Elizabeth 1 presented to Sir Francis Drake a part of the Manor.   The estate grew under careful management by Sir Frances` indirect  descendants – Sir Frances did not have children.   Whitehorns was part of the estate until it was sold with other properties in 1931 when the sitting tenant Mr F Mullett purchased the property.   Up until about 1880 Whitehorns was an outlying part of the adjoining Parish of Membury which does cause confusion!   In more recent times the Yarcombe Estate repurchased Whitehorns which is a beautiful thatched house nestling in a quiet valley.   Please see the map (right) which indicates the properties where your relatives lived.   I do hope we shall have more details about your family to post into our website.

Joan Berry writes:   I think that  Thomas Wakely may have been a relative of my Godfather (George Wakely, who was a Thatcher)  but unfortunately I know nothing of his family apart from the fact that they were connected to the Mullet family of Whitehorns Farm.

Steve Horner adds:   Below is a scan of the 1901 census covering Whitehorns which shows the Yarcombe Wakelys in residence.   Up until about 1880 Whitehorns was an outlying area of Membury Parish.   The Walter Wakely I am researching came into Yarcombe from Otterford and thus I suspect not connected to your family –all very confusing but very interesting none the less.

1901 Census:   



Miranda Gudenian writes:   Chris Mullett may be interested to know that one of his family, Bill Mullett, owned the house I now live in, The Beacon (as it became known in the 1970s).  I would have to check our deeds but I think the house was sold after Mr Mullett's death in the early or mid-1950s.

Miranda Gudenian adds:   If my memory serves me correctly Bill Mullett lived in one half of the house - which was turned into two cottages when the Estate bought the place in the late 19th century - and he let the other half.   Again if my memory is correct Bill Mullett purchased the house in 1931 in the Estate sale of properties.   Both Bill (Boy) Doble and Frank Wale remembered Bill Mullett.

Kirth Gensen writes:   I've been going through several boxes of stuff I’ve inherited from my eldest brother and found this pamphlet and press cuttings about Yarcombe:

  The Yarcombe Story Cutting 1 Cutting 2 Cutting 3 Cutting 4  


Steve Horner replies:   Thanks a million for all this information about our Parish.   There is a lady in the village called Barbara Salter who remembers Mr Mullett from Whitehorns, and the processional cross for which he donated the wood is still in use in the church.   The booklet is also most interesting.   Barbara tells me that the author was Freddie Orchard who was the organist in the church in about 1969/70 and that Bishop John Armstrong, who had  hand in the research for the booklet, was Vicar of Yarcombe at that time and was previously Bishop of Bermuda.   This enabled me to trace Freddie Orchard through a genealogy website, and I came up with the following information:


Frederick Theodore A Orchard was a school master who was born on the 1st January 1904 and died in Honiton in the second quarter of 1982.   His wife Gwendoline Mary Orchard was born on 9th December 1903 and is buried in the Yarcombe churchyard.   Bishop John Armstrong was obviously quite a character.   He was a chaplain in the Royal  Navy for 28 years and rose to be Chaplain of the Fleet and served in this position from 1960-1963.   Immediately upon his retirement from the Royal Navy he was consecrated Bishop of Bermuda in 1963 where he served until 1970.   It can be assumed he then retired to Yarcombe where he was the Parish Priest for some years.   He died in 1992.   Barbara told me he was very high church but “we soon put him right about those practices !“



I also attach (right, click to enlarge) a photo of your family gravestone in Yarcombe churchyard which you may find interesting.


Please keep in contact and if you require any further information I shall be pleased to help.

Also see Ancestral Search 17.


Ancestral Search 11

July 2018


What a find – the records of Yarcombe.   I have traced the ancestors of the Trenchards from Sampford Moor in Somerset (my great grandparents) back to one John Trenchard in Yarcombe.   I have approx dates of his birth, namely 1700, and death approx 1788, with records of his marriage to Mary Satterley m 14/2/1737, marriage to Sarah Spiller, m 30/10/1753, and finally, possibly, Elizabeth Board, m 5 Feb 1788.   Although I have some dates of birth and death for these ladies, I would appreciate it please if you could provide these accordingly.   Also their parentage.   My biggest search however is for John Trenchards parents etc, as he is the last one my tree.   Michael Haynes

Steve Horner writes:   I have had a quick look at your enquiry.   Trenchard is not a name which can readily be associated with the Parish of Yarcombe in East Devon.   The records show John Trenchard did marry Mary Spiller - a local name - on 30th October 1753 - John's third wife.   Have you tried looking at the Trenchard family of Charminster?    Sorry I cannot help further, however if  you have other clues please let me know.

Michael Haynes replies:   Thank you for your recent reply expressing interest in what I have found out about Yarcombe Trenchards.   I have attached a file (see below), which I hope you can open giving data on John Tenchard from 1700 down to the latter Trenchards from Yarcombe.   If this works for you then I can put together more family descendants, who are not part of my ancestral tree, but nevertheless come from Yarcombe.   Please let me know if you would like me to repeat the exercise for the other Trenchards.

Steve Horner writes:   Michael, I am at present (Oct 2019) researching the history of my house and in the course of my work I have come across the name John Saturley who is mentioned in the Will of Henry Willie who died in 1792 (PCC PROB 11/1226).   Henry Willie possessed land holdings in the adjoining parishes of Yarcombe, Otterford and Upottery amongst which he held Woodhayne (where we now live) variously called at that time Woodend and Woodhayes.   In his will is“I give and xxxx to William Willie son of John Willie our cottage late Saturleys in North Common ….”.   

The estate map of 1809 shows John Saturlays in green on North Common (just below the right hand punch hole on the map below,
click to enlarge).   From your own family tree posted on Ancestry I note that the Saturley family originated in Bovey Tracey starting with Nathaniel (born 1605) who married Hannah Price; their son Simon was born 1672 in Yarcombe and Simon`s daughter Mary (born 1703 in Yarcombe) who married John Trenchard.   Thus it would seem to me that the Saturley family were well established in Yarcombe from 1672 through to Mary (died 1747) and her siblings .

It puzzles me that there is no mention of the Saturleys that I can find other than the cottage which belonged to John Saturley mentioned in Henry Willie`s will.   Perhaps you may have more information to hand that I might study.



Ancestral Search 10

June 2018

I am researching my husband’s family and have just found the Yarcombe webpage with all the interesting information it contains.  I was particularly interested in the Ancestral Searches page and the reply comments by Steve Horner to Lefayre Palmer’s enquiries regarding the Spiller family ( Ancestral Search 6 ).   My husband is Lyndon Spiller and below I give details of his family tree as far as we have been able to ascertain.    


Timon (alt Tymon) Spiller 1743 – 1804   Yarcombe


+ Sarah Moore 1729-1795


...... Abraham Spiller 1765 – 1834   Yarcombe


...... + Elizabeth Clarke 1772-1842


............ Naboth Spiller 1802-1878  Yarcombe – died in Rose Cottage Chard


............ Eliza Knight 1816-1905


.................. Naboth Spiller 1845-1918  Combe St Nicholas died in Clyst St George


.................. Mary Warren 1851-1906


........................ Willliam John Spiller 1885 – 1975  Wandsworth Common/Clyst St George/Canada/ New Zealand/died in Melbourne, Aus


........................ + Ruby Baker 1881-1977


.............................. William Clarence Spiller 1918- 2010  Melbourne Australia


.............................. +Nada Veronica Tasker Burr 1916-2003


.................................... Lyndon Stuart Spiller 1945-     Australia


.................................... +Julie Lynette King 1947 –


I note that Timon and Abraham Spiller are listed in the Index to From Monks to The Millennium and wonder if it is possible to gain any further information about any of our  family members.   Any help that you can give will be really appreciated.   Julie Spiller

Steve Horner writes:   Once again I am delighted to be able to try to help you.   There are still a good number of Spillers living hereabouts, however I strongly suspect their knowledge of the ancestors does not go back more than one or two generations!   It would certainly be a coup if we could find a Yarconian (or is it a Yarcombite?) who is related to one of the Pilgrim Fathers.   Do you have a copy of ”From Monks to the Millennium”?   If you do not please look at the index to any particular Spiller and I will scan the entry for you.

Julie Spiller replies:   Thanks for your prompt response.   No, I do not have a copy of the book but note that Abraham Spiller and Timon Spiller are both listed.   Amy Spiller could be Abraham’s daughter and there is also a Robert – but then there were so many Roberts in the church register that it could be any one of them.   I am currently working my way through the register and finding that there were so many Spillers listed as well families who married into the Spiller clan.   If you could scan a copy of relevant information for Abraham and Timon it may give me some background information.   Unfortunately we will not be any help with your dream of finding someone who is related to the Pilgrim Fathers.   Our grandfather left England later and finally settled in Australia – which is where we are living – even though my email may suggest USA.

Steve Horner replies:   See Extracts 1 to 4, below.   One reason that we know so much about our local history is that most of the land in the Parish belongs to one family, who are descended from Sir Francis Drake of Armada fame, and this family or perhaps their lawyers presented all the estate records to the Devon County Record Office.   From a quick glance your family appear to have Baptist connections.   The Baptist Chapel is still a thriving congregation.   If I can help further please let me know.

Extract 1:

During the nineteenth century Marsh was a „hive of industry‟. The Census of 1841 gives the following trades, all based in the village of Marsh:-
Richard Wyatt - Baker.  James Glade - Horse Keeper,  John Stone - Wheelwright,  William Spiller - Baker,  Thomas Stone - Blacksmith,  John Spiller - Horse Keeper.  Thomas Hurford - Carpenter.
There would have been no shortage of employment with a major coaching inn, "The Heathfield Arms", close by. The group of cottages opposite "The Flintlock" was once used in conjunction with "The Heathfield Arms". One of the middle cottages, known as "Wayside", had a large archway and, although this has now been blocked, remnants of the composite stones can still be seen. Originally the carriages were able to pass through the arch and make an overnight stop. Sleeping accommodation was provided in rooms immediately above the arch for the Coaching Company‟s employees. An Indenture of 1835 shows that there was a dwelling house, smith‟s shop and office and a messuage, dwelling house, wheelwright‟s shop and office on a piece of land known as "Lower Shop Close". The cottage next door to "Wayside" is known as "Lower Shop Cottage" and at the opposite end of the terrace is a cottage known as "The Old Forge". Probably these are the premises referred to in the Indenture. On the other side of the Marsh road there are two other older cottages, Ivy and Rose Cottages. Latterly one of these was inhabited by Sparke, who was a carpenter, so maybe they were the two cottages listed separately on the 1841 Census sheet, housing J. Spiller and T.Hurford, but there can be no certainty. Lye House was once the home of the garage owner, Douglas Leach. The other properties on the Marsh road are listed separately.

MARSH CHAPEL (now Old Chapel House)
It was in 1849 that services were held in a house lent by Timon Spiller. After two months the house became too small for the congregation and the spacious club room was taken, the rent being paid by a Mr. Crabb and a friend. The building was legally licensed so that the services would not be interrupted.

In 1854 the Meeting House was erected on behalf of the Yarcombe Baptist Church for the sum of £4. The trustees were mostly local:- Joel Knight - Yeoman, Richard Coleman - Yeoman, James Knight - Yeoman, Charles Crabb - Cooper, Henry Bayell Lockyer - Yarcombe (Minister), William Bond - Yeoman, Chardstock and Richard Keeping, Chard. Services were held regularly until the Chapel was closed in the 1970s. The property was sold in 1981 and is now the Old Chapel House.

Extract 2:

Broadley was mentioned in the Court Rolls of Henry VI and the name is probably a corruption of Broad Lea (wide clearing and field). Charles Pavey was the occupier of the tenement and cottage at Broadley in 1600. The tithe he was required to pay was 8d. The owner in 1727 was Robert Newbery and in 1798 Broadley was combined with Brimbley. Timon Spiller was the tenant of Lord Heathfield. It was noted in the Estate Timber Survey that Brimbley house needed repairs and that there were 46 oak, 54 ash and 16 elm on the properties. In 1810 Abraham Spiller was the tenant of Broadley and Brimbley and it was in 1827 that Greenwood‟s map showed an asylum clearly marked close to Broadley. However, no documentation has been found to support the location of such an establishment there. It could have been a private secure house, but there was an asylum at Broadhayes, Stockland, so perhaps it was an error by the mapmakers. Abraham Spiller was still the tenant in the Electoral Roll of 1832-3, when Broadley was shown as a rented estate of over £100 per annum. An interesting field name was listed in the crop book of the Yarcombe Manor Estate under Broadley; it was Higher Old Church of Bushams.
Two external stone plaques on buildings at Broadley Farm bear the initials of Thomas Trayton Fuller Eliott Drake, who inherited the Estate in 1813 and who showed great interest in its administration during the remaining 57 years of his life. There is some documentary reference to a fire at Broadley and perhaps some features in the kitchen bear witness to such an event.
The large fireplace has Hamstone jambs which support a fine and massive monolithic bressumer cut from the same material. Its girth is no less than 9ft. 6ins. and its exposed depth, 31ins. An ogee moulding is finely carved to soften the angle between the front planes of jambs and bressumer and those of the recess. The actual fireplace opening measures 8ft. 2ins. by 4ft. 6ins., and now holds a modern cooker. Carved into the upper left front of the stone bressumer is what must have been a small cuboidal cupboard, any earlier wooden fittings such as a door having disappeared long ago. Perhaps this was a cupboard for the storage of salt in pottery vessels? The style of the fireplace surround indicates a Tudor or early seventeenth century date, but it is unusual to find such a grand one in a farmhouse. Until relatively recently it had been covered in dark-coloured paint. The features which may bear out the possibility of replacement due to fire damage are the doors and the beams. The timbers in the kitchen ceiling are sawn rather than adzed and chiselled, as would have been the case in the Tudor period or the seventeenth century. They are not chamfered. In other words, they are typical of what might have been made in the early nineteenth century. The doors are mostly of the traditional farmhouse plank and batten type of the same period, with contemporary ironwork hinges and latches. Proof of these conjectured dates is the poker-burnt..... "1827" on the main door to the kitchen. In fact that year is indented twice on the same door, one image being upside down. Could it be that this celebrates completion of the work of restoration of a fire-damaged part of the farm?

Extract 3:

LIVENHAYES (also known as Levenhays or Livehayne)
This is one of the oldest surviving properties in the Parish, dating from the early sixteenth century and constructed of local stone and flint rubble with Beerstone ashlar chimney shafts. It began as an open hall house, (see foreword), heated by an open hearth. The hall was probably floored over in the late sixteenth - early seventeenth centuries and the partition in the original jettied chamber includes the ladder access doorway, which is a two-centred arch with moulded surround. The high standard of modernisation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was probably ordered by the owner/occupier Samuel Newbery. A plaque dated 1662 with his initials carved on it can be seen in the chimneyshaft at the service end of the house. Was this the same Samuel Newbery who had been seen in Monmouth‟s Camp in 1686? He was eventually pardoned, but at what cost?
In 1600 there were two Livenhayes. Alice Helliar, (widow), lived in one and John Pullen and Maude Browinge were the occupants of the other. Both properties paid a tithe of 8d. The 1727 Land Tax Survey shows Robert and Susanna Newbery as the two owner/occupiers. By 1794-5 the Yarcombe Estate owned Higher and Lower Livenhayes. The will of Robert Newbery made in 1748 doesn‟t show either of the Livenhayes - but perhaps the Newbery support for Monmouth led to impoundment of property or large fines. The Livenhayes were valuable property, the saleable timber being worth a total of £362. 16s. 9d. and comprised of 146 oak, 186 ash and 23 elm.
Lord Heathfield is shown as the owner of the „Two Livings‟ in 1810, and John Burrow is the tenant. There was a change of tenant by 1832, when Abraham Spiller was farming the two Livenhayes and Broadley. In the 1850 White‟s Directory Charlotte Edwards, (widow), was the tenant. She took in a lodger, one of the under-steward/gamekeeper‟s sons, who was handicapped with a „gammy‟ leg. The Estate paid Mrs. Edwards 3/- per week for his keep. In 1896 Thomas Spiller was the tenant and it was during his tenure that 5 acres of land slid away. The Estate gave him an allowance of 5s. per acre on his rent. The Yarcombe Estate sold the property in 1931, when it was described as „a Choice Dairy and Stock- Rearing Farm of 84 acres 3 rods 1 perch.‟ The Farmhouse had an entrance lobby, living room with open hearth, sitting room with a fine oak mantel, together with a beamed and quartered ceiling and a cool dairy. Upstairs there were 4 Bedrooms and a Cheese Room. The sitting tenant was Mr. P.R.Rich. It remains with the Rich family and provides one of the best examples of a medieval house in the area.

In 1600 three properties were listed; a cottage combined with Cornhill and two cottages occupied by Elynor Witcombe (widow). In those days the road (or trackway) would have been well used.

HIGHER MOORHAYNE (also known as Legot‟s Moorhayne)
Elianor Legett paid a Land Tax on a property on this site in 1727. It was usually included with Cornhill and sometimes the Land Tax was combined. In 1766 a Jacob Legget was killed by a horse and slide. (Slides were used instead of carts on steep slopes.) Could he have lived at Legot‟s Moorhayne? In 1798 Widow Bond was the owner, with John Spiller as the occupier. It is probable that the Yarcombe Estate had a lease or mortgage at this time, as it is listed in the Estate Timber Survey with another cottage at Lower Moorhayne as having 10 oak, 17 ash and 4 elm ready for sale. John Spiller was still the tenant in 1810, but by 1832 Sir Thomas T.F.E.Drake had a new tenant, Hugh Crabb. He was a cooper and a shed near the house used to contain a large fireplace - could this have been where the barrels were made? In 1935 George Phillips, the village carpenter/builder, installed a cider press at Higher Moorhayne, which was sold by the Yarcombe Estate in 1931 together with 12 acres. The dwelling house was described as substantially built of stone, with stuccoed walls and slate roof and a lean-to tiled cider cellar. The buildings included a pound house, a small hard-bottomed yard and a cow house with a hay loft over.

Extract 4:

In Calways Cottage Baptists were meeting as early as 1787. Four people were mentioned; William and Grace Trott, S.Knight and Maratha Crabb.
It was Samuel Vincent (Senior) of Churchstanton who was responsible for the erection of the Chapel, and the builders were the Trott family. There were 12 trustees and local names were William Wale - Farmer, Yarcombe, James Trott - Mason, Yarcombe, Abraham Spiller - Farmer, Yarcombe, John Trott - Mason, Whitestaunton, Samuel Vincent (Junior) - Farmer, Churchstanton and Samuel French - Farmer, Dalwood. Others were from Chard, Taunton and Wellington.
The Indenture conveying the site on which the Chapel and three houses, (the Manse, Mount Cottage and Chapel Cottage) were built was dated 15th May 1829. It was between Betty Bishop of Yarcombe, Widow, and John Wale of Yarcombe and the twelve trustees, and is in the following terms, “All have contracted and agreed together for the absolute purchase of the fee and simple inheritance of the piece or parcel of land herein after described, being part of the said close called Four Elms at the price of £12. 10s. and the said trustees having erected a Meeting house to be kept and enjoyed and used as a common free and Public meeting house of Particular Calvinistic Baptist.”
One rule was that no person should be buried within the said Chapel. It was James Trott, one of the first trustees who lived at Newcott, who was buried outside the chapel front door. This was the spot where he used to stand to shake hands with the congregation. Seating will now accommodate about 100 people, and the baptistery is under the front of the pulpit. There are two memorials for those who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars. The 1914-1918 memorial also contains 80 names of those from the Parish who served for a temporary period?


Julie Spiller replies:   Thanks for the help on the Spiller family.  It has been most useful.  The information on Brimbley, Broadly and Livenhayes was most interesting.   I am now following down the families of the wives of the Spillers.   Abraham Spiller married Elizabeth Clarke – daughter of Naboth Clarke.  I am wondering if your helpful book – or any other source - has information on Naboth Clarke or any other members of that family.   Naboth Clarke and Elizabeth Stickland married in April 1770 at Yarcombe.  I believe that Naboth and Elizabeth had at least seven children - Elizabeth, James, Richard, Mary, Grace, James and Sarah between 1772 and 1781.   I believe that Naboth died around 1784.   Elizabeth Stickland’s parents were John Stickland and Mary (?Dean).   Abraham’s son Naboth Spiller married Elizabeth or Eliza Knight daughter of James and Elizabeth Knight.  I note that on page 50 there is reference to James Knight being one of those who were trustees of the Yarcombe Baptist Church in 1854.   Any further information you may have on any of these will be really appreciated.

Steve Horner replies:   I am delighted to be able to help you.   Herewith information on Naboth Clarke, Extract 5, below.   The author of the book, Ruth Everitt spent time in the Devon Records Office so the letter which provided her with this information must be on file.   Also information on John Stickland of Moorpit farm, Extract 6, who is almost certainly one of your forebears.   Elsewhere another Stickland relating to 1832 can be found.   Your reference on page 50 is to James Knight  Marsh Chapel - Marsh being a hamlet in Yarcombe Parish - this chapel was closed in the 1970s.   I am not certain where the original Charter  can be found, perhaps in the records of Yarcombe Baptist church.   If you can provide me with further details of Naboth Spiller marriage to Eliza Knight I will further research this line for you.   The name Spiller is very common in these parts.   I look forward to hearing from you again.

Extract 5:

Although the Drake family owned a large Estate at Yarcombe, there were other quite substantial land owners, notably the Newberys, Vincents, Stephens, Cossins, Bovetts and Spillers. Some of these families prospered, others disappeared; in those turbulent times it was necessary to be supporting the right religion, the right heir-apparent and remain healthy, in order to retain one‟s property. Sir Francis must have taken quite an interest in his Estate at Yarcombe. Letters show that in 1709 he was greatly concerned about the appointed rector, Gamaliel Chase, who is described as being a drunkard and a debtor. As authorised in the original bill of sale for the manor, Sir Francis possessed the right to select the Rector for the Parish. However, perhaps he felt it was more politic, in those religiously volatile times, to keep quiet, as he didn‟t pursue the matter, and the appointment remained with the Crown. The next Sir Francis, the 4th baronet, made little effort or impact. His son, Sir Francis Henry Drake, who inherited the title in 1739, was made of „sterner stuff‟. Consolidation and improvement of all his estates was his format.

Agriculture in England was undergoing a revolution: techniques had improved, there were better implements, and the land was beginning to be enclosed, so making farming a „fashionable‟ and prosperous trade in which to engage. (George III had a model farm at Windsor). It was at this time that some of the farmhouses in the Parish, such as Livenhayes, Underdown, North Waterhayne, Clifthayne and Coburns were improved and made larger.
Letters from Drake‟s bailiff, John Cooke, who lived at Longbridge, show that Sir Francis was kept well informed about his Yarcombe Estate, although resident in London a great deal as Master of the King‟s Household. The Estate at Yarcombe seems to have been let out on very commercial lines, with the bailiff keen to get the best rental, but also considering relevant factors such as time of year, fences or lack of fences and keep already taken by potential bidders. Great attention was paid to timber and orchards, both of which were valuable commodities. Several farms had land set aside as nurseries, in which to grow trees for sale later on. In one of Mr. Cooke‟s letters there is a detailed description of an ash sapling that had been stolen, the top half being left propped up in an upright position in the hedgerow! There must have been some rogues around Yarcombe at this time, because in the same letter he mentioned that Mr. Williams of Sheafhayne had been to see him about the prevalence of the night-hunting of hares. Sir Francis had already offered a reward to bring the poachers to justice; now several Yarcombe worthies wished to join with him, Thomas and Robert Newbery, John Williams and Naboth Clarke being the most prominent.

Extract 6:

Benjamin Bright was the owner of this property in 1727 and it was probably the same Benjamin Bright who was documented in a marriage settlement of 1716. Moorhaine, Jonathan‟s Plot and part of Sellwood (an orchard) was the settlement that Benjamin Bright, sergemaker, offered to Peter Roberts, a clothier in Exeter, for Mary Robert‟s hand. In exchange Peter Roberts gave Benjamin Bright £200 and his daughter. The Land Tax Survey of 1798 shows a tenement and a cottage at Lower Moorhayne. Southcott‟s Moorhayne and Southcott‟s Town were both named after the owner, Jane Southcott. By 1810 Lord Heathfield had acquired the properties and his tenant was John Spiller. More land was added to the property by 1832 when James Knight was the tenant. In 1931 Lower Moorhayne was sold by the Yarcombe Manor Estate, when it was described as a dairy farm of 62 acres. The farm buildings were around a courtyard and there was a pound house with an apple loft over, cow stalls for 17, and by the road was a 3-bay cart and wagon shed with a thatched roof. There is no real indication as to where the cottage was sited, but in a nineteenth century there were two cottages shown near the present-day „Hamperlands‟ which were marked as "Moorhayne Cottages".

Roger Perham writes:   Julie, I have just revisited the excellent Yarcombe Ancestry page and read, with great interest, your communication with the researchers there.   It is clear that your husband and I share a common ancestor in Naboth Clarke (my paternal ancestor married Elizabeth Clarke's sister Mary).   If you are still involved in the research I would be interested in hearing from you.   Thank you.   Roger Perham

Julie Spiller replies:   Hi Roger, I am currently spending more time on my own family history research – but I do hope to get back to the Spiller/Clarke research.  Not enough hours in the day!   I would be happy to hear from you and follow through.   Julie Spiller


Ancestral Search 9

June 2018

I am researching my maternal family side of the family tree.   My grandmother Harriet Carter, according to census records was born in Yarcombe in 1905.   Her father was called Jabez Carter, her mother was Bessie, and she had two sisters Eva Dorothy and May and one brother Frederick George who are also recorded as having being born in Yarcombe.   I wondered if anyone knew where the Carter family lived in the village and any other interesting information about the Carter family.   Thank you for your assistance,   Ana Collingridge

Peter Tarrant writes:   Dick and Dorothy Carter passed away some time ago but lived in a small cottage called Cornhill, on a road to the south off the A30.   If this turns out to be relevant I can point out some photos of the building on the Photographs pages.   The new owner has made (and is still making) extensive changes since, though.   I have alerted our local expert Steve Horner, so you may hear from him soon.


Ancestral Search 8

January 2018

Hi, my name is Jennie.   I have been doing research into my family tree and am looking for any help that anyone may be able to give me.   I am currently trying to find any information on the Lenthal family of Yarcombe in Devon.   I know that Ann Lenthal was  born in 1734 and my 6 times Great Grandmother.   She died in 1829 in Yarcombe.   I know that she married John Loosemore of the same parish born 1730.   I am looking for information on her parents.   I believe that her mother's name may have been Jane.   I have a rare genetic variant called G-Norfolk and am trying to trace my ancestry as it means that I am of Mediterranean and African origin.   I am wondering if the Lenthal family may be the key to solving the mystery.   Thank You,   Jennie Brock

Steve Horner replies:   I cannot help on Lenthal side, however it would appear that the Loosemore connection I may have more positive information.   There is a farm in the northern part of our Parish, called Northam’s which has belonged to the Yarcombe Estate for many generations – the estate was founded by Sir Francis Drake.   In 1798 the Tenant was John Loosemore  and between 1810-1832 the tenant was James Loosemore.   If you can send me a link to the Yarcombe lineage of your family I may be able to help further, indeed you may wish to see a map of the parish which I will willingly send to you.   There is one other clue with which I may be able to assist.   In 1580 the Zane family lived in the house I now own and it is believed this family originated in Venice.   Perhaps this may be where your genetic G-Norfolk gene came from?   Who knows – it’s a long shot.   For reference, also see Ancestral Search 4.

Diane Rees writes:   Jennie, I read with interest your message on the Yarcombe website and your search relating to your ancestors.   I too am researching my father's family who came from Yarcombe and I have found the gravestone in the Yarcombe cemetery belonging to the Loosmore family.   My research shows that Ann and John married on 22 March 1758 and John died 7 February 1815.   I can go back as far as the 1630 and Anne Lenthal is on my family tree.   I found a direct link to Ann and John in the parish records registering the births, marriages and deaths.   One of their children James Loosmore married Elizabeth Pratt and one of their sons Robert Loosmore (my great great great grandfather) married Elizabeth Hopper in Bridgend, South Wales and one of their sons, Robert married Emily Russell whose son Joseph Loosmore (my grandfather) married Margaret Lloyd (my grandmother).   History tells that two of the Loosmore brothers went to Bridgend, South Wales in the early 1800s and my father's family is from this link.   I was born and lived in Swansea, but moved to Devon in the 1970s.   It would be good to get in touch.   I look forward to hearing from you.

Diane Rees (nee Loosmore)

Peter Tarrant writes:   Ancestral Search 22, received in December 2019, makes reference to the surname Lentell or Lental.   Let us know if you believe there is a connection worth investigating.


Ancestral Search 7

January 2018

I have just come across this site and wonder if you can help me find out who my Great Great Grandmother's parents were.   Her name was Sarah Vincent from Yarcombe - she married William Hodges on 21/2/1821 at Ruishton.   I found the Marriage Certificate but there were only two names as witnesses - Abraham Grabham and Harriet Hobby, so a bit of a dead end.   These names are not in  the Hodges family as far as I know.   My maiden name was Hodges.   It’s a bit of a long shot but maybe if there are any Vincents still around there who possibly did some research I would love to hear about  it.   Regards,   J Hignell


Ancestral Search 6

November 2017

I am researching my Spiller family of Yarcombe Devon and have just come across the wonderful publication of Yarcombe Voices.  It is wonderful to learn of people who endeavour to keep alive the history of their community.   The earliest Spiller I have is one born in 1553 in Yarcombe.   He had a son Robert whose son William married Joane Warren, daughter of Edmund Warren and Mary Warren.   I am coming across pedigrees taking Mary back to Richard Warren a Mayflower Pilgrim.   I am descended from Jane on the attached file (reproduced below).   It would be lovely if I could be in contact with any Spiller or Warren descendants still in Yarcombe and to discover if any of them have any knowledge of a supposed descent from Richard Warren who went to America as a Mayflower pilgrim.   Having also discovered the website I am impressed with this great and wonderfully presented source of information regarding the home of my ancestors.   In grateful anticipation of any help you are able to afford me.   Sincerely,   Lefayre Palmer nee Heslehurst

My ancestry comes to me through my paternal grandmother Laura Elizabeth Heslehurst nee Wilkinson.

Outline Descendant Report for William Spiller:

  1 William Spiller (1572 - ) B: 1572  
  + Elizabeth Gammmon  
  ...... 2 William Spiller (1614 - ) B: 1614  
  ...... + Joane Warren  
  ............ 3 Simon Spiller (1655 - ) B: 1655  
  ............ + Elizabeth Newberry ( - 1696) D: 1696  
  .................. 4 Thomas Spiller (1693 - ) B: 1693  
  .................. + Honor /Robert Weard ( - 1794) D: 1794  
  ........................ 5 Robert Spiller (1747 - ) B: 1747, M: 1767  
  ........................ + Mary Clarke (1748 - ) B: 1747/48, M: 1767  
  .............................. 6 Jane Spiller (1798 - 1870) B: 1798, M: 1815 in Charles Church, Plymouth, D: 1870 in Ford Park, the Barbican, Plymouth  
  .............................. + William Reburn (1792 - 1872) B: 1792 in Liskeard, Cornwall, M: 1815 in Charles Church, Plymouth, D: 1872 in Ford Park, the Barbican, Plymouth  

Steve Horner writes:   I have just read your note posted on our website and in this message I will try and give you some initial information about Yarcombe which has a rich and interesting history.   There are indeed members of the Spiller family still living in our Parish and the Parish records are littered with reference to them, but as far as I am aware not one mention of the Warren family.   There is a very good book that records the history of Yarcombe, "From Monks to The Millennium" written by Ruth Everitt which I helped her compile and below is an extract of the relevant section of the index which demonstrates the multitude of references in the book to the Spiller family - if you spot a particular name of interest I would be pleased to send you more information:

  Spiller, 12, 14, 17, 36, 39, 41, 45, 49, 50, 76, 86, 89, 107, 108, 112, 115
Spiller, Abraham,
106, 117
Spiller, Amy,
41, 112, 113
Spiller, Benjamin,
54, 78
Spiller, Charles,
Spiller, Henry,
14, 17, 32, 36, 45, 47, 98

Spiller, J, 39, 49, 107, 108, 118
Spiller, Josias,
Spiller, Robert,
34, 54, 63, 66, 74, 75, 78, 86, 99, 103, 111, 113, 120
Spiller, Timon,
50, 96
Spiller, William,
41, 49, 54, 57
Spiller, Zachary,

Basically our community is a rural parish in East Devon comprising about 500 persons in widely scattered farms.   The ownership of much of the Parish goes back to the time of Sir Francis Drake whom as a reward for helping Queen Elizabeth 1 was given tracts of land hereabouts and the ownership has remained in the same family, but not direct descendants, ever since.   I have also spotted the name Newberry which family also owned land in the south of the parish in the 17th century. 

You have hit upon a rich vein of history and if I can I will assist you further.   I would appreciate some more background of your own family and of course the important connection to The Mayflower Pilgrims.



Ancestral Search 5



I am hoping that someone out there could give me any information about my grandmother's family the Paull's of Yarcombe.   Any help would be gratefully received.   I have several photos of the Paull family, particularly of my great great grandfather (pictured left) on an early 1900s postcard with the caption printed on the front "Yarcombe's oldest parishioner".   The Paull's were connected to several other Yarcombe families such as the Bright, Harris and Vincent family.

Ellen Hawkins (nee Harris) is connected to the Paull line via the Harris family. My great grandmother was Mary Jane Harris (married to Thomas Paull).   Not exactly sure what relation that would make Ellen to me, but we are connected somewhere along the line.

Alan Bartlett


James Paull, 1824-1914


Sep 2017

Hawkins family Stockhouse Yarcombe   Hawkins family details   Ellen Hawkins Stockhouse Yarcombe

Steve Horner writes:   I have had a quick look at the census records and in 1911 James Paull was living in Crislands which is a cottage about ½ mile from the centre of the village.   According to the 1901 census he was living in Webble Green just across the Yarcombe Parish border In Membury.   The photos you sent are quite exceptional especially of the pig cull, all the family obviously taking part - my guess is that the photo was taken in about 1900.   I do not recognise the farm, so I suspect it may be in Membury - I will make enquiries.

I know an Accountant who lives in Chard called Ed Paull, perhaps he is a relation?   The name Paull with a double ll is perhaps unusual.   Do you have any knowledge of your family tree?

Alan Bartlett replies:   Thank you very much for the info, Steve.   The Paull family are definitely more connected to Membury than Yarcombe, but like you said, the border between the parishes is very close.   I have done a fair bit of research into the family history.   The family has some connection to a few Yarcombe families through marriages.   I had a chance to have a look at the gravestones in Yarcombe churchyard and noticed several family names that I regonised (Bright, Harris, Hawkins, Vincent etc).   If you have access, you may care to have a look at my Spurway family tree on   Interesting to hear about someone in Chard with the name Paull.   The double L not being all that common, so I would definitely we must be related some where along the line.

The photo of the pigs being cut up is a great picture, so amazingly clear so that you can see incredible detail. (like the water running from tap into the tub in the background).   They definitely weren't a family of vegetarians ... again many thanks.


This photo is a bit of a mystery.   Does anybody know where this was taken?   I assume this is a farm building. Is it in Yarcombe or perhaps Membury?   Who are the people in the picture?   Does anybody know who they are or where it was taken?   It has always intrigued me...even if nobody recognises it, it is still a great photo showing life in days gone by.

Alan Bartlett




Ancestral Search 4



My name is Gary Brennan; my mother's name was Millicent Loosemore, born to John Loosemore who was born in Yarcombe in 1865.   I came here recently to retrace his steps to moving to the USA and in the hope of getting in touch with any other Loosemores in our clan in the area.   If you know any and they would like to find out about John, please would you ask them to email me at: or 1(559)351-6165 by phone.

Thank you for your attention,

Gary Brennan

Diane Rees writes:   Gary, I sent you an email at the beginning of June (2019) with regard to your search for any Loosmores.   My maiden name was Loosmore and my father's ancestors are buried in Yarcombe Cemetery.   I am also writing up the family tree and in my research found a link to your mother.   Perhaps you did not receive my email?

Gary Brennan replies:   I want to thank you for your information, I did get your email and my own investigation in my family tree has taken me in a different direction.   I have found that my grandfather's family in England is in Yarnscombe, Fremington, Atherington birth, death and burial records.   My great grandmother (Mary Ann Moore) is buried in Yarnscombe with my great grandfather John Loosemore who died in 1865.   I did not know that Yarcombe and Yarnscombe were not that far from each other and that they were so close in name.   I want to thank everyone in Yarcombe who were looking into this matter and trying to help.   This gives me an excuse to visit your beautiful country again.   If you have any information on my mother, I would like you to send that information to me!   This Loosemore family has to stick together!   Haha.   I enjoyed touring through England and Scotland, you have a wonderful country.

Steve Horner adds:   I believe Yarnscombe is in North Devon near Barnstable, about 100 miles away as the crow flies!   I would also mention Ancestral Search 8 in which Jennie Brock is also searching for a Loosemore relative, but she did not reply!   We would always be pleased to learn more of Diane's (and Jennie's) relatives from Yarcombe.


Ancestral Search 3


I am a Bowyer from Canada, and am researching my roots to your beautiful area, does anyone you know have any suggestions for me?   Sad to hear about the Inn, it looks great!

Chris Bowyer

Peter Tarrant writes:   FYI: I'm happy to say The Yarcombe Inn reopened in August 2019 after concerted efforts by villagers and the Parish Council!   Your enquiry was made several years ago but I am unaware of any response you may have received.   Perhaps you could update us?   We have recently had the ability to scan the digital version of the publication "From Monks To The Millennium" and there are several references to the Bowyer (or Boyer) name which I have posted below:


One of the last working mills in the Parish. Little remains of the mill, but older "Yarcombites" can still remember the miller Hurford, his old grey horse, and the way the bags had to be carefully arranged on the cart to maintain a good balance. Another feature of the mill was an abundance of rats!

Birch Mill was always linked with Shepherds (Springfield) and Panshayne, and until 1884 it was in Membury Parish. When Lord Heathfield bought the Panshayne Estate from Christopher Codrington in the early nineteenth century Birch Mill was included in the sale. The sitting tenant was William Boyer (Bowyer).

A complicated action of trespass in diverting a watercourse between Drake (plaintiff) and Codrington took place in 1788. This possibly referred to the water at Birch Mill. Various statements from villagers are recorded; one is from John Johnson, whose Great-Grandfather occupied the mill. He states that the water used to run along the bottom of the mill garden, obliquely across Brick Lane to the south, under an arched bridge in the lane, and then through Honeylands. Another version is reported from Nathaniel Case, which has a note rather unkindly in the margin stating, "Witness deaf as a haddock"!

Birch Mill is now a private house.


In 1727 Sarah Spiller (daughter of Zachary) was the occupier of Crymeshays. This was probably the site shown on the 1817 Enclosure Map in a field known as „Grimsey‟ on the left hand side of the driveway, just before the turning to the main farm yard. Thomas Bovett (-the Bovett family supported Monmouth-) was the occupier of the larger Estate, but by 1794 the Drake Estate owned all the properties at North Waterhayne; the saleable timber was 88 oak, 62 ash and 54 elm. The Land Tax of 1798 shows
Bowyer's Waterhayne tenant as William Jennings, who paid a tax of 2s. ½d, Smythe‟s Waterhayne, tenant William Wale, who paid a tax of £4. 16s. 9½d. (this was the present day North Waterhayne) and Cross Waterhayne (Crymeshays), tenant John Seward, who paid £2. 14s. 8½d. By 1810 Cross Waterhayne and Smythe‟s Waterhayne have been combined and William Jennings is the sole tenant. Bowyer's Waterhayne is separately listed, but has the same tenant, William Jennings. The North Waterhayne driveway used to continue towards Crisland, bearing left half way along the drive and joining with what was once a larger road starting near Four Elms. The Estate still owns North Waterhayne and it was substantially modernised in the mid twentieth century. Waterhayne Cottage is on the left hand side of the entrance to North Waterhayne and was formerly a farm worker‟s cottage; it is now privately owned.

SPRINGFIELD COTTAGE (also known as Sheppards, Shepherd‟s Cottage and Marsh School)

This cottage was closely associated with Birch Mill, having had the same tenant. Originally it was on the Panshayne Estate and
William Bowyer was the leaseholder. In 1808 Lord Heathfield bought the property, and Sir Francis Drake paid for a schoolroom to be added to the cottage in 1875, so providing educational facilities for Marsh children. Desks and seats for the new schoolroom cost £3. 5 shillings; the school was largely funded by Sir Francis, who gave £15 yearly, and by the vicar, who gave £10. Two of the later schoolmistresses were Mrs Pengelly and Mrs Sparks. The schoolroom was licensed for divine services in 1907.

Steve Horner adds:   I would stress the importance of the fact noted by Ruth Everitt that Panshayne, Birch, Whitehorns, part of what is now Yarcombe Parish, was prior to 1883 an outlying part of Membury Parish and therefore a search of Yarcombe Parish may not reveal details of for example births deaths and marriages which probably appear in the Membury records.


Ancestral Search 2

March 2011

Researching my family history I have an ancestor called William Michael Laurence (1871-1954), who, according to his death certificate lived at The Vicarage, Yarcombe, as a retired fruit farmer.   His wife was called Louisa.   He died 29 March 1954.   Please could you tell me whether there are any local memories of him or his wife?   Thankyou for your time and patience.   Kind Regards,   Paul Brookes

Peter Tarrant writes:   Hi Paul, your appeal was received before this webpage was created in 2017 and has been copied from your original email.   It has been on the website for some time now but I don't know if anyone contacted you directly.   Going by the responses I got it seems no one has any real information, but I'll cut and paste the emails I've already received and forwarded to you below for reference.   All verbal enquiries I made were met with blank faces I'm afraid.   I'll leave the website entry here unless you want me to delete it.

Frank Weeks writes:   Only thing I remember about the Vicarage is that there used to be a Filbert Nut tree on the front lawn.   A filbert is a large hazel nut if I remember correctly.   In order for young schoolboys to go raid the tree the method was to run to the tree, grab what one could and then flee before any retribution from anybody at the house as the tree was in full view.   I don’t recall anybody being caught.   Though we were probably watched with amusement by the residents.   One will never know.   Frank (NZ)

Joan Ewins writes:   At the time of the death of William Laurence the Revd. H.C. Thompson lived at the Vicarage.   I remember from my childhood that Revd. and Mrs Thompson used to let some of the rooms at the Vicarage to a couple of retired ladies with the surnames of Freeman and Stanley.   Perhaps Mr. Laurence had rooms prior to that.   Shirley Briant may know as her mother seems to have kept in contact with past Vicars.   I hope this is helpful.   Kind Regards,   Joan Ewins

Lesley Sutton writes:   The Churchwardens could look in the chest to see whether he was buried here.   Unfortunately there are not many of us who lived in the village and are still alive.   Shirley Briant has lived here all her life and John Salter of course may have some knowledge. Neither have internet access.

Paul Brookes replies:   Thank you for all your hard work on my behalf.   I have not had any responses from it but I am very glad for the comments you have provided.   In response to one of those I do not know whether he was buried in the local churchyard and would dearly like to find out.   Please can anyone help me in that respect?   Also, I would be very grateful to take up your kind offer of keeping the request on the site.   Kind Regards,   Paul

Geoffrey Berry writes:   Without looking in the chest in Church I do not think we have the burial register here.   Many of the older registers are with the Devon Records Office.   The one in use at the present starts much later.   The plans for the present area used for burials started in 1959.

Archie Needs writes:   My grave contact for Yarcombe thinks he's taken photos of virtually all the gravestones and he doesn't seem to have a headstone - so he's probably not buried in Yarcombe.   He seems to have moved around quite a bit - I've seen a couple of Electoral Rolls, one from Symondsbury (1929) & the other in Whitestone (1925-1927).   In 1939 he was in Barton just outside of Exeter, having being born in Liverpool.   His death is registered in Honiton in 1954 but I'm not sure why he would have been in Yarcombe Vicarage.

Geoffrey Berry adds:   I went over to the Church and found that we still have the old burial register in the Chest.   I was able to find the entry for William Michael Laurence.   His burial took place on 31st March 1954.   His address was given as The Vicarage, Yarcombe and was stated to be 81 years of age.   A note alongside stated that he died at Marlpits Hospital, Honiton, now known as the Honiton Hospital.   I hope this is helpful.

Owen Newman writes:   I remember Mr & Mrs William Laurence. They lived in Yarcombe and had class and background but little money.   I suppose they had suffered some form of financial hardship late in life.   They rented in Yarcombe a bungalow made from converted railway coaches called appropriately “The Coaches”.   It was a good looking house with a smart garden.   Mr Laurence always dressed in a tweed suit and I, as a young village boy, was paid six pence a week to talk to him for an hour or so.   When he died his wife, Louise took rooms in the vicarage.

Peter Tarrant writes:   The Coaches were adopted and restored by the Bluebell Railway in Sussex and were featured in an item on the Messages/News page some years ago;  it includes a photograph of the bungalow when sited in Yarcombe.   See article here.

Ancestral Search 1

March 2017

I wonder if you can help me?   I am the Great Granddaughter of Mary Hurford who married James Willie in 1873 and who lived in Yarcombe at Holly Cottage.   Many times as a little girl my Grandmother told me stories of her Mother who was a wonderful lady, she was not only a herbalist but midwife to the local people who would walk miles across the fields to ask for her help and advice.   She was also a wonderful seamstress and gardener growing all her own  herbs for her medicines.   She also kept a pig and chickens so she was virtually self-sufficient apart from general supplies which once a month she would walk across the fields 8 miles there and back to Honiton to buy.

I grew up in Yeovil and my Grandmother and Grandad also moved there from Chard after they were married, so as a little girl I loved to hear all their stories.

A few years ago I tried to find my Holly Cottage but was not successful, I am enclosing some old photos for you to see, they are of my Great-grandmother, my Grandmother and her sister Sarah Ellen, also the cottage and garden, maybe, just maybe you will be able to tell me if the cottage is still standing! I would love to know.   I now live in Teignmouth and am coming up to 76 years old (Mar 2017)!!   It would be lovely to have some history to pass  on to my children, Grandchildren and Great grandchildren!!

I look forward to hopefully hearing from you and thank you in advance. 

Kind regards and best wishes,

Joan Quinlan (Mrs)






It is believed the property referred to as Holly Cottage was more likely to have been Manning Common Cottage at Manning Common, close to Black Allers, a short distance from, and the other side of the A303 from Knighthaynes Farm and Cottage.   Unfortunately the building was demolished, it is believed, in the 1930s, although this has yet to be verified.   During investigations it was found that a great uncle of Joan's, Jack Willie, who was believed lost at sea during WWI actually died of pneumonia whilst still on active service in 1919 in Malta and a photograph of his grave there was obtained.   Memorials, including one to J H Willie, can be seen in the Baptist Chapel here in Yarcombe (see the World War I page).

Jennie Brock writes:   Hi Joan, I saw your post from 2017 on Yarcombe Ancestry and wondered if we may be related.   My 6x great grandfather was John Willie of Yarcombe b1737.   If you have any information on the family I would be very interested to hear the stories.   Jennie Brock (refer to Ancestral Search 4 & Ancestral Search 8)

Steve Horner writes:   Jennie, In the Otterford Parish hall, which Parish adjoins our Parish, is a large family tree of the Willie family, and your branch is shown very clearly (see section of the Tree right, click to enlarge).

I live in a farm house in the most northern part of the Parish which is now called Old Woodhayne farm, which was called variously Woodend or Woodhayes in the 18th century.


In the will of Henry Willie (born 1699 died 1792) he left Travellers Rest, which was both a small holding and Public House, to his son John with mention of Woodhayes House where Mary Willie, wife of William Willie, was living at the time of Henry`s death.   Travellers Rest and Woodhayes House are adjoining farms.   However it is certain that Lord Heathfield , the owner of the Yarcombe estate purchased Woodhayes in the late 1790s, probably from the Executors of Henry Willie.

However your letter prompted me to have a look at your Great Grandfather John Willie born 1737 died 1822.   In his Will he mentions his property of Travellers Rest, which proves at that time of his death Travellers Rest was still in the possession of your family.   This property was eventually purchased by Sir TTFE Drake in 1842, who was by this time owner of the ever expanding Yarcombe estate.   You may be interested to read the paragraph below from Ruth Everitt`s history of Yarcombe about the Travellers Rest, in which there is mention of John Willie being the Inn Keeper in 1801.   I am not certain if this John Willie was your ancestor - I would be interested to receive your opinion.


DRAKE'S ARMS FARM (also known as The Travellers' Rest)

This property is shown on all the early maps, although it is not situated on the main Taunton road as it is today.  There was a slip road, (now no longer in existence) off the more important Dennington Lane, which afforded access to what is now the road to Taunton.  The property belonged to the Willie (Willey) family, and in 1792 it is mentioned in the probate of will of Henry Willie.  The first documentation of the "Travellers' Rest‟ in the Quarter Sessions is in 1801, when the landlord and owner is listed as John Willie.

1833 seems to have brought a financial crisis for the Willie family, and they granted the property (as a fee) to a Mr. Faun and Mr. Marchant, (a surgeon), both living at North Curry in Somerset.  In 1839 the property was mortgaged by Henry Willie to Mr. John Claxton, and Sir Thomas Trayton F.E.Drake bought the property from Henry Willie in 1842 for the sum of £1,000.  This included about 14 acres of land.  The property continued to trade as a Public House and small holding, the name changing from "The Travellers' Rest‟ to "The Drake's Arms‟.  One of the Drake‟s long serving landlords was Abraham Knight.

A fire severely damaged the property in 1899 and "The Drake‟s Arms‟ ceased trading as a public house.  With its acreage increased to 75 acres it became just a farm.  The Estate sold the holding in 1931.