It is not always easy to locate wills for people from Buckland Brewer, partly because so many Devon wills were destroyed in the second world war and partly because indexes are frequently by name and not by place. We have access to copies of all the wills for Bucklanders that were proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury and are now in The National Archives. We also have a lists of hundreds of wills that were proved in other courts but no longer survive. These have been listed by the Devon Wills Project.
Ecclesiastical visitations were part of a programme of visits by bishops to the main towns in their diocese, where they would meet with the local clergy. These normally took place every three years. In the eighteenth century, printed series of questions were sent round to the clergy in advance. The questions varied but might include matters relating to population, the frequency of services and communion, schools in the parish and numbers of non-conformists. Churchwardens also had to make presentments of malefactors in their parish. Thanks to The Friends of Devon Archives, we have access to several of the resulting reports about Buckland Brewer.
There were also, completely separate, visitations by heralds, which took place between 1530 and 1686, The heralds were required to check that all those using a coat of arms were entitled to do so. Their tours of inspection occurred roughly once in a generation. They referred back to previous visitations, inspected church monuments, stained glass windows and engraved items before assessing a gentleman’s claim. Any unlawfully displayed arms, on parchment, plate, memorials or elsewhere, could be defaced or destroyed. The resulting visitation pedigrees provide evidence for the armigerous residents, or gentry, such as the Dennys family. The records for Devon have been printed. The visitations for 1531, 1564 and 1620 are available online.
Tithe Maps were drawn up in the 1830s and 1840s as part of the process of reforming the tithe system. The maps do vary in quality, some surveys being more accurate than others. There were three copies of each parish map. One, for the parish, may still be held locally or will have found its way into the County Record Office. The second, bishop’s, copy is usually in the Diocesan Record Office (frequently the same building as the County Record Office). The final copy, that of the Tithe Redemption Commission, is now in Class IR30 in The National Archives. There is no locally held copy of the Buckland Brewer map.
The accompanying Tithe Schedules allow you to identify the owners, occupiers, area, land use and value of each numbered plot on the map. The schedules are housed with the maps. The National Archives’ copies are in Class IR29. The tithe records can be very helpful when trying to associate 1841 census entries with specific buildings. One drawback is that sub tenancies may not be apparent. In addition, some rows of cottages were grouped together in one plot number and the occupiers may be listed as, for example, ‘Robert Clarke and others’.
We are very fortunate as The Friends of Devon Archives have index the Tithe Schedules for Devon. We have a copy of the Buckland Brewer Schedule.
Buckland Brewer School c. 1918
Devon Family History Society have transcribed and printed the admissions’ registers for Buckland Brewer village school from its opening in 1877 up until 1911. We also have access to images some later registers. These are very useful documents as they provide date of birth, address and the name of a parent or guardian. They also provide information about migration as when new children arrive from elsewhere their previous school is noted. Future schools are also given for those who leave. There was also a school at Thornhillhead but currently we do not have copies of their records.
Left hand page of the Admissions’ Register
We also have information about some of the staff members. The appointments of new head teachers are listed on our Timeline.
Teacher’s Registration Certificate for Hetty Bell née Cole
Queen Anne’s Bounty was a fund established in 1704 by Queen Anne to reinstate tithes that had been appropriated by Henry VIII. The money collected was usually given to the less well off clergy, to supplement their stipend. In 1948, Queen Anne’s Bounty and the Ecclesiastical Commission were formed into the Church Commission for England. A good deal of interesting information is on their website.
The National Archives hold a document (IR/104/13/25) known as a Record of Ascertainments, drawn up in 1936 as a result of The Commutation Act, when Queen Anne’s Bounty liability was also assessed. Buckland Brewer was liable for the rent charge of £37 10/- in respect of Queen Anne’s Bounty.
People – Sidney Stoneman
We are gradually building up a collection of photographs of Buckland Brewer in the past. We have pictures of people, pictures of places and pictures of events. Our albums are displayed at open days and members’ meetings.
Events – Young Farmers’ 40th Anniversary 1970
Additions to this collection are sought. Please do not send us original photographs. Scanned pictures can be sent by email, Alternatively bring pictures to one of our open days, or ask us to come and copy your pictures. Thanks to our grant from the Philip Milton Fund we are able to scan photos on the spot, so your precious pictures will not have to leave your hands.
Barry Reay wrote that we ‘cannot truly understand a community unless we look at those who leave’ and you could add ‘and why they might have done so’. We have been collating details of those who left Buckland Brewer for overseas destinations. As much information as possible has been gathered about these individuals both before and after their departure. The list of those we have discovered so far can be found here. If you know anything about those on the list, or have other Buckland Brewer emigrants that you can add, please get in touch.
1832. The annual lists contain names of the owners and tenants of houses and land. The documents are normally found in County Record Offices within the Quarter Sessions records. For just one year, 1798, there is a duplicate set of lists for the whole of England and Wales (except Flintshire) held in The National Archives.
Properties with land attached, such as Barton Farm, appear in the land tax
Land Tax records are helpful for relating individuals to specific properties in the generations before the surviving census returns. There are drawbacks. It is a Land Tax, therefore small properties, with no land attached, are not recorded. From 1798 it was possible to commute the tax, in other words to become exempt from future payments and from then onwards those properties are not listed.
We have copies of a number of the Buckland Brewer returns, attempting to chose ones roughly every five years. It is our intention to fill in the gaps when money allows.
Much of our research into the people of Buckland Brewer involves seeking out their relationships to each other and incorporating them in to our composite Buckland Brewer family tree. Potentially, every source that we use allows us to add something to this. We can therefore tell you that John Caddy (born c 1657) was the great grandfather of the husband of John Fulford’s (born c. 1757) niece. You may not wish to know this but the information is there. Obviously, not all relationships are as convoluted as this and there are a number of small family trees for Buckland residents that do not connect to each other.
We are happy to help those with Buckland ancestors as best we can, using the records at our disposal. The current tree contains 1613 people and there are many more waiting to be added when time allows.
Yes, I know, I am cheating a little with this. It was difficult to find a source beginning with J. We do have numerous newspaper articles that relate to Buckland Brewer and there are thousands more waiting to be collected.
We can read of crimes and celebrations, Sunday School outings and social events, weddings and war casualties. Past inhabitants of Buckland Brewer are brought to life through accounts of their misdemeanours, marriages and military service.
The North Devon Journal was first published in 1824, giving us nearly two hundred years of history using that publication alone. Currently our priority is on the era of the First World War. There is information about those who joined up, those who were exempted because their occupation was critical to the war effort and those two were home on leave. The newspapers also report on the loss of most of the ten Buckland men who perished in this conflict.