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John Prideaux 1505 – 1568

John Prideaux, the second son of John and Sybell Prideaux of Adeston and Orcharton married a lady called Ann who died young in her third  childbirth. The baby also died.
Orcharton  remained with the Prideaux family until the 18th century through the line of Hugh Prideaux, John’s elder brother and his ancestors. John Prideaux, although failing to  inherit the big family prize of the Luson  house and estates, nevertheless  inherited a  good part of the other Devonian family lands. He inherited the property known as Woodland and thesurrounding lands near  Stowford. It seems as though the lands at Adeston and Orcharton were either incorporated into the Luson properties and perhaps eventually sold.
John Prideaux and his family remained  at Stowford in  the parish of Harford, according to records.  His children were,  John born in 1540 and William born soon after. William ultimately moved back to Holbeton, while John Junior stayed in Stowford.
It was this John who came into possession of a prayer, which remained with the family throughout the following generations. His grandson,  John Prideaux, who later became the Bishop of Worcester, carried this prayer with him throughout his life. The same prayer was also passed down our family through to me. I used it throughout The Bishop and The Witch.

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With reference to the short story about John,  I mention King Henry VIII’s staff.  I have not made that up.  This staff was the property of Bishop John and he left it to his son in law, along with many of his possessions.  No one currently knows how the staff came into the Bishop John’s possession. I chose to put my own spin on the tale in, A Ghost Story.

The Prideaux family were now living through further turbulent times,  as Henry VIII came to the throne in 1509 and reigned for most of John’s life. Henry began the break with Rome and the country saw the monasteries and churches being defiled, sold off and dispersed. The gentry and merchants of Cornwall and Devon made huge profits and gains from the dissolution of the monasteries. The Prideauxs of Padstow being one of them, gaining the lands and income of the local Priorys and churches.
Henry VIII died in 1547 and was followed by his son Edward VI. Between 1547-1552, Edward continued with the religious and political changes his father had begun. His uncle, the Duke of Somerset became Protector. Edward and his Protector took the rest of the property of the church. Much was lost during this period, including the Cornish language. The new Prayer Book was written in English in order that each person could understand the Word of God. There began the insistence that the new churches must be attended under penalty of arrest and Catholicism must not be practiced in any shape or form. There were further horrible executions all over the country.
Henry VIII had left the country with little money and more tax needed to be  raised from the old churches, where plate and possessions were confiscated. The poor and rich alike were also taxed even more heavily than before. Edward and his Protector happily continued with this policy until Edward’s death.
Mary then succeeded Edward to the throne. Her reign lasted only five years, 1552-1558 and  like her father, she left a bloody trail. She was staunchly Catholic and many innocent people lost their lives and suffered under her reign. She killed people who had killed and pauperised the Catholics who had been persecuted under Henry and Edward. She restored some lands to her Catholic faithful gentry who had lost theirs under the new Protestant rule. She reinstated the old religion and her decision to marry the Spanish Philip,  infuriated her subjects almost as much as her religious beliefs. There were more Catholics in the country than Protestants. Those who had gained from the dissolution had no intention of giving back their estates and most never did.
Mary lasted only five years before she died, paving the way for her sister Elizabeth. Mary  burned 300 Protestants alive, one of whom was Rowland Taylor, another ancestor who features in a novel of mine The Bishop and the Witch. Mary eventually died of stomach cancer in 1558, after imagining that she was at last, pregnant.
She was succeeded by Elizabeth I who reigned until 1603. Elizabeth  stopped the Marian burnings and reinstated Protestantism. She had a remarkable reign, killed a lot of people, beat the Spanish and died depressed of bronchitis, pneumonia and the loss of the will to live. She may or may not have been a virgin…
Elizabeth, intent on removing the Catholics again, nevertheless was prepared to compromise in any way she could. This compromise displeased the Puritan element of her supporters. But you can’t please everyone.
Very little is known about this John Prideaux  in the records I have so far uncovered.  I really don’t know why that should be, although there is not a great deal about his brother’s life either. Whether or not this was a pretty nondescript generation, or whether they were merely keeping their heads down during this particularly turbulent time, we shall probably never know. I do know however, that some in the family were involved in  rebellions including, The Prayer Book Rebellion.  Many of John Prideaux’s family and friends died in horrible and cruel ways while  other friends  made gains at their expense.
The Prideaux families from the time of Paganus, when he made the first deal with the Normans, to this time of John, were always Royalist, so it must have been difficult choosing between King and Religion. I think most Prideauxs even now have respect for the monarchy, although some had the dalliance with Cromwell and his merry men, before seeing that he was not all he was cracked up to be.
Can I also assume that John had some part in the privateering which took place during this period of Tudor influence? The properties John Prideaux  lived in were ideally placed for sailing into the Channel and beyond, potentially being able to rain any Spanish ship in the area. Many of his peers were involved in the same pastime and this act of adventuring was encouraged by the monarchy. His countryman Francis Drake, not yet a Sir, but a favourite of the Queen Elizabeth, was a privateer of note.
John’s family was Catholic and from the constant involvement with the Church and the chapels which were built at their houses, one can assume that they were believers rather than followers. The Prideaux family of my line, who constantly supported the Crown tended towards Protestantism as time went on.
During this time and apparently, to the time of the railways, Devon and Cornwall were almost impossible to get in and out of. As mentioned previously, there were far more creeks and inlets than now and many of these were deep enough for decent sized boats, which could also travel much further inland. This was the favoured method of travel when desiring to go further than the market town. However, for many people over the centuries, the market town and back would be the furthest they would want to travel.
But when it was necessary to venture over the Tamar and towards Exeter, or to the north of either county, then traveling was extremely difficult. The lanes were little more than tracks, that were often barely wide enough for one small horse to travel, let alone two pass each other. The tracks were often wet and muddy due to the fact that the sun and wind rarely came into contact with the ground here. The hedges were very high and the banks under the hedges often collapsed into the track, making progress very difficult. It was almost impossible to see out from the track, to the view beyond and impossible to see who may be traveling along the track.
During the rebellions and battles, one can see how each party could make progress on the other and spring a surprise attack. Cottages were rarely built along the edge of the track, but were sited to one side or the other. Perhaps it was the track which avoided the cottages, rather than the other way around.
There were no carts or traps or carriages, as they would have got nowhere. People and packages were all transported by horse, although some rich people may be transported by sedan, where they could not ride.
Can you imagine riding, walking or being carried along such narrow tracks, through mud, and water, trying not to get stuck? Then, a dinner party at the end of the journey?
You can see why four inch stilettos took a while to be invented. A pair of those would have stayed in the shop window for a while.
Mind you, I might still have bought them.
John died around 1568 survived by his two sons. I know little about William, other than he stayed in Holbeton, had seven children and produced hundreds of ancestors in and around the Holbeton, Yealhampton, Stoke Damerel and Plymouth areas. . He was my ancestor by uncle.
The other son John, stayed in Stowford and was my ancestor.

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