George Prideaux 1871 – 1926

After the death of his parent’s, George Prideaux went to lodge at 77 Grape Street with Elizabeth Catton and her daughter Hannah Holgate. George was working as a labourer at the brickyard, one of the many industries in Victorian Leeds. Within two years Mary Ann Hobson and her family had moved into No 93 Grape Street and George moved to No 89. The Hobson family worked in the mills. I have all their history too, but this is not the place for the relating.
George Prideaux and Mary Ann Prideaux married in St Silas Church on 21st January 1893. Incidentally Leeds was granted city status later that year.

st silas church

After the wedding, George carried on working at the brickyard. One of the many in Leeds. The yard was a filthy place to work, but then, there were very few clean places to work. Waste from  industry was thrown into the River Aire, to add to the waste from slaughter houses, sewage, dye works and chemical soap. The smell around the place was  disgusting. I remember my father telling me how foul the water courses were, when he was a child during the 40’s. And how dangerous it was to go anywhere near them. The irony was that he and his friends learned how to swim by jumping in the river and the only thing they worried about was hitting something metal and becoming trapped or cut by that.
The young George Prideaux was glad of the work though, as the alternative did not bear consideration. The workhouse and dire poverty still beckoned to those who were not of private means or able to earn. The family would have been more than aware that prostitution for women and crime for men were the other alternatives to starvation.
After the wedding they moved to 7 Burniston Place.

7 burniston place

They lived in the far house on the left next to the midden and the shared toilet.
Their children were George  Prideaux born in 1893, Arthur Prideaux born in 1894, and Annie Prideaux  born in 8th April 1895. Benjamin Prideaux was born in 1898 but he sadly died on 24th December 1899 aged 21 months. He suffered convulsions following Diphtheria. There had to be an inquest, but it was decided on 27th December that he had died from natural causes. What a great Christmas that must have been. Then there was Jane Prideaux born in 1900, Clifford Prideaux ( my grandfather) born on 25th December 1902, which hopefully helped the anniversary trauma of Benjamin’s death. Not finished yet, there was Herbert Prideaux born in 1907, Albert Prideaux born in 1910 and finally Wilfred Prideaux  born in 1912.
I have a photograph which was taken at the funeral of Agnes Prideaux (my grandmother) on the 14th February 1988. It is of Herbert Prideaux and Wilfred Prideaux. I was not told until after the funeral that this was who they were and I was a bit miffed because I would have talked to them about Grandad. They had not made themselves known because of our grief. Another missed opportunity. They are both dead now. They could have told me so many things that I would be interested in today. I would have listened for hours, but I suppose when older people want to tell you stuff, you are too young and disinterested to listen.

A Xmas Story cover

When Agnes was dying, I was living in Shropshire in my first marriage and with a small child. I got a telephone call from mother that Grandma was fading fast and the family should get to her bedside in Leeds as soon as possible. I was unable to go as my husband would not take me and my car was not the kind which would make the journey. I have never been as bound by circumstances as I was at that period of my life. I was very unhappy.
So, I determined to get as many family members there as I could. I knew my father was on a course that day, but mother could not remember where and through much effort and coincidence, I found him. At one point I rang the wrong number while trying to track down a friend of my father who was also on the course, but the person who answered knew who I wanted and went out of their way to help me. After an hour or so, I tracked him down and he joined my mother and brother at the hospital.
They stayed with Grandma all day and into the night. Eventually Dad went along the corridors and searched out food and coffee. As he returned, Grandma walked past him in the opposite direction and said, ’Goodbye Martin, take care.’ He turned, shocked that they had let her out of bed in her nightgown. She vanished and Dad ran into the hospital room. The family were crying, holding the hands of the now dead Agnes.
At exactly the same time, all the china fell from my Welsh dresser and smashed. Grandma had given it to me. Then Dad rang to give me the news. I was so upset. But, I felt that she had been giving me a message. So I dyed my long brown hair blonde, went to her funeral and determined to get a divorce. Life is way too short and I was going to make the most of it.
Incidentally, when Dad died suddenly only four years later, my brother Mark saw him soon after his death and then Mark died a few years after that.  I shall not say who saw Mark after he died.
Back to this story.

100 elland road

Soon after the war, the family moved to 100 Elland Road, Holbeck, a much bigger and nicer property, where the expanding family could be happier.
I finally tracked down the death certificate of George Herbert. He died on the 13th October 1926 on the Railway Bridge at Woodlesford, Leeds.

railway bridge

His son George was with him. Woodlesford was a mining village and had a quarry.  It was also the home of Bentleys Yorkshire Bitter.
George suffered from bronchitis as his mother did before him. He was a heavy smoker of long standing. He had coughed his way through the past few winters. A dose of influenza after the war had also taken its toll on him. Mary Ann Prideaux often wondered whether the years at the brickyard with all the dust had not helped. One could also take into the equation, damp houses and the shocks he had endured throughout his early life. That Wednesday, George and Mary Ann were visiting their eldest son George Junior at his home in Woodlesford. Young George married Annie Eastman in 1923 before they moved there. Often Mary Ann, her daughter Annie and granddaughter went there to visit. This time Grandad George decided to go. They caught a train from Holbeck to Woodlesford.
Whichever problem was the cause of his death that day, the effort proved too much for him and George passed out and died on the bridge after climbing the steps. He was 55 years old. He was certified to have died from pneumonia and cardiac failure, by FA Fawcett. There was no post mortem.
The family posted a notice in the Yorkshire Evening Post on Friday, October 15th, announcing the funeral the following day.

PRIDEAUX Oct 15 at 100 Elland Road, Holbeck. George Herbert beloved husband of Mary Ann Prideaux aged 55 years – interment at Holbeck Cemetery, Saturday at 3 leaving house 2.30. Friends please accept this the only intimation.


George was dead, buried and gone within four days. Mary Ann Prideaux never got over the shock.
During his life, George Herbert Prideaux enjoyed a drink at the Holbeck Working Men’s Club and had been a member there for years. His sons also joined and became regular attendees. They had a whip round after George died and paid for a marble flower pot to go with the headstone. The funeral tea was held at the club, and all his friends came. It was a very happy do. The white marble headstone paid for by his family stood proudly in Holbeck Cemetery. When Mary Ann died, her remains were placed there also. The white marble pot paid for by his many friends at the club stands alongside it. However the engraving the friends arranged to put on the pot states ‘Priddo’.
They did not know him that well.
I travelled to Holbeck Cemetery on several occasions looking for the grave of George and Mary. It took an accompanied visit with 90 year old Mary and Andrea. Mary, George’s granddaughter and Clifford’s niece, wandered around with me until we discovered the gravestone. Sadly, the marble pot had been thrown onto another grave and the whole area was overgrown and neglected. There were several contractors working there and I am not entirely sure what they thought they were achieving. The end result was a disgrace. Mary became quite emotional as both her father and grandfather had lived at the lodge and been responsible for the maintenance for the graveyard and its occupants. She told me how beautifully it was kept and the place had been a pleasure to visit. Now it seems to be a haven for drunks and litter louts. Mary remembered her father going there during the war in his position of fire warden. From this raised area in the city he could not only see fires, but also enemy bombers. He had kept watch on his own house during air raids so he could see what was happening there. She also showed me the guinea grave which contained the remains of her little sister.  She had died as a three year old and Mary became upset remembering her sister in her little coffin which remained on the kitchen table in the only downstairs room in the house until it could be laid to rest in the cemetery. She recalled that this could not be done until the grave was full of its other occupants, often ten to each grave. One cannot imagine the horror of that.
Along this research road, I came into contact with Andrea Allen who is the granddaughter of Annie Prideaux and daughter of the above named Mary. Annie married Arthur Askin in 1919 and died in April 1966 in Leeds. Annie and Arthur lived at 98 Elland Road, Holbeck, Leeds 11 and her mum and all the children lived next door.
Mary can remember Jenny, who was also known as Jinny, Herbert, George, Ben, Albert, Wilfred and Arthur. Apparently there was much tooing and froing between the houses.
She and Grandma Askin did all the ironing for Grandma Prideaux and both Clifford Prideaux [my grandad] and Herbert Prideaux wore a clean shirt every day for work and another in the evening. She was very pleased when the uncles married and left home. I also know that Clifford was very proud of the way he looked.
George had such a short life and it was full of sadness. He had a large family but I doubt he had time to enjoy them. He was always at work and in his later years he was ill.Being so young when his parents died and not knowing his grandparents must have been tough for him. He was fortunate in his choice of a wife, as she worked very hard, keeping the family together and clean and tidy. The children all managed an education of sorts and were forward thinking with ambition. The trouble was that in those days, ambition got you nowhere. There was no real chance of achieving a great deal.
Luckily their descendants did.

Collected Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux

Matthew Prideaux 1838 – 1888

By the time Matthew Prideaux  arrived back in Leeds, he was feeling very depressed and worried about his future. Already he had led a more than interesting and much travelled life.
Born in Nottingham, the son of John and Mary Prideaux and younger brother to Edwin from his father’s previous marriage, he had yet to feel relaxed and at home anywhere. He knew that he had a dead sister called Charity who had been named after his grandmother and the tales he had been told of the Prideaux family history fascinated him. The stories of Devon and Cornwall and Lords and Ladies gave him an urge to travel back there and visit. His father had never wanted to return, probably  because of the shame of how he had allowed his family to end up.  John’s family were always poor and  lived in terrible conditions. They had suffered almost every day of their lives.  John even told them that the family would not be welcome back in Devon. His son Matthew decided that he would wait until he had made something of his life before he made a visit to Chudleigh.. Matthew told his children the stories of the rich and powerful Prideaux family but in the end, he never went to visit. These stories were passed down through the generations, became watered down and a little distorted until they reached my ears.
I decided that I should write them down, add the stories to various records I discovered and visit the past myself.  I have never regretted doing that. I just wish that my granddad and mother could be with me. But then I wish David Coulthard would drive me around a racing circuit very fast, and I doubt that will happen either. Will you ask him for me Mrs Coulthard?
When Matthew Prideaux was a boy, the Prideaux family travelled to Leeds where the four of them lived in one room, which was airless and damp and the tiny window at the front of the house let in very little light. His mother Mary he remembered, was always cross and tired and he often felt hungry and worried. He was not very old when they left the Leeds house in the middle of the night, his mother shushing him as they walked briskly away through the dark streets and out of the town. At the time he never knew why, but as he got older and realised how often the family were in debt, he presumed that they would have been evicted soon anyway.
The trip down to London took many days, walking the muddy roads and begging for food at different cottages along the way. Sometimes work would be given to John in exchange for food and shelter for the family, but generally it was hard. Mary managed to keep the family fairly clean, insisting that the boys washed in streams, even when it was very cold. A couple of times, sympathetic women gave them some clothes and once a pair of old boots was given to Matthew. Oversized and rubbing his feet dreadfully as they were far too big for him, Matthew wore them for two more years.
London was terrifying and Matthew wanted to leave as soon as they arrived. Children younger than him tried to rob him, even though he had nothing. He tried to learn as much as he could about wood and working with it, because he knew that one day he would walk straight out of London and down to his rich family living in Devon somewhere. John had told the family all about the Prideaux past on that long walk to London.
It was the longest time John had spent talking to any of them. He never did again, often dismissing questions with a rough push. Many times he was  drunk and Mary waited until he was asleep before going through his pockets for money. As soon as he was old enough, sixteen years, Mary asked Matthew to accompany her as she went back to her family in Scarborough. They had moved there just before she left to work in Stalybridge in the mills.She had no intention of going to Devon to visit John’s family and so Matthew Prideaux found himself going north instead of south west. Matthew still hoped to travel to Devon and Cornwall later.
Scarborough did not work out for them and with a tearful parting, Matthew Prideaux  decided to make his way back to Leeds and  try and find work in the mills there. Perhaps he could make enough money to go to Devon. The trip over to Leeds was not too bad. He managed to get some lifts and met one very nice young lady at a farm on the journey
He arrived full of the positivity of youth and called on an acquaintance of his mother’s. Mary had given him a list of people to call on and ask for a job. He knocked on the door and the lady who answered cried when she saw Matthew and asked with feeling, how everyone else was. He told her that his father was dead as Mary had advised and the sympathy which this news brought forward, made him thank his mother for such a good idea.
Within a week, he had a job as a joiner at a local workshop and was soon living at Atkinson Street in Leeds. His mother followed him to Leeds soon after the death of her own parents. Mary took in needlework and some dressmaking and they were happier than they had been for many years.
The Jackson family became their friends and in particular Sarah, who turned up constantly on the pretence of being helpful to Mary, but having her eye on Matthew. Mary did not mind as she found the girl pretty and hardworking. The two women  got on very well and that boded well for any future marriage.
The Jacksons, who lived in 29 Spa Street, had moved from Ferriby in Lincolnshire where George Jackson worked as an agricultural labourer. He had done what many poor people had done and travelled to the town for work. Now he had a job as a blue slate worker and his children either worked in the mill or in the brickyard. George and his wife Margaret had Charles, Emma, Helen, John, Joseph, Robert, Selena, Ann, Dinah, Mary, Sarah. They had their first child when they were both 15 years old.  Mary Jackson married George Kitchen and they ran a pub together. Sarah saw how happy her sister was and compared her crowded home with that of Mary and Matthew and set about catching him. Who could blame her? Matthew did not mind being caught.
Matthew and Sarah Jackson married in 1863 and lived at 16 Spa Street.  Mary Prideaux decided to stay at 18 Atkinson Street, telling the young couple that a mother in law living with them would not help their marriage.I expect she also did not fancy the idea of sharing with a newly married couple and she took in a lodger, a single woman, who kept her company.

atkinson street

Here is Atkinson Street. No 18 is the second door from the left. The small buildings to the left of 22 are the toilet blocks. It was common for the toilet blocks to be used by many families on the street. I can’t imagine that anyone spent longer than necessary in this small room. Hence chamber pots, to save walks during the night.
Although these properties would be later pulled down and referred to as slum housing, compared to the properties which John and Mary Prideaux had lived in previously, this was a move upmarket. I doubt very much that Sir John Prideaux would have considered that there was any connection between him and this little family, however.
Soon after the marriage, during the winter of 1863 and 1864, Mary began to suffer with her chest. In these poor times, the doctor was only called twice. The first time was when Mary started to get quite ill in the early stages and then later in April when she started going rapidly downhill.
Sarah nursed her as though she was her own mother and the Jackson family helped where they could. The lodger stayed in the background, working out how she could keep the place on as soon as her landlady died.
On the 4th May 1864 after suffering from bronchitis for 7 days, Mary Prideaux died at home with Sarah Prideaux present at her death. They wrote  that Mary was the widow of John Prideaux, a carpenter, on her death certificate. I wonder what was going through the couple’s mind about this death of the other spouse business.  Matthew must have known he was lying when giving the information to the coroner, unless the story about John’s death had seemed more  real over the years.
Life went on for Matthew and Sarah Prideaux . They had nine children in total, but only six made it to adulthood. Until they settled in Hunslet, there were no other Prideaux in the area. Matthew and Sarah were the first. All Prideauxs in Leeds descended from them, unless they moved into the town in later years.

Essex Street

Matthew and Sarah moved to 5 Essex Street, a delightful little property, shown below. No 5 shares the toilet block with No 3.
Mary Emma Prideaux was born in 1865 and she began work at 12 as a flax spinner.
Agnes Jane Prideaux born in 1867, Edwin John Prideaux , named after the uncle he was never to know, was born in 1868. There was George Herbert Prideaux who was born 23rd August 1871. Then William Prideaux arrived in 1873, followed by Alfred Prideaux  in July 1875, then Thomas Alfred Prideaux who was born 1878. Finally Eliza Prideaux was born 4th September 1880 alongside  her twin Charles Edward Prideaux. There were also a further three children who were born dead.
Alfred sadly died on the 3rd November 1876 at home. He had been suffering from Tabes Mesenterica for one month and was attended by Dr Green.  This is a wasting disease of childhood characterised by chronic swelling of the lymphatic glands of the mesentery. No doubt this is why Thomas was given Alfred as his second name. His death was registered the same day, so maybe Matthew had taken time from work and had to do it all in one day.When the twins were born, Charles did not fare well and he died after 14 days of Debility on the 17th September. This meant he was very weak of mind and body and would not have been expected to live. A Dr Dobson attended him and certified his death. Matthew again registered it as Sarah would no doubt have been fairly weak herself.
The other twin Eliza Prideaux lived almost two years, but she  too was sickly and  died on the 27th July 1882 after suffering from decline for a month. Decline was sometimes referred to as Tabes and meant that there was a gradual wasting away of the physical faculties often from pulmonary consumption or similar. Dr Dobson was in attendance again. This time Sarah registered the death on the following day.
The funerals were small and poor events, but attended with much love. Sarah picked flowers from grass verges and fields to put on the grave as they could not afford to buy any. It was a great source of sadness that each beloved child who died could not be given respect by society, put into little more than a pit in a thin badly made coffin. Did God not care so much for these dead children?
That thought, along with an innate fear of the dreaded workhouse if bills were not paid meant that there was never any rest and relaxation. My granddad would tell me how these worries were paramount in the lives of his grandparents. It was a real fear as going to the workhouse was the only help from the government.
It seemed odd when I first started this research that stories I had from my granddad and mother stretched back 150 to 200 years. Now I have matched the people to the names and made them real in my head and my life, I can see how my life and beliefs came to be what they are. For example, it might seem unusual that granddad, a man brought up in such dreadful poverty and lack, should vote Conservative and believe in education for all. He also wanted his descendants to strive for more than he had. He was concerned about poverty, but adamant that the Prideaux family were better than the situation he had been born into. He was right, of course.
Interestingly, Matthew could write his name but Sarah could not. The Prideauxs insisted on educating their children through all the generations and when the family fell on hard times, that must have been all the more difficult. I learned most of these stories from granddad when he sat me on his knee and taught me how to read. He talked to me constantly. Although, I was very young  when he died, everything he told me has remained and I find I am able to recall it all and write about it here. Mother filled in some other details during later years.
Sarah Prideaux did not recover from all the illness and death she was surrounded by. She died from capillary bronchitis of which she had suffered for two weeks before she succumbed on the 21st September 1884. She was only 46 years old. The symptoms are frightening. This disease was common in those days, the cramped, damp living conditions and poor food ruined the basic health of everyone. She died gasping for breath and coughing up blood. Just prior to her death they had moved to 22 Ambler Yard at Holbeck. Sarah was worried about the devil cursing the family and arranged for a cross to be buried in the chimney in order to ward off evil. She had Matthew remove a brick and put the cross in the hole and replace the brick. I wonder if it was found when the houses were eventually demolished? The cross did not help and Sarah died. Matthew stayed at this property for a while before he too died at the Hunslet Union Workhouse on the 21st January 1888 of Phthisis.
That was quite a shock for me, discovering that my grandad’s grandad died in a workhouse. Grandma and Grandad lived in such a lovely, neat  house and my mother spoke so well, it did not make sense. I know that Grandma had an innate fear of poverty and paying bills and not wasting money, but I did not for one minute imagine that the workhouse experience could have anything to do with my family.  It was a lesson learned.
Sarah Prideaux  was nursed at the end by her daughters and sisters, but particularly Mary Emma Prideaux. Was it a coincidence that the girl she named after Mary, her mother in law was now looking after her on her deathbed as she had done twenty years earlier to her dear friend? Perhaps the cross helped the final circle come round and send her to a better place.
Mary Emma Prideaux was walking out with a lovely man called Arthur Kay, but she told him that she could not marry him while her father was so sick . Mary Emma nursed her father for as long as she could. But it was becoming increasingly difficult to look after him, the children and pay bills. When Matthew became too sick, he was taken to the Hunslet Workhouse where he died. Arthur stayed with Mary until the end and she married him as soon as she could afterwards. This Prideaux family would become homeless now that their parents were dead. The problem must be solved. No time to grieve, practicalities needed to be dealt with.
I have records of all the wives and children of the brothers and sisters, but this is not the place for so much detail. Due to the fact records were kept of all births from 1837 and a census taken every ten years from 1841, it is possible with a lot of detective work, to trace most members of any family. This has meant that I have details of all the marriages, births and deaths of the brothers and sisters and grandchildren of Matthew and Sarah. Add to this, the contacts I have made with other descendants, has forced me to be quite brutal with the editing of this chapter.
So, homes and new lives must be found for the Prideaux children. Everyone ended up somewhere, as I shall show now.
Mary Emma married Arthur Kay in 1888 in the summer following the final nursing of her father. They moved into 24 Grape Street just down the road from George. They lived next door to the Queen Inn. Their house has been demolished, but The Queen was still standing in this photograph, looking rough.

24 grape street

Arthur Kay was a steam engine fitter and allowed the orphaned boys William Prideaux and Thomas Alfred Prideaux to live with them. The boys started work as boot riveters as soon as they were able.

When George Prideaux and Mary Ann [my great grandparents] married on 21st January 1893 at St Silas Church, Arthur and Mary Kay were witnesses. They also became parents to John and Helen Kay and moved to 7 Boyne Terrace, shown below.

7 Boyne Terrace

Mary’s bad luck remained and Arthur died leaving her a widow in 1894 aged only 29. Arthur had been 31. She did not appear to remarry.

Edwin John Prideaux moved into lodgings after the death of his parents. He went to stay with Thomas and Ellen Clarke at 3 Endon Terrace.  Ellen was ten years older than her husband Thomas, her first husband being a Mr Long. She had a daughter Elizabeth A.S. Long and a son John Long. There was also another boarder, a Rose A Hill. The girls worked in the mill, Edwin Prideaux worked in the brickyard, John Long was a glass blower and Thomas Clarke worked in the forge. Edwin Prideaux  married Elizabeth Long in 1892, after all she was handy.  It seemed a shame to let a good home go to waste and Elizabeth was cute.
William Prideaux soon married and left the home of his sister Mary Emma, where he had stayed until that point. He married Lily Ledgard in 1892.
Thomas Alfred Prideaux married Love Townend in 1900 and appears to have lived with his big sister Mary Emma until then, supporting her through the birth of her children and the sad death of Arthur. Love and Thomas Prideaux moved to 2 Heed Street after the wedding.
The last child of Matthew and Sarah not yet discussed was Agnes Jane Prideaux . She had gone to live with her aunt and uncle when she was 14 years old.  Her aunt and uncle were Mary and George Kitchen who lived with  their four children at 10 Alfred Cross Street, which was a pub. Mary  Kitchen was Sarah Prideaux nee Jackson’s, sister.  The pub was later known as the  Oatlands Inn and had been previously run by George’s father, Robert. I don’t know whether Agnes  looked after the children or whether she worked in the pub.  It is stated in 1891 census that she was their niece and she still lived with them and their eventual nine children. Agnes left them when they took over the White Stag Inn at Sheep scar Leeds. I can’t find her after that.

Oatlands Inn

I hope she had a good life.

Edit: I was contacted by a relative of Agnes and she led an interesting life. She married the son of the Kitchens (Charles her cousin). They had a daughter Gladys, but divorced soon after and the girl was brought up by her father and his family.

Agnes joined another branch of the Jackson family as Mary Winter and Sarah Prideaux had a sister who married a John Henderson and they spent a lot of their time on the stage. Agnes used the surname Henderson following her divorce and became an entertainer. There is no record of a further marriage, but she died as Agnes Henderson.

Her daughter Gladys remembered;

“My parents were Charles Winter and Agnes Henderson. They divorced when I was small and I lived with my father and other members of his family. My mother visited me a few times while I was very young but after that I never saw her or heard from her. Her father was French. Before marrying she lived in a pub with some people called Kitchen who she was related to. One of them was on the stage”

Gladys Winter

Gladys and her family knew only that Agnes (Gladys’s mother) was a Prideaux and made an assumption that she was French and she was on the stage.

Collected Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux
Collected Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux

John Prideaux 1796 – 1871

The fire at Chudleigh started at midday on 22nd May 1807 and whipped through the town remarkably quickly. By four that afternoon, much of the town had been burnt or pulled down in order to stop the flames spreading. There are very descriptive and interesting accounts written about the event and its aftermath by Anthony Crockett and also in Mary Jones History of Chudleigh.


John Prideaux was at school when the fire started and went through the mix of terror and excitement that only children can experience. The fire started and spread in the area of Chudleigh between the school and his home. John  had to get through the flames in order to see his parents and in the end watch his home burn down.

The home of the Prideaux’s was burned badly because  it sat directly in the path of the fire and nothing in that area survived. I hope they managed to remove some of their belongings and animals. There is no record of any of them being injured in the flames. However, they would have been lucky to keep any part of their possessions.

By the end of the day, many had lost everything, but equally, assistance and provision arrived from far and wide. It is to be hoped that the Prideaux family were not one of those who had lost so much that they were forced to wait for the repair of the Workhouse. I prefer to think of Thomas Prideaux and his family being able to attend the General Meeting of the Parish at the vicarage the following day.

Money came in from all over the country and there were many tales of generosity towards the town. Insurance money was also paid out. The fire itself caused an Act of Parliament to be passed. Fame indeed.

The Relief Committee which was created in order to hand out monies and arrange rebuilding to take place was chaired by Lord Charles Clifford, the largest landowner and landlord of many. He was also an eminently sensible and generous man. Some other notable members were Montague Edmund Parker, husband of the daughter of the JP who heard Thomas’s case against his landlord, soon after their arrival in Chudleigh, and William Bond who was possibly John’s schoolmaster.

Money was handed to various families and a good deal of it appeared to go to some who were more affluent than others. But rarely was enough paid out to any individual to recompense, so one assumes that the townspeople helped each other out.

Thomas Prideaux was one of the eleven carpenters in the town at the time and after the event he worked steadily to rebuild houses and shops. This must have stood him in good stead for the future. Many moved into the buildings at the rear of the burnt out houses until the new houses and shops were built. Cloud and silver lining come to mind. Thomas Prideaux did well out of the disaster.

John Prideaux  saw the complete destruction of his small cob, thatched cottage with mullioned windows. But he also saw his father involved in rebuilding the town in a modern way and watched the face of the town  change forever. I hope he was excited and not freaked. It could well have inspired his decisions later on in his life.

John completed his education  and he learnt the carpentry trade  from his father.

Chudleigh and small town life eventually became boring to him however and he and his brother Peter talked about seeking their fortune in London. They had heard from the many travellers who came through their town to Exeter and Plymouth about the excitement and the many jobs which were available to a man of ideas and education in the busy London streets. Could they possibly be paved with gold? Perhaps they could restore some riches to the family.

Charity Prideaux was upset about the idea of  the boys leaving  her, because she knew that she would never see them again. The thought of them travelling to a place which might as well be on the moon as far as she was concerned, was impossible to contemplate. John reminded her that he was almost thirty years old and it was about time he had an adventure.

She could not persuade them to change their minds and in January 1824, Peter Prideaux  and John Prideaux left their home town of Chudleigh riding on the back of a cart. They carried  their belongings and hid money about their person. Charity and Thomas and the other children stood out in the road waving until the cart had finished climbing the hill out of town and vanished from sight.

Charity was never happy again.

John  and Peter Prideaux soon arrived in Exeter and met a man called John Lock at  an inn there. He was from near Bideford and told them that he could find them work. Bideford was a smuggling centre and John Lock  had the  Prideaux men  staying with him for several months helping him with the business of avoiding duty. These Prideaux men were strangers in Bideford and would not be known to the Revenue men.

One of the biggest imports here was tobacco and duty was loyally paid as the ships unloaded their cargo. However, when the tobacco was then exported again, the custom duty could be reclaimed.

John Lock was part of the organization which brought this same tobacco back into the country via other means and sold it duty free at that point. There was a lot of money in this. The Prideauxs stayed at Landkey where John Loc lived and slept in beds made up in the stables outside the cottage.

I am sure that John Prideaux did not know that the residants of the Acland manor sitting against the side of a hill nearby, were the descendants of Baldwin Acland and Joan Prideaux, the sister of William Prideaux of Adeston born four hundred years previously.

John Prideaux and Elizabeth Lock, the daughter of the host and employer John Lock were attracted to each other. John had no real intention of getting married, but the pregnancy announcement to her father ensured that he was trotting up the aisle of the local church before he knew what had hit him.

So much for the planned adventure.  Not yet out of the county and married and about to be a father. He didnt return home to Chudleigh to announce his shame and proceeded with the initial plan.

The couple  were married on Monday 18th October 1824. John was still determined to see London and soon the three of them left another tearful family in Landkey, never to return.

When John, Elizabeth and Peter Prideaux arrived in London, it was not all that they had expected. Work was hard to find and the place was horrible. London was filthy, smelly and full of violence and crime. John and Peter Prideaux  lost their possessions as soon as they arrived and turned to crime themselves in order to survive. The baby was born dead, much to the disappointment of John and Elizabeth. It took another four years before their daughter Charity was born, on 28th February 1829.

Elizabeth Prideaux was adamant once her daughter Charity was born, that she would not bring her up in this filthy hellhole. John agreed with his wife and the three of them travelled  to Nottingham where they heard there was some work.

As a journeyman carpenter, John  soon found work.  They were never going to be rich, but they could eat and sleep safely. Soon Edwin John  joined their family, arriving on 4th October 1833, a healthy boy.

Another child in the already overcrowded terraced house they were living in did not reduce the anxiety of the family in any way. Money and food were in short supply and jobs even more difficult to keep. Almost immediately, work dried up in Nottingham and the family found themselves walking towards Cheshire.

On arriving at StaleyBridge, bone tired and underfed, the family took some lodgings with the little money they had and John went out to try and find work. Some work was given to him, but not the kind of master carpentry he was capable of doing. He must take what he could get. It was a nightmare for the family traveling from one place to another through filthy lanes in the rain and cold,  and arriving in a new place trying to look presentable enough to obtain lodgings and work.

The life the family was leading began to take its toll and soon Elizabeth and the children fell sick with fever after catching it from another poor family in the next cottage. The damp and poor water supply encouraged disease and the poor hygiene, lack of food and anxiety combined to  rapdily wprsen their conditions.   John Prideaux only just managed managed to get the family to the Ebenezer Chapel on 24th June 1837 to have them baptised. Shortly after the ceremony  Charity and Elizabeth were dead, leaving John in charge of three year old Edwin.

By the next year John was married to Mary who had been born in Wakefield, but had lately lived in Scarborough. The couple settled in Staleybridge and in 1838 they became parents to a  son they named Matthew. It would have been imperative for John  Prideaux to marry as soon as possible if he had any chance at all of keeping his son Edwin with him. Had this happened in his home town, or even his home county, his mother would have immediately taken in the boy. But this new life he had chosen for himself, away from the safety and comfort of connections meant that he was alone. John was the first Prideaux in my line to become an adventurer and break away from any security whatsoever. So far it had done him little good.

By 1838 the Chartist movement was underway and Stalybridge played its part in its history. The Peoples Charter of 1838 gave the movement its name. Stalybridge was like other towns in the country where the Industrial Revolution had encouraged thousands of people previously living in villages to come to the towns and find work. Now they lived in overcrowded houses and streets in filthy and unhygienic conditions. The working man wanted the vote and better conditions. It was getting near the time when the workers did not want to accept the poor wages on offer.

I have no way of knowing where John worked, all I know is that he called himself a carpenter or a joiner all of his life. There were cotton mills in Stalybridge and in Leeds, where in 1841; the whole family lived in Saville Street.

The railway was being completed in Leeds that same year and coal mines still producing coal. The family were caught in a Dickensian trap of living in absolute squalor but needing to be there in order to make ends meet. Why did they keep moving around? John may have got himself into debt like Mr. Macawber and had to up sticks to yet another town.

John Prideaux  had little training in managing a family and its accompanying finances having lived with his parents in a town where everyone knew him. I can’t imagine how scary it must have been for them all. Moving from town to town and living in the smelly, dirty hovels which the addresses suggest. Workhouses beckoned if money was not earned.

The family must have been constantly hungry, dirty and anxious. I think of Tiny Tim in the snow, with the crutch. No! It does not bear thinking about.

I would have tried to find them work.

This is how researching ones own history affects us all. One knows what happened to people in certain times and in certain situations. But, as soon as we learn their children’s names and know something of their history, one feels for their troubles. They become ours. Is this what religious teachings mean when they tell us that everyone’s suffering is also ours?

Saville Street was right in the centre of Leeds, just off Wellington Road.The following photo shows City Square with Wellington Street running past the top centre. Saville Street is one of the streets off there. John and his family were now well placed for all the mills and factories. Most others on the same streets worked in the mills or shops.There was a railway station on Wellington Road which was opened in 1846; it was known as the Leeds and Bradford Railway station.  There would have been plenty of joinery work there. Perhaps he worked in the mills, or took work wherever he could. I hope he did not drink too.

Soon, though, John Prideaux took his family straight down south again, back to London. His brother Peter Prideaux was still there, so I expect he was hoping that his brother could find him work and lodgings. Did they walk? Did they take the train? Did they find Peter and his family? I can’t find that out.

Sometimes, it will seem as though I am writing with far more detail in these later chapters. That is because I am adding family stories to the facts I discover and so am able to link the records with a story.

If these are incorrect, you will have to blame my dead family and not me.

In 1851 the family was living in 52 Boston Place, Christchurch, St Marylebone. This street is just off Baker Street. I don’t expect that they ever consulted Sherlock Holmes though.

Mainly because he was not real.

Edwin and Matthew were also working as carpenters. Boston Place  was right by the railway, as was his brother Peters house, four miles away in Whitechapel. The workhouse not far away also helped to keep their eye on the ball.

A scary truth is that the two brothers may have had no idea where the other one was living, unless both were in contact with their parents by some means and they in turn told the other brother their address. The cities and towns were so crowded then and the two families could have passed within inches and not known each other. Mary Prideaux and the children were not known to Peter and his new wife and family equally so.

Each house in Boston Place seems to house several families with jobs as diverse as stableman, Coldstream Guards soldier, artificial flower maker and men who worked on the river.  52 Boston Place was opposite Marylebone  railway station.

Edwin John and Matthew were working  here as carpenters, perhaps on further construction at the railway station.  Now life changed drastically for the family. All I know about this man and his family are the facts from the records.

John Prideaux  lived as a lodger at the Marquis of Granby Cottages in St. Pauls with a fellow carpenter George Oliver. He told the census taker that he had been widowed. He appears to stay at this address until his death.

We discover from the next story about their son Matthew Prideaux , that Mary and Matthew both moved away from London, although Mary went to Scarborough and Matthew went back to Leeds. Mary always said after this point that she too was a widow. What possibilities this opens up for my  enquiring mind.

Did John get into debt again and Mary could take no more? She certainly would not have had to now that the boys were grown up. Was John a drunk and a wife beater? Did he come across some criminal element he had dealings with on his early excursion there in the later twenties with his first wife and the couple decided that it would be safer to split up? Did they both believe the other to be dead?

I do know that during the spring of 1871 John Prideaux was leaning against a balcony in central London, which he was supposed to be fixing. He pushed against it to test how damaged it was and he fell to the ground as the rail gave way with an almighty crack.

He was seriously injured and taken to Middlesex Hospital with a fractured skull and died soon afterwards. It was 6th May 1871.

Edwin John Prideaux,  who had dropped the first name Edwin, married Jane.  He had also started saying he was born in London, wanting to either hide his origins or fit in a little better.

Their first son was called Edwin, but he died aged two on the 8th May 1854 at home in 5 St Marks Road Kennington. His death certificate said that he had been malformed, this being certified at 14 weeks old.

His father, who was still working as a carpenter, was present at his death.

Their second son John died aged 8 on the 26th October 1863 of a fever. This time his mother Jane was present at his death. They were still living at St Marks Road,

Their other children were Jane who was born in 1851 and Henry born in 1853. Because of the ages I think that Jane and Edwin were twins, with Edwin dying young.  There is also a record of an Edwin John Prideaux , carpenter, son of John Prideaux carpenter marrying Mary Ann Bryant, a 35 year old widow and dressmaker. She was the daughter of James Walker a bookbinder. They lived at 26 Holywell Lane, in Shoreditch on 16th March 1856.  This does not seem to fit in with the story as every other detail matches, so perhaps it is just coincidence that Edwin John, son of John married in London at the same time.

Henry and Jane never married and even after their mother Jane died in the 1880s they still lived with their father in 1891, although they had moved to Dunstan’s Road, Camberwell. Both John and Henry were still working as carpenters, although John was now 76. John still did not refer to himself as Edwin, but had started saying that he was born in Chudleigh, Devon, which of course was where his father and not he was born. Remember he was born in Nottingham. Confusing isn’t it?

A Rosina Bernard was living with them as a lodger, she did not work but lived on a small means. In 1901 Rosina had left or died, John had died and Henry and Jane still lived together, although they had now moved to Tudor Court, East Ham. Henry still worked as a carpenter. My research on them ends here.


Thomas Peter Prideaux 1768 – 1842

Thomas Peter Prideaux was born on 26th December 1768, although his parents Peter and Mary were not married. If you have been reading my previous articles and blogs about the Prideauxs , you will see that Christmas dates play a big part in family events.

Ringmore Altar

Thomas Peter Prideaux  was baptized on 10th May 1769 at Ringmore Church on the day his parents decided to put things right. When it came to his turn to start a family, Thomas did not wait until his first child was born before he married, but his wife was certainly heavily pregnant. Charity Strong of Bishopsteignton married him on 13th November 1792. She was born on 2nd January 1770 at Bishopsteignton. Charity lived there when the last man was hanged in the parish in 1783. His name was Greenslade and he had been the gardener to Reverend Yarde in Bishopsteignton. Greenslade murdered his employer after he gave him a bad reference which he had written in Latin. The gardener did not discover the real meaning of it until informed later. He was only caught because he showed off the gold watch he had stolen. He was hanged at Haldon near Exeter. It is a pity the Reverend is not around now as I have some 500 year old documents written in Latin and I am having difficulty getting them translated…
Back to the story. The trio soon moved to Chudleigh, a village through which many travellers passed either by horse, foot or coach in order to reach Exeter or Plymouth. There was work to be found there.

I have discovered legal documentation concerning Thomas Peter Prideaux when he was examined with regard to the lease of a property in Chudleigh. This case took place in 1794, shortly after the family had arrived and apparently been cheated at a property they were renting from a local man. Perhaps Mr. Burnell underestimated the education and self confidence of the young Thomas Prideaux.

It is as follows.

The examination of Thomas Prideaux touching his legal place of settlement. Who saith that he was born in the parish of Ermington in the said county. Never served any apprenticeship but lived with his parents in the said parish of Ermington until he was about twenty years of age and afterwards worked at several different places in the carpenters employ and when he was about twenty one years of age he went into the parish of Chudleigh in the said county and worked therein the carpenters business about twelve years. After that he rented a house in the said parish of Chudleigh of one William Burnell at sixteen guineas per year part of the said house. This examinant never had any possession of the said William Burnell promised he would have it But never performed his promise. This examinant lived in that****** possession of about five months and offered to pay him for the time. But the said William Burnell refused to take it without he would pay him the whole years rent.This examinant further saith that what he occupied of the said house was about fourteen guineas per year and that he occupied it about five months and then gave up the possession as the said house was never put in repair.

The statement Thomas Prideaux signed is below. Where he wrote and the words were then crossed out, is underlined. Thomas signed this statement in a very neat and educated hand.

The examination of Thomas Prideaux residing in the parish of Chudley in the County of Devon touching his legal place of settlement taken before us two of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace in and for the said County this 21 day of November 1794 who on his oath saith.

That he is an illegitimate child and was born in the parish of Ermington as he hath been informed and believes but he has heard and believes that his fathers legal place of settlement is in the parish of Modbury in which said last mentioned parish his said father now resides. That he this deponent is a married man is a carpenter and about the age of twenty six years. That he lived with his father until he attained the age of about twenty one years but he never  was never apprenticed or lived as a servant for a year Nor hath the he this deponent done any act to his knowledge and belief other man as aforesaid whereby to gain a settlement.

Sworn before us                                    Thomas Prideaux

The Day and year


Rt Lydeton Newcombe Esq.

John Barry

William Burnell lived in Fore Street, Chudleigh and he was a builder.

Robert Lydeton Newcombe Esq. had lands at Starcross, Exmouth and is mentioned in `The History of Chudleigh’  by Mary Jones, where she informed us that Montague Edmund Parker, a well to do gentleman living at Whiteway, Chudleigh, married the daughter of Robert Newcombe. Mr. Newcombe was a JP and 75 years of age when he listened to Thomas pleading his case. He died in 1808 at his home in Starcross. The Newcombes were gentry and well respected in the area.
Thomas and Charity Prideaux won the case and Thomas now set up his soon to be successful business in the town. Most craftsmen lived where they worked, and Thomas was no exception. The cottage had a yard and small field at the back, housing chickens, ducks, a cow and a horse. There was a good deal of work to be had in the constantly busy and bustling town where travellers and coaches, sailors and horses made their steady way up the street, all day and every day.
The main street was narrow with houses almost touching each other at the first floor level. At times coaches had difficulty in passing and the main thoroughfare was a dangerous place to be. The houses were irregular in shape and size and some houses with farms at the back were extended from time to time towards the front.
However, just off the street and into the countryside, the views were and are still magnificent. Ugbrooke, home of the Cliffords, is stunning and the rocks and caves famous for pixies are worth visiting. The woods here were as good, if not better than anywhere in Devon. The climate was excellent and at one time it was said that the refreshing and healing breezes travelling straight across from Dartmoor could mend the sickest person within a month.
“Six views of Chudleigh, Devonshire, engraved by George Hollis, from drawings by Henry Le Cort. Made previously to the Fire, 1807”

These drawings show exactly what the town was like at the time Thomas lived there.

A great part of the town was destroyed by the fire which occurred on 22 May 1807. It started in a baker’s house in Culver Street, where Thomas Peter Prideaux lived. The fire spread from thatch to thatch and at one time three streets were on fire at once. At 2pm a forgotten barrel of gunpowder blew up and soon the only fire engine was burnt. Much of Culver Street and Fore Street burned down. 180 houses in total were destroyed at a cost of £60,000.
By the end of the day, the coaches which usually took travellers through the centre of the town had to be diverted around its perimeter. These travellers told everyone they met and by the end of the day, well wishers and help was arriving from miles around.
Much kindness and relief was given by surrounding gentry and parishes. A subscription list was started and a committee headed by Lord Clifford distributed monies.
The town was soon rebuilt and there is little doubt that my ancestors began to make some money using their talents during the rebuilding of the town. Many Prideauxs remained and traded as builders and carpenters during the 19th century.
Thomas Prideaux and his family were living there at the time of the fire and the children all state on future documents that that is where they were born.
Anyone who lived in Culver Street and Fore Street suffered quite considerable losses initially. But their job skills should have ensured that they were able to build their own properties and the properties of their neighbours.  Most of the fire damage occurred in Culver and Fore Street where their ancestors eventually  settled.
Thomas and Charity Prideaux had seven children, six of whom were born at Chudleigh.
Thomas Prideaux who was born on 11th May 1793 at Bishopsteignton and married Elizabeth Stranger Tapper on  8th  November 1814 at West Teignmouth and died in March  1862 at Kingsbridge . He worked as a joiner.
John was born on the 23rd March 1796 in Chudleigh. His story is in detail in the following section, as he is my direct relative. Seeing the life he had here in Chudleigh, with such a tight knit community, it must have been a hard decision for him to leave.
Ann Prideaux  the first daughter of Thomas and Charity was born on 4th November 1798 and she married Jonas Adams on 5th January 1820 at Chudleigh. Jonas was the sexton at the church.

William Prideaux , the next son was born on 8th June 1801 and he worked as a builder. He married Lucy Warren on 9th June 1824 at Shaldon St Nicholas. They lived on Back Street.

Peter Prideaux , another son for Thomas and Charity was born on 30th January 1805. He married Elizabeth Hogg and moved to Chamber Street; St Mary’s Whitechapel London and worked as a carpenter. They had a daughter called Mary Ann and also lived with Mary Hogg, Elizabeth’s mother.
Fenchurch Street railway line runs straight through Chamber Street, so I wonder whether Peter went to work on the railways as our John may have done. Peter Prideaux died in 1884 at Bethnall Green aged 81, but was listed as Prieudi. That is the only time I have seen the surname in that spelling, I am not entirely sure how one would pronounce it. Like John, he did not return home to Chudleigh once he left, or there is no record of it. He could write, so for his mother’s sake, I hope he wrote to her.

Mary Prideaux the final daughter of Thomas was born on 24 Dec 1809 at Chudleigh married Thomas Luscombe Ball 18 Jul 1830. Another Christmas connection.

James Prideaux , the final baby was born in June but sadly died in Aug 1811.

Charity Prideaux the mother of all these children died after a very busy and prolific 62 years and was eventually buried in Chudleigh on 10th January 1832.

Grace Swales became housekeeper to Thomas Prideaux after his wife’s death. She was present at his death on the 22nd February 1842 when he suffered an affliction of the chest. Grace made her mark on the death certificate, and it is interesting to note that none of his family was present at his death and willing to sign. Perhaps they did not approve of his relationship with Grace Swales.

Now, the usual snippets of information which provide you with a background to the times I am speaking about.
The practice of wrecking still took place around the coastline. Cornwall has always been a well known graveyard of ships and many were forced to wreck in order that their cargoes could be stolen.

Smuggling was also rife. By 1770, 470,000 gallons of brandy and 350,000 pounds of tea were being smuggled into Cornwall at a cost of £150,000 to the Exchequer. Smugglers were lauded as generally honest men and it was very difficult to get a jury to convict them and magistrates turned a blind eye.
It was at this time of lawlessness that John Wesley advanced with his religious beliefs. He traveled all over the country converting ‘sinners’ wherever he went. This was the time when he stayed at Methrose near to Prideaux Castle.
Although by the end of the eighteenth century the area was much more civilized , working conditions and wages were still terrible. When in 1793 England began yet another war with France, the poor were hit again as markets were lost and the fishing industry affected. Men went to fight in the Navy although many  were encouraged by the  press gang. By the time John Prideaux was born in Chudleigh, The government was demanding that hundreds of men should be press ganged into joining the navy. These men were taken from the unemployed miners and so the incentive was always to work.
The early 19th century was the time of the railway engine. Victoria ascended the throne and railways were springing up everywhere. It was a bad time for farming with wages below poverty level. People began leaving for the New World in larger numbers than ever. It was a time of high food prices and few job prospects when John left Chudleigh and went to work on the railways in the grimy north.
George IV was a greedy and unpopular King who reigned until 1830. His brother William IV succeeded him and reigned until 1837. He died of pneumonia and cirrhosis of the liver. Victoria came to the throne in 1837 and reigned until 1901. She was the daughter of Edward Duke of Kent, the brother of George and William.
I have just gone out of my writing room into the hall. I had noted from the large clock in front of me on the wall that it is gone midnight again. This is the clock next to the antique mirror which has deer scenes on it. I have no idea what is going on with that. It reminded me of Bambi and my grandfather reading the book to me when I was a girl and so I let the man in the antique shop sell it to me. I had only gone in because it was raining and I had no coat with me.
I still have the first edition of Bambi from which granddad Clifford Prideaux  taught me to read. He also used some cigarette cards which had horrible war scenes on them from what I can remember.  What was I talking about?
I have just gone out into the hallway and my current husband has turned off all the lights again. He does that all the time. He likes to go to bed really early and that means the house should be shut up I suppose. So he decides to go to bed and turns off the telly, turns off all the lights and goes into his room. Then I am supposed to stagger about, feel my way along the wall until I find the light switch. It is guaranteed to make me feel cross and all I wanted was a cup of coffee. I got a cup, let the dogs out for a wee and have come back in here, under the pool of light from the lamp over my desk, and am listening to the torrential rain against the windows.
Another lovely July evening, I don’t know about climate change, I thought it was supposed to be hot.
It’s my birthday on Saturday, but I am going to my sister’s in Lincolnshire. The week after is another trip to Devon and Cornwall and I have some exciting appointments with the current owners of Flete and Orcheton and Prideaux House and Place. So I shall write about that visit in earlier chapters. If you are confused, try and imagine what is going on in my head.
Original article written by APx in 2009

Footnote.   She got a divorce in 2010…

More Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux
More Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux

Peter Prideaux 1733 – 1810

Peter Prideaux was born on 1st August 1733 at Ringmore where he lived with his parents, Peter Prideaux  and Joan Prideaux and four siblings, Joan, Elizabeth, Anne and Thomas.
They lived in a cottage with a workshop attached and this enabled Peter senior to carry on with his carpentry work and feed the family.

Ringmore Church 4

Unfortunately Peter Prideaux senior died when Peter Prideaux junior was only fifteen years old. This was enough time to teach him woodworking skills, but not enough time for him to complete an apprenticeship.
At home were three unmarried young women and a ten year old brother, so young Peter had to take what work he could get. Their mother relied on the girls and the money they could earn working as maids or on local farmsteads. Thomas could earn money only by doing work such as crow scaring and stone picking until he was a little older.
Joan Prideaux  refused to let any of her children go into mining or any other such backbreaking work and so  the family managed to stay together and maintain a modicum of their dignity. They were dreadfully poor and thought often of what should have been their lot.
Peter was able fill his father’s shoes and do at least some of the work which his father had been expected to do. Whatever work it was, it would be a while before he was able to earn enough to keep them all. They managed to keep the cottage roof over their heads with help from friends and family. The repairs and maintenance were done by Peter and the girls organised the growing of vegetables and fruit and looked after the animals. It was essential that most of their food could be supplied in-house. Any surplus was sold to their neighbours or taken to market. Clothes were made at home from cloth bought cheaply or donated. Many families lived this way. Make do and mend was not just experienced during 20th Century war years.
The sisters, Joan and Elizabeth helped their mother keep house and appeared to have no time to court the local young men. It was not until the death of Joan in August 1756 that they were able to get out more. By the end of September the following year, both girls had married and left home. It was not possible for any woman to marry and leave home unless her intended was in a position to house, feed and clothe her. He had to have  a job or trade and not just good intentions.
Thomas Prideaux did not marry until 1761 and Anne Prideaux never left the cottage. People rarely married until their twenties, even though their life expectancy was quite low. There was a general lack of intention to marry young, but when they did marry, they got down to the business of raising a family as soon as they could. They often did not marry until the girl was pregnant anyway. There was a desire to prove fertility.
Peter Prideaux, as the eldest and main breadwinner, was master of the house and worked solidly earning money as a carpenter. Work was coming in more regularly now that Peter was older and more experienced, but he managed to stay away from the altar. He preferred his sister Anne’s company to that of any other woman who may want to take over the house. Anne kept house calmly and without question and was easy to manipulate, because that is what Peter did. He told her that he was lost without her and could not manage without her running the household and that he was so grateful that he was able to continue the business of their father. And Anne in her own opinion,  was the only one to be able to manage at the cottage. It was not in her interest for another woman to come in and take over the housekeeping reins. A wife for Peter was more than likely the end of her role there. There was no man on the horizon and it was unlikely that a new wife would allow Anne to stay on at the cottage.
However, the arrival of a son to  local girl Mary Wills on Boxing Day 1768 changed all that. The child was called Thomas Peter after his father (Peter) and his maternal grandfather (Thomas). But it was not until 10th May 1769, that Peter finally married the girl and made his son legitimate.
That was not such a surprising thing to do back then. Often a man would want to know that he would have children by the girl he was to marry.  It was almost impossible to get rid of a wife, unless by murderous means.  As pregnancy may still not force a marriage in itself, the girl’s family would force the guilty to the altar in order to enter into the apparently unbreakable vows that the Church had convinced them of. Many women were pregnant as they took their vows. Peter may not have wanted marriage for many reasons, but he did marry and the church records prove it.
There would be a time in the future when this resultant son, Thomas Prideaux wrote down in a court hearing that he was a bastard.
Learning that kind of information can send this family research historian into a bit of a loop, as it was now possible that no Prideauxs in my family were related to the Prideauxs of old. But it turned out to be alright in the end. Hurrah!

Ringmore Altar 3

On the marriage certificate and church record of Peter and Mary’s marriage, Peter was described as a sojourner to show that he was not one of the gentry Prideauxs. How sad, because  if things had turned out a little differently, he would have been one of the gentry. It was in his blood. Maybe this small act would be enough to reignite within him the feeling that the family were from better roots than their current social position might intimate. He must have loved that little touch from the clerk at the church.

Thomas Peter was born on 26th December 1768 at Ermington. He is listed in the parish Records there, as

`Thomas Peter base born son of Mary Wills born 26th December 1768 baptized May 10th 1769`

This was the same day that his parents eventually married and made him legitimate.
They settled down together happily enough, as on 14th November a second son Peter, was born at Ermington. It is interesting to see that the name Peter was used again, this time as a first name. Now Mary could be sure that she had her man and did not need to keep her own father on side. The social penalties for a girl having a child out of marriage could be severe when not supported by her own family.
It was also agreed between Peter Prideaux and Mary Prideaux that his sister,  Anne Prideaux could remain at the cottage and help with the raising of the children and the work which needed to be done. Anne was grateful to them for the chance to keep a roof over her head. Not all families would be so generous, even to their own flesh and blood. However, soon the son of the butcher asked Anne to marry him and when she accepted, Peter and Mary could get on with their own lives.
N.B. This Ann Prideaux would never marry a butcher, being a veggie and all.
The family soon increased in size and Jenny Prideaux was born on 31st December 1775 at Ermington and their fourth child, John Prideaux was born on 23rd March 1779 at Modbury, but he died young and was buried in 1784.
Peter Prideaux appears in the churchwarden’s accounts at Ermington in 1816. He was paid 1s 6d for the carriage of sand for William Prideaux, who was the sexton of the church at Modbury.
There were many Prideauxs around Kingsbridge, Modbury and Ermington, and a surprisingly large number of them were Quakers. I found gravestones of several at the Catholic Church in Kingsbridge when I visited there. The place used to be a Quaker meeting house.


Peter Junior is in the 1841 census living in 14 Back Street Modbury. He was on a Navy Pension and lived with his sister Jenny who was sixty five. She appears to still be unmarried. Also there were a Maria Prideaux aged 25 and John Prideaux aged 1. Maria was his daughter and John her illegitimate son.  The house was also home to Jenny Wakeham aged 55 and Mary Wakeham aged 15. Perhaps they were lodgers. Money was tight for everyone, so it was not uncommon to share houses.
Next door at no 13 lived John Prideaux who was 30 and a carpenter. He was Peter’s son. He and his wife Charlotte lived there with their children, Mary 4, Jane 2, and Sarah aged 1.
By 1851, Peter was dead and the property let to someone else.
His father, Peter senior was buried on 17th June 1810 in Modbury. He moved there to be near his son and daughter, after Mary had died a few years prior.  Jenny and Peter were very close to their father, indeed Jenny lived with her mother and father all her life. She ensured that they were never alone, even during their final illnesses.
Considering that so many ancestors had ships and sailed often to the continent and around the English Channel, this Peter is the only relative I have found so far, who went to sea. I don’t think it was in a pea green boat – though it may have been.

More Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux
More Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux



Peter Prideaux 1695 – 1749

Peter Prideaux remained in contact, albeit in a limited relationship, with his father until he died in 1719.

Ringmore Altar 3

Peter was now settled at Ringmore, accepted in the community and worked as a carpenter. He had built up a good reputation for himself as  a skilled and dedicated worker. The ability to read and write helped him get the good jobs. Carpenters were sought after at this time in England, some were treated as great artists and given food and a home until the work was done.
Houses at this time were built from stone and clay and often consisted of only one room. In some cases, this room was also occupied by chicken and geese. The roof was mainly thatch which was tied down with ropes and netting to prevent  it blowing away in the strong winds which would whistle up from the coast with a great deal of strength. The cottage may have possessed only a small portion of land around it, or the cottager  may have been lucky enough to possess more. This land and property, generally owned by a landlord, was more than likely overseen by an agent on his behalf. Rent was paid to him and non payment answerable often by eviction. Women and children were seen in public at church or going to market when they did not work in the fields. Church was attended on Sundays, but often these cottagers had lost their religious beliefs and piety, leaving that to the better off who had more time to spend in their spiritual diligence.
It was common for people to starve and each family only had enough to feed their own and were unlikely to give to strangers. One hopes that if a neighbour was in trouble, the others came to help. I think they often did.  Travellers to villages were not welcome because they could take local jobs and would want housing. Then  if they could not pay their way, they would  be turned away as no one wanted to pay for their keep. Even children, starving and orphaned would wander the lanes looking for food and shelter and would be moved on. Different times. There is still an inherent mistrust of immigration, I think we treat them better.
Although the population in the land had increased during Tudor times, it remained static and often dropped during this period. After 1750 when industry began to make an appearance, the population began to increase. It also became more common for people to move area again.
Becoming pregnant out of wedlock was frowned upon, but as long as a marriage took place either during the pregnancy or shortly afterwards, then the problem was solved. It was very common for a baby to arrive only weeks after the wedding ceremony.
This Peter Prideaux married Joan and they had five children together during their lives at Ringmore. I presume they married before she was with child, but I do not know.
Their first daughter Joan Prideaux was born on 30th September 1728 and baptised on the 15th October at Ringmore. She gave birth to a base born son, John on 17th April 1752 and baptised him at Ringmore on the 26th April. His father  was not named and this child may have died on thwe 24th August 1757, shortly after her marriage to Matthew Bowhey whom she married on 1st May 1757 at Ermington.
Their second daughter Elizabeth Prideaux was born on 6th March 1732 at Ringmore and baptised at the church there on the 31st March.. She married John Skinner on 25th September 1757 at the same place.
Their first son Peter Prideaux was born on 1st August 1733 and baptised on the 12th August 1733 at Ringmore.
Ann Prideaux was born on 7th Jan 1736, and baptised on the 15th April also at Ringmore.
Thomas Prideaux was born on 7th December 1738 at Ringmore and married Elizabeth Carton on 26th November 1761. This Thomas died on 31st July 1813 at Ermington aged 75.
Peter Prideaux Senior died on 12th April 1749 and was buried on the 14th at Ringmore. His younger wife Joan was not buried until 3rd August 1756 – mainly because she wasn’t dead until then.

Ringmore Church 4

Celia Fiennes was making her way through the countryside at the time of Peter’s birth and her descriptions of the area, roads and jobs, give an excellent impression of the times.
She tells us about the narrow roads and the stone bridges, sometimes with five arches spanning the waters. The rivers noisily rush and froth over the large rocks on its way to the sea, she writes. She meets characters on the road and in the fields and sometimes sees the cottagers looking at the strange, well dressed woman followed by pack horses smiling as she went along.
Now there were the small beginnings of a civilized way of living for the common people, which gradually developed during the second half of the century. Queen Anne. the daughter of James II reigned from 1702 to 1714.. She had seventeen children but only one child survived to twelve years of age. She was married to Prince George of Denmark. She was Protestant and very fat and loved by her people. She died after having convulsions and her coffin was almost square because of her huge bulk.
Queen Anne  had a long friendship with Sarah who started life as a maid and ended up married to John Churchill. Queen Anne gave them money from the public purse to build Blenheim Palace.
The Hanoverians now came to rule England. George I lasted from 1714 to 1727. He died of a stroke.
Capitalism arrived in Devon and Cornwall early,  with many foreigners making money from the development of mining. The miner himself earned very little. Wives and children also needed to work in order for the families to make enough money to eat.
Miners  worked a long way underground with very little air and in sweltering heat.  They came back to the surface where it may well be freezing and dressed in cold, wet and inadequate clothes and then walked five miles home. Food was scarce and not very nourishing. The average age in one Cornish miner’s grave yard was 27 years old in 1750.
Men drank gin and other spirits in the kiddleywinks, the name of the pubs they frequented. There were often uprisings because of food shortages. A famous uprising in 1727 caused one Thomas Tonkin to be hanged at St Austell for leading a raid for food.
George II reigned from 1727 until 1760 at his death aged 76 of a heart attack while sitting on the toilet. What was good enough for Elvis was good enough for this King.
He was followed by his grandson George III, the son of eldest son Frederick who had died from being hit by a cricket ball in the chest. George III reigned until 1820. He had fifteen children of whom thirteen survived. He became mad in later life and eventually died of pneumonia. He was known as Mad King George. But he did love and encouraged  the huge  boom in agriculture during his reign.
I thought all this was quite an interesting background to the kind of country Peter was living and dying in.

Original Article written by APx in 2009

More Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux
More Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux

Peter Prideaux 1651 – 1719

I cannot tell you why, for I have no proof whatsoever, but I am convinced that this Peter Prideaux was one of the black sheep of the family.
I would love to know which house they lived in at Ermington, but I never shall. I tried to work it out, but failed on this rare occasion.

Ermington Church
Ermington Church

Risdons Survey of Devon` tells us the following about Ermington.

 `a name framed from the river, was long since the principal place upon the stream, both for Saxons imposing of names in like sort and for that the whole hundred hath its nomination thereof.`


Peter Prideaux left  Ermington in order to marry Elizabeth Saunders in Aveton Gifford on 27th July 1684.

aveton gifford

This beautiful little place stands on the River Avon from where it takes its name. The Parliamentarians tramped through here on one of the attacks on Modbury a generation earlier. I note that at one point it was in the hands of the le Prous family, no doubt forebears of the family Prowse where I used to visit as a child. They had a farmhouse from where Mulfra can be seen  in the most beautiful setting on Penwith Moor. I have written about these times elsewhere.
Peter Prideaux had a roving and restless spirit I think and was determined to do well and claw back some of the family fortune. He did not appear to work anywhere and so there must have remained some family money and inheritance from his father. This girl he married was from a decent family and Peter would still have had contact with the rich and landed Prideaux cousins in the near vicinity.
In the next generation, his son Peter had to list himself officially as `sojourner’, a term used for commoners to ensure that they would not be mistakenly connected to his rich cousins. That must have been hard.
Chances are that this Peter Prideaux was starting to have some experience of that during his lifetime.
Elizabeth died on  April 1687 and was buried at Aveton Gifford on the 13th April. There were no children from this union .

Bigbury Altar

Peter was not to be upset for long and after a short courtship, married Jane Boon in Bigbury on 28th June 1687. This girl died on 26th December 1688.
Peter Prideaux married Joan Stone on 28th May 1689 also at Bigbury. Joan died 6th August 1694 and so Peter married Anne Baron (Ruddes?) on 20th November 1694 at Bigbury, waiting not much longer this time.

Bigbury Church (10)
cornwall march 2009 059

We came across Bigbury on one of the early fact finding trips. The area is a famous and loved holiday destination and the village and the island just off the coast has been used both as an inspiration for writers but also as a film location. It was another place where I felt at home as soon as I arrived. Please do not imagine that I feel at home everywhere I go, because I most certainly do not. I don’t even feel at home when I am at home, this lovely cottage I have lived in for more than twelve years so far. (note: written in 2009). Perhaps I should say that the places felt familiar and as I said previously, I cannot tell you what mysterious wind of coincidence takes me to these places before I find the factual link with them.
Bigbury, known as Bikaberry in ancient times was in the hands of the Bigbury family, the heirs mainly being known as William before it passed elsewhere. It was one of these William Bigburys who John Prideaux killed in a duel at Sequers Bridge. I hope mud was not still sticking.
When inside the church at Bigbury, I noticed on their list of Rectors, that Ralph Prideaux had been Rector here from 1325 until 1347.  I sorted him out in a previous chapter and he did turn out to be one of mine.

list of rectors

Peter would have seen this name every time he attended one of his many marriages, funerals and christenings there.
On the 17th September 1695, Peter Prideaux had the long awaited son and heir and called him Peter John.  He was up all night thinking of that name.
Peter Prideaux junior was christened at Bigbury.
Ringmore is an equally beautiful place and I hope that my ancestors appreciated living in such a beautiful area. Although, appreciation is often not high on the agenda when being surrounded by death, bad luck and money worries. They would walk to the sea, perhaps watching the ships or the wrecks and picking up flotsam and food when not required to work at home.

Ringmore Church 4

Walking around these churches and graveyards, one does get a sense of personal history. Where it is not possible to know where an ancestor lived, at least one can be sure that they trod the same path to and through the churches in their lifetimes and that makes them feel closer.
More bad luck was to follow for this little family. On the 17th May 1697 they had a daughter Anne, followed by a  sister Mary who was born in 1701. These two babies died within days of each other in December 1701, Their mother Anne died within a couple of weeks in January 1702. I am surprised anyone bothered at all, particularly the women, when either they or their babies would die so very often.
Peter was left to bring up his son, probably with the help of a housekeeper or some sort of girlfriend.  He did not appear to marry again. Perhaps he was worried about the Amazonian tribe already waiting to meet him at the Pearly Gates.
Peter Prideaux died on the 24th March 1719 and is buried in Loddiswell. His son was living his own life and most of his close family had gone. His parents and brothers had all been dead for many years, his nephews and nieces would not have been interested in the past and his cousins at Stowford, Orcherton, Theuborough, Adeston and Prideaux would not want to be associated with him.
More info can be found here.

More Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux
More Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux

Thomas Prideaux 1610 – 1680

Thomas Prideaux was the youngest child of Thomas and Blanche Prideaux. It must have been hard, knowing that his eldest brother would take over the family home and farm and he must find his own way in the world. He may have asked his Uncle John in Oxford about what he should do.
However, all may not have been lost as Thomas is referred to several times as Thomas of Woodlands, which points to the fact that he farmed the land to the west of the Ivy Bridge. He signed the 1641 Protestation Returns at Ermington as Thomas Junior of Woodland. No doubt to differentiate himself from his father and cousin Thomas, the churchwarden at Luson.

Ermington Church (13)

The property at Woodlands has been mentioned many times during 300 years of Prideaux generations and one can assume that there was still the ability for a Prideaux to tenant the land. We can see that when Peter was under the care of Sir Walter de Wodeland, the association has been going on since that time. Now whether this was as a result of cousins owning the properties and wishing them to go to family members, or whether Woodlands had moved with John when he left Luson, it will be impossible to say.
Woodlands now hardly exists as farmland, being mainly A38, houses and industrial buildings. If the Prideaux ghosts are haunting there, they no doubt keep being run over by holiday traffic. Perhaps that is how ghosts seen on highways at night occur. Innocent spirits trying to walk their own lands, and not understanding any sort of time slip.
The family are each mentioned in the other’s will. They signed the Protestation Returns together and as they lived in the small community, spent much of their time together. The Prideaux family was still one of influence and renown in the area. With their rich and influential cousins, the family would have felt a cut above the other farmers, finding more in common with the landowners than the peasantry. Going to church and seeing the plaque dedicated to Bishop John would have reminded anyone not quite sure.
But the outcome of the Civil War was to leave its mark on this branch of the family. The manor at Woodlands may have been sequestered by the State. That was generally done because of support for the Crown. The Prideaux Farm was not however taken and remained in the family for several generations, so this is where I have a problem with the theory. Perhaps the owners , had caused no problems to the state.
The timing of Thomas Prideaux leaving Woodlands suits the time of sequestering. Perhaps, then, if the leases were owned by cousins at Orcherton or Luson, were some taken because they had supported the Royalist cause?
Thomas Prideaux  married Joane at Ermington around 1646 and together they produced James Prideaux in 1647, Andrew Prideaux in 1649 and Peter Prideaux  in 1651. These three boys were christened in the church at Ermington, where Cousin Thomas Prideaux was churchwarden. This Thomas was the son of John, son of Hugh of Luson, son of John and Sybell of Luson. No nepotism here.  Cousin Thomas Prideaux, the churchwarden has his tomb at Ermington Church joining the many Prideaux graves there.

cornwall march 2009 112

This Thomas, along with his parents and siblings could not fail to have been involved in the many skirmishes which took place in their close neighbourhood during the time of the Civil War. It is reasonable to assume that Thomas and his brothers were present at Modbury during the fighting there. Plymouth was held by the Puritans and the Royalist forces laid siege to the town. Neighbouring villages were familiar with men from either side, riding to and fro and the battles and killings taking place all over the countryside. Food and shelter had to be supplied and so the Prideauxs at Stowford and Woodlands would have seen these comings and goings first hand as one of the main routes passed through and adjacent to their lands. Modbury was an important strategic town and the great Sir Bevill Grenville was conscious of its importance in respect of the town peoples’ ability to supply food and shelter. It was a place which needed holding and Sir Bevill among others wanted to keep hold of the town.

Arthur Prideaux, the son of churchwarden Thomas Prideaux did not sign the Protestation at Ermington and neither did his father.  It seems unlikely that my line was sympathetic to the Puritan cause and so may merely have signed in order to keep the peace. Memories of what happened to the Tudors who refused to sign for Henry and Elizabeth would have been to the forefront of their minds.
John Pym was MP for Tavistock and  would  know which family supported whom. Many poor families would be able to live incognito, but well connected families such as the Prideauxs had some celebrity status and their political persuasions would be known by others. Tenant farmers would follow their landlord, whereas a cottager could not care less who won. Unless he was forced to fight or was paid to do so. Arthur Prideaux commanded a troop of horse for the King and the Stowford Prideauxs are highly likely to have fought with them. Those who did not would have contributed funds in some way. This issue was not just personal in that their noble lineage meant that they would support the King, but their properties were directly involved in the fighting and it would have been impossible not to have been affected. How could they not fight? When there were soldiers and friends riding and walking back and forth along the road outside your house and sometimes across your land. How could you not be involved?
Family lands still held in Cornwall and the close kinship felt by West Countrymen, meant they had to come down on one side or the other. There were Prideaux cousins at Theuborough, Luson, Ermington, Holbeton, all within a few miles of Stowford and all involved in  the fighting. It seems that whatever had caused Granddad John Prideaux  to lose money and property was now dismissed in the minds of the family. At one point there was rebellion against the King in South Devon and some fighting took place around Tavistock, so Hopton decided to move to Modbury where a posse was being raised. They saw the following scene, as described in one of the many letters Bevill Grenville wrote to his wife.
We must be  grateful to him for bothering to write with so much detail and also to his family for retaining the records.

A great concourse of people, yet it was rather like a great fair than a Posse, there being none but the Gentlemen that had any kind of arms or equipage for war, insomuch as Sir Ralph Hopton …… could not procure above twenty men armed, nor so much as a Patrol of twenty horse to ride out. All the Gentlemen of the County being so transported with the jollity of the thing that no man was capable of the labour and care of discipline.

Was Thomas present? It is comforting to think that perhaps he was alongside his brothers and uncles. I hope they were the armed men on horses, even if they were laughing and joking. It is highly likely as no one of any standing would be able to miss this excitement.
Hopton asked for half of Grenville’s men to be transferred from Totnes to Modbury to help in its defence. But Ruthven, the military strategist, now fighting for Pym, got within half a mile of Modbury, with 800 men.
When I think of the narrow lanes mentioned before, it is somehow easier to understand how that could happen. The Posse at Modbury ran away and the split Grenville army were less able to help. Grenville and Hopton got away and Arthur Prideaux rode away with them. Presumably Thomas and his family went home speedily.  They didnt have far to go. I hope they went and hid under the bed and did not defect to the Puritan cause.
Later on in the war, after great Royalist success in Cornwall, there was another assault on Modbury. Sir John Berkeley had to defend the area against more than 8000 men in a dual attack from Plymouth and Kingsbridge. It was dreadful, with hand to hand fighting taking place through the streets of the town. A final stand was made at the Champernowne manor house before retreat was necessary, surrendering the town to the Puritans. Several were killed, but according to the records, none of the family of Thomas Prideaux were.
Flete, owned by Sir Thomas Hele had been used as a Royalist outpost and was taken by the Puritan men on their march from Plymouth, where they took horses and prisoners. The former Orcherton lands formed part of the Flete estate which had been sold to the Heles by the last surviving Prideaux there. By the time Charles was beaten at Naseby and Charles II sent out to France from Falmouth, the two counties of Devon and Cornwall were glad to be finished with the fighting. They were sick of the Royalist forces constantly borrowing, in order to survive and approved of the Puritan way of paying for goods used. It was at this time, that Thomas lost the properties at Woodlands. This is also why I found it impossible to understand how it was lost, as discussed above. All I know is that the property was lost. The family as a whole, were aware of the position of Uncle John, Bishop of Worcester and his eventual retirement.
The death of the King in such a barbaric way was probably treated in the same way they did over the loss of Grenville, Slanning, Trevanion and Godolphin. What an utter waste. We can say this of each war there is. Only this week, I watched the funerals and processions of more coffins through Wootton Basset of brave soldiers who lost their lives on politician’s whims. God bless them and their families.
The Prideaux family must surely have remembered with nostalgia, the King riding through their neighbourhood alongside the four brave noblemen mentioned above and Sir Ralph Hopton and the others. These were the sexy and dandily dressed men with passion and fashion sense. They had long hair and feathers about their faces. Now they were surrounded by staid looking men and women, dressed in black and white with monotone voices threatening eternal damnation.  Even I am missing the Cavaliers and I was not even there!

Bishop Prideaux memorial plaque

Thomas Prideaux had now lost his property, his father and various other members of the family. Years of strife in addition to all this must have taken its toll. Uncle John Worcester, the Bishop Prideaux had lost one of his sons during the fighting at Marston Moor. I imagine that he was feeling pretty depressed. This generation was a definite progression downwards to average income from such a high rolling family. Thomas and his sons must have struggled with this fact when so many close family members were doing quite nicely thank you.
Of Thomas’s  three children, two stayed in Ermington and the third, Peter eventually left through marriage.
Thomas’s son James Prideaux who was born in 1647 married Sarah and they had Sarah and Agnes. James died very young in 1680.
Andrew Prideaux  born in 1649, married Joan Wake and they had Joan and Marjery. Joan was granted the administration of Andrew’s  effects on the 30th September 1696. Andrew, like his brother,  was not very old either when he died. There was a lot of sickness around in those days, but I imagine that the downturn of fortunes did not help.
Peter Prideaux was born on 22nd October 1651. We learn about him in the next story. All of these events took place at Ermington, where the Prideaux cousins were still church wardens. Thomas Prideaux died in the region of 1680, the same time as his eldest son and was buried at Ermington. These facts points to illness or plague.  There is no record of how he survived financially. I am assuming that his sons helped pay for the upkeep of their parents, as they now turned their hands to carpentry and similar trades.

Ermington Church

Once  England became a republic,  Cromwell ordered the sale of all lands held by the King. There were virtually no takers among the gentry, although parliamentary officers bought up lands such as Tintagel and other areas in Cornwall and Devon. Much of this land was returned after Charles II was crowned. And scores settled by him.
Scotland recognized Charles II as their King. At one time Charles II had hidden up an oak tree in Boscobel in Shropshire, while Cromwell’s solders looked for him in the bushes beneath, but could not find him. Many an inn has been called the Royal Oak since. The Royalist exiles in Jersey and Scilly proclaimed him Charles II. The government became worried and arrested many gentry in Cornwall including Nicholas Prideaux.
Cromwell ruled with a rod of iron, turning the country into a virtual police state, persecuting religion and protest. Many began to realise that he was not so good after all and began to pine for their King. Britain likes the monarchy really. It is in our blood. Suddenly it stopped with the death of Cromwell in September 1658. By the next year, Charles II was back on the throne. Revenge was taken on Cromwell, who was dug up and hanged at Tyburn and those who had signed the King’s death warrant were also killed in the usual terrible way.
Charles II died in 1685 of a stroke or poisoning. He had many mistresses, one of whom was Nell Gwyn, so he obviously liked oranges too.

Original Article written by APx in 2009

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Prideaux Ghost Stories



Thomas Prideaux 1571 – 1641

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Thomas Prideaux, the eldest son of John and Agnes was born in 1571.
He was born and brought up at Stowford on the Prideaux property along with his siblings, Johan, Agnes, Henry, John, Hugh, Christopher, Richard, Elizabeth and Francis. As children of John and Agnes Prideauxs and cousins of many other Prideauxs within the same area, the family was well known and respected.
Although they had been sold the property by the Williams family of Stowford Manor, they were not considered far down the social scale. Their cousins were considerable landowners in the vicinity and Prideauxs held the influential positions of churchwarden at Ermington and Ashburton and elsewhere.
Incidentally, it is written in some documents, notably, ‘Lives of Individuals’ by R A Davenport, that this family of Prideauxs numbered twelve children, seven boys and five girls.
There is a lot of information about one of the children, John, the future Bishop of Worcester. I am pursuing that separately and  have written a book about him.  The Bishop and the Witch.  
Luckily for me, because there is so much information recorded about Bishop John Prideaux that I have been able put together quite a good story about his siblings and parents. Again, there may be some incorrect information  and I noticed that some mistakes have been carried forward from earlier to more recent  writers.  But I expect someone will say that about me soon.
The South Hams was a relatively small place and most people knew each other, so the Prideaux family did not have to prove their respectability in any quarter. The farm at Stowford was a working farm and Thomas worked alongside his parents, siblings and farmhands in order to make the place viable.
Hunting happened regularly on their land and on Dartmoor, but would more than likely have diminished somewhat when Queen Elizabeth gave the demesne lands which ran between Prideaux land and Williams land, to her Speaker Thomas Williams, The Royal family had used this land for easy access to the moors from the highway.
The roads during this period were as bad as they ever had been since Roman times. Although many travelled from London to Plymouth, this was generally done on foot by the ordinary man , horse by the wealthier and sedan by the infirm. The roads had been deteriorating for a thousand years and were little more than tracks which could be rock hard and dry in summer and wet and muddy for much of the rest of the year. Some of the hilly tracks were said to sometimes resemble a waterfall, with water running down to the lowest point over stones and rocks on the road. Only the locally bred horses were able to negotiate the unstable roads.
The road from London to Plymouth was 215 miles and could be achieved in a week when using horses kept at staging posts.  Two centuries later, a gentleman being examined before a committee of the House of Commons about the conditions of the road in the west stated,

’ they were so deep that it had been seriously debated, whether it would be less expensive to convert them into canals, rather than to repair them.’

I found this wonderful quote in the ’Lives of Individuals who raised themselves from poverty to eminence or fortune,’ by R. A. Davenport, although the term poverty could scarcely be applied here.
The highway never bypassed any town, but cut through the centre in order to allow the traveller to reach markets and inns. These centres could be busy, smelly and muddy. There were no sewers and animals were slaughtered in the towns. Travel during this time was not as dangerous  as it was during the 17th century when trade increased and there were more highwaymen about.
This highway passed along the edge of the Prideaux property and crossed the Ivybridge, which had been built in the 12th/13th century. Each corner of this bridge was in a different parish. Mills were grouped around the area and the two cottages, Bridgend and Churchland on the Prideaux farm had previously been an inn and a chapel. These were the cottages eventually built over with the London Inn.
Ashburton, further north on the highway was a staging post and the home of Ashburton Grammar School, where many sons of those who could afford it  attended. Education there was of a high standard and was supported by gentry in the surrounding area. It is highly likely that Thomas attended the school as his brother John, the future bishop, did.
Their father John was highly educated and he and his mother would have encouraged their children to follow suit.
Even during bad times in later generations, the Prideaux family members have always encouraged education and many have found that they have an underlying desire and curiosity for learning. Well haven’t you? Where wives were only able to sign with a cross, the Prideaux could write his name and in a later generation represent himself in a court case.
Cattle, pigs and sheep would be kept and horses for ploughing. Horses would also be kept for riding, hunting and travel for the better off. There were some crops sown and hay harvested for fodder.
Thomas married Blanche in the early years of the 1600s at the time of the death of Queen Elizabeth and the crowning of James I.
John and Agnes, his parents, were both  alive at the time of his marriage and his younger siblings were still working on the farm and also trying to make their own way via marriage or trade. Tenancies were pursued in respect of other farms and cottages, but there is no record of the houses in which the other siblings lived. They obviously, with the exception of their brother John, stayed within the local area as they married, christened their children, and finally were buried in the local churches. They signed the Protestation Returns in 1641 in the parish of Ermington.
By 1610 all seven children were married and some married twice. Thomas was the heir and had the right to the Prideaux Farm. He may have stayed at the farm as heir and carried on with his work there, or moved to one of the cottages at the corner of the property which overlooked the bridge. All we know is that Agnes lived there after she became a widow in 1620. We cannot be sure whether Thomas and his father swapped residences prior to that date.
When Agnes died, Thomas took over as patriarch of the family and there is some evidence that he kept good communication with the other brothers. All of them being involved in each others wills and stating the known wishes of their celebrated brother. Thomas and Richard were involved in organising the inventory in respect of their mothers will.
They were also careful in regard to the future care of their brother Henry and ensured that John, even though now in Oxford, was mentioned in legal papers with regard to his rights. Francis had Henry living with him after the death of his mother and there was a document written which shows that Thomas, Richard and Hugh formally resigned their claim to the administration of Henry’s goods in favour of their youngest brother Francis.

Bishop Prideaux memorial plaque

They were proud of their brother John and his achievements, especially as they were involved in the making and placing of the plaque in Harford Church. John liked nothing more than to visit his family without prior notice and often brought presents for all his relatives and would give good advice , money and assistance wherever it was necessary.
On one journey home, Bishop John Prideaux heard the bell tolling for his godmother as he passed through Ugborough, so he immediately stopped his journey and accompanied the body to its final resting place and gave a blessing at the graveside. John was similar to Thomas and liked joking and laughing and having fun, but disapproved of swearing.
They both believed in exercise as the way to keep healthy and John, an accomplished archer tried to pass on what he learnt to his nephews. He could not return for the funerals of his brothers however, as he was so involved with the King and his problems. He probably also wished to keep unwanted attention away from his family by the Puritans. He is known to have sometimes stated that he was born at Lifton, some miles away from Stowford.
By 1620 the family would have been aware of the exodus to America of the Puritans and  their sheltering from bad weather at Plymouth. There was travel back and to from all major towns, if not by the Prideauxs themselves, then by their neighbours. Gossip was just as interesting then as now. This fact was not forgotten by Puritans during the Civil War and many personal vendettas were remembered when Cromwell came to power.
Thomas and Blanche produced six live children as follows.
John was born in 1606 buried in 1682 and married Agnes Edgecombe on 4 Sep 1635. They passed on the tenancy of Prideaux Farm to their eldest son and it remained in his family, until the lands were sold in the 1800s.
Hugh was born in 1612 and Susan, born in 1614. James, born around 4 Mar 1618 and Richard born around 17 Feb 1611.
Thomas, born around 1610 married Joane and took the tenancy of Woodlands, an area later known as Ivybridge Manor and now also under roads and houses. He is also my direct ancestor.
The plaque as mentioned previously was placed in Harford Church on 20th July 1639 and may have been to show their support for their brother during the very scary political and religious time.


Bishop John Prideaux  being so involved with the King and standing shoulder to shoulder with him against the ever growing support for Cromwell may not have made him popular in some quarters. Many at this time had begun to keep out of the limelight and many would not make their allegiances known.
It does show that this branch of the  Prideaux family was Royalist and despite the Bishop writing to the contrary, were happy to make an official record to God and the local people, that they were proud of their brother.
The family is shown on the plaque, praying for their parents with John wearing his red robes. One likes to imagine that he came to the church for the hanging of the plaque. Ironically in this world of coincidence, John died on the 20th July 1650, eleven years to the day of the dedication of the plaque.
I had to go back and look at this twice, because the first time I saw it, I just thought of it as another Prideaux monument.  But after more research and writing and involving myself with the characters, I saw them as family. Then a sad feeling overcame me, when I thought of their troubles and loneliness and happiness all in that lovely little church. This was not the first and only time I wish that I could have met them. I hope writing about them brings these people to life for you.
Harford Church is beautiful and spooky and very old. I had a feeling of history when I entered the place and although the place was quite empty of the living, it felt full of the dead.

The Prideauxs signed the Protestation Returns during 1641. The returns related to the years 1641- 42, around the start of the Civil War. The Protestation was an Oath of loyalty to Parliament and to the King, and was originally drawn up and taken by the members of the House of Commons on 3rd of May 1641, the following day the protestant Peers in the House of Lords also swore it.  On the 30th July the House of Commons passed a resolution that all who refused the Protestation were unfit to hold office in Church or Commonwealth. The rules then changed to include all adult males and some females. Sometimes only the head of the family signed or made his mark.
Avoidance could be difficult as a bench of local dignitaries (constables, magistrates, clergy, overseers etc) who would know of most inhabitants of the parish – heard their Oath & witnessed it.
The oath was as follows. 

 The Oath:
I, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ do, in the presence of Almighty God, promise, vow, and protest to maintain, and defend as farr as lawfully I maye, with my Life, Power and Estate, the true Reformed Protestant religion, expressed in the Doctrine of the Church of England, against all Popery and Popish Innovations, within this Realme, contrary to the same Doctrine, and according to the duty of my Allegiance, His Majesties Royal Person, Honour and Estate, as alsoe the Power and Privileges of Parliament, the lawful Rights and Liberties of the Subjects, and any person that maketh this Protestation, in whatsoever he shall do in the lawful Pursuance of the same: and to my power, and as farr as lawfully I may, I will appose and by all good Ways and Means endeavour to bring to condign Punishment all such as shall, either by Force, Practice, Councels, Plots, Conspiracies, or otherwise, doe any thing to the contrary of any thing in this present Protestation contained: and further, that I shall, in all just and honourable ways, endeavour to preserve the Union and Peace betwixt the Three Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland: and neither for Hope, Feare, nor other Respect, shell relinquish this Promise, Vow and Protestation.

Thomas died not long after signing the returns, perhaps the stress of living under the political problems proved too much for him. He buried his beloved brother Henry and sister Agnes and had helped bury sister in laws Mary, Margaret, Alice and Jane and a brother in law James. He was involved in the wills and distribution of many of the possessions of his kin after they died. Many grandchildren died, including five of his son John. He did however hear that his younger brother John had been made Bishop of Worcester in 1641, just prior to his death. I hope it was not on his deathbed.
Agnes and John kept their children in a loving and caring family whom they taught how to be kind and generous to all. The children lived up to that reputation and earned the respect of their neighbours as their parents had.
I don’t know why I feel particularly close to this generation of the family.  Perhaps it is because I have worked out through the study of old maps, exactly where they all lived and which roads they travelled. I have been to the places and stood where they stood, but then I have done that for every member of my family I have written about. Maybe it is because of the amount of information I have discovered about the Bishop and then by association, the rest of the family. There are paintings and pictures available of Bishop John and I have personally seen letters written by and to him from the King. Now in this digital world, it possible to not only see the images of your own family, but those of many other people. I am sure that we feel closer to people because of that, but that is just a personal opinion.

NPG D22907; John Prideaux by William Faithorne

 Article originally written in 2009

Featuring Thomas Prideaux.

Prideaux Ghost Stories



John Prideaux 1540 – 1620

Yet another John Prideaux story to tell. This John is the father of the Bishop John Prideaux who stars in my book. The Bishop and the Witch.

When trying to find out precisely where this generation of the family of Prideauxs lived in Stowford, I come across differing opinions. The historians of Ivybridge, including Louise Ryan, Gillian Venables and Ivor Martin, state that the house in which the Prideauxs lived was the house known as Stowford House which has currently been converted into flats. Roy Prideaux states that this property was the house of the Speaker Thomas Williams.

Stowford was a 100 acre Royal demesne from Domesday covering the King’s highway to Dartmoor hunting country. Queen Elizabeth conveyed it to Speaker Thomas Williams as a reward for  his services to her. Thomas Williams had many parliamentary duties and legal offices away from home and relied on his mother and sister to deal with his estates. His mother, Alice Prideaux, who had married Adam  Williams of Stowford held a good deal of sway within her marriage and ensured that the Prideauxs were given the long term tenancy of the farm. Alice was related to the Prideaux family via  the Orcharton line. Some cousins of which had moved to Ashburton and become well known there, They held  positions in the church and town and as Justices of the Peace.

John Prideaux had rich grandparents and rich parents and was happy to accept the tenancy of this farm when his father became ill and before he died. This John gained this tenancy when he was 27 years old and likely as not before he married Agnes, whose origins are unknown to me.

It appears that Stowford House and farm consisted of a dwelling house, 60 acres of land, meadow and pasture which lay almost entirely to the east of the Harford Road.

The Prideaux land is now almost completely covered by houses, the railway and a community college. It is bordered on the west by the Harford Road and the south by the Kings Highway which later became the turnpike road through the town and then passes over the Ivy bridge. It seems the only bit of grass which now remains of the Prideaux lands are a few paddocks north of the railway.

Not to worry though, there is a road named after the Prideauxs on the housing estate.

Ivor Martin, whom I visited in his wonderful little cottage when conducting this research lives only a few doors away from the edge of the Prideaux lands. Ivor’s house is full and I mean full,  of nostalgic toys, books and objets d’art. I was made very welcome and he gave me some information which helped further my research. He is a prolific writer of books and keeper of historic artifacts.

Speaker Williams died in 1566 after a short illness. He was a good man who spoke against the owners of parish livings giving very little to the vicar and allowing almost none for teachers. He also tried to encourage Queen Elizabeth to marry and provide an heir. Elizabeth liked and trusted him and rewarded him with extra properties which bordered on his own family lands.

John and his family had much to do with the Williams family, being related to each other.

It is known that this branch of the Prideaux family was Catholic.

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The lane to  Harford Church runs close to these properties and this church was frequented by both families. Many events took place there, including births, marriages and deaths. There are memorials to both families there.

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Across this road flowed water from Well Park, which traveled directly to the farm and its buildings, via an old culvert.

The Prideauxs  made their living from producing bread, dairy products, meat and cloth weaving. A tucking mill stood very near to their property. All these items were used at home or sent to local markets by pack-horse. The family had enough to eat and a roof over their head, but they were relatively cash poor.

It is highly unlikely that their diet was the same as two generations back. No more the storing of oysters and salmon, larks and swan, sometimes a fawn and often sugar candy for the children. No more plays acted in the grounds with dancers and minstrels and pipers at the gate. They would still have cherries, plums and pears, cowslips and cakes from their own orchards and ground. Moorcocks, capon and geese, but times had changed for this branch of the Prideaux family.

John and Agnes produced a large family, ten living children and in some quarters it is recorded that there were another three children who did not make it far into childhood.

The surviving children were as follows, Thomas the eldest. He was born in 1571 and married Blanche. Blanche lived until 1645, but Thomas died before her. He is my ancestor and will be the subject of the next chapter.

Johan was born 1573 and buried on 28th April 1664.

Agnes, born 1576, who eventually married Arthur Dawe and was buried on 7th May 1639.

Henry born in 1577 and buried in 1639, there is documentation about him.

John was born on 17th September 1578. He became the Rector of Exeter and Bishop of Worcester. He married Mary Grace Taylor, then Mary Reynell of West Ogwell and was a very famous and influential man. He is the subject of my  book. The Bishop and the Witch.

Hugh, who married Anne and died in 1663. Anne died on the 1669, leaving Blanche and John in charge of the estate.

Christopher, born in 1582, married Alice who died in 1614.

Francis was born in 1584 and buried on 2nd September 1658 He first married Margaret and then Alice of Brent.

Richard, born around 1585 and who became a mason in 1633.  He married Jane, who was buried on 12th April 1633. He then married Elizabeth who became a widow in 1645.

His son Richard is mentioned in Old Devon Bridges, by C Henderson. In 1672 The Mill bridge over the River Yealm at Cornwood was in decay. Symon Prideaux gave evidence that the bridge had only been a plank bridge, a clam bridge upon which only pedestrians may travel and not horses or carriages. Mr. Hele in 1647 repaired and renewed the bridge with beams and planks from his own mill. The five judges attending the sessions decided therefore that as the bridge had been repaired by John Hele on behalf of the parish of Cornwood, it was not a county bridge and therefore not their responsibility to repair.

Elizabeth was born in 1586 and married James Mitchell on 5th January 1613.

All of their children are on record, but I shall not list them in this story.

Details can be obtained from Roy Prideaux’s excellent work, ‘A West Country Clan.’

All of these events appear to have been celebrated and recorded at the beautiful Harford Church, a church which had gained a reputation for clandestine marriages in the past.

The clerks during the time of John and Agnes Prideaux were John Priest, Andrew Helyer who remained for 56 years and William Hart of whom I shall talk later.

The Prideaux  boys went to Ashburton Grammar School, probably travelling across the moor from their house to Harford church and along the ancient way following the crosses which helped direct the traveler. This grammar school was founded by Bishop Stapledon, the same man who founded Exeter College at Oxford. Many good West Countrymen attended Exeter College. John Prideaux did particularly well there as he was a natural scholar.

The Civil War greatly affected the area in which my ancestors lived. Parliamentarians and Cavaliers buzzing back and forth, fighting each other and upsetting the lives of the ordinary folk.

William Hart, the clerk of Harford Church, was a man involved in the lives of all the local people and the Prideaux family in no lesser way. He witnessed many of their wills in addition to the normal duties of a parish vicar with regard to birth, marriage and death. Mr. Hart was in trouble on several occasions for refusing to swear allegiance from Royalist to Parliamentarian. The local influential people managed to keep this popular man in his job. Once, he was arrested by soldiers intent on persuading him in a more forceful manner. He was eventually released due to pressure but a Major Pierce said

‘Bid the parishioners pay no tythes and if they would knock him off his horse and kill him, his friends should have no law of them.’

It was probably as a result of this that the Prideaux family arranged to have a memorial plaque put on the wall of the church. The plaque is still there to this day and when I first saw it, I had one of those OMG moments.

You know, one of my family actually put this up four hundred years ago.

The plaque states:

Here rests the bodies of John Prideaux of Stoford and Agnes his only wife. The parents of[7] sonnes and [3] daughters.

To Whom

John Prideaux their 4th sonne Doctor of Divinity and their Kings Majesties Professeur thereof in the University of Oxford, Rector of Exceter Colledge and chaplain to Prince Henry King James the first and King Charles the first.

Hath left this filiall remembrance

July 20 1639

The old rectory was at Lukesland, just next door to the Prideaux property, they were neighbours too and hopefully friends.

Harford Church is atmospheric and spooky, and damp. But it is one of the loveliest places I have ever been in. On the very edge of Dartmoor, although within the National Park, it stands on a small green surrounded by a few houses and trees and hedges. It was misty the first time I saw it and I can see how the area was ideal as the location for the Peter Cushing version of ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’.

The Bishop came back to visit his family on many occasions, often surprising them by arriving without warning, but always armed with presents. He was an accomplished archer and would compete with his brother Thomas upon his return.

John senior, died in 1620, leaving his wife Agnes a widow.

There was talk of her retiring to the house at the corner of the property, Bridge End House by the Ivybridge. This has now been demolished and replaced by the London Inn, which has now sadly been closed down for a number of years. She stayed at the farm, which was  being run by Thomas and Blanche. She lasted until 1626 and her will proved on the 15th February 1626, although it had been written soon after the death of John on 16th February 1620.

 My body to be buried in the church of Harford.  To the poor of Harford 2s. To my son Hugh 20s. To my son Richard 20s. To my son Christopher 20s o my son Francis 20s and my greatest brasse panne. To my son Henry 50s and my next greatest brasse panne. To my daughter Johan 20s. To my daughter Agnesse Dow my best chest and all my lynnen. To John Prediaxe his sonne my best cuppe with a silver cover, To Welmont Burt my little silver cupp. To little Elizabeth Mychell my great brasse crocke. To all my children’s children 12d each. To Susan Prediaxe one ewe sheep. The rest to Thomas Prediaxe my son sole executor. Also I give him all my rights in Stover as appears by a lease made by Richard Williams. Sign of Agnes Predyaxe

John Bart of Wedenbury and John Shepherd overseers

Witnesses John Bart and John Shepherd

Inventory made by Richard Prideaux and John Scobble.

The will was written before the time of the popular William Hart, when the long serving Andrew Helyer was in charge. It looks as though Agnes did not approve of Helyer, as she left money to the poor rather than the church. This was often done by Catholics, who did not approve of Protestants and showed their disdain in this way. With regard to some of the beneficiaries of the will, they can be explained as follows.

Susan was daughter of Thomas; Elizabeth was the daughter of Elizabeth, she having married James Mitchell in 1613.

John Prideaux was by then Rector of Exeter College and Canon of Christchurch. He had a son John who was left the silver cup. Henry did not marry but lived until 1639.

Thomas, Richard and Hugh formally resigned their claim to the administration of Henry’s goods in favour of their youngest brother Francis.

This wee doubt not, but our brother the Doctor in Oxford will be ready and willing to do also

We can  assume that Henry was either physically or mentally challenged and perhaps lived with Francis, who looked after his needs, now that his parents were dead.

Richard, the brother of Thomas and John left a will as follows

I Richard Predeaux of the parish of Harford. To my wife Elizabeth one brasse panne which I call Blakes pann, my other brass things, 2 pewter dishes and the porringer with the letters SP on it and £110.

To Agnes Brangall [Bragwell] 10s. To the daughter of my son Simon 10s. To the poor of Harford 3s 4d

The rest to my son Symon Sole executor.

Thomas William of Fillom gent and my cosen John Preddeaux son of my brother Thomas Preddaux overseers.

Signed Richard Preddaux

Witnesses William Hart, Catherine Prowse

Inventory made May 28 1645 by Thomas Pridiuex of the parish of Harford [my Thomas]

William Hart was in favour here, he must have made a good impression on the Prideauxs, the new generation obviously becoming happily Protestant.

Elizabeth, Richard’s wife made a will a year after her husband.

To William Hart Clerk of the parish of Harford a hogshead of cider

To Alexander Lavers a hoggshed of cyder

To Agnes wife of John Prideaux two of my best aprons. To my sister in law Blanche Prideaux my best kerchief. To Richard Roper my calfe. To Anne Kelly my gowne and one hogg. To Phillipe Prideaux my best waistcoats To Elizabeth wife of Thomas Dawe my best petticoat. To Rachell Dawe one hat that was my kinswoman’s Agnes Bragwell.To Grace Ripley my servant my woolen waistcoat and 6lbs of yarn. To Richard Roper’s wife my holiday coats to his daughter and under coate. To Elizabeth Chubb my beste hatte and best apron halfe silke. To Katherine Prowse one of my handkerchiefs and a canvas apron.

To Joane Fox my god daughter 10s

To Thomas some of William Scoble 5s

To the children of Symon Prideaux 5s each to the children of Alexander Lavers 1s each. To the poor of Harford 3s 4d

Witnesses Thomas Collings John Fox The rest to Thomas Williams of Fillom gent sole executor

William Hart Clerk of Hartford and John Fox Ugborough Overseers Elizabeth Prideaux.

This will was written towards the end of the first phase of the civil war. Thomas Williams was of Speakers Williams family.

Alfred Prideaux of Bath researched the Prideaux line also and during this came across the Harford’s Bishop Transcripts and managed to discover several relevant wills. I have copied only the ones relevant to me. Alfred kindly gave me much information and a lovely and detailed hand drawn Prideaux family tree.

The Prideaux family had good views and personal experiences of the tooing and froing of the sailing fleet meeting the Spanish Armada. Their attempted landings around the Cornish and Devon coast must have been as terrifying and exciting as the landing of pirates.

This was the start again of a good time for the tin industry. The tin streams were exhausted so mining began in earnest, the wars required metal production and trade routes were cut off. The tin mining was very dangerous and the inefficient pumps and strenuous work meant that the men could only withstand it for four hours. Agriculture was neglected for the fast buck of mining.

However mining soon began to fail and the men returned to farming and fishing. Unemployment now became a serious problem as people flocked into the towns. The gentry during this time were landowners, magistrate’s, commanders of land and sea forces and members of parliament.

The gap between the two remained as distant as it ever was.

Incidentally, I discovered a prayer that the Prideaux family taught to each generation.  It was thought to be  protection against the plague. I wonder if this prayer was so carefully kept because so many of their ancestors had succumbed. Perhaps even his parents and siblings. It goes like this.

O God, That knowest us to bee set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that for Mans frailenesse we cannot always stand uprightly, guard to us the health of Body and Soul, that all those things which we suffer for sinne, by thy holy wee may well passé and overcome, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I use the prayer as an opener in The Bishop and the Witch

The Bishop and The Witch AA Prideaux
The Bishop and The Witch AA Prideaux

Featuring John Prideaux and available to buy now.

Prideaux Ghost Stories.



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.


Cover Version 2

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.

Modbury (2)


John Prideaux 1461 – 1523

John Prideaux was aware from birth, that he was rich and a member of the great families of Cornwall and Devon. The two counties mixed through marriage, inheritance and business and the Prideauxs have joined with each and everyone of them at sometime or other. John expected to make a good marriage with the responsibilities to Crown and country and family. He must produce an heir and a spare and maintain and increase the Prideaux fortunes. He must be keep aware of the current politics and ensure that he followed the correct leader as that could change at a moments notice. John Prideaux’s lifetime was no different to many before and after him. Fortunes could change on the whim of a new King and soon, religion would make a difference.
During these times ,there were many fights between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians. There was a lot of support for the Lancastrians in the West Country and many aligned with their Welsh cousins.The marriages of William Prideaux to Alice Gifford of Theuborough and Fulke to Sir Richard Edgecombes daughter showed where their sympathies and politics lay. Sir Richard was knighted by Henry Tudor for his support in the overthrow of Richard III in 1485. The War of the Roses was over. There is a very strong possibility that Fulke was fighting at the Battle of Bosworth.
Most common people of the time could not care less about the conflicts between Lancastrian and Yorkist nobles. However a number of families in Devon and Cornwall had joined the Duke of Buckingham’s unsuccessful conspiracy to overthrow Richard and among those who fled to Brittany to join Henry Tudor were Sir Thomas Arundel, John Trevelyan, John and William Treffry and Richard Edgecombe. It is said that Edgecombe escaped capture by throwing his hat, weighted with a stone into the Tamar. His pursuers thought he had drowned and he was able to make good his escape.
His family lands in the South Hams including Orcharton and Adeston were willed to him. These were the longest owned and most beautiful and fertile lands, with warm weather and easy access to the sea.  His brother  Fulke Prideaux, inherited Theuborough near Sutcombe on the North  Devon coast. These substantial  manors arrived in the Prideaux household with their mother Alice Gifford. John Prideaux and his heirs were to inherit these lands, should Fulke die childless. Fulke firstly married Jane Edgecombe, the daughter and heir of Sir Richard Edgecombe. She died without issue. Incidentally, you may often see the letters dsp after someones name in a family tree. This abbreviates the Latin phrase, descessit sine prole, which translates  to died without issue. John Prideaux may have thought that he was in with a chance of inheriting the North Devonian lands to add to his  first marriage. John  Prideaux was  named as heir in his brothers inheritance at Adeston and also at Theuborough, should Fulke Prideaux and his wife die childless. But Fulke soon married Katherine the daughter of Sir Humphrey Poyntz and as if to drive it home with a mallet, they produced thirteen children, although not all  survived for many years.
It was a wife’s duty for many centuries, indeed probably until relatively recently, to produce children as regularly and as often as they were able. Their first born son was Humphrey , who became the heir. The name Humphrey Prideaux was given many times in this Prideaux line.
A sister Jane married William Wyke.

Ermington ChurchJohn Prideaux married Sybell of Luson in Ermington which lay less than a mile from Adeston. Sybell, although a neighbour at Adeston would not see John regularly as the Prideaux family had made their home at Theuborough when William married Alice.  But I hope that theirs was a love match. The couple eventually died within a few weeks of each other in  1523. The plague and sweating sickness had been doing the rounds again and it may be reasonable that they had caught one of those illnesses.
When they died in 1523 they were survived by four sons, Hugh, John, Henry and Thomas.
Hugh the heir, perhaps named after his maternal grandfather, died on 6th December 1559, when his son John was only seven. This John stayed in the parish of Harford at Stowford, an area which features strongly in this story for the next few generations.  He died aged 73 in 1625, is buried at Ermington and is named in his grandsons’ marriage settlement.

Cornwall March 2009 119


His son Thomas was churchwarden at Ermington in 1627 and baptised his own son Arthur in 1628. These cousins were useful to my line during the civil war period and helped each other out. To the left is the author looking at his gravestone.
During the 15th century, parish churches were rebuilt along with manor houses. Stone bridges were built across large rivers and stonemasons and woodcarvers were employed everywhere. The building industry was as important in Devon and Cornwall as tin mining and the production of cloth. The birth rate began to rise along with the prosperity.  Now we can see how the lines of the family keep branching out and shrinking throughout the centuries. This was a trend common through all families, and the Prideauxs were lucky in that they had some branches continuing keeping the blood connection going. So far the family had been mainly on the up, income and land holding going from good to really good. Younger sons and daughters were encouraged to make good marriages trading on the family name and connections. It had always worked. Business dealings helped more as time went on, but now we were heading into a time where it was not so easy to stay rich, even with these connections.  So now some of these younger sons were considering work as stonemasons and carpenters, who were sought out everywhere. The building industry was where our line of Prideauxs found work for three hundred years from the mid 1600’s onwards.
When Henry VIII became King in 1509, many changes took place in the country. Not least the excommunication from Rome.  Now the  dissolution of the monasteries could begin.
The little Benedictine priory of Tywardreath was one of the first to go by the Act of 1536.
It’s condition was terrible. Prior Collins and his six monks were all that were left.  His tenant Thomas Treffry was a friend of Cromwell and he ensured that the Priory was closed and the lands sold to the gentry. The stones of the priory were carried away to build new large houses. The only stone remaining is the gravestone of Prior Collins. The monks went off to live a secular life.
Nicholas Prideaux became Steward to Shere of Launceston and helped dissolve the monasteries there. He was rewarded with very long and cheap leases of the tithes of a number of parishes including Padstow. This was the start of the branch of Prideaux building the huge property there, known as Prideaux Place, which is so famous today. Nicholas was the great grandson of Fulke Prideaux.
John Grenville secured a lease of the Tywardreath estates in the autumn of 1536.
The Protector Somerset took them. The priories and monasteries were stripped down and plundered by gentry and merchants alike,ruining them forever. They increased their own holdings by adding on to their own properties.
John Leland, the Kings librarian, travelled to Cornwall during this period of time and made many notes about the area which have proved invaluable to historians for years. He noted the sheep grazing at Tintagel and that it must have been a large place in its time.  He thought Padstow unclean as it was so full of Irishmen. He considered St Austell famous for nothing but its church and Tywardreath famous only for the Priory which was still standing at this time. Castle Dor he could not find, but the keep was still standing at Restormel. Barges could come within half a mile of Lostwithiel during this time.  The sand from the tin works being blamed for blocking up to the bridge with waste.
Celia Fiennes, traveling in 1698, found St Austell full of comely women and enjoyed West Country tarts with clouted cream, but disapproved of the men, women and children smoking. She was very impressed with the mines and gave a wonderful description of how mining was done.
The times were a’ changing again.

Harford Church (9)

John stars in the story The Terror of the Thunderstorm in the book Devon Prideaux Ghost Stories.



William Prideaux 1422 – 1472

William Prideaux became heir apparent to the Devon estates following  the premature death of his elder half brother John.  He was ten years old.
William subsequently named his second son in honour of his brother  John. He must have been greatly affected by losing a big brother at such a young age. For now though, William had everything any young man could wish for. A huge inheritance, plenty of money and lands, well bred and well connected and a well known and respected father. Oh and he was good looking too.
The Prideauxs were and still are a handsome bunch, intelligent and strong. It’s just that most of us are not rich.
William appears to be determined to have children and also to gain even more money than he already possessed. His sisters made good marriages and he obviously intended to, when one looks at the women he did manage to marry.
William’s father died around 1443, when William was almost twenty one years old. His mother Ann was still alive and helped him with his first choice of a bride. They chose Rose Michelstow.  She is highly likely to be the Rose Michelstow who was the daughter of the wealthy John Michelstow of Lanteglos in Cornwall. Lanteglos is very near to the Prideaux lands and again the families would have socialised and known about each other. Rose had a sister called Elizabeth who married Thomas Treffry of Fowey. This wife of Treffry helped her mother in law , also Elizabeth, defend Fowey against the Breton fleet while her husband and father in law were away. They fortified the town and poured boiling oil over the invaders. She is immortalized on one of three brasses in the church at Fowey, though the inscriptions are now vandalized. Captain Symonds a Cavalier, luckily made records of antiquities he spotted and this is one of them.

Poor Rose died, probably in childbirth again, as there are no children from this marriage.

The second wife of William was a daughter of John Fortescue, the future Chancellor and Chief Justice to Henry VI.  Her name was Joan Fortescue.
The Forstescue family owned Fallapit in East Allington .  William’s cousin John Prideaux of Orcharton settled the next door manor of North Allington and the advowson of its church on John’s brother Martin in 1429. The Fortescue and Prideauxs were close neighbours and friends and an alliance between the two families was sensible, indeed the family intermarried on more than one occasion as the centuries passed. Most of the gentry families in Cornwall and Devon have joined with the Prideauxs at some point or other.
They all believed in line breeding. Not that it did any of them any good, as this poor wife appeared to die in childbirth too.
William Prideaux  then married his third wife Alice Gifford, the daughter and heir of Stephen Thomas Gifford of Theuborough and Agnes Churchill.  They married in 1460. The couple eventually moved into the Domesday manor of Theuborough in the parish of Sutcombe near Holsworthy, after all the children were born. Theuborough can be translated as Thieves Hill.  There is a  farm there still has the remains of a Tudor manor house which William’s son Fulke  had built near an earlier house of his.
Their children were Fulke Prideaux born 1462 and who died on 15th January 1530. Joan Prideaux was born in 1468 and John Prideaux was born in 1461.
William’s son Fulke Prideaux was the son  who inherited both Theuborough and Adeston and enjoyed great lands and wealth. Joan Prideaux married well and John Prideaux, my ancestor,  married Sybell who was heir to the property and lands at Luson, Ermington, just up the road from Adeston. His line was very fruitful and produced many more Prideauxs to colonise the county.
A deed states that William died on 15th April 1472 and that following his death, Alice married William Wollacombe, another landed Devon gentleman.
William Prideaux’s children presumably spent their time between Theuborough and Adeston. As Fulke would be inheriting he property, it made sense that his education would be there, learning the family business from the lawyers and estate management. Both Fulke  and John would also be learning French and Latin.
Incidentally, it was one of Fulke’s grandsons who carried on the line which eventually built Prideaux Place at Padstow.
Alice died on 24th February 1512, the lady reaching a great age and seeing her grandchildren grown up. Even if it was from a different house.


Some documentation referring to William


CP 25/1/46/84, number 132. County: Devon. Place: Westminster. Date: The day after St Martin, 15 Henry VI [12 November 1436]. Parties: William Predeaux of Thorleston’ and Philip Morgan, querents, and Thomas Loueney and Margaret, his wife, deforciants. Property: The manor of Nordon’ and 24 messuages, 300 acres of land, 12 acres of meadow, 2 acres of alder and 30 shillings of rent in Aluyngton’, Kyngesbrigge, Dodbroke, Colpyt, Wodehous and Lye. Action: Plea of covenant. Agreement: William and Philip have acknowledged the manor and tenements to be the right of Thomas, as those which Thomas and Margaret have of their gift. For this: Thomas and Margaret have granted to William the manor and tenements and have rendered them to him in the same court, to hold to William, of Thomas and Margaret and the heirs of Thomas, for life, rendering yearly to Thomas and Margaret for the life of Margaret 10 pounds sterling, to wit, 50 shillings at each of Christmas, Easter, the Nativity of St John the Baptist and St Michael, and for the life of Thomas 6 marks, 6 shillings and 8 pence at the aforesaid feasts if Thomas survives Margaret, and to the heirs of Thomas 1 rose at the Nativity of St John the Baptist for all service, and doing to the chief lords all other services. And after the decease of William, a moiety of the manor and tenements shall remain to Joan, wife of William, daughter of the aforesaid Margaret, and the heirs of her body, to hold of Thomas and Margaret and the heirs of Thomas by the aforesaid services for ever. In default of such heirs, remainder to Margery, wife of William Pillond’, daughter of the aforesaid Margaret, and the heirs of her body, to hold of Thomas and Margaret and the heirs of Thomas by the aforesaid services for ever. In default of such heirs the moiety shall revert to Thomas and Margaret and the heirs of Thomas, quit of the other heirs of Joan and Margery, to hold of the chief lords for ever.

And the other moiety of the manor and tenements shall remain to the aforesaid Margery and the heirs of her body (same tenure and services). In default of such heirs, remainder to Joan and the heirs of her body (same tenure and services). In default of such heirs, reversion to Thomas and Margaret and the heirs of Thomas (as above).

Feet of Fines: CP 25/1/46/91


CP 25/1/46/91, number 4. County: Devon. Place: Westminster. Date: One month from Easter, 2 Edward IV [16 May 1462]. Parties: Thomas Wilcok’ and John Haget, querents, and William Prydeaux’ and Alice, his wife, deforciants. Property: The manors of Yewe, Blacchesburgh’ and Myddelmerwode and 54 messuages, 8 tofts, 400 acres of land, 46 acres of meadow, 80 acres of pasture, 50 acres of wood, 200 acres of furze and heath and 66 shillings and 8 pence of rent in Cryditon’, Chepyngtoriton’, Yewton’, Nymettrace, Claneburgh’, Heyngsthyll’, Blacchesburgh’, Merwode, Sprayton’, Knolle, Seyntsydewillesse, Honyton’, Elyngham, Fyneton’ and Combralegh’. Action: Plea of covenant. Agreement: William and Alice have acknowledged the manors and tenements to be the right of Thomas, as those which Thomas and John have of their gift, and have remised and quitclaimed them from themselves and the heirs of Alice to Thomas and John and the heirs of Thomas for ever. Warranty: Warranty. For this: Thomas and John have granted to William and Alice the manors and tenements and have rendered them to them in the same court, to hold to William and Alice, without impeachment of waste, of the chief lords for the lives of William and Alice, and after their decease the manors and tenements shall remain to Fulk Prydeaux’, son of William and Alice, and the heirs of his body, to hold of the chief lords for ever. In default of such heirs, successive remainders (1) to John Prydeaux’, brother of Fulk, and the heirs of his body, (2) to the heirs of the bodies of William and Alice, (3) to the heirs of the body of Alice, (4) to the heirs of the body of William and (5) to the right heirs of John Spenser’.


CP 25/1/46/91, number 5. County: Devon. Place: Westminster. Date: One month from Easter, 2 Edward IV [16 May 1462]. Parties: Richard Denys and Thomas Wylcok, querents, and William Prydeaux’ and Alice, his wife, and John Denys and Eleanor, his wife, deforciants. Property: The manor of Thuburgh’ and a third part of the manors of Esseraiffe and Curreworthy, and a third part of the advowson of the church of the manor of Esseraiffe, and 30 messuages, 6 tofts, 5 water mills, 1 fulling mill, 500 acres of land, 60 acres of meadow, 80 acres of pasture, 100 acres of wood, 500 acres of furze and heath, 4 pounds, 13 shillings and 4 pence of rent and rent of 1 pair of spurs and 1 pound of pepper in Esseraiffe, Curreworthy, Hyghanton’, Inwarlegh’ [sic], Romandeslegh’, Estansty, Westansty, Weston’, Knoghtonbeanpell’, Hetherlond’, Wheteford’, Mylton’ Damerell’, Northlewe, Neweton’ Sc’i Petroci, Stoke Sc’i Nectani, Welcombe, Bradeworthy, Whyteley, Suttecombe, Hertelond’, Holdesworthy and Lampford’, which Agnes, who was the wife of Stephen Gyfford’ held for life. Action: Plea of covenant. Agreement: William, Alice, John and Eleanor have acknowledged the manor, third parts, tenements and rent to be the right of Richard, and have granted for themselves and the heirs of Alice and Eleanor that the manor, third parts, tenements and rent – which Agnes, who was the wife of Stephen Gyfford’, held for life of the inheritance of Alice and Eleanor in the aforesaid vills on the day the agreement was made, and which after the decease of Agnes ought to revert to William, Alice, John and Eleanor and the heirs of Alice and Eleanor – after the decease of Agnes shall remain to Richard and Thomas and the heirs of Richard, to hold of the chief lords for ever. Warranty: Warranty.

For this: Richard and Thomas have granted to William and Alice a moiety of the manor of Thuburgh’ and a moiety of the third part of the manors of Esseraiffe and Curreworthy and a moiety of the third part of the advowson of the church of the manor of Esseraiffe, and also a moiety of the aforesaid tenements and rent in the aforesaid vills, and have rendered them to them in the same court, to hold to William and Alice and the male heirs of their bodies, of the chief lords for ever. In default of such heirs, successive remainders (1) to Fulk Prydeaux’ and the heirs of his body, (2) to John Prydeaux’, brother of Fulk, and the heirs of his body, (3) to the heirs of the body of Alice, (4) to John Denys and Eleanor and the heirs of their bodies, (5) to the heirs of the body of Eleanor, (6) to the heirs of the body of William Prydeaux’ and (7) to the right heirs of the aforesaid Stephen Gyfford’. And Richard and Thomas also granted to John Denys and Eleanor the other moiety [of all the property, as above] to hold to John Denys and Eleanor and the heirs of their bodies, to hold of the chief lords for ever. In default of such heirs, successive remainders (1) to the heirs of the body of Eleanor, (2) to William Prydeaux’ and Alice and the heirs of their bodies, (3) to the heirs of the body of Alice, (4) to John Denys [sic] and the heirs of his body and (5) to the right heirs of Stephen Gyfford’.

CP 25/1/46/91, number 13. County: Devon. Place: Westminster. Date: Two weeks from St John the Baptist, 6 Edward IV [8 July 1466]. And afterwards one week from St Michael in the same year [6 October 1466]. Parties: John Wydeslade, gentleman, and William Eliot, gentleman, querents, and Robert Rokley and Elizabeth, his wife, deforciants. Property: The manor of Orcherton’ and 16 messuages, 2 mills, 2 gardens, 1 carucate and 400 acres of land, 200 acres of meadow and 240 acres of wood in Orcherton’, Roughdon’ in the parish of Modbury in the hundred of Magna Modbury, and Parua Modbury in the parish of Blakauton’ in the hundred of Blakauton’. Action: Plea of covenant. Agreement: Robert and Elizabeth have acknowledged the manor and tenements to be the right of William, as those which William and John have of their gift, and have remised and quitclaimed them from themselves and the heirs of Elizabeth to John and William and the heirs of William for ever. Warranty: Warranty. For this: John and William have granted to Robert and Elizabeth the manor and tenements and have rendered them to them in the same court, to hold to Robert and Elizabeth, of the chief lords for the lives of Robert and Elizabeth, and after their decease the manor and tenements shall remain to the right heirs of Elizabeth, to hold of the chief lords for ever.

CP 25/1/45/76, number 15. County: Devon. Place: Westminster. Date: One week from St Martin, 2 Henry [V] [18 November 1414]. And afterwards one week from St Hilary in the same year [20 January 1415]. Parties: William Prideaux the elder, querent, and John Prideaux the elder, deforciant. Property: The manor of Godeford’. Action: Plea of covenant. Agreement: John has granted to William the manor [sic] – which Elizabeth, who was the wife of John Prideaux, knight, held for life of the inheritance of John on the day the agreement was made, and which after the decease of Elizabeth ought to revert to John and his heirs – after the decease of Elizabeth shall remain to William and the male heirs of his body, to hold of John and his heirs for ever, rendering yearly to John and his heirs 1 grain of corn at St Michael for all service, and doing to the chief lords all other services.

In default of such heirs the manor shall revert to John and his heirs, quit of the other heirs of William, to hold of the chief lords for ever. For this: William has given him 100 marks of silver.

William stars in the story It is difficult to recognise a Ghost in the book Devon Prideaux Ghost Stories.


Sir John Prideaux 1380 – 1443

Sir John Prideaux was born in 1380.
By the time of his birth, his parents were wealthy landowners in the South Hams. In addition to this, John’s father Giles was an MP, well known and respected in his neighbourhood. Giles and Isabella were as well respected for their achievements with their landed properties, as they were with business success. The lines of the family were excellent and noble and could be traced back through their own records to the time before William the Conqueror.
John was a confident boy and man, who expected to have a good life and was unafraid of duty. Brought up in the social circles of the Devonshire county set and the Dartmouth and Totnes business community, how could he be anything else? His parents knew Chaucer and the like and they had strong noble family connections in Cornwall and Devon. We know from his achievements that he intended to follow in the family traditions.
John married Isabella Bromford in 1407. Isabella was the sister and heir of John Bromford of Horilake, a considerable estate. Isabella gave birth to Joan in 1409 and John in 1414. The heir safely born, Isabella faded and died a few months later in 1415. Her estates in Horilake were willed to her son John.
In this same year, Sir John had license to go abroad with Henry V and was more than likely at Agincourt. I hope that Isabella was not alone when she died.
Sir John, not to be downhearted, a trait of many of the Prideauxs male or female, soon married again to Maude French Sharpham.    Maude was the daughter and heiress of Robert French Sharpham and so John acquired an interest in the Sharpham estate, which has a frontage of three miles along the Dart.
John and Maude had three daughters two of whom, Elizabeth and Julian, grew up to marry William and Adam Somaster.  Their parents, Richard and Marjery Somaster, were neighbours and friends of the Prideaux family. The Somasters, another County family, held lands around Devon, including property at de la Port or Old Port. This was an estate slightly nearer the sea than Adeston and had at one time been a castle of defence when the creek was deeper and wider and allowed ships further inland. It is illuminating to see how many of the Devon and Cornwall creeks and inlets went inland much further than nowadays. Many inland villages and properties were at one time by the sea, or at least a ship could be moored almost at the end of the garden. It is no wonder that there was such a fear of pirates and kidnapping. There would be neither means of escape nor chance of help arriving.
Many chose to travel by sea along the coast and further afield. It is clear how much easier it would have been to sail to London, instead of making the long and treacherous route by land. France and Spain don’t seem too far away  and travel within England was so difficult. The narrow lanes, bordered by forest were possibly housing murderous thieves.
I know which way I would travel.
Sir John and Maude had another daughter they named Jane. This Jane Prideaux married William Drew and after his death, she married  Baldwin Acland. Both of these men were famous in their time and the Acland family is still a huge landowner in Devon.
Maude soon died after giving birth to the three children in quick succession.
Sir John was still sailing back and forth to France. In 1423, he had license to travel with Sir John Robeassart. He was Captain of the Castle of Saint Sauvieur le Viscount, so he may also have fought under the Duke of Bedford. It is thought both of these men saw Joan of Arc burnt at the stake. These trips helped Sir John’s business and professional status.
Upon his return, Sir John married Anne Shapton, daughter of John Shapton of Shapton who successfully bore the son and eventual heir, William of Adeston.
John, the eldest boy, came into the Horilake properties when his uncle died on 17th November 1429. He was not to enjoy this for long, as he too died on 27th February 1432, aged only seventeen. The Horilake inheritance then passed to his 23 year old full sister Joan, who was married to Robert Stretchley and who I expect was hugely excited  with all  the extra  money and property coming his way.
Stretchleigh stood in the parish of Ermington. The property was known as Stretchleigh first and gave name to the family which subsequently occupied it. William Stretchleigh was the first one to live there and apparently a William was the last. The property was eventually sold to the Rouses.
Risdon tells us about a strange event which occurred in Stretchleigh.


In this signiory AD 1623, there fell from above a stone of twenty three pounds in weight, which in falling made a fearful noise, first like a rumbling of a piece of ordinance, which in descending lower, lessened, and ended when upon the ground, no louder than the report of a petronel; it was composed of matter like a stone singed or half burnt for lime.

All the Adeston properties were now going to William, who had an education suitable for an heir to an estate. Sir John was known for his military service and was knighted because of his service to the King. He was also a well known gentleman in his locality, administering oaths by 1433.
Perhaps his stomach for war and death had diminished after seeing Joan of Arc killed and his eldest son dead soon after. After losing two wives as well, it is understandable that he would now wish to stay at home and help his community. Perhaps to get God back on side.
Sir John  continued with his business in Totnes and Dartmouth, both of which were now prosperous towns. Giles had made money for many others as well as himself and so the family was most welcome there.

Modbury Church (2)
Sir John died around 1443, having lived a busy and eventful life and went off to  join his ancestors in the great Prideaux Castle in the sky.

CP 25/1/45/78, number 84. County: Devon. Place: Westminster. Date: Three weeks from Easter, 1 Henry [V] [14 May 1413]. And afterwards one week from the Purification of the Blessed Mary, 9 Henry [V] [9 February 1422]. Parties: John Prideaus of Addeston’, querent, and Richard Wodelond’, deforciant. Property: 1 messuage and 1 carucate of land in Torre iuxta Battolysburgh’, which John Carswille holds for life. Action: Plea of covenant. Agreement: Richard has acknowledged the tenements to be the right of John Prideaus, and has granted for himself and his heirs that the tenements – which John Carswille held for life of the inheritance of Richard in the aforesaid vill on the day the agreement was made, and which after the decease of John Carswille ought to revert to Richard and his heirs – after the decease of the same John shall remain to John Prideaus and his heirs, to hold of the chief lords for ever. Warranty: Warranty. For this: John Prideaus has given him 20 marks of silver.

Sir John features in the story Burial Ground in the book Devon Prideaux Ghost Stories.


Giles Prideaux 1345 – 1410

Giles was born around 1345 when Edward III was on the throne.
Because Sir John died when Giles was only twelve years old, he was placed under the guardianship of Simon de Longbrooke and it was his daughter Isabella de Longbrooke whom Giles subsequently married. Longbrooke is not far away from Adeston and Simon was no doubt a friend of the family.
Joan of Adeston  appeared to leave most  of Giles’s education to the Longbrookes. Giles, who was sometimes referred to as Gilbert, often visited and stayed at  the house of his guardian. He learnt English, French and Latin, but little else in the academic line. There would have been a basic learning of the law as he would find this necessary while managing his estates in the future. Sir John wanted his son to have the best education and the ability to handle their lands and fortune.
If Sir John had died of the plague or similar,  he would surely have had time to speak to his family and his friend Simon de Longbrooke in order to establish some future for his family. What a sad and moving bedside conversation that would have been.
John wanted his son to continue the same connections within society and court that his cousins and family did. These connections were substantial and impressive and would serve to ensure his future success as a country gentleman and prospective magistrate. The young Giles and Isabella spent a good deal of time together and it is not surprising that they ended up married. Isabella was co heir of her fathers estate and their fortunes combined gave them considerable power.
Lady Joan Prideaux remained Lord of Adeston manor even during her second marriage. She married John Mules, one of the de Moels of Cadbury, another ancient family. It is highly likely that a strong sense of duty to the Adeston estate ran through her blood. She was brought up with the knowledge that the survival of many families were dependent upon the smooth running of  the  large estate.
She gave over control of the estate in 1372, when Giles was 27 years old.  He had been spending the intervening years wisely, working with Prideaux cousins at Dartmouth, building up the family fortunes. He was involved in import and export, tin  and wool out, wine and fancy goods  in.  Times were changing rapidly, bringing  low prices and high wages. The villeins who could at one time be relied upon to farm estate lands, were leaving the area or mining tin. Lords of the manors were having to lower rents and give tenancies to a lower calibre of farmer. The plagues had decimated the population and gave each person more choices than they had  had for years. Children were no longer following their parents and pursued a different and perhaps more prosperous life.
The Lords of the manor felt that it made sense to pursue shipping and trade in order to keep the family estates intact. Giles did a good job and was selected to act as Burgess and so became MP for Totnes in 1368, the 42nd year of the reign of Edward III at the House of Commons.  Indeed members of the Prideaux family were associated with Dartmouth for over 600 years.
Giles must have felt incredibly proud to be summoned to Parliament at the age of 27, the exact age his grandfather Sir Roger was so summoned.
This was also the time of chivalry and romantic stories. Edward III had tried unsuccessfully to revive the story of King Arthur and the Round Table. Chaucer was popular at this time too. Chaucer visited Dartmouth in 1373 while he was visiting a friend of his, John Hawley. Hawley  was a member of the famous and prosperous sea faring family there and would inevitably have known  Giles Prideaux. Perhaps if we reread Chaucer, we can see the likeness of an ancestor. The famous stories of Chaucer only came together in 1386.
Now that  the family were dealing with France, often the south west area, it is understandable that the French sounding Prideaux was used more regularly. It is the business line of the de Pridias who continued the Prideaux name, where other career choosing family members often remained with versions of Pridias. I believe that this time was when the name changes separating the clan properly began.
Giles mother  Joan of Adeston, died in 1373. It is probable that she had some idea of her coming fate and ensured that everything was signed over to her son a year prior. Perhaps she had some difficulty passing the inheritance on prior to that date.



On the political front changes were taking place.
The Knights and Burgess joined together to form the House of Commons. The abbots and bishops sat with the secular Lords in York and Canterbury. Bishops were increasingly men who had achieved high office as servants of the Crown, or at the Papal Court in Rome. Some members were members of the aristocracy whose political services would be rewarded by a bishopric. They did not need to have any religious training. God would not have made them rich if he didn’t think that they were better than everyone else, so the belief of the time went. Some nobility took the responsibility seriously and some merely looked after themselves. Following is a copy of some documentation to do with Giles and Isabella.

CP 25/1/44/61, number 409. County: Devon. Place: Westminster. Date: One week from the Purification of the Blessed Mary, 47 Edward III [9 February 1373]. Parties: John Langebroke, the vicar of the church of Ermyngton’, and William Langebroke, querents, by John Boron’, put in the place of William, and Giles Pridiawes and Isabel, his wife, deforciants. Property: 1 messuage, 2 ferlings of land and 1 acre of meadow in Ermyngton’. Action: Plea of covenant. Agreement: Giles and Isabel have granted to John and William the tenements and have rendered them to them in the same court, to hold to John and William and the heirs of the body of William, of the chief lords for ever. In default of such heirs, the tenements shall remain to the right heirs of John. Warranty: Warranty by Giles and Isabel and the heirs of Isabel. For this: John and William have given them 100 marks of silver.

The reader will note that the name is written as Pridawes, perhaps showing how the name was spoken. If we use the Cornish or Welsh pronunciation of the ‘awes’, it would rhyme with mouse.
The Crown was having the usual turmoil. Richard II was childless and  his cousin Henry IV stole the throne and he was followed by his son Henry V. There were so few male heirs throughout the gentry from this time until the 1600’s that all the castles in Cornwall fell into disrepair and rubble. Tintagel, Restormel and Trematon went from occupied homes then to prisons and finally ruins. Now was the time of 100 Years War and constant challenges to the throne.
There is no evidence that Giles supported the House of Lancaster but he also did not fall foul of the Earl of Devon like his cousin Sir John Orcharton. This cousin had killed William Bigbury and lost most of his estates. The House of Adeston was also on goods terms with the courts of Henry IV and then Henry VII. Giles was a true politician. He made friends with whomever was in power.
This way of thinking continued through the following Adeston generations, as they increased their standing  through excellent marriages and the increase in wealth through business.
As the 14th century began, there were about a dozen hereditary earls and 3000 owners of land worth £20 or more. But, as the century came to a close, many families had fallen from noble status. These families then relied on their coats of arms and their rank as Knights in order to rank above esquire, gentleman and then yeoman. Yeomen were the only ones to work their own land. The Prideauxs were nobility at the beginning of the 1300’s, but by 1400 they were struggling to remain as Knights.
They had to make good marriages and accumulate wealth that way. This is probably why some of the men such as Giles decided to encourage the use of livery. Sometimes the poor youngest sons, who had little or no inheritance, became yeoman and later stonemasons and carpenters. The nobility had to attach themselves to higher Lords in order to maintain any sort of status.
Roy Prideaux discovered documents which showed that Plymouth was plundered in 1403 by a Breton raiding party from St Malo. In 1404 another raiding party was so successfully beaten at Dartmouth that Henry V celebrated with Te Deum at Westminster Abbey. Giles then obtained license to proceed to Aquitaine and soon followed up the British success. His manor and lands were in an excellent position geographically to help with and organize the Aquitaine trade route. This was followed up to greater financial success by his son Sir John.
One assumes that Giles died sometime prior to 1415, when John had license to travel abroad with Henry V. We shall continue his tale in the following chapter. I have settled upon 1410.

Sir Giles features in the story Ghost Ship in the book Devon Prideaux Ghost Stories.