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John Prideaux 1505 – 1568

John Prideaux stars in the book A Ghost Story .

A Ghost Story A A Prideaux

The book is set in Harford, near Stowford on Devon

He also is mentioned in the book. The Bishop and The Witch.

bishop and the witch a a prideaux cover

The story is about the Bishop of Worcester and is set in Oxford and Harford, near Stowford Devon.

John Prideaux was grandfather of the Bishop.

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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

Ermington

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Ermington

Ermington

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.