Sir John Prideaux 1320 – 1357

Sir John Prideaux the second son of Roger, married Joan Adeston. in 1344. Joan was the daughter and co heir of Gilbert Adeston. It was their ancestors who signed the Ermington Hundred in 1238 along with the Prideauxs.
The marriage  meant that now two of the largest properties south of Modbury were joined as soon as  Joan inherited. Women, even in those days held land in their own right after marriage at all levels of society, if a lawyer ensured it to be so.
John kept out of the dramas occurring with his brothers and his heirs, preferring to enjoy the lands he had inherited and gained by a good marriage. The Adestons were rich and influential and a marriage to the Prideaux boy who lived down the road was more than essential. Everyone was aware  of the dynamics shifting as one after another Prideaux brother and son died. I doubt very much whether any of these marriages started as a love match, merely arranged over dinner between the parents. I hope that they turned into good matches.
The name Prideaux was used from Sir Roger’s time and has kept through until the present day within our family. Other families use different versions of the surname as described in other blogs. I have argued that  de Pridias had been used mainly to these days of the 1300’s and had quietly changed to Prideaux.
Sir John died as a young man in 1357.
He was only 37 years old and lasted only ten years after the death of his father, who had also died young. John’s  son, Giles was twelve years old and may have felt that there was so much that he still should know about his father. He hadn’t really known his grandfather either and so the Prideaux history and de Pridias name may have broken the link slightly here.  I hope his cousins gave him all the information he needed. Joan was only married to his father for just over two years and knew far less about Roger than the rest of his family. The old guard was history and although respected, the Prideaux family wanted to move forward into  a modern future.
His elder brother Roger, was the heir to Orcharton, Flete and other lands and father of eight. We learnt about him in the last chapter.


1357, the year of their death was the year in which influenza was declared a disease and the Shroud of Turin went on public display for the first time. I doubt the two events were related.
I am considering the possibility of the plague or Great Mortality as it was known then, resurfacing in this area after the major spread of the late 1340’s and early 1350’s. This plague and the ominous sounding Sweating Sickness of which Henry VIII was so afraid, were all prevalent at this time. Some have muted the possibility that it was due to the fact that so many cats had been killed because of the association with witches and so rats were able to breed out of control.
Whenever this plague struck a community, at least 10% of the inhabitants died as a result. There is still no record of the five children Roger had by his second wife, children who would have been the nephews and nieces of John.  John and Roger died in the same year, so it must be more than coincidence that so many members of the family disappeared all at once.
This plague, later referred to as the Black Death, had initially spread from the continent and it can be no surprise that these coastal communities would be affected so readily, when families such as the Prideauxs had ships bringing most of their requirements right to the back door.
The Medieval Warm Period finished in the early 1300’s and several very cold and hard winters and resultant reduced harvests, had added to the general demise in the health and well being of the population. Commencement of yet another war, the war which become known as the Hundred Years War, also increased the depressed state of the nation.
The chances are that the rest of the family who survived, could have been spirited away to a safer place. Perhaps they travelled back to Cornwall for the duration. Any family of a lesser social standing than these, would not have been able to travel anywhere. No one was allowed to arrive in another village without question or a letter of introduction and there was no possible way an entire family could survive for long with no house and no chance of employment. Only young people with a place to go to work were able to leave their home village. So, during any plague, you took your chance. It is no wonder that religion in any form, either official or ancient was high in importance. If the Prideaux family were decimated at this time through such tragedy, I feel for them.
Joan Prideaux inherited the manor on the other side of the River Erme upon the death of her father and their son Giles became his mother’s heir by her deed of 47 Edward III in 1373, when she died. She had remained as Lord of the Manor for 15 years following the death of her husband Sir John Prideaux and during her second marriage to John Mules. The Mules family also owned the manor of Flete during the 15th century. Although it was not as common then as now for parents to be attached greatly to their offspring, as they died so frequently, inheritance always went down the correct blood line where any strong minded woman had her say. Loyalty when it came to marriage and inheritance was very strong.
The feudal system was finished, as more and more peasants succumbed to the plague and died. It hit them more than nobility and gentry as they were not so freely able to move away from the source of plague hot spots and save themselves. They were also undernourished and lived in dreadful conditions. The side effect was that there were fewer people to work the land and the surviving peasants demanded higher wages in order to take over the job. This was a very scary time in which to live. If the plague did not get a body, then wars and accidents would. Starvation only generally happened within the peasantry.
The Prideaux family remained at Adeston for about a hundred years and from this branch of the house of Orcharton nearly all the Prideauxs who survived into the present day are descended. As time goes on with the research I can see just how determined my particular line has been to survive. It explains my bloody- minded tenacity to survive at all costs.
When the property went away through the line of Fulke Prideaux, a story yet to be told, Flete and Orcharton was eventually sold to the Heles, a family determined to buy up everything which was once a Prideaux land.

Finders Hospital

Sir John features in the story Big, black rats in the book Devon Prideaux Ghost Stories. 


Sir Roger de Pridias 1294 – 1347

Sir Roger de Pridias became the heir at 22, upon the death of his father Peter, in 1316.
Roger had livery from 9th October 1315. The wearing of livery had been popular for many years, but during this period was becoming more popular as a means of showing status, both social and financial. Similar colours would be given to servants and squires to denote attachment to the original wearer of the livery. It became a form of badge of honour and support, in a similar way that a football supporter might carry the colours of his team. The wearers though mainly were in the employ or service of the Lord of that particular livery. Roger was also a chosen Knight of Devonshire and summoned to parliament aged only 27 years old. However, travelling to Westminster took a long time and cost a great deal of money. Many MP’s resented the journey when there was so much else more interesting to do.  They enjoyed the title without the work.
Edward I summoned permanent Councillors, businessmen and clergy, to work alongside Knights and burgesses.  The main plan was always to raise money through the taxation of the newly rich merchants and tradesman. The Knights would return to their shires and towns bringing news of additional taxation.  For this reason, Knights often ignored the sheriff’s writ of summons and did not attend. They had to the make the decision to be popular with the neighbours or the King.
Edward III gave Cornwall to his younger brother John. Restormel and Tintagel were becoming tumbledown and Tintagel was roofless and falling down, even though it was only thirty years since Edmund had done his restoration work. John died in 1336 and Edward III raised his son Edward to the rank of the Duke of Cornwall at seven years old. He was also known as the Black Prince. As I said in the last chapter, Edward organised that his son should have the income from the Duchy and this has applied until the present day. The Duchy is given to the eldest son of the Crown upon birth, whereas Wales comes to him later.  Edward III lived for such a long time, that the Black Prince had much control over what went on there for years.
Once Roger de Pridias had inherited, he married Elizabeth, the daughter and co heir of Sir Walter Hugh de Treverbyn. Treverbyn is listed in the Domesday Book as follows

 Land for 3 ploughs, woodland 2 acres, pasture 20 acres, 2 villagers and 3 smallholders 2 slaves.

The families had known each other for centuries and it made complete sense to marry their daughter to a de Pridias boy. Still the family were de Pridias, you will note. The lands at the time were generally referred to as Pridias land. I am using the term Prideaux for the land and property in order to differentiate, but I repeat that Prideaux has been used to name the village and the lands retrospectively. If one considers that, most recording of events was by the writings of clerks and the clergy to this point and printing was yet a little way off, perhaps the theory can be more understood. Also, the vast majority of people could neither read nor write and stories were  mostly word of mouth. Considering the pronunciation and differing accents and use of language,  then it is easy to see how Pridias could become Pridix then Prideaux. This is the most likely explanation of the morphing of the name. It was around this time that surnames were becoming more permanent and an accepted form established. According to R M Prideaux in his Westcountry Clan, he discovered more than 40 versions of the name in his research.  But I can accept this explanation for the different recording of the name  of the same person in different documents.

In the wills of my ancestors’, the name was spelt in versions of Prediaxe, Predyaxe and Prideaux. These spellings referred to brothers and sisters and I can only assume that the spellings were phonetic. The sound of Predyaxe is not very far removed from Pridyas.
It also appears that Sir Roger de Pridias worked regularly with his Cornish properties around Prideaux and would have mixed socially with his new wife and her family. The Treverbyn and Prideaux arms have remained joined since their marriage. The combined coat of arms in sandstone over the main door of the Old Manor at Prideaux is proof of this.

cornwall august 09 173

Roger enjoyed being in Cornwall and he did not pay homage for his lands in Orcharton until 1322. It was directed that seizing should be given after his payment of his reasonable relief. But he did not make payment until 6th October 1322 when he paid 5 marks for his relief for the hamlet of Orcharton which he held of the King in capite by the service of one Knights Fee of the fee of Morteyne.  He presented to  North Alyngton in 1341 and to Brodoke after the death of Reginald in 1343. Roger and Elizabeth had two children, Roger, the heir and John, the continuer of the line to which I belong. Alyngton had come into the hands of the Roger through his wife Elizabeth, the daughter and heir of Walter Hugh de Treverbyn and his wife Theophila.   Roger junior  has a story which is worth the telling. He should have inherited but he predeceased his father. Roger junior had married twice, first to Elizabeth, daughter and heir to Sir John Clifford who bore him two sons and a daughter. These were Peter, his heir, John and Edith.  Elizabeth Clifford was the heiress of Combe in Teignhead. This manor was held in 1274 by Reginald de Clifford of the Earl of Cornwall. The Cliffords had also the manor of Middle Rocombe, which lies between Newton Abbott and Teignmouth. Elizabeth brought the property to the marriage. Elizabeth sadly died soon after giving birth to Edith and so Roger married Johan, the daughter of Peter Clifford.  These women were cousins.  Roger and Joan had five further children, but their names are not known. She survived her husband and claimed dower in Orcharton in 1347.  Of these five children, nothing is known and chances are that they are the parents of some Prideaux children in the future, unless they all died of the plague. I hope not.
Roger senior had granted the lands to Roger and his wife Johan for the term of their lives [Council Book of the Black Prince f. 306] Roger’s widow Johan put to the Council of the Prince of Wales in 1347 that it should be enquired into what estate she had in certain lands in Orcharton and La Wode settled by her husband on her and her child. This is where we can make the deduction that he died that year. In the `Survey of Devon` we note that this same area, where La Wode is situated, is the place known as Woodland. It is said that the land  had been owned by the Wodeland family for generations and that Walter himself was knighted by the Black Prince. It does not mention the Prideaux holdings and one again wonders whether or not Sir Walter managed to get hold of the entire holdings while he was in charge during the wardship of young Sir Peter. Woodland is by Ivybridge and now is covered by houses, industrial buildings and cut straight through by the A38. I will describe the area and my visits there in a later chapter.

On the 18th July 1347 the wardship and marriage of Peter Prideaux, their son and heir together with the advowson of the Church of Come in Thin hide were granted to Walter de Wodeland.

De Wodeland was an usher in the Chamber of the Black Prince and was residing in the hundred of Ermington in 1347. The wardship was ordered personally by the Black Prince in his role as the Duke of Cornwall. This was granted for the period of his minority. A year later, another return was made to the Council where the annual rent of 100s out of lands held at Orcharton, La Wode and the inherited lands were claimed. On 4th December 1361 it was directed that the age of Peter should be verified by the Council and at this time he attained his majority. However, Peter soon died in December 1361 although he had already married Joan the daughter of William Bigbury, before attaining his majority. If Agatha Christie were writing that story, the intimation may have been that Peter met his death suspiciously, dying so soon after becoming eligible to take control of his fortune. That is not saying that de Wodeland was a guilty man, but these things did happen. Perhaps it was just sheer coincidence that he died before providing an heir. Walter de Wodeland had also managed to obtain the manor of Cockington upon the death of James de Cokynton by marrying his sister Lucy, just prior to this. This manor is situated between Woodland and Orcharton. Walter died in 1374.
Wardships were excellent ways to improve one’s lot as decisions within those manors now became under the ward-ship influence. Marriages which were advantageous to the warder were also negotiated. Succession passed to Peter’s brother John, who was also a minor. Again, the lands and fortune could not be placed in the hands of an underage boy and must be supervised and run by a nominated suitable person. On 6th June 1363 the Council decreed that John, his marriage and his lands would be under the wardship of John de Montague. De Montague was the 2nd Earl of Salisbury and lived between 1329 and 1396.

The wardship of the body of John Prideaux and the lands of the said heir in the Kings hands by reason of the minority of the said heir, together with his marriage, were granted to John Montague.

In 1368 the brother John, now married to Elizabeth and come of age, granted some lands to Walter Dabernon. In 1384 John Prideaux Knight charged his lands in Combe in Thynhyde, for £20 per annum.    He presented to the Church of Combe in Tinhead in 1391.  John was Knight of the Shire in 1383 and 1386 He was also MP for Devonshire in the 7th and 11th year of Richard II.

Sir John killed his relative Sir William Bigbury in a duel on Sequers Bridge at Flete, Devon because of a quarrel while out hunting. The duel has also been recorded as taking place at the Five Crosses at Modbury. Sequers Bridge has also been known as Sacas Bridge or Sackers Bridge. It was the highest point at which sacks could be unloaded for transport on and off the river. I owe this piece of information to Christopher Miller of Great Orcherton. However, my son Richard suggested the possibility that the bridge was so named as a result of the sequestration of the lands of the de Pridias by the Crown after the death of Sir William. The road from Ermington to Modbury travels over the bridge now and I am sure that the bridge has been widened on perhaps more than one occasion. There are three arches and the water which passes under it is not very deep. In the days of this family and for hundreds of years after, the water was considerably deeper.

There is a wonderful view of Flete House from the bridge and although the present house was not there at the time we are referring to, a previous house was. The group was apparently out hunting and it is easy to see how the meet was at the property and went through the trees and grounds, alongside the river to this point. Why a duel on the bridge? A natural crossing point, perhaps one knocked into the other and started the argument or perhaps one waited for the other. There is no record about why this duel or fight took place. The only facts known are that Sir William’s daughter Johan, was married to Peter de Pridias, Roger’s brother,  just before his untimely death. There is no mention again of Joan and one wonders how she was treated by the de Pridias family and her brother in law John, when he gained control of the estates. Perhaps there was an axe to grind on the part of her father Sir William.  I would assume though that the fight was personal. We shall never know. Sir John de Pridias killed the older Sir William Bigbury, and  lost much as a result. He had to surrender the greater part of his estates in order to secure a pardon. In the wills left by his son and grandson, it seems that much of his Devon estates were lost in this way. It is stated in The Parochial History of Cornwall in addition to Princes Worthies of Devon and under the Falmouth District, that John of Orcharton was condemned to be hanged. He gave most of his estate to Edward III in order to be pardoned. It was  recorded that William Bigbury’s ancestors  lived for nine descents from the Norman Conquest to 1360 when two daughters and heirs married Champernowne of Beer Ferries and Durneford of Stonehouse. This was the same time as his daughter Joan married Peter Prideaux.

John Leland wrote

‘There dwelleth one Prideaux in Modburi, a Gentleman of an ancient stoke and fair landes until by chance that one of his parentes killed a man. Whereby one of the Courte eis Earls of Devonshire had Colum John and other landes of Prideaux. {Itinerary Vol iii p 25}    

Nancy Savery, a member of Modbury Local History Society, sent me the following.  

There is a tradition that Sir John Prideaux slew his relation Sir William Bigbury at a place called ‘The Five Crosses,’ near Modbury and, being one of the party of the White Rose against Henry IV, in order to secure his pardon was obliged to part with several considerable manors… The above is quoted from The Parochial and Family History of the Deanery of Trigg Minor, Vol. 2. , by Sir John MacLean, re the family of De Pridias Alias Prideaux, pages 194-203.  Five Crosses (OS ref. SX 642513) is quite near the property of the Modbury branch of Prideaux, Orcheton.   Sequer’s Bridge (not mentioned in the above quote from MacLean) is OS Ref SX 634518.   John’s family was almost ruined.

The manors of Cullom John and Comb in Tynhead and other lands were surrendered to the Earl of Devon as punishment. As Sir John was also perceived to have been one of the parties of the White Rose against Henry IV, this would not have gone down in his favour. He was probably caught up in the struggle between the Houses of York and Lancaster and his accusers were on the side of Henry IV while Sir John backed Richard. Not one of the Prideaux families ever presented to the Church of Combe in Tynhead. His will dated 5th June 1403 directs that his body be buried in the aisle of the Church of St Peter in Modbury.  The Prideaux Aisle is also mentioned by Leland.

The will states.

And gives to the same church 100s under the condition that if the parishioners of this Church shall buy within two years a set of Vestments, they shall be paid, but if not then the money shall go for the picture lately bought for the High Altar of Modbury gives to his daughter Thomasia all his pearls , residue to Elizabeth his wife, whom with his said daughter Thomasia, John Coplestone, John Raleigh of Fardel and others he makes executors.[Exeter Bishop Stafford’s Register] 

The will was proved on the 7th August   1403

At Modbury Church there is a book open as follows.

cornwall march 2009 098

His monument remains in the church of Modbury.     We visited this church and saw the impressive alabaster monuments of Sir John and his wife Elizabeth.

cornwall march 2009 091

Roger de Pridyas features in the story Ice Day at Sequers Bridge in the book Devon Prideaux Ghost Stories


Peter de Pridias 1260 – 1316

In 1281, Roger settled land in Orcharton and Bradoc on his eldest son and heir, Peter de Pridias
Roger also gave land to his son Reginald who was the Rector of Bradoc a parish between Bodmin and Liskeard. Their second cousin Thomas is on record as having presented Reginald to St Mary’s in Truro in 1333. This Thomas was the son of Reginald, second son of Richard and brother of Baldwin and Geoffrey Reginald and who died in 1343.
Just before his death, Roger the Sheriff executed a deed, dated 29th September 1291, which gave his son Thomas an inheritance. This had not been arranged at any time prior to Rogers deathbed scene. What had Thomas done?
However, six weeks later, on 15th November, Thomas signed over all his lands and tenements to Peter his brother, leaving his own son and grandson without anything. There is no stated reason why this happened. The grandson of Thomas ended his line, as he had no family. Perhaps there was something wrong with his health or maybe he was no good, or had no chance of producing children and Thomas did not want to risk losing the family lands that way. There is a novel in just that story alone. (Oh wait – I wrote their story in The Mothecombe Coven in Devon Prideaux Ghost Stories. See below)
Peter was the closest to his father Roger and took part in all of these arrangements. The allocation of land and dealing with family problems were as much to do with Peter as with Roger. Peter was 31 years old when his father died and the mantle of responsibility passed easily to him.
Now Peter was the patriarch of the family.
He ran the finances and supervised the running of the farms. The problems of the farm tenants were brought to him to deal with; he would have had an estate  manager of some sort to help him with this. It is likely that he would ride on his own horses to visit tenants and check the work of the men and women he employed. As his family before him, the workers were reliant on Peter and his good graces in order to live somewhere and eat. They were in awe of him and I hope he respected them too.
Peter and his family would know about the births, marriages and deaths of each of his tenants and they in turn would have known all about their masters.
Peter died in 1316 leaving a young son called Roger.
It is likely that he was buried at Ermington whether he lived at Flete or Orcheton. I have not found his grave, but few from this period in time are visible. The tenants and workers would have attended his funeral along with his peers.

As far as the county of Cornwall was concerned, now was a turning point in history. Edward III set out in a constitution that the Duchy should come to the eldest son upon birth. It is still in force today. After his death in 1307, Edward II installed his very close and personal friend Piers Gaveston, as Earl of Cornwall.  Edward II was killed in a terrible way, and one of the supposed traitors Roger Mortimer fled to France and became the lover of the Queen Isabella. They returned to England and took the throne as guardians of Edward III. It was this Roger Mortimer that some believe was the father in law of one of our direct relatives, as mentioned in a previous chapter. Some historians are also convinced that Edward II was not killed, but fled to Europe and became a monk and hermit. This connection cannot be definitely proved and it seems more likely that it was an ancestor of Roger Mortimer, who married into the Prideaux family. The connection though has been repeated in several pedigrees over the years.

During the early years of the reign of Edward III, the French were constantly raiding Cornwall and the southern coats of Devon. The Cornish were called upon to repel the French and Bodmin was forced to supply four ships. The Crown  imprisoned the burgesses at Lostwithiel until they proved to the government that Bodmin was not a port…
This branch of the de Pridias family still had lands in Cornwall, which were included in  the holdings of Geoffrey. The link with Cornwall carried on for centuries. Even though the eldest son of Richard, brother of Geoffrey, inherited the vast majority of lands in Cornwall, subsequent Devonian Prideauxs kept some Cornish land either by inheritance or by marriage.
On a fact-finding mission, we had been driving around for a number of hours, visiting churches and photographing churches.  Again. I was playing my irritating game of pointing at places and saying, we used to own that. Mainly, because we did. Then, after going over a bridge and passing a driveway to a castle like building to the left, I said we used to live there, and meant it.

It was Flete House.

Flete, Modbury

Flete, Modbury

I have been to visit the building and grounds. The main building is converted into luxury apartments and it is spectacular. I arranged to visit this house, one rainy afternoon in August. David Sparks met us at the main door and showed us around. This house was built after my ancestors moved away from the area. The site of the original house was on higher ground only a little further away from the place I visited that day.

 Flete House, built mainly in Tudor times is on a raised ground above the creek, an inlet from River Erme and the sea. In times past, it was possible for small ships to navigate their way to the bottom of the very large grounds. Limestone, coal and other supplies were brought from the continent and other areas of England.

The barges came as far as the weir until quite recently and there were two carriage drives, one either Fleteside of the River in order to bring goods to the house. Access by sea was so much easier than by the narrow lanes of the countryside. These lanes were impassible by anything other than a pack horse. There are still lanes in the locality, where it is only just possible to get a car through, that being only possible when the hedges are cut well back. Without standing on top of the car, one cannot see over the top of the hedge. It is perfectly understandable that during the Civil War, one band could get within feet of another without being noticed.
Flete Estate and the bridge over the river known as Sequers Bridge created a very dramatic event in the future for the Prideaux family.

sequers bridge modbury

More can be found out about Peter in the story The Mothecombe Coven in the upcoming book Devon Prideaux Ghost Stories to be published in June 2017.


Roger Pridyas 1224 – 1291

Roger Pridyas, son of Geoffrey, married a widow called Gilda. Gilda is an Old English name, and means golden. I do not know whether she was a blonde or had a lot of money.   Gilda was born at Hayleford, aka Heylffordd aka Helford. Heyl is Cornish for estuary and ffordd is road. Richard, the High Sheriff of Cornwall had control of these lands at Merthen (later Reskymer property) and exchanged them for lands at Tintagel where he built the castle. Both Roger and Gilda knew Richard , the second son of King John of England. Roger and his men fought alongside Richard in the Second Barions War with his cousin Thomas de Pridias and was rewarded by his stint as High Sheriff of Devon.
You will note that the family was now being recorded as de Pridyas in addition to de Pridias. You will also note that the family  was yet to be referred to as Prideaux even  two hundred years after the invasion. The land near Tywardreath was called Prideaux, but remember that the name was given retrospectively . This furthers my case for the family not having arrived with the Conqueror.
Roger’s marriage, in all likelihood, took place in 1247, as this was the year in which Geoffrey and Isabella, settled on Roger and his heirs forever, two carucates of land.
A carucate was as much land as could be tilled with one plough and the beasts belonging to one plough in a year.  It might have had attached to it a meadow or pasture and dwellings for the labouring man or cattle that went with it. Meadow or pasture for other use was calculated separately. This measure was introduced into England by William I and had little accuracy and varied from manor to manor. It came into common use for settlements where no boundaries were in dispute. As a carucate was often around 120 acres, it is possible that they were given 240 acres and the means to work the same land.

The document states,

With appurtances in Orcharton in Devon. One carucate of land in Rodewell in Cornwall at the rent of one pair of white gloves or one penny during the lives of the said Geoffrey and Isabella with remainder in fee.


There was also to be the service of one Knights Fee in Rodewell [Pedes Finum Div Cos 31st January III Easter No 4]
Roger was much better off both financially and time wise than his parents. This was due mainly to the hard work done by them and the estate they had built up over the years.  Roger was able have an education that would enable him to consider other options. Becoming a man of affairs and entering into local politics and social climbing was the sensible path to take. They helped in establishing the borough of Modbury which by 1238 had a weekly market and two annual fairs.Modbury Church (2)

Later in his life, Roger encouraged development by granting charters to peasants who were able to extend their holdings field by field as they colonised waste land. The younger sons of these free peasants and of the yeoman and the gentry went into trade and shipbuilding. They were now populating the new towns or worked on the tin ore at Dartmoor.
We do now that he first became Sheriff in 1271 during the last year of Henry III, 56-year reign. He was recorded as Rogerus de Pridias.
His deputies in 1271 and 1272 while acting for the King Richard of Almaine were Ralph de Teygnemus and John de Wilton, both clerks. King Richard, also Earl of Cornwall, and brother of Henry III, a famous and good man who fought in the crusades, had suffered a stroke and needed assistance. Richard died in December 1271, nine months after his own son Henry had been cruelly murdered by his de Montfort cousins while attending mass.  As Roger also acted on Edmund’s behalf in 1272 and 1273. Roger Pridyas had taken Edmund’s side during the power struggle which followed the deaths of Henry and Richard.
Richard, the King of Almaine, had acquired several properties in Cornwall, including Tintagel. He successfully persuaded Gervase de Hornicote to swap the castle in exchange for some manors. Then in 1236 he added the curtain wall and the great ward on the mainland which was linked to the island by a bridge. He did this to encourage the link with the area to King Arthur in line with the legend of Geoffrey of Monmouth.  Richard also obtained Restormel from the heiress Isolda de Cardinham and all lands on the east of the road between Bodmin and Lostwithiel.
Our ancestors, the Lords of Prideaux from the line of Geoffrey’s brother, Baldwin, would have borne witness to all of this. Times were changing fast.
The new Earl of Cornwall Edmund, spent most of his time at Restormel, although he also liked Tintagel and Trematon. He loved Restormel so much that he made Lostwithiel the capital of his county. It became his seat of government where tinners came with their blocks of metal and was the site of the gaol where many suffered the ultimate penalty of hanging. Edmund however would not help the poverty stricken and tumbledown Tywardreath Priory. Instead he relied on the hermits who were spiritual descendants of the early saints for his spiritual progress.
Roger may have won favour with the Earl by fighting alongside him during the crusades or taking his side during baronial battles, which occurred constantly. He certainly was doing all right politically, managing to hold the job for three years, until eventually dismissed.
The Knights of Devon however, wanted another Knight of their own county and made many petitions, which were finally heard and acted on.
His misdeeds made an impressive list in the Rotuli Hundredor um 3 Edward I.
As Roger tended to work for the Crown rather than for the area, raising taxes on their behalf, he made himself very unpopular. He often sat on the Shire courts and made judgments against his fellow countrymen. Because of this, there was an attempt to balance loyalty to local areas by the Lords and there was more emphasis on the idea that no Lord has the right to do wrong.
His unpopularity did not last and his daughters made good marriages. Obviously, no one was going to walk away from the chance of making good marriage matches for their children with a well-connected and rich family such as the Pridias.
In 1281, for the rent of £60 during his life, to be paid annually, Roger settled one messuage and two carucates of land in Orcharton and one messuage and one carucate of land in Brodoke to his son Peter and the heirs of his body. In default remainder to Reginald, brother of Peter with the same limitation in default remainder to Marjery Chartery and the heirs of her body. She was engaged to Reginald but died before the wedding and so Reginald became a priest. He must have been so in love. Unless of course he killed her and this was the only way to escape justice. I have no proof of that and am only making wild accusations. He may have really, really loved her.
There was still a lot of land about within the family to settle on their children.
The surviving children of Roger and Gilda were as follows.
Reginald, the son who became the Rector of Brodoke and presented to St Mary’s Truro in 1333 by his second cousin Thomas, as mentioned in the previous chapter. He died in 1343, an unmarried priest after Marjery his fiancée died.
Alice, a daughter was born in 1248 at Hayleford, Cornwall. This must have been where their mother Gilda came from as she could only have been visiting family to give birth other than at home. There is no way a risk was taken with a woman so near her time.  Alice married Sir Richard Reskymer who was also born in Hayleford and so perhaps related through her mother’s line.
Thomas another son, married Isolda.
As Thomas was a second son, it would have suited all for him to marry money and position. There may have been little coming from home. He and his wife had Roger who married Joan and they in turn had Roger, Thomas refused his inheritance, signing everything over to Peter, although we have no way of knowing why that would be.
He may have sold the inheritance to Peter or was blackmailed or tricked into it. He may have disliked his own heirs so much that he wished to leave them with nothing,  How great to find a diary written by everyone.
Lucy, another lovely daughter made an excellent match to Benedict Reynward.
Marjery, married Richard Heligan, but died in 1302. Her husband survived for another twenty four years until 1326.
Peter de Pridias, the last surviving son, upon whom Roger made a settlement of land in Orcherton and Bradoc in 1281 and left the remainder to Reginald. Peter married Clarice and died in 1316.
Roger was alive in 1290 [Pipe Roll 19th Edward I] but it is not known when he died.
The way the surname of the Prideaux family was written and recorded seems to depend on how each family wanted to be known as and to some extent how they were referred to by others.
There is still much evidence of the many forms of surname, Pridias, Prydyas, Prydas and so forth in the documents and writings in reference to the family at this point in time. These names often altered throughout the lives of the individual, going from one version to another. Although, this hinders research slightly, it is comforting to know that any combinations of the surname probably fall from the same Prideaux tree. Pronunciations of the word alter not only from each district, but equally within each family. I feel that all versions are acceptable.

More can be read about Roger in the story The Sheriff of Devon in the book Devon Prideaux Ghost Stories 


Sir Geoffrey de Pridias 1200 – 1270

The name Geoffrey  (also Galfrid, Galfridus , Joffrey) was a popular choice of name among the gentry. One of the meanings of the name is peaceful traveller.
Sir Geoffrey scampered off to Devon and married Isabella Orcharton in 1220. His brother Reginald had been acting as lawyer for Isabella and this could be one way that Geoffrey made her acquaintance.   She was rich and looking for a husband and he was from noble blood, but lacking a seat. I am saying with no proof, that he was a handsome man and easily caught her attention. His elder brother Baldwin was running the family inheritance at Prideaux, but that was beginning to lose income as the villeins preferred to mine tin and ignore the hard and unrewarding slog of tending the land. There was money to be made, good money, in comparison to money earned previously. But as a result of this change, the food now being produced for the people of the country was not enough. The rest of the Prideaux line died out by the end of the 14th century and the survival of the male bloodline depended entirely on the line created by Geoffrey and Isabella. Isabella was the daughter and heir of John of Orcharton and his wife Alina.  The two houses had done business previously and that connection may also have meant that an introduction between Geoffrey and Isabella would have been eagerly promoted. Isabella was heir to substantial Devonian properties and Geoffrey and she began the Devon Prideaux connection, which lasted for hundreds of years upon  their wedding vows. John Orcharton had died by 1224 when Isabella married Geoffrey. Shortly after it was Alina Orcharton, his wife, who settled one third of Orcharton on her daughter and heirs.

I found many records of Geoffrey and Isabella, mainly over land disputes, proving that with money and property, trouble often follows. At least they had a good lawyer in Geoffrey’s  brother Reginald. I wonder how much he charged them for the service?  Did he come round for meals and halfway through hear, ‘Reggie dear, you couldn’t just give us a bit of advice could you?’
Incidentally, on one of our trips around the South Hams we went from church to church, taking photographs and looking for gravestones. There were a surprisingly large number of graves, memorials and statues dedicated to the family.

Ringmore Church 4One of the churches we visited was at Bigbury, that beautiful place near the coast and haunt of so many Prideauxs. Upon a plaque in the church are a list of rectors and there is Ralph Prideaux, Rector from 1325 until 1347. I tracked down his lineage and believe him to be the great, great grandson of Reginald, brother of Geoffrey and the family lawyer. The dates are a little tight, but would fit. You see, I even want him to fit neatly into the story. I would not like him to be left on the sidelines of the book, all written on a plaque in a lovely old church and no one knowing who he really was. It was this Ralph’s  Uncle Thomas, who was incredibly successful in Truro and introduced our Reginald in the following story to the town.

cornwall march 2009 042

‘The Parochial and Family History of the Deanery of Trigg minor Vol 2 – Family of Pridias alias Prideaux’ relates the following tale.

In 1220, a fine was levied in which Alina the widow of John Orcharton petitioned Geoffrey de Pridyas and his wife Isabella her daughter. Isabella was represented by Reginald de Pridyas, an attorney [the brother of Geoffrey]. The fine was the third part of two parts of a Knights fee in Orcherton. The third part of two parts of the service of two Knights in Brodoke in Cornwall.   Alina claimed this as a dower, the gift of her late husband John. A dower was given to a wife the morning after the wedding night, after it had been established that she was a virgin. She would be entitled to live in the property and enjoy status, even following the death of her husband. Alina subsequently agreed to give over any rights to the property to Geoffrey and Isabella, and their heirs forever. [Pedes finum 8th Henry III Easter Cornwall No 1 – The Pipe Roll of Henry III eighth year, also shows that Geoffrey gave the King one mark in order to have license of concord with Alina.

A Knight’s fee was a feudal term used in medieval England to describe the value of land. Feudalism was a system under which land was exchanged for military service and so valuations were based on a Knights fee. This was the cost of a Knight supplying military service.  Fees could take the form of supplying the equivalent amount of money or the actual service of the Knight. The value could be anywhere from 1/5th of a Knight’s fee to 50 or more Knight’s fees, depending on its size and resources. A Knight was expected to be self-sufficient from the proceeds of the fief, to support his family, arm himself, stable a warhorse, pay his own taxes and duties, and keep up his appearance of gentility as a member of the noble or fighting class The typical Knight’s fee was about £20 per year around 1200. The derivation of the amount probably comes from a minor medieval obsession with the number three, based on the Holy Trinity. The three estates, the Church, the nobility, and the peasantry. Therefore, taxation and fees were assessed in thirds – the ‘third penny’ going to the Crown or local lord – and so on. £20 is 30 Marks, a monetary unit commonly used for assessing taxes, paying ransoms, and other such official usage. The mark was 2/3 of a pound. A free peasant paid for fieldwork around the same period could expect around 3d per day, or as much as £3-4 in a year, meaning that a knight’s fee was about three to five times more than a peasant’s average annual income.
There must have been a dispute between Geoffrey and Isabella and Henry Bonathelek concerning the service due from Henry. This was for half an acre of land with appurtenances which he held in Bonathelek. It was agreed that Henry should render yearly the reaping of one man for one day and that he should find for them one man to hoe their land  and perform for them the service of the 19th part of one Knights fee. He also needed to find for them one horseman at their summons within the county of Cornwall at his own cost and outside of Cornwall one horseman with lance in the army at the cost of Geoffrey and Isabella. This meant that they remitted all arrears of these services and gave the said Henry 5 marks of silver. [Pedes Finum 28th Henry III Easter] Edward I, the son of Henry III was on the throne.
There was so much corruption in the country that Edward ordered a huge enquiry, known as the Hundred Rolls. This was the largest collection of information since Domesday. Because of this enquiry the first Statute of Westminster, was drafted in 1275. Geoffrey Prideaux is mentioned in a Jury Calendar for Ermington Hundred, found among the Crown Pleas of the Devon Eyre of 1238, the earliest record of any family participation in public affairs.   It states:

Ermington Hundred Hugh Peveril has the hundred.Sergeant David de Holecombe. Electors: Geoffrey de Pridias, William de Omnibus Sanctus, Stephen de Luddebrok, Thomas Daniel Walter de Minminlande John de Shirvestone William de Modecumbe Reginald de baucumbe William Spridelle Ralph de Stanebire Gilbert de Adestone Roger de Scotia

This Gilbert de Adestone is the great grandfather of Joan who married the great, great grandson of Geoffrey.  People had brilliant names then.

Another document in the Ermington Hundred.

Answers by Twelve Jurors.   Ralph son of Swan Kilda and Philip son of Gilbert the smith of breach of the Kings peace does not come so he and his pledges Robert Spinbec who has died and another who has also died are in mercy. All the appellees come and the jurors testify that they have made an agreement so let them be taken into custody. Later Thomas de Blackford came and made fine for Robert Crobe and all the other appellees except Walter the servant for four marks because they are poor, pledges Thomas himself and Geoffrey de Pridias.  

There are other documents available showing the servants of the Pridias being fined.  There was one sad case where Cecilia, the daughter of Robert de Pridias a cousin of Geoffrey, was raped by Hugh de la Kage. However, she died before the trial and the rapist was acquitted with no case to answer.  This Cecilia, from Truro, descended from Reginald. Her father Robert Prideaux, holding the manor of Newnham.

An entry in the Plympton Hundred.

Answers by Twelve Jurors.   Cecilia daughter of Robert Pridias who appealed Hugh de la Kage of rape has died. Hugh comes denies all and puts himself on the country. The jurors testify that he is not guilty so he is quit.

Geoffrey choosing Isabella as a bride meant that they were now farming a large area of land covered in red sandstone. For almost two and a half centuries to the time of Fulke Prideaux, the family’s life was looking after this land. They ensured that the land was farmed, cultivated, ditched and drained.  They cleared woodland and created new pasture where before only river estuaries and high tides had flowed. Geoffrey and Isabella had two children, Roger and Piers. Piers married Joan, the daughter of Sir William Bigbury whose descendant was killed in a fight with Sir John Prideaux. I will tell you that story soon.
Isabella died in 1249, but Geoffrey did not remain downhearted for long. Within a few months he was married to Nicholaa Ingelram de Bray. This lady was much younger than Geoffrey and her name makes her sound like a minx. Her people however, were a well-connected family from Cornwall and she probably wanted security and a nice big house, like most girls. I wonder if she was able to buy expensive shoes? Geoffrey’s date of death appears to be unknown, but his name was mentioned in 1255 in documentation. I have made him last until 1270, ensuring that he had a good long time to enjoy his money and to make sure that Nicholaa earned hers.
The ‘Survey of Devon‘ written by Risdon in the early 1600’s, states that Orcharton was held by Jordan de la Warre in King John’s time and eventually came to Gilbert Prideaux, the grandson of Geoffrey.  He means Giles Prideaux. Other good research sources state that the Orcharton lands were in the possession of Sir John, father of Isabella. I have used those sources as there is a greater weight of evidence there.
Richard, the father of Geoffrey is referred to as Roger in these manuscripts. So many names changed in old documentation and history books that it is necessary to double and triple check everything one reads.
Orcharton remained in Prideaux hands for thirteen generations. De La Port or Old Port is the property next door, a little further towards the sea. There, still stands the remains of an 11th century defensive castle, built in ancient times when the sea came to the area via the little creek off the River Erme. The de la Port family owned it for several generations until it eventually descended via a daughter to the Somaster family. Two future Prideaux daughters married into the Somaster family.
I first visited some of these Orcharton lands when allowed to attend the homes of Christopher and Diane Miller at Great Orcheton and Graham and Mary Doidge at Little Orcheton.
Great Orcheton lies just beyond a humpbacked ridge from Little Orcheton and north of Old Port. The ridge road across the top of this ridge, leads to Modbury and used in these ancient times. The Miller family allowed us into their home with great courtesy and showed us around the old building. The Tudor fireplace and old windows, doors and fireplace are in excellent condition. The narrow lane leading to the farm and the adjacent cottage cannot be much wider than it originally was. It is difficult to know exactly where the oldest part of the building would have stood, but the old stone wall, is more than likely medieval. The view from the back of the house is onto a tree lined creek, now dried up, leading to the River Erme. At some point, a Prideaux lived here, but as Flete was the main property, perhaps it was one of the second sons and their descendants. Flete, not the Tudor property now built, but the original medieval place, was more substantial and had a better access to the river and sea although only a little further north up river.

Flete, Modbury

Flete, Modbury

Little Orcheton

Learn more about Geoffrey in the story I Am Rich in the book by A A Prideaux entitled Cornish Prideaux Ghost Stories.


Richard de Pridias Lord of Prideaux 1180 – 1250

Richard de Pridias Lord of Prideaux,  or Richard Prideaux witnessed a charter sometime between 1230 and 1240, by which Odo, son of Walter de Treverbyn granted certain lands to the Priory of Tywardreath. Treverbyn is a manor to the west of Luxulyan and Prideaux and these families would be joined in marriage at a later date.
Richard had three sons, Baldwin, Reginald and Geoffrey.
There were more records available in this great age than previously. So much was transcribed and so our story becomes clearer I think. So far there have been little records of wives, but I have found out who most of the wives are from here on.
Humphrey Prideaux states that the grandson of Nicholas was called Baldwin and not Richard and that this Baldwin was the father of Geoffrey and Reginald [aka Reynolds] He says that Baldwin married Elizabeth, daughter of Roger Mortimer who died in 1215 and Isabella de Ferrers who died in 1252.
‘A View of Devonshire’ states that he was called Richard as above and married the daughter of the first Earl of March.
Roger Mortimer was the son of Hugh Mortimer, the founder of Wigmore Abbey. Their lines married into those of Llewellyn the Great, the Prince of Wales and were ancestors of Roger Mortimer who ruled England with Queen Isabella before his execution. Eventually the Mortimers were created Earls of March. Their line can be traced back hundreds of years through King John, the 4th Earl of Derby, Osborne de Bolbeke and the Duchess of Normandy who was the great grandmother of the Conqueror and the King of Connaught.  Hugh Mortimer came over with William the Conqueror and was given his lands then.
It may be that Richard was  known as both  Richard and Baldwin after his ancestors, which was a common  practice.  After studying the records available, I shall call this man Richard and his sons, Baldwin, Reginald and Geoffrey.
First  we shall follow the line of the eldest boy Baldwin, as it his family which eventually loses the Prideaux manor through the lack of a male line. After this Baldwin Prideaux there followed Thomas, Robert, Geoffrey, Roger and four Richards. Sadly, the last Richard and his wife Margery could only produce Jane and so she was married off to Philip Arvas. Their son Richard Arvas  became Lord of Prideaux and married Joane Methrose, a local girl from another rich and landed family.
Methrose lies hardly a mile away from Prideaux and became famous later on as the place where John Wesley stayed and preached during the times he travelled the county.
Richard and Joane had a daughter called Johanna and she married Thomas Hearle and in that way, the property left the Prideaux family.
Sir John Hearle, a Knight, was made warder of Johanna because her father Richard died before she came of age. It seems eminently sensible that he should have married her to one of his sons and have the house and lands of Prideaux come into the family. The Hearles eventually lost Prideaux in 1737 when the heir, Northmore Herle died unmarried at Oxford and the property went to his half sisters.
A L Rowse writes in ‘A L Rowse’s Cornwall.`

‘On the western side if the valley, under a prehistoric hillfort and commanding approach from the bay, is Prideaux. A wing of the earlier house of the Herles has been lately restored.

From this came an important Puritan cleric, Charles Herle, Prolocutor of the Westminster Assembly of Divines during the Civil War, from which after much argy-bargy emerged the Presbyterian confession of faith, Predestination, Eternal Damnation and all.

His mother was a Treffry, whose sister bore Hugh Peters, chaplain-general to Cromwell and a notorious play actor in the pulpit, for which he paid for his life as a regicide [which he was not]. He did better work in New England, one of the founders of Harvard College.

The new house at Prideaux is a fine Regency mansion, built by the cadet branch of the Rashleighs of Menabilly, who were radical supporters of the Reform Bill of 1832, as against the senior line who were Tories. An endearing park opens out below the house, though it calls for a herd of deer to complete the scene.’

Later he says.A L Rowse

‘Behind Prideaux on the edge of Luxulyan Valley is the unspoiled Tudor house of Methrose within its tiny court; original hall, kitchen etc, though the parlor had its fine carved armorial mantelpiece sold off to America in our time. When in the vicinity John Wesley used to stay there.’

The autobiographies of Mr. Rowse are well worth reading for the descriptive narrative of the whole of this area. I am very grateful to him for writing about his life and experiences, just so that I am able to picture the scenes from years ago.
Reginald the second son, went into law and acted for Isabella of Orcharton, his sister in law. Law was now a lucrative proposition for an educated man and Reginald soon found great success away from Luxulyan. His son made a good life as a lawyer and ended up a Knight of Cornwall and possessed many properties in Truro. He served many times in military service and became influential in Cornwall.The Orcharton connection to the Prideauxs lasts for centuries as will be seen later on in the story.
Reginald  replied to a writ in 1302 with regard to some land ownership, stating that the Prideaux family had held certain lands since before the memory of man without interruption, confirming official acceptance of Prideaux family importance, prior to Domesday. After a few generations, his line also died out at the same time Prideaux Castle passed to Philip Arvas.
It was not unusual in the following two hundred years for family lines to die out. Initially there was the problem with men failing to care for the land and produce food. This was followed by several bad harvests when the  climate altered and as if all of this was not enough, there were terrible plagues. These events served to reduce the country’s  population by half. Survival rates of sons of gentry were less than one per cent, so we have much to be grateful for the health and vitality of the third son Geoffrey and his children.
I descend from Geoffrey and continue his story next. It would seem highly likely that  every blood Prideaux descends from this Geoffrey line when the other legitimate lines died out as explained above.

view from prideaux castle

More can be learned about Richard in the story The Priestess in the book by A A Prideaux entitled Cornish Prideaux Ghost Stories.



Richard de Pridias Lord of Prideaux 1160 – 1225

Richard de Pridias, Lord of Prideaux was the son of Nicholas.view from prideaux castle
He lived through the reigns of Henry II, Richard the Lion heart, John and Henry III, the latter being famous for pointless wars and extortionate taxation. He was however, one of the greatest patrons of medieval architecture such as Westminster Abbey and Salisbury Cathedral. He also contributed to the Oxford and Cambridge teaching establishments. Many Prideauxs have made use of these establishments including John Prideaux Bishop of Worcester, the subject of one of my books.
Richard worked alongside his father, learning and following the ways of keeping one’s head enough above water to float,  but hidden enough so as not to draw unnecessary attention to ones self.
In order to increase tax revenues as discussed in the last chapter, King John chartered four Stannaries in Cornwall in 1201, Fowey moor, [Bodmin] Blackmoor, [Hens barrow and Pridias] Tywarnhaile [Truro to St Agnes] and Penwith with Kerrier.
The manor of our ancestors was now called the Manor of Prideaux of the Priory of Tywardreath. It seems likely that this was the only land they held as they are not mentioned among the Chancery or Exchequer records upon death. The Prideaux holdings would have only had local interest and none to the Crown with regard to any death duties or similar.
But, now it was becoming more difficult to keep the land farmed and looked after. The rights of the tin miners, who had to answer to no Lord except the Warden of the Stannaries, meant that the landowners began to suffer financially and the accepted ways of the villeins and master no longer applied.
It seems more than likely that the Lords of Prideaux were losing money fast and by the time Richard’s grandchildren arrived, the two younger boys needed to leave Luxulyan for good and try and make their fortune elsewhere.

prideaux road sign

Stannary records, charters and the tinners seal were kept in the tower at Luxulyan church for several centuries. They are not kept there now.
On one research trip, we drove to Luxulyan church with the intention of looking for any gravestones, which might be relevant. It was still raining, that soft rain which completely soaks a person, but does not make them cold. Probably very goods for the skin I should think.

We went off in different directions around the churchyard, trying to cover as much ground as possible in a short time. Richard is used to me doing that as I have always seen how much I can fit into as little time as possible. We still recall, upon discovering that there was only eight minutes left on a car park ticket while shopping in Shrewsbury when he was a boy,  that we had plenty of time to look around the museum there. So, we scampered around, saw the mammoth and all the trimmings and were driving back through the car park gate, ticket still in time. I always tell him, that as we don’t know how long we have to live in this life, we have a duty to see how much can be packed in. Trust me, it’s a lot.

Luxulyan Church (2)

Anyway, we only found a couple of graves, but I could not reconcile whose remains they housed, as they were more recent than the time I needed to research. Seeing a light on in the church, we ventured in. I love seeing a light inside a church, the way it becomes altered and coloured through the stained glass, it is disappointing when you go in and find no one there.
This evening we were not disappointed.
Opening the huge door, we were met with the sound of voices and laughter and there sat around a large table were a group of lovely ladies doing flower arrangements. They all looked up and smiled and welcomed us and told us to come in from the rain. A lady to the left of the door was standing by a smaller table and appeared to be making tea. We asked about Prideaux graves and were told exactly where some had been seen and there was plenty of what appeared to be genuine interest shown in the quest.

One lady showed us the old stained glass window in the bell tower which related to an ancestor. It was now in the west window of the tower and bears the remains of an original stained glass window Luxulyan Px Window (2)showing the representations of the arms of Prideaux. I was told that I must say Pridducks and not Preedo as I had always pronounced the name. This is difficult as other relatives in Leeds tell me I must say Priddo. I figure that I shall say what I want.
We carried on passing the time of day, looking around the church and were told that the bell ringers would be here soon if we wished to stop for that. We thanked them and declined the offer. Those ladies were genuinely nice and there was no hint of annoyance about the arrival of  strangers on a rainy evening in May. I am convinced that if churches were living buildings and one could be sure to find a friendly face and voice in them, they would be fuller on a Sunday.
In the village I grew up in, we had to go to chapel and church. There was Sunday school and ordinary school events held there and everyone knew each other. Seems romantic I know, but I am not that old and it all changed so quickly. Where I live now, we struggle to get any people to any villagey events organised and although many pay lip service to the need for a community spirit, few seem willing to do much about achieving it.
I feel for these ancestors of mine, striving hard from generation to generation and worrying how to make money and raise a family and then  get sick and die.
One becomes even more acutely aware of the speedy passage of time while researching ancestry. All those men and women, not doing something they want to because of the trouble it may cause or what the neighbours would think if they pleased themselves and it is all over so quickly. You must have all had the peculiar feeling of disliking someone and perhaps constantly battling with them and then they leave or die and you miss them. You miss the rows and the drama. They were part of your world and your story and now they are gone. Cherish even your enemies then. Apparently.

So back to this lot, Richard died and left a son and heir.  Richard.

There is a record of a Robert de Prydyas witnessing a grant to St Stephen of Launceston, but it is not known whether this is our Richard, with an incorrectly written name, or a brother of his.
The family may have spent time fishing or sailing  in the natural harbour with creeks and inlets creeping inland to  the Priory at Tywardreath, St Blazey, through the marshy land to Trees mill, up the Polmear valley and almost reaching Lower Lampetho. Daphne du Maurier wrote a book about these times. The House on the Strand, English for Tywardreath. The harbour was a busy place, with fishing-boats and trading vessels tacking to and fro, fishermen casting their nets.  The ferry was rowed back and forth all day and into the night allowing travellers and locals to cross to Par.  With geological changes, the level of the ground rose and the harbour which once had fifty or sixty feet of water at high tide, became sand and shingle. In 1773 the tide still reached St Blazey Church, and even up to 1800 the high water reached one mile north of Par. I wrote about this in more detail in prior blogs.

More can be learned about Richard in the story The Jousting Lords in the book by A A Prideaux entitled Cornish Prideaux Ghost Stories.


Nicholas de Pridias Lord of Prideaux – 1135-1200

Up to now the Pridias boys were well known in the area in which they lived and had been so for many generations. The day Nicholas de Pridias Lord of Prideaux was born in 1135 on August 2nd, the day darkened over all lands. This was according to the Anglo Saxon Chronicles which also tells us that the sun became as a three day moon, surrounded by stars. This was taken as a sign of impending doom and so it was as King Henry was killed a few weeks later.
All we really know about Nicholas, was that he was amerced [fined by the court] of half a mark in 1189 and again in 1195, both times for making false claims. He had however been paid half a mark by the Sheriff of Cornwall in 1182 when he travelled to London to go overseas with the King.
Because a great deal of money had to be raised in order to pay for the Kings jollies abroad,  William de Wrotham was given the task of raising money from tin mining in Devon and Cornwall by Hubert Walter, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was appointed the First Lord Warden of the Stannaries on 20th November 1197.
These new laws meant that anyone connected with tin mining could only deal with the stannary courts and were exempt from parliament in London. This technically still applies, as the position has never been rescinded. A huge amount was raised from this reorganization of the tin miners and their industry in addition to other methods of taxation.
This a good place to list some of the holdings the Prideaux family had. These holdings were listed by Lake in 1284, but are relevant to backdate to the time of Nicholas and prior.

Lake states,

The ancient manor originally comprised Great and Little Prideaux, Lestoon, Levrean, Rosemullen, Trevanney, Trenince, and Ponts Mill in Luxulyan. Stenalees in St Austell, Grediow in Lanlivery, Biscovay in St Blazey, Carroget, Kilhalland, Rosegarth and Penpillick in Tywardreath. Gubbavean in St Issey, Nanscowe in St Breaock, and moieties in Golant, one of which was called Bakers.

According to some writings, Nicholas died leaving twin sons Richard and Hickadon. Hickadon has also been referred to as Herden.
The Prideauxs of Netherton state that Herden’s son was Sir Jeffery who was succeeded by Ralph who married the daughter of Sir William Bigbury. I will tell you a story about a future Sir William Bigbury in another chapter. I descend from Richard and so have only followed that line. That is lucky, as there is far more information about Richard than Herden.
The writings also state that Paganus built Prideaux Castle near Fowey. As discussed, the actual castle was only a fortified hill fort used against invasion and no separate castle was built. It cannot be known yet how much building took place upon the fort and if some sort of investigation takes place one day, we shall have a more complete view of what went on there.  In the meantime we can only draw parallels with the excavation at Castle Dor.
The information above with regard to the Prideauxs at Netherton was taken from The Baronetage of England and the English Baronetage, where it was acknowledged that the Edmund Prideaux of Netherton became a baronet on 17th July 1622.
The Crusades and the cost of that took up most of Nicholas’s life. I wonder of he or any member of his family went there to join in the fight? During his lifetime, he had known about King Richard going to the Holy Land, then coming back and laying siege to Nottingham Castle to claim it back from his brother Prince John. Finally Richard was killed whilst fighting in France.
During the 1100’s and after the First Crusade, many pilgrims went to the Holy Land to see the holy sites and ended up being robbed and murdered. From the necessity of guarding these pilgrims grew the Knights Templar and all the history which went with that story. It is highly likely that Nicholas and his father would have known men who travelled to the Holy Land and others who joined the Templar, if they did not in fact go there themselves. Many stories from the Priory would entertain local people in respect of this news.
Although a large landowner and Lord, Nicholas and his family were under constant threat of taxes and fines and he would have had a great deal of concern about raising money. Complaints were useless and the fine line being trodden almost daily in order to keep ones family and lands safe, must have put a great strain on the man.
Nicholas died in 1200, leaving the next generation to worry about everything.
His eldest son Richard took the reins and launched into dealing with the knotty problem of farming the land.

Castle Dore

More can be read about Nicholas in the story The Hanged Man in the book by A A Prideaux entitled Cornish Prideaux Ghost Stories.


Baldwin de Pridias Lord of Prideaux – 1109 – 1165

The name Baldwin de Pridias, Lord of Prideaux was introduced into Britain by the Normans, and when Richard de Pridias Lord of Prideaux named his first born Baldwin he  demonstrated  how enmeshed the Prideaux family was in the new Norman society. The first Norman King of Jerusalem in 1100 was Baldwin of Boulogne and presumably this news  would have reached even this part of Cornwall. The crusades was news everywhere, probably due to the fact that anyone with any money generally had to help pay for the adventure.
Baldwin de Pridias ratified the undated convention shown below in 1130, which had been agreed by his father in 1122, with regard to the priory at Tywardreath. This charter was granted by Osbert, the first canon of Tywardreath to Baldwin de Pridias.

‘One Knights fee in the manor of Pidias, to hold to him and his heirs, except an acre of land in Carnubelbanathel for which the monks of Tywardreath rendered annually to the said Baldwin 20d for all customs, &cc, as written in the charter of convention between Ordagar the Canon and Richard de Pidias, Father of the said Baldwin.’

 I know that there was an Osbert of Clare around during these years, who had been a monk at Westminster Abbey, then a Prior and an Abbott for a short time. He wrote many letters and was thought to have forged some very important charters concerning the King. Osbert ruled the Priory under the care of Lord Robert Fitzwilliam.
It would seem that Richard de Pridias died in 1122, the same year as Eleanor of Aquitaine was born, during the drawing up of the above charter.
Baldwin could only have signed it when he came of age in 1130. There was therefore a considerable time between the agreeing of the details with Richard and the signature of Baldwin.
This also meant that it was necessary for a Pridias to sign the documentation. I am not sure yet whether the King and his representatives were letting the Pridias family have some of the land which had been commandeered for the Priory, or whether Richard and then Baldwin were renting the land to the priory. It seems that the former is most likely.
Anyway, we do know that the Priory at Tywardreath was founded around the same time as St Michaels Mount monastery. The church there was consecrated in 1135.IMG00457-20100401-1240

The changes in their world had been rapid since the conquest, The parents of Paganus would have learned Anglo Saxon in order to communicate with the Saxon overlords in addition to their native Cornish.  Now French must be spoken and written, if the family were to get on in the new world order. There must have been an educational advantage being so near to a monastery, where new theological ideas and political news would circulate. And of course, Latin thrown in.

At Ponts Mill near Tywardreath, where there is evidence of ships being moored, there was a bridge which was the highest point at which anyone could cross the River Par, before it fell into the sea. Although, no longer there, a bridge known as Baldwin’s Bridge was used to cross at this point. It may have been built by this Baldwin Pridias when the lands were owned by the family.
On the site of Luxulyan church, there is evidence of ancient settlement and worship. In a document dated 1162, a chapel dedicated to St Sulian is referred to  and was a halfway house to Tywardreath Priory and the Abbey at Lanlivet. The current church lies in a position which suggests that at one point a religious building stood further away, pointing to a larger territory. As the Prideaux family owned the property at that time, it is sensible to assume that they would have been involved in the positioning. A medieval well dedicated to a relatively unknown Irish Saint Cyrus lies to the east. Many saints travelled this way on a north to south route across Cornwall. The Saints Way which can be traversed today, passes many ancient and mystical sites, including Prideaux Castle.

Henry I died and as his legitimate heir was already dead, Henry tried to secure succession for his daughter Matilda. The Great Council had other ideas and they gave the crown to Stephen, the son of the conquerors daughterStephen sailed around Lands End and landed at White sand Bay in 1135. There was terrible strife between him and Matilda and her supporters. At the same time that Stephen was landing, the Benedictine Priory was founded at Tywardreath. The locals however were not terribly impressed. The monastery was quite small and had to rely for funds on foreign houses. There was little funding from the locals. The Priory was a daughter house of Saint’s Sergius and Bacchus of Angers and although relationships were not good between the two, they worked together for three hundred years. Cornishmen were extremely religious, but did not feel that this imposed Priory tended to their needs.
In later times they were forced to build places of worship elsewhere, such as Golant, in order to escape the unnecessary interference of the Priory upon their lives.
If one reads the Anglo Saxon Chronicles and sees the kind of horrors which occurred in the country during Stephen’s reign by traitors against him and also by his supporters it makes one assume that there was bad and good in the priories. Castles were being built all around the country and were filled with ‘evil men and devils’. The people of the land were greatly oppressed and day and night, men and women were put in prison and tortured for their gold and silver.
Horrible tortures happened, such as being hung by their feet, thumbs or heads and over fires. Some torturers put knotted strings around the heads of the prisoners and turned the knots until the strings reached the brains. Prisons full of toads, adders and snakes housed the poor victims and some went into torture houses, where many dreadful and cruel horrors took place. This lasted for nineteen winters while Stephen was in charge and apparently became worse each year. The devils taxed the local people and when there was no more to take, the villages were burnt and we are told that it was possible to ride for a whole day in some places and never see a person living nor working the land. They had run away in terror while the harvests rotted in the fields.
Food was now so ridiculously expensive that even formerly rich men were forced to ask for alms. No church, land or property was safe and even the writer of the chronicles believed that Christ and all his saints were asleep, while the living were paying for their sins. This was also a time of miracles and magical happenings, probably borne out of the dreadful times in which the people lived.
The Cardinhams and Turstins built their stronghold at Lostwithiel and called it Restormel Castle. Amongst other castles being built was Tintagel, the fabled castle of King Arthur. This was begun around 1140 by Reginald Earl of Cornwall, one of Henry I illegitimate sons and another half brother of Matilda.
Reginald married the daughter of William Fitz Richard the new Lord of Cardinham, This William was the son of Richard Fitz Torold, the steward around Tywardreath.
Stephen appointed William Fitz Richard as lieutenant of the county but instead, he sided with Matilda and Reginald became Earl of Cornwall. This position was lost again in a battle with Stephen and his followers. When Stephen died in 1154 and Henry II took power he tried to undo this damage. Henry II re-instated Reginald as Earl of Cornwall and also destroyed many of the castles, which had been the symbols of terror. He married Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152 and the union brought the areas of south west France under English control. During his reign there began a relatively peaceful time for the lands of England. The people certainly needed it.
Trials were heard by a judge and jury through a system of travelling justices. Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire were included from 1166.   This innovation opened up career prospects for ambitious lawyers. Some Prideauxs later made their way in the world this way as law brought in more money than farming.
Richard de Lucy made great profits during the time of strife. He sided with Stephen and rode with Alan of Brittany who removed Reginald in the battle mentioned above. He was granted some confiscated lands and appears to have been given lands around Lantyan near St Blazey.  He was known as Richard the Loyal and was well thought of by Henry.
Against this background lived Baldwin Pridias, a man watching his back constantly while enjoying the benefits of being a landowner alongside the Normans. If during the invasion, his grandfather had sold out in order to merely make money and position for himself and his family, then his descendants would not be greatly admired by their neighbours. If however, he had done so in order to keep his neighbours safe, they probably no longer cared. Either way, as time passed, the ones remembering what happened in 1066 would have died out and it would seem as if things had always been as they were now.
Baldwin’s son Nicholas is the only child of whom there is any record and he was born in 1135 at the same time the Priory was finished at Tywardreath. Perhaps he was named after the revered Saint Nicholas, a favourite of Catholics and protector of sailors and merchants.
The relics of Saint Nicholas had recently, in 1087, been furtively taken to Bari in Italy, the new crypt consecrated by the Pope. The Basilica di San Nicola, a huge castle-like cathedral was built over the relics and is a source of pilgrimage to this day. It is said that the relics were taken from their previous place while the war with the Saracens were going on. The Basilica was also connected to the Benedictine order in Italy and one assumes that as Tywardreath was also Benedictine then these stories would have been heard and understood by the Pridias family. Indeed, we can see in Nicholas’s story following, that he was involved in the Crusades, if only financially.
In this same year as Stephen landed in southern Cornwall, fears would be heightened again about impending battle and trouble, so the family needed all the help a saint could give.
So, times had already changed quite considerably for this family, a couple of generations prior. Paganus was living in buildings made from wood and thatch, defending himself against the Normans and now his grandson, was involved in the building of the Priory.
Cadfael by Ellis Peters is set in a similar monastery in Shrewsbury and the stories told there help us to picture the life and times of the local people.
Local manors would try and sort out local problems, hoping that the Crown’s representative did not become too closely involved and create more problems with their solutions.
A better standard of living than his contemporaries and luck at missing out on plagues and disease ensured that Baldwin lived to a grand age of 54, before leaving his jolly world and properties to his son.
Tywardreath is another beautiful place and the silted up estuary is quite obvious when looked for. As mentioned before, the sea was quite close to the Priory. While this proximity to the sea was incredibly useful in respect to food and travel, it also put the Priory in great danger from pirates. There were many raids and the monks were forced at times, to remove themselves and their treasures elsewhere for safety.

More can be read of Baldwin in ‘The Bridge of Incidents’ in the book by A A Prideaux entitled Cornish Prideaux Ghost Stories.


Richard de Pridias Lord of Prideaux – 1070 -1122

Richard de Pridias Lord of Prideaux lived between 1070 and 1122.

The documentation negotiated by Richard Pridias, shows how involved the family swiftly became with the Normans. The Priory was built within five years of the agreed documentation, so it can be assumed that both Richard and Baldwin were instrumental in the completion of the building. It was to be another priory connected to SS Sergius and Bacchus of Angers. Tywardreath was one of eight monasteries in Cornwall, which were maintained outside of Cornwall.
Richard Pridias had seen many changes in the county of Cornwall. The people were exploited by their new masters and their meagre resources taken and used elsewhere. I hope the unique good humour of the Cornish helped them cope.
William Mortain the son of Robert, received two thirds of the county, but he was not happy with that and constantly stole lands from the church and others. William Mortain then married the daughter of Turstin, the builder of Restormel, whose male line had failed. Richard Fitz Torold was steward to Robert and ruled vast swathes of land around Bodmin.
Turstin ruled over the areas around the Pridias family near Lostwithiel. Robert Mortain systematically took from the county, making values drop hugely in the 20 years between invasion and Domesday and left Cornwall the poorest county in the country at this time. Robert Mortain died in 1090 after rebelling against William Rufus.
After the death of his father, William Mortain demanded the Earldom of Kent in addition to Cornwall. When this was refused he rose with Robert, Duke of Normandy against the King. This attempt failed and William was captured and sentenced to life imprisonment and his eyes to be put out. Apparently due to a miracle he was freed and he became a monk at Bermonsdey and died there in 1140. Henry I then took the Earldom of Cornwall for himself.
Henry I was on the throne when Richard died. He was a king who had already reorganised the judicial system and method of raising taxes. He created the Curia Regis [Lion of Justice] from which all government institutions evolved. Members of the Curea Regis were sent out and tax was imposed on even the very poor. These people then resorted to eating horses, dogs and herbs.
The king had decided a few years previous that all land was his and all the animals within it. He decreed that the manors could punish those who broke his rules and these punishments were wicked.
This time was grim. People lived in houses in the forest reminiscent of mud huts. Filth, poverty and disease made this place terrible to survive in. Traveling along the narrow uneven tracks through the wood meant taking ones life in ones hands. Penalties for theft were so horrifying, that an offender was much more likely to kill than just to rob. Hung for a sheep as a lamb as the saying goes.
Richard de Pridias died leaving Baldwin his heir and by now the lands were referred to as the manor of Pridias. This meant that the Pridias family had authority over the lives and conduct of the inhabitants of that manor. It was a Norman given right to do what the family had been doing before. Richard, I expect was a tough master in order to keep control of the lands.
I hope he wasn’t cruel.
It is also important to note that no documents of this time refer to the family as Prideaux.


More can be read about Richard de Pridias in ‘The Pattern of One‘ in the  book by A A Prideaux, Cornish Prideaux Ghost Stories.



A A Prideaux Lineage

Below is my A A Prideaux lineage. I have researched  28 of my ancestors and  a list of them follows. Subsequent blogs will give details of each of their lives. I’ve been researching my ancestry for years after finally reading through documentation and notes my mother Dorothy  inherited from her father Clifford.

  2. RICHARD de PRIDIAS LORD OF PRIDEAUX                                1070 – 1122
  3. BALDWIN de PRIDIAS LORD OF PRIDEAUX                               1109 – 1165
  4. NICHOLAS  de PRIDIAS LORD OF PRIDEAUX                            1135 – 1200
  5. RICHARD de PRIDIAS LORD OF PRIDEAUX                               1160 – 1225
  6. RICHARD de PRIDIAS LORD OF PRIDEAUX                               1180 – 1250
  7. SIR GEOFFREY de PRIDIAS                                                            1200 – 1270
  8. ROGER de PRIDIAS                                                                          1224 – 1291
  9. PETER de PRIDIAS                                                                           1260 – 1316
  10. SIR ROGER  PRIDYAS                                                                       1294 – 1347
  11. SIR JOHN PRIDEAUX                                                                       1320 – 1357
  12. GILES PRIDEAUX                                                                             1345 – 1410
  13. SIR JOHN PRIDEAUX                                                                       1380 – 1443
  14. WILLIAM PRIDEAUX                                                                       1422 – 1472
  15. JOHN PRIDEAUX                                                                              1461 – 1523
  16. JOHN PRIDEAUX                                                                              1505 – 1568
  17. JOHN PRIDEAUX                                                                              1540 – 1620
  18. THOMAS PRIDEAUX                                                                        1571 – 1641
  19. THOMAS  PRIDEAUX                                                                      1610 – 1680
  20. PETER  PRIDEAUX                                                                           1651 – 1725
  21. PETER  PRIDEAUX                                                                           1695 – 1749
  22. PETER  PRIDEAUX                                                                           1733 – 1810
  23. THOMAS PETER PRIDEAUX                                                          1768 – 1842
  24. JOHN PRIDEAUX                                                                              1796 – 1871
  25. MATTHEW  PRIDEAUX                                                                   1838 – 1888
  26. GEORGE PRIDEAUX                                                                         1871 – 1926
  27. CLIFFORD PRIDEAUX                                                                      1902 – 1963
  28. DOROTHY PRIDEAUX                                                                      1936 – 2010