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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.

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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.

Flete

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. 

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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