"Devonshire was pre-eminently a county of country gentlemen ...... between, say, 1485 and 1914. There were few noblemen in the county, few great landowners of any kind. The gentry, large and small, were by far the most numerous and conspicuous of all classes of landowners, and the most influential politically and socially". W. G. Hoskins and Finsberg, "Devonshire Studies" (1952, p.334)

"The yeoman .... for his rent which he payeth being small, and his fine once satisfied, he liveth as merrily as doth his landlord, but according to his calling". Tristram Risdon, "Survey of Devon" (1630)

For some details About Devonshire Yeomen click here.
For some details About the Weather & Other Conditions in Devon click here.
For Detailed Descriptions of Devon Life click here.
An account of life as it was at Marwood.
A. H. Slee's account of village life at Braunton.

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About Devonshire Yeomen

The Roberts family recorded: "the xiiith day of March had bine at Cheriton in the forenoon and the afternoon he came at Stockley Church and he had dronke so hard at Cheriton that he sleept part of the time that Master Tamson reade the Cannons and all the while the Salme was a-singing and part of the time that the beeleefe was a-saying until George Matthew got him twice before he did awake and after prayer he went out of the church ranting".

Dinner was the heaviest meal of the day and supper the lightest. The main supper dish that the wife of John Samwayes prepared for her husband and son on a December evening in 1624 was made by bringing milk to a boil in a "skillet" over the open fire, and adding to it several handfuls of raisins. (Other records indicate this dish as a favourite supper for countryfolk). After supper, Samwayes and his family sat before the fire and drank mead and ate roasted apples dipped in the mead.

Robert Furse set down in his diary a minute description of all his family's possessions and rights by which they were held. Not to do so could have been tragic for his heirs.

("The English Yeoman" by Mildred Campbell, 1942)

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The Weather and Other Conditions.
It is recorded that a cold wet climate started ca. 1300 AD in England in general. In the 15th c., however, it is said that wine was made in Devon.

1546, September, from the Barnstaple Registers:

A pestilence broke out and was at its most intense in late October. At least 152 died.

1606 (1607 by the 'new' calendar), from the Barnstaple Registers:

In the 20th day of Januarie there was such a mightie storm and tempeste from the river of Barnstaple with the comminge of the tyde that it cost much lost of goods and houses to the vallew of towe thousand pounds, besyde the death of one James Froste, a looker and towe of his children, the which his house fell downe upon them and killed them. This storme begane at 3 of clock in the morning and continue tyll 12 of clock of the same day. Januarie the ryver of Barnstaple was so frozen that manye hundred people did walke over hande in hande from the bridge into Castell Rocke with staves in their hands as safe as they could goe on drye grounde being ye very same moneth the floude was.

1607, said to be from an old diary:

About a fortnight before Christmas, began the hard frost which continued about five weeks; victuals were frozen so hard they would take no salt. The cold meat kept over night was so hard that it could not be cut to be eaten - for I had a piece of beef roasted on New Year's Day and kept and then I was driven to take a spit an put the end thereof in the fire and heat it red hot and so got him to the flesh.

1676, said to be from an old diary:

The frost is again recorded as so great that the oldest man living did never know the like for everything was so hard that meat could only be roasted; because they could get no water for to boyle the pot.

1690, October 7th, as reported in the 'London Gazette':

An earthquake at Barnstaple that shook most of the houses of this 7 a.m. 1691, February 7th, as reported in the 'London Gazette' (from Exeter): There have fallen in these parts such great quantities of snow since Wednesday last, which by a strong wind is so driven into hedges in some places, and has made the ways so impassable that the mail from Plimouth is not yet arrived here, and divers Travellers are missing and feared to be lost in the snow. The Baron of Bomgarden's Envoy Extraordinary from the Elector of Bavaria went hence yesterday morning towards Plimouth to embark there for Spain, but could get no further than Ashburton. Several hundred men are at work to clear the roads, there not having been known so deep a snow in the memory of man.

1880, Denbury Parish Register: rain fell on this parish except a very few drops on July 14th, from May 24 to August 21; Neither did the oldest men ever remember so hot a Summer.


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