Charles Worthy.

Devonshire wills: a collection of annotated testamentary abstracts, together with the family history and genealogy of many of the most ancient gentle houses of the west of England online

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a cadet of the Wrays of Northwyke and Thrushelton, but he
was certainly nothing more than a collateral relative of the
Wreys of Tawstock, as his issue was confined to an only
daughter and heir, Christian Wraye, upon whose marriage with
Richard de la Ford, the name of Wray became extinct at
Moreton Hampstead.

William Wray of Wray and Thrushelton, and, presumably,
a younger son of Walter de Wray of Northwyke, had sons,
Walter Wray of Wray, and Thomas Wray, second son.

Walter Wray was the father of Robert Wray, who, by his
wife Constance, daughter of John Shilston, had four sons, and
a daughter, Alice, the wife of John Glanville.

Of the sons, I think it quite probable that Robert Wray,
the youngest of them, and uncle of Jane Wykes of Northwyke,
may have been identical with the husband of Alice Norris,
called " Richard " Wraye in the unsigned Southmeade pedigree,
which is included in the original " Visitation of Devon," and
which is certainly more or less unreliable ; Robert Wray's
eldest brother, Walter " Wraye," the first described in the
pedigree of 1564 as of "North Russell," married Bridget,
daughter of Robert Shilstone, and had a daughter, Jane,
incidentally referred to above, who became the second wife
of John Wykes of Northwyke, in 1540, and subsequently
married Thomas Walcot, and afterwards Robert Fry of

Her brother, John Wraye, Sheriff of Cornwall in 1585, by


his wife, Blanch, daughter and co-heir of Henry Killigrew of
Woolston, co Cornwall, had six sons and two daughters.

His second son, Sir William " Wrey,"* Knt, succeeded to
the Killigrew Manor of Trebitch, otherwise written " Trebigh,"
or " Trebeigh," in the said adjoining county, of which he was
sheriff in 1598. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Wil-
liam Courtenay of Powderham, survived until 1636, and thus
lived to see his son, Sir William Wrey, created a Baronet on
the 30th June, 1628 ; the latter's wife was Ann, daughter of
Sir Edward Chichester of Eggesford, afterwards created
Viscount Chichester of Carickfergus, and by her, he was the
father of Sir Chichester Wrey, second Baronet, who married
Ann, youngest daugher and co-heir of Edward Bourchier, Earl
of Bath, and Baron Fitz-Warine, and relict of James Cranfield,
Earl of Middlesex.

The Earldom of Bath had been created in 1536 in favour
of John Bourchier, Baron Fitzwarine, grandson of William,
summoned to Parliament in his wife's (Thomasine Hankford's)
maternal barony in fee, as Lord Fitz-Warine, 27th Henry VI. ;
the said Sir William Bourchier having been the third son of
William Bourchier, titular Earl of Ewe, in Normandy, by his
wife Anne Plantagenet, daughter and eventual sole heir of
Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, and sixth son of
King Edward III.

The father of the Countess of Middlesex died without
surviving male issue in 1636, and was succeeded by his kins-
man, Sir Henry Bourchier, as fifth Earl, at whose death, in
1654, the Earldom of Bath became extinct. But the Barony
of Fitz-Warine in fee had previously fallen into abeyance
between the three daughters of the fourth Earl, and, of these,
Lady Middlesex was the youngest. By her second husband,
Sir Chichester Wray, she had a son, Bourchier, who succeeded
as third Baronet, and who married Florence, daughter of Sir
John Rolle of Stevenstone, and died in 1695.

Henry, last Earl of Bath, had married Lady Rachel Fane,
daughter of Francis, Earl of Westmoreland, and she had a

* The name is still pronounced in accordance with the ancient spelling, which
was either "Wray" or "Wraye." The Baronets, however, have always written
themselves " Wrey," as above.


life interest in Tawstock Court, and resided there until her
death in 1680, when Sir Bourchier Wray inherited that property
and also the manor of Holne, near Ashburton. (See my
account of the latter, Ashburton and its Neighbourhood,
pp. 122-28.)

From that date Tawstock Court has been the principal
residence of the Wreys. Sir Bourchier Wrey's great-grandson,
Sir Bourchier Wrey, D.C.L., born in 1759, by his first marriage
with Anne, daughter of Sir Robert Palk, Bart, of Haldon,
had a son, Sir Henry Bourchier Wrey, born 1797, and who
died without male issue in 1879, when he was succeeded by
his half brother, the Rev. Sir Henry Bourchier Wrey, Rector
of Tawstock, at whose decease, in 1882, the title came to his
eldest son, Sir Henry Bourchier Toke Wrey, the ninth and
present Baronet

Sir Henry Wrey married, in 1854, The Honourable Marianna
Sarah, only daughter and heir of Philip Castell, ninth Lord
Sherard, of the kingdom of Ireland, a title some time merged
with the Earldom of Harborough, and has an eldest son and
heir to the title, Robert Bourchier Sherard Wrey, R.N., born

Arms of Wray of Wray, and of Wraye of North Thrushelton,

as now borne by Sir H. B. T. Wrey, Bart, of Tawstock Sable,
a fess between three battle axes, arg., helved gules.

Sir Henry Wrey quarters Bourchier together with the Royal
Arms of Edward III., in right of descent from Thomas, Duke
of Gloucester, and is also a co-heir to the Barony of Fitz-
Warine in abeyance.


This ancient family derives its name from the parish of
Gidley on the north-eastern escarpment of Dartmoor, which
land was given by William the Conqueror to his half brother
the Earl of Mortain, and held under him, in 1086, by a
certain " Godwin," and in the Confessor's reign it had also
belonged to " Godwin," described as the " Priest"

Westcote, in his seventeenth century View of Devonshire,


declares that he had seen a grant of this land, by " Martine,"
Earl of Cornwall, in favour of his " nephew, Giles de Gidleigh,''
the seal bearing the impress of a triple towered castle, and
that the said grant was "exemplified, under the great seal of
England, in the reign of Henry VIII."

The said " Giles de Gidleigh," to have been a " nephew " of
the Earl of Mortain, whose brother Odo, Earl of Kent, and
Bishop of Bayeux, had no issue, should have been a son of
his sister Emma D'Abrincis, the mother of Hugh, Earl of
Chester, and there is no record that she had such a son as
"Giles." Robert of Mortain, Odo, and Emma were the chil-
dren of Harlotta of Falaise by her marriage with Harlowen
de Conteville. Their half-brother and sister, King William
and Adeliza, were the offspring of an earlier, and less res-
pectable, intimacy on the part of Harlotta, with Duke Robert
of Normandy, and it is most probable that the several
personages who have been handed down to us as " nephews "
and " nieces " of the Conqueror, or of Mortain, such as
"Albreda," wife of Baldwin de Brion of Okehampton, Wil-
liam " Warlewast," Bishop of Exeter, and this Giles de
Gidleigh, were children of the king's whole sister, Adeliza
de Falaise aforesaid, who was married thrice, and had issue
by each marriage, inter a/us, Adeliza, Countess of Albe-
marle in her own right, 1081-1090 ; Stephen, who succeeded
his half sister in that earldom ; and Judith, wife of Waltheof,
Earl of Huntingdon. The daughter of Albreda of Okehampton
was also called Adeliza, and doubtless so after her grand-

It is certain that this Dartmoor property descended in the
name of Gidleigh for some generations, and down to the
middle of the fourteenth century, when the daughter and heir
of Giles de Gidley married William, son of Waiter Prouz, by
the daughter of the Lord Dinham. Her eldest son and heir
succeeded to Gidleigh, and his only child, Alice, married, first,
Sir Roger Moels, and, second, Sir John Damerell. The latter
family inherited Gidley for several generations, until it passed
by intermarriage with one of them to the Coades of Morvell,
in the county of Cornwall. It was during their ownership that
Gidley Castle probably fell to decay ; the remains of it appear


to be of early fourteenth century date, and consist chiefly of
the large square keep, the lower chamber of which is barrel
vaulted, and has two newel staircases communicating with the
upper portion of the building.

The name of Gidley, however, appears to have been pre-
served by a younger branch of the family which settled at
Winkleigh, the Devonshire seat of the Honour of Gloucester,
upon a property called Holecombe, which had been held under
those Earls by William de Portu Mortuo in the reign of
Henry III., and was afterward corruptly known as Holcombe
Paramore. Richard Gidley was buried at Winkleigh, 26th
March, 1574. (See my Manor and Church of Winkleigh, p. 18.)
He was the father of Bartholomew Gidley, whose son of the
same name re-purchased the ancient family property at Gidley
from the Coades.

Bartholomew Gidley, the elder, had nine children, and of
these Bartholomew, born in 1611, was the first. He matriculated
at Exeter College, Oxford, i6th July, 1632 ; married, in 1637,
Joan, daughter of Robert Northleigh of Peamore, Exminster,
(a property which of late years has belonged to the Kekewich
family, who purchased it of H. H. Coxe at the beginning of
the present century), and is described as of Gidley Castle and
of Holcombe Paramore. He was captain of the Stannary of
Chagford, during the great rebellion espoused the Royal cause,
and raised a troop of horse for the king's service, of which he
took command.

In commemoration of his bravery and zeal, during the
troubles that preceded, and followed, the execution of the king,
a large silver medal, nearly three inches in diameter, was struck
in his honour, and is still preserved by the family ; on the
reverse are his Arms, granted by Edward Bysshe, Clarencieux,
24th November, 1666, and which may be thus blazoned : Or,
a castle, within a bordure, sa., bezantee" ; Crest, a gryphon's head,
couped, or, between two wings, tinctured as the bordure in the
arms. It is expressly stated in the grant that these Arms and
Crest were granted him for " his eminent services " before
" Lyme, Plymouth, and elsewhere in the West," and they were
limited to " him and his heirs of body, and to those of his
brother, John Gidley." There is a plate of the medal in the


Medallic History of England (J. Pinkerton, London, 1790),
and it bears the following inscription :

" M. S. Mnemosynon et vel aere perennius

Bartholomaei Gidley Armigeri Comitatus Devoniae.

Quern non avita magis illustrant insignia

Ouam se sua virtus illustrior insignivit ;

Quein regi suo constantem agnovere res Anglorum


Et extrema fidelitatis tentamina pax et helium.
Pro exule Carolo in bello Praefectum,
Pro reduce ad pacem Justitiarum
utro que munere fidelissimum,
Annos agit 72, Salutis anno 1683.
Non aetate non munere gravatus
vel adhuc dici voluit emeritus."

He was also an active magistrate, and a strong Churchman,
and was conspicuous for his opposition to the Conventicles
after the passing of the Act of Uniformity in 1662. He died
without issue, in January, 1686 ; his will, dated November
28th, 1683, was proved at Exeter on the 5th of the October
following his demise. He settled his real estate upon his
nephew, Bartholomew, son of his brother John, who inherited
the manor, park, and farm of Gidley, and the advowson of,
and right of presentation to, Gidley Church, together with the
manor of Holcombe Paramore, and all other messuages, bur-
gages, lands, and tenements in the parishes of Winkleigh and

Although prior to the middle of the thirteenth century we
have no certain knowledge as to the official arms of the Earls
of Cornwall, yet, whether they simply mean " all peas" and
refer to the province of Poitou (as suggested by the late J.
R. Planche"), or not, is quite beyond the question, for, doubt-
less, Robert of Mortain knew as little about them as did
Edward the Confessor of the cross and martlets with which
he has been since accredited by English heralds.

In the seventeenth century the bezants on a sable field had
been identified with the Cornish Earldom from time immemorial,
and it is unlikely that Sir Edward Bysshe would have granted


permission to Bartholomew Gidley to bear a representation of
Gidley Castle, within the Cornish bordure, in the absence of fair
evidence, both of his descent from its original owners, and of
his connection with the earldom, and the fact that such a coat
was granted "by letters patent under the great seal of England/'
is strong confirmatory evidence of the descent of the Gidleys
from a sister or half sister of the first Norman monarch and of
his brother, Robert of Mortain. Certain " tin bounds " within
the ducal forest of Dartmoor are still owned by the Gidleys.

Bartholomew, nephew and heir of Bartholomew Gidley, of
Gidley and Holcombe, died, aged thirty-four, 2nd August,
1702, leaving, inclusive of a son and heir, Bartholomew, a family
of eight children. This Bartholomew was born in 1689, was
a godson of the king, William III., and a Royal letter is pre-
served by the family in which his Majesty favours him with
much practical advice, which, it is to be feared, failed to profit
him to any considerable extent ; he cut the entail of the
property, which has since become dispersed, lived to the age of
eighty-seven, and was buried in the "Gidley Aisle" of Wink-
leigh Church, 2ist March, 1776; his son, Gustavus, was the
ancestor of the present head of the family, Mr. Gustavus Gidley
of Plymouth.

His grandfather, John Gidley, had married Rebecca Dunning
of Winkleigh, in which parish he had inherited an estate called
Beuford ; he was a Court surgeon, and resided chiefly in London,
but his will is dated at Winkleigh, 2ist September, 1712. He
left his eldest grandson the Beuford property, and his silver
plate, hangings, and other furniture in his house in London to
his second but eldest surviving son, John, and to his daughter,
Rebecca, after their mother's death. His said grandson,
Bartholomew, born 1689, had a younger brother, John Gidley,
born 1690, who married Margaret, daughter and heir of Robert
Ellicombe of Kenn, by Theodosia, daughter of the Rev. John
Mauduit, Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, and Senior
Proctor. His grandson, the late Courtenay Gidley of Honiton,
was the grandfather of John Gidley, formerly Town Clerk of
Exeter, who married, in 1823, Elizabeth, daughter of Robert
Cornish of Exeter, and aunt of John Robert Cornish, who
assumed by Royal license the surname of Mowbray, 26th July,


1847, was created a baronet 3rd May, 1880, is a Privy Coun-
cillor, and now, 1895, the senior active member of the House
of Commons. By this marriage Mr. John Gidley had a son,
Bartholomew Gidley of Hoopern, near Exeter, who, like his
father, was town clerk of Exeter, and died in 1888, and left,
with other issue, a son, the present Mr. John Gidley of Hoopern


Like the House of Brito, the family of Hamlyn is coeval
with all that is really authentic in the history of Devonshire.
Its name is derived from the Saxon words "ham " and " lynna"
which, in composition, signify the home by the spring or pool ;
and as the " Hamelins," from the town of that name in Lower
Saxony, they helped to swell the ranks of the Conqueror's
army, and soon became settled in various parts of England,
notably in Devonshire, Cornwall, Leicestershire, Warwickshire,
Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, and Rutland.

The two most important Hamlyns of the eleventh century
were those whose names are found mentioned in the roll of
Battle Abbey as "Hammeline" and " Hammeline de Balun."
The " Sire de Balun " had probably migrated from Germany
to France, sometime before the Conquest, to the French town
of Ballun, in the diocese of Mons ; after the victory at Senlac
King William gave him the land of Ober Went, in Monmouth-
shire, and he was the subsequent founder of the Castle of

He died childless in the reign of Rufus, and was succeeded
by his nephew " Brian," son of his sister Lucy. This " Brian "
had two afflicted sons, so he made his nephew, son of his
sister Emma, his heir, and this nephew, or " cousin," as, in
accordance with old custom, he is loosely described, was
Constable of Gloucester, and afterward High Constable of
England. The latter's son was created Earl of Hereford in
succession to Roger de Bretteville, alias Fitz-Osbern, whose
younger brother was Bishop of Exeter in 1072. Roger Brito,


or Bretteville, was eventually proscribed for treason, but is
said to have had a son, Reginald, who married " Emmeline
de Balun," who may probably have been a sister of the afore-
said Emma of Gloucester.

With the other " Hamelin " of the Battle Abbey Roll we
have more concern here. He may have been a brother, or at least
a near kinsman, of the Sire de Balun ; at all events, he was a
very important personage in the eleventh century, and, like the
Britos, he came to the west of England in the following of
Robert, Earl of Mortain.

He is called "Hamelinus" in Domesday, and was tenant
in capite of many important manors in Cornwall. Some of his
posterity remained in the latter county, and one of them was
Portreeve of Launceston in 1207, but many of them settled in
Devonshire, where " Hamelinus," at the period of the Survey,
held the broad lands of Broadhempston and Alwington as
sub-tenant to the Earl,

The Hamlyns soon disappeared from both their original
settlements in Devonshire : Broadhempston went to the Canti-
lupes, one of whom, William de Cantilupe, was the husband of
Eva Braose, granddaughter of Emma de Balun of Gloucester,
which may be merely a coincidence ; whilst Alwington passed
to the Cofrins afterward of Portledge, a family which, although
its name has been preserved by assumption, has been now some-
time extinct in the male line.

But, probably by exchange, and simultaneously with their dis-
appearance from Alwington, the Hamlyns acquired the manor
of Natsworthy, another of Mortain's concessions, situate in the
parish of Widecombe-in -the- Moor, and but a few miles distant
from Broadhempston, and also of the manor of Bratton, in the
immediate neighbourhood of Alwington. The fifth in descent
from " Hamelinus" of Domesday, Richard Hamlyn, acquired an
estate known as Larkbeare, in the parish of St. Leonard, adjacent
to the city of Exeter. One of his sons remained at Larkbeare,
and was the ancestor of Hamlyn of Colebrook, of which branch
I shall treat hereafter ; the other, known as " Hamlyn the
Harper," was of Hill, in Holne, a neighbouring parish to Wide-
combe, as shown by the " Fine Rolls " of 3rd Henry III.

The Hill estate remained in the hands of his posterity until



it wa.s sold some few years since by James Hamlyn, to whom
it had descended. Hamlyn, "the Harper," of Hill, was the
father of William, father of Sir William Hamlyn of Deandon,
in Widecombe, Kt, and of Bratton, near Alwington. Sir Wil-
liam was one of the knights who returned the great assize for
Devon in the year 1250, but died without issue. His brother,
Walter, carried on the line, and was the father of William
Hamlyn of Dunstone, 34th Edward I., of John Hamlyn .of
Chittleford, three years earlier, of Hugh and of Roger Hamlyn,
both of Corndon, all estates in the said parish of Widecombe,
and also of Robert Hamlyn, who represented Totnes in Parlia-
ment in 1311.

The Hennock branch of the Hamlyns derive from another
brother of Sir William. William Hamlyn, of Dunstone, 1306,
a property which was purchased from the Pomeroys, left a son,
John Hamlyn, whose descendant, of the same name, 1412, was
grandfather of John Hamlyn of Dunstone, 1442, and the latter
bore the same relationship to Richard Hamlyn of Dunstone,
1506, who died in 1522. He left four sons, viz., Robert, son
and heir ; 2nd, Richard, ancestor of the Hamlyns of an adjacent
property called Southcombe ; 3rd, Thomas of Spitchwick, in
Widecombe, and of Hill and Littlecombe, in Holne, ancestor
also of branches of the family settled at Ash and Lake, both
in Widecombe ; 4th, John, ancestor of the Hamlyns of Clovelly.

Robert Hamlyn, son and heir of Dunstone, had " seisin " of
Dunstone on his father's death in 1522. It is shown by the
Inquisition upon his own death that he was the owner of
Scobetor, Venton, and Dunstone in Widecombe, of Dawnton in
Buckfastleigh, and had also land at Doddiscombleigh, near
Exeter ; he died 1556.

Dawnton then passed to his third son, Richard. His son and
heir, Robert Hamlyn, was the direct ancestor of William Hamlyn
of Dunstone (see the Ped., Vivian's Additions to Visitations of
Devon}, who sold that property, and died in 1782.

The uncle of the last owner of Dunstone, Hugh Hamlyn of
Blackslade Manor, Widecombe, had a second son, John, who
settled at Brent ; the lattcr's son, Joseph Hamlyn, purchased
land in Buckfastleigh, and died in 1 866.

It .is due to his energy and perseverance that the woollen trade,


the old staple business of this county, and which in the past has
afforded both honourable occupation and livelihood to very
many cadets of our ancient county houses, still flourishes in the
valley of the Dart. Joseph Hamlyn founded the great manu-
factory at Buckfastleigh, and thus recommenced there an industry
which had been long fostered by the Cistercian monks of the
neighbouring abbey of Buckfast, and which was afterward con-
tinued profitably by his sons Joseph, John, and William, and is
now the property of James, Joseph, and William Hamlyn,
who are the sons of the late William Hamlyn by his marriage
with his kinswoman, Mary, daughter of James Hamlyn of Hill
and Littlecombe, already mentioned, and the latter estate is still
the property of their mother.

I must now return to " Hamlyn of Larkbeare, ' the brother of
" Hamlyn the Harper" of Hill. He was the father of Sir John
Hamlyn, Kt, whose son, Sir Osbert Hamlyn, Kt, of Larkbeare,
married the daughter and co-heir of Sir William Pipard of
Blakedon, in Widecombe. He was attainted for high treason in
1 370, on which account, possibly, his posterity, who long resided
at Exeter, St. Thomas, and Alphington, and were benefactors to
the latter parish in the early portion of the seventeenth century,
prospered in mercantile pursuits, gave mayors to the " faithful
city," and filled other municipal offices from time to time ; one
of them settled at Paschoe, in the parish of Colebrook, in 1611,
by marriage with a co-heir of that family.

Robert Paschoe Hamlyn, of Paschoe, was the father of
Christopher Hamlyn of Paschoe, who married Elizabeth, daughter
and eventual co-heir of Vincent Calmady of Langdon, by Eliza-
beth, daughter and heir of John Pollexfen, and by this marriage
acquired Leawood, in the parish of Bridestowe. Both estates
were inherited by their son, Calmady Pollexfen Hamlyn, of
Paschoe and Leawood, born 1775, who married the only
daughter of Richard Cross of Great Duryard, near Exeter,
and had a son, Shilston Calmady Hamlyn, J.P. and D.L., of
Paschoe and of Leawood, who by his wife, Sarah Carter, of
Neston, Cheshire, was the father of the present owner of these
estates, Mr. Vincent Pollexfen Calmady Hamlyn.

The Hamlyns of Paschoe and Bridestowe bear for arms :
* Sa., two swords in saltire, the points upward, hiltcd or; but



their ancestor, Sir John Hamlyn, bore the ancient arms of
the family, hereinafter blazoned, as shown by the " Borough-
bridge " Roll of Arms.

John Hamlyn, youngest son of Richard Hamlyn of Dunstone,
who died in 1522, appears to have settled, probably through
marriage, at Mershwell, in the parish of Wool fard is worthy, and
his arms, as tinder, with the date 1540, were to be seen in one of
the windows of his house. His son, William, born in that year,
married, about 1558, Agnes Yeo of Stratton, whose son William,
born 1559, was the father of William Hamlyn, baptized at
Woolfardisworthy, 2ist October, 1579, and whose grandfather
survived until 1597, when he inherited Mershwell.

His son, William Hamlyn of Mershwell, married Gertrude
Gary, and died in 1708, and was succeeded by Zachary Hamlyn,
the eldest of fourteen children.

The latter purchased the Clovelly estate of the Carys in 1729,
died without issue, and left his property by will to his grand
nephew, James Hammett, grandson of Thomazine Hamlyn.
He recorded his pedigree at Herald's College, but did not carry
it behind the William Hamlyn of Mershwell who married Agnes
Yeo. Mr. Hammett assumed the name of Hamlyn by Act of
Parliament in 1760, and was created a baronet in 1795. His

Online LibraryCharles WorthyDevonshire wills: a collection of annotated testamentary abstracts, together with the family history and genealogy of many of the most ancient gentle houses of the west of England → online text (page 30 of 42)